Trump denies report that he wanted Barr to publicly clear him on Ukraine
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is denying he wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference to declare he broke no laws during a phone call in which he pressed Ukraine's president to investigate Democrats.
Trump tweeted early Thursday that the story, first reported by The Washington Post, "is totally untrue and just another FAKE NEWS story with anonymous sources that don't exist."
The Post said Barr rebuffed the request, which came in September around the time the White House released a rough transcript of Trump's July 25 call at the center of the House impeachment probe. The paper cited unidentified people familiar with the effort.
House Democrats are investigating Trump's pressure on Ukraine to investigate political rivals as aid money was being withheld.
Trump insists he did nothing wrong.
Pence adviser set to give evidence in closed-door hearing
Jennifer Williams, a special adviser on Russian and European affairs and long-serving State Department staffer, is expected to give evidence on Thursday.
Williams is the first witness from Vice President Mike Pence's national security team to appear for closed-door testimony. House investigators expect to learn more about how much Pence knew about Trump's Ukraine maneuvers.
Article II - The Best Defense - Wednesday, November 6th
On today’s episode, Steve Kornacki talks to Jon Allen, politics reporter for NBC News, about the different arguments Republicans are taking against impeachment.
The two discuss:
- Why Republicans are unable to unify around a single defense of the President
- The three main arguments Republicans are using to protect the President from being removed from office
- The calculations made by Senate Major Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in their defenses of the President up until this point
- How Republicans could change their strategy as impeachment moves towards the Senate
The episode also answers a listener question about whether the establishment of a quid pro quo is required for the House to move forward with impeachment.
The Inquiry: Bill Taylor testimony released
House Democrats pull Kupperman subpoena
House Democrats have withdrawn their subpoena of former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, according to a letter from the chairs of the committees leading the impeachment inquiry to Kupperman's lawyers.
"Dr. Kupperman still has an opportunity to fulfill his solemn constitutional duty," the chairs wrote. "Like the many dedicated public servants who have appeared before the Committees despite White House efforts to prevent or limit their testimony — including current and former White House officials who worked alongside your client — Dr. Kupperman can still add his testimony to the inquiry's record."
Kupperman filed a lawsuit days before he was scheduled to give closed-door testimony last month asking a federal judge to determine whether he is required to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. The lawsuit said Kupperman was told by White House lawyers not to appear.
A House Intelligence Committee official said Wednesday there was "no proper basis for a witness to sue the Congress in court to oppose a duly authorized congressional subpoena. Nevertheless, given the schedule of our impeachment hearings, a court process that leads to the dismissal of Dr. Kupperman’s flawed lawsuit would only result in delay, so we have withdrawn his subpoena."
Any testimony from Kupperman would bring the inquiry closer into the orbit of John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, who was said not to want to get involved with the president's efforts in Ukraine. Bolton, who has been scheduled to testify before the committees on Thursday, will not appear voluntarily his lawyer, who also represents Kupperman, has said.
The lawyer, Charles Cooper, said last week that Bolton could be added to Kupperman's lawsuit.
Intel officials want CIA Director Gina Haspel to protect Ukraine whistleblower from Trump
WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump and his allies continue to denounce the CIA whistleblower whose complaint led to an impeachment investigation, pressure is building on the spy agency's director, Gina Haspel, to take a stand on the matter, current and former intelligence officials tell NBC News.
"It will be incumbent on her to protect the whistleblower — and by extension, the organization — moving forward," Marc Polymeropoulos, a recently retired CIA officer who oversaw operations in Europe and Russia, said in an interview. "This is a seminal moment for her leadership, and I'm confident she will do the right thing."
So far, Haspel has been publicly silent as Trump has railed about the whistleblower, a CIA analyst, on Twitter. So has the director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.
Read the full story here.
Bondi to wind down Qatar lobbying job to join White House as 'special government employee'
Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general joining the White House communications team to work on impeachment, is currently lobbying for Qatar and will be winding down that role to join the White House team.
Bondi was added in July to lobbying firm Ballard Partners’ $115,000-a-month contract with the Embassy of Qatar in Washington, according to a document filed in July with the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act unit and reviewed by NBC News. Bondi was named “key personnel” for the contract and would be “personally and substantially engaged” in delivering services to the country, according to a consulting agreement filed with the DOJ.
Ballard Partners extended its ongoing contract with the Qatari embassy in July to provide advocacy on US-Qatari relations and guidance on combatting human trafficking. A spokesman for the Embassy of Qatar had no immediate comment.
Bondi will be leaving Ballard Partners and will stop working on all her client accounts early next week, a person familiar with her lobbying arrangement said. But she will remain with the firm until she goes to the White House, which this person estimated will not happen for a couple more weeks, adding that her background check isn’t yet complete. This person said Bondi is currently expected to only be at the White House for four months, but presumes that ultimately she might stay through the reelection campaign.
Bondi’s status at the White House will be as a “special government employee,” a senior administration official told NBC News’ Kristen Welker. That status that allows people in the private sector with particular expertise to be brought into the government part time under less-stringent ethics rules than would apply to normal federal employees, including allowing them to continue their outside work. Those rules will limit Bondi to working on government issues no more than 130 days out the year.
Former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker was serving under this same status while continuing his outside work at a lobbying firm, NBC News reported in September.
Giuliani defends Ukraine work amid Taylor testimony
White House to add staff for impeachment response
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is bringing former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and ex-Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh on board to help bring structure to the White House's often chaotic response to the House impeachment inquiry.
Trump has downplayed the need for additional help on impeachment, calling any such effort necessary. “I don’t have teams, everyone is talking about teams," he said late last month. "I am the team. I did nothing wrong.”
But the White House has struggled to find a coordinated messaging response on impeachment as polls have shown a growing number of Americans supporting Trump’s impeachment. Democrats are planning the first public hearings starting next week.
Read the full story here.