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Trump impeachment inquiry: Live updates and the latest news

The public impeachment hearings included testimony from key figures, including Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill, as well as constitutional scholars.
Image: President Donald Trump is facing allegations that he tried to strong-arm a foreign leader into launching an investigation that might hurt Democratic contender Joe Biden. In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed impeachment proceedings.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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The fast-moving impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, stemming from the president's dealings with Ukraine, involves numerous hearings, depositions and subpoenas of present and former top administration officials and other figures — and more than a few presidential tweets.

Follow us here for all of the latest breaking news and analysis from NBC News' political reporters as well as our teams on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

Trump impeachment highlights

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Judiciary Committee will move forward with articles of impeachment

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  • “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit, at the expense of national security,” Pelosi said.

House Judiciary Committee calls four legal scholars to testify about the constitutional grounds for impeachment

House Intelligence Committee releases report on impeachment findings

Read our coverage of the public impeachment hearings

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Live Blog

Zelenskiy on Trump withholding aid: 'If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us'

In a rare interview since the onset of the House impeachment inquiry in late September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke to reporters about the nearly $400 million in military aid President Donald Trump withheld from the country at the same time he was pushing for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and Democrats.

"Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo," Zelenskiy told Time and a handful of European publications in an interview published Monday. "That’s not my thing. … I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying."

Zelenskiy also spoke about the repeated assertion from Trump and others that Ukraine is a "corrupt" country, which is part of the administration's explanation for why they had withheld the money. 

"When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that is the hardest of signals," Zelenskiy said. "It might seem like an easy thing to say, that combination of words: Ukraine is a corrupt country. Just to say it and that’s it. But it doesn’t end there. Everyone hears that signal. Investments, banks, stakeholders, companies, American, European, companies that have international capital in Ukraine, it’s a signal to them that says, 'Be careful, don’t invest.' Or, 'Get out of there.' This is a hard signal."

"For me it’s very important for the United States, with all they can do for us, for them really to understand that we are a different country, that we are different people," he continued. "It’s not that those things don’t exist. They do. All branches of government were corrupted over many years, and we are working to clean that up. But that signal from them is very important."

Trump responded to Zelenskiy's interview Monday, tweeting, "Breaking News: The President of Ukraine has just again announced that President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine and our interactions or calls."

Trump, lawyers won't participate in first Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing

The White House said Sunday it will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday but left open the possibility that it may take part in future proceedings.

In a letter to committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., White House counsel Pat Cipollone said next week's hearing does “not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair process.”

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"We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named," Cipollone said in the letter.

But Cipollone said President Donald Trump may participate if he is allowed to do so “meaningfully.”

Read more here.

Six degrees of Rudy: Giuliani's web tangles three Trump controversies

Ukraine only skims the surface of Rudy Giuliani's influence in the Trump administration.

The former New York City mayor, now the president's personal lawyer, has made headlines for his role in the impeachment inquiry. But while Giuliani's efforts to have Ukraine launch investigations politically beneficial to Trump are much discussed, he and his associates have woven themselves into the fabric of Trump's world with dealings in Turkey and the Navy SEALs case.

Asked in a text Wednesday by NBC News about how his circle has been able to be so influential in the Trump administration, Giuliani responded, "I don't know."

Read more here

Nadler gives Trump new impeachment deadline

A top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee is giving President Donald Trump until Dec. 6 to decide if he wants to call any witnesses in the impeachment proceedings.

The letter from Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., asks the president what “specific privileges” in the House Rules he would like to exercise, namely his ability to call witnesses to defend himself.

The president and Republicans have been arguing that the impeachment inquiry is a sham process and that the president has not had the ability to defend himself.

Nadler had earlier this week given the president a previous deadline of Dec. 1 to determine if he wanted his counsel to participate to cross-examine witnesses in the hearing scheduled for Dec. 4. The president hasn’t yet responded on if he will send counsel. 

Next week marks the new phase of the impeachment inquiry as it transitions from the fact-finding investigation by the Intelligence Committee to the explanatory phase by the Judiciary Committee. Witnesses in Wednesday’s hearing are expected to be constitutional scholars to help explain what impeachment is. 

 

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.

Read more here.

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.

More here.

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.

Read the full story.

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: