The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

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8:56 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

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

7:26 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

"Zero substance": Trump criticizes impeachment proceedings

President Trump took to Twitter tonight to blast the House's impeachment inquiry, saying the proceedings so far have had “zero substance.”  

 

Some background: The tweet comes hours after the White House slammed the inquiry as "completely baseless" and a "reckless abuse of power."

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler attacking the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, though the message did not explicitly say that Trump's counsel would not take part.

While the letter letter doesn't specifically state the White House won't participate, that's what it means, according to a senior administration official.

Earlier today, Trump declined to answer any questions about impeachment.

6:43 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

Schiff sends letter to Pence seeking to declassify contents of his Sept. 18 call with Ukrainian leader

Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has asked Vice President Mike Pence to declassify the contents of his Sept. 18 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Schiff sent a letter requesting the declassification to Pence today.

"While Ms. [Jennifer] Williams already testified generally to the phone call in question, declassification of this supplemental testimony will allow the Congress to see further corroborative evidence as it considers articles of impeachment, and provide the public further understanding of the events in question," a House Intelligence committee official told CNN.

About the call: Williams, an aide to Pence, told lawmakers she listened to a phone call between Pence and Zelensky, which took place on Sept. 18 after the hold on US security assistance to Ukraine was lifted, according to a transcript of her closed-door deposition.

Williams was asked if on the call Pence gave Zelensky any advice on how to approach Trump when they met at the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly meeting. Williams said Pence told Zelensky, "President Trump would be eager to hear about President Zelensky's progress in his reform agenda."

6:26 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

Nadler: White House's refusal to participate means Trump "cannot claim that the process is unfair"

Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, responded to the White House's refusal to participate in the House impeachment inquiry today, saying “If the President has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the Committee."

President Trump's administration declined to participate in the impeachment inquiry this afternoon, calling the probe "completely baseless" and a "reckless abuse of power" ahead of a deadline set by House Democrats.

Nadler, a Democrat from New York, said he believes that Trump's decision means "he cannot claim that the process is unfair."

"The President’s failure will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty," the chairman added.

Read Nadler's full statement below:

"The American people deserve answers from President Trump. The House invited, and then subpoenaed, his top advisors. The President ordered them not to show and continues to block key evidence from Congress. We are disappointed that the President has once again failed to provide those answers here. We gave President Trump a fair opportunity to question witnesses and present his own to address the overwhelming evidence before us. After listening to him complain about the impeachment process, we had hoped that he might accept our invitation. 
If the President has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the Committee. Having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair. The President’s failure will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty.”
5:47 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

House Judiciary Republicans request 8 witnesses in impeachment proceedings

While the White House indicated today that it wouldn’t take part in the impeachment proceedings, Republicans members of the House Judiciary Committee formally requested witnesses that President Trump and his allies have been pushing to testify, according to a copy of the letter sent to committee chairman Jerry Nadler. 

Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee, sent Nadler a letter today requesting eight witnesses, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, the anonymous whistleblower and anyone the whistleblower relied on to prepare the complaint alleging Trump solicited election interference from Ukraine.

Collins wrote that the committee should call “each of the witnesses listed above to testify before this Committee to ensure a full evaluation of the facts and to cure the procedural and fairness defects injected into these proceedings by Chairman Schiff.”

Collins requested that subpoenas be issued for all of the witnesses they had requested besides Schiff.

Republican also requested these witnesses:

  • Alexandra Chalupa, a former Democratic National Committee contractor
  • Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr
  • Former Burisma board member Devon Archer
  • An intelligence community employee who Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman did not identify during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

Many of these witnesses were also requested by Republicans during the House Intelligence Committee hearings.

Democrats blocked those requests, which Schiff dismissed as an attempt to "undertake the same sham investigations into the��Bidens or 2016 that the President pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens.

Watch here:

5:13 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

Podcast: The Democrats are facing one huge question

Nancy Pelosi is having a moment.

The Speaker of the House has deftly guided her party through the inquiry, but now her caucus faces a massive decision: should the articles of impeachment include a charge related to the Mueller investigation?

In today's episode of "The Daily DC: Impeachment Watch" podcast, CNN political director David Chalian reads the political tea leaves with CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and CNN political analyst Rachael Bade.

Listen to the podcast here.

5:09 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

Giuliani ally says he'll testify about alleged Ukraine role in 2016 election

Former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko told CNN today that he’s been contacted by US Senate staff and has agreed to be interviewed on the topics of "Ukraine, 2016 election and DNC.”

Earlier today, Republican lawmakers, who chair three Senate committees, announced today they were seeking the interview to examine what they allege were efforts in 2016 to undermine the Trump campaign.

Telizhenko is a former junior diplomat who previously worked in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington and has promoted a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, conspired to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.

He previously told CNN he spent about six hours in New York with President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in May this year and discussed a range of issues including the business dealings of Hunter Biden in Ukraine as well as what he called “the DNC Ukraine collusion.”

Telizhenko has been been attending meetings with Giuliani in Kiev this week as part of Giuliani’s trip to Europe in a continued bid to dig dirt on Trump’s political rivals.

4:56 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

White House calls impeachment inquiry "completely baseless" in letter to House Judiciary Committee

In a letter sent to Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, President Trump's attorney called the impeachment inquiry "completely baseless."

The letter, sent by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, claims the inquiry "has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness."

While the letter does not specifically say the White House will not participate in the inquiry, a White House official tells CNN, "The letter communicates that we will not participate in this process."

"Nevertheless, the Speaker of the House yesterday ordered House Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment before your Committee has heard a single shred of evidence. House Democrats have wasted enough of America's time with this charade. You should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings. Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats, and would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan, and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our Nation's history," Cipollone said in the letter.

Read the entire letter below:

3:24 p.m. ET, December 6, 2019

Some moderate Democrats feel frustrated as party leaders start writing articles of impeachment

A group of moderate Democrats are growing impatient with leadership, warning that any effort to include charges that the President obstructed justice in potential articles of impeachment could severely hurt the frontline members who help make a majority of the caucus, according to conversations with Democratic aides and members.

The tension is emblematic of a diverse caucus and the competing allegiances members from swing districts have versus many members of the more liberal House Judiciary Committee. 

One moderate Democrat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss the caucus's thinking, told CNN that the speaker's office has kept any plans on drafting the articles closely held, creating frustration and anxiety for members who will have to go home and explain impeachment in their districts.

"The fact of the matter is this does have political consequences and the people who will suffer significant political consequences are our moderate members. In fact, there are on-year amounts of money being spent in districts all across our moderates. For our leadership not to engage with moderates at all to either talk about how they are going to message or what they are going to put in it, seems to be a giant oversight," the member said.

Another moderate Democratic member lamented that the information about articles of impeachment are "secondhand."

"I would say, look, I am concerned about not knowing what the articles will have in them. I am concerned about the timeline of this whole impeachment process. For me, right now, I am struggling to see how the evidence supports impeachment at this point," the member said on the condition of background in order to speak freely about internal discussions.