The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden announced that he will resign at the end of the month from his role in the management company of a private equity fund backed by Chinese state-owned entities, according to a statement released Sunday by his attorney.
The announcement comes as President Trump continues to lash out at the Bidens amid a House impeachment inquiry into his attempts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the former vice president during a July 25 phone call.
That call is the focus of a whistleblower complaint at the center of Democrats' probe.
Some background: Trump has pushed an unproven accusation that Joe Biden was improperly trying to help Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, when the then-vice president pressured the Ukrainian government to fire the country's prosecutor general.
The Obama administration, American allies, the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, among others, had all made clear that they were displeased with the performance of Viktor Shokin, who became prosecutor general in 2015.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani had lunch together yesterday at the President's golf course in Sterling, Virginia, a person familiar with the meeting confirmed to CNN.
The source did not provide additional details of the lunch. The New York Times first reported the meeting.
The Saturday meeting, in what appears to be a sign of solidarity between Trump and his lawyer, came at the end of a news-filled week in which questions swirled about whether Trump was cutting professional ties with Giuliani, who has been at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Trump headed by House Democrats.
On Friday, a source close to the President's legal team told CNN Giuliani is still the President's attorney but will not be dealing with matters involving Ukraine, and the Saturday lunch was evidence of their continued relationship.
Some more context: Giuliani is facing an investigation by federal prosecutors into whether his involvement with Ukraine violated federal lobbying laws, The New York Times reported on Friday.
Citing two people familiar with the inquiry, the paper builds on CNN's previous reporting on Thursday that Giuliani's financial dealings with two associates indicted on campaign finance-related charges were under scrutiny by investigators overseeing the case.
Law enforcement officials briefed on the matter told CNN that the FBI and prosecutors in Manhattan are examining Giuliani's involvement in the broader flow of money that has become the focus of alleged violations that are at the center of the charges against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week with House Democrats set to accelerate their impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Here's what to expect:
Monday, October 14
- Fiona Hill, a hawk who served as Trump's top Russia adviser until she left the administration in August, is expected to be interviewed on Monday behind closed doors by three House panels as part of the Democrats' impeachment probe, according to a source familiar with the matter. Since Hill has left the administration she presumably will be free to speak her mind to the committees -- in much the way former US Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker was when he testified in early October.
- House Democrats sent a letter at the end of last month to Semyon Kislin, who they identified as a business associate of Giuliani, asking for him to appear at a deposition on October 14. There's no indication, however, that he will attend.
Tuesday, October 15
- Vice President Mike Pence faces a deadline on a request for Ukraine-related documents sent earlier this month.
- Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting director of Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought face a deadline on subpoenas requesting documents as part of the impeachment inquiry.
- US State Department deputy assistant secretary George Kent is expected to be interviewed, according to a schedule obtained by CNN that has been circulated among members of the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry. A "Dear Colleague" letter from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Friday stated that the committees have scheduled a deposition with Kent.
Wednesday, October 16
- Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Giuliani face a subpoena deadline for documents. The subpoenas were issued the same day that the two were indicted by federal prosecutors. The subpoenas are separate from the indictment, in which federal prosecutors allege that Parnas and Fruman illegally funneled foreign money into US elections.
Thursday, October 17
- US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland intends to testify to the House under subpoena on Thursday, according to his lawyers. Lawmakers have been eager to press him about text messages he exchanged related to Trump's July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the freezing of foreign aid to Ukraine. This comes after House Democrats issued a subpoena to Sondland for him to appear for a deposition on October 16 and turn over documents by October 14. His attorneys have said that despite the subpoena for documents, they aren't able to produce any. That responsibility would fall to the State Department, they said.
- US State Department counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl had been expected to be interviewed, according to the schedule obtained by CNN. But now that Sondland is expected to testify, it is unclear when an interview with Brechbuhl will take place. Schiff's "Dear Colleague" letter from Friday stated that Brechbuhl is one of the individuals with whom the committees have scheduled a deposition.
Friday, October 18
In past impeachment proceedings, the courts have undermined the President's wishes. During Whitewater, President Bill Clinton was forced by a unanimous Supreme Court to testify under oath in a civil lawsuit, which led to his impeachment for lying and obstruction. During Watergate, President Richard Nixon faced multiple fast-moving court cases that ultimately forced details to Congress and prosecutors that prompted his resignation before the full House voted on articles of impeachment.
In a hearing Tuesday, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court, the first-line trial court in most separation of powers fights, grilled a Justice Department lawyer who argued to keep information known to the executive branch away from the House.
Howell pressed the administration attorney on legal precedent -- what Howell must decide under the law based on past decisions from courts above. When the lawyer suggested that a judge in 1974 would have not handed a grand jury's collection of evidence to the House of Representatives during Watergate if the case had arisen today, "Wow," Howell exclaimed.
Howell also bluntly told the Justice Department's legal team she would need to back the House in its needs during a formal impeachment proceeding.
"By my reading of the Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit law, I owe enormous deference, if not absolute deference, when it comes to the exercise of the impeachment power to how the House decides to conduct itself," Howell said Tuesday.
Michael Gerhardt, a CNN analyst and University of North Carolina law professor, pointed to moments in the Howell hearing as an example of how far Trump's legal team has swerved from history.
The "argument shows not just how aggressive the President is being, but how much disdain they have for settled law. Most judges would just recoil at that," Gerhardt said.
President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Saturday that he's not aware he's under investigation for his involvement in the unraveling Ukraine scandal, calling it a "political attack."
When asked if he was, Giulani told CNN: "No, nothing but leaks, which has to tell you whether they are or are not investigating, it's a political attack. Otherwise, why leak it?"
"If it's an appropriate law enforcement investigation, you try to keep it secret so the subjects aren't alerted," he added.
Earlier Saturday, the President defended Giuliani -- a day after Trump tried distancing himself from his lawyer -- in the wake of a report that the former New York mayor is the target of federal investigators. The New York Times reported Friday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are looking into whether Giuliani violated foreign lobbying laws in his dealings with Ukraine.
The House inquiry into President Trump continues as Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal lawyer, faces a federal investigation.
If you're just tuning in, here's the latest on the inquiry:
- Giuliani under scrutiny: Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, is facing an investigation by federal prosecutors into whether his involvement with Ukraine violated federal lobbying laws, The New York Times reported Friday. On Saturday, Giuliani told CNN the investigation is a "political attack."
- Trump tried to block her testimony: Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch appeared Friday after the White House and State Department directed her not to attend, according to a statement from the three Democratic committee chairmen leading the impeachment inquiry. In response, the chairmen issued a subpoena to compel her testimony before Congress.
- More testimonies to come: US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said he will appear Thursday. Democrats have scheduled depositions next week with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and State Department Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl.