The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:02 p.m. ET, October 1, 2019
14 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:39 p.m. ET, October 1, 2019

House committee chairmen warn Pompeo to stop "intimidating" witnesses

From CNN's Zachary Cohen 

BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images
BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images

The chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees released a statement today responding to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s accusations that they were “intimidating and bullying” State Department officials by calling them for depositions related to the Ukraine inquiry.

Instead, the Democratic lawmakers accused Pompeo of “intimidating Department witnesses in order to protect himself and the President,” noting that he was on Trump's July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president.

“Secretary Pompeo was reportedly on the call when the President pressed Ukraine to smear his political opponent. If true, Secretary Pompeo is now a fact witness in the House impeachment inquiry. He should immediately cease intimidating Department witnesses in order to protect himself and the President,” the statement said.

“Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress — including State Department employees — is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry. In response, Congress may infer from this obstruction that any withheld documents and testimony would reveal information that corroborates the whistleblower complaint,” the statement added.

2:25 p.m. ET, October 1, 2019

Giuliani hires Watergate prosecutor as attorney in impeachment inquiry 

From CNN's Michael Warren

Florida attorney Jon Sale is representing Rudy Giuliani in the matter of the congressional impeachment inquiry, Giuliani and Sale both confirmed to CNN.

Giuliani was subpoenaed yesterday by the three committees in the House of Representatives investigating President Trump’s interactions with the Ukrainian government. The subpoena requests documents and correspondence from Giuliani related to Ukraine.

Giuliani has so far declined to say whether he will comply with the subpoena. Reached by phone today, Sale told CNN he just started looking into the requests.

“What I’ve already learned is this is very complex,” Sale said when asked if Giuliani planned to comply. “I really have to study it. I can’t shoot from the hip.”

“Every time I turn around, Rudy’s on another TV show,” Sale continued. “He and I could have a conversation, and then I turn on the television and he could be doing something else.”

Sale added that there are privileges, including attorney-client privilege and executive privilege, that have to be considered.

Giuliani told CNN today it’s “great to be working with such a great lawyer who knows the difference between a real investigation and a political [sic] orchestrated dirty trick.”

Sale was an assistant special prosecutor during the Watergate investigation and works in white collar law. He was also a classmate of Giuliani’s at New York University's School of Law. Sale’s representation of Giuliani was first reported by the New York Times.

1:14 p.m. ET, October 1, 2019

EPA chief says Trump will be "vindicated" during impeachment probe

From CNN's Rene Marsh and Greg Wallace

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Andrew Wheeler said he believes President Trump will be “vindicated” during the House's impeachment inquiry.  

"I’m sure the President will be vindicated," he said. "They started this process before he actually was elected and they’ve been trying to figure out a way of doing that from the very beginning. But I’m sure he’ll be vindicated as he has of all the other charges."

As EPA administrator, Wheeler is a member of Trump’s cabinet.

12:37 p.m. ET, October 1, 2019

Ukrainian president says he never met Rudy Giuliani

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said he's never met President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

“I never met Rudy Giuliani — never. And never had any phone calls with him,” Zelensky said today at a news conference in Kiev.

Why we are talking about Giuliani: The former mayor of New York is mentioned several times in a whistleblower complaint involving Trump's contacts with Ukraine.

The complaint alleges that Trump attempted to "solicit interference from a foreign country" in the 2020 election and labels Giuliani as a "central figure" in the controversy.

12:26 p.m. ET, October 1, 2019

Ukraine president insists "no one can put pressure on me" to investigate Bidens

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks on September 30, 2019.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks on September 30, 2019. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted today no one could put pressure on him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden or his son, Hunter.

Asked by CNN if he felt pressure from President Trump to investigate the Bidens in order to unfreeze military aid, here's how Zelensky responded:

“I don’t feel pressure,” he said at a news conference. “I have lots of people who’d like to put pressure on me here and abroad. I’m the president of an independent Ukraine — no one can put pressure on me.”

 

11:58 a.m. ET, October 1, 2019

Republican senator says whistleblower "ought to be heard out and protected"

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a statement that the whistleblower “appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.”

"No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country," he said.

Grassley is the chairman of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus and has authored and co-authored many of the whistleblower protection laws.

He appeared to push back on President Trump's questioning of the whistleblower's legitimacy, stating that “when it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones."

Grassley added: "Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility."

Here's Grassley's full statement:

"This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality. Any further media reports on the whistleblower’s identity don’t serve the public interest — even if the conflict sells more papers or attracts clicks.
No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts. Uninformed speculation wielded by politicians or media commentators as a partisan weapon is counterproductive and doesn’t serve the country.
When it comes to whether someone qualifies as a whistleblower, the distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones. It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy. Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility. 
As I said last week, inquiries that put impeachment first and facts last don’t weigh very credibly. Folks just ought to be responsible with their words.”

1:25 p.m. ET, October 1, 2019

Mike Pompeo: It's "not feasible" for state officials to be deposed this week

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted he is concerned by House democrats calls to depose State officials on Ukraine.

In a response to a Sept. 27 request from House investigators to depose several of his fellow state department employees as part of the impeachment inquiry, Pompeo tweeted today that he believes the committee's request is "an attempt to intimidate, bully, & treat improperly the distinguished professionals" from the state department.

Pompeo linked to the letter he sent to the chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a second tweet, Pompeo added: “Let me be clear: I will not tolerate such tactics, and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State.”

More context: Pompeo was on the July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian President, a source familiar told CNN.

10:35 a.m. ET, October 1, 2019

These groups want a judge to order the White House preserve all records of calls and meetings with foreign leaders

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

A government transparency group and historical archivist groups are seizing on the new allegations of the White House restricting access to President Trump's conversations with world leaders, and have asked a federal court to step in immediately on the administration's record-keeping practices.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, the National Security Archive and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations asked DC-based federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson today for a temporary restraining order that would force the White House to preserve all records of meetings, phone calls and other communications with foreign leaders.

They also asked the court to order the White House to keep all documents regarding policies, legal advice and investigations about record-keeping.

The groups have asked Jackson — a judge known for presiding over the criminal cases of several Mueller defendants — to schedule a hearing. 

Some background: The three groups had sued Trump and his executive office in May for failing to document at least five meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and one with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Jackson was poised to consider early questions in the lawsuit at earliest at the end of this month. But that was before the recent developments accusing the White House of restricting access to several transcripts of calls between Trump and foreign leaders, including the July call where Trump asked the Ukrainian President for political favors.

The groups suing over presidential record-keeping are accusing the Trump administration of refusing to respond to their requests to keep documents related to the whistleblower complaint, according to the CREW and historical archivists' court filings Tuesday.

The Presidential Records Act, passed initially in 1978, says presidential records are publicly owned documents and should be archived, often so the public may have access to them after the President leaves office.

10:14 a.m. ET, October 1, 2019

Congressman tells all Democrats to support impeachment inquiry: "We all swore an oath to uphold the Constitution"

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat from Michigan, urged Democrats from Republican districts to support the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

"It's absolutely worth it," he told CNN when asked if Democrats in vulnerable districts should support proceedings even if they could lose seats.

He continued:

"We all swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. We did not swear an oath to get re-elected in the next election so we have to do the right thing."