The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Aimee Lewis, CNN

Updated 7:33 a.m. ET, November 19, 2019
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1:50 p.m. ET, November 18, 2019

Republicans haven't decided whether they'll push key witness on his contacts, congressman says

From CNN's Manu Raju 

During the closed deposition last month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff objected to a line of questioning that he believed was part of a GOP effort to out the whistleblower as Republicans were asking who Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had spoken to.

CNN asked Rep. Jim Jordan if the Republicans would go down that route again, and he indicated it hadn’t been decided yet.

“We are working on what we are going to ask,” the Ohio Republican told CNN. “Mr Vindman has been subpoenaed by Congress. That means members of Congress should get to ask the questions they want. Adam Schiff doesn't just get to ask the questions he wants.”

Jordan added: “Whether that comes up tomorrow or not — we are still talking about the sequencing of questions and what those questions will be.”

11:32 a.m. ET, November 18, 2019

Meanwhile, the House is now investigating if Trump lied to Mueller

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

The House of Representatives is now investigating whether President Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation, the House's general counsel said in federal court today.

House general counsel Douglas Letter told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit about why the House now needs access to grand jury material Mueller collected in his investigation:

"Did the President lie? Was the President not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?"
2:08 p.m. ET, November 18, 2019

How Republicans are defending Trump this week

From CNN's Devan Cole

As House Democrats enter the second week of the public chapter of their impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Republicans have begun dishing out new defenses of him as witnesses continue to provide damaging testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

Here are some of them:

  • Rep. Jim Jordan: "So there was never this quid pro quo that the Democrats all promise existed before President Trump released the phone call (transcript)," he said. 
  • Rep. Steve Scalise: "The President's defense is that those things didn't happen."
  • Rep. Mark Meadows: This impeachment charade will fall apart,"
9:10 a.m. ET, November 18, 2019

Democratic senator asks for briefing about how whistleblowers are being protected

From CNN's Zach Cohen, Manu Raju and Ted Barrett

Ahead of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s public testimony tomorrow morning in the House impeachment inquiry hearings, Sen. Chuck Schumer has written a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper asking that he “formally notify all civilian and military personnel of their legal rights to make protected disclosures to Congress.” 

Schumer said he also would like a briefing about how Vindman, Pentagon official Laura Cooper and whistleblowers are being protected.

“I also request that you brief me on what actions are being taken to ensure that LTC Vindman, Ms. Cooper, and other whistleblowers like them are afforded appropriate protections—both from workplace reprisals and for their personal safety and that of their families,” Schumer wrote.
2:07 p.m. ET, November 18, 2019

Trump says he'll consider testifying in impeachment inquiry

President Trump just tweeted he will “strongly consider” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suggestion over the weekend that he testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Pelosi suggested Trump could do so in writing.

“Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” Trump tweeted this morning.

Pelosi said this weekend in a CBS interview that Trump has "every opportunity to present his case" before Congress, and could "take the oath of office or he could do it in writing." 

8:48 a.m. ET, November 18, 2019

GOP congressmen "reluctantly" ask Republican who attended Ukraine president's inauguration for information

From CNN's Jeremy Herb 

GOP Reps. Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes sent Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, a letter “reluctantly” asking if he has any information relevant to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

“Because the Democrats have abandoned fundamental fairness and objectivity in their ‘impeachment inquiry,’ we reluctantly write to request any firsthand information you have about President Trump’s actions toward Ukraine between April and September 2019. We appreciate any information that you could provide,” Jordan and Nunes wrote.

Why Johnson matters: He attended Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration in May as well as a meeting afterward in which Trump was briefed. He also spoke with Trump and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland about the freeze on US security aid to Ukraine. 

Johnson appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday, and said he would “supply my telling of events” and “lay out what I know,” adding that the investigative process threatens executive privilege in the future and that a public examination of the President's actions is damaging to the country.

"Having this all come out into public ... has exposed things that didn't need to be exposed," Johnson said.

8:05 a.m. ET, November 18, 2019

Trump: Impeachment inquiry is "a great fraud"

Ahead of a jam-packed week of witness testimony, President Trump began his morning tweeting about Republican unity and a high approval rating, calling the impeachment inquiry a “great fraud.” 

This comes amid a new CNN/DMR/Mediacom poll shows Iowans on both sides of the political spectrum see the inquiry as a boost to their party's chances of winning the general election next November.

3:20 p.m. ET, November 18, 2019

Here's what's coming up this week in the impeachment inquiry

Getty Images
Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee scheduled public hearings with eight more witnesses for this week in its impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The intelligence panel announced last week it would hold five impeachment hearings over three days, all for officials who have already appeared for closed-door depositions.

Here's who we're expecting to hear from this week:

  • Tuesday morning: Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide
  • Tuesday afternoon: Kurt Volker, the former US special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a National Security Council aide
  • Wednesday morning: US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland
  • Wednesday afternoon: Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense and David Hale, the under secretary of State for political affairs
  • Thursday morning: Former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill
6:38 a.m. ET, November 18, 2019

Trump attacks another witness as his impeachment defense faces new tests

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

President Donald Trump's impeachment angst led him to fire off a new attack on a key witness and threatens to deepen in the frenetic week ahead with crucial testimony scheduled from officials caught in the middle of the Ukraine storm.

But as is perpetually the case with the President, a brew of competing scandals and controversies will jostle for attention in Washington. That includes fallout from a mysterious and unscheduled trip to a hospital on Saturday, his fight against efforts to reveal his tax records and an apparent new tactic -- firing off searing attacks on witnesses who criticize him in televised hearings.

The President opened a window into the state of his mind Sunday when he lashed out against Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, who described his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in her deposition as "inappropriate."

"An appearance on Wednesday from Gordon Sondland, the US envoy to the European Union, could prove to be the most pivotal moment so far of the inquiry into whether Trump abused his power."

Read more of Collinson's analysis here.