Amid widening controversy over Ukraine, here are key figures House committees want hear from regarding Trump’s actions.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump acquiescing to mounting pressure from fellow Democrats and plunging a deeply divided nation into an election-year clash between Congress and the president.
The announcement came amid reports Trump may have abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government to undermine former Vice President Joe Biden, the current Democratic frontrunner, and help his own re-election.
In a summer phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Trump asked for help investigating Biden, according to a White House-released summary of the call. In the days before the call, Trump ordered advisers to freeze $400m in military aid for Ukraine – prompting speculation that he was using the money as leverage for information on Biden. Trump has denied that charge but acknowledged he blocked the funds which were later released.
The Trump-Ukraine phone call is part of the whistle-blower’s complaint.
Trump has blasted the inquiry as “witch-hunt garbage” and said he has done nothing wrong.
As a formal impeachment inquiry in the House gets under way, here are all the latest updates:
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings said in a statement that they learned late on Thursday that the State Department had directed Marie Yovanovitch not to testify.
They then issued a subpoena to compel the former ambassador to Ukraine’s testimony on Friday morning.
The chairmen said efforts by the Trump administration “will be deemed obstruction” in their impeachment inquiry.
In her opening statement to Congress, which was obtained by The Associated Press, the former ambassador to Ukraine said she was “abruptly” recalled in May and told the president had lost confidence in her.
She said she was told by an official that there was a “concerted campaign” against her and that Trump had pressured officials to remove her for almost a year.
She added she was incredulous that the government had chosen to remove her “based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives”.
Yovanovitch was set to testify before Congress, despite President Donald Trump’s position that his administration would not cooperate with the investigation. The president said earlier this week that he would block officials from testifying.
Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post in May, remains on the State Department payroll as a fellow at Georgetown University.
She was recalled amid a push by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to convince Ukrainian officials to investigate baseless corruption allegations against Joe Biden and his family.
The Associated Press reported on Thursday that a former diplomat, recalling a recent conversation with Yovanovitch, was removed after insisting that requests for investigations be relayed according to long-established protocol.
Sondland attorneys Robert Luskin and Kwame Manley say Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the EU, will honour a congressional subpoena and “looks forward to testifying” on October 17.
His lawyers say he also has been ordered to produce “relevant documents” but he will not be bringing them with him, as they say the State Department has sole authority to produce such documents. They added that Sondland hopes the department shares the documents with the committees before his testimony.
The State Department directed Sondland not to appear for his previously scheduled voluntary deposition on Tuesday. The joint House committee issued the subpoena for Sondland’s testimony on Wednesday.
Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, is expected to testify next week before the House committees investigating Trump and Ukraine, Axios reported on Thursday, citing three congressional sources.
On Tuesday, the State Department banned Sondland, a major Trump political donor, from appearing at a closed-door meeting of the House panels investigating the president.
Trump on Thursday used a campaign rally to blast the impeachment inquiry against him as a “brazen attempt” by Democrats to overthrow him, promising the move would backfire.
Supporters of the Republican president packed the 20,000-seat Target Center in Minneapolis.
Trump lashed out at Joe Biden and his son, and told the crowd the impeachment drama would drive up his support ahead of the November 2020 election and help him win re-election for another four-year term.
“The Democrats’ brazen attempt to overthrow the government will produce a backlash at the ballot box the likes of which they have never ever seen before in the history of this country,” Trump said to cheers.
The subpoena calls for documents related to Ukraine’s state-owned energy company.
A spokeswoman for Rick Perry said the secretary had encouraged Trump to speak to the Ukrainian leader in the July 25 call at the heart of a House impeachment probe. The spokeswoman said Perry only wanted Trump to speak on energy matters.
During a trip to Ukraine in May, Perry also suggested to Zelensky several Americans who could potentially help to oversee and advise on the country’s state-owned gas company. House Democrats are now looking into whether those suggestions were part of a larger pressure campaign by Trump.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Giuliani associates who helped coordinate the push for an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, were scheduled to appear for depositions in the House as part of the impeachment probe on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Neither Parnas nor Fruman was expected to testify willingly.
Both men were arrested while trying to leave the country on Wednesday night and charged with violations of campaign finance laws unrelated to the impeachment probe.
Shortly after the arrests were publicly announced, House Democrats subpoenaed the men for documents they had thus far failed to release to the requesting committees.
The whistle-blower complaint that launched the probe makes reference to “associates” of Giuliani in Ukraine who were attempting to make contact with Zelensky’s team, though it’s not clear that refers to Parnas and Fruman.
Businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had key roles in Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Joe Biden and his son Hunter, were arrested in connection with a New York case involving campaign finance laws, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said.
The Campaign Legal Center had urged a US government agency in a July 2018 complaint to investigate whether Parnas and Fruman had broken the law by using a shell company to disguise the source of a $325,000 donation to a pro-Trump political action committee.
The AP reported last week that Parnas and Fruman helped arrange a January meeting in New York between Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, and Giuliani, as well as other meetings with top government officials.
The indictment, released Thursday, also connected Parnas and Fruman to a push remove the US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, from her post, at the “request of one or more Ukrainian government officials”.
Read more here.
A Fox News poll conducted Sunday through Tuesday found 51 percent of Americans now say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, up from 42 percent who said that in July.
On Twitter, Trump responded to the 9 percent increase: “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck”.
He added the news network is “much different than it used to be in the good old days”.
Speaking a marathon news conference, the Ukrainian president said “there was no blackmail” in the July 25 phone call with Trump. He said that the sole purpose of the call was to plan a meeting with Trump, and there “no conditions” from the US to set that meeting up.
He also responded to allegations that Trump withheld $400m in military aid to pressure Zelensky into reopening a probe into the gas company linked to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
“The story with Burisma has nothing to do with weapons,” Zelensky said, referencing the gas company in question.
Trump took to Twitter, saying Zelensky’s comments should “end this Democrat scam but it won’t”.
The President of the Ukraine just stated again, in the strongest of language, that President Trump applied no pressure and did absolutely nothing wrong. He used the strongest language possible. That should end this Democrat Scam, but it won’t, because the Dems & Media are FIXED!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019
Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina, previously led the House Oversight and Government Reform committee and chaired a special panel that investigated the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Jay Sekulow, Trump’s personal lawyer, said in a statement that Gowdy’s “command of the law is well known and his service on Capitol Hill will be a great asset as a member of our team.”
Asked by a reporter if he would cooperate with Democrats’ demands for testimony and documents if a House vote were held, Trump said: “We would if they give us our rights”.
The White House has criticised Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not calling a vote of the full chamber to authorise the impeachment inquiry. Lawyers for the House have contended that no such vote is needed to launch an inquiry.
Trump also predicted the standoff will probably end “up being a big Supreme Court case”.
The diplomats who had pushed for the release of military funds to Ukraine were advised by the White House not to make a spectacle when the money was finally freed, according to a State Department email obtained by the New York Times.
“Keep moving, people, nothing to see here,” Brad Freden, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary who oversees Europe and Eurasia, wrote in the September 12 email, according to the Newspaper.
The House is investigating whether Trump withheld $400m in military aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating a gas company linked to the son of former Vice President, and potential 2020 opponent, Joe Biden.
Former vice president Joe Biden, who is one of the leading Democrats vying to take on Trump in the 2020 election, said the the president has “betrayed this nation” and violated his oath of office.
“To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached,” said Biden, speaking at a rally in New Hampshire.
“He’s shooting holes in the Constitution, and we can not let him get away with it,” he added.
The House impeachment probe centres on whether Trump withheld $400m in military aid from Ukraine in an attempt to pressure officials to investigate a gas company linked to Biden’s son, Hunter.
Russ Vought, the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), said the office will not comply with a congressional subpoena for documents relating to Ukraine issued as part of the impeachment probe.
“We will not be participating in a sham process designed to relitigate the last election,” Vought said in an interview with the Fox News Channel.
The office was given an October 15 deadline to turn over the documents after the House Intelligence Committee issued the subpoena.
The South Carolina Republican senator said he’s going to ask his Republican colleagues to sign a letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying “We do not believe the transcript of the phone call between the president and the Ukraine is an impeachable offense”.
Graham said Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” that he wants Pelosi to know Republican senators “are not gonna impeach this president based on this transcript”.
Nancy Pelosi said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump was “not above the law” and would be “held accountable” after the White House said it would refuse to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry.
“The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable,” she said
The White House said it would not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats, citing in part the decision by politicians to proceed without a full vote of the House of Representatives.
“You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to US House Democratic leaders.
House of Representatives Democrats subpoenaed US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland after he did not appear for a deposition in their impeachment inquiry of Trump.
In a letter to Sondland, the Democratic chairmen of three House committees said the subpoena compels him to appear on October 16 to answer questions on his role in Trump’s effort to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival.
“Tell the truth, I think, for a change,” Carter, who at 95 is the oldest living former president, told MSNBC when asked what advice he would give Trump.
Carter added that the president’s blocking of witnesses and documents was “stonewalling”.
“That in itself is going to be … another item of evidence that can be used against him,” he said.
A lawyer for the House, Douglas Letter, appeared before a federal judge to argue for the release of the testimony from Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s since-closed investigation into Trump.
Materials from the testimony, which include transcripts of witness accounts, would allow the House to further probe what Trump knew or said about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Letters said the information already disclosed by the Justice Department, including limited summaries of FBI witness interviews, is woefully insufficient. The judge did not immediately rule on the case.
A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said China would not investigate Joe Biden or his son, responding to Trump’s October 4 statement in which he said China and Ukraine should investigate the former US vice president and his family.
Spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing had “no intention of intervening in the domestic affairs of the United States”, according to the South China Morning Post.
“China has long pursued the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries,” he said, according to the newspaper.
The chairmen of the three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry said they said they planned to subpoena US ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland for his testimony and communications on his personal devices that have not been turned over.
The committee heads made the statement shortly after Sondland was blocked by the State Department from testifying before a joint House committee.
House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sondland’s no-show was “yet additional strong evidence” of obstruction of Congress by Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and top ally of Trump, invited the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to testify about corruption in Ukraine.
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said in a tweet “it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine”. Giuliani responded that he would like to testify, but it was unlikely due to attorney-client privilege.
While the Senate will hold a trial if the House votes to impeach the president, the legislative body is not involved in the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Unlike the House of Representatives, I’m tired of only hearing one side of the story.
It’s now time to give voice to everything Ukraine.
Let the chips fall where they may!
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 8, 2019
An attorney for Sondland said the State Department had directed him not to appear for his scheduled interview before a joint House committee, adding he “stands ready to testify on short notice”.
Members of the committee were expected to ask Sondland why he had been involved in dealings with Ukraine, which is not a part of the EU.
The House released a series of text messages last week in which Sondland and other diplomats discussed advising the Ukrainian president to commit to investigating a gas company linked to Hunter Biden in exchange for a White House meeting with Trump.
Sondland was expected to be the first Trump appointee to testify in the inquiry. A wealthy hotelier, he had previously donated one million dollars to Trump’s campaign before he was given the ambassadorship in 2018.
Read more here
House Democrats have issued subpoenas to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting White House budget director Russell Vought as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
Three Democratic committee chairmen demanded that Esper and Vought produce documents previously requested by Democrats by October 15.
Esper and Vought are among a host of Trump administration officials issued subpoenas as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Read the full story here.
A spokeswoman for Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Perry encouraged Trump to speak to the Ukrainian leader in a call at the centre of a House impeachment probe. But energy spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said Perry was wanting Trump to speak on energy matters with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump told House Republicans on Friday night it was Perry who teed up the July call. That’s according to a person familiar with Trump’s comments who was granted anonymity to discuss them. The person said Trump did not suggest that Perry had anything to do with the pressure to investigate the Bidens.
Hynes said Perry’s interest in Ukraine was part of US efforts to boost Western energy ties to Eastern Europe.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has yet to comply with a subpoena for documents in the US House of Representatives impeachment probe, a top Democrat helping to lead the inquiry said on Sunday.
“He’s not complying with the inquiry so far,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel told the CBS news programme Face the Nation.
“They’re in discussions that are ongoing and we’re hoping that he will comply,” he added.
Engel’s panel issued a subpoena for Pompeo on September 27. The deadline for those documents expired on Friday.
A second whistle-blower has come forward about Trump’s attempts to get the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival, lawyers for the official said on Sunday.
Lawyer Mark Zaid said the person, also an intelligence official, has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations involving the initial whistle-blower complaint.
The second official has been interviewed by the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, Zaid said.
NEWS UPDATE: I can confirm this report of a second #whistleblower being represented by our legal team. They also made a protected disclosure under the law and cannot be retaliated against. This WBer has first hand knowledge. https://t.co/zYkUYgJ0mE
— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) October 6, 2019
Read more here.
Trump called Senator Mitt Romney a “pompous ass” after his sharp critique of the president’s push for Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens.
“Mitt Romney never knew how to win. He is a pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning,” Trump wrote of his fellow Republican on Twitter.
Mitt Romney never knew how to win. He is a pompous “ass” who has been fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him). He is so bad for R’s!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2019
Somebody please wake up Mitt Romney and tell him that my conversation with the Ukrainian President was a congenial and very appropriate one, and my statement on China pertained to corruption, not politics. If Mitt worked this hard on Obama, he could have won. Sadly, he choked!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2019
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused members of Congress of harassing his department to obtain documents linked to the impeachment investigation against Trump.
“There have been congressional inquiries that have harassed and abused State Department employees by contacting them directly and seeking to have them provide documents … that belong to the State Department, that are official US government records” he said during a visit in Greece.
“That’s harassment. And I’m never going to let that happen to my team.”
Pompeo, who has been subpoenaed in the probe, told reporters in Athens his department would provide “all the documents required by the law”.
The US intelligence community’s inspector general was correct in deciding a whistle-blower complaint against Trump was urgent and credible, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a statement on Friday.
Inspector General Michael Atkinson testified before a closed-door hearing of Schiff’s panel on Friday about the complaint, which is at the centre of a House of Representatives impeachment inquiry of President Trump.
US House Democrats on Friday asked Vice President Mike Pence to turn over documents relating to a meeting he held with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and a call between Zelensky and Trump that is at the centre of their widening impeachment probe.
The Democratic chairmen of the three House committees leading the investigation gave Pence until October 15 to produce the records. During the July 25 call, Trump pressed Zelensky to open an investigation into Biden, Trump’s political rival, and the former vice president’s son.
US Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said it was “wrong and appalling” for Trump to push other nations to investigate Biden.
“When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” Romney said on Twitter. “By all appearances, the president’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”
Trump said he would not tie a much-anticipated trade deal with China to his publicly stated desire for Beijing to investigate Biden.
Speaking to reporters before departing the White House, Trump said negotiations to end the US trade war with China were separate from any investigation into Biden.
“One thing has nothing to do with the other,” the Republican president said when asked whether he would be more likely to make a deal with China if it investigated Biden. “I want to do a trade deal with China, but only if it’s good for our country.”
Trump confirmed he would send a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting that the chamber hold a full vote to formally approve the impeachment inquiry, a move that could slow the process down.
Responding to a similar letter from the House minority leader on Thursday, Pelosi said there was no requirement under the US Constitution for a House vote authorising an impeachment probe.
US officials pressured their Ukrainian counterparts to launch investigations that could benefit Trump’s personal political agenda in exchange for a meeting between the two countries’ leaders, a cache of diplomatic texts released late on Thursday showed.
Kurt Volker, who resigned a week ago as Trump’s special representative to Ukraine, provided the messages to members of the House and staff of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees in a closed-door meeting earlier on Thursday.
Volker told one adviser to the Ukrainian president that a meeting between the countries’ two leaders was tied to Kiev’s agreement to investigate the 2016 US election, according to the committees.
“Heard from the White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/’get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker wrote.
Later messages between the aide, Andriy Yermak, and Volker showed duelling efforts to lock in a date for a Trump-Zelensky meeting and to issue a statement from Kiev announcing a “reboot” of relations along with the probes into Burisma and the 2016 election.
Ukrainian prosecutors said they would review 15 previous investigations related to the founder of gas company Burisma, where the son of Joe Biden was a board member until this year.
It is the first concrete sign of how Ukraine plans to handle investigations that are being closely watched in Washington, DC.
Ukraine’s new top prosecutor Ruslan Ryaboshapka told Reuters he was not aware of any evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden.
But his office announced that prosecutors would investigate whether old cases featuring Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, related to the time when Zlochevsky served as a minister in a previous government, were conducted properly.
Trump discussed Biden and Elizabeth Warren, another 2020 presidential hopeful, with Chinese President Xi Jinping, CNN reported.
CNN, citing individuals familiar with the matter, said Trump raised Biden and Warren’s political prospects.
It’s unclear whether Trump asked Xi to investigate his political rivals.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump said he had not asked his Chinese counterpart to look into Biden, but that he thought China should and that he could consider asking Xi to do so.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump ordered the recall of Marie Yovanovitch, who was US ambassador to Ukraine, after complaints by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others.
The newspaper, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported that State Department officials were told that Yovanovitch’s removal was a “priority” for Trump. She was recalled months earlier than expected.
Yovanovitch is scheduled to appear before House investigators next week as part of the impeachment inquiry, according to House Democrats.
Responding to a request by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to suspend the impeachment inquiry, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there is no requirement under the Constitution for a House vote authorising an impeachment probe.
McCarthy had called on Pelosi to suspend the inquiry until “rules and procedures are established”.
The US House Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Democrat Adam Schiff, said on Thursday that President Trump broke his oath of office in asking China to probe former Vice President Joe Biden, who could end up running against Trump in the 2020 election.
“The president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of a president’s oath of office. It endangers our elections. It endangers our national security. It ought to be condemned by every member of this body, Democrats and Republicans alike,” Schiff told reporters.
US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday called for an end to “endless investigations” into the presidency of Donald Trump, as congressional Democrats ramp up the impeachment inquiry into the Trump administration.
“These endless investigations should end in Washington, DC, and Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats ought to be focusing on issues of security, prosperity, infrastructure, the USMCA and lowering drug prices,” Pence told reporters.
A spokeswoman for Joe Biden said on Thursday that Trump was “desperately clutching for conspiracy theories that have been debunked and dismissed by independent, credible news organisations.”
“Now, with his administration in free-fall, Donald Trump is flailing and melting down on national television,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
Trump’s comments calling on Ukraine and China to probe one of his top Democratic rivals in the 2020 election only add to the urgency of the House of Representative’s impeachment inquiry, the head of the intelligence panel said.
“The President cannot use the power of his office to pressure foreign leaders to investigate his political opponents. His rant this morning reinforces the urgency of our work,” US House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff tweeted.
Trump said he wants Ukraine to investigate political rival and former US Vice President Joe Biden, openly advocating an action that triggered a Democratic impeachment inquiry in Congress.
Trump told reporters at the White House Ukraine should probe the front-running Democratic presidential hopeful and his son, Hunter Biden, and that China should follow suit.
“Certainly – something we can start thinking about,” the president said of asking China to get involved.
“If it were me I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens,” he added.
There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son.
It is illegal to ask for foreign help in a US election.
Read the full story here.
A new poll shows that 45 percent of American support impeaching Trump, but the partisan divide remains wide. Thirty-eight percent said he should not be impeachment.
The USA TODAY/Ipsos poll found that 44 percent of Americans said the Senate should convict Trump and remove him from office. Thirty-five percent said the Senate should not convict the president if he were impeached.
Although the poll represents a shift in public opinion, the divide between Republicans and Democrats remains wide.
About 74 percent of Democrats favour impeachment, while only 17 percent of Republicans do.
The results were based on a survey of 1,006 adults who were questioned on Tuesday and Wednesday. “The online poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points,” USA TODAY said.
A longtime US diplomat who served as Trump’s special envoy for Ukraine will tell his story to congressional committee staff on Thursday.
Kurt Volker resigned as special representative for Ukraine negotiations on Friday, the day after the public release of a whistle-blower complaint that described him as trying to “contain the damage” from efforts by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
Volker’s meeting with the committee comes after an emotional day in the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, when Trump railed at journalists during a news conference, resorted to the use of an expletive on Twitter and called the probe “a hoax and a fraud” while pledging to cooperate.
Trump said on Wednesday he likely will bring lawsuits against some of the people involved in the investigation into whether he or his 2016 election campaign colluded with Russia.
“I probably will be bringing a lot of litigation against a lot of people having to do with the corruption investigation having to do with the 2016 election,” Trump told a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.
Trump did not name names but has long expressed frustration at some of the central figures in the investigation by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller such as former FBI Director James Comey. Trump fired Comey in May 2017.
The Mueller probe found insufficient evidence to establish that Trump and his campaign had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia. The Russian state did run a hacking and propaganda operation to disrupt the US election, Mueller found.
The whistle-blower provided an account of his concerns to a congressional aide, who relayed them to the committee chairman now leading the House of Representatives’ impeachment investigation, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The Times’s account, which cites a spokesman and current and former US officials, said the whistle-blower approached an aide to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff out of concern about how his allegations were being handled after he had a colleague pass them along to the CIA’s top lawyer.
Schiff’s aide suggested the whistle-blower file a complaint, the New York Times said.
In a statement, Patrick Boland, spokesman for Schiff and the committee, said the whistle-blower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within its jurisdiction.
“Consistent with the Committee’s longstanding procedures, Committee staff appropriately advised the whistle-blower to contact an Inspector General and to seek legal counsel.”
He said the committee did not review or receive the complaint in advance.
The chairman of a congressional panel helping to spearhead an impeachment inquiry into Trump said on Wednesday he plans to issue a subpoena to the White House for documents relating to the administration’s contacts with Ukraine.
“The White House’s flagrant disregard of multiple voluntary requests for documents – combined with stark and urgent warnings from the Inspector General about the gravity of these allegations – have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena,” House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a memorandum to committee members.
Read the full story here.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he would not object to his phone calls with Trump being published and that he always assumed his words could potentially be published whenever he speaks.
US Congress is determined to get access to Trump’s calls with Putin and other world leaders, the US House Intelligence Committee’s chairman said on Sunday, citing concerns that the Republican president may have jeopardised national security.
Two officials asked to testify in the Democratic-led US House of Representatives’s impeachment investigation of Trump have agreed to provide depositions, a House committee official said on Tuesday.
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who had been asked to appear on Wednesday, will appear on October 11. Trump’s former special representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, will appear on Thursday, as had been requested.
There was no immediate word on whether other current and former officials had agreed to appear before the House committees’ investigation of Trump and Ukraine.
Read more about the officials House panels want to hear from here.
The leaders of three US House of Representatives Committees accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of intimidating witnesses, and said doing so was illegal and “will constitute evidence of obstruction”.
Pompeo earlier on Tuesday sternly objected to the committees’ efforts to obtain depositions from five current and former State Department officials, as the Democratic-led House looks into Trump’s request to Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden.
Ukrainian President Zelensky said he had never met or spoken to US President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whose meetings with Ukrainian officials are now part of an impeachment inquiry in Washington, DC.
Democrats last week launched the impeachment effort in the light of a whistle-blower complaint against the Republican president, which accused him of soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 US election, for his personal political benefit, on a phone call with Zelensky earlier this year.
The whistle-blower who reported concerns over US President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president should be heard out and their identity protected,” Republican US Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This person appears to have followed the whistle-blower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistle-blowers’ requests for confidentiality,” Grassley said. “No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistle-blower first and carefully following up on the facts.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday pushed back against a request by House Democrats to depose five current and former State Department officials in the Ukraine probe, saying it could be seen as an intimidation attempt.
“I’m concerned with aspects of the committee’s request that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully, & treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State,” Pompeo wrote in a tweet accompanying a fiery letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel.
He said he would “use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals” of the State Department.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened a four-nation tour of Europe on Tuesday in Italy, as the push to impeach President Trump gains steam at home.
Pompeo arrived in Rome just hours after US officials confirmed his participation in Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president that is fueling the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. Pompeo is the first cabinet official known to have heard Trump press the Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son for corruption.
Pompeo didn’t speak on the issue during an exchange of pleasantries with reporters on board his plane but has said previously that he does not believe any State Department official acted inappropriately in contacts with Ukraine’s government.
Barr travelled to Italy last week with US lawyer John Durham, who is investigating the origins of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr and Durham met with government officials as part of the investigation, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press news agency.
Pompeo is set to meet Italy’s president and prime minister on Tuesday but is not due to speak publicly until Wednesday when he addresses a conference on faith-based organisations at the Vatican and is later scheduled to hold a news conference with Italy’s foreign minister.
From Italy, Pompeo will travel to Montenegro and North Macedonia before wrapping up his European trip in Greece.
Two US officials said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president that is at the centre of a whistle-blower complaint.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal matter.
It was the first confirmation that a cabinet official was on the call in which Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter’s membership on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
It also increases the number of people known to have first-hand knowledge of a call that has sparked an impeachment inquiry by Congress.
The State Department had no comment.
Trump urged Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a recent phone call to help the US attorney general in an investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing two US officials with knowledge of the call.
The White House restricted access to the call’s transcript to a small group of presidential aides, one of the officials said, according to the newspaper.
It was an unusual decision that is similar to the handling of a July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of a House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into Trump, the paper said.
The original FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election was launched after the bureau received a tip-off from Australian officials.
House committees subpoena Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani for documents related to Ukraine.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would have “no choice” but to take up any House-approved impeachment articles against Trump.
The Kentucky Republican told CNBC on Monday that the Senate rules required him to do so.
“I would have no choice but to take it up,” under Senate rules, said McConnell.
House Democrats are pushing for quick action on their probe into a transcript and whistle-blower complaint that Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden’s family. If the House approves articles of impeachment, they would go to the Senate for trial.
Trump tweeted a conservative pastor’s comment that removing him would provoke a “civil war-like fracture” in America.
Representative Adam Kinzinger, a former Air Force pilot who represents an Illinois district Trump won in 2016, tweeted on Sunday, “I have visited nations ravaged by civil war …. I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant.”
That came after Trump tweeted a comment from the Robert Jeffress, pastor of the Southern Baptist megachurch First Baptist Dallas.
“If the Democrats are successful in removing the president from office, it will cause a civil war-like fracture in this nation from which our country will never heal,” Jeffress said on Sunday on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends Weekend. Trump posted his tweet a few hours later.
Trump on Monday was thundering through a new round of counter-punches against his opponents by hammering home the suggestion that they should be arrested and charged with treason and could launch a civil war – or a combination of those.
His top foes were the whistle-blower whose complaint launched the House’s impeachment investigation and the congressman leading it, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.
“Arrest for Treason?” Trump tweeted of Schiff on Monday, in one of many suggestions that his opponents should be investigated for operating under their constitutional duties and within the law.
But treason is extremely narrowly defined, both in the nation’s founding document and in federal law.
The Constitution states: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
Note the word “only”. Treason occurs when a US citizen, or a non-citizen on US territory, wages war against the country or provides material support, not just sympathy, to a declared enemy of the United States.
The Kremlin said that Washington would need Russian consent to publish transcripts of phone calls between Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Congress is determined to get access to Trump’s calls with Putin and other world leaders, the US House Intelligence Committee’s chairman said on Sunday, citing concerns that the Republican president may have jeopardised national security.
Asked about those comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Russia would be prepared to discuss the issue with Washington if it sent Moscow a signal, but that such disclosures were not normal diplomatic practice.
Trump on Monday escalated his attacks against the politician leading the impeachment inquiry against him, suggesting that Representative Adam Schiff be arrested for “treason”.
“Rep Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Schiff has previously responded to the allegations he made up the conversation, saying his account was “meant to be at least part, in parody”.
Ukrainian President Zelensky said on Monday that Kiev was unlikely to publish its version of a transcript of a July 25 phone call with Trump, at the heart of an impeachment inquiry in Washington, DC.
Speaking to journalists at an event at a military site near Kiev on Monday, Zelensky said he felt it would be wrong to share the Ukrainian summary or transcript of the call.
“Prior to the presidency I was never a diplomat, but I think I have had many such conversations in my life and will have many more,” Zelensky said.
“There are certain nuances and things which I think it would be incorrect, even, to publish,” he said.
Asked whether Kiev would open an investigation into the claims against Joe Biden and his son Hunter, per Trump’s request, Zelensky said Kiev would not act solely on the orders of other countries.
“We can’t be commanded to do anything. We are an independent country,” Zelensky said.
“We are open, we are ready to investigate (but) it has nothing to do with me. Our independent law enforcement agencies are ready to investigate any case in which the law was broken.”
On Saturday, the whistle-blower’s legal team sent a letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, expressing their “serious concerns” for the safety of their client after Trump’s attacks on their client.
Trump has likened the whistle-blower and White House officials who gave information to the whistle-blower to spies and suggested they committed treason.
The letter, which was made public on Sunday, also said that “certain individuals” had put out a $50,000 award for information relating to the whistle-blower’s identity.
Lambasting the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Trump has warned his supporters that the US “is at stake like never before”.
In a video message on Twitter, Trump said Democrats “want to take away your guns, they want to take away your health care, they want to take away your vote, they want to take away your freedom.”
“We can never let this happen,” he said. “Because our country is at stake like never before. It’s all very simple. They’re trying to stop me because I’m fighting for you – and I’ll never let that happen.”
They are trying to stop ME, because I am fighting for YOU! pic.twitter.com/xiw4jtjkNl
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 28, 2019
The White House restricted access to the transcripts of Trump’s calls containing sensitive conversations with both his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Saudi Arabia, according to a media report.
Following the practice put in place after previous leaks, the documents were concealed in the ultra-secure computer system accessible with only the highest security access, The New York Times reported late on Friday, citing current and former officials.
“The Saudi calls placed in the restricted system were with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Khalid bin Salman, who at the time was the Saudi ambassador to the United States,” the report said.
Read more here.
Trump’s special representative for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, resigned on Friday, US media reported.
A whistle-blower complaint from within the intelligence community, released publicly on Thursday, described Volker as trying to “contain the damage” from efforts by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
Volker, who had served in the position on a part-time, unpaid basis since 2017, had sought to help Ukraine’s government resolve its confrontation with Russia-sponsored separatists.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Volker’s resignation was first reported by The State Press, a student-run publication at Arizona State University, which backs a think-tank where Volker serves as executive director.
Read more here.
A House committee will hear closed-door testimony from the intelligence community’s inspector general on October 4, a congressional official said on Friday.
The hearing before the House Intelligence Committee relates to the whistle-blower report alleging Trump abused his office in attempting to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 US election for his political benefit.
The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, a Trump appointee, determined that the whistle-blower’s report was credible.
Atkinson was also concerned that Trump potentially exposed himself to “serious national security and counter-intelligence risks” when he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son during a July 25 phone call, according to a Justice Department legal opinion.
Three Democratic-led US House of Representatives Committees announced a subpoena on Friday for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, seeking to compel him to hand over documents concerning contact with the Ukrainian government.
The House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight Committees also scheduled depositions for five State Department officials over the next two weeks, including former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Ambassador Kurt Volker, the US special representative for Ukraine, and Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union.
Trump accused Democrats of trying to “steal” the 2020 election in a new television advertisement, as he fends off an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
The advertisement also attacked Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, highlighting his efforts to make US aid to Ukraine contingent on that country firing its chief prosecutor. The advertisement claims that the fired prosecutor was investigating the former vice president’s son.
In fact, the prosecutor had failed to pursue any major anti-corruption investigations, leaving Ukraine’s international donors deeply frustrated. In pressing for the prosecutor’s removal, Biden was representing the official position of the US government, which was shared by other Western allies and many in Ukraine.
Trump’s re-election campaign said the new advertisement is the subject of a $10m buy, with $2m coming from the Republican National Committee.
Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, says, “This is a Joe Biden scandal and the Democrats are trying to use it to steal the election.”
White House Counsellor Kellyanne Conway dismissed a question of whether the White House was organising an impeachment war room, saying the president is “the most battle-tested person I’ve ever met”.
The US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee could open hearings as early as next week in its impeachment inquiry into President Trump, CNN reported on Friday, citing an interview with the panel’s chairman.
“We will move as expeditiously as possible,” Adam Schiff said, according to the broadcaster. “But we have to see what witnesses are going to make themselves available and what witnesses are going to require compulsion.”
Schiff said subpoenas could be issued and depositions taken as early as next week, CNN reported.
The White House on Friday confirmed a key detail in the intelligence whistle-blower’s complaint alleging that Trump abused the power of his office.
A senior administration official acknowledged to the Associated Press that the rough transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky was moved to a highly-classified system maintained by the National Security Council at the direction of lawyers. The motivation and timing of the move remained unclear.
White House attorneys were made aware of concerns about Trump’s comments on the call before the intelligence community whistle-blower sent his allegations to the inspector general.
Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted on Friday, “Let’s be clear, President Trump is trying to hijack this election.”
He added, “This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a national issue.”
Let's be clear, President Trump is trying to hijack this election.
This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is a national issue. pic.twitter.com/me7g8R0h72
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 27, 2019
The Democratic-led US House of Representatives killed a Republican resolution on Friday disapproving of the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump Pelosi announced this week.
The vote was 222-184, largely along party lines, in favour of a motion to table the resolution introduced by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader.
The introduction of the resolution, and the vote, underscore the deep partisan divide in the House over the effort to investigate the Republican president.
Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, says Trump is a “spoiled brat”.
“He grew up as a very rich kid,” Sanders tweet. “And now he thinks he can do anything he wants. Most people work hard, they tell the truth, they pay their taxes. Trump does the opposite.”
Donald Trump is a spoiled brat.
He grew up as a very rich kid. And now he thinks he can do anything he wants.
Most people work hard, they tell the truth, they pay their taxes. Trump does the opposite.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 27, 2019
A Ukrainian investigation of gas company Burisma is focused solely on activity that took place before Hunter Biden, son of former US Vice President Joe Biden, was hired to sit on its board, Ukraine’s anti-corruption investigation agency said.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) said it was investigating permits granted by officials at the Ministry of Ecology for the use of natural resources to a string of companies managed by Burisma.
But it said the period under investigation was 2010-2012 and noted that this was before the company hired Hunter Biden.
“Changes to the board of Burisma Limited, which are currently the object of international attention, took place only in May 2014, and therefore are not and never were the subject of [the anti-corruption bureau’s] investigation,” the bureau’s statement said.
Hunter Biden was a director on Burisma’s board from 2014-2018, according to documents filed by the company in Cyprus, where it is registered.
A quick round-up of how the US got here:
US Attorney General William Barr and the US Justice Department have gone “rogue”, US House Speaker Pelosi said on Friday, days after opening an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump over allegations that the president solicited Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 US election.
“He’s gone rogue,” Pelosi said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” programme.
In a pair of angry tweets Friday morning, Trump went after the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and called on him to resign.
Trump accused Adam Schiff of having “lied” when during his opening remarks to a committee hearing on Thursday.
Republicans have accused Schiff of “inventing” a conversation between Trump and the Ukrainian president.
Schiff responded to the allegations, saying his account was “meant to be at least part, in parody”.
“The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself,” he said.
Asian markets fell on Friday following declines on Wall Street as the impeachment inquiry into Trump weighed on sentiment.
Political turmoil in Washington following the release of the whistle-blower’s complaint overshadowed positive comments from Trump on US-China trade talks and steps towards a new agreement with Japan.
“The market isn’t clear on what to make of the latest impeachment developments in the US, and this continues to increase uncertainly and could be weighing on investor sentiment,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note.
Governor of US state of Vermont has become the first Republican chief executive to support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
Phil Scott said at a news conference on Thursday that he was not surprised by the news that Trump repeatedly urged Ukraine’s president to “look into” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden because he has “watched him over the years”.
“I think the inquiry is important, yes, and where it leads from here is going to be driven by the facts that are established,” Scott said.
Scott’s remarks are one of the few signs of Republican discomfort with the revelations.
The chairmen of three House panels released a statement on Thursday, demanding Trump to stop attacking the whistle-blower and the individual’s sources.
“President Trump is fully aware that our committees are seeking testimony from this whistle-blower and others referenced in the whistle-blower’s complaint released today as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry, and our nation’s laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate, or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony to Congress,” said Eliot L Engel, the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.
“ No officials with knowledge relevant to the committees’ investigation, including knowledge of the subject of the whistle-blower complaint, may be subject to any intimidation, reprisal, or threat of reprisal, and all witnesses must be made available for congressional testimony,” the chairmen added.
“The president’s comments today constitute reprehensible witness intimidation and an attempt to obstruct Congress’s impeachment inquiry. We condemn the president’s attacks, and we invite our Republican counterparts to do the same because Congress must do all it can to protect this whistle-blower, and all whistle-blowers. Threats of violence from the leader of our country have a chilling effect on the entire whistle-blower process, with grave consequences for our democracy and national security.”
The top US spy official and the inspector general for intelligence agencies “were extremely forthcoming” in closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday on a whistle-blower complaint against Trump, the panel’s chairman said.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and Inspector General Michael Atkinson “were extremely forthcoming with us today, extremely helpful at trying to fill in some of the things that we haven’t been able to pick up just from the published documents”.
Responding to reports that US President Trump likened the whistle-blower’s sources “to a spy” and said, “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart?”, the House intelligence chair said Americans should denounce such witness intimidation.
“The President’s suggestion that those involved in the whistleblower complaint should be dealt with as ‘we used to do’ for ‘spies and treason’ is a reprehensible invitation to violence against witnesses in our investigation. All Americans must denounce such witness intimidation,” Adam Schiff tweeted.
The President’s suggestion that those involved in the whisteblower complaint should be dealt with as "we used to do" for "spies and treason" is a reprehensible invitation to violence against witnesses in our investigation.
All Americans must denounce such witness intimidation. https://t.co/cTQQXdbGsa
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 26, 2019
The whistle-blower who filed a complaint against President Trump was a CIA officer who was detailed to work at the White House at some point, according to the New York Times, who site three people familiar with the matter.
The newspaper said that the man has since returned to the CIA.
Lawyers for the whistle-blower declined to confirm the New York Times reporting, the newspaper said.
“Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way,” said Andrew Bakaj, his lead counsel. “The whistle-blower has a right to anonymity.”
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, defended the newspaper’s decision to publish the information, saying, “The role of the whistle-blower, including his credibility and his place in the government, is essential to understanding one of the most important issues facing the country – whether the president of the United States abused power and whether the White House covered it up.”
President Trump told staff from the US mission to the United Nations on Thursday he wanted to know who provided information to a whistle-blower on his phone call with Ukraine’s president, likening them to a spy, two newspapers reported.
“I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Trump was quoted as saying by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the whistle-blower complaint released on Thursday reveals a series of “damning allegations” concerning President Trump’s conduct, including a telephone call in which he sought dirt on a political opponent from Ukraine’s president.
The complaint “sets out a series of the most damning allegations concerning the conduct of the president and others potentially within the administration,” Schiff told reporters after a hearing in which the acting US director of national intelligence testified that the complaint was credible.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said he had not yet fully read the whistle-blower complaint about US President Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine but that he believed the State Department had acted appropriately.
“To the best of my knowledge and from what I have seen so far, each of the actions that were undertaken by State Department officials was entirely appropriate,” Pompeo told a news conference.
The House Intelligence Committee hearing with testimony from acting National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire has ended.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says an intelligence community whistle-blower’s complaint shows President Donald Trump has undermined national security and tried to cover it up.
Pelosi told reporters Thursday at her weekly press conference that allegations Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden show he “betrayed his oath of office, our national security and the integrity” of US elections.
She added: “This is a cover-up.”
Trump has denied doing anything wrong.
While the nation’s top intelligence official is testifying in Washington, DC, President Donald Trump is attending a closed fundraising breakfast in New York.
The fundraiser is at a Manhattan restaurant and is expected to raise about $3 million for Trump and other Republican campaigns.
A woman on Thursday held a sign through the window of a nearby sandwich shop that said, “Whistle-blowers set us free.” Next door, a pizza place posted a homemade sign written on a pizza box that said “We love Mr Trump.”
Trump began his day with tweets denouncing House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and urging Republicans to “fight hard,” saying “our country is at stake.”
A Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee said Trump’s conversation with the Ukrainian leader “was not OK”.
“I want to say to the president, ‘This is not OK,'” Mike Turner said of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. “That conversation is not OK. And I think it’s disappointing to the American public when they read this transcript.”
Read a summary of the call here.
Acting National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire said he didn’t withhold the whistle-blower complaint, he “delayed” it. He also said he was not directed to withhold the complaint from Congress by the White House or Trump administration.
“This is a unique situation,” Maguire said.
Read the full complaint here.
Acting National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee that the whistle-blower, whose identity is unknown, will be able to testify freely once the security clearance issues for the individual’s counsel is sorted.
CNN reported late on Wednesday that the whistle-blower had tentatively agreed to testify if Maguire approved security clearance of the individual’s legal counsel so the lawyers can accompany their client.
At the end of his questioning, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, told acting National Intelligence Director Joseph Maguire to be “careful what you say because they are going to use your words against you”.
After being pressed, the acting director of national intelligence said he first went to the White House Office of Legal Counsel to determine any executive privilege concerns regarding the whistle-blower complaint.
The acting director of national intelligence said a whistle-blower “did the right thing” by coming forward to report concerns over the White House’s handling of a call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s leader.
Joseph Maguire told the House intelligence committee at a hearing on Thursday the whistle-blower followed the law “every step of the way”.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, citing questions of executive privilege regarding the whistle-blower complaint, said the matter is “totally unprecedented”.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the House Intelligence Committee that he believes he was acting in full compliance with the law at all times.
The House Intelligence Committee chairman asked the US’s top spy chief why he asked for Justice Department’s opinion on whether to provide the whistle-blower complaint to congress.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is testifying before the House Intelligence Panel.
The House Intelligence Committee has released a redacted version of the whistle-blower complaint.
This complaint should never have been withheld, and it provides a roadmap for our investigation.
We will do everything we can to protect this courageous whistleblower.
The public has a right to see the complaint and what it reveals.
Read it here:https://t.co/B0DrqDt4MS
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 26, 2019
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is set to testify on Thursday morning on the whistle-blower complaint that helped prompt House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce the House was moving forward with an impeachment inquiry of Trump.
The hearing is set to begin at 10am local time (13:00GMT)
US Representative Chris Stewart tweeted late on Wednesday that the whistle-blower complaint has been declassified.
US media, citing unnamed sources, reported that it could be released as early as Thursday.
“I encourage you all to read it,” Stewart said.
The majority – 217 Democrats and one Independent – of the US House members now favour some kind of impeachment inquiry or action, according to US media.
Some tallies put the number at 219 Democrats and one Independent.
US media tallies are based on public statements and comments to US news outlets.
According to the New York Times, more than 70 Democrats have said they support impeachment since Monday.
The whistle-blower who filed the complaint now at the centre of an impeachment inquiry of Trump has tentatively agreed to testify, CNN reported.
According to the news outlet, the whistle-blower will only agree to appear before members of congress if acting DNI chief Joseph Maguire approves security clearances of the individuals legal counsel so the counsel can accompany their client.
Chuck Schumer, the US Senate’s top Democrat, on Wednesday called for the immediate release of a complaint filed by an intelligence official reportedly about a call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“The public has a right to read the whistle-blower’s complaint for themselves. The contents of the complaint should be made public immediately,” Schumer said in a statement.
Some politicians were able to view the complaint on Wednesday, but have been barred from publicly discussing the contents of it.
A Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday said there are “real troubling things here” in a whistle-blower’s complaint about President Donald Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s leader.
Senator Ben Sasse, speaking to reporters upon leaving a secure room for senators to read the complaint, added that “Republicans ought not just circle the wagons” to protect Trump.
Similarly, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that the document was “very troubling.” “There are so many facts that have to be examined,” Schumer said.
US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Wednesday after viewing a whistle-blower complaint concerning President Donald Trump that the allegations were “deeply disturbing” and “very credible”.
“I found the allegations deeply disturbing. I also found them very credible,” Schiff told reporters.
“I want to thank the whistle-blower for coming forward. I think what this courageous individual has done has exposed serious wrongdoing,” he said.
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he decided to release a summary of a controversial phone call with Ukraine’s leader because “horrible things” were being reported about it, but that he did not like the precedent of releasing details of such calls.
“I don’t like the precedent,” Trump said at a news conference on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting. “I don’t like it where you’re dealing with heads of state and to think that their call is going to be released.”
Trump again used his often repeated line when it comes talking about investigations of him and his administration: “a hoax”.
“The Democrats did this hoax during the United Nations week. It was perfect,” Trump said during a news conference in New York on Wednesday. “Because this way it takes away from the tremendous achievements that we’re taking care of doing that we’re involved in. In New York City at the United Nations.”
Trump also said he “didn’t threaten anybody”, denying that he attempted to pressure Ukraine’s leader.
Trump on Twitter and in a press conference said he has informed Republicans that he full supports transparency “on so-called whistle-blower information” but he said he insists “on transparency from Joe Biden and his son Hunter, on the millions of dollars that have been quickly and easily…taken out of Ukraine and China”.
“Additionally, I demand transparency from Democrats that went to Ukraine,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday he thought that only US President Donald Trump’s side of their July phone call would be published.
According to a summary of the momentous telephone call released by the Trump administration, Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate a political rival, former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, in coordination with the US attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer.
“I personally think that sometimes such calls between presidents of independent countries should not be published,” Zelensky told Ukrainian media in a briefing in New York that was broadcast in Ukraine. “I just thought that they would publish their part.”
Zelensky said he did not know the details of an investigation into Biden’s son, repeating that he wants his new general prosecutor to investigate all cases.
Several US media outlets reported that the House and Senate intelligence committees will gain access to the the whistle-blower complaint at 4pm local time (20:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
Joe Biden said President Donald Trump not only has compromised national security but mounted “a direct attack on the independence” of the Justice Department.
The document shows Trump asking Zelensky to “do us a favour” by investigating Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump urged Zelensky to talk to Attorney General William Barr about the matter.
Biden said Trump “put personal politics” above US national security interests by soliciting a foreign leader’s help in damaging one of the US president’s domestic political rivals. Biden is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
President Donald Trump said he placed “no pressure” on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden.
Trump commented on Wednesday during a meeting in New York with Zelensky on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.
Asked about their July telephone call, Zelensky said it was a “good phone call” and “normal” and that he and Trump discussed “many things.”
Zelensky added, “Nobody pushed me.”
The top US spy official threatened to resign over concerns the White House might press him to withhold information from Congress in scheduled testimony on Thursday about a whistle-blower complaint about President Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Citing unnamed current and former US officials, the Post said acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire told the White House he was not willing to stonewall Congress.
It said the move was partly aimed at forcing the White House to make an explicit legal decision on whether it was going to assert executive privilege over the whistle-blower complaint, which Maguire has so far withheld from Congress.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday he was not pushed by US President Donald Trump to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and does not want to involved in the US elections.
“I don’t want to be involved to democratic open elections of US state,” he said. “We had I think good phone call, it was normal, we spoke about many things … I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed me.”
The vast majority of Republicans have dismissed Trump’s phone call with his Ukrainian president as a “nothing call”.
Republicans leaned heavily on the fact that the rough transcript did not include direct evidence of a quid pro quo.
“Dems launched an impeachment inquiry based on a rumor instead of waiting for the facts,” tweeted Republican Representative Steve Scalise.
Dems launched an impeachment inquiry based on a rumor instead of waiting for the facts.
It's now clear: there was no quid pro quo. @realDonaldTrump didn't break any laws.
But this has never been about facts or laws for Dems & the media—they just want to undo the 2016 election.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) September 25, 2019
“Nothing remotely impeachable in transcript,” tweeted Republican Pete King. “Ukrainian President brought up Giuliani before @POTUS Trump mentioned Biden. No quid pro quo. Pursuing impeachment is indefensible.”
Nothing remotely impeachable in transcript. Ukrainian President brought up Giuliani before @POTUS Trump mentioned Biden. No quid pro quo. Pursuing impeachment is indefensible.
— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) September 25, 2019
The US Senate intelligence panel should probe President Donald Trump’s handling of Ukraine, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Wednesday following the release of a memo outlining Trump’s July call with the Ukrainian president.
Schumer, speaking to reporters, said the memo – which showed Trump asking Kiev to investigate his potential 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden – raised a number of questions that Republicans should also want answered.
The Senate committee, led by Republican Senator Richard Burr, conducted a largely bipartisan investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.
The chairmen of four of the US House of Representatives committees involved in the impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump called a summary of his call with Ukraine’s president “an unambiguous, damning, and shocking abuse” of office on Wednesday.
The four committee leaders, all Democrats, repeated that Congress needs full, unredacted access to the whistle-blower complaint that fueled calls for the impeachment inquiry and threatened to subpoena the State Department and White House if they do not turn over related records for a Thursday deadline.
Democratic US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the summary of a July phone conversation between US President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president released by the Justice Department on Wednesday confirmed the need for an impeachment inquiry of Trump.
“The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds and our national security,” Pelsoi said in a statement.
The chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, on Wednesday said President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president was far more damning than expected.
Schiff, a Democrat, said the memo of the call that the White House released earlier on Wednesday in which Trump asked Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, currently seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, sounded like threats made by the mafia.
The transcript of the call reads like a classic mob shakedown:
– We do a lot for Ukraine
– There’s not much reciprocity
– I have a favor to ask
– Investigate my opponent
– My people will be in touch
Nice country you got there.
It would be a shame if something happened to her.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 25, 2019
Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted on Wednesday that Barr “must recuse himself until we get to the bottom of this matter”.
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) September 25, 2019
Trump told Zelensky that Attorney General William Barr, the top US law enforcement official, would reach out to him about re-opening the investigation into the Ukrainian gas company, according to the rough transcript of a call between the US and Ukrainian leaders.
The connection to Barr marked a new and potentially more serious issue for Trump because it shows he took steps to involve the US government with a foreign country to investigate a political rival.
Trump did not ask Barr to contact Ukraine, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said, and Barr has not communicated with Ukraine about a possible investigation or any other subject. Barr, a Trump appointee, first found out about the conversation several weeks after it took place, Kupec said.
President Donald Trump repeatedly prodded Ukraine’s new leader to work with Rudy Giuliani and the US attorney general to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden. That’s according to a five-page memo summarising the July 25 call.
The White House released the memo on Wednesday.
The conversation between Trump and Ukraine’s president is just one piece of a whistle-blower’s complaint made in mid-August.
The complaint is central to the impeachment inquiry announced Tuesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Trump told the Ukrainian president “If you can look into it … it sounds horrible to me”.
Trump was talking about unsubstantiated allegations that Biden sought to interfere with a Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation of his son, Hunter.
Trump also confirmed that he ordered his staff to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine a few days before the call.
The president said he did nothing wrong.
The Democrat-led House of Representatives plans to vote on Wednesday on a non-binding resolution condemning the Trump administration for withholding the whistle-blower complaint related to Trump’s phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart. The resolution also calls on the administration to release the complaint.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, asked whether US President Donald Trump had put improper pressure on him during a July phone call, said nobody can put pressure on him except his six-year-old son.
“Nobody can put pressure on me because I am the president of an independent state,” Zelensky told Russian reporters in New York where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly.
“The only one person by the way who can put pressure on me … is my son, who is six years old,” said Zelensky whose comments were broadcast by the Rossiya 24 channel on Wednesday morning ahead of an planned meeting between Zelensky and Trump.
Donald Trump described himself Wednesday as the worst-treated president ever after Democrats announced a formal impeachment inquiry against him.
“The Democrats are frozen with hatred and fear. They get nothing done. This should never be allowed to happen to another President. Witch Hunt!,” Trump tweeted.
Prior to the Democrats announcement, Trump asserted than an impeach inquiry would be a “positive” for him.
The White House is preparing to release a whistle-blower complaint about US President Donald Trump’s call with Ukraine’s leader by the end of the week, Politico magazine reported on Tuesday, citing a senior administration official.
Trump said on Tuesday he would release a transcript of the call between the two leaders, but the White House had previously resisted releasing the complaint.
President Donald Trump reacted swiftly to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that the Democratic-controlled House is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.
Trump noted that Pelosi’s announcement comes as he meets Tuesday with world leaders at the United Nations. He tweeted that “the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage. So bad for our Country!”
He added: “They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!”
Before the announcement, Trump asserted that an impeachment inquiry would be “positive for me”.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced the US House is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Pelosi made the announcement on Tuesday from the speaker’s office at the Capitol saying “no one is above the law”.
The move puts the Democratic speaker’s stamp on the investigations that have been under way in the House.
Pelosi said the president “must be held accountable.”
The Republican-led Senate has approved a nonbinding but symbolically important resolution calling on the Trump administration to immediately provide the House and Senate intelligence committees a copy of a whistle-blower complaint involving President Donald Trump.
The measure put forward by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer passed by a voice vote after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed the idea and noted that the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee was working behind the scenes to obtain the complaint.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that the House would vote on a similar resolution on Wednesday.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said Congress must use its “full constitutional authority” to determine whether President Donald Trump asked the Ukrainian president for dirt on Biden as he runs for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden said if Trump doesn’t comply on that and other inquiries, he “will leave Congress … with no choice but to initiate impeachment”.
Biden said that would be a tragedy of Trump’s “own making”.
He added that the president apparently believes he is “above the law”.
The chairman of the House intelligence committee said a whistle-blower who has been blocked by the Trump administration would like to speak to Congress.
The whistle-blower, whose identity is unknown, lodged a formal complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, but the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, determined that it could not be forwarded to Congress.
The complaint at least partly involves President Donald Trump’s interactions with the leader of Ukraine.