This week in the impeachment inquiry
The House Intelligence Committee has scheduled eight more witnesses over three days for public testimony this week. In addition to the hearings, lawmakers could release additional testimony transcripts and provide more clarity this week about the impeachment timeline.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told reporters on Friday that he was “not prepared to say” whether ex-White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill’s public hearing, scheduled for Thursday, would be the last such session in the impeachment inquiry.
After Hill’s hearing, members are scheduled to leave for Thanksgiving recess. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CBS in an interview that aired Sunday that being in recess "doesn't mean depositions couldn't be taken during that time. And then, when we come back [the week of Dec. 2], by then maybe a decision or maybe they have more hearings. And then I have six committees who have been working on all of this, and those six chairmen have been very involved in ... how we will proceed.”
Here's the schedule of public hearings this week:
Tuesday, Nov. 19
9 a.m.: Jennifer Williams, Russia and Europe adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council.
2:30 p.m.: Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and ex-White House Russia and Europe adviser Tim Morrison
Wednesday, Nov. 20
9 a.m.: Amb. to the European Union Gordon Sondland
2:30 p.m.: Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary at the Defense Department, and David Hale, undersecretary for policy at the State Department.
Thursday, Nov. 21
9 a.m.: Fiona Hill, former top National Security Council adviser on Russia.
This weekend's impeachment developments
In case you missed it, here's a recap of the impeachment developments from the weekend:
Trump on Sunday blasted an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence who told House impeachment investigators earlier this month that Trump's asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe the Bidens and Democrats in a July 25 call was "unusual and inappropriate." "Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement [sic] from Ukraine," Trump tweeted. "Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!"
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday that Trump's conduct is "so much worse" than that of former President Richard Nixon, adding that Trump is insecure about being an "imposter." "I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower," Pelosi said of the CIA employee whose complaint about Trump's conduct toward Ukraine led to the impeachment inquiry. "The president can come before the committee and speak all the truth that he wants. ... He has every opportunity to make his case."
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that "of course" trading foreign aid for politics favors is "alarming." "As I've said from the beginning, I think this is not okay," Turner, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that the administration officials who provided the whistleblower with information on Trump's conduct toward Ukraine "exposed things that didn't need to be exposed."
House impeachment investigators on Saturday released the transcripts from joint depositions of former NSC official Timothy Morrison and Williams, Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia, both of whom are expected to testify publicly this week.
Read analysis and updates from Yovanovitch's testimony
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified publicly Friday about the circumstances of her abrupt ouster from her post as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. The following are some of the highlights from what was a busy day.
Swalwell reacts to Mark Sandy deposition
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., spoke briefly to reporters after leaving the closed-door deposition with OMB official Mark Sandy on Saturday. He said Sandy's testimony broadly “relates to the hold that the administration placed on security assistance in Ukraine.”
He added “this investigation is most importantly about the $391 million in taxpayer dollars that was leveraged to ask the Ukrainians to investigate the president's political opponent. This is money that was authorized by Congress, signed into law by the president, in 2018, and every day that went by where that money was not given to Ukrainians, the Ukrainians were dying. They needed this money and the president selfishly used it for his own political interests while life and death was on the line on the eastern front of a hot war with Russia in Ukraine.”
5 things we learned from Yovanovitch's public testimony
Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who is one of several figures at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, spent more than six hours testifying before the House Intelligence Committee Friday.
The hearing didn't reveal much beyond what was learned from her closed-door deposition last month, but it did provide the American public the chance to hear the unconstrained, and at times emotional, account of a top diplomat who House Democrats hope can be one of the faces of their inquiry.
Here are five things we learned from her public appearance. And in case you missed her day on Capitol Hill, catch up on key moments here.
Fact check: Did Democrats seek out nude photos of Trump?
Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, claimed in his opening remarks that Democrats sought embarrassing photos of the president, reiterating a claim he made during Wednesday's public hearing.
This is misleading. The Atlantic reported last year that now-House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was prank-called in April 2017 by Russian entertainers claiming to being a leading Ukrainian politician. One of the callers suggested he had evidence that the Russians had compromising material on the president in the form of nude photos. Schiff, then the ranking member on the Intel committee, asked for a few details, and says the FBI would be willing to review a recording the caller claimed to have, according to the magazine.
A Schiff spokesman told The Atlantic they did not trust the callers: “Before agreeing to take the call, and immediately following it, the committee informed appropriate law-enforcement and security personnel of the conversation, and of our belief that it was probably bogus.”
Schiff may sound gullible, but there's no evidence Schiff was on the hunt for nude photos of the president. And alerting and invoking law enforcement hardly suggests he was seeking nude photos for political use.
These prank callers have gotten other lawmakers, too: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was fooled in August.
Trump let GOP Senators read first Zelenskiy call during White House lunch Thursday
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said Thursday that Trump let a group of just over half a dozen Republican senators read the transcript of his first call with Zelenskiy during a lunch at the White House today during a conversation that discussed everything from foreign policy, trade, as well as who could be called as a witness during a Senate impeachment trial.
"He didn't take out copies, it was sort of into the conversation a little bit when he said yeah, I've got the other transcript that we’ll release at the appropriate time, or something like that, in fact, it’s right here if anybody wanted to read it, and then we just kept talking," Cramer said.
Cramer said the conversation veered to the economy, Turkish President Erdogan’s visit on Wednesday, trade and the USMCA, as well as "impeachment stuff." Then, Republican senators passed the transcript around.
"He didn't make copies, we had one copy, a couple guys read it and handed it back to him then he said, 'here you guys want to see it too?' And he throws it over to me and Montana Sen. Steve Daines and I read it together," Cramer said.
"It's very short," Cramer said, "I would say there's one meaty page. You know the first page is kind of loose, if you will, like, you know, Mister President, congratulations on the victory, thank you, just sort of niceties, and then, you know, and just, you guys, there was nothing— it was pretty benign I should just say, it's pretty benign."
"I mean, Zelenskiy invited him to the inauguration and he said, well, let me check on that and see if I can make it, it was just that kind of niceties," Cramer said.
Trump did not say he when he was going to release it publicly, Cramer said.
'Evidence of bribery': Pelosi comments on impeachment hearing
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the testimony presented by two career U.S. diplomats at the first House impeachment hearing a day earlier had presented evidence of bribery committed by President Donald Trump.
"The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into a political rival," Pelosi told reporters.
Pelosi’s comments come amid a Democratic shift in the language used to describe Trump's actions with regard to Ukraine that lie at the heart of the current impeachment inquiry. Lawmakers had called the president's moves a "quid pro quo," but have recently appeared to shift to a focus on more widely used terms that Democrats believe may resonate more deeply with voters.
Read the full story here.