The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
The deposition of Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia adviser, was interrupted when a GOP congressman who is not on any of the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry tried to enter the hearing room.
The transcripts detail the conversation Rep. Matt Gaetz has with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff when he entered the room.
At the time, sources said Gaetz was booted from the hearing because he is not on any of the three committees conducting the impeachment investigation — Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight.
"Mr. Gaetz, you're not permitted to be in the room," Schiff said.
He responded that he's on the Judiciary Committee — to which Schiff said that committee isn't part of the investigation
"Mr. Gaetz, you're not permitted to be in the room. Please leave," Schiff said.
Rep. Jim Jordan, who sits on the oversight committee asked, "Mr. Chairman , really?"
"Yes, really," Schiff said.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, said “there was no doubt” about what President Trump was asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for during his July call — a deliverable of having a foreign government investigate a US citizen in exchange for a US-Ukrainian meeting.
“In total, looking at the transcript, that I saw it was a this is a deliverable, this is what was required in order to get the meeting that the Ukrainians had been aggressively pushing for, had been trying to coordinate,” Vindman said.
Compared to an earlier April call, the July 25 call, Vindman said, “was not a positive call. It was dour.”
Vindman confirmed he was listening in real time to the call.
“And was there any doubt in your mind as to what the President, our President, was asking for as a deliverable?” a member of Congress asked.
“There was no doubt,” he said.
Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia adviser, testified she had a “very good relationship” with Kurt Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine. She also testified she thought she had a “very good relationship” with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland but she describes a “blow-up with him” in June.
“When he told me that he was in charge of Ukraine, because initially I said to him, ‘You’re not,’ with that kind of, you know, surprise and probably irritation in my voice," she said.
Hill asked who put Sondland in charge of Ukraine. “And he said, the President,” Hill testified. “Well, that shut me up, because you can’t really argue with that.”
She also added that while she believed Volker always acted with integrity, but that she did tell him, “we did not think it was a good idea for him talking to Rudy Giuliani.”
Hill testified that Volker responded that he would be able to reason with Giuliani and manage him. “Well, we did not think that this was manageable,” she said. “And Ambassador Bolton made it very clear that nobody should be talking to Rudy Giuliani, on our team or anybody else should be.”
Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia adviser, said she spoke with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan frequently about her concerns with Rudy Giuliani and attacks on Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to a transcript of her testimony in the impeachment inquiry
Hill said that Sullivan “just expressed that he was also concerned. He didn't give any specifics, you know, back again. He just gave me a good, you know, respectful hearing. And it was clear that he was very upset about what had happened to Ambassador Yovanovitch.”
Asked if Sullivan ever said that he or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were going to do anything about it, Hill said that Sullivan told her “both he and Secretary Pompeo had tried their best to head off what happened.”
Hill is President Trump's former top Russia adviser and Alexander Vindman is the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert.
We're going through the documents now, and we'll post highlights here.
The House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry will shortly transcripts of testimony given behind closed doors by Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry.
Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified on October 29. Hill, who previously served as the top NSC Russia adviser, testified on October 14.
As the House prepares for its first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, the GOP is trying to shift attention back to the whistleblower whose complaint initially prompted the investigation.
At a Keep America Great rally this week in Lexington, Kentucky, Sen. Rand Paul urged the media to name the whistleblower, later threatening to do so himself. Paul told CNN on Tuesday that "the Whistleblower Statute protects the whistleblower from having his name revealed by the Inspector General" but that "no one else is under any legal obligation."
This growing discussion raises the question of whether it's a crime to out a government whistleblower.
Turns out, the answer isn't as simple as it may seem. It depends on who does the unmasking — and the circumstances surrounding it.
But that doesn't mean it's legal.
Rad more analysis here.
President Trump, asked about his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's refusal to testify in the impeachment inquiry today, said he would "love to have" Mulvaney testify — but added he doesn't want to give "credibility" to the impeachment inquiry.
"I don't want to give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt. I'd love to have Mick go up frankly," Trump told reporters on the south lawn.
He continued: "I think he'd do great. I'd love to have him go up. I'd love to have almost every person go up when they know me. What I don't like is when they put all these people that I never met before."
Moments ago, President Trump also said the House shouldn't have public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.
President Trump made his usual digs against House Intelligence chair Adam Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but added a new line telling reporters Friday, "despite all that, we're kicking their ass."
Trump made his familiar claims against the two referring to them both as "corrupt politicians" before adding his colorful comments.
Trump then said, without any evidence to support his claims: "We have the highest poll numbers."