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Trump impeachment: Analysis and news on the House charges and Senate acquittal of the president

The Senate trial on the two articles of impeachment against Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, ended with acquittal on both charges.
Image: Impeachment live blog
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The fast-moving impeachment of President Donald Trump, stemming from his dealings with Ukraine, moved to the Senate for trial in January after the House voted a month earlier to adopt two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Senate voted in early February to acquit the president on both charges.

Trump's impeachment followed weeks of testimony related to his efforts to press Ukraine for investigations into Democratic rivals and hours of fiery debate over the process.

Trump is only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. Read all of the breaking news and analysis on impeachment from NBC News' political reporters, as well as our teams on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

Trump impeachment highlights

Download the NBC News mobile app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry

GOP memo outlines 'key pieces of evidence' against impeachment case

1003d ago / 2:22 PM UTC

A staff memo circulated Monday night among Republican members of the three House investigative committees conducting the Ukraine investigation outlines several points that the lawmakers claim will undermine Democrats' case for impeachment, a Republican source with direct knowledge confirmed to NBC News.

The memo, first published by Axios, lays out "four key pieces of evidence":

  • The July 25 call summary — the best evidence of the conversation — shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure, the memo claims.    
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and President Trump have both said there was no pressure on the call, it says.
  • The Ukrainian government was not aware of a hold on U.S. security assistance at the time of the July 25 call. 
  • Trump met with Zelenskiy and U.S. security assistance flowed to Ukraine in September 2019 — both of which occurred without Ukraine investigating Trump's political rivals, the memo says.

Democrats, however, allege that the call in question did not exist in isolation and was part of a coordinated Ukrainian pressure campaign and bribery plot.

1003d ago / 2:04 PM UTC

Trump says he will release transcript of earlier Ukraine call

1003d ago / 11:47 PM UTC

Trump on Monday said he is planning to release a transcript of an April phone call during which he congratulated Zelenskiy on his election victory. The phone call took place before Zelenskiy was in office.

The whistleblower’s complaint that triggered the impeachment inquiry centers around the July call, not the first congratulatory call in April. It's not the first time he has suggested that the call be released. In September, he told reporters that he thinks they "should ask for the first conversation also" since it was "beautiful."

Former Volker aide said there were worries Trump had 'Ukraine fatigue'

1003d ago / 11:27 PM UTC

A former top aide to Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker testified there were concerns President Trump had "Ukraine fatigue."

Christopher Anderson, who was Volker's aide until this past July, said those worries were stoked by two incidents. The first occurred in Nov. 2018, when Ukraine accused Russia of firing on three of its vessels in the Black Sea. 

The attack was condemned in statements from the State Department and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "but there never was a statement from the White House that I'm aware of," Anderson said. Asked if that was unusual, he said, "We received questions from Ukrainian counterparts and journalists as to why there wasn't a stronger statement."

About a month later, the Navy planned to send a warship to the Black Sea in a show of support for Ukraine. Anderson described the plan as "routine," but "then there was a news report on CNN, and then the White House asked the Navy to cancel that" because the president was upset about the report.

Asked how he knew that Trump was upset, Anderson said that then-national security adviser John Bolton "relayed that he was called at home by the president, who complained about this news report."

Anderson was also asked about a statement he'd made that Bolton was concerned about Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani's influence on Ukraine policy. 

"To the best of my recollection, he made a joke about every time Ukraine is mentioned, Giuliani pops up and that the President was listening to Giuliani about Ukraine," Anderson said.

 

House investigators release transcript of Catherine Croft's testimony

1003d ago / 10:53 PM UTC

House impeachment investigators on Monday released the transcript of testimony from Catherine Croft, a special adviser for Ukraine at the State Department.

Croft had testified behind closed doors for more than five hours before the three House committees leading the inquiry, providing investigators with information that largely corroborated depositions given to them by other key figures in the inquiry, including Fiona Hill, then a top White House adviser for Europe and Russia, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

As NBC News reported after Croft's testimony on Oct. 30, she told investigators that she participated in a video conference where an official at the Office of Management and Budget reported that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had placed a hold on U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. The only reason given was that the order came "at the direction of the president,” Croft said.

Read the NBC News story here, and read the full transcript of her testimony here.

The Inquiry: What to expect from public hearings

1003d ago / 10:23 PM UTC

Article II - Battle Lines - Monday, Nov. 11

1003d ago / 10:15 PM UTC

On today's episode of the Article II podcast, Steve Kornacki is joined by MSNBC Washington Correspondent Garrett Haake to tell you what to expect from this week of televised public testimony.

The two discuss:

  • The format of the  public hearings
  • What we know about the three witnesses scheduled to testify, plus why Democrats are asking them to testify first
  • A look at the Republican counterstrategy, including the introduction of a list of requested witnesses and a new addition to the House Intelligence Committee
  • Whether public hearings will change the trajectory of the impeachment inquiry

The episode answers listener questions about whether witness can refuse to answer a question and how public sentiment around impeachment shifted during public hearings for the Nixon and Clinton inquiries.

Click here for the full segment.

Former Trump official balks at Mulvaney's bid to join impeachment testimony lawsuit

1003d ago / 10:09 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — A former Trump administration official and lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee urged a federal judge Monday to block Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, from joining an existing lawsuit over a subpoena to testify in the House impeachment inquiry.

Mulvaney sought to intervene in a suit filed late last month by Charles Kupperman, President Donald Trump's former deputy national security adviser, that named both the House and Trump as defendants. Faced with a subpoena to testify before the House and also a letter from the White House counsel instructing him not to do so, Kupperman asked a federal court to rule which command he should obey.

Read the full story here.

Pentagon official testifies Trump directed freeze on aid to Ukraine

1003d ago / 10:08 PM UTC

Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators last month that President Donald Trump, through the Office of Management and Budget, directed a mid-July freeze in military aid to Ukraine, according to a transcript of her testimony released Monday.

Officials offered no explanation for the hold, Cooper told Congress. Asked if the president was authorized to order that type of hold, Cooper said there were concerns that he wasn’t.

Read the transcript of Pentagon official Laura Cooper's impeachment testimony

1003d ago / 9:37 PM UTC

House impeachment investigators on Monday released a transcript of testimony that Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, gave last month.

Cooper's closed-door testimony was delayed for over five hours after a group of House Republicans stormed the secure room where the deposition was taking place.

Read her testimony below:

Trump appears to suggest he regrets signing whistleblower law

1003d ago / 8:46 PM UTC

Protesters chant 'lock him up' outside Trump's Veteran's Day event

1003d ago / 7:22 PM UTC

Protesters outside Trump's Veteran's Day event in New York City on Monday shouted "lock him up" during his speech. Watch footage from the crowd below:

What to expect when you're expecting an impeachment hearing

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1003d ago / 7:07 PM UTC

House Democrats are carefully choreographing this week’s public impeachment hearings to emphasize their “simple abuse of power case against President Trump,” multiple sources tell NBC News.

Their strategy is reliant on two key components: the witness list and the hearing format.

IMPEACHMENT WITNESSES

House Democrats characterize their first three witnesses – Amb. Bill Taylor, George Kent, and Amb. Marie Yovanovitch -- as respected, apolitical public servants with long, storied careers.

All three gave House investigators damning accounts of President Trump’s interactions with the new Ukrainian government. Democrats expect the American public will trust the testimonies, as the witnesses detail the alleged impeachable offenses underlying Trump’s Ukraine maneuvers. 

Democratic Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut told Chuck on "Meet the Press" that the public will “hear immensely patriotic, beautifully articulate people telling the story of a president who ... extorted a vulnerable country by holding up military aid.”

“They are all strong character witnesses. All three bring credibility to impeachment inquiry,” a Democratic aide tells NBC News, adding that Amb. Bill “Taylor is going to lay everything out” on Wednesday and Yovanovitch is going to “tug at America’s heartstrings” on Friday.

Taylor -- the current top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine -- told House investigators that Trump directed officials to tie foreign aid for Ukraine to demands that the country open an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election. A second Democratic aide says Taylor’s “exquisite note-taking” will lend credibility to his testimony, which “corroborates the whistleblower complaint.”

REPUBLICAN DEFENSE

Republicans have the task of trying to separate President Trump from the string of damning testimonies. 

The GOP witness list – which includes Hunter Biden, the anonymous whistleblower, and a former DNC consultant – highlights the degree to which Republicans want to change the subject away from Trump’s interaction with his Ukrainian counterpart.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has already signalled that most of the names on the GOP request list are non-starters. Calling Hunter Biden, Democrats say, would have the effect of creating the political investigation into the Bidens that Trump wanted the Ukrainians to open.

Democrats could find some rhetorical value in allowing at least one of the GOP witnesses, as a means of pushing back against process arguments.

Don’t be surprised if Democrats allow Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council, to appear for public testimony.

Republicans will also attempt to undermine the witnesses by pointing out that their most damning information comes to them secondhand -- from EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland or from NSC officials -- not from firsthand conversations with key players such as President Trump, Rudy Giuliani or Mick Mulvaney.

HEARING FORMAT

The House voted to change the format for the impeachment hearings when it approved a resolution establishing the procedures for the inquiry. It allows House Democrats to keep control of the proceedings and explore lines of inquiry at greater length.

The hearings will kick off with opening statements from the House Intelligence Committee chairman and ranking member, plus the witnesses.

Following that, the committee will move to a questioning period of 90 minutes, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

Chairman Adam Schiff and the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes, can use the time to question the witnesses themselves or instruct a committee lawyer to do it instead.  

Once the first 90 minutes is up, Schiff will decide if more time is needed for additional Q&A. That’s when the format reverts to a traditional congressional hearing, with lawmakers each getting five minutes to pose questions.

“If the American people only watch the first hour, they’ll hear plenty,” a third Democratic source familiar tells NBC. “The first hour of each hearing is designed to be a blockbuster.”

A message for Trump in NYC

1003d ago / 7:07 PM UTC
Image:
Signs spelling out the word "impeach" hang in a building overlooking the site where President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attended the New York City Veterans Day Parade at Madison Square Park in New York on Nov. 11, 2019.Andrew Harnik / AP

Dem Rep. releases Veteran's Day impeachment ad

1004d ago / 5:43 PM UTC

Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria, a Navy veteran, released a video on Monday explaining her support for impeachment.

"I didn't come to Washington to impeach the president, but I also didn't spend 20 years in the Navy to allow our Constitution to be trampled on," she says.

Watch below:

Trump claims, without evidence, that Schiff releasing doctored transcripts

1004d ago / 4:53 PM UTC

After push from Rick Perry, his backers got huge gas deal in Ukraine

1004d ago / 4:51 PM UTC

KYIV, Ukraine — Two political supporters of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country's new president.

Perry's efforts to influence Ukraine's energy policy came earlier this year, just as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's new government was seeking military aid from the United States to defend against Russian aggression and allies of President Donald Trump were ramping up efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Ukraine awarded the contract to Perry's supporters little more than a month after the U.S. energy secretary attended Zelenskiy's May inauguration. In a meeting during that trip, Perry handed the new president a list of people he recommended as energy advisers. One of the four names was his longtime political backer Michael Bleyzer.

Read the full story here.

Trump's defender: How a little-known GOP lawmaker became a point man on impeachment

1004d ago / 4:48 PM UTC

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., has called the impeachment probe into President Donald Trump a "charade," a "clown show," and a "cocktail that is" House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff's "favorite drink to get America drunk on."

Naturally, there's an occupant in the Oval Office who's taken notice of his strong words. And, in turn, a once little-known, 39-year-old lawmaker representing eastern Long Island has become one of the president's point men in battling impeachment, teaming up with fellow anti-impeachment crusaders such as House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

Read more about Zeldin's rise here.

1004d ago / 1:39 PM UTC
We apologize, this video has expired.

Impeachment inquiry update for Monday, Nov. 11

1004d ago / 12:04 PM UTC

House Democrats have not indicated which, if any, testimony transcripts will be released Monday. The investigative committees will continue to release transcripts ahead of Wednesday’s first public impeachment hearing, however. 

There are no closed-door depositions scheduled for this week.

Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who had been scheduled to appear before the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Monday, was rescheduled for Friday. 

Graham ups attacks against whistleblower before public hearings

1004d ago / 9:27 PM UTC

Only 3 Senate Republicans aren't defending Trump from the impeachment inquiry. Here's why.

1004d ago / 8:30 PM UTC

For those Senate Republicans who are refusing to condemn the House-led impeachment inquiry, three may be the loneliest number.

While a resolution denouncing the House Democrats' fast-moving probe hasn't received a vote, GOP Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska declined to sign on as co-sponsors — the only ones out of 53 Republicans — leaving the door ajar to the possibility that they could vote to convict President Donald Trump if impeachment moves to its trial phase in the Senate.

But unlike the blowback Romney and Collins have faced for breaking with the party's defense of the president, Murkowski could end up seeing her part in this micro-rebellion embraced by voters in her state. Experts on Alaska politics told NBC News that the state tends to reward an independent streak in its politicians.

In other words, Murkowski can fall out of line with Trump — but not fall out of favor with Republican voters in her state.

Full story here.

OPINION: From Nixon to Trump, the historical arc of presidential misconduct is deeply troubling

1004d ago / 8:28 PM UTC

During the Watergate investigation, I contributed to an unprecedented history of presidential misconduct that the impeachment inquiry of the House Committee on the Judiciary requested in 1974.

Now, 45 years later, I’ve edited an expanded version, covering all U.S. presidencies through Barack Obama’s. Looking over that 230-year span, what I’m forced to conclude is deeply troubling: Since the early 1970s, the behavior of American presidents has worsened in alarming ways.

Read more here.

Hallie Jackson: Trump watching closely to see who defends him

1004d ago / 6:51 PM UTC

Democrats push back on GOP efforts to have whistleblower, Hunter Biden testify

1005d ago / 6:45 PM UTC

Democrats on Sunday pushed back on Republican requests for testimony from the whistleblower who helped launch the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, requested the whistleblower, the younger Biden and his business partner Devon Archer testify before House investigators in a letter Saturday to Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the committee's chairman. Later Saturday, Schiff poured cold water on that request, saying the impeachment probe would not serve "to carry out the same sham investigations into the Bidens or debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference" Trump asked Ukraine to conduct.

More on the partisan debate over whether the whistleblower should testify.

GOP senator: Trump advisers had to 'convince' Trump to release Ukraine aid

1005d ago / 6:43 PM UTC

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., said Sunday that "most" of President Donald Trump's advisers were trying to figure out "some way" to get him to release a hold on roughly $400 million in Ukrainian military aid, an effort at the center of Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

"I understand that most of President Trump's advisers wanted the military aid released," Johnson, who had personally pushed Trump to release the aid, told CNN's "State of the Union." "And they were trying to figure out some way, shape or form to convince President Trump to approve that release. It's certainly what I was trying to do in my phone call to him on Aug. 31. So I don't have a problem with advisers trying to figure out some way shape or form to convince the boss to do this."

Read more here.

Rand Paul downplays quid pro quo efforts

1005d ago / 3:15 PM UTC

John Bolton gets a book deal

1005d ago / 2:15 PM UTC

John Bolton ⁠— the former Trump national security adviser who has emerged as a key figure in the impeachment inquiry ⁠— has inked a book deal with Simon & Schuster, a source with direct knowledge tells NBC News.

Bolton was represented by the Javelin literary agency, whose clients include former FBI director James Comey and the anonymous Trump administration official whose book, "A Warning,” comes out next week.

Trump trashes 'sinister' impeachment effort during Atlanta event

1006d ago / 10:14 PM UTC

President Donald Trump on Friday called the impeachment inquiry a "deranged, hyper-partisan impeachment witch hunt, a sinister effort to nullify the ballots of 63 million patriotic Americans."

He made the remarks in Atlanta at an event to announce the African American outreach effort by his re-election campaign. 

"Not happening, by the way," he said of the impeachment effort. "It's failing, it's failing fast, it's all a hoax."

On Wednesday, Democrats hold the first in a series of public hearings in their impeachment inquiry; several witnesses plan to testify next week. 

Image: U.S. President Trump speaks at a campaign event in Atlanta, Georgia
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "Black Voices for Trump" campaign event in Atlanta on Nov. 8, 2019.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

1006d ago / 8:14 PM UTC

'Absent yourself': What Schiff told Gaetz when he crashed a secure hearing

1006d ago / 7:07 PM UTC

The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry released transcripts on Friday detailing the moment Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., was spotted in a secure room when a deposition was taking place.

Gaetz was in the room, called a SCIF, during testimony by Fiona Hill, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump on Russia and Europe. In the transcript, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is quoted as saying: "Mr. Gaetz, you're not permitted to be in the room. Please leave." At another point, Schiff tell Gaetz to "absent yourself" from the SCIF.

Read more about the tense exchange.

Former Trump adviser who testified to Ukraine pressure campaign said she was victim of harassment

1006d ago / 7:03 PM UTC

Fiona Hill, President Donald Trump's former top adviser on Russia and Europe, told House investigators that her time in the Trump administration was marked by death threats, “hateful calls” and “conspiracy theories,” a harassment campaign she said was revived after it was learned she would cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, according to a transcript of her deposition released Friday.

"I received, I just have to tell you, death threats, calls at my home. My neighbors reported somebody coming and hammering on my door," she told investigators in closed-door testimony of her time in the White House. "Now, I'm not easily intimidated, but that made me mad."

The transcript confirmed NBC News’ reporting that Hill told Congress that Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, sidestepped the National Security Council and typical White House process to advocate for a shadow policy on Ukraine. Hill also revealed new details about how Giuliani's work undercut and derailed the diplomats charged with overseeing Ukrainian-U.S. relations.

Read the full story

Trump says of his EU ambassador, 'I hardly know the gentleman'

1006d ago / 6:54 PM UTC

Gordon Sondland is President Trump's ambassador to the European Union and donated $1 million to his inaugural committee, but Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that "I hardly know the gentleman."

Sondland has become a key witness in the House impeachment inquiry. He told investigators that Trump told him there was "no quid pro quo" calling for Ukraine to say it was investigating Joe and Hunter Biden in order to get military aid, and that he wasn't sure why the money was frozen. He updated his testimony this week to acknowledge that he'd told a top aide to Ukraine's president that the country wouldn't get the aid until it committed to investigating the 2016 elections and the Bidens.

Sondland and other witnesses have testified about conversations he'd had with Trump. One witness, former White House adviser Fiona Hill, told investigators that Trump had put Sondland "in charge of Ukraine" earlier this year. 

Trump distanced himself from his diplomat on the White House lawn on Friday.  

"Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman, but this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo, and he still says that," Trump told reporters. "And he said that I said that, and he hasn't changed that testimony. So this is a man that said — as far as the president is concerned — there was no quid pro quo. Everybody that's testified — even the ones that are Trump-haters, they've all been fine. They don't have anything." 

The president had warmer words for Sondland before he testified, however, tweeting that he's "a really good man and great American."

Whistleblower's lawyer sends cease-and-desist letter over Trump's 'reckless' attacks

1007d ago / 5:59 PM UTC

A lawyer for the whistleblower whose complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the White House urging the president to stop attacking his client.

“I am writing out of deep concern that your client, the president of the United States, is engaging in rhetoric and activity that places my client, the intelligence community whistleblower, and their family in physical danger,” the lawyer, Andrew Bakaj, wrote in a letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone on Thursday.

“I am writing to respectfully request that you counsel your client on the legal and ethical peril in which he is placing himself should anyone be physically harmed as a result of his, or his surrogates’, behavior,” he wrote.

Bakaj alleged Trump's attacks constituted witness tampering and had succeeded in intimidating his client, saying "as a direct consequence of the President’s irresponsible rhetoric and behavior, my client’s physical safety became a significant concern," prompting them to opt out of giving lawmakers a closed-door deposition in favor of written answers to questions.

Read the full story.

Trump says he has 'no problem' releasing earlier phone call with Ukraine

1007d ago / 4:43 PM UTC

President Donald Trump said Friday that he is willing to provide a transcript of his first call with the president of Ukraine, which occurred in April.

“I have the second call, which nobody knew about," Trump said, speaking to reporters as he left the White House on Friday morning, referring to that spring conversation. "I guess they want that to be produced also. ... I had a call before this [July] one with the president of Ukraine. I understand they'd like it, and I have no problem giving it to them."

About two weeks after Trump made that earlier call, in which he offered congratulations on the night of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's April 21 election, the Ukrainian leader and a small group of advisers discussed how to navigate the insistence from Trump and Rudy Giuliani for a probe of the Bidens and how to avoid becoming entangled in the American elections, The Associated Press reported.

Read the full story here.

1007d ago / 3:54 PM UTC

1007d ago / 2:14 PM UTC

Hill's and Vindman's testimony expected to be released Friday

1007d ago / 1:54 PM UTC

The House committees leading the impeachment probe are expected to release the transcript of former White House official Fiona Hill’s deposition Friday at about midday, sources with knowledge of the timing told NBC News. 

The transcript of testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, is also expected to be released Friday, one of the sources said.

Hill reportedly told Congress last month that then-national security adviser John Bolton wanted no part of the effort to get the Ukrainians to investigate President Donald Trump’s political opponents and told her to report the situation to the top lawyer at the National Security Council, NBC News previously reported. Hill told lawmakers she considered what was happening to be a clear counterintelligence risk to the United States.

Vindman, a firsthand witness to Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president, told House impeachment investigators last week that a White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy — as well as the delivery of nearly $400 million in security and military aid — was "contingent" on Ukrainian officials carrying out investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election, NBC News previously reported.

1007d ago / 1:53 PM UTC

Ivanka Trump: Whistleblower's ID 'not particularly relevant' to impeachment

1007d ago / 1:33 PM UTC

RABAT, Morocco — Ivanka Trump on Friday echoed her father's view that the House impeachment investigation is an attempt to overturn the 2016 election. But in an interview with The Associated Press, she parted ways with President Donald Trump by calling the identity of the impeachment whistleblower "not particularly relevant."

The Republican president and some of his allies have been pressing the news media to publicize the whistleblower's name, but Ivanka Trump said the person's motives were more important. And she declined to speculate on what they may have been.

"The whistleblower shouldn't be a substantive part of the conversation," she told the AP, saying the person "did not have firsthand information."

Read the full story here.

1007d ago / 12:30 PM UTC

Mulvaney won't testify in impeachment probe, source tells NBC News

1007d ago / 12:25 PM UTC

A senior administration source has told NBC News that White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney will not testify Friday as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

“He won’t be showing up,” the source told NBC News.  

When asked if Mulvaney would comply with the subpoena by House Democrats, a second official pointed to an earlier statement from White House spokesman Hogan Gidley.

“Past Democrat and Republican Administrations would not be inclined to permit senior advisers to the president to participate in such a ridiculous, partisan, illegitimate proceeding  — and neither is this one,” Gidley said.

Read the full story here.

1007d ago / 2:50 AM UTC

House investigators subpoena Mulvaney for Friday testimony

1007d ago / 2:39 AM UTC

From an official working on the impeachment inquiry:

Late Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney for a previously scheduled deposition on Friday morning.

“On Oct. 17, 2019, Mr. Mulvaney admitted from the White House briefing room that the President withheld vital military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to conduct investigations that would benefit the President’s personal and political interests, not the national interest. Other testimony during this inquiry also has indicated that Mr. Mulvaney could shed additional light on the President’s abuse of the power of his office for his personal gain.  

Mr. Mulvaney has the opportunity to uphold his oath to the nation and constitution by testifying tomorrow under oath about matters of keen national importance. We hope Mr. Mulvaney does not hide behind the President’s ongoing efforts to conceal the truth and obstruct our investigation.”

1007d ago / 12:10 AM UTC

Diplomat testified that Putin, Orban poisoned Trump's views on Ukraine

1007d ago / 12:09 AM UTC

WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. diplomat told Congress that he was briefed on conversations President Donald Trump had with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban in which the two foreign leaders talked Trump into a negative view about Ukraine and its new leader.

George Kent, a senior State Department official responsible for Europe, told House investigators that Putin and Orban, along with Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, had “shaped the president’s view of Ukraine and (President Volodymyr) Zelenskiy.” He said Trump’s conversations with the two leaders accounted for the change in Trump’s view of Zelenskiy from “very positive” after their first call on April 21 to “negative” just one month later when he met with advisers on Ukraine in the Oval Office.

Read more here.

NBC News' Garrett Haake reports on George Kent's testimony

1007d ago / 10:10 PM UTC

Career diplomat took notes, believed Trump Ukraine conduct was ‘injurious to the rule of law,’ transcripts show

1007d ago / 8:57 PM UTC

State Department official George Kent, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, told House investigators last month he'd created memos of specific conversations he'd witnessed related to White House’s attempted quid pro quo that he said were “injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S,” according to a transcript of his testimony made public Thursday.

Lawmakers have focused on Kent and other witnesses to establish that the Trump administration froze aid money as part of an attempt to pressure Ukraine to open politically advantageous probes.

Read his full transcript.

Chris Jansing breaks down the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry

1007d ago / 8:39 PM UTC

Kennedy says he didn't mean to be disrespectful when he called Pelosi 'dumb'

1007d ago / 7:16 PM UTC

Donald Trump Jr. defends tweeting name of person he said is the whistleblower

1007d ago / 6:53 PM UTC

During a contentious exchange on ABC's "The View," Donald Trump Jr. defending tweeting the name of a person who some conservative outlets have alleged is the Ukraine whistleblower, saying that the name had been "out there."

"I think the reality of the answer is the whistleblower's name was on a little website called thedrudgereport a couple of days ago," he said. "I literally quote tweeted an article that had the guy's name in the title of the article."

"The name has been out there for five days," he later added.

Joe says Sen. Kennedy's Pelosi bash is degrading, hard to turn back from

1008d ago / 4:35 PM UTC

John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, skips impeachment deposition

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1008d ago / 4:14 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — Former White House national security adviser John Bolton failed to appear Thursday for his closed-door deposition in the House impeachment inquiry, following the lead of other current and former Trump administration officials who have chosen not to show up.

Last week, Bolton — who was fired by Trump in September — was formally invited to testify before the three congressional committees in charge of questioning witnesses, but his lawyer, Charles Cooper, quickly made clear that his client was unwilling to appear voluntarily. Bolton has not been issued a subpoena, sources familiar with the inquiry said.

Bolton's no-show comes after his former top deputy, Charles Kupperman, skipped his own scheduled deposition amid efforts by the White House to block his appearance. Kupperman then filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to rule on whether he must testify under a congressional subpoena.

Read the full story here.

1008d ago / 2:58 PM UTC

ANALYSIS: As proceedings go public, Dems try to keep it simple

1008d ago / 2:40 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — For the first time next Wednesday, with cameras rolling, House Democrats will begin broadcasting a dramatic story about the corruption of American democracy and governance that they contend not only reaches into the Oval Office, but bears the unmistakable fingerprints of President Donald Trump.

Their challenge in impeaching Trump is keeping the tale of his Ukraine scandal simple as they try to move forward through a thicket of Republican defensescharacters unfamiliar to the public; and constitutional, legal and political principles most Americans haven't considered since their last civics class.

"We have a tendency to get in the weeds on this," said Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., a former senior official in the Obama Justice Department who represents the Virgin Islands in Congress, and a member of the three-committee panel that has been conducting impeachment hearings behind closed doors. "I use the words extortion and bribery. I think those are words that Americans can understand."

Read the full analysis here.

Sen. Harris: If impeachment gets to Senate, I will be there

1008d ago / 2:30 PM UTC

Trump denies report that he wanted Barr to publicly clear him on Ukraine

1008d ago / 2:27 PM UTC

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

1008d ago / 10:35 AM UTC

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.

1008d ago / 10:06 AM UTC

Article II - The Best Defense - Wednesday, November 6th

1008d ago / 11:32 PM UTC

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.

Listen here.

The Inquiry: Bill Taylor testimony released

1008d ago / 10:35 PM UTC

House Democrats pull Kupperman subpoena

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1008d ago / 10:33 PM UTC

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

and

1008d ago / 9:48 PM UTC

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'

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1008d ago / 9:44 PM UTC

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

1008d ago / 8:49 PM UTC

1008d ago / 8:29 PM UTC

White House to add staff for impeachment response

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1008d ago / 8:27 PM UTC

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.

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Top diplomat in Ukraine directly ties Trump to quid pro quo

1008d ago / 7:39 PM UTC

President Donald Trump was adamant that his Ukrainian counterpart publicly announce investigations into a conspiracy related to the 2016 election and the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators last month.

According to a transcript of Taylor’s testimony released Wednesday, it became clear that “everything” — from the release of military aid to a White House visit — was tied to the public announcement of the probes, despite Trump’s repeated insistence that there was no quid pro quo.

"That was my clear understanding, that security assistance money would not come until the president [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation," Taylor told Congress.

Read more about his testimony here or check out the full transcript.

1008d ago / 7:33 PM UTC

Risch: Senate Foreign Relations won't call witnesses until House finishes inquiry

1008d ago / 7:24 PM UTC

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho, responded Wednesday to questions about whether he would call former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, before his committee by referring to a letter he sent the panel's Democrats last week saying he won't hear witnesses on the Trump administration's actions related to Ukraine until the House completes its impeachment inquiry.

“Due to the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, I believe it would be more appropriate for our committee to wait on examining these matters until after the House completes its process (one way or another),” Risch’s letter said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters Tuesday when asked about having Hunter Biden testify that Risch would have jurisdiction to do so. Graham, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, added that he hoped the Foreign Relations chairman would look into questions about Joe Biden's calls for the removal of Ukraine's prosecutor general in 2016 and his son Hunter's work for a Ukrainian gas company.

Ranking member Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and other committee Democrats sent Risch a letter earlier last month calling for hearings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other State Department officials about the administration's actions on Ukraine, including the circumstances of the hold on military aid and the ouster of then-Amb. Marie Yovanovitch. Pompeo was on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy that was the focus of the whistleblower complaint at the center of the impeachment inquiry, NBC News previously reported.

1009d ago / 6:30 PM UTC

ANALYSIS: The Trump chaos theory for how to beat impeachment

1009d ago / 6:14 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — The Republican defense of President Donald Trump is all over the place — a situation that is both less than ideal, but perhaps good enough for the White House.

The only two points GOP lawmakers agree on right now are that they aren't ready to remove Trump from office and they think Democrats don't play fair. Otherwise, they've been unable to formulate a clear, cohesive message in support of a commander in chief facing serious consequences over the wide-ranging campaign he ran to pressure Ukraine into investigating 2020 rival Joe Biden.

Instead, and often in lieu of delving into the facts of the case, they've lined up behind one of a series of arguments for Trump staying in place. Read those arguments and the rest of the analysis here.

Hoyer condemns GOP efforts to out whistleblower

1009d ago / 6:14 PM UTC

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) released a statement on Republican efforts to out the whistleblower: 

"Efforts by some Republican Members of Congress to 'out' the whistleblower who revealed President Trump’s abuse of power are a blatant attempt at witness intimidation.  Not only does this shamefully put the whistleblower and his or her family at physical risk, it is also a clear attempt to deter other courageous patriots from revealing abuses and unlawful behavior in this Administration.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for Republicans in Congress to defend President Trump’s attempt to coerce Ukraine into assisting his re-election campaign. That fact does not justify this dangerous effort to distract the American people from the evidence at hand.  Our laws do not permit retaliation against witnesses and anonymous tipsters in criminal cases, and we should not tolerate it in this case either. I call on federal law enforcement to look closely at the concerning statements made recently by some Republican Members of Congress and for our intelligence agencies to take all necessary steps to protect the whistleblower’s anonymity."

Rand Paul defends calling for whistleblower's unmasking

1009d ago / 6:12 PM UTC

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., defended his comments about the whistleblower when speaking to reporters on Wednesday, saying he believes the whistleblower needs to answer questions about whether he or she knows if there was any conflict of interest with Hunter Biden.

NBC News pressed Paul about a tweet from whistleblower attorney Andrew Bakaj that said, "Let me be absolutely clear: @RandPaul will be personally responsible for anything harmful that happens."

Paul said, "I think attorneys are always advocates for their clients and you can’t really trust what they say. But they’re advocates for their clients. Look, I’ve been a victim of political violence twice, once at the shooting at the ballfield, and once was six of my ribs broken, so I don’t wish any harm to anyone."

Durbin asks if Ukraine call was so routine, 'why do they hide it?'

1009d ago / 5:34 PM UTC

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters Wednesday that he can’t follow the logic of the Republican response to the release of the most recent deposition transcripts, asking if the Trump-Ukraine call was so routine, “why do they hide it? Why do they have to put it in a secret server after it was disclosed?” 

"They obviously knew that something happened in that conversation that was not normal, was not acceptable, and they were doing everything they could to conceal it," he continued. "If you conceal the evidence, you obviously have guilt in mind."

Asked about Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham's remarks that he sees no evidence of a quid pro quo in the witnesses' testimony, Durbin responded, "He doesn’t want to see it. He ought to take a closer look. It’s pretty obvious. Lin’s a good lawyer and he should know better. If you don’t wanna see something, you’re not going to see it."

Meadows: Defending Trump is 'getting easier' as more officials testify

1009d ago / 5:17 PM UTC

1009d ago / 5:14 PM UTC

Fiona Hill's lawyer disputes Sondland's testimony

1009d ago / 5:10 PM UTC

The lawyer for former top White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill is accusing Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland of making up testimony about purported conversations he and Hill had over coffee.

"Sondland has fabricated communications with Dr. Hill, none of which were over coffee," her lawyer, Lee Wolosky, wrote on Twitter. "Dr. Hill told Sondland what she told lawmakers — the lack of coordination on Ukraine was distastorous, and the circumstances of the dismissal of Amb Yovanovitch shameful.”

Wolosky confirmed to NBC News that he sent the tweet but did not provide additional information about his accusation. Sondland’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, declined to comment.

In his deposition, Sondland referred at least four times to having coffee with Hill when they overlapped in the Trump administration, including once in the White House and another time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Sondland, in the transcript of his deposition, described Hill as being visibly emotional during a coffee he said they had at the White House when Hill was leaving the administration. He said she was “sort of shaking, she was pretty mad,” describing her as unloading her pent-up frustrations with Trump, then-national security adviser John Bolton and the administration on her way out.

Hill’s lawyer noted in his tweet that she was critical in her testimony about the way Ukraine policy was handled and the ouster of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, among other things. Hill’s main point of contention with Sondland appears to be not whether she criticized the administration, but whether she did so in a private coffee meeting with him.

Graham says he's 'not going to read the transcripts'

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1009d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters Wednesday that he is "not going to read these transcripts" of testimony in the impeachment inquiry, saying, "the whole process is a joke."

Kurt "Volker, the special envoy, said there was no quid pro quo," Graham said. "Sonderland has changed his testimony to say he presumes there was. What I can tell you about the Trump policy toward the Ukraine, it was incoherent, it depends on who you talk to. They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo. So, no, I find the whole process to be a sham and I'm not going to legitimize it." 

In his testimony, special envoy to Ukraine Volker told House investigators that no quid pro quo was communicated to him and that he did not believe the timeline of events bore out that kind of leverage based on his understanding of when the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on military aid.

Graham, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, also said Rudy Giuliani should stop his Ukraine efforts, adding that he lent no credence to a 2016 conspiracy theory that Trump and his personal lawyer have been chasing about Ukrainian involvement in hacking Democrats' emails.

"I think we should not do this in the future," Graham said. "You know, who was the guy, Sidney Blumenthal, did this whole crap in Libya, you know, running around representing Clinton in Libya. I think that’s bad public policy. 

"I don’t know what Rudy was trying to do, if he was trying to defend Trump against allegations of, you know, working with Russia," Graham added. "There’s a theory out there that the Ukrainians hacked into the emails, not the Russians. I don’t buy that for one minute. I find no credibility to the idea it was the Ukraine who hacked into the DNC. It was the Russians, I’m convinced it was the Russians."

FLASHBACK: Bill Taylor's opening statement

1009d ago / 5:00 PM UTC

Ahead of Bill Taylor's public hearing next week and the transcript of his impeachment testimony, which we're expecting later Wednesday, here's a reminder of what he said during his opening statement last month:

President Donald Trump has insisted there was no "quid pro quo" in his dealings with the Ukrainian government, and "no pressure" on Ukraine's president to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

But in his remarkable 15-page statement delivered to Congress on Tuesday, Trump's top diplomat to Ukraine painted a picture of both.

Read the six most astonishing revelations here.

Bill Taylor transcript coming today, Schiff says

1009d ago / 4:52 PM UTC

Schiff announced on Wednesday that impeachment investigators would be releasing the transcript of Bill Taylor's deposition later in the day. He said what we will see from the transcript is that the GOP had equal time to ask questions. 

Donald Trump Jr. tweets name of person he says is the whistleblower

1009d ago / 4:46 PM UTC

Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, tweeted on Wednesday the name of a person who some conservative media outlets have alleged is the intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint triggered the House impeachment inquiry.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the unnamed whistleblower, whose right to anonymity is protected by federal law. On Oct. 14, he tweeted that the whistleblower "must testify" before Congress and that "we must determine the Whistleblower's identity to determine WHY this was done to the USA." 

In recent days, some of Trump's staunchest Republican allies have called on the media to reveal a name, and on Sunday, Trump intensified his own calls for the person to be exposed. "The whistleblower should be revealed," Trump told reporters outside the White House.  

Trump Jr. said in follow up tweets that he did not coordinate with the White House. 

NBC News is not reporting the name of the whistleblower as long as that person wishes to remain anonymous, due to security and safety concerns, and will not publish the names of anyone purportedly identified by outside parties as the whistleblower. NBC News has confirmed, however, that the person is a CIA employee who was detailed to the White House.

Mark Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, lawyers for the whistleblower, have been publicly opposing GOP pressure to reveal the identity of the whistleblower, not only because of his or her personal safety but because they insist that the person's identity is now irrelevant since the claims contained in the complaint have been corroborated by the testimony of other named witnesses in the impeachment probe. 

"Identifying any suspected name for the whistleblower will place that individual and their family at risk of serious harm. We will not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the president," the attorneys said in a statement Wednesday

"We will note, however, that the publication of a name shows the desperation to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint. It will not relieve the president of the need to address the substantive allegations, all of which have been substantially proven to be true," Zaid and Bakaj added.  

First public hearings in Trump impeachment inquiry to begin next week, Schiff says

1009d ago / 4:38 PM UTC

Public hearings in Congress will begin next week in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Wednesday.

"Next week, the House Intelligence Committee will hold its first open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry," said Schiff, the committee's chairman. "On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, we will hear from William Taylor and George Kent. On Friday, November 15, 2019, we will hear from Marie Yovanovitch. More to come."

Read more on the open hearings here.

1009d ago / 3:15 PM UTC

Mulvaney won't testify, Conway says

1009d ago / 3:11 PM UTC

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney will not give closed-door testimony Friday to House investigators, senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway told reporters Wednesday.

"I’m told no," Conway said when asked whether Mulvaney would appear. 

When asked if she is worried she will be called to testify, Conway said, “I’m not worried about that,” adding that she is unsure if she would be called.

Asked why the White House won't let officials testify, Conway said, “Why would we try to be complicit in an impeachment inquiry that we're not even sure what it’s about. What is it about? If I gave you a blank piece of paper, literally what would you write on it? What are we telling the American people right here and right now as to why we're impeaching the president?"

"Frankly, we don’t do that against anyone who’s being accused of anything," Conway added. "We don’t say, 'Come, let's book you, let’s put you on trial, and we'll figure it out as we go along if anything kind of pops. I mean this is just — that is just not the way our rule of law works."

In their request for Mulvaney's testimony, the chairmen of the committees leading the impeachment inquiry wrote that their probe has revealed he might have been "directly involved" in alleged efforts by Trump and others "to withhold a coveted White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance" to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president's political rivals.

White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Tuesday that the administration wouldn't be inclined to allow senior advisers to participate in the inquiry.

Trump impeachment witness breaks week's no-show pattern

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1009d ago / 2:16 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — One witness was expected to appear Wednesday for a scheduled deposition before three House committees stemming from the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, arrived on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning to give his scheduled deposition before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees in closed session.

Hale, a career diplomat, is likely to face questions regarding the removal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who said that she was fired at the direction of President Donald Trump. Philip Reeker, another career diplomat, told investigators at a previous hearing that Hale had stopped the publication of a statement in support of Yovanovitch.

Read the full story here.

1009d ago / 2:03 PM UTC

Democrats zero in on three witnesses for public hearings

1009d ago / 1:28 PM UTC

In preparing the next phase in their impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, Democrats have identified three witnesses as the strongest candidates for public hearings, NBC News has learned.

In the next few weeks, Democrats hope to feature the testimonies of former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the nation's current senior diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, according to three sources with knowledge of the deliberations.

The sources stressed the ability of Taylor and Vindman give a firsthand accounts of their understanding that aid to Ukraine was tied to the country's revival of investigations that would serve the president's personal political interests. 

Trump official set for questions on Ukraine ambassador removal

1009d ago / 10:56 AM UTC

David Hale, under secretary of state for political affairs, is due to appear at a closed door hearing Wednesday and is likely to face questions on the removal of Amb. Marie “Masha” Yovanovich, who has said she was fired by the direction of President Donald Trump

Career diplomat Phillip Reeker told investigators at a previous hearing that Hale had stopped the publication of a statement in support of Yovanovich.

1009d ago / 2:15 AM UTC

Vindman will testify, if asked

1009d ago / 2:12 AM UTC

A source familiar with the matter tells NBC News that Vindman will testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry, if asked. This source says he has not yet been asked.

Vindman will return to Capitol Hill on Thursday to review the transcript of his testimony, according to the source familiar.

Updated Friday impeachment inquiry deposition schedule

1009d ago / 2:10 AM UTC

From an official working on the impeachment inquiry:

The following witnesses are expected to testify in closed session on Friday, Nov. 8:

— Acting White House Chief of Staff John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney

— OMB Associate Director for National Security Programs Mark Sandy

The Committees are in ongoing discussions with other witnesses and we look forward to their testimony.

1009d ago / 2:00 AM UTC

Two Trump officials expected to show up for impeachment interviews

and

1009d ago / 1:07 AM UTC

There is a good chance that David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, shows up tomorrow for his closed-door deposition with House impeachment investigators, according to two sources familiar.

Jennifer Williams, a foreign policy aide to Mike Pence, is also expected to show up for her scheduled deposition on Thursday, according to two sources familiar. 

'Talk to Rudy': Impeachment transcripts detail Giuliani's outsized influence in Ukraine policy

1009d ago / 12:36 AM UTC

Rudy Giuliani was mentioned more than 430 times during House impeachment investigators' interviews with two key U.S. diplomats, transcripts released on Tuesday show, underscoring the former New York mayor's outsized role in U.S.-Ukraine policy.

More than anyone else, Giuliani shaped Trump's view of Ukraine and caused headaches for top State Department officials, as Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and Kurt Volker, then the U.S. special representative for Ukraine, detailed in their testimonies last month.

Here are some of the most noteworthy references to Giuliani in those documents.

Impeachment faces first big test in Kentucky governor's election

1009d ago / 12:15 AM UTC

Graham unconcerned about new transcripts: 'We got some guy presuming something'

1009d ago / 10:57 PM UTC

Judiciary Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spoke to NBC and CNN following the Sondland and Volker transcripts being released. On the transcripts, Graham said he hasn’t read the deposition but “bottom line, Mueller meant something to me, I'm not impressed with this whole line of impeachment,” adding “I'm not going to entertain impeaching the President over this matter, period. Done.” Graham also referred to Sondland as “some guy presuming something.” When asked if he will call Hunter Biden to testify, Graham says it doesn’t fall under his jurisdiction but he hopes Senator Risch (R-ID), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, will look at it.

Separately, NBC asked Graham if Giuliani will come in and testify before his committee, to which Graham said “I don’t think he’s coming,” adding that he spoke to him again and Giuliani “never got back” to him on that.

White House signals it won't comply with House request for Mulvaney deposition

1009d ago / 10:47 PM UTC

When asked if Mulvaney would comply with the request by House Democrats to testify, Hogan Gidley released the following statement to NBC News:

"Past Democrat and Republican Administrations would not be inclined to permit Senior Advisers to the President to participate in such a ridiculous, partisan, illegitimate proceeding – and  neither is this one."

McConnell says Trump impeachment trial 'would not lead to a removal' if held today

1009d ago / 10:28 PM UTC

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on the impeachment process Tuesday, telling reporters that if a hypothetical Senate trial were held today, the upper chamber would not vote to convict President Donald Trump.

"I will say, I'm pretty sure how it's likely to end: If it were today I don't think there's any question it would not lead to a removal," the Kentucky Republican said. "So the question is how long does the Senate want to take? How long do the presidential candidates want to be here on the floor of the Senate instead of in Iowa and New Hampshire?" (Six senators, who would serve as jurors, are running in the Democratic presidential primary.)

"And all of these other related issues that may be going on at the same time, it's very difficult to ascertain how long this takes," McConnell added. "I'd be surprised if it didn't end the way the two previous ones did with the president not being removed from office."

The Inquiry: Sondland confirms quid pro quo in testimony

1009d ago / 10:10 PM UTC

White House reaction to Sondland, Volker transcripts

1009d ago / 8:32 PM UTC

From White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham:

"Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought.  Ambassador Sondland squarely states that he 'did not know, (and still does not know) when, why or by whom the aid was suspended.' He also said he 'presumed' there was a link to the aid—but cannot identify any solid source for that assumption. By contrast, Volker’s testimony confirms there could not have been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know about the military aid hold at the time. No amount of salacious media-biased headlines, which are clearly designed to influence the narrative, change the fact that the President has done nothing wrong."

Meadows brushes off Sondland testimony

1009d ago / 7:37 PM UTC

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, one of Trump's most vocal Republican supporters in the House, brushed off concerns about Sondland's testimony.

"It’s interesting that from your vantage point you’re wanting to focus on Ambassador Sondland instead of on Volker, who was the Ukrainian envoy who actually talked to the Ukrainians who actually had the responsibility when you talk to him," he said.

Sondland changes testimony, acknowledges delivering quid pro quo message to Ukraine

and

1009d ago / 7:33 PM UTC

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators this week that he now remembers telling a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Ukraine would not receive U.S. military assistance until it committed to investigating the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a person with knowledge of Sondland's testimony.

Sondland's latest testimony represents an update to depositions he gave in October to the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Sondland said that by the beginning of September, he “presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the proposed anti-corruption statement.”

Sondland also said he now remembered a Sept. 1 conversation with Andriy Yermak, a top Zelenskiy adviser, in Warsaw in which he told Yermak that “the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”

Read the full story here.

1010d ago / 6:34 PM UTC

Impeachment investigators seek testimony from Mulvaney

1010d ago / 6:09 PM UTC

House impeachment investigators want to depose acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Friday, Nov. 8.

In a letter sent to Mulvaney Tuesday requesting his testimony, the three committee chairmen wrote that they believe he has "substantial first-hand knowledge and information relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry."

"Specifically, the investigation has revealed that you may have been directly involved in an effort orchestrated by President Trump, his personal agent, Rudolph Giuliani, and others to withhold a coveted White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue investigations that would benefit President Trump’s personal political interests, and jeopardized our national security in attempting to do so," the chairmen continued. 

The White House previously made it clear it does not intend to comply with the inquiry.

 

GOP senators disagree with Rand Paul's call for outing whistleblower

1010d ago / 6:08 PM UTC

Some of Sen. Rand Paul's Republican colleagues say they disagree with his call for the media to reveal the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the House impeachment inquiry.

“I believe in personal privacy, particularly as it relates to a whistleblower, and think that would be most unfortunate,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters Tuesday when asked about the Kentucky Republican's remarks.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also said she disagreed with Paul's comments.

“Whistleblowers are entitled to protection under the law," Collins said. "The intelligence community whistleblowers play a very important role, and to try to reveal the name of this individual to me is contrary to the intent of the whistleblower law.

“Now, I do think the whistleblowers should be answering questions, and it’s my understanding that he has agreed to do so if they’re submitted to him even by Republican members, and I would say especially by Republican members," Collins continued, adding, "If there’s information about him that casts doubt over the veracity of what he’s saying, that’s fair game, but I do not support revealing his identity.”

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said that while he understands why his Republican colleagues are suspicious of the secrecy surrounding the House Democrats' handling of the inquiry, "I think the whistleblower statute is there for a reason, and I think we need to respect the law where whistleblowers are concerned."

"But I just think part of it is the atmosphere around this that the Democrats in the House have created just makes all of this very suspect because of the secrecy of it, and I think the more transparent the process is the better off everyone is," Thune added. "And that’s why ... some of our colleagues are saying the whistleblower, we need to be more transparent, need more information, and a person ought to be able to face his accusers."

Paul called for the media to out the whistleblower in an appearance at President Donald Trump's campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday night, saying, "I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name."

1010d ago / 6:07 PM UTC

Whistleblower Protections Caucus co-chairs denounce effort to unmask whistleblower

1010d ago / 6:06 PM UTC

After Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called on the media and fellow members of Congress to reveal the whistleblower’s name at Monday night's Trump rally, NBC News reached out to the co-chairs of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus for their reaction.

Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) told NBC News on Tuesday, "I’m co-chair of the Whistleblower Caucus and I believe publicly outing a whistleblower will forever keep others from speaking truth to power. If you are serious about protecting whistleblowers you must do it regardless of who is president."

A spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says the senator "didn’t watch the rally," adding that Grassley’s comments yesterday before the rally "pretty much covered it."

Grassley had told reporters earlier on Monday that it’s "strictly up to the whistleblower" to decide whether or not to come forward. 

1010d ago / 4:08 PM UTC

Raskin: Yovanovitch was 'set up for a comprehensive smear campaign'

1010d ago / 4:01 PM UTC

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the Judiciary and Oversight committees, alleged in a CNN interview Tuesday that former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch "was basically set up for a comprehensive smear campaign by Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen" and "she was told by lots of people this was happening to her."

Discussing his takeaways from the depositions of Yovanovitch and former Pompeo aide Michael McKinley, Raskin added that McKinley "tried to get Secretary of State Pompeo to speak out on behalf of Ambassador Yovanovitch, and he refused to do it." McKinley "testified that he could not believe that there was this, you know, campaign of smears and lies against her, and the State Department would not stand up for her. And he said basically he ended up resigning in protest, saying that he had never seen anything like this in 37 years in his service in the State Department."

Yovanovitch's ouster "sets the stage for is all of the financial and political  schemes that the president was executing along with Giuliani and his henchmen," Raskin alleged.

"So the president has tried to say, 'Well, this is just about one phone call, and it was a perfect phone call,' Raskin said. 'It was a perfectly unlawful phone call, but it's not just about a phone call. It's about a whole campaign to run a — not a parallel shadow foreign policy, but a perpendicular foreign policy, was working across purposes with Ambassador Yovanovitch, who was leading a campaign against corruption in Ukraine. And in fact, it was the president's deputies who were reviving corruption and trying to exploit the traditional corruption that took place in that country."

Asked about Sen. Rand Paul's demand that the identity of the whistleblower be revealed, Raskin said attempts "to demonize and vilify the whistleblower is a scapegoating tactic that, again, is a distraction from the merits of the case."

"And you'll notice the president's defenders are doing everything they can to distract people from what actually happened there because there's almost complete agreement on it," he said. "Nobody is telling any story other than the president organized this shakedown against the Ukrainian government and then tried to cover it up afterwards."

1010d ago / 2:50 PM UTC

OPINION: Trump and Giuliani's impeachment defense pushes America closer to a 'mafia state'

1010d ago / 2:48 PM UTC

Neither President Donald Trump nor his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani deny the underlying facts of the allegations at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. This seems like a relatively crazy thing to do, given that Democrats are out for blood — but they really have no choice given how much is already public. So instead of denying the facts, Trump’s defense appears to be: Yes, we did it, but there was nothing wrong with it.

The “there was nothing wrong with it” defense does triple duty: It gives Trump’s surrogates something to argue, it muddies the water and confuses people with its sheer audacity, and — most important — it pushes the United States one step closer to becoming what the Hungarian scholar Bálint Magyar calls a “mafia state” to describe the kind of autocracies we see springing up in the former Soviet Union.

We’ve been talking about Trump and Giuliani running a “shadow” foreign policy alongside (and often in conflict with) the official State Department foreign policy. But Masha Gessen, relying on Magyar's work, explains that we are “using the wrong language” to describe what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine. A president, who is the chief foreign policy official in the nation, cannot, by definition, run a shadow foreign policy. What the president can do, however, is destroy the institutions that traditionally conduct foreign policy, in this case, the State Department, staffed by career diplomats.

Read the full opinion piece here.

1010d ago / 2:42 PM UTC

OPINION: Why White House lawyers might not be covering for Trump after all

1010d ago / 2:26 PM UTC

Four witnesses who were scheduled to testify Monday in closed-door depositions before the House Intelligence Committee didn't show up, a move which has intensified claims from Democrats that the White House is trying to cover up the truth relating to President Donald Trump’s now-infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president.

One of those four is a deputy White House counsel named John Eisenberg who currently serves as the legal adviser to the National Security Council. John and I overlapped briefly at the Justice Department and I know him slightly — enough to have a favorable opinion of him, for what it is worth.

When Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — a member of the National Security Council staff who overheard a troubling phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine — properly reported his concerns to Eisenberg, Eisenberg reportedly told Vindman not to discuss that phone call with anyone else. 

Now, I think there are at least two plausible explanations for Eisenberg’s advice to Vindman to remain silent. One plausible explanation — and it seems to be where some of the commentary has drifted — is nefarious. By telling Vindman not to speak further about a troubling conversation that he overheard, Eisenberg could be attempting to cover up the president’s misconduct.

But there is a second explanation for Eisenberg’s advice to Vindman that is also plausible, and that also makes sense to me — and that is not nefarious. When a good lawyer learns of potential misconduct (and Eisenberg is, by all accounts, a good lawyer), that lawyer has an obligation to gather the facts and recommend a course of action to his boss (here, the White House counsel) and to his client (here, the Office of the President). Eisenberg, unlike Rudy Giuliani, does not serve Trump personally in his capacity as counsel — an important distinction.

Read the full opinion piece here.

1010d ago / 2:20 PM UTC

How worried should a Trump-district Democrat be about impeachment?

1010d ago / 2:15 PM UTC

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — All politics is local. It’s a maxim that first-term Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., is betting on as he simultaneously gears up for one of the most competitive congressional races in the country — and braces for the House impeachment inquiry to take center stage in Washington.

Cunningham, 37, a former ocean engineer and Charleston-based lawyer who won his seat in 2018 by emphasizing local issues, is one of the dwindling number of House Democrats who have remained openly skeptical about impeaching President Donald Trump.

Although he voted in favor of a House resolution last week that laid out the ground rules for proceeding with the impeachment inquiry, Cunningham cautioned that no one should conflate his vote with support for removing Trump from office. But national Republicans are wagering that the House inquiry, which is likely to force Cunningham to cast a public “yes” or “no” vote on whether to impeach Trump, could cost him his re-election.

Read the full story here.

1010d ago / 1:57 PM UTC

Volker and Sondland deposition transcripts to be released

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1010d ago / 1:53 PM UTC

The investigative committees are expected to release the deposition transcripts of former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland on Tuesday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said.

The move comes a day after House Democrats released the testimony of ousted Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley, a former aid to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as the probe moves to a more public phase.

Also on Tuesday, two more officials — National Security Council adviser Wells Griffith and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey — are scheduled to give depositions, although at least one of them — Duffey — is not expected to appear.

Read the full story here.

1010d ago / 1:10 PM UTC

Article II - The First Transcripts

1010d ago / 12:23 AM UTC

Today, the House released transcripts from two witness depositions, officially moving the impeachment inquiry into a public phase. Steve Kornacki caught up with Geoff Bennett, White House Correspondent for NBC News, to talk about the full testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, former Ambassador to Ukraine, and Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State, Michael McKinley. 

The two discuss:

  • What the full testimony reveals, including Yovanovitch’s accounting of how she learned of the campaign to oust her and details around McKinley’s decision to resign from the State Department
  • Why House Democrats chose to release the transcripts now
  • How the release of the transcripts affects the timeline of the impeachment inquiry – and what to expect later this week

Listen to the full episode here.

1010d ago / 12:22 AM UTC

Indicted Giuliani pal willing to comply with impeachment inquiry, his lawyer says

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1010d ago / 12:20 AM UTC

Rudy Giuliani associate who was indicted last month for making illegal campaign contributions is willing to provide documents and testimony to House impeachment investigators, his lawyer confirmed to NBC News.

Lev Parnas' lawyer Joseph A. Bondy said, "We will honor and not avoid the committee’s requests to the extent they are legally proper, while scrupulously protecting Mr. Parnas' privileges including that of the Fifth Amendment."

Parnas was originally asked to testify before Congress last month, a request he ignored. He was arrested at the airport on the day he was supposed to be deposed with a one-way ticket to Vienna.

Read more here.

Will John Bolton testify?

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1010d ago / 10:43 PM UTC

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton is willing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, a source familiar tells NBC News, but only under certain conditions. This source tells NBC News that Bolton would be willing to testify publicly under subpoena if the courts direct his longtime associate Charles Kupperman to cooperate with the probe.

Kupperman, who served as Bolton’s deputy, filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to resolve conflicting orders from Congress and the White House, which had ordered him not to appear. Bolton and Kupperman share an attorney.

Oral arguments in the Kupperman case are slated to begin on Dec. 10, a date that would delay the House inquiry.  Schiff today told reporters he’s prepared to move forward without Bolton’s testimony.

"We are not going to delay our work,” Schiff said. "That would merely allow these witnesses and the White House to succeed with their goal, which is to delay, deny, obstruct."

 

More impeachment no-shows expected this week

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1010d ago / 10:40 PM UTC

As Democrats wrap up the private fact-finding portion of their impeachment inquiry, NBC News has learned that most of the witnesses scheduled for closed-door testimony the remainder of this week are not expected to appear as requested.

The following is according to sources familiar and subject to change:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

  • NOT CONFIRMED: Wells Griffith, NSC Senior Director for International Energy and Environment
  • NOT EXPECTED TO APPEAR: Michael Duffey, OMB Associate Director for National Security Programs | 9:30AM

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

  • NOT EXPECTED TO APPEAR: T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, Department of State Counselor | 9:30AM
  • NOT EXPECTED TO APPEAR: Russell Vought, OMB Acting Director | 9:30AM
  • NOT EXPECTED TO APPEAR: Rick Perry, Energy Secretary
  • NOT CONFIRMED: David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Thursday, November 7, 2019

  • NOT EXPECTED TO APPEAR: John Bolton, Former National Security Adviser | 9:30AM

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters today that rather than seeking recourse in the courts, further defiance of congressional subpoenas by administration officials "will only add to the body of evidence on a potential obstruction of Congress charge against the president."

Ousted Ukraine ambassador Yovanovitch says she was told to tweet praise of Trump to save her job

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1011d ago / 6:08 PM UTC

Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators last month that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland told her she should tweet out support or praise for President Donald Trump if she wanted to save her job, according to a transcript of her testimony made public Monday.

The three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump released two transcripts of the behind-closed-doors interviews they have so far conducted as part of their investigation, as the probe moves to a more public phase.

Read more of Yovanovitch's interview here.

Impeachment haunts the campaign trail as candidates compete against the bigger story

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1011d ago / 3:22 PM UTC

DECORAH, Iowa — Impeachment is rolling into the 2020 presidential primary like a winter storm, threatening to blot out the sun for candidates desperate for attention and sweep several leading candidates off the trail entirely just before the Iowa caucuses early next year.

And there's not a thing the Democratic contenders can do about it.

"You know, a lot of politics is about the illusion of control, when really we're all subject to the winds of history that are blowing around," Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said in response to questions from NBC News aboard his campaign bus.

While the timing of the Democrats' impeachment effort in Washington remains unclear, the House hopes to finish its investigation into President Donald Trump by the end of the year, which could mean that a Senate trial would likely begin in early January — just weeks before Iowa's critical first-in-the-nation caucuses on Feb. 3. A potential trial of Trump is an enormous election wild card that everyone agrees will disrupt the race, even if they don't know exactly how.

Read the full story here.

Amid impeachment drive, the pro-Trump search for dirt on Ukraine and the Bidens goes on

1011d ago / 3:08 PM UTC

KYIV, Ukraine — While Congress heard closed-door testimony last week about President Donald Trump pushing Ukraine to investigate his opponents, Rudy Giuliani was holding his own private Ukraine meeting in his Manhattan office.

Giuliani, the Trump personal lawyer at the center of the firestorm as Trump faces likely impeachment, met with former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko, who alleges that Ukraine's government conspired with the Democratic National Committee to hurt Trump in 2016.

Far from keeping their heads down, those working in common cause with the president's and Giuliani's campaign to get Ukraine to investigate Trump's political opponents are moving ahead unabated, interviews in Kyiv and Washington with several of those involved reveal.

Read more about the search for Ukraine dirt.

Trump wants whistleblower to do what he wouldn't: Answer questions in person

1011d ago / 3:06 PM UTC

President Donald Trump said Monday that written answers from the whistleblower to Congress would be unacceptable — although such answers were fine for the president when dealing with former special counsel Robert Mueller.

"The Whistleblower gave false information & dealt with corrupt politician Schiff," Trump tweeted. "He must be brought forward to testify. Written answers not acceptable! Where is the 2nd Whistleblower? He disappeared after I released the transcript. Does he even exist? Where is the informant? Con!"

Trump was responding to news that Mark Zaid, the attorney for both known whistleblowers who came forward with concerns about Trump's conduct toward Ukraine, said the first whistleblower offered to provide written answers to House investigators to protect his or her identity. Zaid told NBC News on Sunday that he had not yet received a substantive response from House Intelligence Committee Republicans about his offer.

Read more here.

Monday's witnesses not expected to show up for testimony

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1011d ago / 1:20 PM UTC

None of the four witnesses scheduled for closed-door testimony Monday in the impeachment inquiry are expected to appear, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The include senior National Security Counsel legal adviser John Eisenberg  and his deputy, Michael Ellis, top White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney aide Robert Blair, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry's former chief of staff Brian McCormack, who is now an Office of Management and Budget official.

On Sunday night, the House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas for testimony from Blair and Ellis, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry. House Democrats have previously said they will forgo court battles with defiant witnesses and instead consider the stonewalling as grounds for a separate article of impeachment on obstruction of Congress.

Read the full story here.

Rep. Cole defends Trump: 'If there was a quid pro quo, it certainly wasn't a very effective one'

1011d ago / 7:48 PM UTC

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., defended Trump's conduct towards Ukraine by saying that "if there was a quid pro quo, it certainly wasn't a very effective one."

"Concern is different than rising to the level of impeachment," Cole told NBC's "Meet the Press" when host Chuck Todd asked about allegations Trump tied Ukraine aid to an investigation of the Biden family. "I look at it this way: The aid is there and the investigations didn't happen. So, if there was a quid pro quo, it certainly wasn't a very effective one."

Read the rest here.

NBC/WSJ poll: 49 percent now back Trump's impeachment and removal

1011d ago / 7:45 PM UTC

Exactly one year out from the 2020 general election, a majority of all Americans — or close to it — support impeaching President Donald Trump and removing him from office, disapprove of his job performance and back his top Democratic rivals in head-to-head matchups.

Those are the findings from the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which was conducted amid the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry against the president, after Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, and after the military raid that killed the leader of ISIS.

In the poll, 53 percent of Americans say they approve of the impeachment inquiry regarding Trump’s actions with Ukraine’s president, while 44 percent disapprove.

The results largely break along partisan lines, with 89 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents supporting the inquiry — versus just 9 percent of Republicans who agree.

Then asked if Trump should be impeached and removed from office, 49 percent answer yes, while 46 percent say no.

Read more poll results here.

Trump threatens to expose information about Vindman

1012d ago / 5:55 PM UTC

Kellyanne Conway says she doesn't know if Ukraine aid was held up over Biden probe

1012d ago / 5:53 PM UTC

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that she doesn't know whether President Donald Trump held up aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the country's new leadership to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, though she said all that matters is "they've got their aid."

"It's not impeachable," Conway told CNN's "State of the Union" of Trump's conduct toward Ukraine. "And that's where we are now."

"And Dana, let's be fair, Ukraine got the aid," she told CNN's Dana Bash. "As you and I sit here, one presumes they're using that aid. The Ukrainian president said he felt no pressure. He never knew aid was being held up."

Read more here.

Dem Rep. says impeachment transcripts likely coming 'within the next five days'

1012d ago / 5:52 PM UTC

Leading Democrats said Sunday that the public can soon expect the release of full transcripts of witness testimony in the House impeachment probe, as well as the launch of open, televised hearings.

"I think you're going to see all of the transcripts that are going to be released probably within the next five days," Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., told CBS's "Face the Nation." "I don't know if they're all going to be released on the same day, but they're going to be very telling to the American people."

Read more here.

Friday's impeachment news roundup

1013d ago / 10:34 PM UTC

In case you're just catching up on Friday's impeachment news, here's some of what you missed:

  • A day after the House adopted procedures for the impeachment inquiry, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said President Donald is prepared to be impeached. Grisham also said Trump might hold a "fireside chat" in which he would read a transcript of the July 25 Trump-Ukraine call, and suggested the White House could cooperate with the inquiry "if things are actually open and transparent."
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she expects the House to begin public hearings this month — the most specific she has been about when lawmakers would have the chance to question witnesses in open session. Pelosi also made clear that Democrats have not yet decided whether they will actually impeach the president.
  • Meanwhile, Trump is road-testing a new message on impeachment while the House lines up more witness depositions for next week.

Witness testimony and public hearings: What comes next?

1013d ago / 8:24 PM UTC

Grisham: 'We are prepared for impeachment to happen'

1014d ago / 6:14 PM UTC

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News on Friday that President Donald Trump is prepared to be impeached by the House.

"I mean, we are still obviously hopeful that everybody will come to their senses and realize that the president did nothing wrong," Grisham said. "But we are prepared for an impeachment to happen, yes."

Grisham said when asked about Trump's feelings about the prospect that the president has expressed his thoughts on Twitter, adding that the impeachment inquiry "has been unjust and unfair."

"We released that transcript weeks ago for everybody to see," Grisham said, referring to the White House's detailed notes of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a central focus of the whistleblower complaint that gave rise to the inquiry. "There was no quid pro quo. The Ukrainian government themselves has said they felt absolutely no pressure. Aid was eventually released to the Ukraine. This all stemmed from the president being responsible and not wanting to release money to a country that was known for corruption."

Asked if Trump would hold a televised "fireside chat" and read a transcript of the phone call, as he told the Washington Examiner, Grisham said, "I don't know what the logistics of it would look like just yet," adding when pressed, "I don't have any timing there."

Grisham also suggested the White House might cooperate with the inquiry, but only if the process is transparent.

"If things are actually open and transparent, as purported, I would imagine that we would participate," Grisham said. "But again, if they're going to have different rules and move the goalposts all the time, then that's just not a  fair process. In the United States, you are innocent until proven guilty. Right now, the president is being told he that he's guilty by the Democrats and we're having to prove innocence without knowing any information. That's not okay."

President Trump is out on the road testing a new message

1014d ago / 5:15 PM UTC

Pelosi sheds a little more light on timeline for public hearings

1014d ago / 4:47 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that she expects the House to begin public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump this month. 

“I would assume there would be public hearings in November,” she told reporters and editors during a roundtable held at Bloomberg News in New York. 

This was the most specific Pelosi has been in terms of when lawmakers would have the chance to question witnesses in open session. Speaking in a separate interview Thursday on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Pelosi was vague and said that the public hearings would take place "soon."

In the interview with Bloomberg, Pelosi made clear that Democrats have not yet decided whether they will actually impeach the president. According to Bloomberg, she also didn't rule out the possibility that the inquiry would spill into 2020, a presidential election year.

“I don't know what the timetable will be — the truth will set us free,” she said. “We have not made any decisions on if the president will be impeached.”

Pelosi's remarks come a day after the House took an historic vote to reaffirm the ongoing inquiry and set guidelines and rules for the next steps in the investigation. 

The House will be on recess next week but closed-door depositions are expected to continue with a number of additional witnesses scheduled to come in. Some witnesses, however, may not show up because of White House efforts to block their testimony. 

1014d ago / 1:45 PM UTC

What's next in the Trump impeachment inquiry, Friday edition

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1014d ago / 1:18 PM UTC

There are no depositions scheduled today.

Looking ahead to next week, Monday could be busy. Four administration officials are scheduled for depositions, though it's not clear that they will all appear as requested. Those officials are:

  • John Eisenberg, National Security Council legal adviser
  • Michael Ellis, deputy National Security Council legal adviser
  • Robert Blair, senior adviser to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney
  • Brian McCormack, associate director for natural resources, energy and science in the Office of Management and Budget

1014d ago / 1:15 PM UTC
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Former White House aide testifies of Ukraine call concerns, possible quid pro quo

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1014d ago / 9:12 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — Former Trump administration official Tim Morrison told congressional investigators Thursday that he had been concerned the July 25 phone conversation between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would have a negative impact on both politics and policy if it were to become public, according to two sources familiar with his testimony.

The former top National Security Council adviser on Russia and Europe — who was on that call, and told investigators Thursday he thought there was "nothing illegal" about the conversation, including the president’s request that Ukraine open an investigation into former vice president and 2020 rival Joe Biden — said that he was aware that the discussion, if it were ever widely known, could spark political controversy in Washington and have an adverse effect on U.S.-Ukrainian relations, according to a review of his opening statement.

And he said his own conversation several weeks after the president's July 25 call with Sondland, a Trump backer, had given him reason to believe that the release of security assistance to Ukraine might be conditioned on a public statement from Ukraine that it was reopening the Burisma probe.

Read more on Morrison's testimony here.

Rep. who missed vote voices his support

1014d ago / 7:31 PM UTC

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., who missed Thursday's vote on the impeachment procedures resolution while recuperating from surgery, said in a statement Thursday that he "strongly supports" the measure as a "necessary step" that will ensure transparency and due process.

"Our constituents deserve to hear the many ways the president has betrayed our country and put our national security at risk for his own gain," McEachin said in the statement. "With this vote, we are ensuring transparency, effective public hearings, and due process protections for the president or his counsel.

"While I deeply regret we have come to this, I stand with my colleagues in support of today’s resolution," he continued. "We must hold the president accountable for his misconduct — it is our Constitutional obligation. No one is above the law.”

1015d ago / 6:14 PM UTC

Analysis: Nasty House floor fight sets baseline for Trump impeachment

1015d ago / 6:11 PM UTC

WASHINGTON — For only the fourth time in its history, the House voted Thursday to initiate impeachment against a president of the United States.

As a technical matter, the resolution was a dry set of rules for the public phase of the investigation. But on a political level, the floor fight over it was nasty, brutish and relatively short — just over an hour — ending in a nearly perfectly party-line vote. 

The contours of Thursday's debate, and the vote totals on each side, set a baseline from which the two parties will battle over the coming weeks. Democrats now know they still have work to do to force Republicans to cross the aisle by applying public pressure. Republicans, meanwhile, know that most politically vulnerable Democrats are unafraid of the consequences of pursuing impeachment.

Read the full story here.

2 Democratic defectors join GOP in voting against Trump impeachment resolution

1015d ago / 5:02 PM UTC

Two Democratic congressmen on Thursday broke with their party to vote against the House resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, a move that ushers in a new and public phase of the investigation.

Here are the two Democrats who defected:

Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey

Van Drew, a freshman member who is up for reelection next year, has consistently opposed impeachment. "Let the people choose," he told NBC News Thursday ahead of his "no" vote. Afterward, he released a statement detailing why.

"Without bipartisan support I believe this inquiry will further divide the country tearing it apart at the seams and will ultimately fail in the Senate. However, now that the vote has taken place and we are moving forward I will be making a judgment call based on all the evidence presented by these investigations," he said. "My hope is that we are still able to get some work done to help the American people like infrastructure, veteran’s benefits, environmental protections, immigration reform, reducing prescription drug cost, and strengthening Social Security."

Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota

Peterson, described as a centrist, represents a rural district that Trump won in 2016 by 30 points — the most Trump-friendly district in the country that also elected a Democratic congressman.

After his "no" vote, Peterson said in a statement that the process "continues to be hopelessly partisan."

"I have some serious concerns with the way the closed-door depositions were run, and am skeptical that we will have a process that is open, transparent and fair. Without support from Senate Republicans, going down this path is a mistake," Peterson said. "Today's vote is both unnecessary, and widely misrepresented in the media and by Republicans as a vote on impeachment. I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented."

Read more about the lone Democratic impeachment defectors here.

House Republicans make it clear they feel Trump has done nothing wrong

1015d ago / 4:51 PM UTC

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talking to reporters at the GOP House leadership press conference, was asked by a reporter if he would say Trump has done nothing wrong.

“A very clear yes,” he responded. The cadre of House GOP leaders standing behind him yelled in affirmation as McCarthy responded.

Responding to a subsequent question, McCarthy claimed Republicans in Congress will vote on impeachment — if and when articles are formally introduced — "based on the facts."

"Show us the truth. We always vote based on the facts," he said.

Schiff: 'The Founders provided the remedy' for when a president abuses power

1015d ago / 4:46 PM UTC

Speaking at a House Democrats press conference Thursday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the founding fathers "provided the remedy" for a president who "refuses to defend the Constitution" and pursues his or her own personal or political agenda.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Democrats are going to zero in on the substance of the allegations facing Trump regarding his conduct toward Ukraine.

Rep. Jim Jordan: Americans 'will not tolerate this'

1015d ago / 4:37 PM UTC

Republican House leaders, speaking at their post-vote press conference, continued their criticism of House Democrats, accusing their rival party’s leaders of going against the wishes of the American people

“The American people see this for what it is,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said. “They will not tolerate this.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, claimed the Democrats’ procedural approach to the impeachment inquiry “defies historic precedent.”