The fast-moving impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, stemming from the president's dealings with Ukraine, involves numerous hearings, depositions and subpoenas of present and former top administration officials and other figures, more than a few presidential tweets — and now articles of impeachment.
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"The picture coming out of it based on the reporting we'e seen is, yeah, I would say is not a good one, but I would say also that, again, until we have a process that allows for everybody to see this in full transparency it's pretty hard to draw any hard fast conclusions."
Thune added, "I think that whatever (Taylor) said in private it ought to be done in public. And I think the Republicans are right to point out that this has been very a sort of rigged process relative to previous impeachment exercises that have been undertaken in the past."
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50d ago / 3:35 PM UTC
More than 200 former USAID officers blast Trump administration's treatment of diplomats
WASHINGTON — More than 260 former foreign service officers, political appointees at the U.S. Agency for International Development as well as civil servants, are blasting the Trump administration for its treatment of current diplomats at the State Department and for the White House decision to freeze U.S. assistance to Ukraine.
In a statement of support obtained by NBC News from one of its signatories, Desaix “Terry” Myers, the former officials wrote that they were writing in support of their colleagues “now under siege for their work as diplomats.”
“Together, we spent our careers working to represent the policies and values of the United States. We are angered at the treatment of dedicated, experienced, and wise public servants like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch; and we are distraught at the dangers inherent in the President’s cavalier (and quite possibly corrupt) approach to making foreign policy on impulse and personal interest rather than in response to national security concerns,” the statement says.
The statement was signed by a variety of former USAID officers, including some former ambassadors. Myers served as USAID’s mission director for Russia and Indonesia and previously taught at the National War College.
The former officials said that they are “appalled” that taxpayer dollars set aside by Congress for military assistance to Ukraine “may have been used to leverage foreign support for partisan political objectives.”
“The way the President is conducting foreign policy raises questions about the reliability of the U.S. as a partner, its commitment to diplomatic norms, and its capacity for leadership,” they wrote.
In addition to praising former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, they commended the other officials who have also testified so far in the House impeachment inquiry including Bill Taylor, charge d’affaires in Ukraine, Michael McKinley, who recently resigned as one of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s top advisers, and George Kent, a senior official in charge of Ukraine policy at the State Department.
Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, is testifying behind closed doors Wednesday and is expected to face questions about the White House’s decision over the summer to withhold military assistance to Ukraine.
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50d ago / 4:33 PM UTC
Rick Perry 'happy to' talk to lawmakers once they abide by 'precedent'
Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday that he would “be happy to come forward” to talk to House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry if “they follow the precedent, when they follow what has been referred to me as the precedent of an inquiry.”
“But the fact is, I’m not going to participate, the White House has advised us not to participate, my general counsel has told me not to participate in what they consider to be an unprecedented effort to try to use an inquiry in an unlawful way,” Perry said.
Perry, whom Democrats have subpoenaed for documents related to Trump and Ukraine, suggested in a Fox Business interview Wednesday that abiding by precedent included holding a vote on the impeachment inquiry — something House Republicans have demanded but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said is not required.
Perry, who announced last week that he will step down, has emerged as a central figure in Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to open an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election. The energy secretary was one of a cadre of officials — including now-former special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — who ran an “irregular” channel of U.S. policymaking on the country, according to acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s testimony Tuesdaybefore the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry.
A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed that American voters' support for the House impeachment inquiry has reached its highest level, at 55 percent in the survey.
On the flip side, 43 percent of voters disapprove of the inquiry. Last week, the poll showed 51 percent approved of the inquiry, while 45 percent disapproved.
Among Democrats, 93 percent approve of the inquiry, as well as 58 percent of independents and 10 percent of Republicans. Among those who disapprove were 88 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats.
Nearly half of the respondents, 48 percent said Trump should be impeached and removed from office while 46 percent say he should not. Last week, that total was flipped.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,587 self-identified registered voters between Oct. 17 and Oct. 21. The survey had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
Pentagon official to give evidence on Ukraine military aid at closed hearing
House investigators expect Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, to on Wednesday offer insight about the White House decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine, despite the Pentagon's recommendation that it proceed.
Cooper, a top Pentagon career official overseeing Ukraine policy, will appear at a closed-door hearing even though the Defense Department told Congress that it would not comply with House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Michael Duffey, a politically appointed official in the White House budget office, who oversees the process for approving and releasing foreign aid, is not expected to appear as scheduled today after the Office of Management and Budget acting director Russ Vought said the office would not cooperate with the impeachment probe.
Six highlights from Ukraine envoy Bill Taylor's 'explosive' testimony
President Donald Trump’s top diplomat to Ukraine testified Tuesday in a closed-door deposition to members of Congress in the House's impeachment inquiry, and his remarkable 15-page statement raised serious concerns about Trump's denials of a quid pro quo.
Bill Taylor wrote in the statement delivered to Congress that "there appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular," and that it became clear to him that a freeze in U.S. aid to Ukraine was tied to a probe into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Sen. Lindsey Graham plans Senate resolution to condemn House impeachment inquiry
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says that he will introduce a resolution in the Senate to condemn the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives.
"This resolution puts the Senate on record condemning the House. ... We cannot allow future presidents, and this president, to be impeached based on an inquiry in the House that's never been voted upon," Graham, R-S.C. told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday night's show.
Critics say that amounted to an abuse of power by Trump for his own political gain in the 2020 election. Some Republicans have complained the House effort is unfair.
There is no requirement that the House conduct a vote before launching an impeachment inquiry. Graham objected to the closed-door depositions that have been held, and he said "any impeachment vote based on this process, to me is illegitimate, is unconstitutional, and should be dismissed in the Senate without a trial."
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51d ago / 11:33 PM UTC
Read Bill Taylor's full opening statement
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Rebecca Shabad, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Moe
51d ago / 11:31 PM UTC
Top diplomat Bill Taylor says Ukraine aid was linked to Trump demands of Biden, 2016 probes
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told members of Congress Tuesday that President Donald Trump directed officials to tie foreign aid to Ukraine to demands that the country open an investigation into the Biden family as well as the 2016 election.
According to a copy of his opening statement provided to NBC News, Taylor said that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told him that while Trump was not requesting a "quid pro quo," he insisted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy publicly announce investigations into the Bidens and matters relating to the 2016 presidential election.
Taylor said that Sondland told him, "President Trump was adamant that President Zelenskiy, himself, had to "clear things up and do it in public." President Trump said it was not a "quid pro quo." Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelenskiy and [Zelenskiy adviser Andriy] Yermak and told them that, although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelenskiy did not clear things up public, we would be at a stalemate."
"I understood a stalemate mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance," Taylor added.