The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

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1:08 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Trump on Mulvaney’s comments: "I think he clarified it"

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump was asked to clarify acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s comments in the briefing room yesterday. Trump responded: “I think he clarified it.”

Trump then dodged the question from CNN's Jim Acosta, not discussing the briefing and instead saying he had a “tremendous day in Texas," where he held a rally last night.

Here's what Mulvaney said: He made a stunning admission yesterday, confirming that Trump froze nearly $400 million in US security aid to Ukraine in part to pressure that country into investigating Democrats. Hours later, he denied that he admitted to the quid pro quo in a statement.

After recapping his trip, Trump stuck to his typical lines on the impeachment inquiry, calling it a “witch hunt” and saying that “Crooked Schiff is coming after the Republican party," referencing House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff. 

Trump added that Career diplomat George Kent — who was brought in as a witness against him — ended up “excoriating” Joe and Hunter Biden.

Some background: Kent told congressional investigators earlier this week he had voiced concerns in early 2015 about Hunter Biden working for a Ukrainian natural gas company, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Citing three people familiar with the testimony, the newspaper reported that Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, recounted concerns during his testimony Tuesday that Hunter Biden's work could undercut American efforts to convey to Ukraine the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest.

There's no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.

12:36 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Democrats react to Mulvaney's walkback: "Under the heat of action, he said the truth"

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

As they left Capitol Hill for the weekend, Democrats reacted to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's attempt to walk back his remarks on the withheld Ukrainian aide.

Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday that the Trump administration "held up the money" for Ukraine because the President wanted to investigate "corruption" in Ukraine related to a conspiracy theory involving the whereabouts of the Democratic National Committee's computer server hacked by Russians during the last presidential campaign.

Today, Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat on the House Intel committee, weighed in on Mulvaney.

"You always take what the person said first to be the most realistic," Quigley said. "Under the heat of action, he said the truth, which should be awfully painful to the White House but is obvious."

Congressman Dan Kildee, a Democrat on the House Ways and Means committee, slammed the administration, describing it as "off the rails." He said that Mulvaney had a "moment of truth" before realizing it was bad for the President and walked it back. 

"It's pretty obvious what's going on here," he said.

12:23 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

GOP congressman: Impeachment inquiry is "unfair," and Schiff is "the new special counsel"

 

Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member of the House Oversight committee, said this morning that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney "clarified" his remarks as he continued to staunchly defend President Trump. 

Here's what Mulvaney said: He made a stunning admission yesterday, confirming that 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.

Today, Jordan slammed the House impeachment probe as "partisan" and "unfair," even taking a jab at Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, saying:

"These closed doors in the basement in the bunker depositions, this is the equivalent of the special counsel. So Adam Schiff has equated himself… he’s the new special counsel? You try running that argument by the American people."
12:13 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

McCarthy defends Mulvaney, says "no one believes" there was a quid pro quo

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

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.”

12:16 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Pelosi calls Mulvaney's comments a "confession"

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.

11:14 a.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Biden campaign responds to report that a diplomat allegedly voiced concerns about Hunter Biden's Ukraine work in 2015

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.

10:59 a.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Republican congressman does not rule out impeachment 

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.

10:24 a.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Schiff on Mulvaney's walkback: "Not the least bit credible"

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.

9:56 a.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Here are the deadlines and depositions we're expecting through next week

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