The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

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1:28 p.m. ET, November 22, 2019

How Democrats could impeach Trump by Christmas

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to the media during her weekly press conference on November 21, 2019.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to the media during her weekly press conference on November 21, 2019. Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Democrats are "moving quickly" to impeach President Trump before Christmas, according to CNN's congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly.

Here are the next steps for Democrats:

  1. The report: "At this moment and through the course of next week, Thanksgiving week, House Intelligence Committee staff are drafting a report of their findings based on the depositions, based on the public hearings we’ve seen to this point," Mattingly said.
  2. The articles of impeachment: The House Intelligence Committee will then send the report to the House Judiciary Committee, which will draft articles of impeachment, Mattingly said, adding that that committee could have public hearings of their own.
  3. The vote: There could be a committee markup of articles of impeachment in the second week of December. A vote on the House floor to impeach President Trump could come before Christmas.
"And it’s very clear they are moving quickly," Mattingly said. "One thing is certain at this time: Impeachment is happening."

He also pointed out that several key witnesses, like White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton, have refused to testify.

While "there could be some movement on court cases related to someone like John Bolton sometime in the first or second week of December," Mattingly said that "Democrats have made clear they are not waiting on the courts."

"They are moving forward, and that means likely before the end of the year, likely before Christmas, the House Democrats will vote to impeach President Trump," he said.

12:29 p.m. ET, November 22, 2019

Trump won't say whether the whistleblower should be fired

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing from the White House on November 20, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing from the White House on November 20, 2019. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump didn't answer questions on whether the whistleblower should be fired or whether he supported his lawyer Rudy Giuliani during an event today recognizing NCAA athletes.

CNN's Pamela Brown asked the President if the intelligence community whistleblower who filed the complaint at the center of the ongoing impeachment inquiry should be fired.

“What whistleblower?” Trump responded. “I don’t think there is (one). I consider it to be a fake whistleblower cause what he wrote didn’t correspond to what I said in any way.”

Earlier in the event, Trump also said it’s been a “tremendous week with the hoax.”

“You know, they call it the impeachment hoax and that’s really worked out incredibly well and we have tremendous support,” Trump said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen support in the Republican Party like we do right now.”

The President also wouldn’t answer a question on whether he supported everything Giuliani did in Ukraine

11:15 a.m. ET, November 22, 2019

John Bolton says his Twitter account has been "liberated"

John Bolton, President Trump's former national security adviser, is back on Twitter today and just tweeted that he has "liberated" his account.

Bolton added that his account was "previously suppressed unfairly in the aftermath of my resignation as National Security Advisor."

He ended the tweet with a cryptic message: "More to come....."

This follows an earlier tweet today — his first in more than two months — where Bolton said: "Glad to be back on Twitter after more than two months. For the backstory, stay tuned........"

Here's his second tweet of the day:

Some more background: Earlier this month, Bolton's lawyer said the former adviser has "personal knowledge" of relevant meetings and conversations "that have not yet been discussed in testimonies thus far" as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

However, the lawyer added that Bolton is refusing to testify until a federal judge rules in an ongoing legal fight between House committees and the White House, according to his lawyer.

10:53 a.m. ET, November 22, 2019

Democratic congressman: "We shouldn't wait" on impeachment, but "it wouldn’t hurt for us to get a bit more information"

Rep. Brad Sherman said that the impeachment hearings are holding President Trump accountable — but also added that it wouldn't hurt for the Democrats to get more information in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

"The question is, how many crimes would the President have committed beyond what he has done if he thought he was invincible?" the congressman asked on CNN's Newsroom with Poppy Harlow this morning. "It's a necessary protection that we do everything possible to restrain a president with clear criminal tendencies."

He went on to say the Democrats should not move slowly and wait for more evidence and people to testify but that “it wouldn’t hurt for us to get a bit more information.”

"The point I'm making is we shouldn't wait," Sherman said. "What we should do is move forward when we have the proof that he committed a particular high crime and misdemeanor. I think we have reached that point, but it wouldn't hurt for us to get a bit more information."

Some context: Despite speaking with 17 witnesses behind closed doors, including 12 witnesses in just a week of public testimony, Democrats have not obtained crucial documents or spoken with several key officials because the White House and State Department have refused to comply with subpoenas.

That has left top Democrats with a choice: They could fight in court to obtain potential smoking-gun documents and testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton. Or Democrats could move forward with the evidence they have.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has chosen the latter.

10:42 a.m. ET, November 22, 2019

9 witnesses testified publicly this week. Here's what each said.

Yesterday, the House Intelligence Committee wrapped up its scheduled public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.

In total, 12 witnesses spoke publicly. Nine of those were this week.

Here are the key takeaways from each witness who testified in this packed week of hearings.

  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman: Vindman, the National Security Council's Ukraine expert, described a July 10 meeting in which there was a demand in the White House of a direct quid pro quo by Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.  He said that, "It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a US citizen and political opponent," he said in his opening statement.
  • Jennifer Williams: Williams, a high level national security aide at Vice President Mike Pence's office, testified that President Trump's call with the Ukrainian president was "unusual." Williams was on the call at the time.
  • Kurt Volker: Volker, former US Special Envoy to Ukraine, admitted that he was wrong to draw a “sharp distinction” between Burisma and former Vice President Joe Biden.
  • Tim Morrison: Morrison, the former top Russia and Europe adviser on the National Security Council, said he never asked his Ukrainian counterparts to investigate the Bidens because "it was not a policy objective."
  • Laura Cooper: Top Pentagon official Cooper testified that Ukrainian officials knew as early as July 25 that there was an issue with US aid to the country. This undercut a key Republican rebuttal — in their defense of Trump, Republicans have alleged that no bribery could exist if the Ukrainians weren't aware the aid was being held.
  • David Hale: Undersecretary of State David Hale defended ousted Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, saying that she served "with dignity and grace" while Rudy Giuliani and other Republicans accused her of interfering with President Trump's plans in Ukraine.
  • Gordon Sondland: Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, testified there was a quid pro quo for Ukraine to announce investigations into President Trump's political opponents that came from the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the "express direction of the President." He also implicated Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, and Mick Mulvaney.
  • David Holmes: Holmes, a top US official in Ukraine, undercut the GOP's defense that there was no pressure on Ukraine. He testified that the Ukrainians felt pressure to move ahead with probes and that they want to keep White House happy because “they still need us now.” 
  • Fiona Hill: Hill, the former White House Russia expert, delivered a rebuttal to the "fictional narrative" pushed by Trump and his GOP allies, including during the impeachment inquiry hearings, that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. And she implicated her former boss John Bolton, who has refused to to testify in the investigation.
9:15 a.m. ET, November 22, 2019

John Bolton tweets for the first time in months: "For the backstory, stay tuned........"

John Bolton, President Trump's former national security adviser, is back on Twitter.

Here's his first tweet after more than two months:

Some background: Earlier this month, Bolton's lawyer said the former adviser has "personal knowledge" of relevant meetings and conversations "that have not yet been discussed in testimonies thus far" as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

However, the lawyer added that Bolton is refusing to testify until a federal judge rules in an ongoing legal fight between House committees and the White House, according to his lawyer.

11:34 a.m. ET, November 22, 2019

Trump claims his staff had to "be nice" to ambassador he fired because "she's a woman"

During his Fox News interview this morning, Trump again went after the former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

“The ambassador, the woman, she wouldn’t even put up, she’s an Obama person,” Trump said. "This was not an angel, this woman, okay? And there were a lot of things that she did that I didn’t like."

He said he asked his team “why are you being so kind” to Yovanovitch — and he claimed he was told "she’s a woman – we have to be nice."

“I heard bad things,” Trump said, inaccurately saying that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky brought her up during their call.

Remember: Trump was the one who brought up Yovanovitch during the July 25 call. At that time, Trump disparaged her, calling her "bad news" and saying, "she's going to go through some things."

She was recalled from her post in May.

9:04 a.m. ET, November 22, 2019

Trump calls Giuliani a "great crime fighter"

President Trump, speaking on Fox News this morning, was pressed on Rudy Giuliani’s involvement and whether it was at odds with his State Department. 

Trump called Giuliani a “great crime fighter” and a “very legendary figure." The President said Giuliani's credentials were helpful in “dealing with a corrupt country… it means a lot.”

Some background: Giuliani is President Trump’s lawyer. After pushing claims against former Vice President Joe Biden for months, Giuliani ultimately met with a top aide to Ukraine's President Volodymyr  Zelensky in Madrid — days after the July 25 phone call where Trump asked Zelensky to hear Giuliani out.

8:52 a.m. ET, November 22, 2019

Trump: "I want a trial"

President Trump said he would like an impeachment trial and continued to disparage former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch during an appearance on Fox News this morning.

“I want a trial,” he said in a telephone interview, railing against the inquiry.

He said he wants Hunter Biden and Adam Schiff to testify, claiming he knows “exactly” who the whistleblower is.

Trump also went after Yovanovitch, the former US Ambassador to Ukraine who testified publicly last week.

“The ambassador, the woman, she wouldn’t even put up, she’s an Obama person,” Trump said of Yovanovitch.  He said he asked his team “why are you being so kind” to Yovanovitch and was told “she’s a woman – we have to be nice.”

“I heard bad things,” Trump said, inaccurately saying that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky brought her up during the call. Trump brought her up. 

Trump claimed that Yovanovitch “wouldn’t hang my picture in the embassy” and “wouldn’t defend” him.

“This was not an angel, this woman, okay? And there were a lot of things that she did that I didn’t like,” he said.

Trump said he doesn't know a number of the witnesses who have testified in the impeachment inquiry, such as Kurt Volker. As for US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, Trump said he “hardly" knows him.

Trump questioned why Sondland was working so closely with Ukraine – which was something Sondland addressed during his testimony.

“I’ve had a couple of conversations, I’ve seen him hanging around, you know, when I go to Europe, but he was really a European Union Ambassador, and all of a sudden, he is working on this, you know, ask about that,” he said.