The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

11:36 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

Trump continues attack against whistleblower's attorney on Twitter

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:

9:11 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

Pence aide who was on the July 25 call arrives on Capitol Hill to testify

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.

9:12 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

Trump discussed having Bill Barr hold a news conference

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.

8:14 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

The transcript from a top US diplomat's testimony was released yesterday. Here's what you need to know.

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:

7:55 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

An aide to Mike Pence could testify today

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. 

7:43 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

House to explore Pence's role in Ukraine controversy with new testimony

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.

7:05 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

John Bolton trying to "walk that tightrope" over role in Trump's impeachment inquiry

John Bolton has already left his mark on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, even if he doesn't show for a scheduled deposition Thursday morning.

Trump's former national security adviser is at the center of several key events related to the investigation, including suggestions that he had raised concerns about the President and Ukraine, calling efforts by some top officials to help push for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and matters related to the 2016 election a "drug deal," according to testimony last month from former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill.

Chances looked slim that Bolton would comply with the Democratic-led investigation's request to appear Thursday morning, 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.

Several witnesses in the probe have already testified that Bolton had concerns about Trump's dealings with Ukraine and encouraged his staff to sound the alarm about potentially illegal actions by the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

But despite those apparent misgivings, it appears Bolton has little interest in playing the role of star witness for House Democrats.

"Bolton still wants to be a player in GOP politics and Trump still has such high approval ratings," a source close to Bolton said.
"So far, he has tried to walk that tightrope. I expect he will continue to do that," the source added, noting that Bolton is unlikely to try to take on Trump directly due to concerns that attacking the President might make it difficult for Bolton to attract wealthy GOP donors to his super PAC.
6:05 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

First public hearings kick off next week

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff on Wednesday announced impeachment hearings will begin next week as Democrats prepare to take their case against President Donald Trump to the public.

The open hearings mark a new phase of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump and Ukraine. It will be the first time that the country hears directly from the officials at the center of allegations that Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election in order to help the President politically.

Here's a look at who's testifying next week:

Wednesday: US diplomat, Bill Taylor, and State Department official, George Kent.

Friday: Former US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

5:18 a.m. ET, November 7, 2019

The "Giuliani factor" that might condemn Trump to impeachment

Rudy Giuliani's fingerprints are everywhere. Despite being invisible for days after shelving his train wreck TV interviews he is emerging with President Donald Trump as the most dominant and intriguing figure in the impeachment drama.

The man once feted as America's mayor is looming over events on Capitol Hill as details of his expansive role in the scandal fill publicly released witness testimony.

"He was always swirling around somewhere," US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified, adding that Giuliani's shadow foreign policy mission in Ukraine got more "insidious" as time went on.

Giuliani was ubiquitous, on the phone with Ukrainian officials, inserting himself in US diplomatic meetings, sowing confusion and exasperation about what he was up to, witnesses said.

Even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo couldn't rein in the President's man, rolling his eyes when Sondland mentioned him and saying: "Yes, it's something we have to deal with," according to transcripts of Sondland's testimony.

Revelations about Giuliani's mission are piling up as the Democratic impeachment push races ahead. A critical new stage of the inquiry opens next week with public hearings where the absent Giuliani's name is sure to be on everyone's lips.