The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, was issued a subpoena for her deposition today, “in light of an attempt by the White House to direct” her “not to appear," an official working on the impeachment inquiry told CNN.
Here's the official's statement:
"In light of an attempt by the White House to direct Jennifer Williams not to appear for her scheduled deposition, and efforts to limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel her testimony this morning. As required of her, Ms. Williams is complying with the subpoena and answering questions from both Democratic and Republican Members and staff."
John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, is also scheduled to testify today, but chances that he'll show up are slim.
President Trump just tweeted that Joe and Hunter Biden “must testify."
Trump allies — including Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Rand Paul — have expressed interest in bringing in the Bidens to testify.
Some context: The impeachment inquiry has centered on allegations that President Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, appeared on CNN this morning to give an update on the House's impeachment inquiry.
Asked if Democrats have started drafting articles of impeachment, Nadler said, "No, we have not."
"In the Judiciary Committee we'll have full due process for the President and that means that if there's any exculpatory evidence, evidence showing he's innocent, whether it's witnesses or anything else, they'll be able to bring it forward."
Asked if he's personally seen enough evidence that Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, Nadler responded, "I've seen a lot of evidence of that, but maybe there will be evidence contradicting that ... I have to have an open mind but certainly a very heavy case against him at the moment."
Nadler would not comment on his committee's plans to call or not call additional witnesses in the inquiry. He pointed out that first the House Intelligence Committee will write a report on the investigation and present it to the judiciary. Nadler said that based on that report his committee will decide "which witnesses, if any, we want to call."
On the efforts by the White House to block the testimony of witnesses — instructing officials within the administration not to comply with the subpoenas compelling them to testify — Nadler said that it's "wrong for White House to do that" and "contradicts law to defy subpoenas."
Asked in a follow up question if he felt that what the White House is doing by blocking witnesses is illegal, Nadler said, "Yeah, I do."
On whether he would you vote for impeachment today, Nadler said he wouldn't answer the question" because I do have to keep an open mind and an appearance of an open mind."
He added: "I have said that the evidence is pretty damning."
President Trump lashed out on Twitter this morning at the whistleblower's attorney, Mark Zaid, tweeting, "Based on the information released last night about the Fake Whistleblowers attorney" that the impeachment inquiry should be ended.
Some background: Last night, Trump attacked Zaid and tweets he made in 2017 on impeachment. Trump mocked Zaid's tweets from 2017 in which he said that a "coup has started" and impeachment will follow while at a MAGA rally in Monroe, Louisiana.
Trump has tried to characterize Mark Zaid as a member of the “deep state” in an effort to discredit him as a partisan actor.
Remember: Zaid has a long history of working with parties on both sides of the aisle.
Zaid and his legal partner, Bradley Moss, have responded to these attacks by pointing this out and joked about the insinuation that they are working to orchestrate a “coup.”
Here's a look at the tweets:
An aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Jennifer Williams, has arrived on Capitol Hill ahead of her scheduled testimony before House committees.
She was on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky. Williams was concerned about what she heard on the call but there is no indication she raised her concerns to her superiors, according to the source.
President Trump discussed having Attorney General Bill Barr hold a news conference to declare he didn't break any laws in his phone call with the Ukrainian President, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Trump has raised the idea in conversations surrounding the ongoing impeachment inquiry over recent weeks, and has said he thought the idea could help project the message that he hadn’t done anything wrong.
Remember: Barr hasn’t held such a press conference, and this source could not say whether Barr and Trump had formally discussed the idea or whether Barr had ruled it out.
Some background: In two tweets, one sent last night and another this morning, the President disputed reporting from the Washington Post that he asked Barr to publicly defend his phone call with Ukraine. However, the Post story does not say that he asked Barr directly.
And while Barr may not have held a press conference the Justice Department publicly announced that criminal division prosecutors had found no wrongdoing by the president, at least as it relates to campaign finance law. The department also released a legal memo on why the Intelligence Community inspector general was not required to turn over a whistleblower complaint to Congress.
Yesterday another transcript from the House's impeachment inquiry was released. This time it was from the testimony of Bill Taylor, the top US official in Ukraine at the moment.
Here are the key things he said:
- He said the investigations President Trump wanted into his rival Joe Biden would have equaled election meddling — and that Ukraine announcing them was his nightmare.
- He squarely blamed the Ukraine controversy on Giuliani and Trump
- He was OK with Giuliani's role at first
- It took time for him to understand that "investigations" meant probes into the Bidens and the DNC hacks
- He said Trump held up Ukraine aid for "domestic political gain" to cast Biden in "bad light"
- He testified he didn't feel the same pressure as Yovanovitch
- He felt Giuliani wanted Ukraine to meddle in US election
- He said Volker supported the US officially asking Ukraine to investigate Burisma
An aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Jennifer Williams, will show up for testimony on today if she receives a subpoena, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Why Williams matters: She was on the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky. Williams was concerned about what she heard on the call but there is no indication she raised her concerns to her superiors, according to the source.
Justin Shur, Williams' attorney, told CNN in a statement Wednesday night that she would answer the committee's questions "if required to appear."
"Jennifer is a longtime dedicated State Department employee," Shur said in the statement. "If required to appear, she will answer the Committees' questions. We expect her testimony will largely reflect what is already in the public record."
Generally, the House has been sending subpoenas on the morning of their scheduled testimony.
Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton is also scheduled to appear. However, chances look slim that Bolton would comply with the Democratic-led investigation's request, as his lawyer has said Bolton will not testify voluntarily, but it remained unclear if he would comply with a subpoena, should one be issued at the last moment.
Vice President Mike Pence's role in the events leading to the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry is expected to come under scrutiny Thursday as a top aide is likely to comply with a request to testify on Capitol Hill.
Jennifer Williams, an aide to Pence and a longtime State Department staffer, would be the first person on the vice president's staff to appear before Congress. She is expected to show up for testimony on Thursday if she receives a subpoena, her lawyer said Wednesday. House Democrats have typically issued those subpoenas the morning of a witness's scheduled testimony.
What's the back story?
Williams was one of the nearly dozen officials listening on President Donald Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
She was concerned about what she heard on the call but there is no indication Williams raised her concerns to her superiors, according to one of the sources.
Though Pence was not on that call, he has met with and held a call with Zelensky himself.