The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

7:10 p.m. ET, October 23, 2019

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper wraps up testimony

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

After about three and a half hours of testimony, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper has left the Capitol.

Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, told reporters that Cooper’s testimony included an (already public) timeline on the aid to Ukraine. He added that the aid was suspended on July 18 and reinstated on Sept. 11.

“Ukrainians didn’t know about it until way late in the process,” Jordan said.

What happened earlier: Before Cooper was scheduled to testify behind closed doors today, a group of Republicans stormed the room, known as the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, in protest.

The Republicans involved were barred from today's closed testimony because they are not on the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry.

The roughly two-dozen House Republicans entered the SCIF to rail against the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, a political stunt ratcheting up the GOP complaints about the process that delayed today's scheduled deposition for five hours.

A committee official told CNN that the House Republican members violated House deposition rules by entering the SCIF.

7:33 p.m. ET, October 23, 2019

Rep. Mark Meadows says there have been no "aha" moments in Pentagon official's testimony

Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper has been a credible witness and is answering questions factually.

But he added there has been no “aha” moments so far.

"We have had, I guess it's six witnesses, and and all six witnesses have been at the, you know — the star witnesses for the Democrats, and I can just say that there are conflicting testimonies, even today. There was conflicting testimony today on what she gave versus what we heard from Mr. [Bill] Taylor yesterday, and without giving any real specifics on that. So I think it's it's all about bringing all of those together and reconciling the testimony and and comparing that with first hand knowledge," Meadows said.

Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, told reporters that Cooper’s testimony included an (already public) timeline on the aid to Ukraine. He added that the aid was suspended on July 18 and reinstated on Sept. 11.

“Ukrainians didn’t know about it until way late in the process,” Jordan said.

6:07 p.m. ET, October 23, 2019

Rep. Adam Schiff: Trump's allies "are trying to make it even more difficult for these witnesses to cooperate"

Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, gave a short statement this afternoon about a group of conservative Republicans who stormed a closed-door deposition in protest.

"The President's allies in Congress are trying to make it even more difficult for these witnesses to cooperate but we're grateful that the witness is a real professional and has come forward, not withstanding the obstacles," Schiff said.

Asked if he was concerned about the integrity of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, Schiff said he was. But he would not elaborate.

What happened earlier: The conservative lawmakers, led by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, barged into the deposition and demanded they be allowed to see the closed-door proceedings where members of three committees planned to interview Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper as part of the impeachment probe into President Trump.

5:25 p.m. ET, October 23, 2019

Podcast: US diplomat Bill Taylor emerges as the star witness of the impeachment inquiry

CNN Political Director David Chalian covers today's fallout from Ambassador's Bill Taylor's testimony in the latest episode of "The Daily DC: Impeachment Watch" podcast.

Chalian also looks at:

  • What Republicans plan to do in response to the Taylor testimony and if it made Trump’s job to keep the party unified more difficult? 

Chalian is joined by CNN political correspondent Sara Murray and CNN political commentator Matt Lewis. 

Listen to the podcast here.

5:21 p.m. ET, October 23, 2019

After a 5-hour delay, Pentagon official's deposition has started

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, has started her testimony in the House impeachment inquiry.

Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda told reporters Cooper did not give an opening statement and they went straight into questions.

The reason for the delay: Roughly two-dozen House Republicans stormed the closed-door deposition in secure House Intelligence Committee spaces to rail against the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, a political stunt ratcheting up the GOP complaints about the process that delayed today's scheduled deposition for five hours.

2:51 p.m. ET, October 23, 2019

Federal judge orders State Department to release Ukraine records within 30 days

A federal judge granted an emergency motion from the watchdog group American Oversight today seeking the release of Ukraine-related records from the State Department, including communications between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Judge Christopher Cooper ordered lawyers for the State Department and American Oversight to come together to narrow the scope of the documents in the request, eliminating those that would likely be exempt from release, and produce documents in the next 30 days.

Cooper said that he could not think of a third party exemption that would prevent the release of correspondence between Giuliani and top State Department officials regarding Ukraine.

“This is a crack in the administration’s stonewall," American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers told reporters after the hearing. “If Mike Pompeo wants to fight so hard to keep [documents] out of the hands of chairman Schiff, we are happy to be in court making that more difficult.”
2:39 p.m. ET, October 23, 2019

Committee official: GOP bringing in electronic devices to testimony was a “major security breach”

Patrick Semansky/AP
Patrick Semansky/AP

Earlier today, before Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was scheduled to testify behind closed doors, a group of Republicans stormed the room, known as the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, in protest.

The Republicans involved are not on the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry and are therefore barred from today's closed testimony.

A committee official told CNN that the House Republican Members violated House deposition rules by entering the SCIF anyway.

"The stunt, in service of the President’s demand that they ‘fight harder’ to obstruct a legitimate impeachment inquiry, has meant that the witness has had to wait for hours for them to leave," the source said. "They engage in this circus-like behavior because they can’t defend the President’s egregious misconduct."

The source also criticized the Republican Members for causing a major security breach by bringing their electronics into the SCIF.

"Although several members later removed their devices, after being advised by the Sergeant at Arms and security personnel that there were members still in possession of electronic devices, some Republican members refused to completely remove them,” the source said.

10:49 a.m. ET, October 24, 2019

How Republicans are responding to a top US diplomat's dramatic testimony

Yesterday, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, testified that he had been told President Trump would withhold military aid to the country until it publicly declared investigations that could help his reelection chances.

Taylor's testimony appears to bolster the whistleblower report. Michigan Democratic Rep. Andy Levin called the day of the testimony "my most disturbing day in Congress so far."

Here's how some Republican senators are responding to Taylor's testimony:

  • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he wants to wait for all of the testimony to be presented before commenting. 
  • Susan Collins, a senator from Maine, said it’s “an important piece of evidence” but said she wants to hear more to get a full picture.
  • Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said, “I’ve seen the headlines but I haven’t read anything.” She then complained that no one is hearing first hand, so it’s hard to know what to believe.
  • Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said, “I haven’t read it. They won’t let us see the transcripts.”
  • Chuck Grassley, the president pro tempore of the Senate, when asked if he had seen evidence of quid pro quo said: "No, there’s plenty to discredit, so that gets me back to the basic thing we need: transparency... How can I even answer your questions? The only person whose been transparent in this whole process is the President.”

You can read the full text of Taylor's opening statement here.

2:28 p.m. ET, October 23, 2019

The GOP coordinated its protest a week ago

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s protest today has been on his calendar for about a week, a GOP congressman involved in the demonstration told CNN.

However, it was initially called as a traditional press conference. It wasn’t until it actually happened that this person – obviously not an organizer – realized they were going to go to the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF.

A key note: President Trump, who met with some of the lawmakers involved in the protest at the White House on Tuesday, had advance knowledge of the plans to attempt entry to the SCIF, according to a person familiar with the matter.