During the lull in Congress, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, got a lot of attention.
Over the weekend
A recently-indicted Ukrainian-born American who helped Giuliani look for dirt on Democrats says he wants to testify to Congress about those efforts. And he implicates a powerful Republican lawmaker.
Lev Parnas, through a lawyer, says the top Republican on the House Intelligence committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), was helping them search for wrongdoing by former vice president Joe Biden in Ukraine, too. Parnas is charged with campaign finance violations related to his efforts to sway U.S. policy toward Ukraine. So he certainly has reason to try to offer information to Congress that might help alleviate his legal trouble. But his claim would be a big deal if true, putting a member of Congress who plays a major role in the investigation into Trump as a part of the episode Trump is being impeached over. (Nunes decried the reports about his involvement it but did not deny specific claims about his contact with Ukrainians.)
A federal judge ruled that former top White House lawyer Donald McGahn has to comply with a subpoena from Congress. McGahn doesn’t necessarily have any insight on the Ukraine investigation. (Democrats want to talk to him about Trump undermining the Mueller probe.) But it raises the question of whether witnesses who talked directly to Trump about Ukraine will now have to talk to Congress, like former national security adviser John Bolton, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Or they might not have to testify. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) sends a memo to Democratic lawmakers the same day saying hearings are done and that his committee is now writing a report on what they found. The plan is to hand the report to the Judiciary Committee after Thanksgiving, which will begin writing articles of impeachment, possibly for a vote by Christmas. “We will not allow the president or others to drag this out for months on end in the courts,” Schiff says.
News breaks that federal prosecutors in New York are investigating crimes connected to Giuliani’s consulting firm and two of his Ukraine-connected business associates, including Parnas. It means that three key figures in digging up Ukraine allegations that made their way to Trump are under legal scrutiny.
We learn about the next phase of the impeachment inquiry. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold E. Nadler (D-N.Y.) writes a letter to Trump announcing his committee will hold a hearing Dec. 4 as they consider writing up articles of impeachment against the president. He invites Trump to participate by asking questions to witnesses, who will mostly be constitutional scholars talking about what “high crimes and misdemeanors” means. Trump doesn’t immediately take him up on it.
Impeachment investigators release some of the final closed-door depositions. Mark Sandy is a budget official overseeing Ukraine military aid that Trump held up over this summer. He testified that two officials at the Office of Management and Budget resigned as they expressed objections that aid was held up, including concerns about the freeze’s legality.
The Washington Post reports that at the same time Giuliani was working with a Ukrainian official to dig up dirt on the Bidens, he was in talks to represent that official for a hefty sum. Yuri Lutsenko was Ukraine’s top prosecutor and someone other U.S. diplomats have described as “corrupt.” It’s one more example of how Giuliani’s willingness to represent the president of the United States and foreigners conjures potential conflicts of interest.
The Trump administration appealed the decision that McGahn has to comply with a subpoena to Congress, and an appeals court agreed to pause the ruling while they hear arguments in January, arguing this is a case with high consequences for the separation of powers between Congress and the executive branch.
A break in the impeachment news for Thanksgiving, thankfully.
Another quiet day before a busy coming week. The Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on impeachment on Dec. 4.
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