Meanwhile, House investigators heard from two more witnesses behind closed doors Wednesday about the Ukraine controversy. Two career State Department officials are the latest scheduled witnesses to be deposed in the accelerating inquiry.
A Democratic-led panel voted Wednesday afternoon to advance a resolution setting sets the parameters of the public phase of the Trump impeachment inquiry. The White House is planning to invite a group of Republicans to meet with Trump before the Thursday roll call, hoping to rally the troops.
While Republicans have been highly critical of the process, Trump is urging his allies to defend him on the substance of the allegations against him. He argues he did nothing wrong during the July call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
●Two volatile meetings at the White House have become central to the impeachment inquiry.
●A firsthand account of Trump’s Ukraine call puts the GOP in a bind, emboldens Democrats.
●Senate Democrats question Russia ambassador pick about Ukraine, impeachment.
9:30 p.m.: ‘Our founders did not want a monarchy’: Pelosi says Trump’s actions are a ‘challenge to our Constitution’
At an award ceremony Wednesday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had already talked history, the arts and music — Willie Nelson, in particular — when the event’s moderator broached “perhaps the most serious discussion” of her political career: the impending vote on the impeachment inquiry.
“You wanna talk about that?” Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked Ron Kirk, former U.S. trade representative under President Barack Obama.
“I thought we were having a good time,” she said, shortly after accepting a leadership award from the foundation named for President Lyndon B. Johnson in Washington.
Pelosi called the prospect of impeachment “sad for our country,” something to be done “prayerfully and carefully.” But she said lawmakers are duty-bound to defend against Trump’s actions, which have been “a challenge to our Constitution,” she said.
“We do believe that there is a risk to the republic if we do not maintain what our founders put forward,” Pelosi said. “Three coequal branches of government, separation of powers, with a check and balance on each other . . . Our founders did not want a monarchy.”
She then pointed to the crowd, where the party’s chief vote-counter, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), apparently sat.
“Mr. Clyburn, our whip, has given me a very good report about our vote tomorrow,” she said.
“At that point, we will go forward in a transparent way,” Pelosi said, adding that she believes Democrats have given Republicans “more opportunity than we were ever given in any such proceedings” — a reference to the parties’ continued sparring over the inquiry’s fairness.
8:30 p.m.: Rules Committee votes to advance impeachment inquiry resolution
The House Rules Committee voted Wednesday night to advance a resolution setting the parameters of the public phase of the impeachment inquiry. A full House vote on the measure is expected Thursday morning.
The committee passed the resolution on a 9-to-4 party-line vote.
The resolution hands the lead role in the inquiry to the House Intelligence Committee and its chairman, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.). It also sets out the ability of House Republicans to make their own requests for testimony and documents, although those requests will be subject to a vote of the Democratic-majority committee.
House Republican leaders have continued to criticize the impeachment inquiry, arguing that the new procedures are too little, too late.
7:30 p.m.: National Security Council official leaves his post the day before he’s set to testify in impeachment inquiry
Tim Morrison, who is set to testify Thursday in the House impeachment inquiry about what he has witnessed as the senior National Security Council official handling Russian affairs, is leaving his White House post, according to people familiar with his plans.
Morrison has been on the job for about 15 months, joining the security council during former national security adviser John Bolton’s tenure. He could be a key witness in the inquiry into President Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
“After more than a year of service at the National Security Council, Mr. Morrison has decided to pursue other opportunities — and has been considering doing so for some time,” a senior administration official said in a statement Wednesday. “We wish him well.”
Morrison’s departure was first reported by NPR.
Acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. testified last week that Morrison told him that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. envoy to the European Union, relayed to a top Ukraine aide that the country wouldn’t receive military aid money until the Ukrainian president agreed to pursue an investigation into Joe Biden’s son.
— Carol D. Leonnig, John Hudson and Reis Thebault
7:20 p.m.: Second diplomat testifying under subpoena
Christopher Anderson, the second career diplomat to testify before House investigators Wednesday, also appeared under subpoena, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who requested anonymity to discuss closed-door proceedings.
“In light of an attempt by the White House and State Department to direct Christopher Anderson not to appear for his scheduled deposition, and efforts to also limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel his testimony this afternoon,” the official said, adding that Anderson has been answering questions from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and staff.
6 p.m.: Extended impeachment sparks concerns about disruptions to Democratic presidential primary
House Democrats increasingly expect their impeachment effort to stretch well past Thanksgiving, possibly forcing a Senate trial into January or later — a timeline that could disrupt the final weeks of campaigning before the party starts to choose its nominee.
House leaders had initially hoped to hold a floor vote before the Nov. 28 holiday so the Senate could hold a trial before Christmas.
But the surprising number of witnesses agreeing to testify behind closed doors has extended the timeline and sparked a debate about whether prolonged impeachment proceedings are politically prudent.
Some Democratic strategists have raised concerns that an extended process that bridges the holiday season risks losing the nation’s attention or lending credence to Republican claims that Democrats have been distracted from bread-and-butter issues such as health care and job creation that they focused on in the 2018 election.
— Michael Scherer and Mike DeBonis
4:15 p.m.: House committees seek testimony from Bolton in impeachment inquiry
Lawmakers want to question Bolton about his frustration with Trump’s allies, including Giuliani, who were pressing Ukraine to investigate Democrats, according to two officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.
The committees want Bolton to testify behind closed doors on Nov. 7.
Lawmakers have also asked two National Security Council staffers, John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis, to testify on Nov. 4.
— Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade
4:10 p.m.: House Rules Committee debates impeachment inquiry resolution
Members of the House Rules Committee debated the proposed procedural rules for impeachment, with Democrats maintaining that the next stage will be open and Republicans arguing that the process does not provide the president with sufficient due process.
“This process determining whether he should be impeached will be open to public view, just as it should be,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the panel’s chairman, said as the hearing opened.
He later added: “We want to get to the truth. … We are genuinely horrified by the lack of cooperation by the White House.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) accused Democrats of not living up to their promises of openness.
“In my view, it’s not a fair process, it’s not an open process, and it’s certainly not a transparent process,” he said.
3:35 p.m.: Judge sets Kupperman hearing for Thursday
A federal judge has scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday a hearing on the case of former Trump national security aide Charles Kupperman, who has sued asking the courts to decide whether he must comply with Congress’s subpoena or a White House order not to testify in an impeachment inquiry.
The hearing had initially been set for 3 p.m. The Department of Justice asked to move it to Friday because of a conflict with the hearing about the testimony of former White House counsel Donald McGahn. But U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon agreed only to move the hearing by one hour.
— Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow
2:55 p.m.: Republican leaders keeping an eye on Rooney
While senior Republicans and White House officials speculated Wednesday that they would have zero Republican defections in Thursday’s House vote on the impeachment inquiry, it’s not absolutely solid that would be the case.
In particular, Republican leaders have been keeping a close eye on Rep. Francis Rooney, a retiring Florida Republican who has found the testimony in the impeachment depositions disturbing. Rooney has refused to rule out voting for impeachment but has not said how he will vote Thursday.
“We’ve had a number of conversations with some members who were wavering a little bit, and I think we’ll probably get that number down to zero,” said one Republican aide familiar with the effort.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have been telling uncertain Republicans that vote for the inquiry would effectively be greenlighting an unfair process that doesn’t give Trump due process.
Democrats, however, crafted the resolution specifically to try to undercut that argument, ensuring that Trump can have an attorney represent him during certain proceedings. But Republicans continue to say the process is unfair — particularly because the House Judiciary Committee has the power to cut the president’s attorneys out of the process if they feel they are acting in bad faith, Republicans say.
— Rachael Bade
2:45 p.m.: White House, GOP leaders try to keep Republicans in line ahead of impeachment vote
Trump, White House officials and House GOP leadership have been working behind the scenes to keep party members corralled ahead of Thursday’s critical vote on impeachment procedures, according to multiple Republican officials, hoping to present a unified front against the Democratic effort to oust Trump.
Senior administration officials and Republican leaders have been huddling with members behind the scenes, ensuring that moderate Republicans or those who have criticized Trump in the past will not break away.
A senior administration official said the White House’s legislative affairs team and other top officials has been reaching out to members since Monday when Pelosi announced the vote. They’re currently planning to invite a group of Republicans to meet with Trump before the Thursday roll call, hoping to rally the troops.
Trump has also kept in close contact with Republican leaders, this person said.
“We’re in good shape. We’re on a strong trajectory . . . I think we’ll be pretty unified,” said a senior administration official who requested anonymity to speak frankly. “The question is: What Democrats is [Pelosi] having to work on? Is she having to flip people from no to yes?”
Meanwhile, House Democrats have also been touching base with moderates from swing districts that could vote against the resolution. At least one, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), has said he will vote against the impeachment procedures.
Democrats do appear more likely to have defections than Republicans at this point. While a handful of moderate Democrats have grumbled about voting for the impeachment resolution, not a single Republican has said he or she intends to break with their own party — at least not as of early Wednesday afternoon.
— Rachael Bade
2:20 p.m.: Anderson has arrived for closed-door deposition
Christopher Anderson, the second of two State Department officials scheduled to testify on Wednesday, has arrived at the Capitol for his deposition.
Anderson will detail efforts when U.S. officials tried to demonstrate support for Ukraine only to be batted down by the White House, including after Russian forces attacked and seized Ukrainian military vessels in the Sea of Azov in 2018, according to prepared remarks.
1:45 p.m.: Schiff says he agrees with Trump on substance over process
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said he agrees with Trump that the focus of the impeachment investigation should be on substance.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump tweeted that Republicans were “starting to go after the Substance” more than what he termed a very unfair process and urged them on.
“Trump has urged Republicans to focus on the substance in the impeachment inquiry, not the process,” Schiff tweeted. “I can confirm our focus will continue to be on the President’s own words and misconduct. Glad we all agree.”
1 p.m.: Gaetz files ethics complaint against Schiff
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a key Trump ally in the impeachment fight, announced Wednesday that he is filing an ethics complaint against House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who is leading the inquiry.
Speaking to reporters outside the secure room where depositions take place, Gaetz said the complaint stemmed in part from Schiff’s opening statement at an Intelligence Committee hearing last month.
During his remarks, Schiff presented an embellished version of Trump’s call with Zelensky. At the time, Schiff said he was conveying “the essence” of what Trump had relayed to Zelensky. Schiff later said it was meant as a parody, something that he said should have been apparent to Trump and others who have been critical.
“He acted in a way that was not consistent with House rules and not consistent with House ethics,” Gaetz said.
Trump has also repeatedly cited the episode as he has railed against the House-led inquiry.
Gaetz also cited an episode earlier this month in which he attempted to enter a deposition and was removed by Schiff because he does not sit on one of the three committee leading the inquiry.
In his complaint, Gaetz argues that under House rules, a vote should have been required to close the deposition to lawmakers who do not serve on the committees.
In a letter to the leaders of the House Ethics Committee, Gaetz says that after the panel “thoroughly investigates” Schiff, it should make “appropriate referrals to the Department of Justice, for further investigation and prosecution.”
Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Schiff, responded to the news late Thursday afternoon.
“We don’t think anyone takes Mr. Gaetz seriously, especially on the subject of ethics,” Boland said.
12:25 p.m.: Trump campaign video seizes on 2020 Democrats’ calls for impeachment
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted a link to a video Wednesday featuring footage of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders calling for Trump’s impeachment.
The video then transitions to footage of Trump claiming at a “Make America Great Again” rally that Democrats “want to erase your vote like it never existed.”
“They want to erase your voice, and they want to erase your future. But they will fail because in America, the people rule again,” Trump says at the rally. He adds: “The only message these radical socialists and extremists will understand is a crushing defeat on November 3, 2020.”
Rather than pivoting away from the topic, Trump has spoken and tweeted extensively about the impeachment inquiry since it was launched by Democrats last month — and the campaign’s latest video is a continuation of that trend. In a recent two-week span, the president tweeted about impeachment more than 250 times, decrying the process as a “scam” and a “hoax.”
11:15 a.m.: DNC raising money in solicitation that highlights impeachment inquiry
The Democratic National Committee is seeking to raise money with a new solicitation that highlights the impeachment inquiry.
In a letter on behalf of the DNC, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) seeks money to help keep Democrats in Republican-leaning districts like hers in office.
“I didn’t run for Congress to impeach the president,” she says in the solicitation. “I ran to advocate for working families, fight back against Big Pharma and outrageous prescription drug pricing, and help families alleviate the crushing costs of child care. However, I cannot ignore my duty to defend our Constitution. That is why I, after careful deliberation, joined my Democratic House colleagues in support of an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.”
Her rationale for seeking contributions: “Donald Trump and his powerful allies have shown us they’ll stop at nothing to win reelection and pry front line Democrats like me out of office — and the DNC is hard at work making sure that doesn’t happen.”
11 a.m.: Sullivan says he received no answer on why Trump had lost confidence in Yovanovitch
John Sullivan, Trump’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia, faced questions from senators Wednesday about the administration’s approach to Ukraine and the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Sullivan, who serves as the deputy secretary of state, was the official who told Yovanovitch that she was being recalled from her post in Kyiv in May.
Sullivan said Wednesday that he had told Yovanovitch last year that he thought she had served admirably, before later being directed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell her she was being recalled early because Trump had lost confidence in her.
“Did you ask why?” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) asked.
“I was told that he had lost confidence in her — period,” Sullivan replied.
Sullivan also told a story about his late uncle, William Sullivan, who was the last U.S. ambassador to Iran until then-President Jimmy Carter lost confidence in him over policy differences.
Sullivan said the tale illustrates that when a president loses confidence in an ambassador, it’s time for the ambassador to come home.
Menendez responded that given his uncle’s experience, he hopes Sullivan would have spoken up more loudly in defense of Yovanovitch. “That’s the essence of being an ambassador” — keeping Foreign Service officers abroad insulated from political consequences, Menendez said.
10:40 a.m.: Croft appearing under subpoena
Catherine Croft, one of two career diplomats expected to testify Wednesday, is appearing under a subpoena, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door proceedings.
“In light of an attempt by the White House and State Department to direct Catherine Croft not to appear for her scheduled deposition, and efforts to also limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel her testimony this morning,” the official said, adding that Croft is fielding questions from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and staff.
10:15 a.m.: McConnell says House resolution falls ‘way short’
As the House moves toward a Thursday vote on proposed procedural rules for impeachment drafted by Democrats, key Republicans are lodging objections, arguing they do little to provide the due process that Trump deserves.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in floor remarks Wednesday that the Democratic procedures “fall way short” of the standard demanded in a presidential impeachment.
“Any such inquiry must be conducted by the highest standards of fairness and due process, but thus far this time around, instead of setting a high bar, House Democrats seem determined to set a new low,” he said.
The resolution, McConnell added, “does not confer on President Trump the most basic rights of due process or seemingly alter [Chairman Adam B. Schiff’s] unfair process in the House Intelligence Committee in any way whatsoever.”
He summed up the Democratic resolution this way: “No due process now, maybe some later, but only if we feel like it. Well, that’s not even close to fair.”
The resolution released Tuesday and an accompanying set of Judiciary Committee rules contain procedures for public hearings in the Intelligence Committee, to be managed largely at Schiff’s discretion, and grant Trump and the GOP minority rights to rebut Democrats and potentially present evidence of their own in the Judiciary panel. The measure is set to be debated in the House Rules Committee Wednesday and forwarded to the House floor for a Thursday morning vote.
In a separate briefing for reporters on the Democratic resolution, House Republican aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal views said GOP lawmakers and aides have deep concerns about a “bifurcated process” that gives Schiff and the Intelligence Committee the lead role, with the Judiciary Committee playing a subsequent role in receiving its findings and potentially writing articles of impeachment.
The Democratic rules, the aides said, do not give the president due-process rights during the Intelligence Committee portion of the probe, and the rights set out for the Judiciary Committee portion are extended largely at the discretion of Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). They expressed particular alarm at a provision that gives Nadler the power to deny Republican requests so long as the White House is resisting Democratic subpoenas.
“They’re including this to try to give themselves an excuse if they don’t want to grant the president due process,” one aide said.
Another aide cast doubt on whether Democrats intend to grant Trump his rights, noting that granting GOP requests could extend the proceedings well beyond the year-end deadline many Democrats have been informally discussing.
“If you actually follow through with all these procedures, it does not jibe with the timeline Democrats say they are trying to stick to,” the second aide said.
— Mike DeBonis
10 a.m.: Schumer seeks protection of Vindman after Tuesday’s testimony
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on the Army to provide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified Tuesday in the impeachment inquiry, the same protections as whistleblowers.
In a letter, Schumer also asked Army leaders that Vindman be “protected from reprisal for testifying before Congress.”
Vindman told House investigators Tuesday that his concerns about Trump’s call with Zelensky drove him to notify his superiors because he feared Trump was undermining national security.
Vindman was among the White House officials who listened in on the July 25 call.
Schumer noted that in the hours since Vindman’s testimony, he has been “vilified by individuals in the media and elsewhere.”
“Although he has served our country for more than 20 years and is a recipient of the Purple Heart after being injured while serving in Iraq, he has been called a variety of derogatory terms and some have even gone so far as to call him a spy and question his loyalty to the United States.”
Schumer said the attacks are “outrageous and unacceptable.”
He asked Army leaders for a briefing on what actions the Army is taking to ensure Vindman and others are being protected.
9:55 a.m.: RNC chairwoman highlights possible Democratic opposition to resolution
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Wednesday highlighted a report about one House Democrat — and possibly more — potentially voting against a resolution setting the parameters for the next stage of the impeachment inquiry.
“Even some House Democrats are seeing right through Pelosi’s partisan resolution,” McDaniel tweeted. “They know it’s still going to be a process that’s unfair to @realDonaldTrump.”
Her tweet linked to a news story that quoted Van Drew saying, “I would imagine that I’m not voting for [the resolution].”
The report mentioned several other Democrats who have hedged about their support for an inquiry.
Earlier Wednesday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), an ally of Pelosi in House leadership, said that he is confident that the “overwhelming majority” of Democrats will support the resolution.
9 a.m.: Trump renews attack on Vindman
Trump returned to Twitter to renew his attack on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a top National Security Council official who testified Tuesday, as a “Never Trumper.”
Vindman, an Army combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient, told House investigators that his concerns about Trump’s call with Zelensky drove him to notify his superiors because he feared Trump was undermining national security.
Vindman was among the White House officials who listened in on the July 25 call.
“Yesterday’s Never Trumper witness could find NO Quid Pro Quo in the Transcript of the phone call,” Trump tweeted. “There were many people listening to the call. How come they (including the President of Ukraine) found NOTHING wrong with it. Witch Hunt!”
Trump has previously said “Never Trumpers” — a term denoting Republicans who oppose him — are “human scum.”
8:50 a.m.: First of two witnesses arrives at Capitol
Catherine Croft, one of two career diplomats expected to testify Wednesday, has arrived at the Capitol for her closed-door deposition.
Croft, who worked on Ukraine issues at the White House and the State Department, will say that “throughout” her time in the Trump administration she heard the president “describe Ukraine as a corrupt country,” both “directly and indirectly,” according to her prepared remarks.
8:30 a.m.: Democrats voice concerns about potential government shutdown amid impeachment inquiry
Democrats are increasingly expressing fears that Trump could let the government shut down as a distraction from the impeachment inquiry.
Without passage of a short-term spending bill signed by Trump, the government will shut down on Nov. 22. Republican lawmakers have insisted that is not likely, but that hasn’t stopped Democrats about speculating about the possibility.
During a morning television appearance, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said Trump has shown an ability to go to great lengths to be disruptive, including directing his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to intervene in Ukraine policy.
“If the president of the United States is willing to go to the lengths of setting up this parallel diplomatic channel through Rudy Giuliani … then sure, he’s willing to shut down the government if that impedes this investigation,” Moulton said on CNN. “I think this president is incredibly dangerous because of the ways that he is willing to put Americans and our national security in danger for his personal political benefit.”
His comments echoed those made by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday.
“I’m increasingly worried that President Trump will want to shut down the government again because of impeachment,” Schumer told reporters. “He always likes to create diversions. I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment.”
8:20 a.m.: Trump suggests Pelosi pursuing impeachment to retain speakership
Trump suggested that Pelosi is using the impeachment for her own political gain, calling it “disgraceful.”
In a tweet, Trump quoted “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy saying during Wednesday’s broadcast that Pelosi was pursuing impeachment because she needed to satisfy demands from “her political left” to retain her speakership.
“A disgraceful use of Impeachment,” Trump wrote in his own words. “Will backfire!”
Pelosi has repeatedly said that partisan politics is not driving the inquiry.
8:15 a.m.: Jeffries confident ‘overwhelming majority’ of Democrats will support inquiry resolution
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), an ally of Pelosi in the House leadership, said Wednesday that he is confident that the “overwhelming majority” of Democrats will support the resolution setting parameters for the impeachment inquiry when it hits the House floor on Thursday.
“We’ll see what happens on the floor tomorrow, but I am clear that that resolution will pass,” Jeffries said during an appearance on CNN.
Jeffries said it is “not clear to me at this particular point” how many Democrats will break with the party and vote against the resolution, which sets rules for the upcoming public phase of the inquiry. He said he is unaware of any Republicans who plan to support it.
During the interview, Jeffries said Democrats are also eager to focus on the substance of the allegations, as Trump is now urging.
“The rough transcript confirms that Donald Trump pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain, and thereby solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election,” Jeffries said. “That right there is textbook abuse of power, particularly because at the same moment $391 million in military and security assistance to the Ukraine that was allocated by Congress on a bipartisan basis was being withheld as part of a high-pressure tactic.”
Trump has insisted that there was no “quid pro quo” involving his request to investigate the Bidens and the military aid.
7:35 a.m.: Trump urges fellow Republicans to defend him on substance
Trump went on Twitter again Wednesday morning to weigh in on the impeachment inquiry, urging fellow Republicans to “go with Substance and close it out!”
In recent weeks, Republican lawmakers have largely focused on process as they have criticized the Democratic-led impeachment probe.
In recent days, Trump has suggested they defend him by arguing that he did nothing wrong.
“Republicans are very unified and energized in our fight on the Impeachment Hoax with the Do Nothing Democrats, and now are starting to go after the Substance even more than the very infair Process because just a casual reading of the Transcript leads EVERYBODY to see that the call with the Ukrainian President was a totally appropriate one,” he tweeted Wednesday.
Trump claimed the impeachment inquiry was “nonsense” and “just a continuation of the Witch Hunt Hoax, which has been going on since before I even got elected.”
Trump later retweeted one of his attacks on the probe from Tuesday in which he derisively referred to Pelosi as “Nervous Nancy.”
7:30 a.m.: McCarthy slams Democratic resolution, Schiff
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) teed off Wednesday on the resolution unveiled by Democrats to guide the impeachment process going forward and on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who is leading it.
“They’re actually changing the process for the worse,” McCarthy said during an appearance on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.” “They’re making Adam Schiff now the prosecutor, the judge and the jury, and they’re denying more Republicans in the room.”
During the interview, McCarthy repeatedly called Schiff a liar, and he took a shot at House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is playing a lesser role than Schiff for now.
“Nadler is inept, so they know he can’t manage it,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy also argued that the rough transcript of Trump’s July call with Zelensky included nothing that would justify removing him from office.
“There is nothing impeachable about this, so why are they dragging us through this once again?” McCarthy asked.
7 a.m.: House panel expected to advance resolution laying out parameters of public stage of inquiry
The Democratic-led House Rules Committee has scheduled a 3 p.m. meeting Wednesday at which members are expected to debate and advance a resolution setting the parameters of the public phase of the impeachment inquiry.
A vote of the full House is expected on Thursday.
The resolution, which is backed by Pelosi, hands the lead role to the House Intelligence Committee and its chairman, Schiff, who would have broad latitude to organize extended questioning of potential public witnesses.
It also sets out for the first time the ability of House Republicans to make their own requests for testimony and documents, though those requests will be subject to a vote of the Democratic-majority committee — a practice that matches the minority powers in the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
House Republican leaders have blasted the Democratic tactics, arguing that the impeachment process was fatally flawed from the beginning and cannot be redeemed with the adoption of new procedures.
5:30 a.m.: Two more witnesses on deck this week
After Wednesday’s testimony, two additional witnesses are scheduled to appear before the end of the week: Timothy Morrison, special assistant to the president and senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council, on Thursday, and Robert Blair, senior adviser to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, on Friday.
5:15 a.m.: Testimony from career diplomats to outline Trump’s dark view of Ukraine
Two career diplomats will testify before House impeachment investigators Wednesday that Trump displayed a deeply pessimistic view of Ukraine that was out of step with officials at the White House and State Department who saw support for the European country as critical in its battle with Russian-backed separatists, according to their prepared remarks obtained by The Washington Post.
The State Department officials, Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, will say their optimistic view of Zelensky clashed with a darker outlook of the new government held by Trump and an informal channel of actors linked to the president’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Anderson, a career Foreign Service officer, will detail efforts when U.S. officials tried to demonstrate support for Ukraine only to be batted down by the White House, including after Russian forces attacked and seized Ukrainian military vessels in the Sea of Azov in 2018.
Croft, who worked on Ukraine issues at the White House and the State Department, will say that “throughout” her time in the Trump administration she heard the president “describe Ukraine as a corrupt country,” both “directly and indirectly.”
— John Hudson and Elise Viebeck
5 a.m.: Trump shares tweets of GOP allies critical of impeachment inquiry
Trump shared tweets from Republican allies late into the night on Tuesday, with several of them focused on a resolution unveiled by Democrats setting the parameters of the public phase of the impeachment inquiry.
“Democrats go 4+ weeks with a secretive, free for all, no rules impeachment process — and now try to save face with a short on substance resolution that only pretends to give the minority rights and blows up precedent,” wrote Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) in one tweet shared by Trump on his Twitter account. “Americans will see right through this. What a debacle.”
Another tweet, written by Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.), said that “[a]fter seven weeks of running a communist-style, ultra-partisan effort to undo the 2016 election results under the disguise of a sham impeachment process, @SpeakerPelosi claims she wants to now add transparency to a widely discredited process.”