The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 7:59 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019
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5:20 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

Judge who ordered Don McGahn to testify says she won't pause his testimony

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

Federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said she won't pause former White House counsel Don McGahn's testimony while he appeals her order that he must appear before the House.

But her decision today has little immediate effect because the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington has given his testimony a temporary pause and agreed to hear his case in early January. 

The appeals court placed an administrative stay on McGahn's case "pending further order" of the court. The higher court said it is considering keeping his testimony on pause as well as considering his main arguments.

In her opinion today, Jackson wrote that the White House attempt to stop McGahn from testifying is even weaker than when the Bush administration unsuccessfully tried to stop then-White House counsel Harriet Miers’ testimony.

"The Executive branch’s claim of irreparable harm is substantially weaker in the instant case than it was in Miers, because unlike Harriet Miers, McGahn has already given sworn testimony to the Special Counsel, which makes it difficult to see why the Executive branch would be harmed if McGahn’s testimony proceeds while the appeal is pending," she wrote.

 

4:22 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

4 law professors will testify at Wednesday's hearing

From CNN's Manu Raju

The House Judiciary Committee has announced its list of witnesses for Wednesday’s hearing.

Entitled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment," the hearing will include testimony from law professors from four schools. It starts at 10 a.m. ET.

Here's a list of witnesses:

  • Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School
  • Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law School
  • Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law
  • Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School
5:38 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

Republicans issue a rebuttal to Democrats' impeachment report before it comes out

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju

Republicans have written a 123-page report rejecting the Democratic allegations that President Trump abused his office in his dealings with Ukraine.

They issued the rebuttal ahead of the Democrats' plans to release their own account. 

CNN has obtained a copy of the GOP report.

The Republicans argued there was nothing wrong with Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has served as the basis of an anonymous whistleblower complaint into Trump and Ukraine that sparked the Democratic impeachment inquiry.

“The summary of their July 25, 2019, telephone conversation shows no quid pro quo or indication of conditionality, threats, or pressure—much less evidence of bribery or extortion. The summary reflects laughter, pleasantries, and cordiality,” the report said. “President Zelensky has said publicly and repeatedly that he felt no pressure. President Trump has said publicly and repeatedly that he exerted no pressure.” 

The Republican report — which serves as a rebuttal to the House Intelligence Committee’s Democratic report that the committee will vote on tomorrow — said that Trump’s concerns about Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and Burisma are valid. Multiple witnesses testified the claims were not legitimate. 

The report said that Trump did not pressure Ukraine to investigate Burisma or the Bidens and that the evidence does not support that Trump withheld a meeting or US security assistance.

“President Trump has a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption,” the report said.

The report also claimed there is “indisputable evidence that senior Ukrainian government officials opposed President Trump’s in the 2016 election and did so publicly.”

4:06 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

White House in preparation mode as it gears up for Wednesday's hearing

From CNN's Pamela Brown

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House officials say they are in preparation mode as they gear up for Wednesday's hearing, the House Intelligence committee report and the Trump administration's response to Rep. Jerry Nadler's second letter by week's end. 

The officials say there is "constant communication" between senior administration officials and lawmakers in both the House and Senate.

Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh, who joined the administration last month, are on Capitol Hill today meeting with House lawmakers ahead of the House Judiciary Committee's first hearing this Wednesday to coordinate on messaging.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone is also engaging regularly with lawmakers as well, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Sources say it is likely Cipollone will take the lead as the main lawyer in a potential Senate trial and officials are still trying to game out what a trial might look like and how long it should last. 

CNN previously reported the White House has urged Republican Senators to not drag it out.

White House officials also say the administration is working on the outlines of its second letter to Nadler, the committee's chairman, arguing once again due process can't be given retroactively. They are also arguing that if Nadler gives ample opportunity to the White House for cross-examination and a list of fact witnesses well ahead of time, it may participate.

However, White House officials concede it is unlikely President Trump or the White House lawyers will end up participating because participation would legitimize the process and take away a key White House talking point.

 

3:53 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

GOP report on Ukraine investigation rejects Democratic allegations against Trump

From CNN's Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb

Republicans have written a 123-page report rejecting the Democratic allegations that President Trump abused his office in his dealings with Ukraine.

“The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” according to a copy of the report reviewed by CNN.

  

 

3:13 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

Top Republican on the judiciary committee sends letter complaining about this week's hearing

From CNN's Jeremy Herb 

Rep. Doug Collins speaks during a news conference after the close of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President Trump on October 31
Rep. Doug Collins speaks during a news conference after the close of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President Trump on October 31 Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, has written a letter to Chairman Jerry Nadler, complaining about Wednesday's hearing.

Collins said that with 48 hours to go before the committee’s hearing, Nadler has not provided a witness list, the House Intelligence Committee report from Chairman Adam Schiff, or any underlying materials to the Schiff report.

He wrote:

“Even members of your own party are calling on you to conduct a fair and thorough process. This ad hoc, poorly executed “impeachment inquiry” will provide the Senate with ample justification for expeditiously disposing of it.”

2:31 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

Jerry Nadler calls White House refusal to participate in impeachment hearing "unfortunate"

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, has issued a statement regarding the White House's refusal to engage in Wednesday’s hearing, saying the response “is unfortunate because allowing the President to participate has been a priority for the House from the outset.”

"Late last night, the President and his counsel turned down our invitation to participate in Wednesday’s hearing. His response is unfortunate because allowing the President to participate has been a priority for the House from the outset. That is why the House included the opportunity to participate in H. Res 660," Nadler said in the statement.

He continued: "The American people deserve transparency. If the President thinks the call was 'perfect' and there is nothing to hide then he would turn over the thousands of pages of documents requested by Congress, allow witnesses to testify instead of blocking testimony with baseless privilege claims, and provide any exculpatory information that refutes the overwhelming evidence of his abuse of power."

What we know: The Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday on the “constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment.” The hearing will feature 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.

In a letter to Nadler, White House counsel to the President Pat Cipollone said neither President Trump nor his attorneys would participate in Wednesday's hearing.

1:45 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

Trump tweets praise for top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee

From CNN's Gregory Clary

President Trump tweeted praise for Republican Rep. Doug Collins, who made an appearance on FOX News Sunday and defended the President over the impeachment inquiry.

Why is this important: Collins is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, which will be holding its first impeachment hearing on Wednesday.

Trump would also prefer that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp name Collins to the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat that Sen. Johnny Isakson is expected to resign from on December 31. But Kemp is expected to name businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to the vacancy this week.

1:40 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019

Why this GOP congressman wants to see the House intel report

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, who is not on the House Intelligence Committee, said that he has requested to review the committee's report with his colleagues tonight.

He said he hasn’t heard back and there is no reason to believe he’d ever be allowed to review the report early.

Why this matters: Meadow's actions highlight the lengths that some of President Trump’s allies are going to in order to be prepared to defend Trump.

Meadows clearly wants to be in the loop so that he is equipped to rebut the Democrats’ report. His argument is that he was present for more of the depositions than anyone other than House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and therefore he should be allowed to review the report before it’s publicly released.

Meadows is one of the President’s closest allies on Capitol Hill and has kept the White House regularly informed about the progress of the investigation.