A quick snapshot of what's happening now in impeachment news.

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Things happen fast. Here's all of it

This Week

  • Monday was the quietest day we'll have all week, with both a federal holiday today and the (relative) calm before the storm of public impeachment hearings starts on Wednesday. Today did bring the official schedule for those public hearings, with House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff's office announcing that things will kick off at 10am Wednesday with the dual testimony of William Taylor, acting US ambassador to the Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Taylor's closed-door testimony included a detailed outline of the "irregular channels" of communication with Ukraine run by Rudy Giuliani. Kent's previous testimony attested to a "campaign of lies" that lead to the firing of former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who testifies in the open on Friday. This is really happening—set your DVRs. (Source: CNN)
  • Despite the federal holiday, transcripts from the last month of closed-door depositions continued to be released. Today saw the release of transcripts of testimony from Laura Cooper—deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia—and Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, two State Department Ukraine specialists. The transcripts continue to flesh out an understanding of both the hold placed on aid to Ukraine that sits at the center of the impeachment inquiry as well as the involvement of the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in Ukrainian affairs. In his testimony Anderson said that National Security Advisor John Bolton "made a joke about every time Ukraine is mentioned, Giuliani pops up." So basically, Giuliani is like the Candyman, only terrible. (Source: Washington Post)
  • While the final lineup of people called to testify in this phase of the impeachment inquiry is still being settled, one person we officially won't hear from is the whistleblower who kicked everything off with their report to Congress in September. Republicans—and the president himself (more on that in a sec)—have wanted to call the whistleblower, but in responding to their request, Adam Schiff said that the Intelligence Committee "will not facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower" and that the whistleblower has a right to remain anonymous. That's going to go over great I am sure. (Source: CNN)
  • Even though hearings begin in two days, the Republican strategy for the impeachment continues to evolve, with Representative Jim Jordan temporarily assigned to the House Intelligence Committee so he can sit in on the open hearings. Jordan was one of the Republicans that lead the occupation of the secure room where depositions were being held last month as a way of protesting the closed-door nature of the hearings—despite the fact that he had full access to the hearings as the head Republican on the House Oversight Committee. "You want your best contributors for 'showtime,'" one Republican told Politico. "Jordan is definitely a showman." Stares. (Source: Politico)
  • Finally, the president spent much of the day tweeting about the impeachment proceedings, including saying that "the Whistleblower, his lawyer, and Corrupt politician Schiff should be investigated for fraud!" He paused his tweeting to take part in New York's Veterans Day Parade. When he started again a few hours later, he accused Adam Schiff of having "fabricated my phone call, he will fabricate the transcripts that he is making and releasing!" I'm sure the rest of the week is going to go great. (Source: Twitter)
  • Republican House members had a deadline of Saturday to produce their wish list of witnesses for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry. How's it looking? Well, it's "a list that includes former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden"—stares—"and the anonymous whistleblower who filed the initial complaint against President Trump. What's the strategy here? "Republicans want to publicly question witnesses who would divert the conversation away from questions about Trump’s behavior to allegations only tangentially related to the case," writes the Washington Post. Checks out. However, Democrats have final say on who actually gets called, so expect "failure to fulfill Minority witness requests shall constitute evidence of your denial of fundamental fairness and due process" to become a talking point when half these folks aren't called. I need a nap. (Source: Washington Post)
  • From putting "impeachment inquiry" in quotes every time he uses it, to the list of witnesses that reads like a greatest-hits collection of three years of conspiracy theories—including a DNC staffer who "can assist Congress and the American public in better understanding the facts and circumstances surrounding Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election"—the entirety of Devin Nunes's letter is worth a read. This is an actual document in an actual inquiry in actual Congress. Lights self on fire. (Source: original document)
  • The GOP list wasn't the only Republican maneuvering happening this weekend. Late Friday night, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney asked to join the lawsuit requesting a judicial decision on whether White House staff should comply with House subpoenas or White House directives of non-compliance. Does this mean that the chief of staff of the White House is attempting to sue the White House? Yes, yes it does. The lawsuit, originally filed by National Security Counsel deputy Charles Kupperman, is also holding up the testimony of National Security Advisor John Bolton. The first hearing is scheduled for December 10. Checks calendar. Bursts into tears. (Source: CNN)
  • Speaking of John Bolton, a puzzling report from Bloomberg on Saturday placed Bolton at the center of the release of the withheld funds to Ukraine. "Shortly before September 9, Bolton had relayed a message to the State Department that the funding could go ahead. It’s not clear whether Bolton, who resigned from the job a week later, did so with Trump’s approval," Bloomberg reports. Wait what? This report directly contradicts the White House's narrative that Trump himself lifted the hold on the money on September 11 after a phone call with Republican Senator Rob Portman. "I gave the money because Rob Portman and others called me and asked," Trump told reporters last month. The hold and later release of Ukrainian aid—and who knew what when—is a key element of the impeachment inquiry. My head genuinely hurts. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • If that isn't enough for one weekend, President Trump told reporters yesterday that the White House was readying the release of a second transcript summary with Ukrainian president Zelensky. "We have another transcript coming out which is very important," he told reporters before going to a football game Saturday. He said that the summary, from a call in April after Zelensky won the Ukrainian election, would be released on Tuesday, a day before open impeachment hearings begin. Sure, why not. (Source: The Guardian)

Last Week

  • As the House prepares for open hearings next week, two more transcripts from last month's closed-door testimony were released. The first, by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the director for European affairs for the National Security Council, gave a vivid look into the July 25 call between president Trump and Ukrainian president Zelensky. "I’m struggling for the words," he told investigators, "but it was not a positive call." When asked if there was any doubt in his mind that Trump was asking Zelensky to investigate his political rivals as a "deliverable," Vindman responded "There was no doubt." Well then. Of course that wasn't enough for Republican Rep John Ratcliffe who pressed Vindman to define what he meant by a "deliverable." Vindman explained further: "it became completely apparent what the deliverable would be in order to get a White House meeting. That deliverable was reinforced by the President. … The demand was, in order to get the White House meeting, they had to deliver an investigation." (Source: Washington Post)
  • The transcript of Fiona Hill, senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council was also released today. In her deposition, Hill describes a hellish tenure at the NSC "filled with hateful calls, conspiracy theories … accusing me of being a Soros mole in the White House, of colluding with all kinds of enemies of the president, and, you know, of various improprieties." I've had some bad jobs, but omg. When she reported this to her boss, John Bolton, he told her to go to NSC lawyer John Eisenberg: "You go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this, and you go and tell him what you've heard and what I've said." Well OK then. (Source: Politico)
  • Speaking of Fiona Hill's boss John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor continues to be a mustachioed enigma in these proceedings, appearing as a critical voice in many transcripts but refusing to appear. Today his lawyer said that John Bolton knows about "many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far." Well, out with it then, right? Not so fast—his lawyer wants a judge to decide whether Bolton should abide by House subpoena or the White House directive of non-cooperation. If that sounds familiar it's because Bolton's lawyer is the same lawyer as Charles Kupperman who has already sued for the same reason. His case is being heard December 10, so it may be a while before we hear about those "relevant meetings and conversations." (Source: New York Times)
  • While we're talking about not appearing, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney refused to comply with a subpoena today and skipped his hearing with House investigators. You are shocked, I know. He waited until literally the last minute to do it, according to Time. "Mulvaney’s lawyer informed the committees leading the impeachment probe one minute before the deposition was supposed to start that Mulvaney had been directed not to comply with the subpoena." So there's your fun fact for the day. (Source: Time)
  • If you were wondering how next week's public hearings were weighing on the president, he's "not concerned about anything," he told White House reporters today. Hmmmmm. "The testimony has all been fine," he said (side note: it hasn't). "I mean, for the most part, I never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are," which is a little odd because he appointed a number of them. Anyway, he added that "They shouldn't be having public hearings; this is a hoax." Screams into the void for all eternity. Public hearings begin on Wednesday. (Source: New York Times)
  • Preparation for next week's start of open impeachment hearings continued today with Democrats revealing the three questions they are using as the "official parameters" of public hearings:
    • Did the President request that a foreign leader and government initiate investigations to benefit the President's personal political interests in the United States, including an investigation related to the President's political rival and potential opponent in the 2020 US presidential election?
    • Did the President–directly or through agents–seek to use the power of the Office of the President and other instruments of the federal government in other ways to apply pressure on the head of state and government of Ukraine to advance the President's personal political interests, including by leveraging an Oval Office meeting desired by the President of Ukraine or by withholding US military assistance to Ukraine?
    • Did the President and his Administration seek to obstruct, suppress or cover up information to conceal from the Congress and the American people evidence about the President's actions and conduct?
    These tightly-focused inquiry parameters appear to be an attempt to keep the next phase of the impeachment inquiry—which will allow Republicans to call their own witnesses as well—dialed into the key question of presidential abuse of power. Next week is going to be bonkers isn't it. (Source: Politico)
  • As Republicans draw up their list of potential witnesses they'd like to call, their number one appears to be the anonymous whistleblower who kicked off the whole impeachment inquiry. How would an anonymous whistleblower testify in an open hearing? Well, according to Republican Rep Mark Meadows, "The whistleblower statute never required for anonymity." Which, thinking face emoji. Republicans have until Saturday to deliver their list of witnesses to Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff. But—twist—Democrats have veto power on anyone on their list so all bets are off on who actually makes it through. (Source: The Hill)
  • In addition to figuring out their list of potential witnesses, Republicans are also deciding if they want to shift the makeup of their side of the Intelligence Committee, which will lead this stage of the inquiry. Specifically, Republicans are considering moving Jim Jordan, currently the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, over to Intelligence. Why make the move? "We are interested in putting together the best team," a senior Republican aide told CBS News. Jim Jordan is their best player? I, uh—walks away slowly. (Source: CBS News)
  • Meanwhile, actual work got done too, with Jennifer Williams, an advisor to VP Pence on Europe and Russia, testifying today. The White House attempted to block Williams, but she appeared under subpoena. This is potentially a "what did the Vice President know and when did he know it" moment for the inquiry, as Williams is the first person from Pence's staff to give a deposition. While we don't yet know what she covered, her lawyer said "we expect her testimony will largely reflect what is already in the public record." After the release of thousands of pages of transcripts this week, there is a lot in the public record. (Source: Washington Post)
  • Speaking of transcripts, the House Intelligence Committee also released the transcript of the testimony of State Department official George Kent today. In his testimony, Kent said that "POTUS wanted nothing less than President Zelenskyy to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton." Whaaaaaat. Kent is one of three people giving open testimony next week so, uh, that should be something. (Source: Axios)
  • Finally, how close was Ukrainian president Zelensky from going on that microphone and saying those words? According to a report in the New York Times today, very. "Finally bending to the White House request, Mr Zelensky's staff planned for him to make an announcement in an interview on September 13" What stopped him? Word that the White House had frozen aid to Ukraine leaked out and, two days before the interview was scheduled, "the Trump administration released the assistance and Mr Zelensky’s office quickly canceled the interview." Stares off into the middle distance. (Source: New York Times)
  • The "public phase" of the impeachment inquiry got a start date today. After last week's floor vote in the House, the impeachment inquiry has looked pretty much the same, with closed-door testimony scheduled all week. But that stops next week when the first public testimony in the impeachment inquiry will be held Wednesday, November 13. That day will see two televised testimonies by William Taylor, acting US ambassador to the Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch—who, according to testimony over the last month, was smeared repeatedly by Trump loyalists before being fired—is scheduled to testify publicly on Friday the 15th. All three were previously deposed by House investigative committees, but now will testify in an open, televised setting. Cue the fireworks. (Source: New York Times)
  • Between now and then, House committees will continue to release transcripts of the closed-door testimony taken over the last month. Today, transcripts of the ten-hour testimony of William Taylor were released. Over the lengthy transcripts, Taylor paints a picture of US Ukraine policy running through Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, instead of diplomats—as he calls it, a "regular channel" (US diplomats) and an "irregular channel" (Giuliani and various cronies). "The irregular channel seemed to focus on specific issues, specific cases, rather than the regular channel's focus on institution building," Taylor testified. Those specific issues? Take a guess. Taylor's detailed testimony gives extensive names and dates thanks in part to his extensive notetaking. As he explains, "I keep a little notebook where I take notes on conversations, in particular when I’m not in the office. So, in meetings with Ukrainian officials or when I'm out and I get a phone call and I can—I keep notes." All hail the notetakers. (Source: Politico)
  • The release of another transcript this week resulted in a dramatic revision. Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the EU, revised his previous testimony, now admitting in a sworn statement that "resumption of the US aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement." The revision is the first time Sondland has admitted that the White House attached conditions to the release of military aide to Ukraine—a big reversal from his original testimony where he repeatedly said he didn't believe that there were. I don't know quite how you can just idly add that in that later and it's all cool, but here we are. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • Even as transcripts are released (and, uh, revised) and the House gears up for public testimony next week, investigators continue to hold closed-door depositions as well—or at least are trying to. While David Hale, under secretary of state for political affairs at the State Department, showed up to testify today, three others, including energy secretary Rick Perry, no-showed. While Perry was not under subpoena, Russel Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget and Ulrich Brechbul, a State Department official who listened to Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian president Zelensky, had both been issued subpoenas after no-showing previously. What to do about all these no-shows? Well, according to the New York Times, Adam Schiff has "indicated he will count refusals to appear as part of an article of impeachment against Mr Trump for obstruction of Congress." K, that works. (Source: New York Times)
  • Finally, speaking of subpoenas, House Democrats announced today that they've given up pursuing a subpoena for former deputy national security advisor Charles Kupperman, who had filed a lawsuit asking a judge to determine if he should comply. Earlier this week a judge set a hearing date of December 10th, more than a month away and well into the public phase of the impeachment inquiry. Instead of pursuing this suit, House Democrats told Kupperman's attorney that they hope "Kupperman will comply with an upcoming ruling in a similar case involving former White House counsel Don McGahn." Definitely hoping is going to go great here I'm sure. (Source: Axios)

2 Weeks Ago

  • Welcome to the official impeachment inquiry! The House of Representatives voted today to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry that has been underway for the last month and to move it into a new, more public phase. This is only the third time in modern history that the House has voted on an impeachment inquiry of a president, so like, take a moment here. "What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who on Monday introduced this resolution. The resolution outlines the next steps of the impeachment inquiry, now focused heavily on public hearings starting in November which will almost certainly lead to articles of impeachment being filed and a vote taken maybe before the winter holidays. Things just got very real. (Source: Washington Post)
  • Today's historic vote was also a moment of truth for lawmakers who may have been reluctant to put their names to an impeachment vote. The final vote fell almost entirely on party lines, with 232 voting to approve and 196 opposed. Two Democrats—Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey—joined every Republican in voting against the resolution. Justin Amash, who left the Republican party earlier this year, voted in favor. If you want to see the whole list of names, the New York Times has a good look at how everyone voted. (Source: New York Times)
  • Meanwhile—literally as the vote was underway upstairs—House investigators were hearing from Tim Morrison, the Europe and Russia chief for the National Security Council. In eight hours of testimony, Morrison is reported to have further corroborated the withholding of military aid to Ukraine in return for political favors for the president. According to Politico, Morrison was "careful to not directly criticize the president's actions" in his testimony, though it is notable that he resigned his job at the White House just prior to his deposition. Hmmmm. (Source: Politico)
  • Speaking of testimony, today we continued to learn more about Tuesday's testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. According to the Washington Post, Vindman testified that when he raised concerns about the president's July 25 call to White House lawyer John Eisenberg, Eisenberg responded by moving the transcript of the call with the president of Ukraine to a classified server. In case you were wondering, that's "a step that other officials have said is at odds with long-standing White House protocol." Eisenberg has now been asked to testify on Monday. Don't put big money on him showing up. (Source: Washington Post)
  • But with today's vote, the time of closed-door testimony is coming to a close. "A lot of the damning evidence already came out. And a lot of these witnesses are corroborating essentially the same narrative, which hasn’t changed," Representative Ted Lieu told Politico. While there are still people lined up for testimony, another source said "Given the evidence we’ve collected so far, we think we’re ready to enter a public phase sooner than later." Here we go. (Source: Politico)
  • The biggest news of today was further details from yesterday's testimony by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. Citing multiple people familiar with Vindman's testimony, the New York Times reported that "the White House transcript of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine’s president omitted crucial words and phrases." Well then. According to the Times, what was left out of the White House transcript "included Mr Trump's assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R Biden Jr discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr Biden's son Hunter." Oh. That is certainly an omission. (Source: New York Times)
  • In addition to learning more about Vindman's testimony, today featured two State Department officials testifying to House investigators. Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, who both served as senior advisors on Ukraine, "described to investigators the unusual intrusion into US foreign policy by Trump-aligned consultants, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Robert Livingston, a lobbyist and former GOP congressman," according to Politico. Robert Livingston? A new player has entered the game. In her opening statement, Croft said that Livingston "characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as an 'Obama holdover' and associated with George Soros." OK... "It was not clear to me at the time—or now—at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch." Well he sounds great. (Source: Politico)
  • A third State Department official also appeared on Capitol Hill today. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan answered multiple impeachment-y questions during a confirmation hearing to become US ambassador to Russia. While a confirmation hearing for an ambassador is not the normal setting for this type of inquiry, Democrats got right to the point with Sullivan. Did Rudy Giuliani try to smear ousted US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch? "I believe he was, yes." Should the president use the power of his office to get foreign countries to investigate political opponents? "I don't think that would be in accord with our values." Has Sullivan ever "heard of any other president asking a foreign government to investigate an American citizen"? According to reports, Sullivan "can't think of one off the top of my head." And so here we are again—it's remarkable how consistent all this testimony keeps ending up being. (Source: Washington Post)
  • Speaking of testimony (when aren't we), Democrats have officially asked former National Security Advisor John Bolton to appear in the impeachment inquiry next week. The mustachioed advisor has come up multiple times in testimony over the last month and his appearance before impeachment investigators was all but inevitable. Bolton has been reported to have viewed Rudy Giuliani as a "hand grenade" and refused to get involved in "whatever drug deal" US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney "are cooking up." That Democrats didn't wait until a judge ruled on whether Bolton's former deputy Charles Kupperman would be compelled to testify (a hearing for which was pushed to Friday), is a sign that they think their hand becomes stronger after tomorrow's floor vote on the impeachment resolution introduced yesterday. (Source: New York Times)
  • About the vote tomorrow, Democrats emerged from a caucus meeting today and announced that they expected few defections in the vote on the resolution to begin open impeachment proceedings. According to Politico, only five Democrats "have not come out in support of the impeachment inquiry" and only one, Jeff Van Drew who holds a vulnerable seat in New Jersey has said he's leaning toward no. Despite a few potential no votes from Democrats, "I think most of us recognize transparency and articulation of process is in the best interest of the country and for the institution," said Rep Dean Phillips from Minnesota. No Republicans are expected to vote for the resolution. Shocker, I know. (Source: Politico)
  • And finally, the House will begin the voting process on the impeachment resolution at 10:30am Eastern tomorrow. There will be debate—you think?—and potential procedural shenanigans, so the vote won't begin until some time later. For a full guide on how to watch it and what to expect, Vox has got the hookup. (Source: Vox)
  • Whoa—we've got an impeachment resolution and a date set for a vote! Now this isn't a vote to impeach the president. Instead the resolution, introduced by Democrats today, sets forward the rules of an official impeachment proceeding—the first step toward likely articles of impeachment. "Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries," wrote House committee leaders involved in the impeachment inquiry, "the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president's misconduct." In addition to open hearings, the resolution directs the Intelligence Committee to prepare a report collecting all evidence in the investigation. That report would then be turned over to the Judiciary Committee who would draw up articles of impeachment. There's a long way between here and there though—the resolution will grant Republicans a lot of the things they've asked for, namely being able to issue subpoenas for testimony of their own, and outlines due process rights for the president and his lawyers once the process moves to the Judiciary Committee. A vote on the resolution is set for Halloween—marking the only time that a "do boo, vote" joke could actually sort of work. Sorry not sorry. (Source: New York Times)
  • If you're into the olde-tyme language of official House legalese, you will have a great time working your way through the text of the resolution itself. If you're not, just the remarkably long title is suitably historic: Directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes. (Source: original document)
  • The resolution wasn't the only action in the House today, as Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top expert on Ukraine, testified to House investigators. The Iraq war vet, who was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded by an IED, is the first White House official who was actually on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian president Zelensky to testify to House investigators. His verdict? "I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a US citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the US government's support of Ukraine," he said in his opening statement. "I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine US national security." Yes, yes it would. (Source: Washington Post)
  • Meanwhile, the lawsuit filed on Friday by former National Security Council deputy Charles Kupperman—who asked a judge to decide if he should abide by House subpoena or White House demands of non-cooperation—has had a hearing set for the suitably spooky date of October 31. US District Judge Richard Leon said that "due to the time-sensitive nature of the issues raised in this case" he was speeding up the process. A decision in the House's favor would probably mean that they would then call former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who is represented by the same attorney as Kupperman and whose name has come up repeatedly in testimony as someone deeply critical of the president's actions toward Ukraine. Halloween is going to be a hell of a day. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • If fate wants to tack one more thing onto All Hallows' Eve, House lawyers are asking the courts to expedite the Department of Justice's appeal of Friday's decision that they are required to turn over grand jury material from the Mueller investigation. "Delay in this case would not only hinder the House's ability to consider impeachment quickly, but also enhance DOJ's ability to run out the clock on the Committee's impeachment inquiry altogether," wrote House lawyers in their filing. Why not do it on the day everything else is happening too. Boo! (Source: Politico)
  • Finally, one member of the administration will be testifying tomorrow who can't defy a subpoena. As Politico reports, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan is due to be vetted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday because he's up for a vote to become US ambassador to Russia. What timing. "Senate Democratic aides say Sullivan can expect questions about what role Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, played in shaping Ukraine policy." Ya think? "They'll also want to know what, if anything, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did to rein in Giuliani and other outside actors—as well as Trump—as they sought to pressure Ukraine's government to investigate former vice president Joe Biden." So that should be an interesting wrinkle in an already-interesting day. (Source: Politico)
  • The impeachment inquiry is suddenly entering a new phase this week with the surprise announcement this afternoon by Nancy Pelosi that the House will be introducing a resolution—potentially as soon as tomorrow—that will set procedural guidelines for public hearings, subpoenas, and what "due process" for the president will look like. "We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives," Speaker Pelosi wrote today. Whether or not it'll accomplish those things is up in the air but either way it is moving fast—a vote is set for Thursday. Hold on to your butts. (Source: Politico)
  • If the expectation by Democrats is that this resolution will hamper the White House's attack line that the impeachment is "illegitimate," well, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham quickly dispelled that by issuing a statement saying that the impeachment inquiry was "completely and irreversibly illegitimate." As if to underline that "irreversible" is the new talking point, Senator Lindsey Graham took to Twitter to declare that "a vote now is a bit like un-ringing a bell." Damned if you don't, damned if you do I guess. Expect to hear this line of "irreversible" criticism a lot in the next 48 hours. (Source: Associated Press)
  • Meanwhile, former White House national security deputy Charles Kupperman no-showed his scheduled deposition this morning. Kupperman had filed a lawsuit on Friday asking for judicial guidance on whether he should follow the White House's demand he not cooperate or the subpoena from the House. Kupperman's lawyer has asked for expedited consideration of the lawsuit, but so far there's no timing set and so Kupperman didn't show up. Complicating things further, Kupperman's lawyer is Charles Cooper who also represents mustachioed former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who Democrats would very much like to talk to but right now they'll be waiting on this judge's decision instead. (Source: Washington Post)
  • And in even more waiting-on-judges news, Friday's decision by a federal district judge that the Department of Justice turn over grand jury materials from the Mueller report to House impeachment investigators has now been appealed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. You're shocked, I know—go ahead and catch your breath or something. The DOJ had been given a deadline of this Wednesday to turn over the documents. Obviously, in their appeal they are asking for a suspension of that deadline. Who doesn't love waiting for judges? (Source: New York Times)
  • If after all this you are thinking that perhaps the White House is engaging Democrats in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope with the courts, you will be glad to know that House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff today said in no uncertain terms that "we are not willing to allow the White House to engage us in a lengthy game of rope-a-dope with the courts" and that the White House's continued obstruction could be construed as "a very powerful case against the president for obstruction." Glad he cleared that up. Cries. (Source: Politico)
  • House investigative committees were back in session on Saturday, after being closed Thursday and Friday for memorials for Representative Elijah Cummings. Nobody likes working on Saturday—especially Republicans, who wrote a letter of complaint—but State Department acting assistant secretary for Europe, Phillip Reeker, showed up and testified for over eight hours. According to Bloomberg, in his testimony, Reeker said he was "disappointed Secretary of State Michael Pompeo didn’t back the US ambassador to Ukraine when she was targeted in a smear campaign by President Donald Trump and his associates." The closed door testimony was "a much richer reservoir of information than we originally expected," Democratic Rep Stephen Lynch said—for eight hours on a Saturday, I'd sure hope so. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • As the pace of testimony picks up again this week, the White House's blanket refusal to cooperate with the investigation is the focus of a lawsuit filed on Friday by Charles Kupperman. Kupperman, deputy to former national security advisor John Bolton, wants a judge to decide whether he should listen to the White House, who doesn't want him to testify, or comply with the subpoena from the House. "Plaintiff obviously cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the Legislative and Executive Branches," the lawsuit reads, "and he is aware of no controlling judicial authority definitively establishing which Branch’s command should prevail." Obviously this lawsuit has implications far beyond Kupperman, who is scheduled to be deposed tomorrow, and a decision in either direction will have major repercussions moving forward. (Source: Washington Post)
  • House Democrats responded to Kupperman's lawsuit on Saturday saying that it is "lacking in legal merit and apparently coordinated with the White House." And, in a refrain that is both familiar and as yet unenforced, said that failure to show up on Monday "will constitute evidence that may be used against him in a contempt proceeding." But, you know, don't hold your breath—so far House Democrats have yet to enforce a single subpoena. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • Meanwhile, we're still learning more about testimony from the people who have shown up over the last few weeks. The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported on more details from the testimony of US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who has emerged as a central figure in all this. Citing Sondland's lawyer directly, the Journal reported that during his testimony on October 17 when asked whether the president withholding aid from Ukraine in return for political favors "was a quid pro quo, Mr. Sondland cautioned that he wasn’t a lawyer but said he believed the answer was yes." I am also not a lawyer, but I will say ohhhhhhh. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
  • Finally, the Washington Post has a revealing look at what Republicans have been asking during all these depositions. Remember, while Republicans have been pushing the narrative this week that they've been locked out of the proceedings, there are 48 Republican members of the three committees leading this stage of the impeachment inquiry. And it turns out their focus has been on—wait for it—unmasking the whistleblower. During testimony, "GOP members and staffers have repeatedly raised the name of a person suspected of filing the whistleblower complaint," the Post reports. Which definitely seems like a normal line of questioning about—checks notes—the president's conduct. Anyway, testimony picks up the pace again this week so expect much more of this to come. (Source: Washington Post)

3 Weeks Ago

  • The Republican talking point that the impeachment inquiry underway in the House is "illegitimate" was dealt a significant blow today after dominating the narrative this week. In a ruling related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election (more on that in a second), federal judge Beryl A Howell found that Department of Justice arguments that the House needed to pass a resolution authorizing a formal impeachment proceeding was "cherry-picked and incomplete." The US District Court judge went on to say "more significantly, this test has no textual support in the US Constitution." Judge Howell goes on to cite cases of non-presidential impeachment inquiries in the House that proceeded without a House resolution but, she adds "even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry." Well then. (Source: original document)
  • Believe it or not, declaring the impeachment inquiry legal was only a side quest in Judge Howell's decision. The rest was a big deal too, seeing as how she ordered that the Department of Justice turn over certain grand jury materials from Robert Mueller's investigation to the House Judiciary Committee—by Wednesday. The Judiciary Committee had sued this summer to release the redacted portions of Mueller's final report along with grand jury materials cited in the report. The grand jury material, usually secret, should be made available to House investigators because the "House was legally engaged in a judicial process that exempts Congress from normal grand jury secrecy rules," the Washington Post reported. Even if the impeachment inquiry remains focused on Ukraine, one would expect that grand jury material regarding Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort's work in Ukraine would be of interest. House investigators would get those on Wednesday, barring a DOJ appeal to the Supreme Court, which, stares at you, eyebrows raised. (Source: Washington Post)
  • All of this may complicate the job of the person at the White House in charge of counter-messaging the impeachment inquiry—that is, if they had one. Politico today looks at the search for a "communications guru" to handle point on the impeachment at the White House. "They are trying to figure out how to set up a war room, without it being a war room and without it devolving into a civil war inside the White House," Politico reported. Well, it's good to know what you want. And also that it's what you don't want. And also that it might kick off a civil war. Sounds reasonable. (Source: Politico)
  • Speaking of the White House, lawyers for Tim Morrison, a National Security Council advisor on Russia and Europe, announced today that he would testify to House investigative committees next week. Morrison's testimony would be the first from someone that actually listened in on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian president Zelensky. Despite Morrison's White House role—and the White House's blanket refusal to cooperate with the inquiry—Morrison's lawyer says he will testify. "He's going to answer questions. That's where we're at right now," his lawyer told CNN. "We haven't made final decisions on anything other than he'll appear with the subpoena." Morrison will testify next Thursday and will be one of at least four officials testifying next week as the House gets back to business after pausing Thursday and Friday for Elijah Cummings' memorial services. (Source: CNN)
  • Last, but certainly not least, Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, butt dialed a reporter from NBC late last night. Catches breath. The call, which came in after 11pm, went to voice mail. Over the three minute message, "Giuliani can be heard discussing overseas dealings and lamenting the need for cash, though it's difficult to discern the full context of the conversation." Back up a second—the need for cash?? "The problem is we need some money," Giuliani is overheard saying to an unidentified second person. After an extended silence from both people, he follows up with "We need a few hundred thousand." Oh. It's worth noting that before he was the president's personal lawyer, Guiliani served as cybersecurity advisor to Trump and, more recently, was paid a half-million dollars by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman's company Fraud Guarantee (stares) for cybersecurity consulting. But he's butt dialing reporters late at night because that is a totally normal and chill thing that all cybersecurity experts/lawyers to the president definitely do. Help me. I deserve an award for putting this news item last tbqh. (Source: NBC News)
  • Following yesterday's pizza party/raid on the secure facility, Republicans continued to assail the impeachment process today. This time it was Senate Republican Lindsay Graham picking up the mantle by introducing a resolution condemning the impeachment inquiry. The resolution calls on the House to hold a formal vote on opening an impeachment inquiry. In a press conference that accompanied the introduction of the resolution, Graham said that "I'm not here to tell you that Donald Trump has done nothing wrong," but that he deserves the same rights "as Clinton and Nixon." I've heard fuller-throated endorsements in my time, but OK. The resolution is not yet scheduled for a vote in the Senate. (Source: USA Today)
  • Speaking of yesterday's Republican occupation of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the House, Phillip Bump of the Washington Post has an interesting breakdown of the numbers of the protest, including that more than a quarter of the Republicans that staged the action yesterday were already on the committees running this part of the impeachment inquiry—meaning they already had full access to everything happening in the hearings. On the other hand, there was pizza. (Source: Washington Post)
  • House Republicans—whose pizza party (I'm not getting over it, sorry) delayed testimony by over five hours—weren't the only ones attempting to block yesterday's testimony of Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. Far more serious was the letter written by the Department of Defense to Cooper's lawyers prior to her testimony that warned her against testifying. The New York Times got ahold of the letter and annotates it fully. It's a good look into how the administration attempts to pressure people to not testify. After receiving a subpoena from the House, Cooper testified. "The letter leaves ambiguous whether such actions would be insubordinate." (Source: New York Times)
  • Meanwhile, we're learning a little more about Cooper's deposition. The testimony, which lasted three hours, is expected to 'fill in details of an explosive aspect of Democrats' impeachment inquiry: whether Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine to pressure the ally’s new president.' While Democrats present at the testimony didn't give further details, Republican Mark Meadows—you know one of the 48 Republicans with access—said that 'elements of her testimony conflicted' with the Tuesday testimony of William Taylor. (Source: Politico)
  • Another Republican that has full access to the impeachment inquiry, Jim Jordan, wrote a letter today to State Department official Phillip Reeker today, complaining that his deposition was rescheduled to this Saturday and he'd like it moved to a different day. His main issue? He doesn't want to have to come in on a Saturday. On one hand, that's very relatable, but on the other, waves hands in all directions. (Source: Axios)
  • Finally, regular business was halted at the House for the next two days to accommodate memorials for Representative Elijah Cummings, whose death last week cast a long shadow over this week's impeachment proceedings. Today, Cummings "became the first African American lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol, an honor bestowed to only a few dozen statesmen, presidents and military leaders throughout US history." RIP. (Source: Politico)
  • Chaos reigned at the impeachment proceedings today, as House Republicans stormed the secure room House investigative committees were using for depositions. No, really. According to Politico, "GOP lawmakers who do not sit on the three committees leading the inquiry initially refused to leave the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the basement of the Capitol, prompting a standoff with Democrats that ultimately led the House’s sergeant-at-arms to intervene." They even ordered pizza while they occupied the room. Stares right at the camera. In addition to the occupation and the pizza, many of the lawmakers entered the secure room with cell phones, which is strictly forbidden what with it being a secure room in the basement of the United States Capitol Building. I mean, come on now. The protest was in retaliation for what Republicans feel is an unfair closed door proceeding—even though the 48 Republicans on the three investigating committees have full access to the depositions and their lawyers have equal time to question witnesses, so like, shruggie emoji, I got nothing. Do your thing guys, I guess. (Source: Politico)
  • Would it surprise you that this morning's action by Republicans was coordinated with President Trump? I didn't think so. In a meeting at the White House yesterday with 30 House Republicans, the plan to make a run at the SCIF was devised. "During a nearly two-hour meeting, which focused mostly on the impeachment inquiry, lawmakers shared their plans to storm into the secure room." Sure, why not. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • As a result of the Republican's pizza-and-cellphone party in the secure facility, the testimony that was scheduled there for today, by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, was delayed by more than five hours. Her testimony—which we'll learn plenty about in the coming days—"focused on the mechanics of US security assistance for Ukraine and fallout from the White House’s decision to withhold it for several months." (Source: Washington Post)
  • The "mechanics" of that blocked aid to Ukraine was the focus of a New York Times investigation today which revealed that "Ukraine was aware the White House was holding up the funds weeks earlier than United States and Ukrainian officials had acknowledged." The White House has maintained that the Ukrainians didn't know aid had been withheld, and thusly they could not have been pressured into making a deal to release it. But the Times reports that "word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August," so probably someone's got some explaining to do. (Source: New York Times)
  • Meanwhile, perhaps you'd forgotten that two weeks ago today, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of Rudy Giuliani's, were arrested at Dulles Airport with one-way tickets out of the country. Remember them? Well today they got their day in court and, in the process of pleading not guilty, managed to connect "the case to the president himself," according to the New York Times, "saying that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign-finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege." So those two dudes aren't going anywhere anytime soon. (Source: New York Times)
  • And finally, in an action that will have major repercussions in a few weeks, a federal judge today gave the State Department 30 days to release documents related to the growing Ukrainian scandal after hearing a Freedom of Information Act request by the watchdog group American Oversight. "Whether or not Secretary Pompeo plans to obstruct the impeachment inquiry, the public will begin to see the paper trail detailing the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine," read a statement by American Oversight. Makes a calendar entry for November 22. (Source: Washington Post)
  • William Taylor, the US chargé d'affaires (the fancy term for "acting ambassador") for Ukraine testified to House investigative committees today over the protest of the State Department, who attempted to block his testimony this morning. Working from extensive notes, Taylor is reported to have "sketched out in remarkable detail a quid-pro-quo pressure campaign on Ukraine that Mr Trump and his allies have long denied, one in which the president conditioned the entire United States relationship with Ukraine on a promise that the country would investigate former Vice President Joseph R Biden Jr and his family, along with other Democrats." Taylor's testimony⁠—which we will almost certainly learn more about in the coming days⁠—directly contradicts the president's assertion that there was "no quid pro quo" between US aid and political investigations by Ukraine. In actuality, according to the New York Times the testimony drew a "direct line" between foreign aid and Trump's political aims. (Source: New York Times)
  • While we don't know much about the substance of Taylor's testimony yet, his 15 page opening statement has leaked and it paints a very clear picture of a months-long campaign involving EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, US special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker (both of whom have already testified to House committees), and Rudy Giuliani to get Ukraine to capitulate to President Trump's demands in return for military aid. The statement, which paints a timeline stretching back to Ukrainian president Zelensky's election, describes a "weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances." The timeline is detailed, damning, and worth reading in all of its PDF-y goodness. (Source: Washington Post)
  • Speaking of Kurt Volker, US special envoy to Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal today reports on a meeting between Volker and Ukrainian president Zelensky in Toronto on July second, weeks before Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky. Volker "pulled Mr. Zelensky aside at a conference in Toronto on July 2 to urge him to make clear his commitment to investigating corruption and alleged 2016 election interference," you know, like you do in secret at a conference. This report, along with Taylor's opening statement, certainly stretches the timeline far out from Trump's "perfect" call with the Ukrainian president in late July. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
  • Meanwhile, this morning Donald Trump lashed out at the impeachment proceedings saying "all Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here—a lynching." Stares. As you... Stares again. As you might expect, this particular line of ahistorical attack did not go over well with almost anyone, prompting rare condemnation even from Republicans. "Given the history of this in our country, I would not compare it to a lynching,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "That was an unfortunate choice of words." Democratic Representative Danny Davis was far more blunt in his assessment: "What the hell is wrong with you?" he asked. "Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet." (Source: Politico)
  • Finally, the New York Times reported last night that House Democrats have extended their timeline for impeachment proceedings—now expected to stretch to at least the end of the year. Why? Well, "after a complicated web of damaging revelations about the president has emerged from private depositions unfolding behind closed doors, Democratic leaders have now begun plotting a full-scale—and probably more time-consuming—effort to lay out their case in a set of high-profile public hearings on Capitol Hill." So I guess we'll be together for a while longer still. I work for tips. Lololol. Cries. (Source: New York Times)
  • This week began with a shuffling of the agenda. While House investigators had planned for testimony of upwards of nine officials over the next five days, but plans have changed to accommodate memorials following the death last week of House Oversight Committee Chair Rep Elijah Cummings. Cummings will lie in state in the Capitol on Thursday with a funeral service on Friday. As a result, many depositions have been postponed. However, House investigative committees are still expected to hear from William Taylor, acting ambassador to Ukraine, and Laura Cooper, who oversees Ukraine and Russia issues at the Department of Defense on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Taylor—who in text messages released a few weeks ago, said it was "crazy" to link Ukraine aide to political investigations—is the testimony to watch this week, even before the schedule was trimmed. (Source: Politico)
  • Two other officials that were slated to testify this week made the House's reshuffling a bit easier, if we're defining "easier" as "defying subpoenas." Acting head of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought took to Twitter today to declare "I saw some Fake News over the weekend to correct. As the WH letter made clear two weeks ago, OMB officials--myself and Mike Duffey--will not be complying with deposition requests this week." He closed with the hashtag "shamprocess" Which I read as "Shamp Rocess" twice before I got it. (Source: Twitter)
  • In case you were worried that maybe nothing was getting done in the House today, you'll be glad to know that House Republicans are working to force a vote censuring House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff tonight. The resolution, introduced by Arizona Republican Andy Biggs, says that Schiff "manufactured a false retelling" of the President's call with Ukrainian president Zelensky. The resolution goes on to say that Schiff's actions "make a mockery of the impeachment process, one of this chamber’s most solemn constitutional duties." Which OK, sure guy, that's definitely the thing making a mockery of the process glad you're on it. (Source: NBC News)
  • Meanwhile, Donald Trump talked to press at a cabinet meeting today, where he claimed the House is "interviewing ambassadors who I’d never heard of." House investigators have talked with the current ambassador to the European Union, the former ambassador to Ukraine, and tomorrow will talk with the current acting ambassador to Ukraine. One would expect that Trump knows who these people are and yet, "I don’t know who these people are. I never heard of them." I'm exhausted. (Source: White House Transcript)
  • And finally in the same cabinet meeting, President Trump once again attacked the whistleblower who kicked off the impeachment investigation nearly a month ago. Those attacks caused Senator Chuck Schumer to ask "both the acting director of national intelligence and the inspector general on Monday afternoon to outline what 'specific steps' they are taking to protect the whistleblower" in case the president or others identify them. Which is normal and chill for sure. (Source: Politico)
  • Details from the last week of testimony continues to leak out. On Saturday we learned that George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told House investigators that Rudy Giuliani pushed the State Department to issue a visa to former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. Shokin was forced out of his job in 2016 due to massive corruption, but Giuliani wanted to interview him about, guess what, the Democrats. When State denied the visa, Kent testified, Giuliani "then appealed to the White House to have State reverse its decision." Remarkably, they didn't. (Source: CNN)
  • Additional reverberations from last week hit yesterday when Republican Representative Francis Rooney—who just Friday was critical of White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's Thursday press conference saying Mulvaney "basically said it was a quid pro quo" and that he wouldn't rule out voting for impeachment—suddenly announced Saturday he was retiring in 2020. Wait, what? Uh. I got nothing. (Source: Politico)
  • The field of Republicans willing to speak up about impeachment is not particularly large (it's less a field and more a patch of sod), but John Kasich, the—checks notes—former Governor of Ohio, joined that small group yesterday. "If you are asking me if I was sitting in the House of Representatives today and you were to ask me how do I feel, do I think impeachment should move forward and should go for a full examination and a trial in the United States Senate, my vote would be yes," he told CNN. Any port in a storm I guess. (Source: CNN)
  • Finally, Mick Mulvaney attempted once again to walk back his disastrous press conference. Sunday morning he joined the friendly confines of Fox News Sunday to further clarify. In a rambling answer he admitted once again that "the president did mention to me from time to time about the DNC server, he mentioned the DNC server to other people publically, he even mentioned it to president Zelensky in the phone call," before adding that "it wasn't connected to the aid" to Ukraine. K Mick, thanks for clearing that right up. (Source: Fox News Sunday)

4 Weeks Ago

  • The reverberations of yesterday's press conference with White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney⁠—where he admitted to linking military aid for Ukraine with Ukraine investigating Democrats (and that people should "get over it")⁠—continued to ripple out. While Donald Trump has so far stood by his chief of staff, his go-to conservative pundit Sean Hannity told his radio listeners "I just think he’s dumb, I really do." On Capitol Hill, even a few Republican lawmakers spoke out. "You don’t hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative. Period," said Senator Lisa Murkowski. Rep Francis Rooney of Florida was even more outspoken, saying that Mulvaney "basically said it was a quid pro quo," adding "it’s not an etch a sketch, it's kind of hard to argue that he didn't say it, right?" Yep, you're definitely right about that. (Source: Politico)
  • But Republican leadership continues to hold the line despite Mulvaney's admissions yesterday. In a press conference today, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came to his defense saying "I think Mick Mulvaney clarified his statement to be very clear. I take Mick Mulvaney at his word for clarification." Which I mean, OK you do you man. (Source: Yahoo News)
  • Meanwhile in the House, after four days in a row of depositions, most impeachment work took a breather today after Laura Cooper, a deputy at the Pentagon, rescheduled her deposition late Thursday night. Cooper, who is the deputy assistant secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, is now expected to testify October 24. She joins an already-full calendar with five testimonies scheduled for next week. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • And to wrap up the week with what has been the White House's ongoing theme, outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry today told House investigative committees that he won't comply with a subpoena for documents that had a deadline for today. Democrats had sought documents pertaining to Perry's involvement in Ukraine but, nope, the Energy Department is "unable to comply with your request for documents and communications at this time." Democrats might want to figure out a strategy for enforcing subpoenas but I'm not holding my breath at this point. (Source: CNN)
  • 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)
  • The week of testimony continued in the House today with investigating committees hearing from Michael McKinley, former senior advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. McKinley abruptly quit his position last week. "The timing of my resignation was the result of two overriding concerns: the failure, in my view, of the State Department to offer support to foreign service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine," McKinley is reported to have said in his opening statement, "and, second, by what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance a domestic political objective." (Source: New York Times)
  • Even as more people are called to testify in the House, we're continuing to learn details about Monday's ten hour testimony by National Security Counsel senior official Fiona Hill. In the latest information to leak, Hill described Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the EU as "a potential national security risk because he was so unprepared for his job" and that he was "metaphorically driving in an unfamiliar place with no guardrails and no GPS." Guess who is scheduled to testify to the House tomorrow? Gordon Sondland. So that's gonna be something. (Source: New York Times)
  • While testimony has been going (relatively) smoothly this week, the White House blockade on documents has continued. Yesterday Defense Secretary Mark Esper refused to turn over subpoenaed documents pertaining to the Ukrainian aide package that was held back at the president's direction this summer. In refusing, Esper cited the refrain that we've heard repeatedly this week: that the inquiry is illegitimate because the House has not voted to authorize it. (Source: NBC News)
  • The Defense Secretary's refusal wasn't the only one from yesterday. In addition to no documents from VP Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani (which were covered in yesterday's update), the Office of Management and Budget was also supposed to produce documents pertaining to Ukrainian aid and they too refused, citing the same old refrain. At some point, one would imagine that Democrats will enforce these subpoenas. But then again, one can imagine lots of things. (Source: Washington Examiner)
  • Here's a funny thing I keep forgetting: The Office of Management and Budget, which just refused to turn over documents to the House, is run by Mick Mulvaney, who is ALSO the Acting White House Chief of Staff. The same guy! And guess who has a subpoena deadline tomorrow to turn over White House documents? The same guy again! Anyway, speaking of that guy, the Washington Post today pegs him as a key facilitator of the July 25 call, including tricking National Security Advisor John Bolton into thinking he was giving a solo briefing to Trump before the Ukraine call when actually Trump immediately followed the Bolton call with a secret briefing by Gordon Sondland (there's that name again) because why not. (Source: Washington Post)
  • Finally, to tie up a weird loose end from last week, David Correia, an associate of Rudy Giuliani's partners in Ukraine Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, was arrested today at Kennedy Airport in New York. Correia joins Parnas, Fruman, and another associate, Andrey Kukushkin, in federal custody for campaign finance violations related in part to their work in Ukraine. (Source: The Guardian)
  • We learned quite a bit more about National Security Counsel senior official Fiona Hill's testimony late last night and this morning. Hill, who spent ten hours testifying on the Hill yesterday, said that Rudy Giuliani "ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented US officials and career diplomats." And that John Bolton, National Security Advisor, told her to raise her concerns with White House lawyers. Wanna guess how that went? (Source: Washington Post)
  • Hill's testimony about John Bolton was eyebrow-raising enough that it warrants its own bullet point. Hill testified that Bolton told her that he didn't want to have any part of "whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up," and that Giuliani was "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up." One would expect a subpoena may be heading Bolton's way soon. (Source: New York Times)
  • Hill was the first of an entire week of testimony scheduled at the House. Today saw State Department Ukraine policy head George Kent testify. Arriving at the hearing in a bow tie, it is expected that Kent would expand on leaked State Department emails he authored that warned about Giuliani's work in Ukraine and that attempts to smear former US ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch were "complete poppycock," which is an adorable way to put it. (Source: New York Times)
  • Speaking of Rudy Giuliani, today was his deadline to turn over documents to House investigative committees. Surprise! He refused. In a letter authored by lawyer Jon Sale, he called the impeachment inquiry "unconstitutional" and said that the request was "beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry." Despite the letter being written by a lawyer, in a tweet that accompanied the letter Giuliani himself said, "I do not need a lawyer." Which, waves hands in all directions, OK let's just go with it. (Source: Twitter)
  • And in other refusing-to-produce-documents news, shortly after Giuliani posted his refusal (which was to a subpoena) VP Mike Pence followed suit and also refused to produce documents (which were requested, but not subpoenaed). In wording that echoed Giuliani's, Pence's refusal called into question the legitimacy of the inquiry. "Never before in history has the Speaker of the House attempted to launch an 'impeachment inquiry' against a president without the majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process." Mike Pence, it should be noted, has a lawyer. (Source: NBC News)
  • And finally, speaking of the Speaker of the House, today Nancy Pelosi held a meeting with House Democrats to discuss the possibility of holding a vote on the impeachment inquiry--the lack of which is the basis of Republican criticisms of legitimacy. But in a press conference happening literally as I write this update, Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said that they would not hold a vote yet. (Source: CBS News)
  • Today President Trump's former top advisor on Russia and Europe, Fiona Hill, gave testimony behind closed doors to House committees. Hill, who resigned her position at the National Security Council this summer, was expected to testify "that she and other officials objected strenuously to the removal of the ambassador to Ukraine, only to be disregarded" as well as be questioned about Rudy Giuliani's presence in Ukraine. Hill was the first person from the White House to give a deposition since the White House's letter last week refusing to cooperate with the investigation, and it does not appear that they attempted to block her testimony. She had no opening statement and no part of her testimony has yet to leak or be released, so we're just gonna have to be patient here. (Source: New York Times)
  • Hill's testimony was not without some fireworks however, as Rep Matt Gaetz, who last week declared that House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff was the "Captain Kangaroo" of a "kangaroo court" (stares into the camera), arrived at Hill's deposition despite not being on the investigative committees and refused to leave until a House parliamentarian ruled he had to get out. "It's not like I'm on the Agriculture Committee," he told reporters. It's true, he's not. (Source: The Hill)
  • The ability to keep testimony and witnesses private is at the center of ongoing concerns around the whistleblower's potential testimony. Yesterday Adam Schiff told CBS news that he was considering the possibility of not having the whistleblower testify because of growing worry that their identity would be leaked. "Our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected," he explained. (Source: CBS News)
  • After reports about Schiff's concern for the whisteblower's safety surfaced, President Trump took to Twitter this morning to demand that the whistleblower be identified. "We must determine the Whistleblower’s identity to determine WHY this was done to the USA," the President tweeted. Please note that the Whistleblower Protection Act explicitly exists for this reason. Anyway, later he tweeted that people should watch Dancing with the Stars, so here we are. (Source: Twitter)
  • Late Friday, news broke that Rudy Giuliani is under federal investigation. Considering that two associates of his were arrested last week and that Giuliani's dealings in Ukraine are swirling at the center of the impeachment inquiry, it's perhaps not that surprising. But still, as the New York Times points out, "it is also a stark turn for Mr Giuliani, who now finds himself under scrutiny from the same United States attorney’s office he led in the 1980s." (Source: New York Times)
  • The no-good-very-bad news week for Rudy Giuliani seemed to come to an ignoble end Friday when Trump said he "didn't know" if Giuliani was still his lawyer, but Trump sent out a series of encouraging tweets en route to his golf course Saturday morning, where he met Giuliani for lunch. So I guess that answers that, for now at least. (Source: New York Times)
  • Meanwhile, the week ended with a new understanding of the White House's letter that called the impeachment inquiry "illegitimate." While the letter was signed by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, a new report suggests that the letter was largely written by President Trump. According to the Daily Beast, "sources said that Trump enthusiastically suggested adding various jabs at Democratic lawmakers and would request that their 'unfair' treatment of him be incorporated into the letter." Sure, why not. (Source: Daily Beast)
  • And, finally, in another "but wait, there's more" from last week, the same day that the White House letter dropped, US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland was blocked from testifying. As the week ended, his lawyers said that his testimony was back on and now, according to the Washington Post, he's going to testify that his text saying that there was "no quid pro quo" with Ukraine was also written under the president's direction. "It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth," he's planning to explain. Help. (Source: Washington Post)

5 Weeks Ago

  • Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch testified behind closed doors to House committees today. Yovanovitch--who was called "bad news" by the president on his July phone call with Ukrainian president Zelensky and who was named as a target by the associates of Rudy Giuliani who were arrested yesterday--testified that "she was forced to leave Kiev on 'the next plane' this spring" on the president's orders. Furthermore, "she warned that private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats' judgment, threatening to undermine the nation’s interests and drive talented professionals out of public service." Which definitely doesn't seem optimal for, you know, diplomacy. (Source: New York Times)
  • While Yovanovitch's testimony was not public, her opening statement for the deposition was leaked to multiple press outlets. In it, she warns that the State Department has been "attacked and hollowed out from within" and that "harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not the public good." It's worth reading the whole statement. (Source: Washington Post)
  • Yonanovitch's statement echoes reports from NBC last night that Fiona Hill, Trump's former top aide to Russia and Europe, is planning on testifying to Congress that "Rudy Giuliani and EU ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and the normal White House process to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine." (Source: NBC News)
  • Speaking of Gordon Sondland, who kicked off the week's excitement when he was blocked from testifying to the House by the president, his lawyers told NBC today that he will in fact testify next Thursday. However, texts and other documents requested won't accompany him because "by federal law and regulation, the State Department has sole authority to produce such documents." Yeah, don't place any bets on that happening. (Source: NBC News)
  • And then there's Rudy Giuliani. We've learned a lot more today about his involvement with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested at Dulles Airport yesterday by federal authorities before they left the country. Specifically, it turns out that Giuliani was paid "hundreds of thousands of dollars" by Parnas for "business and legal advice" for Parnas's company--impossibly named "Fraud Guarantee"--at the same time that Parnas and Fruman were investigating in the Ukraine on Giuliani's behalf. Look, it's confusing. Parnas and Fruman have now been subpoenad by the House, maybe they can sort it out. (Source: New York Times)
  • It seems like this Giuliani-associates story is only going to get more confusing, as a third person named in the indictment along with with Parnas and Fruman, a Ukrainian-born businessman named Andrey Kukushkin, was arrested in San Francisco earlier today. A fourth person named, David Correia, is still at large. What even am I writing. (Source: CBS San Francisco)
  • And finally, because of course the week was going to wrap up this way, Donald Trump was asked by reporters on his way to a rally tonight if Rudy Giuliani was still his lawyer. His response? "I don't know." Sure, let's go with that. (Source: USA Today)
  • Some days are like yesterday, where very little happened. And some days are like today where the morning starts with news that two associates of Rudy Giuliani were arrested at the airport with one-way tickets out of the country. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who on Monday refused to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, were arrested by federal agents at Dulles Airport late Wednesday. Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman says the two "sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official--a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the US ambassador to Ukraine." The two had lunch with Rudy Giuliani at Trump's Washington DC hotel earlier that day, because sure why not. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
  • Parans and Fruman were the subject of a prescient BuzzFeed story back in July that outlined the work they were doing for Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine and is well worth a read-over in light of today's news. (Source: BuzzFeed)
  • Before departing for a rally Thursday night in Minneapolis, Trump took questions on the White House lawn and, as you might expect, denied knowing Parans and Fruman. "I don't know them, I don't know about them, I don't know what they do," he yelled. "You'll have to ask Rudy, I just don't know." (Source: Associated Press)
  • Meanwhile Democrats in the House subpoenad Energy Secretary Rick Perry for documents about his involvement with Trump and Ukraine. Cited in the subpoena is the Axios story from this weekend that reported Trump told House Republicans that he only called Ukraine in July at the urging of Rick Perry, so it's not like nobody saw this subpoena coming or anything. "Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena," reads the accompanying letter, "including at the direction or behest of the President or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President." But, you know, we'll see. (Source: original document)
  • And finally, tomorrow brings ousted US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to the House for a deposition. Yovanovitch is called "bad news" in the call Trump had with Ukrainian president Zelensky in July. After saying that she was removed as ambassador, Trump went on to say "she's going to go through some things." Maybe by "some things" he meant testifying to the House on an impeachment inquiry? Anyway, we'll see if she doesn't get blocked last minute like Tuesday's expected testimony by Ambassador Sondland. (Source: Washington Post)
  • The Democratic response to the White House's refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry was surprisingly subdued today. Nancy Pelosi issued a mild statement that was short on both rhetoric and specifics. "Mr. President, you are not above the law," she wrote this morning. "You will be held accountable." However, the letter failed to explain what that accountability would be or when it would happen. (Source: original document)
  • In fact, the strongest Democratic voice for impeachment today came not from the House but from Joe Biden. "President Trump has indicted himself by obstructing justice, refusing to comply with a congressional inquiry," he told reporters. "He’s already convicted himself.” Which would be nice if that's how it worked, but it actually isn't--someone has to convict him. (Source: Washington Post)
  • The question Biden poses--whether Trump's refusal to comply with the inquiry is itself an impeachable offense that should be pursued--is apparently the source of an internal debate among House Democrats. While most seem to agree that the letter represents a clear case of obstruction of Congress, "Democrats say they prefer any obstruction charge to play a supporting, rather than starring, role in their efforts." Cool cool. (Source: Politico)
  • Today feels like a series of escalating dares, culminating with a letter sent from the White House late this afternoon questioning the legitimacy of the entire impeachment inquiry and refusing to participate. "Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections," writes White House lawyer Pat Cipollone, "the executive branch cannot be expected to participate in it." Which may not really be a thing, but as you can see from how the rest of the day played out below, it's the strategy they're going to go with. For now. (Source: Politico)
  • This letter topped off a day of back-and-forths that centered around the sudden blocking of the testimony of the ambassardor the EU, Gordon Sondland, by (ostensibly) the State Department. "Ambassador Sondland had previously agreed to appear voluntarily today, without the need for a subpoena," wrote his lawyers, "in order to answer the Committee's questions on an expedited basis. As the sitting U.S. Ambassador to the EU and employee of the State Department, Ambassador Sondland is required to follow the Department's direction." OK, but... (Source: NPR)
  • Of course it didn't take long for Trump to take to Twitter and explain that he, in fact, blocked the testimony, rationalizing that Sondland "would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican's rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public." Sure, why not. Oh, also--keep "kangaroo court" in mind because we're going to circle back to that in a couple bullet points. (Source: Twitter)
  • As you might expect by this point, Trump's tweet and the blocked testimony took House Republicans by surprise and a contingent of House Republicans went to the White House not because they were upset that the executive branch had interfered in legislative branch biz, but to try and get on the same page. According to Bloomberg, "White House officials agreed to improve communication of their impeachment strategy with allies who are on the front lines." Don't make any bets. (Source: Bloomberg)
  • The blocking of Sondland has lead Democrats to announce that they'll be subpoenaing him--remember that he featured prominently in the text messages House investigators released last week. The big question is what happens if he refuses to comply with a subpoena. (Source: Washington Post)
  • And finally, Trump's "kangaroo court" Tweet has already turned into a Republican talking point, with Reps Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz accusing Democrats of running a "kangaroo court" and of Adam Schiff acting like--and reader I quote here--a "malicious Captain Kangaroo." I am so very tired. (Source: Twitter)
  • More subpoenas went out from the House Intelligence Committee today, this time to the White House Budget office and the Pentagon. While previous subpoenas have been focused on Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, these are focused on the motivations behind suspending $391 million in aid to Ukraine this summer--and whether the two are related. In other words, if this whole Ukrainian situation is a quid-pro-quo, today they're looking into the quid while previously they've been looking into the quo. Or maybe, I don't know--I don't speak Latin. (Source: New York Times)
  • While subpoenas are going out and depositions are being scheduled, the House is also preparing for the testimony of the original whistleblower (a second was reported to have come forward this weekend). Concerned that their identity could be leaked by Republicans in traditional closed-door testimony, House Democrats are "considering testimony at a remote location and possibly obscuring the individual’s appearance and voice." Seems chill. (Source: Washington Post)
  • However, just because the House sends a request for testimony does not necessarily mean that person will show up. Today, two South Florida associates of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, announced through their lawyer (in a letter maddeningly set in Comic Sans) that they had "no response planned." According to the Miami Herald, "Democrats working on the burgeoning impeachment inquiry said Parnas and Fruman’s decision to ignore a request issued last Monday will lead to subpoenas, which would compel them to testify and provide documents or face criminal charges." (Source: Miami Herald)
  • And finally, while over the weekend Trump was threatening to impeach Mitt Romney (note: he can't), today he took to Twitter to say that Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff should be impeached for 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and even Treason' (note: he can't do that either). So things are going great. (Source: Twitter)
  • A second whistleblower has come forward! Reported Sunday morning by ABC News, this whistleblower, described only as an "intelligence official," has "first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original complaint." This second whistleblower has already spoken with Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. First-hand knowledge would complicate the inaccurate Republican talking point that the first whistleblower was only reporting "hearsay." (Source: ABC News)
  • Speaking of things that aren't hearsay, Republican Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson told the Wall Street Journal that the US Ambassador to the European Union explained to him back in August that US military aide to Ukraine was tied to investigating the 2016 election. "At that suggestion, I winced," Johnson told the Journal. "My reaction was, 'Oh, God. I don’t want to see those two things combined.'" Trump, naturally, denied that they were. But between the whistleblower, the State Department texts, Senator Johnson, and now a second whistleblower there's a lot of corroboration of this "hearsay." (Source: Wall Street Journal)
  • Meanwhile Trump spent most of his Saturday at his Virginia golf club angry about Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who has offered some mild criticism of the Ukraine phone call and Trump's similar request for China to investigate Joe Biden. Trump seems to have decided that "I'm rubber, you're glue" is a workable defense and has called for Romney's impeachment. Please note, you can't actually impeach a US Senator. (Source: Washington Post)
  • And finally, because why not, yesterday it came out that Trump told House Republicans that this whole Ukrainian phone call mess was actually the work of former Texas Governor, Dancing with the Stars entrant, and current Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Which must come as a surprise to pretty much everyone involved since his name only appears in passing in the original whistleblower report, he's not mentioned on the call transcript, nor is he named in the released text messages. But hey, let's go with it. Conveniently, Rick Perry announced he was leaving his post as Energy Secretary last week. (Source: Axios)

6 Weeks Ago

  • Low-key looming over today has been the end of the deadline set by Elijah Cummings, chair of the House Oversight Committee, for the White House to turn over documents related to the Ukrainian phone call or face a subpoena to do the same. Well, guess what? The White House didn't comply, and so just as this update was being drafted, a subpoena was sent to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. The White House now has until October 18 to comply. "Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena," the accompanying letter reads, "including at the direction or behest of the President or others at the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President." (Source: original documents)
  • According to a report by Axios, the White House is readying a response "arguing that President Trump and his team can ignore lawmakers' demands until [Pelosi] holds a full House vote formally approving an impeachment inquiry." Which doesn't seem to have a lot of legal standing, but here we are. (Source: Axios)
  • Meanwhile, if you've been wondering whatever happened to Vice President Pence, who seems to have gone missing, last night the Washington Post broke a story that Trump "repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival." Sources close to Pence say he was "unaware" of Trump's motivations to get information on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Which, OK sure. (Source: Washington Post)
  • And, citing in part the Washington Post's report, today House investigators sent a letter to the Vice President requesting a sprawling list of documents related to actions involving Ukraine. It's not a subpoena, yet, but Pence's deadline is October 15. (Source: original document)
  • LATE UPDATE—Late Thursday night, the three chairs of the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees released a series of texts they obtained from former US Special Envoy to the Ukraine Kurt Volker. In the letter that accompanies the release they write that these texts reflect concerns that "critical military assistance and the meeting between the two presidents were being withheld in order to place additional pressure on Ukraine to deliver on the President's demand for Ukraine to launch politically motivated investigations." They are truly wild and include conversations between State Department officials that largely corroborate and add further context to the whistleblower's report. As Bill Taylor, the Charge d'Affaires (the acting ambassador, essentially) at the US Embassy in Ukraine asks in one of the texts, "Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?" Yes, yes we are. (Source: original document)
  • Some days you try hard to come up with a lead story and some days Donald Trump stands on the White House lawn and asks Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. And then ask China to do it too. Ukraine "should investigate the Bidens," he said to reporters on live TV, "because how does a company that's newly formed—and all these companies—and by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine." This really happened. (Source: The Atlantic)
  • Meanwhile, the Democrat's impeachment inquiry that centers on whether Trump asked the Ukraine to investigate a political rival continued, despite the fact that he did so live on television moments before. Today saw former US Special Envoy to the Ukraine Kurt Volker testify that he "warned President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Giuliani was receiving untrustworthy information from Ukrainian political figures about former vice president Joe Biden and his son." Volker resigned his position last week after being implicated in the whistleblower report. (Source: Washington Post)
  • Speaking of Volker, the Guardian has an excellent look into how this "mild-mannered former ambassador to Nato" ended up enmeshed in this whole fiaso. The short of it? "He really tried to have his cake and eat it, thinking he could operate inside the administration with one foot outside, that would give him some flexibility. But those two things were incompatible." (Source: The Guardian)
  • And finally, because today wasn't absurd enough, '90s powergrunge band/internet meme Nickelback issued a copyright infringement notice against a tweet from the president that used the band's video for the song "Photograph" to implicate Joe Biden and his son Hunter in dealings with the Ukrainians. Writing this sentence made me very tired. (Source: The Verge)
  • Wednesday opened with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telling reporters traveling with him in Rome that he was listening in on the call between Trump and Ukrainian president Zelensky--he had not previously revealed his presence on the call. "Asked if the call raised any red flags in his mind, Pompeo did not respond." (Source: LA Times)
  • Later in the morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi held her weekly press conference where she was joined by Chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff. At the presser, Schiff said that if the President or the administration interferes in the impeachment inquiry, "any action like that that forces us to litigate or have to consider litigation will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice." (Source: ABC News)
  • Meanwhile, Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah Cummings issued a letter stating that if the White House did not voluntarily produce documents related to Trump's Ukraine call by Friday, he would subpoena them. "I do not take this step lightly," he wrote. (Source: New York Times)
  • Then Trump held a wild press conference with the president of Finland where he once again called for Schiff to be "looked into for treason" and claimed that Schiff wrote the whistleblower report himself. And then it really went off the rails, ending with Trump screaming at Fox News reporter John Roberts to ask a question to the Finnish president instead of continually pressing him about the Ukraine call. (Source: CNN)
  • Finally, the New York Times offered a revealing look at the early days of the whistleblower complaint, including the detail that the whistleblower, following correct procedure, approached an aide at the House Intelligence Committee about their complaint after they felt it wasn't moving forward at the CIA. "The House staff member, following the committee’s procedures, suggested the officer find a lawyer to advise him and meet with an inspector general, with whom he could file a whistle-blower complaint." This is already being mischaracterized by the president as direct involvement by Schiff in the complaint. (Source: New York Times)
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter this morning to say that the Democrats were attempting to "intimidate, bully, & treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State" by asking for five current and former officials to testify. Democrats responded by saying that "any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress--including state department employees--is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry." (Source: The Guardian)
  • What can Democrats do if people like Pompeo or Giuliani refuse to testify? The Washington Post today put up a good breakdown of the options available to them. Though, spoiler alert, "the rule book for how to be a check on the executive branch doesn’t include an executive branch unwilling to cooperate." (Source: Washington Post)
  • Meanwhile, House committees have continued to send out requests for testimony, summoning former US special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker (who resigned last week after he was implicated in the whistleblower complaint) and Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine. Volker is expected to testify on Thursday and Yovanovitch on October 11. (Source: NBC News)
  • And finally, on Twitter today, Trump insisted that he be allowed to "interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower." The identity of the whistleblower, who has made an agreement to testify to Congress, is protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act. (Source: Twitter)
  • Over the weekend, House Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told ABC's The Week that he'd reached a tentative agreement for the whistleblower to testify to the committee. (Source: CNN)
  • Meanwhile today started with Donald Trump tweeting that Schiff should be "arrested for treason." (Source: Twitter)
  • That didn't stop Schiff, along with Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel and Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings from issuing a subpoena to Rudy Giuliani. "Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President," reads the subpoena in part, and it demands that Giuliani produce “text messages, phone records, and other communications” related to his dealings in Ukraine. (Source: Politico)
  • Finally, in an indication that this is going to get a lot bigger before it's through, the Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was present on the Trump/Zelensky call at the center of the whistleblower complaint. (Source: Wall Street Journal)

7 Weeks Ago

  • The first subpoena in the impeachment inquiry has been issued! Democrats from three House committees subpoenad Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents relating to the President's call with the Ukrainian President and any facilitation the State Department did for his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Will Pompeo comply? Well, "failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry." (Source: ABC News)
  • US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker resigned his position. Volker had been named in the whistleblower report, which claimed he had helped organize meetings for Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine. (Source: The State Press)
  • Speaking of Rudy Giuliani, he has kept busy reading his text messages on cable news. Not only do they confirm (again) Giuliani's involvement, they also implicate the State Department and Kurt Volker in particular. (Source: Vox)
  • The whistleblower's complaint was released by House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff. In it, the whistleblower accuses the president of "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election," in his call with the Ukrainian President and of unnamed senior White House officials intervening "to "lock down" all records of the phone call." (Source: Unclassified document)
  • The Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, testified to the House Intelligence Committee about the whistleblower complaint. "I am aware that this is unprecedented," he said about a complaint like this involving the president. "This has never happened before. This is a unique situation." (Source: Politico)
  • Speaking to a group of US Diplomats in New York, Trump accused the whistleblower of being "like a spy" and threatened "You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now." (Source: LA Times)
  • It's transcript day! The White House released the transcript (which was not a verbatim transcript) of his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. In the transcript, Trump asks Zelensky for "a favor" and asks for him to cooperate with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in looking into Joe Biden and his son Hunter's activities in Ukraine. (Source: Unclassified document)
  • Later in the day, Trump held a press conference where he said that he'd produce a transcript of his call with Zelensky earlier in the year. "You can have it anytime you need it. And also Mike Pence’s conversations, which were, I think, one or two of them. They were perfect. They were all perfect.” (Source: Politico)
  • At about the same time, the White House released the whistleblower's complaint to the House and Senate intelligence committees. After seeing the complaint, one anonymous Democratic lawmaker called it "Nothing short of explosive." (Source: CBS News)
  • Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump explaining "he is asking a foreign government to help him in his campaign, that is a betrayal of his oath of office." (Source: New York Times)
  • The White House agrees to release the transcript of Trump's call with Ukrainian President Zelensky--which Trump insists is "totally appropriate"--tomorrow. (Source: NBC News)