The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he was kicked out of this morning's deposition of Fiona Hill by House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff.
Gaetz is not on any of the three committees conducting the impeachment investigation — Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight.
He said that when Schiff asked him to leave, they consulted with House parliamentarian, who agreed with Schiff.
Here's his argument: Gaetz argued that he should be allowed to view the deposition as a member of the Judiciary Committee, because that panel is typically in charge of impeachment and Chairman Jerry Nadler has previously said that he has opened an impeachment inquiry.
"So, I'm deeply disappointed that as a member of the House Judiciary committee, on behalf of my constituents, I'm unable to participate and listen to the questions and answers."
He said his removal was another sign that Democrats were running a "kangaroo court."
A little about the deposition: Hill is President Trump's former top Russia adviser. She is being interviewed behind closed doors by three House panels as part of the Democrats' impeachment probe, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Ahead of the Fiona Hill deposition this morning behind closed doors, Republicans complained about the investigation process led by House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff, charging that Democrats should release the interview transcripts and allow Republicans subpoena power.
Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, said Hill had been subpoenaed even though she was willing to testify voluntarily.
CNN asked Jordan if he has concerns about Rudy Giuliani going around the State Department with Ukraine. Jordan said that the Ukrainian government had asked to speak to him and argued that as a private citizen that it was up to Giuliani to engage.
GOP lawmakers made many of the same arguments we've heard previously from Republicans about the impeachment inquiry, as they accused Democrats of selectively leaking information to suit their narrative.
An attorney representing Fiona Hill — Trump's former top Russia adviser who is testifying today in the impeachment inquiry — confirmed in a tweet that she is appearing after receiving a subpoena from Congress.
Hill just arrived on the Hill for her appearance. She'll start taking questions behind closed doors from House members at 10 a.m. ET, her lawyer said.
Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia adviser, has arrived at the US Capitol.
She will be interviewed behind closed doors by three House panels as part of the Democrats' impeachment probe, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Remember: Since Hill has left the administration she presumably will be freer to speak to the committees, much the way former US Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker was when he testified last week.
Hill will explain to Congress that she was unaware of some aspects of the escalating Ukraine scandal, according to a source close with Hill who spoke to her Thursday.
Trump's former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill is testifying behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry today.
Hill is the first of several witnesses scheduled to testify this week in the inquiry.
Here's what you need to know about her:
- Hill is the former top official on Russian affairs at the National Security Council (NSC). She is a skeptic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- She departed the NSC about one week before the July 25 call between Trump and Ukraine's president.
- Hill will explain to Congress when she testifies that she was unaware of some aspects of the escalating Ukraine scandal, according to a source close with Hill who spoke to her Thursday.
- She has been subpoenaed and is working with her lawyer on logistics. She has kept a low profile in recent weeks in England with her mother.
Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week with House Democrats set to accelerate their impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
Here are some of the key events we're watching this week:
- Today: Trump's former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill is expected to speak today to three House panels behind closed doors as part of the impeachment probe into the President.
- Tomorrow: Three Trump administration officials face subpoena deadlines – Vice President Mike Pence faces a deadline on a request for Ukraine-related documents sent earlier this month, while Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting director of Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought both face a deadline on subpoenas requesting documents as part of the impeachment inquiry.
- Wednesday: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy 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: US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is set to testify. He's a key witness, and his earlier scheduled appearance was canceled at the last minute due to objections from the State Department.
- Friday: There are two more subpoena deadlines. Energy Secretary Rick Perry faces a subpoena deadline for documents related to the administration's dealings with Ukraine. House Democrats have also subpoenaed acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for documents.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota, did not answer whether or not it is acceptable for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate political rivals during an interview yesterday with CNN's Jake Tapper.
"There's great integrity in his authenticity, which is something that people out here in the heartland appreciate about him," Cramer said. "I think he talks. He thinks out loud. He expresses whatever (is) on his mind. And people can take that and twist it any way they want to."
Watch Cramer discuss the impeachment probe here:
Republican lawmakers will face fraught questions most have tried to dodge over Trump's fight against impeachment as they return to Washington for a week pulsating with political drama.
No longer in the safety of their deep red states, GOP senators who may eventually be called upon to keep the President in office, will face heat from Democratic rivals and reporters in the Capitol's corridors to justify their continued support.
They will be asked whether it is acceptable for a president to solicit election help and dirt on a rival from a foreign government, as Trump is accused of doing with Ukraine.
The question is discomforting because it forces them to defend a president who poses constant political headaches for his own party but who has a domineering hold on its grass roots base.
Many Republicans have so far avoided answering detailed questions about fast moving revelations about Trump's pressure on Ukraine or suggested unconvincingly that he was joking when he called on China to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Read more of Collinson's analysis here.
CNN's Fareed Zakaria has long opposed the various efforts to impeach President Trump.
“Overturning an election should be a rare event undertaken in only the most extreme circumstances. The process would create deep wounds in an already divided nation," Zakaria says. “And as a practical matter -- since it’s highly unlikely that a Republican-controlled senate would vote by a two-third majority for conviction -- the political effect could well be to vindicate Trump and aid his re-election.”
Zakaria continues: “But the events of the last few weeks have lead me to support an impeachment inquiry. To direct American foreign policy for personal, political gain is the definition of abuse of power."
Watch the video below as Zakaria explains why he now supports an inquiry into Trump and why the survival of American democracy depends on Trump's compliance.