The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

9 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
11:08 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

House GOP Leader says “there’s nothing that the president did wrong” on phone call with Ukrainian leader

From CNN's Clare Foran and Manu Raju 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy leaves the deposition of George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy leaves the deposition of George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, on Tuesday, Oct. 15. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

At the weekly House GOP press conference, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy argued “there’s nothing that the president did wrong” when it comes to his phone call with the Ukrainian President where he pushed for an investigation into the Bidens, saying, “There’s nothing that the President did within that call that’s impeachable.”

Later he reiterated, “So no, the President didn’t do anything wrong.”

Pressed by a reporter about whether he would defend the President’s actions, McCarthy said, “the President wasn’t investigating a campaign rival, the President was trying to get to the bottom, just as every American would want to know, why did we have this Russia hoax that actually started within Ukraine."

Asked if Rudy Giuliani should still be the President’s personal attorney McCarthy initially deflected, saying, “that’s a question for the President,” but then took a subtle jab at Giuliani, he added, “I think there would be other people I’d have represent myself.” 

McCarthy defended Giuliani’s role in the Ukraine matter, saying, “Rudy Giuliani has a right to try to get to the bottom of it, especially when you just put America through this for more than two years. I think all of America wants to have the answer to that question, it would be appalling to me that we would not.”

McCarthy slammed the impeachment inquiry, saying that “When it comes to the President, the Democrats believe you’re guilty, until you prove your innocence.”

10:21 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

Grand jury subpoenas Pete Sessions on matters connected to Rudy Giuliani

From CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, Lauren Fox, Caroline Kelly and Kara Scannell

JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS
JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS

A grand jury has subpoenaed former Republican Rep. Pete Sessions on matters connected to President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, two Giuliani associates' dealings with Ukraine and efforts to remove the US ambassador to Ukraine, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

Sessions' subpoena suggests that investigators are looking to gather information on his interactions with Giuliani, as well as with associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman—who were indicted for allegedly funneling foreign money into US elections—as the investigation into their Ukraine dealings charges forward.

What else you need to know: CNN has reported that prosecutors allege Parnas and Fruman asked Sessions to help get the US ambassador to Ukraine fired at the same time that they were committing to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Sessions' reelection campaign. Parnas made their request to the congressman in part at the behest of one or more Ukraine government officials, the indictment states.

The subpoena to Sessions came in the last few days after the indictment against Parnas and Fruman was made public, according to the source and another source familiar with the matter.

The second source refused to rule out that Sessions himself is not a target of the grand jury investigation, saying instead that the investigation has "not reached definitive conclusions."

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Sessions had been subpoenaed.

10:51 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

Michael McKinley arrives at the Capitol to testify in the impeachment inquiry

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

The former senior adviser to Mike Pompeo has arrived on Capitol Hill for his behind closed-doors testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

McKinley is testifying less than a week after resigning from the State Department.

What we expect he'll talk about: Michael McKinley will give an opening statement that will focus on the reasons for his resignation, which was primarily his concern that the Department’s leadership was not supporting the career foreign service, according to a source familiar. 

As of now, McKinley does not plan to release his opening statement.

CNN has previously reported that McKinley was deeply concerned with the silence in the top ranks at State in not defending former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and it was one reason he resigned.

10:52 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

Former US diplomat to Ukraine Kurt Volker spotted on Capitol Hill

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

Former US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker just arrived at the Capitol this morning.

Volker is here this morning to review his testimony with his attorney, according to GOP sources.

Volker testified in front of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees on Oct. 3 in the impeachment inquiry.

More context: Volker told House investigators that he urged Ukraine's leadership not to interfere in US politics in a conversation that followed the phone call between President Trump and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, according to two sources familiar with the testimony.

Volker's testimony behind closed doors seems to confirm the whistleblower description in the complaint that Volker and another US diplomat "provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to 'navigate' the demands that the President made."

9:42 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

Rick Perry said he will follow the lead of his counsel on the House subpoena 

PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty Images
PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said he would “follow the lead” of his counsel on whether he will cooperate with the House subpoena for documents relating to Ukraine.

Appearing on Fox Business today, Perry said, “the House has sent a subpoena over for the records we have. Our general counsel and the White House counsel are going through the process right now. And I am going to follow the lead of my counsel on that.”

Context: House Democrats issued a subpoena to Perry last Thursday for documents related to the Trump administration's contacts with Ukraine as part of the ongoing House impeachment inquiry. The deadline for Perry to comply is Oct. 18.

9:33 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

Michael McKinley expected to address why he resigned from State in his opening statement

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Jennifer Hansler

Michael McKinley will give an opening statement that will focus on the reasons for his resignation, which was primarily his concern that the Department’s leadership was not supporting the career foreign service, according to a source familiar. 

As of now, McKinley does not plan to release his opening statement.

McKinley is set to testify as part of the House Democrats' impeachment probe less than a week after resigning as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

CNN has previously reported that McKinley was deeply concerned with the silence in the top ranks at State in not defending former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and it was one reason he resigned.

Background on Yovanovitch: Trump personally ordered Yovanovitch's removal, according to The Wall Street Journal. She was accused without evidence by Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor and Trump's personal attorney, and others of trying to undermine the President and blocking efforts to investigate Democrats like former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump has twice disparaged Yovanovitch, once earlier this month at the White House and another time in his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that," Trump said to Zelensky, according to a rough White House transcript.
8:28 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

White House scrambles to slow impeachment push as new revelations deepen scandal

Analysis by Stephen Collinson

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The White House is launching a new effort to slow the speeding Democratic impeachment push, but its noncooperation strategy is being constantly thwarted by a daily stream of explosive secrets being spilled behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.

Current and former officials are painting an ever more damning picture of a wider than originally perceived scheme by President Trump and his crew to pressure Ukraine that they warned could amount to a trampling of US law.

Vice President Mike Pence launched a new effort Tuesday to bolster White House hopes of stalling the House inquiry long enough for Trump to turn public opinion against it. He refused to turn over documents related to Trump's now notorious call with the President of Ukraine on July 25.

More context: White House officials are becoming increasingly frustrated at revelations from the closed-door hearings. Given that there is no presidential counsel in the room, they struggle to frame a defense, learning about almost daily bombshells only from news reports, CNN reported on Tuesday.

Fresh testimony in recent days has elevated the crisis for Trump. It has appeared to expose an off-the-books effort to perform an end run around US foreign policy officials with political appointees that predated his notorious phone call with the President of Ukraine in which he sought dirt on his possible 2020 foe Joe Biden.

On Monday, former senior White House Russia aide Fiona Hill testified that she had tried to raise the alarm about possibly illegal activity, and had been encouraged to do so by Bolton.

A senior State Department official, George Kent, testified Tuesday that he'd been told by a supervisor to lie low after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's meddling in Ukraine, according to Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who sits on the House Oversight Committee.

8:18 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

A senior adviser to Mike Pompeo just resigned. Now he's set to testify in the impeachment probe.

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Kylie Atwood

YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Michael McKinley is set to testify as part of the House Democrats' impeachment probe—less than a week after resigning as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

McKinley, a former US ambassador, will appear before the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees on today, two congressional sources told CNN Monday. The former State Department adviser is appearing for a transcribed interview, according to one of the sources, which indicates he is not coming under subpoena. 

McKinley declined to comment ahead of his testimony.

CNN reported on Oct. 11 that the longtime diplomat was leaving his post as a top adviser to the secretary of state, a role he had held since May 2018. His resignation and congressional testimony come as the State Department faces increased pressure from House investigators and as numerous current and former State Department officials have expressed fear and outrage over the department's handling of the Ukraine scandal. 

McKinley was deeply concerned with the silence in the top ranks at State in not defending former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch, and it was one reason he resigned, one source told CNN. The source said that McKinley had been mulling over the decision for a few weeks.

A former senior State Department official told CNN that McKinley was "known to be a man of integrity, a man of principle." 

9:19 a.m. ET, October 16, 2019

Catch up on the impeachment inquiry with these 4 key developments

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

Missed subpoena deadlines and a new testimony were among the key storylines from the impeachment inquiry yesterday.

Let us catch you up on what you need to know.

  • No impeachment vote yet: After a closed-door meeting with her caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding off on a full vote to authorize a formal impeachment inquiry.
  • Another witness testified: US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent testified behind closed-doors to the House committees running the impeachment inquiry. Kent was among the career officials who sought to shield former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch from the campaign of false allegations against her in March 2019, according to internal emails turned over to Congress. Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post in May, testified to the House Committees on Friday. Earlier this year, Kent held several meetings with high-ranking officials in Ukraine.
  • Others are not complying with subpoenas: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) does not plan on turning over the documents that impeachment committees subpoenaed. The deadline for the documents was today. President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani also said he doesn't plan to comply with a subpoena issued to him for Ukraine documents. Today is also the deadline for Vice President Mike Pence to turn over documents related to Ukraine to the impeachment committees.
  • Giuliani parts ways with his attorney: Giuliani said today that he is no longer working with his personal attorney Jon Sale who was representing him in the impeachment inquiry. People close to Giuliani are advising him to hire a criminal lawyer as questions linger about his connections to two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Furman, who were indicted last week for campaign finance violations.