Live Updates

The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

Poll shows support for impeachment remains steady
04:21

Where things stand now

  • The latest: In a newly released transcript, Mark Sandy, a career official in the Office of Management and Budget, undermined the White House’s impeachment defense on the freezing of US aid to Ukraine.
  • This week: The House Intelligence Committee and two other panels are working on a report that could be the basis of articles of impeachment.
  • When we could see a vote: Democratic sources say a vote could happen by Christmas.
  • Sign up for CNN’s Impeachment Watch newsletter here.
17 Posts

Our live coverage of the impeachment inquiry has ended for the day. Read up on the latest news below.

Trump's whistleblower briefing is a knock on his impeachment defense

News that President Trump had been briefed in late August on a whistleblower complaint alleging he pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival, while withholding security aid to Kiev, raises new questions about conversations he had before the aid was released in September.

Trump was briefed by lawyers from the White House counsel’s office about the whistleblower complaint, The New York Times reported Tuesday, and they explained they were trying to determine whether they were legally required to provide the complaint —alleging he sought help with his political campaign from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — to Congress.

While it’s not clear how much detail Trump received in the briefing, the revelation further undermines Republican defenses of Trump’s actions surrounding the aid, given that his decision to release the aid roughly two weeks later occurred with his knowledge of the complaint.

Andrew Bakaj, one of the whistleblower’s lawyers, told CNN today that it would be “appropriate” for White House counsel to be notified of the complaint early on, and as a result he expected that office to brief Trump on the matter since it contained allegations related to his conduct.

Still, the briefing also adds a new layer of intrigue over Trump’s September comments to US Ambassador Gordon Sondland, which have become a key line for the President. “I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo,” he told Sondland at the time — and has since repeated to reporters and even at rallies.

It’s just one of several statements that prompt reinspection in light of the new timeline for when Trump learned about the complaint.

Justice Department argues why impeachment witness' case should be dismissed in latest court filing

Following court filings today from former White House official Charles Kupperman and the House, the Department of Justice has now filed arguments in the case. 

In its latest court filing, the Justice Department argued why the former deputy national security adviser’s case should be dismissed.

The Justice Department said Kupperman doesn’t face any real risk even if the House were to hold him in contempt. The executive branch wouldn’t pursue a contempt charge against a White House official who’s instructed not to appear before Congress, and the House’s contempt power is “long dormant,” the DOJ said.

“He disclaims any personal stake in whether he is required to testify or not, and faces no risk of future criminal liability for following the President’s directive. Nor does Dr. Kupperman face any appreciable risk that the House Defendants would (or could) exert their long dormant inherent contempt authority to enforce a withdrawn subpoena that they have foresworn any intent to re-issue,” the DOJ wrote. “The bottom line is that Dr. Kupperman has properly honored the President’s directive, has suffered no adverse consequences as a result, and will suffer no adverse consequences in the future.”

They also noted just how significant Kupperman was to Trump. 

“There are few advisors, if any, in whom a President places greater trust and confidence to carry out ‘responsibilities of utmost discretion and sensitivity,’ than President Trump placed in Dr. Kupperman,” the DOJ wrote, citing wording from a previous court opinion.

The DOJ then addressed why the White House needs absolute immunity, and can’t just have its officials appear before Congress and assert executive privilege in order not to answer questions about sensitive matters.

“Reliance on executive privilege to decline to answer specific questions at a committee hearing would be insufficient even to eliminate threats to the President’s constitutionally protected interests in confidentiality, as discussed above. The theoretical ability to invoke executive privilege offers at best a flimsy and uncertain safeguard against disclosures of confidential information during the crucible of a committee hearing,” DOJ lawyers wrote.

Whistleblower's lawyer responds to New York Times report regarding complaint

Andrew Bakaj, one of the whistleblower’s lawyers, told CNN that it would be “appropriate” for White House counsel to be notified of his client’s complaint early on and thus, expected that office to brief President Trump on the matter since it contained allegations related to Trump’s conduct.

That said, Bakaj emphasized it does not “undo the fact that an illegal or improper act may have taken place, in this case, by the President.”

“Since the matter was initially taken to a member of the Office of General Counsel, it would be appropriate for attorneys to run it up the chain of command. That could be viewed as one of the ways to try and address the issue. Thus, when the President’s attorneys are informed of the situation, they themselves have a duty to discuss the issue with the client and to address any concerns, issues, remedies, ways forward,” Bakaj told CNN.

Bakaj added: “Now, this does not undo the fact that an illegal or improper act may have taken place, in this case by the President. Put differently, it doesn’t mean that the whistleblower didn’t have a reasonable belief of something wrong taking place, meriting elevating this to an entity that can independently investigate the matter. As such, filing the complaint with the ICIG [intelligence community inspector general], in my opinion, is one of the most effective ways of elevating the issue so that any and all appropriate oversight entities may take appropriate action, be it investigation or corrective action.”

Why this matters: The New York Times reported that Trump had already been briefed on the whistleblower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he released military aid for the country in September. 

House files additional arguments in former White House official's lawsuit

The House of Representatives filed additional arguments about why their subpoena of President Trump’s former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman is valid, and why the court should dismiss Kupperman’s case.

Kupperman filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to rule on whether he is obliged to testify before House investigators.

“A President with unchecked power to obstruct his own impeachment by preventing individuals with relevant information from speaking to Congress would be a President who is above the law,” the House wrote.

The House also cited Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s opinion against former White House counsel Don McGahn on Monday, specifically a line in her opinion about how White House officials’ supposed absolute immunity from congressional testimony is in conflict with “with key tenets of our constitutional order.” They cited other parts of the McGahn opinion as well.

They also pointed out that top officials and even past presidents have testified to Congress, including President Gerald Ford about why he pardoned Richard Nixon.

New York Times: Rudy Giuliani sought business from Ukrainian officials while pursuing political dirt for Trump

Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, privately sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from Ukrainian officials while trying to get dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, The New York Times reported today.

The report comes as Giuliani continues to face questions about his work for Trump following the release of a whistleblower complaint at the center of impeachment proceedings involving the President and Ukraine.

The complaint alleges the President abused his official powers “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the 2020 election and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

Giuliani and other lawyers made repeated attempts to make Ukrainian officials their clients, the Times reported, citing documents they reviewed. One proposal signed by Giuliani in February involved the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice. The former New York mayor would have helped the Ukraine government find stolen money in return for a payment to his firm of $300,000.

In another proposal from February, The Times reports Giuliani would represent former Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko to advise “on Ukrainian claims for the recovery of sums of money in various financial institutions outside Ukraine” if he paid $200,000 to Giuliani Partners and Joseph E. diGenova and Victoria Toensing, a legal team associated with Trump.

An updated proposal, signed by Giuliani, included directions on how to wire money to his firm and did not mention Lutsenko, the Times reports, but instead asked for $300,000 from the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice and the Republic of Ukraine.

Former White House official wants to add House Sergeant-at-Arms to his subpoena testimony lawsuit

President Trump’s former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman wants to sue the House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, in addition to the House members and the White House. Kupperman has already sued the House members and the White House in his quest for a judge’s ruling on whether he must testify in the impeachment probe.

Kupperman’s case appears to have major issues regarding whether he can sue those parties, because House members say they cannot be sued under the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution.

Kupperman also doesn’t appear to be opposed to the White House’s position in this lawsuit, saying that he should not testify because he is immune, making his lawsuit a potentially problematic sell to Judge Richard Leon for even more reasons.

Kupperman’s request to add Irving as a defendant is a way to potentially save his case.

“Even if the House Defendants are immune from suit, the Speech or Debate Clause does not here apply to the Sergeant-at-Arms,” Kupperman’s attorney, Chuck Cooper, wrote to the judge on Wednesday.

Cooper notes that the White House has no opinion on whether Irving should be added to the case, but the House might respond at a later time.

Bloomberg campaign manager: Impeachment makes Trump's reelection more likely

Newly announced Democratic presidential candidate, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during a press conference to discuss his presidential run on November 25 in Norfolk, Virginia.

Michael Bloomberg’s campaign manager Kevin Sheekey just spoke with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about why Bloomberg is jumping in 2020 presidential race now.

Sheekey said that “the impeachment proceedings are making the President’s re-election more likely, not less likely.”

More on Bloomberg: His late 2020 bid — along with the money the billionaire can spend to fund his campaign — injects a new level of uncertainty into the race less than three months before the first voting in the race begins.

Bloomberg, who had said earlier this year that he would not run, reversed his decision because he doesn’t think there’s a candidate in the current field of Democrats who can beat President Trump next November, several people close to the former mayor told CNN. That includes former Vice President Joe Biden, who Bloomberg has watched fade in Iowa polling and struggle with fundraising.

McGahn gets temporary pause on testimony from judge

Former White House counsel Don McGahn will get the temporary pause he requested from federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson after she ordered him to testify to the House in its impeachment inquiry.

Jackson will continue to consider whether her ruling Monday should be kept on hold as he appeals her ruling. 

The Justice Department has filed paperwork to appeal the judge’s opinion. The department had also asked Jackson to pause her ruling pending appeal.

What this means: At least for now, McGahn doesn’t have to testify.

White House likely won't send an attorney to next week's hearing, but the final decision has not yet been made

While a final decision hasn’t been made, the current thinking inside the White House is that they likely won’t send an attorney to the House Judiciary impeachment inquiry hearing next week, according to two officials.

This could change as they are still debating the merits internally of how to respond to the request.

Why this matters: This decision is part of a larger debate as the counsel’s office maps out their plan for the next several weeks. The White House is also still considering suggesting witnesses who should be called for the hearing.

More context: Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler sent President Trump a letter yesterday inviting him and his counsel to participate in the hearing scheduled for Dec. 4. 

Democratic congresswoman encourages Trump to participate in next week's impeachment hearing

Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, was asked on CNN today if she expects the President or his counsel to show up to next week’s first open hearing with the Judiciary Committee in the impeachment inquiry.

“I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I do know that that was established so it would be a fair and transparent process,” Dingell added. She is not a member of the committee holding the hearing.

More context: Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler sent Trump a letter yesterday inviting him and his counsel to participate in the hearing scheduled for December 4. 

Meanwhile, Trump is spending the day at his golf club

The motorcade carrying Trump is seen near the Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach on Thursday.

President Trump has arrived at the Trump International Golf Club, where he is likely golfing, per the travel pool with the President today. The White House has not confirmed any possible gold plans.

This is Trump’s 317th day at a Trump property, 240th day at one of his golf clubs.

Former White House counsel asks court to pause his testimony during appeal

The Justice Department, representing former White House counsel Don McGahn, has now asked the DC Court of Appeals for a pause on his testimony while he appeals. 

They asked for a similar pause from the district judge who ruled against McGahn and the White House’s assertion of immunity on its officials earlier this week. The district judge has not decided on the state so the appeals court may need to step in. 

Justice has asked for both an administrative stay, which would help them immediately, and for a stay that would keep McGahn from testifying until the appeals court fully decides the case.

What this means: DOJ would need a pause so as to avoid him having to testify as soon as a week from today or be held in contempt of court. (Both of those things are unlikely to happen next week—a stay is likely)

What this is all about: A federal judge decided on Monday that McGahn must testify to the House of Representatives in its impeachment probe, marking the first major ruling about House witness testimony during the Trump administration.

“However busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking an action that the law requires,” Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote.

How impeachment could impact future presidential elections

President Donald Trump speaks during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida.

History signals that the public’s final verdict on President Trump’s possible impeachment won’t be delivered until the 2020 election — whatever happens next in the House and Senate, and however Americans react to it.

The public reactions to impeachment proceedings against Presidents Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998 fundamentally diverged, with most Americans ultimately supporting the former and a consistent majority opposing the latter.

Yet the outcomes in the next presidential elections converged. In each case, the president’s party lost the White House to a candidate — Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Republican George W. Bush in 2000 — who played off lingering public unease about the scandal that had precipitated the impeachment process against their predecessor.

In each instance, impeachment functioned like a leak that corroded the foundation under the president’s party in the next election.

Read more about this here.

Public opinion of impeachment is the same before and after hearings, poll shows

After five days of public hearings in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump, public opinion over whether the President ought to be impeached and removed from office remains exactly the same as it was in October, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

  • Half of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office.
  • Meanwhile, 43% say he should not be.

Neither figure has changed since October, with support for impeachment remaining at its highest level thus far in CNN polling.

The partisan divide over the President persists as well, with roughly 80 points between Democratic support for Trump’s removal and Republican support for it. 

Independents are closely divided on the question, 47% in favor, 45% opposed. Opinions on both sides are deeply held, with about 9 in 10 on either side saying they feel strongly in favor or against it.

Read more about the poll here.

Analysis: New revelations put Trump on shakier ground

New transcripts of witness testimony and news reports revealing key details on the Ukraine scandal timeline show in vivid detail the way President Donald Trump and top officials maneuvered behind the scenes to block aid to Ukraine as the President sought an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden.

The new revelations, coming at a time when half of Americans support impeaching and removing the President even though impeachment proceedings have not moved the needle of public opinion, underscored the problem for Trump and his supporters in Congress: Public hearings in the impeachment inquiry may be in the rearview mirror, but new details about his pressure campaign on Ukraine continue to trickle out.

Read the full analysis here.

Catch up: 4 key developments in the Trump impeachment inquiry

Here are the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump:

  • Transcripts released: House impeachment investigators released the final closed-door deposition transcripts from the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday with the interviews of Office of Management and Budget official Mark Sandy and State Department official Philip Reeker. Sandy said that the White House did not tell his office that the US aid to Ukraine was being frozen over concerns about other countries’ contributions until months after the hold was put in place. Sandy described deep dissatisfaction within the OMB after it was put in place, including questions being raised about the legality of the freeze and the resignations of officials who expressed concerns about the move.
  • More hearings expected: The House Judiciary Committee announced that it would hold a hearing on December 4 on the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment,” which will have a panel of expert witnesses who will testify “on the application of the constitutional framework of high crimes and misdemeanors to the very serious allegations regarding the conduct of the President,” according to a Democratic aide.
  • About the hold on Ukraine aid: The Office of Management and Budget’s first official action to withhold $250 million in Pentagon aid to Ukraine came on the evening that July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to a House Budget Committee summary of OMB documents that were provided to the committee.
  • What the President is saying: Trump, speaking at a packed rally in Sunrise, Florida on Tuesday night, claimed that Americans are not supportive of the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry. A CNN poll released earlier Tuesday showed that half of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office while 43% say he should not. Neither figure has changed since October, with support for impeachment remaining at its highest level thus far in CNN polling.