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 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
- Trump is acquitted by the Senate on both articles of impeachment, with one GOP defector.
- Senate moves to impeachment trial endgame.
- Senators ask final questions before critical vote on witnesses.
- Senators probe prosecution, defense.
- The president's defense delivers closing arguments.
- Trump's legal team digs in.
- The president's defense begins.
- Democrats make case for obstruction.
- Trump impeached by the House on both articles of impeachment.
- Impeachment inquiry witnesses testify: Marie Yovanovitch, Alexander Vindman, Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland, Fiona Hill and others.
Download the NBC News mobile app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry
Graham says he won't subpoena Schiff's phone records
Graham talked to reporters about Pelosi’s impeachment announcement, calling the process "a joke" and adding, "I don’t trust Nadler to find the truth."
Asked if he would subpoena House members' phone records, Graham says, "No I don’t have any desire to subpoena Adam Schiff’s phone records. We’re not going to do that."
"When House members and senators start subpoenaing each other as part of oversight, the whole system breaks down," he said.
GOP Rep. Jim Banks on Wednesday sent a letter to Graham requesting that the Senate Judiciary Chair issue a subpoena for Schiff's phone records.
OPINION: With Trump's impeachment, Republicans think nobody's done the reading. Let's prove them wrong.
Whether it's a case of projection, an assumption or just a deep-seated hope, Republicans in the impeachment hearings Wednesday revealed their expectation that no one's really done the reading when it comes to the case for President Donald Trump's impeachment. "You couldn’t have possibly actually digested the Adam Schiff report from yesterday or the Republican response [from Monday] in any real way," House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., told the assembled legal scholars set to testify before the committee.
One of those witnesses, Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, begged to differ. “Here, Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts. So I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor, I don’t care about those facts.”
Of course, Collins had plenty of reason to assume that the witnesses hadn't done the reading, as many of his Republican colleagues had already proudly pronounced themselves unfamiliar with the evidence assembled by the Intelligence Committee.
Conway: 'More likely' Trump would participate in Senate trial than House
Kellyanne Conway spoke to reporters in the White House briefing room for over half an hour, where she discussed the White House strategy for impeachment going forward and whether Trump officials would participate in the process.
Conway said it was "more likely" that Trump would participate in a potential Senate trial than in the House process.
"It’s more likely because that's a Senate trial, that's more familiar with our due process and more in keeping with and more compliant with our due process system where you get to introduce live witnesses, cross-examine, challenge other people," she said.
Asked whether witnesses such as Mulvaney or Pence would participate, Conway said, "We'll see but remember they don't bear burden to prove claims."
'Don't mess with me': Pelosi rips reporter for asking if she hates Trump
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back forcefully Thursday when asked at a news conference about whether her impeachment push is motivated by hatred for President Donald Trump.
"I don't hate anybody," Pelosi said. "I don't hate — I was raised Catholic. We don't hate anybody, not anybody in the world." She added, "So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that."
The question came at the end of the news conference, in which Pelosi addressed her announcement Thursday morning that the Judiciary Committee would move forward with articles of impeachment against Trump. The reporter told the speaker he was following up on House Judiciary ranking member Doug Collins' assertion that Democrats are moving to impeach Trump because they harbor a deep hatred for him.
"I think the president is a coward when it comes to helping our kids, who are afraid of gun violence," Pelosi shot back. "I think he is cruel when he doesn't deal with helping our Dreamers, of which we're very proud. I think he's in denial about the climate crisis. However, that's about the election. ...This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that leads to the president's violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word 'hate' in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love and always pray for the president. And I still pray for the president. I pray for the president all the time. So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.
Trump responded shortly after, tweeting that Pelosi "just had a nervous fit" and was feigning her concern for him.
Read: Full text of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's impeachment inquiry update
In brief remarks, Pelosi announced the chamber was moving ahead with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
House Judiciary Committee announces Monday hearing on impeachment findings
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., announced Thursday that his committee will hold a hearing to receive presentations from counsels for the House Intelligence and Judiciary panels on their findings in the impeachment inquiry. The counsels for the Democrats and Republicans will appear for their committees.
The announcement comes after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Judiciary Committee will move forward with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
The House Intelligence Democrats released their report summarizing its findings in the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday and voted to send it to the Judiciary panel. The Judiciary committee held a hearing Wednesday with legal scholars on the constitutional grounds for impeachment.
Trump: Dems 'seek to Impeach me over NOTHING'
'Abuse of power': GOP leadership reacts to Pelosi on articles of impeachment
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement that the Judiciary Committee would move forward with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump is "the ultimate abuse of power."
"The Founders began the Constitution with 'We the People' for a reason," McDaniel said. "Pelosi wants to negate the votes of 63 million Americans, all while denying President Trump due process. It is the ultimate abuse of power, and all the more reason why Republicans must take back the House and re-elect President Trump in 2020."
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a tweet that Pelosi had failed to meet her own standard for moving forward with articles of impeachment.
Pelosi announces full speed ahead with articles of impeachment against Trump
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday she is asking the House Judiciary Committee to proceed with drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
Pelosi said in a statement at the Capitol that the facts of Trump's alleged wrongdoing involving Ukraine "are uncontested."
"The president abused his power for his own personal, political benefit at the risk" of U.S. national security. She said his actions "seriously violated the Constitution" and gave Democrats "no choice but to act."
Pelosi began her statement citing deliberations between the Founding Fathers with regards to impeachment, and said there was never the intention in the U.S. for one person to be "a king."
Trump: 'If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast'
Thursday schedule: Pelosi to deliver impeachment inquiry
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to provide an update on the status of the impeachment inquiry process at 9 E.T. from the speaker's balcony hallway. The update comes a day after the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing into the probe into President Donald Trump.
Trump tweets that the favor was meant to be for the U.S.
President Trump took to Twitter late Wednesday to offer a take on what he meant by asking Ukraine's newly elected leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, for a "favor" on their July 25th phone call.
Article II: Impeachment 101 — Wednesday, December 4th
Four constitutional law experts testified in the House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing in the inquiry on Wednesday, treating lawmakers and the public to a lesson on impeachment.
Guest Josh Lederman, national political reporter for NBC News, walks through how Democrats and Republicans used their witnesses to argue the constitutional case for and against impeaching President Donald Trump.
Schiff on who '-1' is: 'We don't know for sure'
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Tuesday that investigators have been stymied in attempts to uncover who the "-1" in the White House was on the other end of the phone with Rudy Giuliani.
"The short answer is we don't know for sure," Schiff told Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC. "We have been trying to get records from the White House, which has been unwilling not only to share them with us, but looks like unwilling to share them with witnesses like their own Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland."
Earlier in the day, the committee released a summary report of the evidence it has collected in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Over the course of a couple of days in August, Giuliani received several calls from a blocked White House number that showed up on his records as "-1."
"It is worth noting, however, that Rudy Giuliani has one client in the White House," Schiff said. "And, of course, that's the president."
House Intelligence Committee votes to send report on Trump and Ukraine to Judiciary
The House Intelligence Committee voted 13-9 in a closed-door meeting on Tuesday evening to send the report to the Judiciary.
Those proceedings will start on Wednesday with a hearing that explores the constitutional grounds for impeachment.
Article II Bonus: The Report - Tuesday, Dec. 3
Today on the podcast, Steve Kornacki tells you what you need to know about the House Intelligence Committee report on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
- “The President’s Misconduct” – what the report says about the President’s use of his public office for private personal gain
- “The President’s Obstruction of the House of Representatives’ Impeachment Inquiry” – what the report says about the White House efforts to ignore subpoenas and intimidate witnesses
- Republican response
- What happens next as the investigations heads to the House Judiciary Committee
Giuliani mystery phone calls, texts uncovered by Democrats' impeachment report
Who in the White House budget office called Rudy Giuliani on an August afternoon, and what did they have to talk about for 13 minutes?
House impeachment investigators were unable to answer either question in their report released Tuesday by Democrats on the Intelligence Committee. But the call — and more than a dozen others and texts between President Donald Trump's personal lawyer and White House numbers — showed up in AT&T and Verizon records obtained by the House.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., declined to say how the House obtained the phone records.
It's unclear what legitimate purpose the president's personal lawyer would have to speak at length with the White House Office of Management and Budget. But the revelation is likely to fuel arguments from House Democrats that Giuliani was intimately involved in a scheme to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to advance the Trump's personal political interests.
ANALYSIS: Democrats ready to explain why Trump should be impeached
Americans heard last month what President Donald Trump did in his dealings with Ukraine. Now, House Democratic officials say, it's time to nail the case for why his actions demand impeachment.
"Foreign cheating," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., explained in a telephone interview with NBC News Tuesday. "Everyone understands that."
Trump, House Democrats and the rest of the nation have a lot riding on whether the transition — from the facts established by the House Intelligence Committee's Ukraine scandal inquiry to the Judiciary Committee's consideration of their implications on Trump's fitness to serve as president — delivers for Congress the open-and-shut case that a plurality of Americans believe already is evident.
The fate of Trump's presidency, his reelection hopes, the makeup of the next Congress and the ability of the three branches of government to check and balance power under the Constitution all hang in the balance as the Judiciary Committee opens its first hearing Wednesday.
The 10 most important lines from the Democrats' impeachment report
The report cited two instances of improper conduct: obstruction of the House inquiry and withholding the aid from Ukraine on the condition of investigating a Trump political rival.
Democrats' impeachment report cites Trump obstruction and withholding aid, warns of 'grave harm'
WASHINGTON — The Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee released a report Tuesday containing a summary of the evidence it has collected in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
The report cited two instances of improper conduct: obstruction of the House inquiry and withholding the aid from Ukraine on the condition of investigating a Trump political rival.
"No other President has flouted the Constitution and power of Congress to conduct oversight to this extent," the report said.
"If left unanswered, President Trump's ongoing effort to thwart Congress' impeachment power risks doing grave harm to the institution of Congress, the balance of power between our branches of government, and the Constitutional order that the President and every Member of Congress have sworn to protect and defend."
How the articles of impeachment could be laid out
As Democrats prepare to draft articles of impeachment, "you could wind up with 3 or 4 articles," according to two individuals involved in the Judiciary Committee process:
- One to two on abuse of power (The question is whether you have 1 overarching abuse of power article here or break out bribery and potentially extortion.) Abuse of power, specifically, is defined as pushing a foreign govt to interfere in 2020 (a betrayal of the country and his oath) in ways that involve bribery and/or extortion as well as abuse of appropriations power in order to benefit himself personally/politically.
- One on broader contempt/obstruction of Congress based on the administration stonewalling congressional oversight and ordering officials not to comply with lawfully issued subpoenas related to numerous investigations, including Ukraine. Note: Cipollone’s Oct. 8 letter to Pelosi calling the Ukraine probe “constitutionally invalid,” they believe, is a slam dunk.
- Finally, one related to the Mueller report and obstruction of justice. They’re even discussing whether threatening a witness while she testifies (Yovanovitch) should be cited as witness tampering.
There are serious strategic considerations being debated about what the ultimate floor vote looks like, mainly allowing members from more moderate districts to vote for some articles and against others. For instance, there’s a lot more agreement among members over voting for articles related to Ukraine than there is over Mueller.
The pushback to make the impeachment articles broader also continues as the more progressive members favor more articles that encompass more charges of wrongdoing beyond Ukraine, such as Mueller or alleged emoluments violations. Leadership has wanted more limited articles focusing on Ukraine, citing the need to make the case clear and easy to communicate (which we’ve previously reported). Yet numerous committees have been working for months on their own investigations of corruption and Nadler is expecting reports from them as well.
Graham: 'Stretch to suggest Ukraine meddled'
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., spoke to reporters on a variety of topics. Asked if he believes Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, Graham said, "I have no knowledge that the Ukraine did anything to interfere with our elections other than the press reports, and to suggest that we know that I think would be a stretch because I don't think anybody does."
He also said he hoped that "somebody is looking into it again."
Trump calls Schiff 'deranged,' says he would 'love' for Cabinet members to testify if inquiry were fair
Trump attacked House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff on the sidelines of the NATO meeting in London on Tuesday, calling the congressman "deranged" and a liar and adding that he would allow his Cabinet officials to testify in the impeachment proceedings if the process were fair.
"I don’t learn anything from Adam Schiff. I think he’s a maniac," Trump said when asked what he hoped to learn by seeking Schiff's testimony in the inquiry. "I think Adam Schiff is a deranged human being. I think he grew up with a complex for lots of reasons that are obvious. I think he’s a very sick man. And he lies. Adam Schiff made up my conversation with the president of Ukraine,” a reference to Schiff's self-described parody of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during his opening statement at a hearing in September.
Trump also defended his refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, calling it "a total fix."
“We don’t get a lawyer, we don’t get any witnesses," Trump said. "We want Biden, we want the son – Hunter, where’s Hunter? We want the son, we want Schiff, we want to interview these people. Well, they said, 'No, can’t do it. We can’t do it.’ So when it’s fair — and it will be fair in the Senate — I would love to have [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo, I would love to have [acting chief of staff ] Mick [Mulvaney], I’d love to have [former Energy Secretary] Rick Perry, and many other people testify ... but I don’t want them to testify when this is a total fix.”
State Dept. undersecretary: 'I am not' aware of any efforts by Ukraine to meddle in 2016 election
Senior State Department official David Hale said Tuesday that he didn't know of any evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
Asked at a Senate Foreign Relations hearing whether he was aware of any such evidence, Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, told lawmakers, "I am not."
Hale's answer counters the growing support among some Republican senators for the idea that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 election in support of Trump's rival, Hillary Clinton — a notion that ex-Trump White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill described as a "fictional narrative" in her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last month.
Under questioning from Democratic senators, Hale also said Russian interference was not a hoax — in contrast with Trump's repeated questioning of the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies that Russians meddled in the 2016 election in an attempt to boost his candidacy.
'One story of betrayal': Dems release highlight reel from two weeks of public testimony
Schiff: 'Overwhelming' evidence of Trump obstruction
George Conway takes swipe at wife Kellyanne Conway on Twitter
It's no secret that top presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway and her husband, a frequent Trump critic, don't see eye to eye on the president. On Monday, they duked it out on Twitter after conservative lawyer George Conway needled his wife about a Joe Biden tweet.
Kellyanne Conway had retweeted a brief video clip of the former vice president speaking to a crowd, along with a comment: “Sleepy Joe is Creepy Joe,” she wrote. “We need Ukraine’s help to defeat THIS guy?”
To which George Conway responded: “Your boss apparently thought so.”
First Read: Democrats sing different tunes on impeachment as GOP closes ranks
If the Democrats have the substance on their side in the impeachment fight — in terms of the public testimony, the released documents and all of the text messages — Republicans are now the ones with the more unified message.
Case in point is what’s playing out on the 2020 presidential campaign trail, with the Democratic candidates talking about health care, tax policy and racial equity — but barely mentioning the biggest political story in Washington.
Bottom line: Republicans are messaging the existential threat that impeachment brings, arguing that the entire process subverts the will of voters. But Democrats aren’t messaging that same existential threat. In fact, they’re also arguing that the best way to defeat Trump is at the ballot box in 2020.
At some point, that messaging disparity is going to be unsustainable for Democrats. How do you make the case that the sitting president of the United States can’t run for re-election when your party’s presidential candidates aren’t making that same case?
Trump said he'd be disappointed if DOJ watchdog concludes FBI had enough info to probe campaign
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would be a bit disappointed if the Justice Department inspector general's upcoming report on the origins of the Russia investigation says the FBI had enough information to launch an investigation in 2016 into members of his campaign.
The president made the remarks to reporters in London in response to a Washington Post story from Monday that said Attorney General William Barr disagrees that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify beginning an investigation into Trump campaign members, a key takeaway of the soon-to-be-released review. Barr told associates about his disagreement with that assessment, the Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
"Perhaps he’s read the report," Trump said when asked about the Post article. "I think he’s quoted incorrectly. I do believe that because I’m hearing the report is very powerful, but I’m hearing that by reading lots of different things, not from inside information. It’s really from outside information."
"I think we have to read it, we have to see it, but I hear there’s a lot of devastating things in that report, but we’ll see what happens," Trump continued, adding, "If what I read is correct — I read it in your newspaper — if what I read is correct, that will be a little disappointing, but it was just one aspect of the report. We’ll see what happens. It’s coming out in a few days. I hear it’s devastating."
Trump labels Democrats 'unpatriotic' as he arrives in London for NATO gathering
President Donald Trump accused the Democrats of being unpatriotic and said they were hurting the country with their impeachment inquiry as he prepares to meet with world leaders here on Tuesday.
“I think it's very unpatriotic of the Democrats to put on a performance where they do that,” Trump said in his first public comments since arriving in London. “I do. I think it's a bad thing for our country. Impeachment wasn't supposed to be used that way.”
The president also came out swinging at one of the U.S.'s closest allies, slamming comments by French President Emmanuel Macron and suggesting trade deal negotiations with China might not end until after the election next year.
Newly released documents shed light on Mueller-Trump meeting
Former special counsel Robert Mueller had taken himself out of the running to be FBI director by the time he met with President Donald Trump about the job, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told federal investigators.
The document sheds new light on the circumstances of Trump's May 16, 2017 meeting with Mueller in the Oval Office. Trump has claimed that Mueller applied for the suddenly vacant job of FBI director in that meeting and turned him down. The next day, Mueller was named special counsel investigating links between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In the interview, according to the notes published by BuzzFeed News, Rosenstein described feeling "angry, ashamed, horrified and embarrassed" at how the abrupt firing of then-FBI director James Comey on May 9, 2017 was handled. "It was also humiliating for Comey," his interviewers quoted Rosenstein as saying.
Rosenstein said he spoke to Mueller, a former FBI director, about becoming special counsel the next day.
ANALYSIS: Trump steps onto world stage in the shadow of impeachment
This is the contrast President Donald Trump wanted — at least, in theory.
On this side of the Atlantic, he'll be representing the United States in high-level talks with Western leaders about the rising threats of Russia, China and perpetual turmoil in the Middle East. On the other, in his telling, his domestic political rivals in the House Democratic majority will be busy indicting him in absentia in an impeachment investigation he calls a "hoax" designed to undermine his presidency.
For Trump, it's an opportunity to distill for voters the argument that he's doing his job while Democrats are ignoring the needs of the American public so they can hurt him politically.
'Obsession,' 'dangerous,' 'basement bunker': GOP impeachment report rips Democrats' inquiry
House Republicans have written a 123-page minority report arguing that Democrats have failed to establish any impeachable offenses by President Donald Trump, according to a copy of the report reviewed by NBC News.
The GOP lawmakers did not find any wrongdoing by the president and concluded that there was no quid pro quo for Ukraine aid.
"The Democrats' impeachment inquiry, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, is merely the outgrowth of their obsession with re-litigating the results of the 2016 presidential election," the Republican staff on the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees wrote.
"Despite their best efforts, the evidence gathered during the Democrats' partisan and one-sided impeachment inquiry does not support that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival to benefit the President in the 2020 presidential election.
"The evidence does not establish any impeachable offense," the report concludes.
It's Nadler's turn to take on Trump. Again.
On Manhattan's Upper West Side a few weeks ago, when a few elected officials held a pop-up town hall in front of a Fairway grocery store, voter after voter had the same question for Rep. Jerry Nadler: Why are you here?
"‘I'm leaving. I'm leaving Monday morning,’" Nadler told the questioners, according to Scott Stringer, New York City’s comptroller, who was 20 when he began working for Nadler. “Literally, people would say, ‘Why don't you go now?’”
The 14-term Democrat has been preparing for this moment since the House impeachment inquiry was formally announced in September. As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Nadler is on deck to lead the next phase in the process of determining whether President Donald Trump should be impeached.
It isn't Nadler's first brush with presidential impeachment: He was a member of the Judiciary Committee, and a vocal defender of President Bill Clinton, during the process that ultimately led to Clinton's impeachment in the late 1990s.
Twenty years later, Nadler, 72, who has a law degree from Fordham, has been clear about his view that this time, the 45th president appears to have committed impeachable offenses. Nadler has repeated that view for months, saying over the summer that there is “very substantial evidence that the president has committed multiple crimes and impeachable offenses” — a statement made even before the revelations concerning Ukraine surfaced publicly.
Prosecutor says new charges 'likely' in case against Rudy Giuliani associates
The Justice Department is "likely" to file additional charges in the case against two associates of Rudy Giuliani accused of funneling foreign money to U.S. political candidates, a prosecutor said Monday.
The disclosure was made during a court hearing in New York related to the case of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The federal prosecutor didn't offer any further details on the nature or target of any additional charges.
Parnas and Fruman were charged with violating campaign finance laws. The pair have pleaded not guilty.
The two men were carrying one-way tickets to Vienna when they were arrested at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C., on Oct. 9.
The indictment unsealed the next day accused Parnas and Fruman of making illegal straw donations, including $325,000 to a pro-President Donald Trump political action committee. Federal prosecutors say the pair also engaged in a scheme to force the ouster of the then-U.S. ambassador in Ukraine.
Judiciary Committee names witnesses appearing at Wednesday's hearing
The House Judiciary Committee has released the names of the witnesses testifying Wednesday's hearing exploring the constitutional grounds for impeachment.
Witnesses for the Democrats
- Noah Feldman, the Felix Frankfurter professor of law and director of the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli law at Harvard Law School.
- Pamela S. Karlan, the Kenneth and Harle Montgomery professor of public interest law and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School.
- Michael Gerhardt, the Burton Craige distinguished professor of jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
Witness for the Republicans
- Jonathan Turley, the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro professor of public interest law at the George Washington University Law School.
The hearing on Wednesday will begin at 10 a.m.
Schumer slams GOP colleagues for claiming Ukraine interfered in 2016
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., ripped his Republican colleagues Monday afternoon for "increasingly outlandish claims" that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election — an apparent swipe at Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who repeated the allegation on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday.
"Let me be clear: The charge that Ukraine had something to do with the Russian meddling in 2016 is a lie spread by Vladimir Putin," Schumer said on the Senate floor. "To get things off his back. Putin and Russian intelligence services invented that lie to muddy the waters and distract from the fact that Russia, not Ukraine, interfered in our elections."
"And now, disgracefully, we have sitting U.S. senators helping spread that propaganda in an effort to defend the president," Schumer said. "Republicans must stop claiming that Ukraine had anything to do with election interference in 2016. Repeating these claims, even speculating about them, is doing Putin’s job for him. I urge my Republican colleagues — they know who they are — to stop spreading these lies, which hurts our democracy.
On the Sunday program, Kennedy claimed multiple times that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election, prompting direct criticism from Hillary Clinton and praise from Trump.
Collins accuses Nadler of rushing impeachment process, leaving GOP in the dark
House Judiciary ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga., sent letter Monday the committee's chairman, Jerrold Nadler, about the panel's process in the impeachment inquiry, complaining that “every letter and nearly every question" that he has raised "remains unanswered” with just 48 hours to go before the committee's first hearing.
In the letter — his sixth over the last few weeks — Collins also said Nadler still hasn't provided panel Republicans with a witness list and notes that the committee doesn't yet have a copy of the Intelligence Committee's report on its findings in the inquiry. Members of the Intelligence panel are expected to approve their report Tuesday evening.
"For the first time in history, this committee will weigh impeachment without any evidence for us to review," Collins wrote. "Any discussion with the yet-to-be identified witnesses will, therefore, be in the abstract."
"This ad hoc, poorly executed 'impeachment inquiry' will provide the Senate with ample justification for expeditiously disposing of it," Collins added.
"Once again, I request clarity on how you intend to conduct this inquiry," Collins wrote after warning that the "ad hoc, poorly executed" process would "provide the Senate with ample justification for expeditiously disposing of" the impeachment inquiry.
"As Republicans have stated before, and consistent with Chairman Schiff’s repeated statements, withholding information from the minority shall constitute evidence of your denial of fundamental fairness and due process, as well as obstruction of minority rights," Collins wrote.
Nadler questions Trump's refusal to participate in hearing
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., criticized Trump on Monday for refusing to participate in the committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday, alleging the president's unwillingness to cooperate is just another sign that his claims about his dealings with Ukraine are disingenuous.
"The American people deserve transparency," Nadler said in a statement. "If the president thinks the call was 'perfect' and there is nothing to hide, then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence of his abuse of power."
Trump says impeachment is uniting the GOP like never before
Trump blasts Dems for holding impeachment hearing while he’s in U.K. for NATO
President Donald Trump on Monday blasted House Democrats for holding impeachment hearings while he is at a NATO summit in London and claimed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had cleared him of wrongdoing in an interview published earlier in the day.
Speaking to reporters as he departed the White House for the summit, Trump said Democrats had "decided" to hold the upcoming hearings at "the exact time" he's in London. The president also said Zelenskiy "came out and said very strongly that President Trump did nothing wrong," adding, "that should end everything, but that will never end it."
Trump was referring to an interview that Time and a handful of European publications published Monday in which Trump's Ukrainian counterpart said, "Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo."
"I don’t want us to look like beggars," Zelenskiy when asked about the $400 in military aid Trump held up while he pushed the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens and Democrats. "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."
Hillary Clinton slams Sen. Kennedy for 'parroting Russian propaganda'
On "Meet the Press" on Sunday with Chuck Todd, Kennedy repeated claims, disputed by U.S. intelligence agencies, that Ukrainian leaders interfered in the 2016 election.
Pompeo: Impeachment hearings should pause while Trump is abroad
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted the House on Monday for scheduling impeachment hearings while President Trump is abroad.
Pompeo said it’s “very unfortunate” for the House Judiciary Committee to hold its hearing Wednesday at the same time that Trump is representing the U.S. at this week’s NATO summit in London.
Pompeo told “Fox & Friends” that there is a long tradition of supporting a president when he is traveling overseas and shouldn’t be distracted by problems at home while discussing international issues with allies.
"I regret that they've chosen to hold these hearings at the same time that the president and our entire national security team will be traveling to Europe, to London, to work on these important matters," Pompeo said. "It's very unfortunate."
Separately, Pompeo declined to say whether he planned to step down as secretary of state to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas.
The impeachment fight boils down to these four simple questions
More than two months after the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump began, you can break down the entire fight into four simple questions.
One, did the president of the United States ask another country to interfere in the upcoming 2020 election — against possible Democratic rival Joe Biden?
Two, did Trump and his administration withhold military aid and a White House visit to compel Ukraine to start this investigation into Joe Biden and his son?
Three, were those actions — first the ask of interference, then the temporary withholding of military aid — an abuse of the president’s powers?
And four — and most importantly — do those actions amount to impeachable offenses?
Get First Read's take here.
Intelligence Committee to review report on its findings
This evening, members of the House Intelligence Committee are expected to begin reviewing a report on the panel's findings in the impeachment inquiry. The panel is expected to approve the report Tuesday evening, likely on a party-line vote, setting it up for consideration by the House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to draft and consider articles of impeachment.
The Judiciary Committee is taking the lead this week in the Trump impeachment inquiry, with its first public hearing Wednesday. Witnesses at the hearing will explain the historical and constitutional basis of impeachment and whether President Donald Trump’s actions justify removing him from office.
Lawmakers spent the weekend debating the makeup of Wednesday’s witness panel. Four yet-to-be-announced scholars are scheduled to appear, but Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins, R-Ga., is requesting that more be added and that Republicans have an opportunity to select some of the witnesses.
The White House, meanwhile, told House Democrats on Sunday that it will not participate in Wednesday's impeachment hearing — Trump himself is scheduled to be in London for the final day of the NATO summit that day. But the White House left open the prospect of participating in future proceedings. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., has set a Friday deadline for the president and his lawyers to decide if they will mount a defense by calling witnesses or presenting evidence.
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.”
"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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.”
Article II: Inside Impeachment — We've got mail
In Wednesday's episode of "Article II," host Steve Kornacki, national political correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, opens up the mailbag with Julia Ainsley, NBC News' justice and homeland security correspondent, to answer listeners' questions about the impeachment inquiry.
Among the questions discussed: What was the impact of the Trump administration’s decision to withhold aid to Ukraine? Is the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, legally allowed to handle matters of foreign policy? Will Trump have the opportunity to answer for himself in the impeachment inquiry? Did Republicans who supported President Richard Nixon during Watergate pay a political price, and are there parallels to today?
Judge delays sentencing for ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn
A federal judge on Wednesday delayed the sentencing date for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's first national security adviser.
Flynn was to be sentenced Dec. 18, but his lawyers and federal prosecutors asked for a delay. They said a report from the Justice Department's inspector general examining aspects of the FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign, due out Dec. 9, could contain material relevant to the sentencing. They also said the judge has yet to rule on a dispute between the prosecutors and Flynn's lawyers over the government's production of documents that the defense said could have affected Flynn's decision to plead guilty.
Flynn entered his plea two years ago to a single charge of lying to the FBI. He admitted that four days into his job as White House national security adviser, he falsely denied having two separate contacts during the Trump transition with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
Read the full text: Mark Sandy's testimony to House investigators
Mark Sandy, the deputy associate director for national security programs at the White House Office of Management and Budget, told impeachment investigators that two budget staffers left the agency after expressing frustrations about the unexplained hold on Ukrainian aid, according to new closed-door transcripts released Tuesday.
Read the transcript:
Democrats question why DOJ inspector general isn't investigating Trump's attorneys general
As the Justice Department's internal watchdog prepares to release a long-awaited report examining the FBI's conduct in 2016 and 2017 in the Russia investigation, Democrats are expressing frustration over what they view as his failure to examine the conduct of Donald Trump's attorneys general over the past two years.
While inspectors general at other major cabinet agencies have conducted high profile investigations of Trump appointees, the Justice Department's Michael Horowitz — appointed by President Obama in 2012 and confirmed by the Senate — has not. Trump's three attorney general appointees — Jeff Sessions, Matthew Whitaker and William Barr — have each escaped serious scrutiny from an inspector general who investigated Eric Holder, Obama's first attorney general, and many of his top deputies. It's a record that puzzles his allies and infuriates critics.
"I don't have so much of a problem with Horowitz investigating some of the allegations surrounding the 2016 election, because that's his job," said Matthew Miller, a Democratic former DOJ spokesman and NBC News legal analyst. "But it is striking to me that with all of Barr's known misconduct, all of the instances of conversations between senior leadership and the White House, there doesn't seem to have been a single investigation into any that."
Barr disputes that he has engaged in misconduct. Congressional Democrats argue he has done the political bidding of the president and has improperly discussed sensitive cases with the White House, including the special counsel's Russia probe. They have also questioned the premise of the ongoing criminal investigation that Barr commissioned into its origins.
Trump denies investigation link to Ukraine aid amid new timeline revelations
President Donald Trump continued to deny any connection between investigations and security funding to Ukraine as new details emerged about when the aid was frozen and when Trump knew about the whistleblower complaint.
“The Ukrainian foreign minister stated, and I quote, Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and certainly did not tell me, about a connection between the assistance and the investigations. Never told him. I have never had a direct link between investigations and security assistance," Trump said at a rally Tuesday night. "OK, what that means, you know what it means, it means we did zero. We did nothing wrong.”
Documents released Tuesday by the House Budget Committee showed that the Office of Management and Budget made its first official move to withhold military aid to Ukraine the same day Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy by phone. A separate report in the New York Times said that Trump had already been briefed on a whistleblower complaint about his handling of Ukraine aid at the time the funds were released in September.
White House budget office formally held Ukraine aid on same day as Trump-Zelenskiy call
The White House Office of Management and Budget made its first official move to withhold military aid to Ukraine on July 25, the same day President Donald Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy by phone, according to a summary of OMB documents produced by the House Budget Committee.
The OMB documents also show that while a career official signed that first letter to withhold the apportionment of the funds, subsequent letters to freeze the aid were signed by a political appointee, Michael Duffey, the office's associated director for national security programs. Duffey has refused to testify before House impeachment investigators despite being served with a subpoena on Oct. 25.
The Budget Committee's summary of the documents says the review of the materials made the lawmakers "more concerned that the apportionment process has been abused to undermine Congress’s constitutional power of the purse," specifically citing the timeline of the withholding of aid and the "seemingly unprecedented step" of having a political appointee handle the apportionments of funding.
Two OMB staffers quit after expressing frustration about frozen Ukraine aid, top official says
Mark Sandy, a career staffer in the White House Office of Management and Budget, told impeachment investigators that two budget staffers left the agency after expressing frustrations about the unexplained hold on Ukrainian aid, according to new closed-door transcripts released Tuesday.
Sandy said that one staffer, who worked in OMB’s legal office and whose name was undisclosed, told him they were leaving the agency, at least in part, because of their concerns regarding the hold on Ukraine security assistance.
Sandy, who is the deputy associate director for national security Programs at OMB, testified behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee, one of the committees leading the impeachment inquiry, on Nov. 16. He is the first OMB staffer to testify in the inquiry.
Trump: Pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys have 'already received subpoenas'
Trump, who pardoned two turkeys named “Bread” and “Butter” as part of the White House Thanksgiving tradition Tuesday, used the annual event to joke about the House impeachment inquiry.
"Thankfully, Bread and Butter have been specially raised by the Jacksons to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they've already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff's basement on Thursday," Trump said.
"It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey, but Bread and Butter — I should note that, unlike previous witnesses, you and I have actually met. It's very unusual," Trump continued.
Bolton's lawyer says McGahn ruling has no bearing on former Trump adviser's testimony
WASHINGTON — The court ruling compelling former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify before the House Judiciary Committee has no bearing on whether ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton is compelled to testify, Bolton's lawyer said on Tuesday.
Charles Cooper, who represents Bolton and former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, maintains that McGahn's case doesn't apply to his clients because Monday's court ruling does not answer whether presidential communications involving issues of national security are subject to "absolute testimonial immunity."
House Judiciary Committee announces its first impeachment hearing, invites Trump to attend
The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday announced it will hold its first public impeachment hearing next week, and invited President Donald Trump and his lawyers "to participate."
"I am hopeful that you and your counsel will opt to participate in the Committee's hearing, consistent with the rules of decorum and with the solemn nature before us," Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in a letter announcing the hearing.
Nadler said the hearing, which will focus on "Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment," will take place on Dec. 4.
Nadler said the hearing comes as the inquiry enters "a new phase."
Trump lashes out at 'D.C. Wolves' after McGahn ruling, claims he would 'love' for staff to testify
President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that people were "reading far too much" into a federal judge's ruling Monday that former White House counsel Don McGahn must obey a congressional subpoena and testify before the House Judiciary Committee — a ruling that could also have implications for a host of Trump administration aides and officials who refused to testify before the House impeachment inquiry.
"The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress," Trump wrote. "I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President. Other than that, I would actually like people to testify."
The president added that his former national security adviser John Bolton, who said he would not testify before impeachment investigators until a similar lawsuit involving his deputy has played out, "is a patriot and may know" Trump did not do anything wrong by withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine at the same time he was pushing for the country to investigate the Bidens and Democrats.
"Likewise, I would love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and many others testify about the phony Impeachment Hoax," Trump wrote. "It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised. What has happened to me should never happen to another President!"
CNN poll shows impeachment views unchanged from before public hearings
A new national CNN poll has found that views on impeachment remain locked in place, with 50 percent of Americans supporting Trump’s removal from office and 43 percent opposed. The results show no change from a month ago despite two weeks of public hearings in the House's two-month-old impeachment inquiry.
Trump has been tweeting the claim that polls show declining support for the inquiry, citing, for example, a Politico/Morning Consult poll from last week that Vanity Fair analyzed, focusing on independents. But most polls are showing a steady average percentage level of support hovering in the mid- to high-40s after an initial uptick when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the inquiry in late September (those who say they don't support for impeachment have been averaging in the low- to mid-40s percentage-wise).
Among the CNN poll's other findings:
- Trump’s job approval rating is at 42 percent among all adults (up a percentage point from last month), while his disapproval rating is 54 percent (down three points from October).
- 53 percent of respondents say Trump used the presidency improperly to gain political advantage against a potential 2020 opponent (up four points from October), while 42 percent said he did not use the office improperly (down a point from last month).
- 56 percent of those surveyed said Trump was out to benefit himself personally regarding Ukraine, versus 36 percent who said he was interested more in fighting corruption in the country.
- 40 percent say Democrats abused their constitutional powers in their handling of the impeachment process, while 52 percent say they have not.
The poll was conducted from Nov. 21-24 and has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.
Pompeo on Ukraine conspiracy: 'America should leave no stone unturned'
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine rather than Russia that hacked the 2016 election, a major talking point floated by Trump and his allies in recent weeks in response to the impeachment inquiry.
Pompeo appeared to defend the president's asking Ukraine to look into the conspiracy, saying that America has an "obligation" to address any and all allegation of election interference.
"I can assure you, there were many countries that were actively engaged in trying to undermine American democracy, our rule of law, the fundamental understandings we have here in the United States," he said, adding that "America should leave no stone unturned. So whatever nation it is, that we have information that so much as suggests that there might be an interference or an effort to interfere in our elections, we have an obligation to make sure that the American people get to go to the ballot box cast their ballots in a way that is impacted by these malevolent actors trying to undermine our Western democratic values."
GOP senator renounces Ukraine hacking claim, sort of
Sen. John Kennedy is backpedaling from his claims that Ukraine could be responsible for hacking Democratic emails during the 2016 election — with a caveat.
The Louisiana Republican told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday night that he was wrong to tell "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace the day before that he didn't know, "nor do you, nor do any of us," whether Russia or Ukraine was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee server and the Clinton campaign's emails.
"Right," Kennedy said when Wallace countered that the entire U.S. intelligence community points to Russia as culpable. "But it could also be Ukraine. I’m not saying that I know one way or the other."
President Donald Trump asked Ukraine to investigate the debunked 2016 conspiracy theory — a key component of the House impeachment inquiry — as well as the Bidens.
The New York Times reported Friday that U.S. intelligence officials briefed senators in recent weeks that Russia has engaged in a years-long effort to frame Ukraine for their politically motivated hacking in 2016. In addition, former Trump aide Fiona Hill said last week that the allegation that Ukraine, and not Russia, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election was "a fictional narrative being propagated by the Russian security services themselves."
On Monday, Kennedy said on "Cuomo Prime Time" that he had misheard Wallace's question and offered a correction: "I was wrong. The only evidence I have, and I think it's overwhelming, is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer. ... I've seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it."
But, Kennedy added, when asked why Trump continues to push the Ukraine narrative despite his own intelligence agencies saying it isn't true, "There is a lot of evidence, proven and unproven, everybody's got an opinion, that Ukraine did try to interfere, along with Russia and probably others in the 2016 election."
OPINION: President Trump's dictator-like administration is attacking the values America holds dear
We’re up against a crisis I never thought I’d see in my lifetime: a dictator-like attack by President Donald Trump on everything this country stands for. As last week’s impeachment hearings made clear, our shared tolerance and respect for the truth, our sacred rule of law, our essential freedom of the press and our precious freedoms of speech — all have been threatened by a single man.
It’s time for Trump to go — along with those in Congress who have chosen party loyalty over their oath to “solemnly affirm” their support for the Constitution of the United States. And it’s up to us to make that happen, through the power of our votes.
Supreme Court blocks subpoena for Trump financial records
The U.S. Supreme Court late Monday blocked a House subpoena directing President Donald Trump's accounting firm to turn over several years' worth of financial documents, giving the president at least a temporary legal victory.
In a brief order, the court said the subpoena would remain on hold until the president's lawyers file their appeal and the court acts on the case. The court gave his lawyers until Dec. 5 to file their appeal, a sign the justices intend to move quickly. But if the court agrees to hear the appeal, the stay would remain in effect for several more months.
The Democratic majority on the House Oversight Committee issued the subpoena in April, ordering the accounting firm Mazars USA to turn over Trump-related financial documents covering 2011 through 2018. The committee said it acted after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified that "Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes."
Ex-White House counsel Don McGahn must obey subpoena to testify before Congress, judge rules
A federal judge ruled late Monday that former White House counsel Don McGahn must obey a subpoena for his testimony issued by the House Judiciary Committee, a decision that the Trump administration is certain to appeal.
Justice Department lawyers had argued that as a former close adviser to the president, McGahn could not be commanded to appear before Congress. The government said the longstanding view, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, is that the president and his immediate advisers are absolutely immune to such demands.
Administration lawyers cited a 1999 Justice Department legal opinion issued by Janet Reno, attorney general during the Clinton administration. "Subjecting a senior presidential advisor to the congressional subpoena power would be akin to requiring the president himself to appear before Congress" on matters related to his official duties, the Reno opinion said.
The current White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, notified the House that President Donald Trump directed McGahn not to testify before the House "in order to protect the prerogatives of the office of the presidency."
Prosecutors seeking info on payments to Rudy Giuliani
Federal prosecutors in New York are seeking records of payments to Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, as part of an active criminal investigation, according to a grand jury subpoena seen by Reuters.
The subpoena does not indicate that Giuliani is suspected of wrongdoing. But the crimes being investigated, it says, include money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). It requires disclosure of lobbying on behalf of foreign interests.
The subpoena requests that the recipient provide “all documents, including correspondence, with or related to Rudolph Giuliani, Giuliani Partners or any related person or entity,” referring to his consulting company. The subpoena also seeks all “documents related to any actual or potential payments, or agreements to or with Giuliani.”
McConnell on impeachment: Senate 'will take it up because we have no choice'
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke to reporters on Monday morning during an event in London, Kentucky, making similar comments to what he has said in the past regarding how an impeachment trial will go in the Senate.
Asked how long a potential trial would last, McConnell said, "There's really no way to know. There's no set time. We'll just have to turn to it when we get it and work out the way forward."
"We will take it up because we have no choice," McConnel added. "And how long we're on it will be determined by the majority of the Senate."
Schiff says he is open to hearing from more witnesses
WASHINGTON — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Monday that a report on the impeachment inquiry would be sent to the Judiciary Committee after the Thanksgiving holiday — and that as the process continued, he remained open to hearing from more witnesses.
"Even as we draft our report, we are open to the possibility that further evidence will come to light, whether in the form of witnesses who provide testimony or documents that become available," Schiff wrote in a letter to colleagues. "If other witnesses seek to show the same patriotism and courage of their colleagues and deputies and decide to obey their duty to the country over fealty to the President, we are prepared to hear from them."
There are currently no additional public hearings scheduled. But some key expected witnesses have so far ignored subpoenas, including former White House counsel Don McGahn, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
A federal judge was expected to rule by the end of the day Monday whether McGahn would be required to comply with the subpoena and testify before Congress.
Documents released to ethics group show Giuliani, Pompeo contacts before Ukraine ambassador ousted
An ethics group has published nearly 100 pages of previously unreleased State Department documents that the group says shows “a clear paper trail” between President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before a Ukraine ambassador was abruptly recalled.
The documents were published late Friday by American Oversight, which calls itself a non-partisan and nonprofit ethics watchdog and Freedom of Information Act litigator investigating the Trump administration.
They appear to show two calls between Giuliani and Pompeo in March, around a month before former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, an anti-corruption expert, was abruptly called back to the U.S. in April and then removed from the post.
The information "reveals a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani's smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador," Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said in a statement.
Everything we learned from the impeachment hearings
From Wednesday Nov. 13 to Thursday Nov. 21, Americans were glued to their televisions, computers and streaming devices, as the House Intelligence Committee held a series of long public hearings as part of a broader Democratic-led impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
Here are all the things we learned from two jam-packed weeks of public testimony.
'The global version of Watergate': Democrats confident in impeachment case after open hearings
Democrats on Sunday said that the two weeks of open hearings in the House impeachment inquiry bolstered the case against President Donald Trump and that "every single day provides new and incriminating evidence."
Speaking with ABC's "This Week," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said the president's conduct amounts to "the global version of Watergate, where a president is trying to get dirt on a political opponent from a world leader."
On CBS's "Face the Nation," Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said he doesn't believe "any Democrat in the Congress looked at what happened over the last two weeks and said, 'Gosh, there's nothing there.'
Asked if this phase of the impeachment probe is wrapped up, Himes said, "Every single day provides new and incriminating evidence."
On "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said there was an "urgency" to move the impeachment proceedings along and not wait for courts to rule on other potential witnesses. "We have powerful evidence already," he said.
OMB says there was 'legal consensus' on withholding Ukraine aid
Rachel Semmel, a spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget, said Monday that the administration followed "routine practices and procedures" in putting a hold on hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.
“To be clear, there was a legal consensus at every step of the way that the money could be withheld in order to conduct the policy review," Semmel said. "OMB works closely with agencies on executing the budget. Routine practices and procedures were followed.”
The statement comes after reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times that a confidential White House Counsel's Office review of the hold revealed email discussions among acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and budget officials in August about justifying the halt, which Trump ordered in mid-July, after the fact and questioning whether the hold was legal.
OPINION: Devin Nunes' impeachment defense of Trump — and possible Ukraine collusion — redefines partisan hackery
At last Thursday’s impeachment hearing, Fiona Hill, President Donald Trump's former top adviser on Russia and Europe, had a very direct message for Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill said. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”
Her comments came the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin had boasted at an event in Moscow: “Thank God no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”
In effect that was also a shout-out to Nunes. As Trump’s loyal attack ferret on the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes has continually pushed the same debunked conspiracy theories about Ukraine, the Democratic National Committee and CrowdStrike that the Russians have apparently worked so diligently to spread. Indeed, Nunes has become the de facto face of the GOP defense of Trump, in all of its bizarre contempt for facts, its willingness to ignore and defame witnesses and its zeal to defend the president at all costs — including actively colluding with efforts to dig up dirt on his political opponents.
Sen. Coons rips Lindsey Graham over investigation of Bidens
Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., blasted Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham's launching of an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, saying the South Carolina Republican is doing Trump's "dirty work."
"I know that he's under enormous pressure from the Trump White House," Coons said of Graham in an interview Sunday on MSNBC's "Kasie DC." "He's up for reelection. He's facing a primary. But that doesn't justify abandoning a decades-old friendship and a commitment to the truth."
Last week Graham requested Secretary of State Mike Pompeo release documents related to contacts between the former vice president, his son, other Obama administration officials and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The request is related to an alleged conflict of interest of the then-vice president over his calls in 2016 for Ukraine to crack down on corruption, including removing the country's prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who was seen as ineffective. Shokin had investigated an energy company Burisma Holdings, where Biden's son Hunter Biden was a board member.
When asked about the move, Biden said Saturday that the Judiciary Committee "can have all the documents. There's not a single person, not a single solitary person in Ukraine, or in Europe or in the IMF, International Monetary Fund, or our allies that said anything other than I carried out the policy without one single moment of hesitation of the United States government in dealing with corruption in Ukraine. ... But it does disappoint me.
Graham on Monday defended his actions, saying, “My conscious is clear, I love Joe Biden as a person, he is a really decent man. He's had a lot of tragedy in his life. But I have a conscious very clear right now, and I have a duty. If the House is going to shut it down, the Senate is going to pick it up.”
"My friendship with Joe Biden, if it can't withstand me doing my job, then it's not the friendship I thought we had," Graham added. "I admire him as a person. I think he's always tried to do right as a person."
Coons, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said the allegations against the former vice president have been found to be "groundless, calling Graham's investigation a "red herring" and "a bad attempt to distract from the reality of the impeachment inquiry that’s going forward in the House."
Graham's "latest decision, this choice to betray a decades-old friendship and a clear-eyed view of the truth, I think is a really disappointing demonstration of just how much Senator Graham's close relationship with President Trump has affected the core of who he is and his judgment," Coons added.
Nunes dodges questions about allegations he sought dirt on Biden from Ukraine
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Sunday dodged questions about reports he met with Ukraine's former top prosecutor in an effort to investigate the Bidens, citing his threats to sue the media outlets that uncovered the allegations.
"I really want to answer all these questions, and I promise you I absolutely will come back on the show and answer these questions," Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures." "But, because there is criminal activity here, we’re working with the appropriate law enforcement agencies; we’re going to file this, and everyone’s going to know the truth, everybody’s going to know all the facts."
"But, I think you can understand that I can’t compete by trying to debate this out with the public media when 90% of the media are totally corrupt," he added. "And, because this is criminal in nature, and because it’s so bad, it’s so slanderous — we’ve got all the facts on our side, and we’re going to file in federal court, because I'm not going to sit here and try to compete against the media that I have no chance of winning. I will win in court, and they’ll have a chance to cooperate, and they’ll have to show how they work with somebody who has been indicted, which is likely conspiring to obstruct justice."
The allegations arose when the attorney for an indicted associate of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he was willing to tell Congress that Nunes met with that ex-Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, about investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had business dealings in Ukraine.
OPINION: Democrats' 'bribery' impeachment strategy is an unforced error with sobering consequences
You don’t have to be closely following the inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump to understand the case against the president. This past week, nine current or former administration officials testified before congressional investigators. All of them, to one degree or another, have told the same story.
In the words of former national security council official Fiona Hill, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, was “involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security, foreign policy.” That errand involved the strong-arming of a strategic U.S. partner and the likely leveraging of congressionally authorized assistance to tar one of the president’s domestic political rivals. As Sondland himself confessed during his testimony, he was explicitly directed by the president to compel the new Ukrainian president to create the appearance of a scandal around Joe Biden. “He had to announce the investigations,” Sondland said of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. “He didn't actually have to do them, as I understood it.”
There is a lot we do not yet know about the events leading up to the release of the whistleblower complaint to Congress on Sept. 9, at which point the president began conspicuously denying the existence of a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine. We do not, for example, know why the president issued an explicit order to the Office of Management and Budget to waylay military aid, and we probably never will if chief of staff Mick Mulvaney manages to avoid a deposition. But that would not change the facts of the case as we know them, or the unavoidable conclusion that the president did exactly what he is alleged to have done, which was to abuse his executive power for personal gain.
But if Democrats have such an airtight case against the president, that is not evident in polling or the demeanor of even persuadable Republicans. In fact, after a week of damning testimony, the Democratic position appears to be deteriorating. For that, Democrats only have themselves to blame.
Read the rest of the article here.
GOP senator: 'I don't know' if Ukraine or Russia hacked 2016 election
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., on Sunday defended Trump by floating the same debunked 2016 conspiracy theory that the president asked Ukraine to investigate, a key component of the House impeachment inquiry.
Trump's former top Russia analyst Fiona Hill said during Thursday's impeachment hearings that the idea that Ukraine, and not Russia, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election was "a fictional narrative being propagated by the Russian security services themselves." Trump first asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinskiy to look into the CrowdStrike conspiracy during their July call, a theory he repeated on Friday during an interview with "Fox and Friends."
"Fox News" host Chris Wallace asked Kennedy if he believed Russia or Ukraine was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee server and the Clinton campaign's emails.
"I don’t know, nor do you, nor do any of us," Kennedy said. "Ms. Hill is entitled to her opinion."
Wallace responded that the "entire" intelligence community points to Russia's culpability.
"Right, but it could also be Ukraine," Kennedy said. "I’m not saying that I know one way or the other."
Schiff says House will move forward with impeachment inquiry after 'overwhelming' evidence from hearings
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday that the two weeks of public hearings produced “overwhelming evidence” that President Donald Trump conditioned official acts for favors from Ukraine that would benefit his re-election bid, arguing that it's "urgent" for the House to move forward with its impeachment inquiry.
In an interview on "Meet the Press," Schiff, the California Democrat overseeing the hearings, said that while his committee has no more public testimony scheduled, he doesn’t “foreclose the possibility of others” being added.
Still, Schiff said he felt confident that the five days of open hearings with 12 witnesses produced clear evidence against the president even without hearing from some central Trump administration officials. And he said that he didn't want to delay the House's progress with protracted legal battles aimed at compelling those officials, like former national security adviser John Bolton and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, to testify.
Catch up on Article II: Where things stand and what comes next
In a new episode of "Article II: Inside Impeachment," NBC News politics reporters Steve Kornacki and Jonathan Allen discuss where lawmakers stand after two weeks of public hearings.
The two discuss what House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s closing statement on Thursday reveals about the Democrats’ path forward on impeachment and the next steps of the inquiry.
Listen to the episode here.
Giuliani associate willing to testify Nunes met with ex-Ukrainian official, lawyer says
An attorney for Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani says his client is willing to tell Congress that Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., met with Ukraine's former top prosecutor about investigating the activities of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
If true, the allegation would mean that Nunes — the chief defender of President Trump as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee — was himself involved in the very plot the committee is investigating.
As vice president, Joe Biden joined a chorus of global pressure for Ukraine to fire then-state prosecutor Victor Shokin. Trump and Nunes say Joe Biden wanted Shokin out to protect his son when Hunter Biden's employer, Burisma, was under suspicion.
Joseph A. Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, confirmed that his client was willing to testify that Nunes met with Shokin.
Rep. Dingell 'very disturbed by the undue influence' being put on Republicans
Rep. Debbie Dingell, R-Mich., said Friday that she was "very disturbed" by the pressure she said is being put on Republican lawmakers to toe the line during the House impeachment inquiry.
Asked on Fox News whether Democrats should move forward with impeachment without GOP backing, Dingell responded, "First of all, I don't know that there is no Republican support. I have talked to a number of people who are deeply disturbed, and they're being very cautious in their words. Their arms are being broken, and I'm very disturbed by the undue influence I'm seeing put on Republicans too."
Dingell said what she heard in testimony over the last two weeks "deeply disturbed" her and would accurately be described as bribery.
"It is very clear that the Ukrainian president was — the word 'bribe' does work with being told you are not going to get this aid that you need unless you agree to do this investigation, and you do it publicly," she said. "And we do have evidence that money was held up."
The congresswoman added that the Intelligence Committee was already drafting its report, after which the Judiciary Committee will make its recommendations, and she would wait to see those before coming to any conclusions about impeachment.
Dingell also weighed in on the debunked conspiracy theory Trump and his allies have been chasing that it was really Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election — which former top Russia expert Fiona Hill called a "fictional narrative" that echoed Russian propaganda during her testimony on Thursday.
"One of the things we do know and one of the reasons why I have been fearful about impeachment, but I am getting madder and madder ... is that we do know, there were Republican Cabinet members that testified that Russia interfered in our last elections. Russia is trying to divide us as a country. That's documented in the Mueller report. Intelligence agency after intelligence agency around the world is saying that they're trying to destabilize democracy.
"We need a president that's going to protect the United States of America, not help destabilize democracies around the world," she said.
Impeachment testimony highlights how Trump has recast the way U.S. deals with the world
It is not normal for the United States to have two diplomatic channels for dealing with a foreign ally at war, as the U.S. apparently did with Ukraine under Trump, as the acting ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, told the House impeachment inquiry this month.
The first was the official one run by Taylor, aimed at supporting Ukraine in its war with Russian-backed separatists. The other was “irregular, informal” and unaccountable to Congress, with the goal of getting Ukraine’s new leader to do Trump “a favor” by investigating a political rival, as described by a number of witnesses — most explosively by the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, on Wednesday.
What is also not normal is the United States’ current standing in the world and the way other countries have engaged with it since Trump took office, but particularly since the revelations about his actions toward Ukraine prompted the impeachment inquiry against him.
Diplomatic and foreign policy experts tell NBC News that the president’s habit of deviating — sometimes wildly — from long-held alliances and diplomatic norms have substantially altered America’s relations with allies around the world, and made trusting U.S. intentions and policy positions increasingly difficult.
Fact check: Trump's false claims about Ukraine, DNC server
President Donald Trump, hitting back after a marathon week of public impeachment hearings, continued to promote the debunked conspiracy that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, falsely claiming that "a Ukrainian company" is harboring a hacked server belonging to the Democratic National Committee.
During a nearly hour-long phone interview with "Fox & Friends" Friday morning, Trump defended his administration's freeze on military aid to Ukraine earlier this year as well as his July 25 call with the Ukrainian president that prompted a whistleblower complaint, saying he was simply trying to root out corruption in the country.
"A lot of it had to do, they say, with Ukraine," he began, before alleging that the country has the DNC server that was hacked in 2016.
"The FBI went in and they told them get out of here, we’re not giving it to you. They gave the server to CrowdStrike... which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian, and I still want to see that server,” " Trump said of the DNC's actions upon learning that it had been hacked in the run-up to the election. "You know, the FBI has never gotten that server. That's a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?"
Almost none of these claims are remotely true.
Giuliani claims Zelenskiy mentioned him on July 25 call because of his record fighting crime
Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani tweeted Friday that his previous record fighting crime as New York City's mayor is what prompted Ukrainian President Zelenskiy to bring him up on the July 25 call with Trump.
Giuliani made the remark in a Twitter post after tweeting out Trump's defense of Giuliani's Ukraine dealings during a nearly hour-long interview with "Fox & Friends" on Friday morning.
Multiple witnesses have told House investigators that Giuliani ran a shadow policy effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. Giuliani was involved in the effort as early as last spring and summer, and Zelenskiy reportedly met with aids to discuss their concerns over the U.S. demands for an investigation of the Bidens in early May — well before the July phone call and a day after U.S. Amb. Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump called "bad news" on the phone call with Zelenskiy, was recalled from Ukraine.
Mystery grows over Lebanon aid hold-up as impeachment looms
The Trump administration is withholding more than $100 million in U.S. military assistance to Lebanon that has been approved by Congress and is favored by his national security team, an assertion of executive control of foreign aid that is similar to the delay in support for Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
The hold came up in impeachment testimony by David Hale, the No. 3 official in the State Department, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing released this week. He described growing consternation among diplomats as the administration would neither release the aid nor provide an explanation for the hold.
“People started asking: What's the problem?” Hale told the impeachment investigators.
As with the Ukraine assistance, the Office of Management and Budget has not explained the reason for the delay. However, unlike Ukraine, there is no suggestion that President Donald Trump is seeking “a favor” from Lebanon to release it, according to five officials familiar with the matter. The White House and OMB have declined to comment on the matter.
Senate Dems demand Pompeo recuse himself over 'profound conflict of interest' in Trump-Ukraine matters
Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are demanding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recuse himself from all Trump-Ukraine matters, saying in a letter that the secretary was on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and has "profound conflict of interest."
While Pompeo has acknowledged being on the call, in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rivals, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland drew the secretary more deeply into the Trump-Ukraine effort than was previously known during his testimony on Wednesday. Sondland told the House Intelligence Committee about emails to the secretary and a top aide in which the basic contours of the quid pro quo alleged by Democrats — which include allegations of placing a hold on military aid — seem clear.
Pompeo, meanwhile, has continued to "impede the House impeachment inquiry, including by refusing to produce any State Department records on the Trump-Ukraine scandal — including those that may shed further light on your own complicity," the 10 Democrats on the committee wrote Thursday. They added that Sondland testified the State Department refused to give him access to his own materials as he prepared for the hearing, which the department has disputed.
"The only legitimate option is for you to recuse and to delegate the department's response to the Trump-Ukraine scandal to a senior career department official," the senators wrote. "We urge you to do so immediately."