Will Trump attend the Dec. 4 impeachment hearing?
Gordon Sondland denies sexual misconduct allegations
WASHINGTON — Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union and a key witness who testified publicly this month in the House impeachment inquiry, is categorically denying allegations of sexual misconduct that occurred before he took his diplomatic post and were published for the first time on Wednesday.
“In decades of my career in business and civic affairs, my conduct can be affirmed by hundreds of employees and colleagues with whom I have worked in countless circumstances. These untrue claims of unwanted touching and kissing are concocted and, I believe, coordinated for political purposes. They have no basis in fact, and I categorically deny them,” Sondland said in a statement about the claims, obtained by NBC News.
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DOJ inspector general draft report says FBI didn't spy on Trump campaign
WASHINGTON — A draft copy of a report compiled by the Department of Justice inspector general concludes that the FBI didn’t spy on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, a person familiar with the document confirmed to NBC News.
The information from the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is expected to be included in the final report that’s due on Dec. 9, according to The New York Times. The Times first reported Wednesday that the report is expected to say that the DOJ watchdog found no evidence that the FBI tried to place informants or undercover agents inside Trump’s campaign.
Trump and his allies have long claimed that his 2016 campaign was spied on. Attorney General William Barr told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in April that he thought “spying did occur” by the federal government on Trump’s campaign.
Giuliani calls Trump to tell him he was joking about having an 'insurance policy'
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, called the president this week to reassure him that he had been joking when he told media outlets he had “insurance” if Trump turned on him in the Ukraine scandal, Giuliani’s lawyer said on Wednesday.
The attorney, Robert Costello, said Giuliani “at my insistence” had called Trump “within the last day” to emphasize that he had not been serious when he said he had an “insurance policy, if thrown under the bus.”
“He shouldn’t joke, he is not a funny guy. I told him, ‘Ten thousand comedians are out of work, and you make a joke. It doesn’t work that way,’” Costello told Reuters. Giuliani has already said that he was being sarcastic when he made the comments. Trump, too, has brushed them off, telling reporters in the Oval Office this week that “Rudy is a great guy.” The White House declined to comment on Costello’s remarks.
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Highlights of Philip Reeker's testimony on Trump admin's Ukraine dealings
House impeachment investigators on Tuesday released a transcript of testimony from Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, who gave a closed-door deposition to the House Intelligence Committee on Oct. 26. In his testimony, Reeker described the smear campaign against Amb. to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and his efforts to counter it and discusses what he knew about the freeze on aid to Ukraine.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Reeker described ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has having an "outstanding" reputation and being "extremely professional" as a foreign service officer; he called stories about her "outlandish and unrealistic"; and he said she was subjected to "really outrageous press coverage and innuendo and threats coming from high levels, retweeting irresponsible journalism, which affected her personally, her safety, affected our mission, reflected on the United States."
- Reeker said he tried to find the source of the negative attacks on Yovanovitch, which he traced in part to an earlier letter from then-Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, accusing Yovanovitch of being partisan; State Department officials determined those allegations to be unfounded.
- The State Department told Ukrainian officials to stop "maligning" Yovanovitch; a "mortified" Ukraine embassy deputy chief of mission reported the demand back to Kyiv.
- Reeker was part of the effort to get a "robust" statement of support for Yovanovitch from the State Department, but was denied.
- Reeker said “there was unhappiness from the White House that Ambassador Yovanovitch was still there" in Kyiv.
- Reeker said "there was an understanding" that Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was "feeding the president a lot of very negative views about Ukraine."
- On the freeze in Ukraine aid, Reeker said "our operating understanding" was that the aid "was being held by Mr. Mulvaney, the White House acting chief of staff.”
Read the full text of Reeker's testimony:
Judge puts brief hold on McGahn testimony order
The federal judge who ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn must comply with a House subpoena for his testimony put her ruling on a brief hold Wednesday.
Such holds, known as administrative stays, are often issued to give lawyers a change to file their appeals. U.S. District Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson said her order "should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits" of keeping her ruling on a longer hold. Instead, she said, the order would give her time to consider the government's request for a longer stay.
After Jackson's ruling on Monday, in which she rejected the government's claim that senior White House advisers are absolutely immune to congressional subpoenas, the Justice Department immediately filed notice that it would appeal. Lawyers for the House told the judge that while they would not oppose a brief stay, they would oppose a longer one that lasted throughout the appeals process, saying, "Such a stay would impair the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry."
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Trump says he didn't direct Giuliani's Ukraine efforts. Witnesses say otherwise.
President Donald Trump claimed on Tuesday that he did not direct his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to have Ukraine dig up dirt on his political rivals, contradicting testimony from several witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry.
"No, I didn't direct him but he's a warrior, Rudy's a warrior. Rudy went, he possibly saw something,” Trump told former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in an interview.
Asked by O’Reilly what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine on Trump's behalf, the president said: "You have to ask that to Rudy, but Rudy, I don't, I don't even know. I know he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled a trip. But, you know, Rudy has other clients other than me. I'm one person."
Trump added that Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, had done “a lot of work in Ukraine over the years, and I think, I mean, that's what I heard, I might have even read that someplace.”
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