Their efforts to highlight the report came as fractures have appeared in the GOP firewall of support for Trump. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) said he couldn’t rule out voting to impeach Trump and said he’s had Watergate on his mind.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Friday did not adhere to a deadline to produce subpoenaed documents relevant to an impeachment inquiry that has increasingly shown Trump orchestrating an effort to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 political rival.
Also, a deposition planned for Friday of a senior career official at the Defense Department has been postponed until next week. House investigators expect Laura Cooper to provide details about the nearly $400 million in military aid that was withheld from Ukraine as Trump pressed the country’s president to investigate Biden and his son.
Cooper is one of at least five officials who have been summoned to testify next week.
● Impeachment inquiry shows Trump at the center of Ukraine efforts against rivals.
● After saying Trump held back aid to pressure Ukraine, Mulvaney tries to back away from his comments.
● Mulvaney’s twin admissions put Trump at the center of emoluments and Ukraine controversies.
7:30 p.m.: In his opening testimony, George Kent expressed dismay on treatment of ousted ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
George Kent, a career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy, told congressional investigators this week he was perturbed by a claim from former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who said she was abruptly removed from her position in May based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives,” even though she had done nothing wrong.
The Washington Post first reported that Kent testified Tuesday that he had raised concerns in early 2015 about Hunter Biden serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. In his opening statement, which was obtained Friday by The Washington Post, Kent testified that he and other U.S. officials who “have spoken publicly in Ukraine to push back against Russian aggression and corrupt influences have been subjected to defamatory disinformation campaigns.”
Yovanovitch testified last week that the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had for months accused her of privately badmouthing the president and seeking to protect the interests of the Bidens, claims she denied. Yovanovitch said the State Department’s No. 2 official told her earlier this year that the president had lost confidence in her, and that the agency had been under significant pressure to remove her since the summer of 2018.
“I fully share the concerns in Ambassador Yovanovich’s statement on Friday expressing her incredulity that the U.S. Government chose to remove an Ambassador based, as best as she could tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives at an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukranian President,” Kent testified.
In a statement Friday, Kent’s attorneys said he was a fact witness and “not there to testify on behalf of any side.”
“With varying degrees of accuracy, several news organizations and sources have characterized the testimony he provided in closed session,” his attorneys said. “We would caution that cherry-picked elements of his testimony might not give the full picture.”
6 p.m.: Perry won’t comply with supboena in impeachment probe, Department of Energy says
Perry will not comply with a subpoena demanding documents pertaining to the impeachment inquiry, the Energy Department said Friday.
In a letter to House Democrats, DOE Assistant Secretary Melissa Burnison argued the impeachment inquiry was illegitimate, adding the House had not adopted a resolution authorizing an investigation.
“Even if the inquiry was validly authorized, much of the information sought in the subpoena appears to consist of confidential Executive Branch communications that are potentially protected by privilege and would require careful review to ensure that no such information is improperly disclosed,” Burnison wrote.
Burnison also reiterated Trump’s position that the inquiry “lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness or even the most elementary due process protections.”
Perry, who plans to leave the administration by the end of the year, initially said he wasn’t sure whether he would comply with the House subpoena and deferred to his counsel. The subpoena specifically seeks information related to his involvement in the July call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.
Perry has previously said his departure from the administration has “absolutely nothing,” to do with the Ukraine controversy.
3 p.m.: John Kasich says he now backs Trump impeachment
Former Ohio governor John Kasich, who has been a critic of Trump’s since he ran against him in the 2016 presidential primary, said Friday that he thinks Trump’s behavior rises “to the level of impeachment.”
“Look, I fought with people on the air about, ‘is there a quid pro quo?’ and ‘does this rise to the level of impeachment?’ Kasich said in a CNN interview. “I now believe that it does. And I say it with great sadness. This is not something I really wanted to do. I voted to impeach Bill Clinton and that was really hard, and this has been excruciatingly hard. But this behavior in my opinion cannot be tolerated and action is going to have to be taken.”
Kasich also said withholding aid to a country over policy differences is one thing, but doing it “so a political operation can take place, to me it’s totally inappropriate. It’s an abuse of power.”
Kasich confirmed his stance in a tweet shortly thereafter, writing that Mulvaney’s comments led him to believe Trump “should be impeached by the US House and face a trial in the US Senate.”
2:30 p.m.: Bernie Sanders says G-7 in Doral ‘alone is worthy of impeachment’
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) blasted Trump’s decision to hold the G-7 global conference at his private resort in Miami, calling the president “the most corrupt president in our history.”
“This is a president who is using the Oval Office to enrich himself. That alone is worthy of impeachment, never mind his other corrupt transgressions,” Sanders tweeted.
Democrats, and some Republicans, have condemned Trump’s location choice, but some House Democrats have also urged that they stay focused on Ukraine for impeachment purposes.
2 p.m.: Republican lawmaker won’t rule out impeaching Trump, compares him to Nixon
GOP Rep. Francis Rooney (Fla.) offered a damning assessment of Mulvaney, defended career diplomats, and said he’s not afraid of the president’s wrath.
Rooney said Friday he’s had Watergate on his mind lately, specifically that critics called it a witch hunt before it was clear how bad it really was. He won’t rule out impeaching Trump, he said, before knowing all the facts.
Rooney said he “couldn’t believe” Mulvaney’s admission of a quid pro quo and his later reversal.
“I was shocked that he said that stuff. When the president has said many times there wasn’t a quid pro quo. . . . . and now Mick Mulvaney goes up and says, ‘Yeah, it was all part of the whole plan!’ ” Rooney said. As for Mulvaney walking back his comments, the congressman said, “You know, this is a funny business. How in life can you do those kinds of things when you’ve just said it right there on national TV.”
Rooney also said that the State Department officials testifying in the impeachment proceedings “are not partisan people” and that he’s eager to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton.
As for the political consequences of possibly voting for Trump’s impeachment, Rooney said, “I didn’t take this job to keep it. . . . I took this job to do the right thing at all times.”
And Trump’s wrath?
“What’s he going to do to me? I mean, he can say bad things, but it’s just what it is,” Rooney said. “There’s a lot of people around who are seriously concerned about being criticized by the president. Seriously. I just want to call them as I see it. I want to get the facts and do the right thing because I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building.”
1 p.m.: GOP Rep. Collins tells three panels running investigation he wants to see their work
House members who are not on either the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs or Oversight committees are not invited to participate in the depositions of witnesses in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Republicans not on those committees have complained about being shut out of the process, even though GOP members who are present for the hearings say they’ve had equal time behind closed doors to question witnesses.
Rep. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.), ranking Republican of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to each of the three Democratic chairmen running the probe that it is his right to review “all records, documents, transcripts, and other materials obtained in the course of the ongoing joint investigation.” He cited a clause in the House Rules that says each member of the House “shall have access” to committee records.
So far, efforts complaints by Republicans about how Democrats are running the investigation have been disregarded by the majority.
12:50 p.m.: Trump highlights reports regarding Biden’s son
Trump highlighted reports Friday that a career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy told congressional investigators this week that he had raised concerns in early 2015 about Biden’s son serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company but was turned away by a Biden staffer.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he “never had the privilege” of meeting the official, George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state.
The Washington Post first reported that Kent testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden’s position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest.
“He excoriated the Obama administration and Joe Biden and Joe Biden’s son, saying that he has tremendous problems, tremendous problems with Joe Biden’s son and the Ukraine,” Trump old reporters.
Trump also took aim at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), calling him “Crooked Schiff,” and declined an opportunity to clarify comments made Thursday by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Mulvaney told reporters that Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid in part to pressure Ukraine to pursue an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server was taken to Ukraine in 2016.
Mulvaney subsequently said in a statement that “there was absolutely no quid pro quo.”
“I think he clarified it,” Trump said Friday.
11:55 a.m.: Trump vents about ‘Do Nothing Democrats’
Trump returned to Twitter late Friday morning, offering a familiar take on the impeachment inquiry, including an attack on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.).
“Can you believe I am doing this important work for our Country, and have to deal with Corrupt Adam Schiff and the Do Nothing Democrats at the same time?” Trump tweeted. “It was not intended to be this way for a President!”
11:45 a.m.: McCarthy defends Mulvaney, attacks Schiff
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Friday defended acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney after the White House scrambled to walk back his comments during a combative press briefing on Thursday about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine.
“I think Mick was very clear in cleaning up his statement there was no quid pro quo,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.
At Thursday’s briefing, Mulvaney said Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid in part to pressure Ukraine to pursue an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server was taken to Ukraine in 2016.
Later, after Trump’s lawyer and other Republicans distanced themselves from Mulvaney, the White House walked back his comments, issuing an official statement accusing the media of misconstruing his words.
“Let me be clear,” Mulvaney’s written statement said, “there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election.”
“I think what Mick clarified in his statement was very clear,” McCarthy told reporters
McCarthy also tore into House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), pledging to renew efforts on Monday to pass a resolution censuring him for the way he has handled the impeachment inquiry.
“He should be held accountable, just like every other member,” McCarthy said.
He said House members can no longer trust Schiff, in part because he embellished the transcript of Trump’s call with the leader of Ukraine during a hearing last month.
Schiff later said his remarks were intended as parody and that Trump and others who have criticized him should have recognized that.
11:30 a.m.: At least five witnesses summoned for depositions next week
House investigators plan to resume closed-door depositions next week, beginning Tuesday with acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.
Taylor, on text messages with two other U.S. diplomats, raised alarms about the White House holding back military aid to Ukraine, calling it “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
On Wednesday, lawmakers are expected to hear from Ambassador Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, and Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget. Duffey’s signature was on the letters reapportioning the Ukraine aid.
On Thursday, Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense whose portfolio includes Russia and Ukraine, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European Affairs on the National Security Council, are expected to testify.
— Karoun Demirjian
11 a.m.: Republicans seize on Post story about Hunter Biden
Republicans seized Friday on a Washington Post report that a career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy told congressional investigators this week that he had raised concerns in early 2015 about Biden’s son serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company but was turned away by a Biden staffer.
“The Democrats’ witch hunt against President Trump has backfired on Adam B. Schiff and hit Joe Biden,” Steve Guest, rapid response director for the Republican National Committee, said in an email blasted to reporters.
Schiff is the California Democrat who chairs the House Intelligence Committee and is playing a leading role in the impeachment inquiry.
“Outrageous,” Guest continued. “Hunter Biden had no experience in Ukraine or with natural gas, yet he was the son of the Vice President, thus making him the perfect candidate for the board of Burisma.”
10:50 a.m.: Trump’s decision to hold G-7 at his property rankles leaders
Though it’s not part of the formal impeachment inquiry, Trump’s decision to hold a meeting of global leaders at one of his private resorts is casting another shadow over the administration, and rankling global leaders and Republicans.
The Post’s Brussels bureau chief Michael Birnbaum asked European Council President Donald Tusk whether it would be appropriate to spend public funds on a Trump business. Tusk said, “Not at all.”
Birnbaum also asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference whether she was ready to spend German tax money at Trump’s Doral resort in Miami.
“This is a decision taken by the American president. I haven’t had time to deal with this yet,” Merkel said. “We will take a close look at his invitation, and my intention is to attend the summit.”
Back in Washington, Republicans who have defended Trump against the House’s impeachment probe, are starting to break with the president over his Doral choice.
“I don’t understand why at this moment they had to do that,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on CNN, calling it “unnecessary” and adding, “I wouldn’t do it.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), when asked whether it was appropriate, said, “No.”
10:45 a.m.: Hillary Clinton suggests Putin has kompromat on Trump, Russians will back Tulsi Gabbard in third-party bid
At Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) hit back at critics who charged she’s too close to Russia. “This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia,” she said. “Completely despicable.”
Gabbard won’t be happy to hear Hillary Clinton’s latest interview. Nor will President Trump or another of Clinton’s 2016 opponents, whom Clinton has now lodged similar accusations about.
In a conversation on former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Clinton raised the possibility that the Russians are leveraging a number of top U.S. politicians. She suggested Russia had kompromat on Trump. She accused 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein of being a “Russian asset.” And she suggested Russia might back Gabbard as a third-party candidate.
Read more here.
— Aaron Blake
10:20 a.m.: McCarthy signals intentions to attack Schiff at news conference
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled that he plans to use his weekly news conference to attack House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) for his handling of the impeachment inquiry.
“Rep. Adam Schiff isn’t a special prosecutor,” McCarthy tweeted. “He is a member of Congress, and his actions are a blatant abuse of power. I’ll be speaking about this and more at my weekly Q&A with reporters.”
9:15 a.m.: Perry defends Trump, won’t say if he’ll comply with subpoena
Perry declined to say whether he would comply with a House subpoena demanding documents relevant to the impeachment inquiry on Friday as he defended Trump’s actions with Ukraine.
Appearing on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” Perry said he is still awaiting advice from his department’s general counsel about whether to comply with the subpoena, which seeks information related to Perry’s involvement in the July call in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.
“I haven’t seen what the general counsel’s advice to me will be,” Perry said.
Perry said he told Trump “multiple times” that he should call Zelensky because he was convinced Zelensky was serious about fighting corruption in his country and moving from Russian gas to American gas.
Perry said that there was “no quid pro quo” involving military aid and investigating the Bidens and that Trump never mentioned the Bidens to him.
“Did corruption come up? We heard corruption in almost every conversation we had, talking about Ukraine and talking about whether President Zelensky was going to come over here, because President Trump wasn’t going to send American money to a country that had a history of being corrupt, and he was hammering that,” Perry said.
Perry also defended Trump’s use of his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to intervene in U.S.-Ukrainian affairs, saying that as governor of Texas he had routinely relied on people outside of government for help.
“I didn’t see a problem with that at all,” Perry said.
Perry said he doesn’t believe Trump has done anything wrong more broadly.
“What he did wrong in a lot of people’s eyes is that he won an election,” Perry said. “We have a lot of great things we could be doing, but we’re hamstrung by this obvious politically generated issue.”
Perry, who plans to leave the administration at the end of the year, said his departure has “absolutely nothing” to do with the Ukraine controversy and that his relationship with Trump remains “awesome.”
“He never ceases to amaze me,” Perry said.
8:45 a.m.: Rep. Speier, member of Intelligence panel: ‘I’m ready to vote’ on impeachment
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said that from information already gleaned by the House Intelligence Committee overseeing the impeachment inquiry, she could vote now to impeach Trump.
“I’m ready to vote on it. I don’t think there’s any question in my mind or anyone’s mind, but we’ll continue to do our due diligence,” she said on CNN.
Speier also offered insight into the testimony of Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who met with House investigators Thursday.
“Well I think what we learned from the ambassador, he was like the enabler,” Speier said. “It was like the drunk who tells you that you should go out and buy him another bottle of bourbon, and you do it.”
8:40 a.m.: Grisham defends holding G-7 at Trump property, says oxygen would have been an issue at another possible location
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Friday defended Trump’s decision to hold the 2020 Group of Seven summit of world leaders at Trump National Doral Miami golf resort in Florida, another issue that Democrats have cited as evidence of corruption.
During an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” Grisham ticked off several factors that she said made Doral a more attractive location than other sites that the White House considered, including its access to a major airport.
And then Grisham added this: “I won’t name what site it was or what state it was in, but the altitude could have made people sick, and oxygen tanks would have been brought in, so there’s a lot that goes into these things.”
8:35 a.m.: Grisham says Democrats are throwing ‘temper tantrum after temper tantrum’
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Friday that the American people are tired of what she characterized as “temper tantrum after temper tantrum” from House Democrats spearheading the impeachment inquiry.
“The people of this country know what the Dems are doing,” she said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.” “They’re tired of it.”
Grisham said Trump would continue to focus on issues including immigration, health care and job creation.
8:15 a.m.: Jeffries tells McConnell to ‘PIPE DOWN’
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the House Democratic caucus chairman, delivered a pointed response Friday to tweets earlier this week from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that contended House Democrats were violating norms in the impeachment inquiry and too obsessed with impeachment to get other work done.
“This guy stole a Supreme Court seat from @BarackObama and the American people,” Jeffries tweeted, referring to McConnell’s refusal to hold a hearing or vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016.
“Don’t ever lecture the House on norms or precedent,” Jeffries continued. “You have ZERO credibility. Do something about prescription drug prices and the gun violence epidemic or PIPE DOWN.”
Jeffries, an ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was referring to two issues on which the House has passed legislation but the Senate has not acted.
If Trump is impeached by the Democratic-led House, he will face a trial in the Republican-led Senate.
8 a.m.: White House, Perry face deadlines for subpoenas
Both the White House and Perry face Friday deadlines for documents related to the impeachment inquiry.
The White House has indicated it will not comply. It’s less clear how Perry, who plans to leave the administration by the end of the year, will respond.
“The House has sent a subpoena over for the records that we have, and our general counsel and the White House counsel are going through the process right now,” Perry said during a Wednesday morning appearance on Fox Business Network. “I’m going to follow the lead of my counsel on that.”
Trump has said that Perry asked him to make the July call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. Perry later told reporters that he did it so Trump and Zelensky could talk about energy issues.
The House subpoena directs Perry to hand over documents related to his involvement in the call as well as to a Ukrainian state-owned natural gas company.
Trump confirmed Perry’s departure plans to reporters on Thursday.
“We already have his replacement,” Trump said on his way to a campaign stop in Texas. “Rick has done a fantastic job. But it was time.”
7:45 a.m.: Diplomat tells investigators he raised alarms in 2015 about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine work but was rebuffed
A career State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy told congressional investigators this week that he had raised concerns in early 2015 about Biden’s son serving on the board of a Ukrainian energy company but was turned away by a Biden staffer, according to three people familiar with the testimony.
George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified Tuesday that he worried that Hunter Biden’s position at the firm Burisma Holdings would complicate efforts by U.S. diplomats to convey to Ukrainian officials the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the deposition.
Kent said he had concerns that Ukrainian officials would view Hunter Biden as a conduit for obtaining influence with his father, the people said. But when Kent raised the issue with Biden’s office, he was told the then-vice president did not have the “bandwidth” to deal with the issue involving his son as his other son, Beau Biden, was battling cancer, they said.
Read more here.
— John Hudson, Rachael Bade and Matt Viser
7:30 a.m.: Deposition of Defense Department official pushed back
A deposition planned for Friday morning of Cooper, a senior career official at the Department of Defense overseeing the military aid program for Ukraine, has been pushed back until next week.
House investigators expect Cooper to provide details about the nearly $400 million in military aid that was withheld from Ukraine as Trump pressed the country’s president to investigate the Bidens and a debunked conspiracy theory that a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server was taken to Ukraine in 2016 to hide evidence that it was that country, not Russia, that interfered in the presidential election.
Cooper’s closed-door deposition has been rescheduled for Thursday.
7 a.m.: GOP effort to censure Schiff delayed until next week
House Republicans have postponed their efforts until next week to seek the censure of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) for his handling of the impeachment inquiry.
The decision came Thursday after news of the death of House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who was admired on both sides of the aisle.
House Democrats are expected to move to block the resolution shortly after it is refiled next week.
The resolution, introduced by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), takes issue with Schiff’s remarks at a Sept. 26 hearing. Schiff embellished the transcript of the July phone call in which Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.
Schiff later said his remarks were intended as parody and that Trump and others who have criticized him should have recognized that.
The resolution also takes aim at Schiff for other actions, including some related to the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
6 a.m.: Trump continues assault on Democrats at campaign rally in Dallas
At a campaign rally Thursday night in Dallas, Trump continued his weeks-long assault on congressional Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry into his conduct in office, which Democratic leaders say is an unconstitutional abuse of power.
The president repeatedly slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as “crazy,” and he claimed a “great betrayal” by House Democrats and the media to “overthrow” the results of the 2016 election.
“I really don’t believe anymore that they love our country,” Trump said. “I don’t believe it.”
Trump added, “They continue the outrageous impeachment witch hunt with nothing — with nothing. They come after me, but what they’re really doing is they’re coming after the Republican Party, and what they’re really, really doing is they’re coming after and fighting you. And we never lose.”
— Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson