The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Here are the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump:
- Trump is not participating in Wednesday's hearing: The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled its first impeachment hearing on Wednesday 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. White House counsel to the President Pat Cipollone said neither Trump nor his attorneys would participate in Wednesday's hearing.
- Democrats in prep mode: Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee will hold a mock hearing tomorrow to prepare for their public hearing. The hearing will include testimony from four Constitutional law experts.
- Republicans issue rebuttal: Republicans wrote a 123-page report that rejected the Democratic allegations that Trump abused his office in his dealings with Ukraine. The Republicans argued there was nothing wrong with Trump's July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, which has served as the basis of an anonymous whistleblower complaint into Trump and Ukraine that sparked the Democratic impeachment inquiry. Trump later took to Twitter to praise the Republicans for their report.
- What the Ukrainian president said: Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky denied he spoke with Trump “from the position of a quid pro quo” in an interview published Monday. “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo,” Zelensky said, according to a partial transcript released by Time.
- What happens next: The House Intelligence Committee is expected to vote on its impeachment report tomorrow.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the GOP's impeachment rebuttal report was "intended for an audience of one."
“The minority’s rebuttal document, intended for an audience of one, ignores voluminous evidence that the President used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival by withholding military aid and a White House meeting the President of Ukraine desperately sought. In so doing, the President undermined our national security and the integrity of our elections," Schiff said.
He continued: “Tellingly, the minority dismisses this as just part of the President’s ‘outside the beltway’ thinking. It is more accurately, outside the law and constitution, and a violation of his oath of office.”
About the GOP's rebuttal: Republicans gave a full-throated defense of President Trump's dealings with Ukraine in a 123-page report published today that rejects the Democratic allegations that the President abused his office or committed any other impeachable offense.
The Republican report does not acknowledge any wrongdoing surrounding the central allegations in the impeachment inquiry, putting forward a narrative that's likely to be used by congressional Republicans and the White House in their fight against the Democratic impeachment push. The report largely ignores or downplays testimony from career officials who raised serious questions and concerns about the conduct of the President and some of his top aides.
Members of the House Intelligence Committee will have 24 hours to review the impeachment report.
“The report is now available for [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] members to review in committee spaces. This commences a 24-hour review period prior to the vote to adopt the report. That business meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, following a regularly scheduled briefing, in committee spaces. Following the vote, the minority has through Thursday to submit their Minority views, before the report and any minority views are transmitted to the House Judiciary Committee," a committee official told CNN.
More on this: The report is a chance for Democrats to make their case against President Trump after weeks of testimony and document collection and is expected to serve as the basis for articles of impeachment that the House Judiciary Committee will consider.
House Democrats' impeachment investigation is based on a whistleblower complaint from a US intelligence official about Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 candidate. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden.
Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, told reporters that he does believe Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election despite the fact that the intelligence community concluded in early 2017 that Russia interfered in the election to help President Trump.
Kennedy said that he doesn’t think Ukraine is as bad as Russia, but he does think they interfered. He also said that he spoke to Trump this morning. He wouldn’t answer if they talked about Ukraine.
Kennedy flip-flopped recently on whether he believes Ukraine interfered.
He called Putin a Thug and an SOB. He kept saying he didn’t think reports he read from were fake news.
Minutes after Kennedy said that Ukraine did meddle in the 2016 US elections, Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, reiterated the conclusions from the committee’s report that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections.
Warner said in their report they found that Russian agents “appeared to be spreading these fake rumors about Ukraine,” referring to the rumors that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election in support of the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
"People that refuse to acknowledge that threat I don’t think makes our country safer," Warner said.
December marks the potential beginning of the end for the impeachment inquiry.
With a self-imposed deadline looming, Democrats are likely preparing to draft articles of impeachment. Yet the White House is still resistant to participation. And why won't Republicans stop talking about the debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election?
In today's episode of "The Daily DC: Impeachment Watch" podcast, CNN political director David Chalian looks ahead at the inquiry with CNN senior writer and publisher of the Impeachment Watch Tracker Zach Wolf and impeachment expert and national security analyst at The Washington Post, Shane Harris.
President Trump praised the Republicans for their report rejecting allegations that he abused his office in his dealings with Ukraine.
"Prior to landing I read the Republicans Report on the Impeachment Hoax. Great job! Radical Left has NO CASE," Trump tweeted.
He also questioned whether the US Supreme Court could halt the inquiry.
Read his tweet:
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee will have a mock hearing Tuesday starting mid-morning to prepare for their public hearing Wednesday with four Constitutional law experts.
This comes as Democrats believe they have momentum coming off of a set of explosive House Intelligence Committee hearings. The hope, according to one source familiar with the preparations, is to keep the momentum going.
What we know: They are preparing members for a more rambunctious set of House Republicans like Reps. Louis Gohmert and Matt Gaetz who could easily seek to take the hearing off its course.
According to one source familiar with preparations, members have been told to be prepared to stay in Washington between Dec. 3 and 13 including the weekend. The source familiar with preparations said there was no reason to believe there would necessarily be weekend hearings, but the person speculated it may be more that members may need to be in town for discussions about articles of impeachment or other work.
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.
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