House votes to formalize impeachment inquiry

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 9:51 p.m. ET, October 31, 2019
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7:34 a.m. ET, October 31, 2019

Here's what today's House vote is about

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The House is set to vote on a resolution that will formalize the procedures of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump and Ukraine. The House Rules committee advanced the resolution last night.

Remember: This is not a vote to impeach President Trump — rather, it's a vote to formalize the impeachment proceedings. You can read the full resolution here.

What happens after the vote: The impeachment inquiry will continue, under the protocols described in the resolution. The working theory among Democrats is there will be another week or two of closed depositions — and that public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee could begin as soon as the second week in November.

About the possible impeachment vote: House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told CNN on Monday that it's "possible" a vote could be held in his committee on articles of impeachment before Christmas.

After that committee vote, the articles, if approved, are given special status on the House floor and it requires a simple majority of voting lawmakers to approve them. This full House vote would be the vote to impeach the President.

You can read more about the impeachment process here.

7:26 a.m. ET, October 31, 2019

What you need to know about the Trump adviser who is testifying today

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Zachary Cohen

Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump's National Security Council, is expected to provide one of the most revelatory testimonies to date in the House Democrat led impeachment inquiry this morning.

Here's what you need to know about him:

  • He'll soon be leaving his post: On the eve of his testimony, Morrison told his colleagues of his plans to leave the administration, a decision that was his and has been "planned for some time" given that he was an ally of former national security adviser John Bolton, who was fired by Trump in September, the source familiar said.
  • What he's expected to say: Morrison is expected to corroborate key elements of a top US diplomat's account that Trump pressed for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, using military aid the country sought to fight back against Russian aggression as leverage, sources told CNN. There is not evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
  • He was on the call: Morrison will also become the second White House official to testify who was on the July 25 phone call when Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate the Bidens, according to a rough transcript of the conversation released by the White House and witness testimony of officials familiar with the situation.
7:20 a.m. ET, October 31, 2019

Impeachment investigators have invited John Bolton to testify

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Manu Raju and Kevin Liptak

SERGEI GAPON/AFP/Getty Images
SERGEI GAPON/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic House impeachment investigators have invited former national security adviser John Bolton to testify behind closed doors next week, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

If he appears before Congress, Bolton would be the most senior witness to testify in the impeachment inquiry to date, and he's at the center of several big events related to the freezing of Ukraine aid and the push for Ukraine to investigate its possible role in the 2016 US election along with Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The committees have also invited National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg and his deputy Michael Ellis to appear on Monday, according to the sources.

Bolton and Eisenberg have emerged as key figures in the testimony provided by administration officials so far detailing President Donald Trump's approach to Ukraine.

The top national security lawyer at the White House, Eisenberg was approached by several officials — including Russia director Fiona Hill and the top Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman — with concerns about apparent attempts to coerce Ukraine's new President into opening investigations into Trump's political rivals.

Bolton encouraged officials to elevate the concerns, according to Hill's testimony, concerned at Trump's reliance of Rudy Giuliani to handle Ukraine policy.

8:31 a.m. ET, October 31, 2019

White House national security official set to testify in impeachment inquiry

From CNN's Kylie Atwood and Zachary Cohen

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Donald Trump's National Security Council, is expected to provide one of the most revelatory testimonies to date in the House Democrat led impeachment inquiry on Thursday, one day after it became clear he will soon be leaving his job, according to a source familiar with the situation and a senior administration official.

On the eve of his testimony, Morrison told his colleagues of his plans to leave the administration, a decision that was his and has been "planned for some time" given that he was an ally of former national security adviser John Bolton, who was fired by Trump in September, the source familiar said.

If he appears before House investigators as expected Thursday, Morrison is expected to corroborate key elements of a top US diplomat's account that Trump pressed for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, using military aid the country sought to fight back against Russian aggression as leverage, sources told CNN. There is not evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Morrison will also become the second White House official to testify who was on the July 25 phone call when Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate the Bidens, according to a rough transcript of the conversation released by the White House and witness testimony of officials familiar with the situation.

Who is Morrison? Morrison, a lawyer, joined the administration last July as the senior director of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Biodefense where he was intimately involved in the Russia and North Korea portfolios.

This summer, he was tapped by Bolton to replace Fiona Hill, who had been the White House's top official on Russian affairs. Hill testified before the committees earlier this month.

Morrison's hawkish views align with those of Bolton and he has been described as a creature of process by some close to him.

Bolton always told those who worked for him that process was their protector and sometimes you have to listen to the person elected -- advice Morrison adopted, sources said.

Morrison is a lifelong Republican described as a Reaganite and is referred to as "'Bolton's Bolton,' he is really hard right," according to one source familiar with Morrison.

Read more about Morrison here.

6:24 a.m. ET, October 31, 2019

State Department agrees to produce some Ukraine records by November 22

From CNN's Manu Raju, Katelyn Polantz and Jennifer Hansler

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department has agreed to produce some Ukraine-related documents by November 22, according to a joint court filing Wednesday night from the department and watchdog group American Oversight.

There is not a full description yet of how many documents may emerge through this Freedom of Information Act production, but the agreement marks a promise by the State Department to search for documents, redact them, and give them to American Oversight by November 22.

Why this matters: That promise is significant as the State Department has not turned over requested documents to Capitol Hill. Witnesses have given documents to the State Department, which hasn't given them to impeachment investigators.

American Oversight is now specifically seeking only communications from or to top State Department officials -- including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- when they're communicating with people outside the government, including or about former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The State Department will also look into the records of Pompeo and two other officials for "final directives" to recall then-Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post.

6:23 a.m. ET, October 31, 2019

Catch up: 4 key developments in the impeachment inquiry

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

Here are the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

  • Moving forward: The House Rules Committee advanced a resolution to establish procedures for the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump last night ahead of an expected House floor vote today. The resolution, unveiled earlier this week, establishes procedures for public impeachment hearings, the release of deposition transcripts, and outlines the House Judiciary Committee’s role in considering potential articles of impeachment.
  • Subpoena needed: Former national security adviser John Bolton will not appear at his deposition without a subpoena, his lawyer Charles Cooper tells CNN. It is not clear if Bolton would show up even if he was subpoenaed. He shares an attorney with a former aide who has gone to court to seek a decision on whether he needs to testify given the White House insistence that the President’s immunity be protected.
  • New details emerge: Top White House Ukraine expert Alexander Vindman told congressional investigators he was convinced President Trump was personally blocking $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to force that country to publicly announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his family, two sources present at the deposition told CNN.
  • More testimonies: Catherine Croft, a state Department official who worked for Ukraine diplomat Kurt Volker, testified before committees leading the impeachment inquiry yesterday. Christopher Anderson, another State Department officials who worked for Volker, also testified yesterday.