What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

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Donald Trump's Impeachment: From whistleblower to acquittal

WTF Just Happened Today’s daily coverage of Trump’s impeachment starting with the whistleblower complaint and ending with Trump’s acquittal in the Senate. Presented in chronological order and faithfully reproduced – typos and all! – from the original blog posts.

Monday, September 16, 2019

  • The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accused the acting director of national intelligence of withholding a whistleblower complaint in order to protect a “higher authority” official. Adam Schiff said Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint prior to his decision to withhold the complaint – a departure from standard practice. Schiff added that the Committee “can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials.” (Business Insider / CBS News)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

  • The acting director of national intelligence refused testify before Congress or hand over a whistleblower complaint to lawmakers. The complaint was submitted on Aug. 12 by a member of the intelligence community involving conduct by someone “outside the intelligence community” who does not involve intelligence activity under the supervision of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire had told Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, that he would not provide the complaint “because he is being instructed not to” by “a higher authority” who is “above” the cabinet-level position of the director of national intelligence. (New York Times)

Monday, September 23, 2019

  • Trump admitted that he discussed getting dirt on Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that he is withholding the whistleblower complaint from Congress. Trump pressed Zelensky to dig up potentially damaging information against Biden during a July 25th phone call, baselessly accusing the former vice president of corruption related to his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine and whether they affected his diplomatic efforts. Trump said that “it doesn’t matter” what he discussed with Zelensky and that while the he would “love” to release a transcript of the call, “you have to be a little bit shy about doing it.” Trump’s phone call with Zelensky occurred while Ukraine was awaiting $250 million in security aid, raising the possibility Trump was attempting a quid pro quo arrangement. The phone call led to the whistleblower complaint from within the intelligence community due to a “promise” that Trump made to Ukraine. Trump eventually agreed to release the money after coming under bipartisan pressure from Congress and immediately before the existence of the whistleblower complaint was revealed. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • Trump insisted that he did “absolutely nothing wrong” and denied that he had withheld security aid from Ukraine in an effort to pressure its president to investigate Biden’s family. Trump repeated his debunked corruption claims against Biden and accused the media of being “crooked as hell” for not reporting the false accusations as fact. Trump added that “If a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair probably right now.” Earlier, Trump defended his “perfect” conversation with the Ukrainian President about investigating Biden’s family, saying there was “no quid pro quo, there was nothing.” Trump previously suggested that he had withheld military aid from Ukraine because he wanted to “make sure that country is honest” and “If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” (Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / New York Times)

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Trump’s “grave new chapter of lawlessness” will “take us into a whole new stage of investigation”  if acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire fails to deliver the whistleblower complaint when he testifies in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the House may have now have “crossed the Rubicon” when it comes to impeachment. Schiff added that “There is no privilege that covers corruption. No privilege to engage in underhanded discussions,” and that the “only remedy” to such behavior is impeachment. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Axios)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. Pelosi told House Democrats in a closed door meeting she will support a formal impeachment inquiry, believing that Trump pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son and his administration’s subsequent refusal to share the whistleblower report with Congress has left the House with no alternative but to move forward with an inquiry. “It would be my intention with the consent of this caucus … to proceed with an impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi said. “He is asking a foreign government to help him in his campaign, that is a betrayal of his oath of office.” As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 166 Democrats supported some type of impeachment action — more than two-thirds of the 235-member caucus. Pelosi and top Democrats have privately discussed the creation of a special select committee – similar the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal – to conduct the impeachment inquiry, rather than leaving the task with the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats are also discussing a resolution condemning Trump’s interaction with his Ukrainian counterpart to put lawmakers on the record. Trump, meanwhile, called the allegations a “witch hunt” and said impeachment will be “a positive for me in the election.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / The Guardian / The Hill)

  • Trump ordered Mick Mulvaney to withhold more than $391 million in military aid from Ukraine days before he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden’s son. Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, passed the order through the budget office to the Pentagon and the State Department during an interagency meeting in mid-July, explaining that Trump had “concerns” about whether or not the aid was necessary. White House officials were ordered to tell lawmakers that the delays in funding were part of an “interagency process,” but were instructed to give them no additional information. Trump – despite confirming that he did indeed discuss Biden with Ukraine’s president – denied that he withheld aid from Ukraine in an attempt to press President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden, saying “No, I didn’t — I didn’t do it.” Trump also argued that releasing the transcript of the phone call public would set a bad precedent. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN / Associated Press / Reuters)

  • Trump admitted that he withheld military aid from Ukraine, but blamed it on the United Nations for not contributing more to the Eastern European nation, naming Germany and France among the countries that should “put up money.” Trump also suggested he did nothing wrong, because “As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid. They were fully paid.” Trump told reporters that in addition to Mulvaney, he also told Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hold the funds to encourage other nations to pay, but claimed, “there was no quid pro quo. There was no pressure applied, nothing.” Trump added that despite trailing the leading Democratic candidates in most polls, “I’m leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Reuters)

  • Trump authorized the release of the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted” transcript of the July phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he allegedly brought up investigating Biden and his son. Trump insisted that the call was “totally appropriate” and pledged to release the full text on Wednesday. (NBC News / Washington Post) / New York Times / Reuters)

  • The whistleblower has requested to speak to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Adam Schiff said the whistleblower’s lawyer informed him the official “has requested guidance” from the acting Director of National Intelligence on his appearance, with potential testimony taking place “as soon as this week.” The Senate, meanwhile, opened its own inquiry and is seeking to interview the whistleblower who filed the initial complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general. It was not immediately clear whether the White House will agree to let the official be questioned. (Axios / Politico / Yahoo! News)

  • The Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the whistleblower’s complaint to be transmitted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The GOP-controlled Senate approved the nonbinding but symbolic resolution put forward by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling on the Trump administration to immediately provide the two intelligence committees with a copy of the whistleblower complaint involving Trump. (Axios / Washington Post / New York Times)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

  • Trump urged President Volodymyr Zelensky to “do us a favor” and “look into” potential corruption by Joe Biden’s son, according to the White House readout of the July 25th call. Trump told Zelensky he’d have Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Guiliani contact him and help Ukraine “figure it out” and “get to the bottom of it.” Trump, before asking Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son, reminded Zelensky that the U.S. sends security aid to Ukraine. Trump also asked Zelensky to investigate Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election as it related to Ukraine, as well as to investigate whether he could locate a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server that contained some of Hillary Clinton’s emails. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico / NPR / CNN / ABC News / CNBC / HuffPost)

  • The White House released the whistleblower complaint against Trump to the House and the Senate intelligence committees, according to Richard Burr and Devin Nunes. The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, until now had blocked Congress from seeing the complaint. Separately, White House officials are working with intelligence officials on a deal to allow the whistleblower to speak with congressional investigators. (CNN / Business Insider / New York Times / CBS News / Politico / NBC News)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

  • The whistleblower complaint accused Trump of “abus[ing] his office for personal gain” by “[soliciting] interference” from Ukraine in the 2020 election and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Multiple White House officials were reportedly “deeply disturbed” by Trump’s July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and tried to “lock down” all records of the call. The complaint notes that White House lawyers were “already in discussion” about “how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain.” White House lawyers “directed” officials to “remove the electronic transcript from the computer system” for Cabinet-level officials and instead put them on a computer system “used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature” that is managed by the National Security Council Directorate for Intelligence Programs. According to White House officials who informed the whistleblower, this was “not the first time” a transcript was put on the computer system reserved for code-word-level intelligence information due to concerns about politics, rather than national security. The whistleblower also described Rudy Giuliani as a “central figure in this effort,” which includes attempts at “pressuring a foreign country to investigate the President’s main domestic political rivals.” The complaint adds: “Attorney General William Barr appears to be involved as well.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • Trump accused the whistleblower of being “close to a spy” and threatened that “in the old days” spies were dealt with “a little differently than we do now,” while labeling the complaint an act of “treason.” Speaking at a private event in New York, Trump repeatedly referred to the whistleblower and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint as “crooked” “scum.” Trump also sent three dozen tweets and retweets defending himself over a two-hour period Thursday morning, warning Americans that the stock markets would crash if congressional Democrats impeach him and claiming that “OUR COUNTRY IS AT STAKE!” (New York Times / Los Angeles Times / NBC News / Politico)

  • The whistleblower is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed in the White House at one point. The man has since returned to the C.I.A., but his complaint suggests he was an analyst by training with an understanding of Ukrainian politics. The C.I.A. officer did not work on the communications team that handles calls with foreign leaders, but learned about Trump’s conduct “in the course of official interagency business.” (New York Times)

Friday, September 27, 2019

  • The White House and the Justice Department learned about the whistleblower complaint against Trump before the formal complaint was passed from the intelligence community. The whistleblower, reportedly a CIA officer, lodged the formal complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community on Aug. 12th. The whistleblower also shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the CIA’s top lawyer, Courtney Simmons Elwood, through an anonymous process. Elwood, following policy, told White House and Justice Department officials on Aug. 14th that she received anonymous information detailing concerns about a call between Trump and a foreign leader. The following day, John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, went to the White House to review a rough transcript of the call. Demers alerted the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and Brian Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division, to discuss how to handle the information. The Justice Department then blocked sending the whistleblower complaint to Congress. The inspector general presented the matter to the acting director of national intelligence on Aug. 26th. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • National Security Council attorneys directed the White House to move the Ukraine transcript to a highly classified system. The whistleblower said that moving the record of the call was unusual, because it was “used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive level” and evidence that “White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired” during the conversation. According to the whistleblower, “one White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.” The White House, meanwhile, claimed that because the transcript was already classified, there was nothing wrong with moving it to a highly classified system that contained intelligence secrets and military plans. (CNN / Associated Press)

  • The House foreign affairs, intelligence and oversight committees subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to Trump’s interactions with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The subpoena demands that Pompeo provide documents by Oct. 4th and was accompanied by a plan to also depose five State Department officials, including Ambassador Kurt Volker and Marie Yovanovitch. Volker reportedly arranged for Rudy Giuliani to meet with high-level Ukrainian officials, and Yovanovitch was removed as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine by Trump. In a joint letter to Pompeo, the chairmen of the three committees said a “failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.” (Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

Monday, September 30, 2019

  • Trump called the whistleblower “a fraud,” suggested that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff be arrested for “Treason,” and warned of a “civil war-like fracture” in America if he’s removed from office. Trump accused Schiff of “illegally” misrepresenting him during acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire’s testimony last week, saying “It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” Trump also called for Schiff to be “questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.” In a series of tweets, Trump retweeted a conservative evangelical pastor’s warning that a “civil war-like fracture” in America would happen “If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / The Guardian / Reuters / Associated Press / USA Today / CNN)

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the administration officials who listened in on the July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Pompeo said that he hadn’t yet read the whistleblower’s complaint, but claimed that actions by State Department officials had been “entirely appropriate and consistent” with the Trump’s administration efforts to improve relations with Ukraine. Three House committees subpoenaed Pompeo on Friday for documents related to the inquiry. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • Attorney General William Barr privately met overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking help in a Justice Department investigation that Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr previously met with British intelligence officials, and last week traveled to Italy to ask the Italians to assist John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, who is tasked with reviewing CIA and FBI activities in 2016. It was not Barr’s first trip to Italy to meet intelligence officials. (Washington Post)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told House Democrats that the five State Department officials scheduled depositions before the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not appear. Pompeo characterized efforts to depose officials as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.” Chairmen of the Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees responded to Pompeo, 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.” Four of the five officials scheduled to be deposed over the next two weeks – Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch, Ambassador Kurt Volker, Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl and Ambassador Gordon Sondland – were mentioned in the whistleblower complaint. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios)

  • Trump asked why he was not “entitled to interview” the whistleblower despite laws designed to protect the confidentiality of whistleblowers  – a day after Trump said the White House was trying to find out the person’s identity. The whistleblower said he heard of the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president from multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of it, who said Trump was pressuring the Ukrainian leader to advance his own political interests, and that White House officials acted to conceal evidence of the president’s actions. In a tweet, Trump asked: “Why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him.” The tweet prompted Michael Atkinson, the Trump-appointed intelligence community inspector general, to clarify that there is no requirement in federal law that a whistleblower possess first-hand knowledge of alleged misconduct. Atkinson added that he determined the whistleblower “had official and authorized access to the information and sources referenced in the complainant’s letter and classified appendix, including direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct, and that the complainant has subject matter expertise related to much of the material information provided.” The whistleblower is expected to testify before the House Intelligence Committee as soon as early next week. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

  • The House threatened to subpoena the White House if it doesn’t comply with its request for documents related to Trump’s attempts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings notified committee members that the subpoena will be issued Friday, citing the White House’s “flagrant disregard” of previous requests for documents. Cummings said the committee has “tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents” over the last several weeks, but the White House hasn’t responded. Separately, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said that any efforts by Trump and his administration to stonewall or interfere with their investigation “will be considered as evidence of obstruction of justice.” Schiff joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi in condemning Trump’s tweets and his demand to “meet” the whistleblower, calling it “a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses” and “an incitement of violence.” Later in the day, Trump argued that whistleblowers should only be protected if they’re “legitimate.” (New York Times / ABC News / Axios / Associated Press / CNBC)

  • Trump complained that House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is “BULLSHIT” that’s “wasting everyone’s time.”  Trump also called Adam Schiff a “low life,” and a “dishonest guy” who “couldn’t carry” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “blank strap” – an apparent reference to a “jock strap.” Trump also blamed the impeachment inquiry for declines in the stock market and suggested staffers were inappropriately listening in on his phone calls. Trump’s tweets came after he suggested that the impeachment inquiry amounted to an attempted coup. At a joint news conference later in the day with Finland’s president, Trump attacked reporters who asked about the impeachment inquiry, calling it a hoax and a fraud, but said he would cooperate with the inquiry, claiming: “I always cooperate.” (NBC News Reuters / Washington Post / Talking Points Memo)

  • The whistleblower first contacted the House Intelligence Committee for guidance before sending the complaint to the Trump administration. Adam Schiff learned about the outlines of the whistleblower’s concerns that Trump had abused his power days before the whistleblower filed the complaint. Schiff’s office denied seeing the complaint in advance, but it also explains how Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it. Trump – without evidence – claimed that Schiff “probably helped write” the whistleblower complaint, calling Schiff “a shifty dishonest guy” and the complaint “a scam.” An attorney representing the whistleblower said that no one from House Intelligence Committee helped the whistleblower write their complaint. (New York Times / CNN)

  • Mike Pompeo admitted that he was on the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky  when Trump asked Zelensky to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son. “I was on the phone call,” Pompeo said during a news conference in Rome with Italy’s foreign minister. Pompeo’s admission was the first time he confirmed that he was on the call — after previously evading questions about what he knew about the conversation and news reports that revealed he was on the call. (CNN / New York Times)

Thursday, October 3, 2019

  • House investigators questioned the State Department’s former special envoy for Ukraine behind closed doors about his interactions with the Ukrainians and Rudy Giuliani. The whistleblower’s complaint alleged that Kurt Volker went to Kiev to advise the Ukrainians on how to “navigate” Trump’s demands and put Giuliani in touch with Zelensky aides. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees wanted to know what Volker knew – and when – about Giuliani’s work in Ukraine, Trump’s decision to withhold $391 million in security assistance while pressing for investigations into political rivals, and the Trump administration’s decision to recall the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Volker shared a September 9th text exchange with Congress in which Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, alluded to Trump’s decision to freeze a military aid package to the country. Taylor told Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union and Volker: “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” Volker resigned last week and has not been accused of taking part in Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine. (New York Times / ABC News / NBC News)

  • Two of Trump’s top envoys to Ukraine drafted a statement in August that would have committed Ukraine to investigating Hunter Biden. The statement, drafted by Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, would have also committed the Ukrainian government to look into what Trump and Giuliani believe was interference by Ukrainians in the 2016 election to benefit Hillary Clinton. The statement was written with the awareness of a top aide to the Ukrainian president, as well as Giuliani, but it’s unclear if it was delivered to Zelensky. (New York Times)

  • Giuliani personally gave Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a file of documents of unproven allegations against Biden on March 28th  and claimed that he was told that the State Department would take up an investigation of those claims. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick gave Congress the 79-page packet Wednesday, which included nearly 20 pages of communications between State Department employees working to push back against the “fake narrative” that Giuliani was pushing. Linick told Congress that the department’s office of legal counsel had provided the documents to him in May, which he gave to the FBI. The documents were in Trump Hotel folders and included “interview” notes Giuliani conducted with Viktor Shokin, the former General Prosecutor of Ukraine who was pushed out at the urging of Biden because he didn’t prosecute corruption. (NBC News / CNN)

Friday, October 4, 2019

  • Text messages reveal how two U.S. ambassadors coordinated with Rudy Giuliani and a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to leverage a potential White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky into persuading Kiev to publicly commit to investigating Joe Biden. The House Intelligence Committee released the documents and text messages provided by Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, which show Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland repeatedly stressing that a White House meeting depended on getting the Ukrainians to agree to the exact language that Zelensky would use in announcing an investigation. In August, Volker proposed to Sondland that they have Zelensky cite “alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians” in interference in U.S. elections when announcing an investigation. Democrats say the texts are clear evidence that Trump conditioned normal bilateral relations with Ukraine on that country first agreeing “to launch politically motivated investigations.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Reuters / USA Today)

  • The CIA’s general counsel made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about the whistleblower’s allegations that Trump abused his office weeks before the complaint became public. Courtney Simmons Elwood first learned about the matter because the whistleblower, a CIA officer, passed his concerns about Trump on to her through a colleague. In a Aug. 14 conference call, Elwood told John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser to the White House National Security Council and the chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, John Demers, that the allegations merited examination by the Department of Justice. Attorney General William Barr was made aware of the call with Elwood and Eisenberg. Later, Justice Department officials said they didn’t consider the conversation a formal criminal referral because it was not in written form. The Justice Department later declined to open an investigation. (NBC News)

  • The Treasury Department’s inspector general is investigating how the department handled requests for Trump’s tax returns, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to turn over. Acting Inspector General Rich Delmar said he will investigate who was consulted and how the department came to reject Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal’s demands for the records. Neil’s committee received information from a federal employee at the end of July alleging that there was “possible misconduct” and “inappropriate efforts to influence” the presidential audit program. (New York Times / Politico / CNN)

  • House Democrats subpoenaed the White House for documents about Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to target his political rivals. The subpoena was sent to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney by three Democratic committee chairmen, who now has a two-week deadline of Oct. 18 to comply with the document demand. “Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, 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,” wrote chairmen Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff, and Eliot Engel. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press / Axios)

  • The White House plans to reject Democrats’ request for documents as part of the impeachment inquiry, arguing that until there is a formal vote by the House to begin impeachment proceedings, Congress doesn’t have the right to the information. (NBC News)

Monday, October 7, 2019

  • The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees subpoenaed the Department of Defense and the White House Office of Management and Budget for documents related to Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. The committees want to know whether Trump froze U.S. military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure its government to investigate Biden and his son over unsubstantiated corruption allegations. The agencies are required to turn over the documents by Oct. 15. (New York Times / Yahoo! News / Reuters / Axios)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

  • The Trump administration ordered the U.S. ambassador to the European Union not to appear before House lawmakers for a planned deposition  as part of the impeachment inquiry. Lawmakers want information about Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s activities related to Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden and his son. Sondland said he was willing and happy to testify, but he did not appear as scheduled this morning after he was ordered not to by the State Department. Sondland’s attorney said that, as a State Department employee, Sondland had no choice but to comply with the order. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff called the White House’s move to block Sondland from testifying “further acts of obstruction of a coequal branch of government.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico / CNBC)

  • The White House announced it will not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, calling it an illegitimate and partisan effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election.”  White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent an eight-page letter to House Democratic leaders, declaring the impeachment inquiry a violation of historical precedent. The letter says the inquiry represents such an egregious violation of Trump’s due process rights that neither Trump nor the executive branch will willingly participate by providing testimony or documents going forward. The letter was sent hours after the State Department blocked Gordon Sondland from appearing at a deposition in front of House Democrats, and it sets the stage for a constitutional crisis between the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters / NBC News / Associated Press)

  • House Democrats plan to subpoena Sondland in order to compel him to testify and provide emails and text messages from one of his personal devices. The device and the corresponding documents and texts have already been turned over to the State Department, which has refused to release them to the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry. Trump said on Twitter that he “would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify,” but Trump won’t let him because he “would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s [sic] rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see.” (Washington Post)

  • A White House aide who listened in on Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the call as “crazy,” “frightening,” and “completely lacking in substance related to national security,”  according to a memo written by the whistleblower at the center of the Trump-Ukraine scandal. The memo was written a day after the call took place, and it says the official who listened to the call was “visibly shaken by what had transpired.” The memo also says White House attorneys were already trying to figure out how to deal with documentation from the call, because they knew “the president had clearly committed a criminal act by urging a foreign power to investigate a U.S. person for the purposes of advancing his own re-election bid.” (New York Times / ABC News)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

  • American diplomats who pushed for the restoration of U.S. security aid to Ukraine were told by the White House to downplay the release of the money once it was finally approved. “Keep moving, people, nothing to see here,” wrote the acting deputy assistant secretary overseeing issues in Europe and Eurasia in a Sept. 12 email. The previously unreported internal State Department emails reveal that diplomats were frustrated with the unexpected freeze on funding that had already been approved by Congress. (New York Times)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

  • Two men who worked with Giuliani to find damaging information about Biden and his son have been charged with conspiring to violate campaign finance laws that prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to U.S. campaigns. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are two key subjects in the House’s impeachment inquiry. They were indicted and accused of making “secret agreements” to hide the fact that they were laundering foreign money into U.S. campaigns through a range of corporate identities by using “straw donors” to make the contributions. Parnas and Fruman allegedly used the agreements to hide their scheme from candidates and federal regulators. The indictment alleges that on one occasion, they lobbied a then-sitting member of Congress at the request of “one or more Ukrainian officials.” (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / Reuters / Associated Press / NBC News)

  • Trump gave a politically appointed official the authority to withhold nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine  after career staff at the Office of Management and Budget questioned the legality of delaying the funds. Trump shifted the authority over the funds to Michael Duffey, who serves as associate director of national security programs at OMB. The aid in question is at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry, and it was put on hold just days before the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. Duffey was also allowed to oversee the apportionment of funds for other foreign aid and defense accounts. “It is absurd to suggest,” said an OMB spokesperson in a statement, “that the president and his administration officials should not play a leadership role in ensuring taxpayer dollars are well spent.” (Wall Street Journal)

Friday, October 11, 2019

  • Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers that Trump personally pressured the State Department to have her ousted from her position. Yovanovitch defied Trump’s ban on cooperating with the House impeachment inquiry and spoke to Congress during a closed-door deposition. She said she was “abruptly” recalled in May and told the president had lost confidence in her. Yovanovitch said she’d done nothing to deserve her dismissal and that she was confused when Trump “chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” referring to Giuliani and a group of former Ukrainian officials who saw her as a political and financial threat to their interests. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

  • The White House’s former top Russia adviser told impeachment investigators that Rudy Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit Trump. Fiona Hill, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, testified for about nine hours before three House panels regarding a July 10th meeting she attended with senior Ukrainian officials, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, and other U.S. officials in which the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who was working with Giuliani, raised the issue to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, Joe Biden, and his son. Hill said she confronted Sondland about Giuliani’s actions, which were not coordinated with officials responsible for U.S. foreign policy. Hill resigned days before Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Associated Press / The Guardian / NBC News / Vox / NPR)

  • John Bolton was so alarmed by Giuliani’s politically motivated activities to get the Ukrainians to investigate Trump’s political opponents that he called it a “drug deal.”  Hill testified that Bolton told her to report the situation to the top lawyer at the National Security Council, John Eisenberg, about the effort by Sondland, Giuliani, and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to extract damaging information about Democrats from Ukraine on Trump’s behalf. Hill testified that she met with Eisenberg briefly on July 10th, and that she had a longer meeting with Eisenberg on July 11th. Bolton referred to Giuliani as a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.” Trump fired Bolton in September. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

  • The former U.S. ambassador to the European Union intends to tell Congress that Trump personally assured him that there was no quid pro quo relationship  between military aid for Ukraine and Trump’s request that the Ukrainians open investigations including into Joe Biden and his son. Sondland plans to tell lawmakers he doesn’t know why U.S. military aid to Ukraine was held up, nor who ordered it, and that he has no knowledge of whether Trump was telling him the truth, and that he relied on Trump’s assurances when he told a State Department colleague that there were “no quid pro quo’s of any kind” linking U.S. security assistance to Ukrainian investigations. Sondland is scheduled to appear for a closed-door deposition today. He was originally supposed to testify October 8th, but the Trump administration initially blocked him from appearing. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Vox)

  • Giuliani won’t comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to the impeachment investigation. He called the impeachment inquiry an “abomination” and dared House Democrats to take him to court, saying “if they enforce it, then we will see what happens.” Giuliani’s lawyer, Jon Sale, sent a letter to Congress, saying Giuliani wouldn’t comply with the subpoena because it was “overbroad, unduly burdensome and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry.” Sale, however, is no longer representing Giuliani, because, according to Giuliani, it would be “silly to have a lawyer when I don’t need one.” (ABC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Daily News)

  • Pence said he would not comply with a request from House impeachment investigators for documents related to Trump’s July 25th call with Zelensky. Pence’s lawyer accused the committees of requesting material that is “clearly not vice-presidential records.” The House investigators had asked for documents to be produced by October 15th. (New York Times / NBC News)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

  • The White House is conducting its own investigation into why a rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was placed into a secret server for secure storage. Trump’s advisers and White House lawyers began the fact-finding review to find out why deputy White House counsel, John Eisenberg, placed the rough transcript of the call in a computer system typically reserved for the country’s most closely guarded secrets. Eisenberg has said he limited access to the transcript over concerns about leaks. It is unclear who asked for or initiated the review, though acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has encouraged it and his aids are helping with it. Some officials fear the review is intended to assign blame for the impeachment inquiry. (New York Times)

  • Mick Mulvaney put Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry in charge of managing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship instead of diplomats at the National Security Council and the State Department. The State Department’s Ukraine expert, George Kent, testified during a closed-door hearing before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees that Mulvaney was responsible for stripping control of the country’s relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most expertise. Kent also told lawmakers that he had been told by a supervisor to lie low after he raised complaints about Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. Current and former officials said Mulvaney met frequently with Sondland and that details of their discussions were kept from then-National Security Adviser John Bolton and other officials who were raising internal concerns about the hidden Ukraine agenda. Mulvaney was also the one who, at Trump’s direction, placed a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine leading up to Trump’s July 25 phone call to pressure Zelensky to pursue Giuliani’s agenda against the Bidens. (Washington Post / CNN)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

  • Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed that Trump blocked military aid to Ukraine to force Kiev to investigate his political rivals. Mulvaney called the quid pro quo exchange “absolutely appropriate” and that “we do that all the time with foreign policy.” Mulvaney added: “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” Mulvaney also told reporters the funds were withheld in part because of a request to have Ukraine investigate unfounded allegations that foreign countries assisted Democrats in the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was a quid pro quo arrangement linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC)

  • The U.S. ambassador to the European Union told House impeachment investigators that Trump delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to Rudy Giuliani. Gordon Sondland said he and other officials were “disappointed” by Trump’s directive for U.S. diplomats to work with Giuliani on matters related to Ukraine. Sondland testified that he contacted Giuliani at Trump’s direction after a May 23rd meeting at the White House and that Giuliani told him Trump wanted Ukraine’s new government to investigate both the 2016 election and a natural gas firm tied to Hunter Biden. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • Rick Perry spoke with Giuliani at Trump’s direction earlier this year about Ukraine. Perry said he called Giuliani to get a better understanding of Trump’s concerns about alleged Ukrainian corruption. Perry said that while Giuliani didn’t make any explicit demands during the May call, Giuliani did blame Ukraine for the Steele dossier, claimed that Ukraine had Hillary Clinton’s email server, and accused Ukraine of helping send Paul Manafort to prison. Mulvaney confirmed that Trump asked Perry to work with Giuliani on policies related to Ukraine. (Wall Street Journal / CNN / MarketWatch)

Friday, October 18, 2019

  • Mick Mulvaney tried to walk-back his claim that Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was in exchange for an investigation of the hacked Democratic National Committee server. Trump has repeatedly claimed his decision to hold up the aid was due to concerns about corruption in Ukraine and that European nations weren’t doing enough to help Ukraine. Trump was reportedly “not happy” with Mulvaney’s press briefing, in which his acting chief of staff said “We do that all the time with foreign policy” and that every one should “Get over it,” because “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.” Mulvaney later issued a statement, which was first reviewed by Trump, saying that “There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.” When Trump was asked to clarify Mulvaney’s statement, Trump responded: “I think he clarified it.” Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mulvaney’s comments a “confession.” (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

  • Associates of an indicted Ukrainian oligarch tried to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for Rudy Giuliani helping the oligarch avoid extradition to the U.S.  Dmitry Firtash changed lawyers in July to Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who were supporters of Trump and associates of Giuliani. They hired Lev Parnas, also a Giuliani associate, as a translator. Parnas was arrested last week along with several associates and accused of conspiring to violate campaign finance laws. The Justice Department has described Firtash as an associate of “Russian organized crime.” (Bloomberg)

Monday, October 21, 2019

  • Mick Mulvaney – again – tried to deny his public assertion of a quid pro quo in which the Trump administration held up an aid package to Ukraine because Trump wanted an investigation that could politically benefit him. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney insisted that he “didn’t speak clearly maybe on Thursday” and that there couldn’t have been a quid pro quo, because “the aid flowed.” Mulvaney also claimed that the administration only held up military aid to Ukraine because of the country’s corruption and because other countries weren’t giving more aid as well. On Thursday, however, Mulvaney told reporters to “Get over it,” calling quid pro quo “absolutely appropriate” and that “we do that all the time with foreign policy.” Mulvaney also claimed at the press conference last week that the Trump administration withheld military aid in part to secure cooperation with a Justice Department investigation into the origins of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. (Washington Post / New York Times / Daily Beast)

  • Rudy Giuliani asked the State Department and the White House to grant a visa to the former Ukrainian official who Joe Biden had pushed to have removed when he was vice president. Career diplomat George Kent told congressional investigators in his closed-door testimony that around January 2019 Giuliani requested a visa for Viktor Shokin, who had been pushed out as Ukraine’s top prosecutor in 2016 over concerns that he was not pursuing corruption cases. Giuliani, however, previously said he wanted to interview Shokin in person because the Ukrainian promised to reveal dirt on Democrats. (CNN)

Tuesday, OctoberThis text will be hidden 22, 2019

  • The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that Trump held up security aid and refused a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president until he agreed to investigate Tump’s political rivals. Bill Taylor said he was told that “everything” Ukraine wanted — a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and nearly $400 million in security aid — was dependent on publicly announcing an investigation into Burisma, the company that hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter, and Ukraine’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election. Taylor provided an “excruciatingly detailed” opening statement that described “how pervasive the [quid pro quo] efforts were” by Trump and his allies, which they have denied. People in the closed-door deposition described Taylor’s testimony as a “very direct line” between American foreign policy and Trump’s own political goals. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine came as he was being urged to adopt a hostile view of that country by Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who reinforced Trump’s perception of Ukraine as corrupt. Trump met with Orban on May 13th – and 10 days before a key meeting on Ukraine – over the objections of his national security team, who believed that Orban – an autocratic leader who has been ostracized by many of his peers in Europe – did not deserve the honor of an Oval Office visit. Trump then met on May 23rd with Rick Perry, Kurt Volker, and Gordon Sondland, who had returned from Zelensky’s inauguration. They assured Trump that Zelensky was a reformer who deserved American support. Trump, however, claimed that Ukrainians were “terrible people” who “tried to take me down” during the 2016 presidential election. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Trump compared the House impeachment inquiry to a “lynching.”  Trump has previously called the investigation a “coup,” a “witch hunt” and a “fraud.” (The Guardian / NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

  • Ukraine knew that Trump had frozen $391 million in security assistance by early August. The disclosure that the Ukrainians knew of the freeze by early August corroborates the claim made by the CIA whistleblower complaint. Trump and his allies have repeatedly claimed there could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians didn’t know the assistance had been blocked. The Ukrainians, however, were advised by the first week of August to address it with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff. At the same time, Rudy Giuliani, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, then the State Department’s special envoy to Ukraine, were pressing Zelensky to make a public commitment to the investigations for Trump’s political benefit. (New York Times)

  • The Trump administration repeatedly tried to cut foreign aid programs tasked with combating corruption in Ukraine, according White House budget documents. In 2019, the administration tried, but failed, to cut $30 million in aid directed to Ukraine down to $13 million under a program called International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement. In the 2020 budget request, the administration again tried to cut the program’s spending on Ukraine down to $13 million. “I don’t care about politics, but I do care about corruption. And this whole thing is about corruption,” Trump told reporters earlier this month.” This whole thing — this whole thing is about corruption.” Trump, Mulvaney, and other administration officials have insisted that their goal in delaying the military aid package to Ukraine was to ensure corruption was addressed in that country — not to produce political benefit to Trump. (Washington Post)

  • Roughly 30 House Republicans forced entry into a closed-door deposition and refused to leave the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility  – a secure House Intelligence Committee space. The GOP lawmakers, who do not sit on the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry, demanded that they be allowed to see the closed-door proceedings. After five hours, the Republicans left and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper began her testimony. (Politico / CNN / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

  • Two of Rudy Giuliani’s associates pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally funneling foreign donations to U.S. political candidates. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman face charges of conspiring to violate the ban on foreign donations and contributions related to federal and state elections, and with making false statements and falsifying records. A defense lawyer for Parnas told the judge that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege. Edward MacMahon Jr. said the potential for the White House to invoke executive privilege stemmed from the fact that Parnas had used Giuliani as his own lawyer at the same time Giuliani was working as Trump’s lawyer. (NPR / New York Times)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

  • House Democrats could take the impeachment inquiry public as soon as mid-November. Moving the largely closed-door investigation toward the public spotlight comes as the Trump administration has tried to block witnesses and withhold documents while his allies have cast the inquiry as a smear campaign against Trump. Yesterday, House Republicans delayed proceedings for more than five hours when about two dozen of them entered and refused to leave a secure room where Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper was set to testify about what happened to the military aid Trump ordered withheld from Ukraine. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • Trump’s top envoy to Ukraine testified that the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. not only knew of a quid pro quo, but had also communicated the threat to Ukraine. William Taylor said he understood that on Sept. 1st, Gordon Sondland warned Andrey Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s aide, that security assistance “would not come” unless Zelensky committed to pursuing the investigation into Burisma, the energy company where Joe Biden’s son held a board seat. On Sept. 9th, Sondland texted Taylor to say there was “no quid pro quos” of any kind authorized by Trump. Sondland’s attorney added that his client “does not recall” such a conversation. By Taylor’s account, however, Sondland already knew the terms of the quid pro quo and had relayed them to Zelensky’s aide a week earlier. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Zelensky was concerned about pressure from the Trump administration to investigate Biden before before his July 25th call with Trump. Zelensky met with a small group of advisers on May 7th for a meeting that was supposed to be about Ukraine’s energy needs. Instead, the group spent three hours talking about how they were going to handle the calls for investigations coming from Trump and Giuliani, as well as how to avoid getting wrapped up in the U.S. election process. The meeting occurred before Zelensky was inaugurated, roughly two weeks after Trump called to congratulate him the night he won the April 21st election in Ukraine. (Associated Press / Axios)

Friday, October 25, 2019

  • A top adviser on Trump’s National Security Council is expected to corroborate testimony that Trump pushed for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son, using the military aid as leverage. Tim Morrison’s testimony is expected to be significant because he was named 15 times during Bill Taylor’s deposition, which Democrats view as damning for Trump. Morrison was also listening in on the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Morrison is also expected to say that he didn’t see anything wrong with what the Trump administration did with regard to Ukraine. Morrison would also be the first currently serving White House official to testify. (CNN)

  • Lawyers for former national security adviser John Bolton have discussed a possible deposition with the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry. Bolton was reportedly so disturbed by efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents that he called it a “drug deal,” calling Rudy Giuliani a “hand grenade.” Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, told lawmakers last week that she saw “wrongdoing” and that Bolton encouraged her to report her concerns to the National Security Council’s attorney. (CNN / CNBC)

  • The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to three of Trump’s top officials. Acting budget director Russ Vought, Michael Duffey, a senior official in the Office of Management and Budget, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, counsel at the State Department, all previously declined requests by investigators to testify voluntarily. (Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • The Trump administration attempted to persuade a Pentagon official to not cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry. The day before Laura Cooper was scheduled to give voluntary, private testimony, she received a letter warning her that the White House had ordered executive branch officials not to give documents or testimony to Congress “under these circumstances.” Cooper nevertheless provided testimony to Congress about what she knew about Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals. (New York Times / Politico)

Monday, October 28, 2019

  • The House of Representatives will vote on the Trump impeachment inquiry. The resolution “affirms the ongoing, existing investigation,” “establishes the procedure for hearings,” and “ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. It will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry. Representative Jim McGovern, chairman of the House Rules Committee, will introduce the resolution on Tuesday with a full House vote scheduled for Thursday. Pelosi added: “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.” (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • A former deputy national security adviser and one of Trump’s “closest confidential” advisers defied a congressional subpoena and failed to appear for a scheduled closed-door deposition before House impeachment investigators. Charles Kupperman filed a lawsuit seeking guidance from a federal judge about whether he should listen to the executive branch, which has invoked “constitutional immunity,” or to Congress. “Given the issue of separation of powers in this matter, it would be reasonable and appropriate to expect that all parties would want judicial clarity,” Kupperman said. Since there has not yet been a ruling, Kupperman declined to appear. Leaders of three House committees said his lawsuit is “lacking in legal merit and apparently coordinated with the White House,” and failure to appear for his deposition “will constitute evidence that may be used against him in a contempt proceeding.” Kupperman listened in to the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / NPR)

  • The White House knew as early as mid-May — earlier than previously known — that Rudy Giuliani and the ambassador to the European Union were pressuring the new Ukrainian president. Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia adviser, was told in a White House meeting the week of May 20th about a campaign by Giuliani, two of Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and Gordon Sondland to pressure President Zelensky with unsolicited advice on who should be elevated to influential posts within his new administration. Sondland had no official role overseeing Ukraine, and Giuliani isn’t a government employee. (NBC News)

  • A senior State Department official testified that he appealed to leadership for a public show of support for the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine when she was targeted in a smear campaign by Trump and Rudy Giuliani. Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for Europe, said he pushed State Department leadership to make a statement of support for Marie Yovanovitch to counter Giuliani’s push to get her recalled. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, however, wouldn’t back the ambassador to Ukraine. Reeker also testified that he did not find out the Trump administration’s efforts to push Ukraine into publicly announcing investigations into Joe Biden and the 2016 election until the whistleblower complaint was made public. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

  • House Democrats released their impeachment resolution, which outlines the next steps by the six committees that are pursuing investigations of the Trump administration. The resolution doesn’t limit the scope of their ongoing probes and does not set a timeline for potential articles of impeachment. Under the proposed rules, the House Intelligence Committee will take the lead on planning public hearings as the inquiry advances and establish rules for Republicans to hear testimony from certain witnesses, but that those requests will be declined or approved by Adam Schiff. The House plans to vote on the resolution Thursday. (New York Times / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

  • The top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council registered objections on two separate occasions regarding Trump’s handling of Ukraine. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman told impeachment investigators during a closed-door deposition that he heard Trump asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son as a “favor” after Zelensky brought up the defense cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine. Vindman said he was so “concerned by the call” and that Trump’s request could be seen as “a partisan play” that could “undermine U.S. national security” that he reported it to the NSC’s lead counsel out of a “sense of duty.” Vindman is the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25th phone call between Trump and Zelensky, and reportedly told impeachment investigators that he took notes during the call and made recommendations to the White House to correct the memo summarizing the conversation. They weren’t used. Vindman said the White House transcript left out Zelensky saying the word “Burisma” — the name of the energy company that Hunter Biden had worked for – as well as Trump saying there were recordings of Biden. (New York Times / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NPR / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / NBC News)

  • Vindman’s sworn statement contradicted Gordon Sondland’s testimony, who told House investigators that no one had raised concerns about Trump’s actions. Vindman testified that he confronted Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, after Sondland, Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and then-national security adviser John Bolton met with senior Ukrainian officials at the White House about “Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the president.” Vindman testified that he told Sondland “that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push.” Rep. Joaquin Castro, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, accused Sondland of perjuring himself during his closed-door testimony to impeachment investigators earlier this month. Vindman’s testimony also appears to contradict Perry’s denials that he ever heard the Bidens discussed in relation to U.S. requests that Ukraine investigate corruption. (Washington Post / The Guardian / New York Times / The Hill / Politico)

  • Trump’s allies accused Vindman of being loyal to Ukraine because he was born there. Vindman came to the United States at age 3, was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq, and now serves as a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. Fox News host Laura Ingraham and her guests, however, suggested that Vindman had engaged in “espionage” on behalf of Ukraine against the U.S. Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, accused Vindman of being a “Never Trumper,” tweeting that the colonel “has reportedly been advising two gov’s.” Republicans, however, joined Democrats in defending Vindman, calling the attacks “despicable,” “absurd, disgusting, and way off the mark.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

  • The White House has not made a decision on whether to make the details of Mike Pence’s call with President Zelensky public  – three weeks after Pence said he had “no objection” to releasing a reconstructed transcript of the call. White House officials have debated whether releasing the call details will help or hurt their attempts to push back against accusations that Trump made U.S. military aid to Ukraine contingent on the country launching an investigation into his political opponents. (NBC News)

  • A top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes has been trying to unmask the anonymous whistleblower at the heart of the House’s impeachment inquiry  by releasing information about him to conservative journalists and politicians. Derek Harvey has provided notes to House Republicans identifying the whistleblower’s name ahead of the depositions of Trump appointees and administration employees in the impeachment inquiry. His goal is to get the name of the whistleblower into the records of the proceedings, which could then be made public. Harvey was also “passing notes [to GOP lawmakers] the entire time” during ex-NSC Russia staffer Fiona Hill’s testimony. (Daily Beast / Washington Post)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

  • Two career diplomats testified before House impeachment investigators behind closed doors that Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s view of Ukraine were out of step with other White House and State Department officials. Catherine Croft told lawmakers, who worked as an adviser to Kurt Volker, explained that “throughout” her time in the Trump administration she heard Trump “describe Ukraine as a corrupt country,” both “directly and indirectly.” Christopher Anderson, who served as assistant to Volker, told lawmakers that in a June 13th meeting, John Bolton had supported “increased senior White House engagement” with Ukraine, but was concerned that Giuliani “was a key voice with the president on Ukraine.” Anderson also testified that his attempts as a Foreign Service officer to show support for Ukraine were quashed by the White House. (Washington Post / CNN / Politico / ABC News / New York Times)

  • House impeachment investigators asked former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify on Nov. 7th  after Anderson and Croft testified that Bolton was concerned about America’s stance toward Ukraine. Fiona Hill testified earlier this month that Bolton was so disturbed by efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents that he called it a “drug deal,” and that Bolton had told her to report the situation to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the National Security Council. Eisenberg and Michael Ellis, another lawyer for the NSC, are scheduled testify next Monday. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • The National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert testified that a Devin Nunes associate “misrepresented” himself to Trump as the NSC’s Ukraine expert. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman told lawmakers that Kashyap Patel circumvented NSC process to provide Trump with disinformation that Ukraine was corrupt and had interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats. Vindman was also told not to attend a meeting following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration, because Trump’s advisers worried his perspective might confuse Trump. Patel is a longtime Nunes staffer who joined the White House in February. He has no Ukraine experience or expertise. (Politico)

  • Trump’s pick for ambassador to Russia told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it would not be “in accord with our values” for a president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan also agreed that Yovanovitch had “served capably and admirably” and that he believed Rudy Giuliani was “seeking to smear” Yovanovitch. Sullivan said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told him “the president had lost confidence with [Yovanovitch]” and that he was the one who informed Yovanovitch that she was being recalled early from her post as the ambassador to Ukraine. (Politico / Washington Post)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

  • The House approved a resolution to formally authorize and set ground rules for its impeachment inquiry into Trump. The resolution passed 232-196 almost entirely along party lines and outlines how the House will make the investigation more public, authorizes the House Intelligence Committee to release transcripts from past interviews, and gives Republicans the right to call witnesses, though those requests are subject to approval by Democrats. Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “Today, we are further down the path of our inquiry,” calling it a “sad day,” because “nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president.” Minutes after the vote, the White House press secretary denounced the resolution as “a sham impeachment” and “a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the president.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / ABC News)

  • Trump’s former top National Security Council advisor on Russia and Europe corroborated testimony by the acting ambassador to Ukraine that Trump tried to withhold military assistance until Ukraine committed to investigating Trump’s political rivals. Tim Morrison told impeachment investigators today that he spoke to Bill Taylor at least twice in early September. One call was about Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who told the Ukrainians that no U.S. aid would be released until they announced an investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that had hired Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Morrison also spoke with Taylor on Sept. 7 to share his “sinking feeling” about a conversation between Trump and Sondland, during which Trump demanded that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announce investigations and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. Morrison, however, told impeachment investigators he “was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” but he did see the episode as problematic for U.S. foreign policy. Morrison’s testimony comes a day after he announced his resignation. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / NPR / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / NBC News / Daily Beast)

  • The deputy White House counsel moved the transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky to the highly classified server after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman raised concerns about Trump’s behavior. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, had listened in on the call when Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” by pursuing an investigation into Biden and the debunked conspiracy theory that a Democratic National Committee server was transported to Ukraine after it was hacked in 2016. After the call was over, Vindman, an ethics attorney on the National Security Council, and a deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council met with John Eisenberg to raise concerns about the conversation. Eisenberg then ordered the transcript of the call moved to the NSC Intelligence Collaboration Environment, which is normally reserved for code-word-level ­intelligence programs, to ensure that people who were not assigned to handle Ukraine policy could not read the transcript. Vindman also told House impeachment investigators that the White House transcript of the July call omitted crucial words and phrases, including Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of Biden discussing Ukraine corruption and a mention by Zelensky about Burisma. Vindman was also given a hard copy of the rough transcript to make written edits, which he then gave to his boss, Tim Morrison. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Two separate federal judges in Washington will consider whether to force two witnesses close to Trump to testify in the House’s impeachment inquiry. The first hearing centers on former White House counsel Don McGahn’s refusal to testify this spring in the House Judiciary Committee’s criminal probe into whether Trump obstructed justice by attempting to impede the Russia investigation. The White House blocked McGahn’s testimony, claiming he was “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.” The second hearing involves former National Security official Charles Kupperman, who did not appear for his subpoenaed testimony on Monday. Last week, Charles Kupperman filed a lawsuit to resolve conflicting orders from Congress and the White House about his participation in the impeachment investigation. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Washington Post)

Friday, November 1, 2019

  • A senior White House lawyer instructed the national security official who heard Trump’s July 25 conversation with the Ukraine president to keep his concerns secret. Following the call, in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a “favor” to investigate the Bidens, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman went to John Eisenberg to register his concerns about the call, who recorded Vindman’s complaints in notes on a yellow legal pad. Eisenberg also restricted access to the rough transcript of the call by moving it into the NSC’s top-secret codeword system. Eisenberg then directed Vindman to not discuss his concerns with anyone after the White House learned on July 29 that a CIA employee had anonymously filed a whistleblower complaint about the call. Vindman also testified that he conferred with his deputy Michael Ellis at the time about how to handle the conversation because it was clearly “sensitive.” (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Democratic leaders directing the impeachment investigation see the Trump administration’s stonewalling as obstruction of Congress. Trump and the administration have tried to stop subpoenaed witnesses from testifying, blocked the executive branch from turning over documents, attacked witnesses as “Never Trumpers,” badgered the anonymous whistleblower, and have tried to publicly discredit the investigation as a “scam” overseen by “a totally compromised kangaroo court.” Democrats argue that the efforts infringed on the separation of powers and undermines congressional oversight duties as laid out in the Constitution. (Washington Post)

Monday, November 4, 2019

  • The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that she felt “threatened” by Trump  and his suggestion to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the July 25 phone call that she would be “going to go through some things.” Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled by Trump in May, told investigators that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were working with Rudy Giuliani to smear her and had orchestrated her removal as ambassador to Kiev. The revelation comes after House Democrats released the first two interview transcripts with Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley, a former senior State Department adviser. McKinley described to investigators how he pressed top State Department officials to publicly support Yovanovitch, but that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied the request because he did not want to “draw undue attention” to Yovanovitch. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / Politico / CNN / ABC News)

  • Four White House officials scheduled to give depositions today as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry refused to show up and testify. National Security Council attorneys John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis, along with Robert Blair, assistant to the president, and Brian McCormick, an associate director at the Office of Management and Budget, did not comply with congressional subpoenas for their testimony. Eisenberg claimed executive privilege, while Blair, Ellis, and McCormick didn’t appear because they weren’t able to have a Trump administration attorney present. Two other officials from the OMB, Michael Duffey and Russell Vought, also plan to skip their depositions later this week. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is scheduled to appear for a closed-door deposition on Wednesday, but will not be participating either. (CNN / Politico / ABC News / Reuters)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

  • A key witness in the impeachment inquiry acknowledged that there was a quid pro quo linking U.S. aid to Ukraine with an investigation into Trump’s political rival. In revised testimony, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, said he told Andriy Yermak, a Ukrainian national security adviser, that Ukraine “would likely not” receive military aid until it publicly committed to investigating the 2016 election and Joe Biden. Sondland told Congress that his memory was “refreshed” after reviewing the opening statements by Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former adviser to Trump on Russian and European affairs. Sondland’s addendum also recounted a Sept. 1 meeting in Warsaw where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky raised his concerns to Mike Pence about the suspension of military aid. Sondland said he believed that withholding the $391 million in security assistance was “ill-advised,” but claimed he didn’t know “when, why or by whom the aid was suspended.” The revelation comes after House committees leading the impeachment inquiry released transcripts of witness testimony by Sondland and Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • House Democrats requested that Trump’s acting White House chief of staff appear for a deposition in the impeachment probe. Mick Mulvaney is unlikely to comply with the request, however, as the White House has directed senior officials to not participate in the impeachment investigation. Lawmakers leading the inquiry believe Mulvaney “may have been directly involved in an effort orchestrated” by Trump and Rudy Giuliani to withhold a “White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance” in order to pressure Ukraine to pursue investigations that would benefit “Trump’s personal political interests, and jeopardized our national security.” (CNBC / Politico / ABC News / New York Times)

  • An associate of Rudy Giuliani will cooperate with a subpoena issued by House investigators as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump. Lev Parnas, who helped Giuliani dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter at Trump’s request, initially ignored the House Intelligence Committee’s request for documents last month, but now intends to comply with the subpoena. The change in strategy reportedly occurred when Trump denied knowing Parnas after he was arrested. Parnas was also charged last month with campaign finance violations. (Reuters / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

  • The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that it was his “clear understanding” that military aid would not be sent to Ukraine until the country pursued investigations that could benefit Trump, according to a transcript of his testimony made public. Bill Taylor said he “sat in astonishment” during a July 18 call after a White House Office of Management and Budget official said that Trump had ordered a hold on military assistance to Ukraine. Taylor detailed how U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had told him that Trump was “adamant” that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announce the Biden and 2016 investigations. Taylor also testified that Rudy Giuliani was the “originator” of the idea to have Zelensky make the statement. (NBC News / CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York TimesPolitico)

  • The House will begin holding public impeachment hearings next week. Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of State, will appear on Nov. 13. Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after a smear campaign backed by Trump, will testify two days later, on Nov. 15. Both hearings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET. (Politico / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

Thursday, November 7, 2019

  • Trump asked Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference and say that he didn’t break the law during his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Barr, however, declined. Trump’s request was made around Sept. 25 – shortly after the Trump administration released a summary of the July 25 call. Trump denied he asked Barr “to hold a news conference,” instead saying people “MADE UP the story” and that “the Justice Department already ruled that the call was good.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

  • Former national security adviser John Bolton is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Bolton, however, skipped his scheduled deposition today, wanting a federal court to first rule on a lawsuit between the Trump administration and Congress. House impeachment investigators intend to continue their inquiry without delay and plan to use Bolton’s refusal to testify as evidence of Trump’s attempt to obstruct Congress. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

  • The Government Accountability Office is reviewing the Trump administration’s hold on security assistance to Ukraine  to see if the freeze violated appropriations law. At a Senate Budget Committee hearing last week, Sen. Chris Van Hollen asked the U.S. comptroller general if the administration’s failure to formally inform Congress about the hold ran afoul of legal notification requirements. The money was released in mid-September after bipartisan pressure on Capitol Hill, but lawmakers and aides never received a clear answer about the reason for the hold. (Wall Street Journal)

Friday, November 8, 2019

  • The top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council testified that “there was no doubt” that Trump was seeking investigations into political rivals, according to a transcript of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s deposition. Within an hour after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, Vindman told White House lawyers that Trump had made a “troubling and disturbing” request for an investigation. Vindman also testified that “there was no ambiguity” that Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, told him the idea of tethering a White House meeting to the Ukrainians investigating the Bidens “had been coordinated with White House Chief of Staff Mr. Mick Mulvaney.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / Politico)

  • Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney refused to comply with a subpoena. Mulvaney informed investigators “one minute” before his scheduled deposition that he would not appear, citing “absolute immunity.” During an Oct. 17 press conference, Mulvaney admitted that Trump froze military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to open a political investigation. Mulvaney is the highest-ranking White House official to be subpoenaed for testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry. (Axios / Politico / CNN / Reuters / Associated Press / The Hill / ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • A State Department official testified that Trump wanted the Ukraine president “to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton.”  Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent’s assessment came from a summary of a conversation that Trump had with Gordon Sondland. (Axios / Washington Post)

  • Republicans intend to subpoena the whistleblower to testify in the House’s impeachment investigation. Democrats, however, have rejected the idea citing safety concerns. They also hold veto power over any GOP subpoena requests for witness testimony. The whistleblower’s attorney, meanwhile, issued a cease and desist letter to the White House due to Trump’s “rhetoric and activity that places” the whistleblower “in physical danger.” Trump has repeatedly attacked the credibility of the whistleblower, demanded to “meet his accuser,” and called for the identity of the whistleblower to be revealed publicly. (The Hill / CNN)

  • House Democrats established three parameters for their public impeachment hearings, which begin next week. Investigators will follow “three interrelated lines of inquiry” to determine if Trump asked a foreign leader to initiate investigations to benefit his personal political interests, used the power of the Office of the President to apply pressure on Ukraine, and whether the Trump administration tried to conceal information from Congress about Trump’s actions and conduct. (Politico)

  • Trump is “not concerned” about the impeachment inquiry. He called it a “hoax” because “I never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are.” (Reuters)

Monday, November 11, 2019

  • A senior defense official told House impeachment investigators that Trump directed the mid-July freeze in military aid to Ukraine through the Office of Management and Budget. Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, said she attended a meeting on July 23, where “this issue” of Trump’s “concerns about Ukraine and Ukraine security assistance” were shared by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Cooper also told House impeachment investigators that she discussed the frozen aid with Kurt Volker, the then-U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, on Aug. 20. Volker told her that he was attempting to lift the hold on the aid by having the Ukrainians publicly launch investigations being sought by Trump. Trump, meanwhile, accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of doctoring the transcripts from closed-door depositions conducted by House investigators. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / Politico)

  • The State Department had released some military aid to Ukraine days before Trump announced that he authorized the funds. In a classified memorandum to Mike Pompeo, State Department lawyers said they had determined that Trump and the White House Office of Management and Budget had no legal ground to freeze the money to Ukraine. On Sept. 11, Trump claimed that he had released $141 million in funds, but the process was started by at least Sept. 7, and that the State Department’s Legislative Affairs office told congressional appropriators on Sept. 9 that there was no hold on the money. Then-National Security Advisor John Bolton had also told the State Department on Sept. 9 that the funding could go through. (Bloomberg / Axios)

  • A Rudy Giuliani associate told the incoming Ukraine administration in May that unless they investigated the Bidens, the U.S. would freeze aid and Mike Pence would not attend Volodymyr Zelensky’s swearing-in ceremony. Lev Parnas claimed that he traveled to Ukraine in May with his business partner, Igor Fruman, to pressure the Zelensky administration at Giuliani’s direction. While no one disputes that the meeting occurred, Fruman disagrees that the intention was to present an ultimatum to Ukraine’s new leadership. The meeting, however, occurred after Giuliani had canceled his planned trip to Kiev with the intention of urging Zelensky to pursue the investigations. Giuliani claimed at the time that he canceled his trip at the last minute because he was being “set up.” (New York Times)

  • Mick Mulvaney asked to join a federal lawsuit over whether Congress can compel senior Trump advisers to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry. One of Trump’s former top national security advisers, Charles Kupperman, filed the suit last month, saying that he faces conflicting orders from Congress and the White House regarding his obligation to participate in the inquiry. Mulvaney’s attorneys said the acting White House chief of staff faces the same dilemma, which is why he skipped his scheduled deposition last week and claimed that he was protected by “absolute immunity.” (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

  • Trump considered firing the intelligence community’s inspector general for reporting the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress after concluding it was credible. Trump reportedly doesn’t understand why Michael Atkinson shared the complaint, which outlined how Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals as he was withholding military aid from the country. Trump believes Atkinson, whom he appointed in 2017, has been disloyal. Trump publicly criticized James Comey, the former FBI director, and Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, before he dismissed them for perceived disloyalty. (New York Times)

  • House Republicans plan to argue that “the President’s state of mind” made it impossible for Trump to have committed an impeachable offense during his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to an 18-page staff memo outlining their strategic approach to the House impeachment inquiry. The memo highlights “four key pieces of evidence” to defend against impeachment: the lack of conditionality on the July 25 call; that Zelensky said there was no pressure from Trump; Ukraine didn’t know about the freeze on U.S. military aid; and that the aid was released without investigation into the Bidens. (Axios)

  • Mick Mulvaney withdrew his request to join a federal lawsuit seeking a decision on whether top Trump officials can be compelled to testify  in the House impeachment inquiry. Mulvaney’s legal team first notified the court that he planned to file his own lawsuit seeking court guidance on how to respond to a subpoena for his testimony. Mulvaney’s lawyers later said in a court filing that “after further consideration,” the acting White House chief of staff will instead obey the White House instruction to refuse to cooperate with the House of Representatives. (Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

  • The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testified that Trump asked about “the investigations”  during a call with the U.S. ambassador to the European Union on July 26 – the day after Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son while he was holding U.S. military aid from Ukraine. Bill Taylor told the House Intelligence Committee that a member of his staff overheard Trump mention “the investigations” to Sondland, and that “Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.” Taylor called Trump’s decision to withhold “security assistance in exchange for help” with investigations to benefit his personal political interests both “alarming” and “crazy,” because Ukraine is a “strategic partner” and supporting them against Russian aggression is “clearly in our national interest.” Taylor also testified that “Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden” than Ukraine. The staffer who heard the conversation, David Holmes, will testify behind closed doors Friday in the House’s impeachment probe. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News)

  • George Kent testified that Rudy Giuliani conducted a “campaign to smear” the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine by leading an effort to “gin up politically motivated investigations.”  Kent testified that Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman tried oust Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, by “peddling false information” and that he “became alarmed” during the late spring and summer of 2019 as those efforts “bore fruit.” Kent also said that by mid-August, Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Zelensky to open investigations into Trump’s rivals were “infecting” the Trump administration’s relationship with Ukraine.” Kent – a career State Department foreign service officer – also rejected the notion that Joe Biden improperly interfered in Ukrainian domestic politics for the benefit of his son’s company. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • Adam Schiff referenced Mick Mulvaney’s “get over it” admission of a quid pro quo during his opening statement. The House Intelligence chairman opened the hearing by laying out what he called a “simple” and “terrible” case that would show “impeachable conduct” by Trump, asking “must we simply ‘get over it?’” Last month during a White House briefing, Mulvaney told “everybody” to “get over it” while confirming that Trump blocked military aid to Ukraine to force Kiev to investigate his political rivals. Mulvaney called the quid pro quo exchange “absolutely appropriate” and that “we do that all the time with foreign policy.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

  • Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is scheduled to testify before the same committee on Friday. David Holmes, an official working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and Mark Sandy, an official working in the Office of Management and Budget are also scheduled for closed-door depositions this week. The House Intelligence Committee also announced eight witnesses for public appearances next week: On Tuesday, Jennifer Williams, a national security aide to Pence, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a top Ukraine aide on the NSC, Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, and Timothy Morrison, a Europe and Russia aide on the NSC, will testify. On Wednesday, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Laura Cooper, a senior Pentagon official who handles Russia and Ukraine matters, and David Hale, the under secretary of state for political affairs, will testify. And, on Thursday, Fiona Hill, the former Russia chief on the NSC, is expected to testify. (Politico / Axios)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

  • A second U.S. official overheard the July 26 phone call between Trump and the ambassador to the European Union discussing the need for Ukrainian “investigations.”  Suriya Jayanti, a U.S. foreign service officer based in Kiev, was sitting at the table in a Ukraine restaurant when Sondland called Trump to tell him that “the Ukrainians were ready to move forward” on the investigations. Yesterday, Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified that one of his staffers, David Holmes, could hear Trump on the phone asking Sondland about “the investigations.” Trump, meanwhile, claimed he doesn’t recall the July 26 conversation – “not even a little bit.” (Associated Press)

Friday, November 15, 2019

  • The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine testified that Trump’s comment to the Ukraine president – that she was “bad news” and is “going to go through some things” – “sounded like a threat.”  Marie Yovanovitch, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, said she was “shocked, absolutely shocked, and devastated” when she read the rough transcript released by the White House of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Yovanovitch also testified that Trump and Rudy Giuliani ran “the smear campaign against” her in tandem with corrupt Ukrainians, which undermined U.S. national security and emboldened Russia. Yovanovitch said Giuliani’s “campaign of disinformation” was influenced by “individuals with questionable motives,” who believed their “political and financial ambitions would be stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.” Yovanovitch was recalled from her posting on April 24 – three days after Trump’s first call with Zelensky – while in the middle of hosting an event honoring an anti-corruption activist in Ukraine. Yovanovitch also criticized Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the State Department’s failed efforts to publicly support her after Trump removed her as ambassador. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News)

  • Trump attacked Yovanovitch on Twitter as she was testifying about how she felt threatened by his comments. Trump tweeted that “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” claiming that Zelensky had “spoke unfavorably about her.” Trump also called it his “absolute right to appoint ambassadors,” justifying his decision to recall Yovanovitch three months before the end of the normal three-year diplomatic tenure. When asked by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff to respond to Trump’s tweets, Yovanovitch called it “very intimidating […] the effect is to be intimidating.” Schiff agreed that “it’s designed to intimidate” and that “we saw today witness intimidation in real time by the president of the United States.” Schiff added: “Some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.” House Democrats, meanwhile, suggested that Trump’s decision to attack Yovanovitch mid-hearing is another example of witness intimidation, which could be added as another article of impeachment. Trump later defended his tweets, saying “You know what? I have the right to speak.” And, when asked whether he believed his words could be intimidating, Trump replied: “I don’t think so at all.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

  • The White House released the rough transcript of Trump’s first call with Zelensky and it does not match the White House readout from April 21. In the readout provided to reporters shortly after the call took place, the White House said Trump promised to work with Zelensky to “root out corruption.” The subject, however, was not mentioned in the transcript released today. The transcript instead shows Trump congratulating Zelensky on his election, promising a White House visit, and recounting how Ukraine was “very well represented” when he owned the Miss Universe franchise. Trump would later ask Zelensky during the July 25 call to publicly announce investigations into Trump’s political rivals. Trump’s first call with Zelensky was marked “Unclassified” and “for official use only.” The second call was classified as “Secret.” The White House, meanwhile, blamed the discrepancy between the official readout and the transcript on National Security Council Ukraine Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Daily Beast)

Monday, November 18, 2019

  • A U.S. official from the embassy in Kiev confirmed that Trump asked if Ukraine was going to move forward with “the investigations.”  David Holmes testified privately that he was at the restaurant in Kiev with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, when he overheard Trump ask if Ukraine’s president was “going to do the investigation?” Sondland told Trump that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “loves your ass,” would conduct the investigation, and would do “anything you ask him to.” (New York Times / CNN)

  • A former top White House national security aide told impeachment investigators that Gordon Sondland was acting at Trump’s behest  and spoke to a top Ukrainian official about exchanging military aid for political investigations. Tim Morrison testified that between July 16 and Sept. 11, Sondland had spoken to Trump about half a dozen times, and Sondland’s “mandate from the president was to go make deals.” Trump has claimed he doesn’t know Sondland well. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • A top national security aide to Mike Pence told House impeachment investigators that Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political opponents were “unusual and inappropriate,”  and “shed some light on possible other motivations” for Trump’s order to freeze military aid to the U.S. ally. Jennifer Williams also told investigators that she took notes while she listened in on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky from the White House Situation Room and that she viewed Trump’s requests for investigations to be for his “personal political agenda.” Trump later tweeted that Williams – “whoever that is” – is a “Never Trumper.” (Politico / CNN / Politico)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

  • Two national security officials testified publicly that Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president was “improper,” “unusual,” and overtly political. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine specialist on the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Mike Pence on Russia and Europe, both listened in on Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump ignored official talking points about fighting corruption to instead “demand” an investigation tied to Joe Biden. Vindman told the House Intelligence Committee that “What I heard was inappropriate and I reported it […] out of a sense of duty,” because “the connection to investigate a political opponent was inappropriate and improper.” Vindman also testified that he interpreted Trump’s request that Zelensky open investigations as a demand, saying “the power disparity between the two leaders – my impression was that in order to get the White House meeting, President Zelensky would have to deliver these investigations.” In her opening statement, Williams said she found the call “unusual” because it “involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.” Vindman and Williams are the first White House officials to testify in public as part of the impeachment inquiry. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • The former special envoy to Ukraine testified that he didn’t realize the push for a probe into a Ukrainian gas company was connected to Joe Biden and his son. Kurt Volker attempted to reconcile his previous closed-door testimony, which conflicted with subsequent witness testimony, saying “I have learned many things that I did not know at the time of the events in question.” Specifically, Volker said he “did not know of any linkage between the hold on security assistance and Ukraine pursuing investigations” while he was working with Rudy Giuliani and a Zelensky aide to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation into Burisma, the gas company that employed Hunter Biden. Volker said that “In retrospect, I should have seen that connection differently,” and that he now understands an investigation into Burisma was intended as an investigation into the Bidens. Volker called the allegation that Biden acted corruptly with Ukraine while he was vice president a “conspiracy theory” that is “self-serving and not credible.” Separately, Fiona Hill, then the senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, and Vindman, previously testified that John Bolton, then the national security adviser, abruptly ended a July 10 meeting when Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, brought up the investigations. Volker never mentioned the exchange in his original testimony, but told lawmakers today that “as I remember,” Sondland made a comment about investigations into Trump’s political rivals, which “all of us thought it was inappropriate.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian / CNN / New York Times / Politico / Vox)

  • Tim Morrison testified that he was “not concerned that anything illegal was discussed” during Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, but worried it would cause a political storm if the transcript became public. Morrison, the former senior director for Europe and Ukraine at the National Security Council, told the committee that “I feared at the time of the call on July 25 how its disclosure would play in Washington’s climate.” He continued: “My fears have been realized.” Morrison also said Sondland told him that “the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement” about investigations as a “condition” for receiving security aid. When asked if he agreed that pressuring “a foreign government to investigate a domestic political rival [was] inappropriate,” Morrison replied: “It is not what we recommend the president discuss.” (Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / New York Times)

  • A counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine testified that the Ukrainians “gradually came to understand that they were being asked to do something in exchange” for a White House meeting or military aid. David Holmes overheard a call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, in which Sondland assured Trump that Zelensky “will do anything you ask him to,” including conduct the investigation that Trump wanted. (Washington Post)

  • Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman privately met with Rudy Giuliani and Trump at the White House last December. Parnas confided to two acquaintances after the meeting that “the big guy” (aka Trump) tasked him and Fruman with “a secret mission” to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden and his son. Trump publicly stated that he did not know Parnas and Fruman when the two men were arrested at Dulles International Airport last month and charged with conspiring to violate campaign finance laws that prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to U.S. campaigns. (CNN)

  • John Bolton met privately with Trump in August as part of an effort to release the $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine. Trump’s national security adviser attempted to convince Trump that it was in the United States’ best interest to unfreeze the funds so Ukraine could defend itself against Russia. (New York Times)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

  • The U.S. ambassador to the European Union testified that he and senior administration officials “followed the president’s orders” to work with Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations  into Joe Biden and the discredited conspiracy theory that the country helped Democrats in the 2016 election. Gordon Sondland testified that he, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and special envoy Kurt Volker coordinated with Giuliani at the “at the express direction of the president of the United States” to pressure Ukraine into launching the investigations. Sondland also said he directly communicated the “quid pro quo” arrangement to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Additionally, Sondland provided House impeachment investigators with emails and texts showing that acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Perry, and others were all aware that Trump conditioned a White House meeting for Zelensky on his willingness to launch the investigations. “They knew what we were doing and why,” Sondland said. “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • Sondland testified that he told Pence before his Sept. 1 meeting with Zelensky that he “had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations.”  Sondland said Pence “nodded” in response, but didn’t ask what investigations he was referring to. When Zelensky raised the issue of security aid, Pence said he would speak to Trump about it. Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, later claimed Pence “never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations.” (CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • Sondland testified that he kept Secretary of State Michael Pompeo informed of the key developments in the campaign to pressure Zelensky into appeasing Trump and announcing investigations. Sondland and Pompeo discussed drafting a statement in mid-August regarding Zelensky’s public commitment to investigate Biden, which they hoped would persuade Trump to grant Zelensky an Oval Office meeting and “break the logjam” on providing the security funds. Pompeo expressed approval of the plan. Trump, however, canceled his trip to Poland. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • The FBI asked to interview the CIA whistleblower over concerns with the Justice Department declining to investigate the complaint  after a criminal referral was sent from the inspector general of the Intelligence Community. In late September, the Justice Department confirmed that the assistant attorney general – a Trump appointee – had reviewed the whistleblower’s complaint and determined there was no violation of campaign finance laws by Trump when he asked Zelensky to open an investigation into the gas company that once paid Hunter Biden to serve on its board. FBI counterintelligence officials were particularly concerned about the claims that Rudy Giuliani, Igor Fruman, and Lev Parnas may have been manipulated by Russian interests. The whistleblower has not yet agreed to an interview. (Yahoo News / NBC News / CNN)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

  • The former White House adviser on Russia opened her testimony before the impeachment inquiry by accusing Republican lawmakers of weaponizing “falsehoods” with the “fictional narrative” that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Fiona Hill called Rep. Devin Nunes attempts to sow doubt that Russia interfered in the election a myth “perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services.” She added that it’s “beyond dispute” that “Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions” in 2016. Hill and foreign service officer David Holmes appeared together as public impeachment witnesses, testifying about efforts by Gordon Sondland and Rudy Giuliani to convince Ukraine’s president to announce investigations that would benefit Trump politically around the time Trump froze security aid to Ukraine. Hill testified that she warned Sondland at the time that his efforts in Ukraine on behalf of Trump would “blow up.” She added: “And here we are.” (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • The deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia testified that Ukrainian officials asked her staff about the military aid on July 25  – the same day as Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Laura Cooper said Ukrainian officials were aware “there was some kind of issue” with the aid on July 25. Cooper testified that the military aid was critically important and that she had no idea why it was held up, despite Congress authorizing the money and the Defense Department having assured that Ukraine had met the qualifications for receiving it in May. Trump, White House officials, and Republican members of Congress, however, have argued that Kiev wasn’t aware of the delay until it was publicly reported in late August, insisting that there could be no wrongdoing if the Ukrainians weren’t aware the aid was being held up. (CNN / Axios / Washington Post / Politico)

Friday, November 22, 2019

  • IThe House Intelligence Committee concluded public hearings for the impeachment inquiry into Trump after more than a dozen witnesses testified. With no other witnesses scheduled to testify, the committee and Chair Adam Schiff will now compile and submit a report of its findings to the House Judiciary Committee. The report will be sent to the Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether or not to draft on articles of impeachment. If it drafts articles, the committee would vote on them and send them to the House floor, where Democrats anticipate a vote by Christmas. If the House votes to impeach Trump, the case is sent to the Senate for a trial, which would start in the new year. It would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate to remove Trump from office. Senate Republicans and senior White House officials have discussed limiting a Senate impeachment trial to two weeks. Meanwhile, a federal judge is expected to rule on whether former White House counsel Don McGahn is required to obey a Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify in response to an earlier House subpoena in a previous matter. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton declined an invitation to testify and has not been subpoenaed, but said he won’t testify unless compelled by a court. Bolton is awaiting the result of a lawsuit filed by his former deputy, Charles Kupperman, asking a judge to decide whether he should listen to the House or the White House. (Vox / Politico / New York Times)

  • Trump’s aides have discussed removing some impeachment witnesses from their White House posts ahead of schedule. National Security Council staffers, such as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Tim Morrison, are on loan to the White House from other agencies. Trump has reportedly suggested that Vindman and Taylor could be sent back to their home departments early despite advisers warning him that firing them could be viewed as retaliation. (CNN)

  • Trump spent 53 minutes on the phone with “Fox & Friends” accusing an impeachment witness of lying, repeating a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election, and calling the details in the whistleblower complaint “fake.” Trump accused David Holmes, a political counselor to the American ambassador in Ukraine, of fabricating a phone call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, saying “I guarantee you that never took place.” Sondland, however, corroborated Holmes’s account in his own testimony. Trump also accused the Obama administration of spying on his campaign, claiming that “they were spying on my campaign and it went right to the top and everybody knows it and now we’re going to find out” and “they tried to overthrow the presidency.” (New York Times / Axios / HuffPost)

Monday, November 25, 2019

  • A federal judge ruled that the former White House counsel must testify before impeachment investigators about Trump’s efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson found no basis for Trump’s claim that Don McGahn, who spent 30 hours talking to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony.” The ruling could also have implications for former national security adviser John Bolton and Bolton’s deputy, Charles Kupperman, were ordered not to appear by the White House. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

  • The White House engaged in an extensive effort to come up with an after-the-fact justification for Trump’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine. The confidential review by the White House Counsel’s Office into Trump’s decision to hold the military aid revealed hundreds of documents that showed an internal debate over whether the move was legal. Among the documents are emails between acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House budget officials from early August – after the hold had already been ordered – attempting to find an explanation for why Trump had blocked the security assistance that Congress had previously approved. The review found that Trump made the decision to hold the aid in July “without an assessment of reasoning or legal justification.” (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

  • The White House arranged a phone call between Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss Giuliani’s packet of unproven allegations about Joe Biden and former American Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Emails, released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show that Giuliani and Pompeo first spoke on March 26 for five minutes. Giuliani then handed over the packet of material to the State Department on March 28 and spoke with Pompeo again on March 29, this time for four minutes. Giuliani’s office worked with Trump’s then-personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, to have the State Department put Giuliani in touch with Pompeo. Yovanovitch was recalled from her post weeks later. (CNN / McClatchy DC / CBS News / American Oversight)

  • Devin Nunes met with the former Ukrainian prosecutor general last year to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden. Lev Parnas, a Rudy Giuliani associate, is willing to testify that Nunes met with Victor Shokin in Vienna last December, who was removed from his position in March 2016 over concerns that he was not pursuing corruption cases. Nunes’ aides also reportedly called off a planned trip to Ukraine this year to interview two Ukrainian prosecutors – who claimed to have evidence that could help Trump get reelected – when they realized they would have to report the meetings to Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Instead, Nunes’ aides asked Parnas to setup phone and Skype meetings with Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, and Konstantin Kulik, a deputy in Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office. Nunes called the claims “demonstrably false and scandalous” in an interview with Breitbart News. Later, on Fox News, Nunes called the reports that he met with Shokin part of a criminal campaign against him by a “totally corrupt” news media. Nunes also threatened to sue news outlets that reported on Parnas’s accusation, claiming they’re “likely conspiring to obstruct justice.” (CNBC / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

  • The House Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing next week on the impeachment of Trump. The Dec. 4 hearing on the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment” will feature a panel of expert witnesses who will testify “on the application of the constitutional framework of high crimes and misdemeanors to the very serious allegations regarding the conduct of the President.” Chairman Jerry Nadler has invited the White House to also question witnesses. The House Intelligence Committee is expected to release its report summarizing the findings of its investigation to the Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess next week. The report will also detail how the White House refused to cooperate with the inquiry and argue that the refusal may warrant an additional article of impeachment against Trump. (Politico / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Reuters)

  • A federal judge ruled that the Defense Department and the White House Office of Management and Budget must turn over hundreds of documents related to Trump’s decision to withhold security aid from Ukraine. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered OMB and the Defense Department to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for 211 pages of records containing communications between the Pentagon, the Pentagon’s comptroller, and OMB. The preliminary injunction requires the first half of the documents to be turned over by Dec. 12, and the second half by Dec. 20. (Axios)

  • The Office of Management and Budget officially started withholding $250 million in Pentagon aid to Ukraine on July 25 – the same day Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone. According to a summary of OMB documents provided to the House Budget Committee, the hold on the aid was initially placed at the beginning of July. Agencies were notified at a July 18 meeting that it had been frozen at the direction of the White House – a week before the Trump-Zelensky call. (CNN)

  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee sued Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for refusing to comply with subpoenas for documents related to the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Trump, Barr, and Ross previously asserted that the materials were protected by executive privilege. The 85-page lawsuit comes a day after a federal judge ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify under subpoena in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry. (Politico / Axios / CNBC)

  • The Justice Department asked a federal judge to temporary pause a ruling that orders former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn to testify in the House impeachment probe. McGahn and the Justice Department also asked that the order be suspended while the appeal plays out. Meanwhile, a lawyer representing Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, and Bolton’s deputy, Charles Kupperman, said his clients would keep resisting congressional subpoenas, arguing that the decision didn’t apply to their situation. (Politico / CNN / New York Times)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

  • Trump was briefed about the whistleblower complaint before lifting the hold on military aid to Ukraine in September. White House lawyers discussed the complaint with Trump in late august – after the inspector general for the intelligence community concluded that the administration needed to send it to Congress – and explained they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to give it to lawmakers. The two lawyers, Pat Cipollone and John Eisenberg, told Trump they would ask the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to determine whether they had to disclose the complaint. A week later, the OLC concluded that the administration did not have to hand it over. In early September (either Sept. 7 or 9), Trump told Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, that he was not seeking “a quid pro quo” with the Ukrainian government by withholding the aid. Three House committees opened an investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine on Sept. 9, and the administration lifted the freeze on $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine on Sept. 11. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • Two officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget resigned over concerns about Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Career OMB employee Mark Sandy told House investigators during a closed-door interview this month that one of the former OMB officials “expressed some frustrations about not understanding the reason for the hold” before stepping down in September. A second official working in the legal division of OMB also offered a “dissenting opinion” over the legality of the hold before resigning shortly thereafter. Neither official has been identified, and it is unclear how closely their resignations were tied to the hold on U.S. military aid. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Rudy Giuliani was negotiating personal business with Ukraine’s top prosecutor while encouraging the same prosecutor to investigate the Bidens and allegations that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 election. A February draft retainer called for Yuri Lutsenko to pay at least $200,000 to retain Giuliani Partners, and Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, a husband-and-wife legal team aligned with Trump, to help recover money allegedly stolen from Ukraine. Lutsenko also wanted Giuliani to help him get a meeting with Attorney General William Barr. Lutsenko said Giuliani told him he would have to hire a lobbyist to get the meeting, and that “They even offered me such a company.” Giuliani has repeatedly said he has no business in Ukraine and that none of the deals were finalized. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Trump denied sending Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to dig up dirt on the Bidens. Giuliani, however, publicly admitted earlier this month that he went to Ukraine on Trump’s behalf to conduct an investigation “concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption.” Giuliani also said the investigation was carried out “solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges.” Asked what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine, Trump said “you have to ask that to Rudy.” Meanwhile, Giuliani called Trump to reassure him that he was joking when he told the media that he had an “insurance policy, if thrown under the bus” by Trump. (Bloomberg / Reuters)

Monday, December 2, 2019

  • The White House will not participate in the Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing on Wednesday. In a letter to Chairman Jerry Nadler, White House counsel Pat Cipollone called the inquiry “baseless” and “partisan,” and that “all” of Trump’s due process rights had been violated by the impeachment inquiry. Cipollone did not rule out the possibility that the White House would participate in future proceedings. The White House has a Friday deadline to decide whether or not Trump will offer a defense as part of the broader impeachment proceedings. (Politico / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / Reuters / ABC News)

  • The House Intelligence Committee will circulate its report on Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations into his political rivals. Lawmakers will have 24 hours to review the report before a vote on Tuesday over whether to pass the impeachment inquiry over to the Judiciary Committee. The panel is expected to approve the findings on a party-line vote. The Judiciary Committee, which will begin scheduled impeachment hearings on Wednesday, is expected to then draft and vote on articles of impeachment around the second week of December with a full House vote before the Christmas recess. (Politico / NBC News)

  • House Republicans prepared their own report, which claims Trump did “nothing wrong” and committed “no quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, or abuse of power.”  The 123-page rebuttal report claims Trump was acting on “genuine and reasonable” skepticism of Ukraine and had “valid” concerns about corruption – not political self-interest – when he pressured Ukraine to open investigations to benefit his 2020 re-election bid by withholding nearly $400 million in security assistance and a White House meeting. Republicans called the move “entirely prudent.” The report, however, does not acknowledge any wrongdoing surrounding the core allegations in the impeachment inquiry and ignores or downplays testimony from career officials who raised serious questions and concerns about the conduct of Trump and his top aides. (New York Times / CNN / Daily Beast / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

  • The House Intelligence Committee concluded that Trump tried to “use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election.”  The 300-page impeachment report also asserts that Trump “placed his own personal and political interests” ahead of U.S. national interests, “subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential re-election campaign.” The report continues that “This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election presents a clear and present danger that the president will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain.” The Intelligence Committee is expected to approve the report along party lines Tuesday evening, ahead of the first impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. (New York Times / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg / NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post)

  • House Democrats are considering expanding their articles of impeachment to include charges beyond Trump’s alleged abuse of power related to Ukraine. Some members of the Judiciary Committee have discussed drafting articles for obstruction of justice and other “high crimes” outlined in the Mueller report, as well as allegations that Trump has used the presidency to personally enrich himself. Others on the committee support a more narrow approach that focuses solely on Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations into his political opponents. (Washington Post)

  • Ukraine knew about Trump’s hold on military aid in July and attempted to keep the information from going public, according to the former Ukrainian deputy minister of foreign affairs. Olena Zerkal learned about the freeze from an incoming diplomatic cable and informed Ukrainian senior officials, who tried to prevent it from surfacing in order to avoid getting drawn into the impeachment discussion. Zerkal asked for a meeting with a senior aide to Zelensky to discuss it on July 30. The cable had been sent the previous week, but Zerkal could not confirm the precise date it had been transmitted. (New York Times)

  • Rudy Giuliani repeatedly called the White House the same day that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was abruptly recalled, according to phone records released by the House Intelligence Committee. Marie Yovanovitch was recalled from her post in May following claims by Trump’s surrogates that she was undermining his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. Call records also show that Devin Nunes had multiple contacts in April with Giuliani and Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate indicted for campaign finance violations. The contacts came as the U.S. envoy worked with Giuliani to persuade Ukraine’s president to commit publicly to investigating Trump’s political opponents. Separately, phone records also show that Giuliani repeatedly called the White House Situation Room’s switchboard and other White House numbers on Aug. 8. Giuliani eventually spoke with someone from Mick Mulvaney’s Office of Management and Budget on Aug. 8 for nearly 13-minutes. The whistleblower complaint was filed on Aug. 12. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Axios / Daily Beast)

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

  • Trump committed impeachable offenses, according to three constitutional scholars who testified during the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing  into Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine for political gain. Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard, Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina, and Pamela Karlan, a Stanford law professor, all agreed that Trump was guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for soliciting foreign assistance and withholding a White House meeting and military assistance from Ukraine as leverage for political favors. Gerhardt added that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine were worse than Richard Nixon’s misconduct during Watergate. Karlan also told lawmakers that Trump’s attempt to “strong arm a foreign leader” would not be considered politics as usual. Feldman, Gerhardt, and Karlan were invited to testify by the Democrats. Republicans also tapped their own law professor, Jonathan Turley, to testify, who suggested that the impeachment case is “slipshod” and premature. Turley also disagreed that Trump conditioning a White House meeting and releasing military aid on whether Ukraine would announce the investigations he wanted amounted to a bribe. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Trump called the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report “a joke” and that “Everybody is saying it.”  Trump then cited “reviews” of the report by Fox News’ opinion hosts who he had watched, saying that their takeaway is “a uniform statement pretty much right down the road” that the Democrats’ investigation is “of no merit.” (Politico / ABC News)

  • Rudy Giuliani traveled to Europe to meet with several former Ukrainian prosecutors in an effort to defend Trump against the impeachment inquiry. Giuliani traveled to Budapest to meet with former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, before going to Ukraine to meet with a number of other former prosecutors, including Viktor Shokin and Kostiantyn H. Kulyk. It was Giuliani’s earlier interactions with some of the same Ukrainians that setup the impeachment inquiry in the first place and led to an investigation by federal prosecutors into whether Giuliani violated federal lobbying laws. (New York Times / CNN)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi instructed the key chairmen in the House of Representatives to begin drafting impeachment articles against Trump, signaling that the House will likely vote to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors before Christmas. Pelosi said the facts of Trump’s alleged wrongdoing involving Ukraine “are uncontested” and that “the president leaves us no choice but to act.” By ordering the “chairmen” to draft the charges, Pelosi left open the possibility that the other five committees that have investigated Trump and his administration will be asked to make recommendations about articles of impeachment. Pelosi added that Trump “abused his power for his own personal political benefit” and that his alleged wrongdoing “strikes at the very heart of our Constitution.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • Trump accused Pelosi of having “a nervous fit” after a reporter asked if she hated Trump. James Rosen, a reporter for a conservative television network, loudly asked Pelosi as she was leaving a news conference: “Do you hate the president?” Pelosi rejected the question, saying: “Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.” (The Guardian / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times)

Friday, December 6, 2019

  • Trump repeatedly used unsecured cellphones to communicate with Rudy Giuliani and others involved in his campaign to pressure Ukraine. Phone records released this week revealed Trump’s extensive unencrypted communications that were vulnerable to monitoring by foreign spies, and his refusal to follow security guidance given to him by his aides. “It happened all the time,” said one former senior aide. Trump is not identified by name in the phone records, but House Intelligence Committee investigators believe he is the person with a blocked number listed as “-1” in the files. (Washington Post / CNN / The Independent)

  • More than 500 legal scholars signed an open letter asserting that Trump committed “impeachable conduct.”  The group noted that Trump’s attempt at affecting the results of the 2020 election was not a matter that could be left to voters at the polls. “Put simply, if a President cheats in his effort at re-election, trusting the democratic process to serve as a check through that election is no remedy at all,” the professors wrote. “That is what impeachment is for.” (Washington Post)

  • The White House rejected an invitation to participate in Monday’s impeachment hearings before the House Judiciary Committee. In a sharply worded letter, the White House called the process “completely baseless” and “a reckless abuse of power” by the Democrats, who “should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.” Trump had until 5 p.m. ET to decided whether to have his lawyers participate in the remaining House Judiciary Committee impeachment proceedings. Lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee are expected to present findings on Monday from the 300-page report that concluded Trump put his personal political interest above the national interest. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN)

Monday, December 9, 2019

  • The House Judiciary Committee held its last hearing before considering articles of impeachment. Lawyers for Democrats and Republicans presented the case for – and against – impeaching Trump. Democrats described four “critical” findings: 1/ Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine’s newly-elected president to interfere in the 2020 presidential election for his personal and political benefit; 2/ Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and withheld military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden; 3/ Trump’s conduct undermined the U.S. election process; 4/ Trump directed an effort to obstruct Congress’ impeachment inquiry into his conduct. A lawyer for the Democrats called “Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security.” The Republican counsel, meanwhile, accused Democrats of pursuing an “artificial and arbitrary political deadline” to overturn the 2016 election and impeach Trump’s before the Christmas holiday. The Judiciary Committee is expected to publicly debate and compose final versions of articles of impeachment as soon as Thursday, with a full House vote next week. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

  • The House Judiciary Committee introduced two articles of impeachment against Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of the impeachment inquiry. The articles – written in a nine-page resolution – accuse Trump of having “abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security” to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival and that Trump then engaged in “complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry” by directing the White House and other agencies to withhold documents and block officials from cooperating with the inquiry. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Trump betrayed the country and his oath of office, engaged in a “cover up” of his own misconduct, and “ignored and injured the interests of the nation.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump tried to “corrupt our upcoming elections” and that he remains a “threat to our democracy and national security.” Trump, meanwhile, insisted that he did “NOTHING” wrong and that impeaching him would be an act of “sheer Political Madness!” The Judiciary panel will take up the articles of impeachment later this week with a full House vote likely next week, setting Trump up to become the third president to be impeached. The impeachment trial will be held in the Senate, where the Republican majority is expected to acquit him. Nadler added: “We must be clear: no one, not even the president, is above the law.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / NPR / Reuters / Associated Press)

  • Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said “politics can and should influence foreign policy.”  The comments echo Mulvaney’s October statement that Trump’s quid pro quo exchange with Ukraine was “absolutely appropriate,” that “we do that all the time with foreign policy,” and “everybody” need to “get over it.” His comments came less than an hour after House Judiciary Committee announced two articles of impeachment against Trump related to the Ukraine controversy. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

  • After more than 14 hours of impeachment debate, the House Judiciary Committee abruptly postponed an expected party line vote on whether to approve articles of impeachment against Trump. The committee will now reconvene Friday at 10 a.m. ET to vote. Lawmakers spent the day debating the articles and multiple proposed Republican amendments intended to gut the impeachment resolution – including an amendment to remove charging Trump with abuse of power – which were all rebuffed in one vote after another. The panel, however, is expected to eventually approve two articles of impeachment against Trump: a charge that Trump abused the powers of his office by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rivals while withholding U.S. security aid and a White House meeting; and a charge of obstructing Congress for refusing to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry into his conduct and for failure to respond to congressional subpoenas. Trump would become the fourth president in American history to face impeachment by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Once the Judiciary votes, the full House is expected to debate and vote on the articles next week with a trial set to begin in the Senate in early 2020 – about 10 months before the next election. (New York Times / Washington Post / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • Senate Republicans are pushing for a short impeachment trial that would include calling zero witnesses. The plan contradicts Trump’s desire to stage a theatrical trial with public defense of his conduct by calling “a lot of witnesses,” including Joe and Hunter Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the anonymous whistleblower, whose complaint about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky served as the catalyst for the impeachment inquiry. Mitch McConnell is also expected to hold a final vote to acquit Trump, instead of holding a vote on dismissing the articles of impeachment. (Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • The White House Office of Management and Budget claimed in a new memo that it withheld U.S. military aid to Ukraine as a temporary exploratory measure  – not as part of a political effort to override Congress’ appropriation of the money. The OMB memo asserts that the office withheld the aid as a way of studying whether the spending complied with U.S. policy. The new memo says OMB extended the hold on the aid eight times in August and September until finally releasing the aid almost immediately after the last hold on September 10. (Washington Post)

  • Trump sent more than 100 tweets and retweets insisting that he committed “no crime” and “did nothing wrong,” while calling the impeachment inquiry “Crazy!”  Trump also took time to promote Mar-a-Lago opening for the season, proclaiming: “I will be there in two weeks, The Southern White House!” (Politico / NBC News)

Friday, December 13, 2019

  • The House Judiciary Committee voted over Republican objections to advance two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. In back-to-back votes, the Democratic-controlled committee adopted each charge against Trump by a margin of 23 to 17. The Judiciary Committee spent two days debating the articles, including a marathon 14-hour hearing yesterday, which Chairman Jerrold Nadler abruptly recessed before midnight without a vote. Deliberations today lasted less than 10 minutes. A full House vote is expected next week, and if either charge is approved, Trump would become the third American president to be impeached. Trump remained defiant on Twitter, insisting he had done “NOTHING wrong” and called Democrats “the Party of lies and deception!” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / CNBC / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • Mitch McConnell: There’s “no chance” that Trump will be removed from office as a result of the impeachment trial in the Senate. McConnell added that it “wouldn’t surprise” him if some Democrats broke ranks to vote in favor of Trump, calling the case “so darn weak.” McConnell and the White House have agreed to coordinate their plans for the trial, which McConnell has said he will end as soon as he has 51 GOP votes in place for a final vote. “We know how it’s going to end.” (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump’s senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to his phone calls with foreign leaders  since his July 25 call with Ukraine’s President was revealed. Transcripts of Trump’s calls with world leaders are also disseminated to a smaller group of people inside the White House than before. (CNN)

Monday, December 16, 2019

  • The House Judiciary Committee accused Trump of “multiple federal crimes” and argued that Trump “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office.”  The 658-page report labels Trump’s behavior “both constitutional and criminal in character” and recommends two articles of impeachment: abuse of power for holding up nearly $400 million worth of security aid and a White House meeting until Ukraine agreed to announce investigations into Biden and 2016 election interference, and obstruction of Congress, saying “Trump’s obstruction of Congress does not befit the leader of a democratic society. It calls to mind the very claims of royal privilege against which our founders rebelled.” The House is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to impeach Trump. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer requested that former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney testify as witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial. In a letter to Mitch McConnell, Schumer outlined a number of procedural demands that Democrats say will make for a fair Senate trial. In addition to Mulvaney and Bolton, Schumer also called for testimony from Robert Blair, one of Mulvaney’s senior aides, and Michael Duffey, a top official from the Office of Management and Budget. Under Schumer’s proposal, the trial proceedings would begin on Jan. 6 and House impeachment managers would begin making their case on Jan. 9. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / Axios)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

  • Mitch McConnell rejected Democrats requests to have four White House witnesses testify during Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. McConnell called the request to have Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, and two others to testify a “strange request” and said the Senate will not volunteer its time for a “fishing expedition.” McConnell’s remarks came in response to a letter from Chuck Schumer, who outlined several procedural requests that he said would make an impeachment trial more fair. McConnell later said he’s “not an impartial juror […] I’m not impartial about this at all.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • Trump denounced what he called a “partisan impeachment crusade,” accusing Democrats of “perversion of justice” for their handling of impeachment. In a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump accused Pelosi of having “cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment” and that she was “declaring open war on American Democracy” by pursuing his impeachment. He called it an “unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power” and a “spiteful” “election-nullification scheme.” Trump also claimed that “more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.” Trump later told reporters in the Oval Office that he takes “zero” responsibility for the fact that he is about to be impeached. (NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • Rudy Giuliani confirmed that he needed the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine to get “out of the way,” because she “was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.”  Giuliani said he told Trump “a couple of times” that Marie Yovanovitch was impeding efforts that could benefit Trump politically. Trump then put Giuliani in touch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. On March 28, Giuliani provided Pompeo with a dossier of evidence he had collected on the Bidens and Yovanovitch. Trump fired Yovanovitch in April. (New York Times / New Yorker)

  • Giuliani claimed that Trump has been “very supportive” of his continued efforts to dig up dirt on Democrats in Ukraine. Giuliani suggested that Trump is aware of everything he has done in Ukraine, adding: “We’re on the same page.” Giuliani, however, declined to say if Trump directed him to go to Ukraine earlier this month. (CNN)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

  • The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for abusing his power and obstructing congressional investigations, labeling him a threat to national security, recommending his removal from office, and marking him as only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. After six hours of debate, the chamber passed both articles of impeachment against Trump. Article I, Abuse of Power, was adopted 230-197, with one member voting present and three not voting. Article II, Obstruction of Congress, was adopted 229-198, with one member voting present and three not voting. The Constitution requires the Senate to now hold a trial, where a two-thirds vote would remove Trump from office. The House alleges that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, as well as a probe of a debunked theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened debate on the articles of impeachment against Trump, declaring that lawmakers are “custodians of the Constitution” and “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty.” She added that Trump’s “reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN / ABC News)

  • Trump sent 45 tweets before noon – hours before the House formally voted to impeach him – calling impeachment “a terrible Thing”  and telling his 67 million Twitter followers “Can you believe that I will be impeached today […] I DID NOTHING WRONG!” At one point Trump urged his followers to “Say a PRAYER!” Meanwhile, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters that Trump “will be working all day” and that he “could catch some of the proceedings between meetings.” Less than 10 minutes later, Trump tweeted: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!” Trump ignored reporters’ questions about impeachment as he left the White House for a campaign rally in Michigan. (NBC News / Associated Press / Politico / The Guardian)

  • A group of House Democrats want to hold the articles of impeachment and delay sending them to the Senate to prevent the case against Trump from being discarded. Some legal scholars have suggested that Pelosi could delay sending impeachment articles to the Senate until Mitch McConnell agrees to a fairer process. The trial would effectively be delayed indefinitely and deny Trump his expected acquittal. McConnell has announced that he is coordinating the Senate trial with the White House. (Politico / Washington Post)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t commit to sending the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate until she sees “the process that is set forth” to ensure a “fair” trial. Democrats have questioned the impartiality of the Senate trial after Mitch McConnell said he’s coordinating with the White House to quickly acquit Trump. Senior Democratic aides suggested it was “very unlikely” that the House will send the articles to the Senate before January, effectively delaying the impeachment trial well into the new year, in order to pressure Republicans to allow new witnesses and evidence in the proceeding. “We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side,” Pelosi said. “So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us.” (New York Times / ABC News / Politico / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • Mitch McConnell mocked Pelosi’s threat to withhold the articles of impeachment, criticizing her as “too afraid”  to transmit “their shoddy work product.” McConnell then called the impeachment inquiry “the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair” in modern history. (Politico / CNN)

  • A top State Department aide told the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine to step down from his post and leave Kyiv before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits in January. Bill Taylor, a key witness in the Trump impeachment inquiry, has not had any direct contact with Pompeo since his testimony before Congress last month and will leave his post on January 2. The timing means that Pompeo will not have to meet, be seen or photographed with Taylor. (CNN)

Friday, December 20, 2019

  • Trump once told White House officials that he believed Ukraine — not Russia — interfered in the 2016 election because “Putin told me. ” Trump, following a private meeting with Putin in 2017 at the G20 summit, repeatedly insisted that Ukraine tried to stop him from winning the election and that he believed Putin that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 campaign. As many as 15 former Trump and government officials said they’re confounded by Trump’s fixation on Ukraine despite the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. This fall, intelligence officials concluded that Russian propagandists spread the Ukraine theory on social media. (Washington Post / CNN / MSNBC)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited Trump to deliver the State of the Union on Feb. 4  – less than 48 hours after she gaveled in the votes making him the third president to be impeached in United States history. (NBC News / Politico)

Monday, December 23, 2019

  • A White House budget official directed the Defense Department to “hold off” on sending military aid to Ukraine less than two hours after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to newly released emails. Roughly 90 minutes after Trump’s call with Zelensky, Michael Duffey, a senior budget official, told Pentagon officials that Trump was personally interested in the Ukraine aid and had ordered the hold himself. Duffey also told the Pentagon to keep the information “closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction” due to “the sensitive nature of the request.” The emails show Trump first became interested in the aid to Ukraine after seeing an article in the Washington Examiner on June 19 titled, “Pentagon to send $250M in weapons to Ukraine,” and that some officials were concerned that withholding the aid could be a violation of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. Democrats are citing the emails to fuel renewed calls for witnesses to testify in the Senate impeachment trial. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Reuters / CBS News)

  • Mitch McConnell suggested that Republicans had not ruled out hearing witnesses at Trump’s impeachment trial, but wouldn’t agree in advance to the Democrat’s request for witness testimony. In a bid to pressure Senate Republicans to reach an agreement with Chuck Schumer on trial rules, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hasn’t transmitted the Senate the impeachment articles necessary to begin the trial, saying Democrats need to know “what sort of trial the Senate will conduct.” McConnell, meanwhile, called Pelosi’s position “absurd,” adding that he’s at an “impasse” with Schumer on the rules of the trial. (Reuters / CNN / Washington Post)

Friday, December 27, 2019

  • Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she is “disturbed” by the coordination between Mitch McConnell and the White House for the Senate impeachment trial. Murkowski said McConnell has “confused the process” by declaring that he is acting in “total coordination” with Trump to set the parameters of the trial. “To me,” she continued, “it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense.” Murkowski, a moderate Republican, did not say how she will vote in the upcoming trial. (CNN / New York Times / ABC News / KTUU)

  • Trump retweeted an article that contained the name of the alleged whistleblower at the center of his impeachment. Trump, using his personal Twitter account, retweeted his reelection account, which had posted a link to a Washington Examiner story from Dec. 3 that named the alleged whistleblower in the headline. Several people close to Trump, including Ivanka and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, cautioned Trump against saying or posting the name in public. (Mediaite / Daily Beast)

Monday, December 30, 2019

  • Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was warned by a senior adviser last summer that he should “expect Congress to become unhinged” if the White House withheld security aid to Ukraine. In a June 27 email, Mulvaney wrote Robert Blair: “Did we ever find out about the money for Ukraine and whether we can hold it back?” Blair replied that it was possible, but to “Expect Congress to become unhinged” if the White House tried to rescind spending passed by the House and Senate. Blair also warned that withholding the aid could add to the narrative that Trump was pro-Russia. Mulvaney’s email came a week after Trump initially asked about holding back the Ukraine assistance and around the same time Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukraine to conduct internal investigations into Joe Biden and his son. (New York Times / CNN)

Monday, January 6, 2020

  • Former national security adviser John Bolton said he is “prepared to testify” in Trump’s impeachment trial if subpoenaed by the Senate. Bolton, who so far has complied with a White House directive to not cooperate in the inquiry, has direct knowledge of Trump’s actions and conversations regarding Ukraine that could fill in blanks in the impeachment case. A Senate subpoena requires at least 51 votes, which means four Republicans would need to vote with Democrats to call a witness. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / Axios / Associated Press)

  • Trump called for a quick end to the impeachment process, tweeting to “get this done.”  Trump’s tweet came shortly before Bolton’s announcement. The House passed two articles of impeachment against Trump last month, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to formally transmit the charges to Senate – a requirement before the Senate can hold a trial. Pelosi has been holding the documents as Democrats seek guarantees about the scope of a Senate trial, including witnesses. (ABC News / Washington Post)

  • Leaked emails from the Pentagon show that Trump personally directed the hold military aide to Ukraine. An Aug. 30 email from Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget to Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, stating “Clear direction from POTUS to hold” aid from Ukraine. Earlier the same day, Trump met with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the hold on $391 million in military assistance for Ukraine. (Just Security / CNN / Talking Points Memo)

  • The Trump administration is withholding 20 emails between a Mick Mulvaney aide and an Office of Management and Budget official discussing the freeze of military aid to Ukraine. In response to a court-ordered Freedom of Information Act request, the Office of Management and Budget said it would defy the order not turn over any of the 40 pages of emails, suggesting that the disclosure would “inhibit the frank and candid exchange of views that is necessary for effective government decision-making.” The FOIA request sought emails exchanged between Robert Blair, a top aide to Mulvaney, and Michael Duffey, an official at the Office of Management and Budget, who was in charge of handling the process for releasing the security assistance to Ukraine. (New York Times)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

  • Mitch McConnell told Republicans he has the votes needed to begin Trump’s impeachment trial without committing to calling new witnesses or admitting new evidence, rebuffing demands from Democrats. McConnell believes he has at least 51 votes from his 53-member Republican conference to start the trial, offering no guarantee that the Senate will issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents beyond what the House’s inquiry gathered. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has withheld the articles of impeachment since the House voted in December to charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in an effort to push Republicans to agree to fair rules for the trial. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News / CNN)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

  • Several Democratic senators want House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to submit the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate, saying the party has little to gain from further delay. Pelosi called on McConnell to publish a resolution outlining rules for the impeachment trial before the House sends over the articles. McConnell, however, declined, saying “There will be no haggling” and that the House had no choice but to end “shameless game-playing” and transmit the two articles of impeachment. (Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate “when I’m ready – and that will probably be soon.”  Pelosi’s comments came after Democrats started pushing to end the holdout, believing that Mitch McConnell will never relent on the rules for the trial. Pelosi, however, reiterated her demand to McConnell that he first detail the rules for a Senate trial so she could choose a team of “impeachment managers,” who will prosecute the House’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress case, saying “Is that too much to ask?” McConnell, meanwhile, has signed onto a resolution seeking to change the rules of the Senate to dismiss articles of impeachment if they are not transmitted within 25 days of their approval – in this case, Jan. 12. (New York Times / Politico / Axios / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

Friday, January 10, 2020

  • Nancy Pelosi will transmit articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate next week. The trial could begin as soon as next week. The House will also consider a resolution next week to appoint impeachment managers. Trump, meanwhile, said he would “have to” block his former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying in the Senate trial, “for the sake of the office.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

Monday, January 13, 2020

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not rule out the possibility of a House subpoena for testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, depending on whether the Senate seeks testimony in Trump’s impeachment trial. Pelosi called Trump “too afraid to let any of his top aides testify,” saying he’s been “impeached for life” regardless of “any gamesmanship” by Mitch McConnell, whom she accused of orchestrating a “coverup” of Trump’s behavior. Pelsoi also didn’t rule out the possibility of additional articles of impeachment against Trump in the future, saying “Let’s just see what the Senate does.” (ABC News) / Washington Post / NBC News)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

  • The House will vote on Wednesday to transmit articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate. “The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. Before the vote, Pelosi will appoint the team of impeachment managers who will prosecute the trial against Trump. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler are expected to be two of the impeachment managers. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said Trump’s impeachment trial will begin next Tuesday – the start of Season Four of the Trump presidency. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Reuters / ABC News)

  • Senior Senate Republicans rejected Trump’s call to dismiss impeachment charges against him, saying “There is almost no interest” for a motion to dismiss the House charges. Republicans hold a 53-seat majority in the Senate and dismissing the articles of impeachment would require 51 votes. Multiple Republicans, however, have indicated they would oppose a motion to dismiss, arguing that both Trump’s legal team and the House impeachment managers should be able to present their case. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Reuters / The Hill / Politico)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

  • The House of Representatives voted to send the Senate two articles of impeachment against Trump, initiating the third presidential impeachment trial in American history. The measure passed 228-to-193 with one Democrat – Collin Peterson of Minnesota – joining every Republican in voting “no.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced the seven House Democrats who will serve as the “managers” in the trial, saying “The emphasis is on making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution to seek the truth for the American people.” The two articles, charging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, will be hand-delivered to the Senate with the trial expected to begin on Tuesday. It remains undecided if witnesses will be called to testify. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that his impeachment is a “Con Job.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / CNBC / NBC News)

  • Rudy Giuliani requested a private meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky – then the president-elect of Ukraine – with Trump’s “knowledge and consent,”  according to new documents released by House Democrats. The documents contains several handwritten notes, emails, encrypted messages, and text messages that show how Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, tried to set up a meeting between Giuliani and Zelensky, as well as efforts to “Get Zelensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.” The documents also show that before Marie Yovanovitch, the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, was removed from her post, a Parnas associate now running for Congress sent menacing text messages suggesting that he had Yovanovitch under surveillance in Ukraine. Democrats said the new records “demonstrate that there is more evidence relevant to the president’s scheme” that has “been concealed by the president himself.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

  • The Senate opened the impeachment trial of Trump – the third presidential impeachment trial in history  – with the swearing in of senators and the presentation of the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial, administered the oath to “do impartial justice” to all senators in the chamber. The Senate also issued a formal summons for Trump, informing him of the charges and inviting him to respond by Saturday evening. The Senate will now recess the trial until Tuesday, Jan. 21. A two-thirds vote is required to remove Trump from office, meaning 20 Republican senators would need to break ranks. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted: “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • Trump “knew exactly what was going on” in Ukraine, according to Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani. Parnas said Trump was “aware of all my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President.” While Parnas never spoke with Trump directly about his efforts to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election, he met with Trump on several occasions, and was told by Giuliani that Trump was kept informed about his work. Parnas also said he warned an aide to then-Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky at the direction of Giuliani that the U.S. would halt aid to the country if it didn’t announce investigations that could benefit Trump politically. Parnas also implicated several senior officials in the scheme, including Mike Pence, John Bolton, Devin Nunes, and William Barr. Parnas claimed that Barr “had to have known everything” going on with Ukraine because “Barr was basically on the team.” Parnas also claimed that Pence’s planned trip to attend Zelensky’s inauguration was canceled because the Ukrainians did not agree to the demand for an investigation of the Bidens. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • Trump denied knowing Parnas while also dismissing a photo of himself with the Giuliani associate as just one of “thousands” he’s taken with his supporters. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said: “I don’t know him at all, don’t know what he’s about, don’t know where he comes from, know nothing about him.” Trump added: “Perhaps he’s a fine man. Perhaps he’s not.” Trump also claimed he knew nothing about a letter in which Giuliani told Zelensky he was seeking a meeting with the Ukranian president with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

Friday, January 17, 2020

  • Trump added celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz and former independent counsel Ken Starr to his Senate impeachment trial defense team. Starr investigated Bill Clinton, and Dershowitz’s past clients include Jeffrey Epstein and O.J. Simpson. The team will be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, and Starr’s successor at the Office of Independent Counsel during the Clinton administration, Robert Ray. Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Trump’s longtime personal counsel Jane Raskin will also supplement the impeachment team. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / NBC News / Axios)

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly committed to investigate allegations of surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, saying he believed the allegations would “ultimately prove wrong” but that he had an obligation to investigate the matter. Pompeo’s comments came more than 48 hours after evidence emerged that Yovanovitch was under surveillance and possibly threatened by associates of Lev Parnas – and more than 24 hours after Ukraine announced its own investigation into the matter. Pompeo added that “to the best of my recollection” he “had never heard of this at all.” (Associated Press / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg)

Monday, January 20, 2020

  • Trump’s legal team called on the Senate to “swiftly reject” the “flimsy” impeachment charges against Trump and that he “should immediately be acquitted” because of a “rigged process” by House Democrats. In a 110-page brief submitted to the Senate the day before Trump’s trial begins, Trump’s lawyer dismissed the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – against Trump as a “charade” that is “frivolous and dangerous,” claiming the charges are “constitutionally invalid” and “deficient on their face” because they don’t involve any violations of law. The legal team maintained that Trump did “absolutely nothing wrong” and is the victim of a “brazenly political act by House Democrats.” The brief came after the seven House managers argued that Trump’s behavior amounted to “the Framers’ worst nightmare” and that his actions present a “danger to our democratic processes.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico / Associated Press / Bloomberg / Axios / CNN)

  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused the White House of pressuring the NSA and CIA of withholding documents about Ukraine from Congress. “The NSA in particular is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial,” Schiff said, adding that there “are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course.” An Intelligence Committee official later confirmed that “Both the NSA and CIA initially pledged cooperation, and it appears now that the White House has interceded before production of documents could begin.” (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

  • House Democrats released a third set of documents from Lev Parnas showing Devin Nunes was involved in efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Biden. The text messages between Parnas and Derek Harvey, an aide to Nunes, indicate Nunes’s office was aware of the months-long effort directed by Trump and Rudy Giuliani to obtain information from Ukrainian prosecutors that would be damaging to Biden. Nunes initially denied knowing Parnas but has since admitted that the two had spoken after phone records showed several calls between the two. The documents also included screenshots of text messages that appear to show Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut, messaging with a number from Belgium, describing the apparent surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. (Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

  • The first day of Trump’s impeachment trial began with more than 12 hours of contentious debate over the procedural rules that will guide the proceedings as senators repeatedly voted along party lines to reject efforts to subpoena new witnesses. Senate Republicans rejected 11 Democratic amendments to subpoena records from the White House, State Department, Defense Department, and the Office of Management and Budget related to Ukraine, which the White House blocked during the House inquiry. Senate Republicans also blocked amendments to issue subpoenas for testimony from John Bolton, the former national security adviser, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, Michael Duffey, a White House budget office official, and Robert Blair, a Mulvaney adviser who was involved in the decision to freeze military aid to Ukraine. Even an attempt to make a deal to shorten debate was rejected. At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts admonished the prosecutors and the White House legal team for the quality of their discourse, warning them about using inappropriate language. The Senate adopted Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for Trump’s impeachment trial after more than 12 hours of debate and discussion over the rules. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian / Axios / CNN / CBS News / ABC News)

  • Mitch McConnell made last-minute, handwritten changes to the proposed impeachment trial rules following criticism from Democrats and key Republicans. McConnell initially circulated the proposed organizing resolution late Monday night, which would have provided House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team each 24 hours over two days to make their opening arguments. McConnell’s proposal would have also put the decision of whether to admit the House evidence to a Senate vote. Following complaints from lawmakers, however, McConnell revised the resolution, instead giving House prosecutors and White House lawyers each 24 hours over three days to present their opening arguments, as well as a provision to automatically enter evidence collected during the House impeachment inquiry. The change means the trial days, which start at 1 p.m., will likely now conclude daily around 9 p.m. – instead of after midnight. The condensed timeline also raises the prospect that the trial will conclude before Trump’s Feb. 4 State of the Union address. (CNN / NPR / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Associated Press)

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for the impeachment trial a “sham” that is “deliberately designed to hide the truth,”  saying McConnell “has chosen a cover-up” with a “dark of night impeachment trial.” McConnell initially pledged to conform to the same standard the Senate used during Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial. The impeachment managers, however, said McConnell’s proposal “deviates sharply from the Clinton precedent — and common sense — in an effort to prevent the full truth of the president’s misconduct from coming to light.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, called the proposal “appalling” and accused McConnell of seeking to turn the trial into “a farce” and a “national disgrace.” (NBC News / Axios / The Hill / Daily Beast / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • Trump’s defense team and Senate Republican allies plan to block witnesses from testifying in public if Democrats manage to persuade four GOP lawmakers to break ranks. One option being discussed would be to move witnesses testimony, including potential testimony by former national security adviser John Bolton, to a classified setting for national security reasons. Trump has also previously said he would assert executive privilege if Bolton were called to testify, and the White House has indicated that it could appeal to federal courts for an injunction to stop Bolton if he refuses to go along with their instructions. (Washington Post / NBC News)

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

  • House Democratic managers began formal arguments in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, presenting the case for convicting Trump and removing him from office on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. During opening arguments, House managers outlined how “Trump solicited foreign inference” to “cheat” by abusing “the powers of his office” and “seeking help from abroad to improve his reelection prospects at home.” And, when Trump “was caught, he used the powers of that office to obstruct the investigation into his own misconduct.” Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called Trump’s efforts to get a foreign government to announce an investigation into his political rival “a gross abuse of power,” urging Republicans to “protect our democracy” by joining Democrats in voting to remove Trump from office. Throughout the day, Schiff and impeachment managers methodically outlined Trump’s “corrupt scheme and cover-up,” calling on Senators to “decide what kind of democracy […] we ought to be” and what Americans can expect “in the conduct of their president.” Schiff closed the day by rehashing the facts of the case as presented over the last eight hours, urging senators to learn the “full truth” and warning that the “truth is going to come out.” (Associated Press / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / The Guardian)

  • Trump said he’s open to new witnesses at his impeachment trial, before immediately backtracking. At a news conference in Davos, Trump suggested he’d prefer his impeachment trial to go the “long way” with testimony from a “a lot of people,” including former national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and his acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Trump then dismissed the idea, saying it could never happen because it would create “a national security problem” and that testimony by Bolton in particular could hurt his presidency, because “you don’t want someone testifying who didn’t leave on the best of terms.” The White House instructed many witnesses, including Bolton, not to testify in the House inquiry. (Politico / NPR / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)

  • The Office of Management and Budget released 192 pages of documents related to the withholding of Ukraine military aid, “including records that have not been produced to Congress in its impeachment investigation.” The night before Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy, emails show that OMB officials shared a “Ukraine Prep Memo” with Michael Duffey, a political appointee who played a role in Trump’s move to freeze the aid. That same evening, it appears the general counsel’s office prepared a footnote for budget officials – a mechanism officials at the budget office used to pause the funding. The documents also detail communications between Duffey and other OMB aides, including Mark Sandy and Paul Denaro, discussing the details on the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative in the emails — dated from early August to Sept. 30. Emails from acting OMB Director Russell Vought are also included. (American Oversight / CNN / Axios / New York Times / NBC News / The Hill)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

  • Senators reconvened in the Capitol for the third day of Trump’s impeachment trial with House impeachment managers making their case to both senators and the American people that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine for his own personal gain while hurting the national interest. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said “The charges set forth in the first article of impeachment are firmly grounded in the Constitution of the United States,” and that “No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff added that Trump “is a president who truly feels that he can do whatever he wants.” Schiff concluded the day by urging senators to asked whether they believed that Trump would put the nation’s interests before his own, saying “If you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because the truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.” Democrats have used their 24 hours of opening arguments to target a small group of Senate Republicans they hope will cross the aisle and vote with them to issue subpoenas for documents and witnesses. Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney have hinted they could be open to the possibility of calling witnesses. Trump, meanwhile, is reportedly “very pleased” with how the trial is going and is eager to prove “he’s done nothing wrong.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • Senate Democrats called on the White House to declassify a letter from a national security aide to Mike Pence  related to Pence’s Sept. 18 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. House Democrats asked Pence to declassify the letter from Pence aide Jennifer Williams last month. He declined, claiming it “serves no purpose.” Schiff has indicated the letter “corroborates” other testimony in the impeachment inquiry. (Politico)

Friday, January 24, 2020

  • House managers used their final day of opening arguments to conclude their presentation on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Trump “did exactly what our framers feared most: He invited foreign interference in our elections and sold out our country’s security for his personal benefit, and betrayed the nation’s trust to a foreign power.” Impeachment manager Jason Crow added that the hold on the aid “wasn’t lifted for any legitimate reason. It was only lifted because President Trump had gotten caught.” Impeachment manager Hakeem Jeffries, using witness testimony from the House proceedings, detailed what he called a “failed” effort to “coverup” Trump’s attempt to “cheat” in the 2020 election. Jeffries said the White House “tried to bury” the summary of Trump’s July 25 call on a secure server because it was politically damaging, adding that the military aid was released only “after the House launched an investigation and after Congress learned about the existence of a whistleblower complaint.” (Politico / CNN / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times)

  • House managers then moved on to the second article of impeachment, Trump’s alleged obstruction of Congress  by directing witnesses not to testify and refusing to allow the release of documents. Impeachment manager Val Demings called Trump’s refusal to cooperate “categorical, indiscriminate and historically unprecedented.” She added that under “Trump’s orders, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of State, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense all continued to refuse to produce a single document or record in response to 71 specific requests, including five subpoenas.” Further, Demings characterized “Trump’s attacks on whistleblowers and witnesses” who testified the House probe as “witness intimidation.” Impeachment manager Sylvia Garcia added that Trump had “orchestrated a cover-up” in “plain sight” and “should be removed.” Zoe Lofgren, another House impeachment managers, compared Trump to Nixon, saying “Not only did Nixon allow his staff to testify before Congress, he publicly directed them to testify without demanding a subpoena.” And, finally, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler called Trump “a dictator” during his presentation, arguing that Trump is “the first and only president ever to declare himself unaccountable.” In his closing remarks, Schiff warned that a failure to remove Trump for obstructing Congress would inflict “an unending injury to this country” because “the balance of power that our founders set out will never be the same.” (New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / ABC News / CBS News / Bloomberg)

  • Trump appeared to order two Rudy Giuliani associates to “get rid” of then-US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch during a dinner in April 2018 at the Trump International Hotel, according to a recording made by Igor Fruman. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it,” Trump reportedly said of Yovanovitch after being told by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman that the career foreign service officer was “badmouthing” him in Kiev. Parnas turned over the recording to the House Intelligence Committee. Trump claimed in November that didn’t “know much” about Yovanovitch when he signed off on recalling her from Kiev. Pence defended Trump after the 2018 recording emerged, saying “All of the ambassadors for the United States of America serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States.” (ABC News / New York Times / Daily Beast / Talking Points Memo)

  • Trump complained that his impeachment defense “will be forced to start on Saturday,” which he called “Death Valley in T.V.”  Saturday’s impeachment session will begin at 10 a.m. and will last for several hours. The White House wanted to present some arguments on Saturday to rebut three days of charges from Democrats and to provide fodder for Sunday shows. Trump’s defense team plans to save the bulk of its arguments for Monday and Tuesday, when viewers will be more tuned in. Trump also complained that it is “wrong” for House managers to use “ALL of their” allotted time for opening arguments. (Reuters / Politico / NBC News)

Saturday, January 25, 2020

  • Trump’s legal team began their opening arguments by seeking to cast doubt on Democrats’ case that Trump tried to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden. Over the course of a two-hour session, Trump’s lawyer Pat Cipollone and his deputy Michael Purpura argued that Trump had valid reasons for withholding military aid from Ukraine and that House prosecutors overlooked facts, noting that witnesses in the House’s impeachment hearings based their assessments on “presumptions” and “guesswork” rather than knowledge of Trump’s intentions. “We don’t believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they’re asking you to do,” Cipollone said. They also argued that the words Trump spoke on his July 25 call to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, conveyed no pressure — and that Ukrainians never publicly expressed any. Cipollone added that Democrats are “asking you to tear up all of the ballots all across the country” and “perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

Monday, January 27, 2020

  • Trump’s team continued with their opening statements, arguing about the basis of the House’s impeachment inquiry and the Trump’s rights of due process and executive privilege. Trump’s lawyers – ignoring John Bolton’s disclosure that Trump said he wanted to continue a freeze on military aid to Ukraine until officials helped with investigations into Trump’s political rivals – told senators that no evidence existed tying Trump’s decision to withhold security aid from Ukraine to his insistence on the investigations, arguing that Trump did nothing wrong and the impeachment inquiry was illegitimate from the start. Alan Dershowitz claimed that “Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power, or an impeachable offense.” A handful of Republicans, meanwhile, appeared to be moving closer to joining Democrats in a vote to subpoena Bolton. Pam Bondi, one of Trump’s lawyers, accused Democrats of denying the legitimacy of investigations into the Bidens because the House case depends on the premise that Trump was only interested in the negative political impact on his rival. Jane Raskin, a member of Trump’s defense team, also called Rudy Giuliani a “colorful distraction.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times)

  • Trump told former national security adviser John Bolton in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until Ukrainian officials helped with investigations into Biden  and other Democrats, according to an unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s forthcoming book, “The Room Where It Happened.” Bolton’s account directly contradicts one of Trump’s defense arguments, that there was no quid pro quo when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son in the July phone call. Bolton’s account was included in drafts of a manuscript he circulated to close associates. A draft was also sent to the White House for a standard review process on Dec. 30 — 12 days after Trump was impeached. The White House ordered Bolton and other key officials with firsthand knowledge of Trump’s dealings not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. (New York Times)

  • Congressional Democrats called for Bolton to testify in Trump’s impeachment trial  following the report that Trump told Bolton last August that he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless it aided investigations into the Bidens. In a joint statement, the seven House impeachment managers called the report “explosive” and urged Senate Republicans to agree to call Bolton as a witness in Trump’s trial. Bolton has said that he would testify before the Senate if subpoenaed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that because of the report that Bolton had firsthand knowledge of Trump’s decision that ran counter to the White House’s account, the “refusal of the Senate to call for him, other relevant witnesses, and documents is now even more indefensible.” (Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

  • Senate Republicans have privately discussed a “one-for-one” witness deal. Patrick Toomey has privately spoken with several colleagues – including Mitt Romney – about possibly summoning two witnesses to Trump’s impeachment trial. Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski have previously said they’re open to hearing from Bolton. Following the revelations from Bolton’s unpublished manuscript, Romney and Collins said it’s “increasingly likely” other Republicans will vote to call witnesses. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • A video made public captures Trump saying he wants to “get rid” of the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine during an April 2018 meeting that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The video, recorded on Fruman’s phone, contradicts Trump’s statements that he didn’t know Parnas or Fruman, who both worked with Rudy Giuliani to push for the ousting of Marie Yovanovitch, who was ultimately removed from her post in April 2019. Trump also asked how long Ukraine would be able to resist Russian aggression without U.S. assistance during the dinner. (New York Times / Associated Press / PBS NewsHour / CNN / BuzzFeed News)

  • Trump tweeted that Rep. Adam Schiff has “has not paid the price, yet,”  attacking Schiff as “a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man.” Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial, responded by urging Republican senators to find the “moral courage to stand up” to a “wrathful and vindictive president.” (Washington Post / New York Times)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

  • Trump’s legal team concluded its oral arguments after less than two hours in the chamber with White House counsel Pat Cipollone calling on the Senate to “end the era of impeachment” by declaring Trump not guilty. The White House team reiterated their arguments that the allegations by the House — that Trump abused his power in his dealings with Ukraine and obstructed Congress’ investigation into his actions — don’t rise to the level of impeachable offenses. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow claimed that the revelations from John Bolton’s manuscript – that Trump tied the withholding of military aid to Ukraine to investigations into his political rivals – were “inadmissible” and that “[Impeachment] is not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts.” Rep. Adam Schiff, the House’s lead impeachment manager, suggested that Trump’s own lawyers made an “effective” case for why the Senate should call Bolton as a witness. And, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump’s lawyers “showed how weak their case was” and that “Their whole argument is diversion.” (New York Times / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Axios / CNN / NPR)

  • John Bolton told Attorney General William Barr last year that he had concerns that Trump was granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China, according to Bolton’s unpublished manuscript. Barr responded by saying he was also concerned that Trump had “created the appearance that he had undue influence over what would typically be independent inquiries,” pointing to a pair of Justice Department investigations into Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE and Halkbank, Turkey’s second-largest state-owned bank. The former national security adviser submitted his book manuscript nearly a month ago to the White House for review. A Justice Department’s spokeswoman, meanwhile, said “There was no discussion of ‘personal favors’ or ‘undue influence’ on investigations, nor did Attorney General Barr state that the President’s conversations with foreign leaders was improper.” (New York Times)

  • Mitch McConnell told GOP senators a closed-door meeting that he doesn’t have enough votes to block witnesses in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. After Trump’s defense team wrapped up arguments, Republican Senate leaders pressured the party’s senators to not call for witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial – i.e. “whipped the vote” – at a private GOP Senate meeting. McConnell had a card with “yes,” “no” and “maybes” marked on it. McConnell said the vote total wasn’t where it needed to be to block witnesses or documents. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

  • Republican senators have discussed reviewing John Bolton’s unpublished manuscript in a classified setting to “see for ourselves if there is anything significant.”  Sen. Lindsey Graham supported the proposal by Sen. James Lankford, tweeting that the move would allow “each senator the opportunity to review the manuscript and make their own determination.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, rejected the idea of reviewing the book behind closed doors, calling it “an absurd proposal.” (CBS News / Bloomberg / New York Times)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

  • Trump’s impeachment trial moved to written questions. Senate Republicans opened the day with Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney – three Republicans who have hinted they could vote to hear from witnesses – asking Trump’s legal team how they should consider abuse of power if Trump had “had more than one motive for his alleged conduct.” Trump attorney Patrick Philbin argued that if there were a motive “of the public interest, but also some personal interest,” then it “cannot possibly be the basis for an impeachable offense.” Trump’s lawyer Alan Dershowitz also argued that because Trump’s re-election is in the public interest, if Trump “does something that he thinks will help him get elected” – and even if he had political motivations to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens – it “cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it was unlikely that Democrats will be able to win over enough Republican votes to call witnesses and documents. Republican leaders, meanwhile, signaled that they were confident that they would be able to block new witnesses and documents and bring the trial to an acquittal verdict as soon as Friday. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Washington Post / NPR)

  • The White House moved to block publication of former national security adviser John Bolton’s book, claiming it contained “TOP SECRET” and “significant amounts of classified information” that could “cause exceptionally grave harm” to U.S. national security. The letter from the National Security Council’s senior director for records says “the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information” and that the White House will be in touch with “additional, more detailed guidance regarding next steps” on how to move forward. Bolton’s book,  The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir , is currently scheduled for publication on March 17. (CNN / Axios)

  • Trump accused John Bolton of making false allegations, tweeting that he “NEVER” had a conversation with Bolton in August that he wanted to keep aid to Ukraine frozen until the country helped with investigations into Democrats, including Biden. Trump urged Republicans to reject calling witnesses and called Bolton’s unpublished book “nasty & untrue.” Trump also suggested that if Bolton were still in the White House, the U.S. “would be in World War Six by now.” (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman said Bolton told him during a Sept. 23 phone call – shortly after Bolton left his post – to examine the ouster of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Rep. Eliot Engel said Bolton “strongly implied that something improper had occurred” related to Marie Yovanovitch’s removal. Engel added: “Trump is wrong that John Bolton didn’t say anything about the Trump-Ukraine scandal at the time the President fired him. He said something to me.” (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • Rudy Giuliani claimed he “never ever” discussed Ukraine military aid with Trump, directly challenging former national security adviser John Bolton’s claims that Trump tied the hold on military aid to an investigation into Trump’s political rivals. Giuliani called Bolton “a backstabber,” adding that Bolton never told him “’‘I’ve got a problem with what you are doing in Ukraine.’” During congressional testimony, Fiona Hill, a former White House aide, said Bolton complained to colleagues about Giuliani’s work, which he called “a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.” (CBS News)

  • Three moderate Senate Democrats are reportedly undecided on whether to vote to remove Trump from office and are “struggling” over the decision. In an interview, Joe Manchin said: “I know it’s hard to believe that. But I really am [undecided]. But I have not made a final decision. Every day, I hear something, I think ‘this is compelling, that’s compelling.’” Doug Jones has said he’s “troubled” that the House didn’t fight harder to hear from administration witnesses. Unlike Manchin and Jones, Kyrsten Sinema has made no comments since the trial began. (Politico)

Thursday, January 30, 2020

  • The Senate reconvened for the final day of written questions to House managers and Trump’s defense team in his impeachment trial. Mitch McConnell indicated to Republican senators he believes he has the votes to defeat any Democratic motion that the Senate consider new witnesses. However, three Republican senators — Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney — have indicated they’re open to voting to subpoena former Trump national security adviser John Bolton. Sen. Lamar Alexander has said he hasn’t made up his mind. While attention has focused on the Republicans, three Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin, Doug Jones, and Kyrsten Sinema — could also break ranks. Manchin has complained about what he has called the “hypocrisy” of both McConnell and Senator Chuck Schumer; Jones, facing a re-election in Alabama, has hinted he might vote to acquit Trump on obstruction of Congress; and, Kyrsten Sinema hasn’t said anything public since the start of the trial other than to say she was taking her obligation seriously. Adam Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, offered to limit witness depositions to one week after Trump’s defense warned that calling witnesses could delay the trial. Democrats, meanwhile, are attempting to undermine an expected Trump acquittal, saying that Trump cannot be truly exonerated without a fair trial in the Senate. Schumer also suggested that Democrats would use parliamentary procedures to stall a quick acquittal, saying “The minority has rights, and we will exercise those rights.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CBS News)

  • Trump’s legal team contradicted Trump’s Justice Department, making the opposite argument in court on the same day. In federal court, a Justice Department attorney argued that a possible remedy for an administration defying congressional subpoenas is impeachment. Meanwhile, during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, his legal team argued that Trump was lawfully protecting the executive branch in a dispute with Congress over documents and testimony when he ordered his aides to defy subpoenas. House manager Adam Schiff later addressed the contradiction in the Senate, saying: “We’ve been debating whether a president can be impeached for essentially bogus claims of privilege for attempting to use the courts to cover up misconduct. [And] The judge says if the Congress can’t enforce its subpoenas in court, then what remedy is there? And the Justice Department lawyer’s response is impeachment. Impeachment.” Members of the Senate laughed. “You can’t make this up,” Schiff continued. “I mean, what more evidence do we need of the bad faith of this effort to cover up?” (CNN)

  • Chief Justice John Roberts rejected Sen. Rand Paul’s question, which identified the alleged whistleblower. Roberts told Senators on Tuesday that he would not allow the whistleblower’s name to be mentioned or publicly relay any questions that might unmask the official during the question-and-answer session. Paul then held a news conference in which he read his question, naming the person referred to in conservative media as the possible whistleblower and an acquaintance who works for the House Intelligence Committee. [Editor’s note: Rand Paul is a dipshit.] (Politico / CNN)

  • John Bolton’s lawyer contends his book does not contain classified material, pushing back against the White House’s assessment while asking for an expedited review of a chapter about Ukraine in case the former national security adviser is called to testify in the Senate impeachment trial. The National Security Council warned Jan. 23 that the manuscript contained “significant amounts” of classified material that could not be disclosed publicly. Bolton’s book,  The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir , claims that Trump told him in August that he was tying Ukrainian investigations of his political opponent to continuing foreign aid to that country. (Washington Post)

  • A new recording shows Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and a small group of Republican Party donors meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April 2018  – ten days before they dined with Trump at his Washington hotel. During the dinner at Trump’s Washington hotel, Parnas told Trump that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was agitating against him, prompting Trump to abruptly call for her firing. The Mar-a-Lago event was also attended by former Republican Rep. Pete Sessions, who has been subpoenaed as part of the ongoing criminal investigation involving Parnas and Fruman, and Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman. Trump’s has repeatedly claimed that he doesn’t know Parnas or Fruman. (Washington Post / Daily Beast)

Friday, January 31, 2020

  • The Senate voted to block new new witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial after Republicans argued new testimony is unnecessary. The 49 to 51 vote ensures the trial will be the first impeachment in U.S. history without witnesses. Two GOP lawmakers — Susan Collins and Mitt Romney — broke ranks and voted with Democrats on the motion to call new witnesses. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the failed motion “a grand tragedy.” Earlier in the day, Republicans and Trump’s legal team argued that new witnesses and documents would prolong the trial for weeks or months despite a Democratic proposal to limit depositions to one week. Immediately before the vote, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff warned Republican senators that “The facts will come out.” (Politico / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / Axios)

  • Trump directed then national security adviser John Bolton in May to help with his efforts to pressure Ukraine for damaging information on Democrats. According to Bolton’s unpublished book, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, Trump instructed Bolton during an Oval Office meeting to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and encourage him to meet with Rudy Giuliani to discuss the investigations into Trump’s political opponents. Bolton said he never made the call. Two months later, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate his political opponents. The Oval Office meeting was also attended by Giuliani, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who is now leading Trump’s impeachment defense. (New York Times)

  • Marie Yovanovitch retired from State Department. Yovanovitch is the fourth top State Department official to depart in the wake of the Ukraine impeachment inquiry. The others are former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor, former Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Michael McKinley, the former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (NPR / CNN / Washington Post)

Monday, February 3, 2020

  • House impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers delivered their closing arguments in the Senate impeachment trial. Adam Schiff, the lead House manager, used his closing arguments to warn Republican senators that “It is midnight in Washington” and that “You can’t trust this president to do the right thing, not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country, you just can’t. He will not change and you know it. […] A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way.” Schiff added: “History will not be kind to Donald Trump.” Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, urged senators to “stand firm” and “leave it to the voters.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico / The Guardian / CBS News / Wall Street Journal)

  • Some Republican senators have acknowledged that Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine for political investigations was inappropriate– or wrong – but they say his actions, even if improper, do not meet the high bar for removing him from office. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • The Justice Department admitted that it is withholding 24 emails related to Trump’s involvement in withholding security aid to Ukraine. The emails were sent between June and September 2019. The court filing by the DOJ marks the first official acknowledgement that the emails containing Trump’s thinking regarding the hold on the aid exist, and that Trump was directly involved in asking for the hold as early as June. The Trump administration is still blocking the emails from the public and from Congress. (CNN / Washington Post)

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

  • The Senate voted to acquit Trump on both articles of impeachment, rejecting the House’s charges that he should be removed from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote on abuse of power failed 48-52. Sen. Mitt Romney was the lone Republican to vote in favor of the abuse of power charge. The second article, obstruction of Congress, also failed, 47-53 along party-lines. Ahead of the vote, Romney called Trump “guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust […] What the president did was wrong — grievously wrong.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed Trump’s acquittal was a “full vindication and exoneration” and that “only the president’s political opponents – all Democrats, and one failed Republican presidential candidate – voted for the manufactured impeachment articles.” The acquittal concludes five months of hearings and investigations into Trump’s withholding of U.S. military aid from Ukraine and pressuring of its leaders to investigate his Democratic rivals. A handful of Senate Republicans — Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski — argued that while the House had proven its case and that Trump’s actions were wrong, they ultimately concluded that the charges did not merit removing Trump from office. Collins said she thinks Trump learned a “pretty big lesson” from the impeachment process and said she believes he will be “much more cautious in the future.” Trump, however, has continued to insist that he did nothing wrong and that his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was a “perfect phone call.” He sent nearly 700 tweets or retweets about impeachment – an average of more than five per day – since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the inquiry in September. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it “a sad moment for democracy,” but that there’s a “giant asterisk” next to Trump’s acquittal because “he was acquitted without facts, he was acquitted without a fair trial.” (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Axios)