The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Asked to respond to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s quid pro quo admission on Thursday, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy argued that Mulvaney has cleaned up the statement to say there was not a quid pro quo. He also said that he does not believe Mulvaney should step down.
“I think Mick was very clear in cleaning up his statement that there was no quid pro quo,” McCarthy said.
He also said, “I watched in all those transcripts of what people have been saying inside the investigation, [former US Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt] Volker and others, there was no quid pro quo.”
Asked if Mulvaney should step down, McCarthy replied, “No.”
McCarthy went on to defend President Trump over Ukraine, saying, “We know more than the whistleblower knew. We have the transcripts of the phone call. The American public have seen it and no one believes there is any quid pro quo and there’s nothing impeachable in that.”
Asked if Rudy Giuliani’s role in foreign policy was appropriate, McCarthy deflected, saying, “I think every American wants to get to the bottom. Why did we put America through that two-year nightmare. No president in a future election should have to go through what we just went through in this country …. Where did it start and why did it happen?”
McCarthy criticized House Democrats over the House impeachment inquiry, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “misrepresenting along every step of the way.” McCarthy said there has been a “blatant abuse of power,” saying, “I heard the speaker now suggest this is an investigation phase, not actually an impeachment inquiry that she stated three weeks ago. In fact, she compares the House process now to that of a special counsel, but Adam Schiff is not a prosecutor and he’s not from the executive branch. He’s a member of Congress and that is a blatant abuse of power.”
McCarthy said he expects a vote to censure Schiff will “come up Monday.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s comments yesterday a “confession” — and said it’s an example of the administration trying to make “lawlessness normal and even make lawlessness a virtue.”
Pelsoi, speaking to CNN today, added that she feels Mulvaney's comment shows "a cavalier attitude of 'get over it.'"
More context here: Mulvaney made a stunning admission Thursday by confirming that President Trump froze nearly $400 million in US security aid to Ukraine in part to pressure that country into investigating Democrats.
After weeks during which Trump denied the existence of any political quid pro quo in his withholding of security aid to Ukraine, Mulvaney confirmed the existence of a quid pro quo and offered this retort: "Get over it."
Hours later, he denied that he admitted to the quid pro quo in a statement.
The Joe Biden campaign has issued the following statement to CNN in response to a report from The Washington Post that said former career diplomat George Kent told House lawmakers earlier this week during his interview in the impeachment inquiry that he had voiced concerns in early 2015 about Biden's son Hunter working for a Ukrainian natural gas company, but was rebuffed by a Biden staffer.
Here's what the Biden's spokesman, Andrew Bates had to say:
"Donald Trump's unprecedentedly corrupt administration is melting down because of the scandal he touched-off by trying to get Ukraine to lie about Joe Biden — and as the vice president said yesterday [Wednesday], he should release his tax returns or shut up. On Joe Biden's watch, the U.S. made eradicating corruption a centerpiece of our policies toward Ukraine, including achieving the removal of an inept prosecutor who shielded wrongdoers from accountability."
There's no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
Rep. Francis Rooney, a Republican from Florida, responded to Mick Mulvaney's confirmation of a quid pro quo deal with Ukraine this morning, saying, “Whatever might have been gray and unclear before is certainly clear right now."
He also did not rule out the possibility of President Trump being impeached: “I don’t think you can rule anything out until you know the facts.”
He acknowledged that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a point when she says the President’s foreign policy is benefitting Russia and Putin:
“I have to say this business about the Ukraine server which no one heard about until mentioned recently, tells me what are we trying to exculpate Russia who all our trained intelligence officials have consistently corroborated that Russia was behind the election meddling, not the Ukraine.”
While almost every House Democrat has announced support for the impeachment inquiry, only a few Republicans have done the same.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff told CNN this morning that White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s walk back yesterday was “not the least bit credible.”
Schiff declined to answer further questions.
Some background: Yesterday, Mick Mulvaney admitted that President Trump froze nearly $400 million in US security aid to Ukraine in part to pressure that country into investigating Democrats. He then attempted to walk back those comments, claiming that he did not admit to a quid pro quo.
The House is continuing its impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and more witnesses are expected to testify and more subpoena deadlines are coming up.
Here's a day-by-day look at what we're expecting in the coming week:
- Today: Deadline for Energy Secretary Rick Perry to produce subpoenaed documents to the Hill
- Today: Deadline for White House to produce subpoenaed documents and information to the Hill
- Tuesday: Top US diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor is scheduled to testify before House committee, according to a GOP source
- Wednesday: Philip Reeker, the Acting Assistant Secretary of European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, is expected to testify
- Thursday: Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs with the National Security Council, is expected to testify
- Next Friday: Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer stationed in Kiev, and Timothy Morrison, a top Russia adviser at the National Security Council, are expected to testify
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was on Fox News this morning in his first interview since announcing he was planning on leaving the administration “later this year.”
He was adamant that his departure has nothing to do with any scrutiny he faces over his involvement in the Ukraine phone call that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
Perry said “it has nothing to do with Ukraine and everything to do with… looking to get back to Texas.” Perry also said that Former Vice President Joe Biden’s name never came up in any of his conversations with Ukrainian officials or in any of his conversations at the White House.
Perry added that he was OK with being asked to talk to Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, about Ukraine saying, “as a Governor of Texas I used people outside of government all the time to give me information. Experts. I respect the State Department but I happen to know people in the energy industry smarter than the state department folks. I didn't see a problem with that at all.”
When asked about today’s deadline to turn over any documents to the congressional committees running the impeachment inquiry, Perry said he is waiting on advice from counsel as to whether he will comply. He gave the same answer in regards to testifying.
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry faces a deadline today to comply with a congressional subpoena as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Perry yesterday said he plans to leave his post later this year after he informed President Trump of his intention to resign.
Why Perry matters: Perry has found himself as one of the players in the middle of the controversy stemming from a whistleblower's allegation that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, and that the White House attempted to cover up the conversation.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing in Ukraine by either Biden.
There has been scrutiny over Perry's role in the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine. White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed yesterday that the President asked Perry to work with Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on policies related to Ukraine — but Mulvaney denied that their work was part of a "shadow foreign policy" effort. Perry was one of the "three amigos" leading US relations with the country, meeting three times with Zelensky.
Yesterday was another busy day as Congress pushes forward with its impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
If you're just tuning in today, here are the key developments from yesterday:
- Ambassador's testimony: Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, testified for 10 hours before Congress. He reportedly told lawmakers that he was directed by President Trump to work with Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine.
- About the Ukraine aid: Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed that Trump froze security aid to Ukraine in part to pressure that country into investigating Democrats. Later on Thursday, he tried to walk back his remarks.
- Perry out: Energy Secretary Rick Perry notified President Trump that he plans to resign from his post, two administration officials confirmed to White House reporters on Thursday. Perry's resignation comes amid scrutiny over his role in the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine.
- Key congressman dead: Rep. Carolyn Maloney will become the Acting Chair of the House Oversight committee following the death of Chairman Elijah Cummings, a senior Democratic leadership aide told CNN. The Oversight Committee is one of the panels involved in the impeachment inquiry of Trump.