Trump impeachment inquiry update for Thursday
The House was also set to vote Thursday morning on how to proceed with its impeachment inquiry, putting lawmakers on record about where they stand and that Republicans are decrying as a sham.
Also, Timothy Morrison, the National Security Council's senior director for Europe and Russia, is due to be deposed in closed session. There are no plans for an opening statement. Morrison replaced Fiona Hill, who has testified that Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, oversaw a "shadow foreign policy" on Ukraine for the president's personal political gain while shutting out NSC staff and career diplomats.
At 4 p.m., Judge Richard Leon, a senior judge at the U.S. District court for the District of Columbia, hears a case filed on behalf of former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, who asked a federal court to decide whether he would need to testify. The White House has tried to block his appearance, and Kupperman, who worked under national security adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he must testify under a congressional subpoena.
Article II - With the Gavel Comes the Power - Wednesday, October 30th
Today on Article II, Steve Kornacki talks to Kelly O’Donnell, White House correspondent for NBC News, about the political calculations being made around the House resolution on impeachment.
The two discuss:
- Key takeaways from the resolution
- Why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is choosing to hold a vote on the process now
- Whether the vote will test Democratic unity on impeachment
- Republican criticism of the resolution
- What tomorrow’s vote means for next steps in the impeachment process
The episode also acknowledges testimony underway on Capitol Hill today and looks ahead to the rest of the week.
Listen to the episode here.
White House says it is 'false' that Vindman suggested filling in omissions
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham disputed claims that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman tried to edit a White House log of a July call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to include details that were omitted.
"President Trump released a full and accurate transcript of his call with President Zelenskiy so the American people could see he acted completely appropriately and did nothing wrong.
The media is reporting that Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman claims he proposed filling in words that were missing in areas where ellipses were shown in the transcript — this is false.
Because Chairman Schiff has kept his sham hearings secret and has excluded the President’s counsel from the room, we cannot confirm whether or not Lt. Col. Vindman himself made any such false claim. What we can confirm is that he never suggested filling in any words at any points where ellipses appear in the transcript."
John Bolton invited to testify in House impeachment inquiry
Former national security adviser John Bolton has been invited to be interviewed next Thursday by House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
Bolton, whose name has emerged repeatedly during the testimony of other key figures being interviewed by the impeachment investigators, has been invited to testify behind closed doors Nov. 7, the sources said.
Bolton has not been issued a subpoena. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he would actually attend his scheduled deposition. If he does, however, he would be the most prominent figure yet to give testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
Read more here.
Meadows blasts impeachment resolution, talks questioning of key witness Vindman
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., blasted the House Democrats' impeachment resolution in remarks to reporters Wednesday.
“[I]t’s so late in the game... , credible witnesses have been poisoned by what has been reported and leaked out," Meadows said. "What Democrats have done is leaked out a narrative that has tainted some of the witnesses that have come.” He added that the resolution “affords us the same opportunities we have now, which is to beg [Intelligence] Chairman [Adam] Schiff for due process, and last time I checked, that doesn’t qualify as due process."
Meadows, a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, also discussed GOP lawmakers' line of questioning during the testimony of White House Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman on Tuesday, denying accusations that Republicans tried to draw out the whistleblower's identity.
“The majority jumped in to ask the witness not to answer the questions that would potentially be a great benefit to the president of the United States, and it has nothing to do with outing the whistleblower. That’s their narrative,” he said.
“In general terms, I can say we were asking the witness who else did the witness talk to in terms of specific items that are important to the investigation, and the witness indicated that there were more than one, and Chairman Schiff refused to allow those witnesses to be identified,” he said.
Asked if the whistleblower’s anonymity should be protected, Meadows said, “Well, not according to statue, he doesn’t. The reason you have a whistleblower statue is so that they can come forward and not be retaliated against. It’s the reason we have the law.”
State Dept.'s No. 2 pinpoints White House for blocking witness testimony
President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to Russia told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the State Department's efforts to prevent witnesses from testifying in the House inquiry have been directed by the White House.
Asked by Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez, D-N.J., about the administration's efforts to block witness testimony, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan replied, "I would say that the actions that the department has undertaken, led by the secretary, has been on the advice of counsel — not only State Department counsel, but White House counsel as well, and direction from the White House."
"Why is the department working to prevent employees from testifying before Congress?" Menendez asked.
"Well, we are, as has been laid out in an extensive letter from the counsel to the President," Sullivan replied. "The rationale is laid out there."
When Menendez asked if Sullivan was aware people outside the State Department had sought to undermine then-Amb. Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post in the spring, Sullivan replied, "I was."
"And did you know Mr. Giuliani was one of those people?" Menendez asked, referring to Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
"I believed he was, yes," Sullivan said.
Giuliani has been a central player in Trump's efforts regarding Ukraine. Yovanovitch told House impeachment investigators earlier this month that Trump had personally pressured the State Department to remove her, even though Sullivan assured her that she had "done nothing wrong."
Vindman testimony draws direct line on quid pro quo
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman told House impeachment investigators on Tuesday that a White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskiy — as well as the delivery of nearly $400 million in security and military aid — was "contingent" on Ukrainian officials carrying out investigations into Burisma, the Bidens, the 2016 election and CrowdStrike, NBC News has learned.
Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, said in his opening statement at Tuesday's closed door testimony, "I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine."
Two sources familiar with the testimony say that Vindman later went further than his opening statement by drawing a direct line between the deliverables for Ukraine and the multiple investigations.
McConnell: Impeachment measure denies Trump 'basic rights'
WASHINGTON — The House Democrats' impeachment resolution would deny President Donald Trump the "most basic rights of due process," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday in a floor speech sharply criticizing the leaders behind the measure.
McConnell went after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., saying that "instead of setting a high bar, House Democrats seem determined to set a new low." The resolution, he said, would deny the "most basic rights of due process" to Trump, such as having his lawyer participate in closed-door depositions by the committee.
The House is expected to vote on the measure Thursday as Democrats look to counter protests from Trump and his Republicans allies that the impeachment process is illegitimate and unfair. The resolution calls for open hearings and requires the House Intelligence Committee to submit a report outlining its findings and recommendations.
Democrats compare the committee's role in the impeachment inquiry to a fact-finding grand jury proceeding in which the accused does not have rights to counsel. They say the resolution establishes rights comparable to episodes such the 1998-1999 impeachment and trial of President Bill Clinton. In Clinton's case, independent counsel Ken Starr conducted an extensive investigation and delivered boxes of sworn testimony that he said likely constituted grounds for impeachment.
Read State Dept. official Christopher Anderson's opening remarks
Christopher Anderson, who was a special adviser to former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, is scheduled to testify Wednesday afternoon before the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry.
Anderson is expected to say in his opening statement that former national security adviser John Bolton had cautioned him that Trump personal attorney Rudy “Giuliani was a key voice with the President on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement.”
Anderson was also expected to testify that Giuliani’s attempt to urge the Ukrainian government to open investigations was discussed at a Ukraine strategy meeting at the Department of Energy in June. It was a June 18 meeting this year in which Energy “Secretary [Rick] Perry hosted a follow-up meeting at the Department of Energy to discuss how to move forward” with engaging Ukraine.
Trump campaign launches $1 million anti-impeachment television campaign
WASHINGTON — President Trump's re-election campaign is out with a new television spot blasting impeachment as a "scam" and a "bunch of bull," as the president looks to sway public opinion in key Democratic primary states as well as some swing states pivotal to his own 2020 bid.
The campaign started airing the ad Wednesday morning, shortly after the campaign booked $1.15 million in time across Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. from Oct. 30 through Nov. 5, according to spending data from Advertising Analytics.
The breakdown: $400,000 of that total is booked for Nevada, $387,000 is booked for Pennsylvania, $257,000 is booked for Iowa, $64,000 is booked in Boston (which covers most of New Hampshire) and $42,600 is booked in Washington D.C.
In the spot, a smattering of speakers take turns lambasting impeachment in a variety of settings—at home, in offices, and on factory floors.
"Impeachment is a scam."
Impeachment is a bunch of bull."
"Impeachment is a joke."
"It’s a partisan witch hunt."
"They can’t get over the fact that Donald Trump won. The Democrats are trying to overturn the election. Ignore how we voted. Donald Trump is an excellent president. Over 6 million new jobs. My job is here, not China. My paycheck is bigger. Black and Hispanic women are finally gaining. Donald Trump is my president."
Public sentiment appears to be creeping toward supporting impeachment, but strong majorities voters are still not sold on removing Trump from office.