Today opened with the somber news of the death of Representative Elijah Cummings. Cummings has played a key role in the impeachment inquiry as the chair of the House Oversight Committee. But more than that, he represented his west Baltimore district for over two decades, earning the respect of those he worked with and represented. "I don’t expect to change the world," he said when he won his first race for the Maryland House of Delegates in 1983 (he moved to the US House in 1996). “I’m just ready to get to work." He did the work. (Source: Baltimore Sun)
The sober news of the morning, however, was quickly replaced by one of the wilder moments since the impeachment inquiry kicked off just over three weeks ago. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney held a press conference to announce that next year's G7 summit, a yearly meeting of world leaders, will be held at the Trump Doral golf club in Miami (stares directly into camera). You would think that would be the update, but in fact the update is that at the presser, Mulvaney was asked about the president's call with Ukraine and the connection between investigating the Democrats and the withholding of $400 million in military aid to the country. Did the president "mention to me in passing the corruption related to the DNC server?" Mulvaney asked rhetorically. "Absolutely. No question about that." Then he added "and that's why we held up the money." When asked, point blank, if this was a quid-pro-quo, he responded "We do that all the time," later telling reporters to "get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." Help. Me. I. Am. Dying. Inside.(Source: New York Times.)
Would it surprise you to learn that Mulvaney is now trying to walk those statements back? No, no it wouldn't, would it. Mulvaney is now trying to walk those statements back. "The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server," he wrote a few hours later. OK Mick thanks for clearing that up. (Source: NBC News)
Given the relentless nature of today's news cycle, it's easy to forget that US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, testified to House investigative committees today. Considering what a central figure he has emerged as over the last few days of testimony and the role he played in last week's White House blockade of the inquiry, it's remarkable that he's not the biggest story of the day. In his opening statements, which have leaked, Sondland testified he was directed by the president to involve Rudy Giuliani in Ukrainian affairs. It was only "much later" that he realized "Mr. Giuliani’s agenda might have also included an effort to prompt the Ukrainians to investigate Vice President Biden or his son or to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the President's 2020 reelection campaign." Somehow this is not the most remarkable thing that a person said today by a mile. (Source: Politico)
Sondland isn't the only person today saying that the president told them to call Rudy Giuliani about Ukraine. Rick Perry, who tonight officially announced he is resigning as Energy Secretary, told the Wall Street Journal that he was directed by Trump this spring to get on the phone with Giuliani. On the call, according to the Journal, Giuliani "blamed Ukraine for the dossier about Mr. Trump's alleged ties to Russia that was created by a former British intelligence officer and asserted that Ukraine had Mrs. Clinton's email server and 'dreamed up' evidence that helped send former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to jail." Gestures wildly in every direction.(Source: Wall Street Journal)
Hey, how about some real chill news to close things out? Sorry, instead how about a report that Mitch McConnell told Senate Republicans to prepare for an impeachment trial potentially as soon as Thanksgiving. Falls over, lifeless. (Source: Washington Post)
What's coming next: Somehow, impossibly, there is another day in the work week. The White House has a deadline to turn over documents to House investigators tomorrow, so that should go real legal and real cool. And probably 10,000 other things will happen. Whelp.