Timothy Morrison, a deputy to John Bolton when he served as Trump’s national security adviser, shed light in a closed-door deposition on Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
News broke Wednesday that Morrison is preparing to leave the Trump administration.
●A divided House passes a resolution on the impeachment inquiry, setting the stage for televised hearings and the release of witness testimony.
●House investigators seek Bolton’s testimony, reaching into the upper echelons of the White House.
●A White House lawyer moved a transcript of Trump’s call to a classified server after a Ukraine adviser raised alarms.
10:30 p.m.: Trump wants a modern-day ‘fireside chat,’ says he’ll read the rough transcript of the Ukraine call on live TV
A week into President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term, the Great Depression was underway and banks were closing fast. Roosevelt took to the airwaves. His goal: to communicate his agenda and calm a reeling public. The tactic became one of Roosevelt’s trademarks, dubbed his “fireside chats.”
On Thursday, hours after the contentious House vote backing the impeachment inquiry, Trump suggested a fireside chat of his own.
“This is over a phone call that is a good call,” Trump said, referring to the investigation’s origins in an interview with the Washington Examiner. “At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call.”
In the 80-minute Oval Office interview, Trump told Examiner reporters and editors that he would remain defiant in the face of the inquiry.
“You are setting a terrible precedent for other presidents,” Trump said, responding to a question about whether he would honor congressional document requests and subpoenas.
He told the outlet his defense strategy would rely on the White House’s account of his call with Zelensky. There would be T-shirts, too, he said, bearing the new slogan: “Read the transcript.”
9:30 p.m.: Schiff says witness transcripts could be released as early as next week
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Thursday night that he expects to begin public releasing transcripts from closed-door depositions as early next week.
Schiff made the comments during an appearance on MSNBC in which he noted that the resolution passed by the full House earlier Thursday allows him to release the transcripts.
“I would expect that process to begin as early as next week,” Schiff told host Rachel Maddow.
5:30 p.m.: Trump invites Republican senators for lunch and makes his case against impeachment
In a private lunch with Senate Republicans on Thursday, Trump repeatedly praised his own decision to release a rough transcript of the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president that has become a central focus of the House’s impeachment inquiry, according to the senators who attended.
The White House quietly invited just over a half-dozen of the president’s staunchest allies in the Senate, where many members have refrained from commenting directly on the unfolding case, arguing that they will effectively serve as jurors in any impeachment trial.
But the issue of impeachment was still discussed, as Trump made his case repeatedly that the White House released a transcript of the call — the document is labeled a “memorandum of telephone conversation” — and that there was nothing wrong with its contents. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had previously urged the White House to release the information.
— Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade
5:10 p.m.: Judge schedules Kupperman hearing for Dec. 10
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon set a hearing in the case of former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman for Dec. 10. Kupperman had asked the judge to decide whether he must comply with a House subpoena in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
In court Thursday, Kupperman’s attorney, Charles Cooper, who also represents Bolton, did not rule out the possibility that Bolton could be added to the lawsuit if he is subpoenaed. House investigators have asked Bolton to testify before two committees next week, but Cooper said Bolton has not yet received a subpoena.
Throughout the hearing, the judge emphasized the importance of moving quickly to resolve an important matter of public interest. He chastised a Justice Department lawyer who asked for more time to file a brief because of a holiday conflict.
“When it’s a matter of this consequence to this country, you roll your sleeves up and get the job done,” Leon said.
— Ann E. Marimow
4:50 p.m.: Morrison testimony concludes
Morrison’s testimony wrapped up late Thursday afternoon, more than eight hours after he arrived at the Capitol.
4:40 p.m.: U.S. Capitol Police are called after Republican campaign arm sends moving boxes to vulnerable Democrats
The National Republican Congressional Committee hand-delivered moving boxes Thursday to the offices of several vulnerable House Democrats, prompting calls for the Capitol Police to investigate what some viewed as suspicious packages.
Eva Malecki, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, said the incident had been cleared by late Thursday afternoon.
On Thursday afternoon, several reporters posted online photos of large brown moving boxes that were left outside the offices of some House Democrats.
The label of one box, left for Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), read “Get Packing!” and listed the NRCC as the sender, according to the New York Times. A bright red bow was fastened on top.
Others who received the boxes include Democratic Reps. Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Lizzie Fletcher (Tex.), Kim Schrier (Wash.), Conor Lamb (Pa.), Ben McAdams (Utah) and Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Politico reported.
Chris Pack, a spokesman for the NRCC, did not respond to questions about which Democrats were targeted or whether the organization had been contacted by the Capitol Police.
“We gave moving boxes to the Democrats who are going to be packing up their offices next November due to their obsession with impeachment,” Pack said.
Spanberger later sent a tweet in which she thanked the Capitol Police and criticized the NRCC over the incident.
“The @NRCC pulled a ridiculous stunt, leaving suspicious packages across Capitol Hill and diverting and wasting law enforcement resources,” she said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, meanwhile, sought to turn the episode into a messaging win for Democrats — by offering to use the moving boxes for a Thanksgiving food drive.
“Whether the NRCC takes us up on our offer to put those boxes to good use or not, we’ll be holding a canned food drive within our staff to serve local Washingtonians in need,” DCCC spokesman Cole Leiter said in a statement. “Thanksgiving is around the corner, and no one should have to worry about being able to feed their family during the holidays, or ever.”
3:30 p.m.: Morrison confirms substance of Taylor’s statement
In prepared opening remarks he made to impeachment investigators, Morrison confirmed “the substance of” Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr.’s statement, noting that he asked the National Security Council’s legal adviser and deputy to review Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky because he was afraid that it might leak, not because he thought anything potentially illegal had been discussed on it.
Morrison, who listened in on the call from the Situation Room, said he had “three concerns about a potential leak of the MemCon” transcript — which, he noted, “accurately and completely reflects the substance of the call.” His concerns were that it could be portrayed problematically in politically-polarized Washington, that it could affect bipartisan support for Ukraine in Congress, and that it could affect how Ukraine perceived its relationship with the United States.
Morrison started his current job directing Russia and Europe policy for the NSC on July 15. At the time, he reported directly to Kupperman, whose lawyers were in court Thursday to determine whether he must comply with a congressional subpoena to testify in the impeachment probe over White House objections.
Morrison also said he “never briefed the president or vice president on matters related to Ukrainian security,” but coordinated with Taylor and others.
Morrison’s intention to resign his post was reported on Wednesday, but in his testimony he noted that he has not yet submitted a formal resignation “because I do not want anyone to think there is a connection between my testimony today and my impending departure.” He said he would finalize his exit from the NSC after completing his testimony Thursday.
— Karoun Demirjian
3 p.m.: Is Trump’s base breaking over impeachment? The tale of a congressman’s defiance suggests not.
When it came to impeachment, the congressman wanted “to get all the facts on the table.” He thought the ambassadors testifying in closed session were “professional diplomats,” and that an apparent admission from the White House lectern of a quid pro quo with Ukraine should be taken at face value.
At another time, under a different president, Republican Rep. Francis Rooney’s words might have seemed innocuous, banal to the point of irrelevance.
But this is 2019, the president is Trump and in the country clubs and gated communities of Rooney’s ruby-red district along southwest Florida’s shimmering Gulf Coast, the comments provoked a collective howl.
Within hours, the longtime Republican insider had announced on Fox News his decision not to run again after two terms.
— Griff Witte
2 p.m.: Katie Hill says she voted for resolution on behalf of U.S. women
Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.), who is resigning amid an ethics investigation, referenced the impeachment inquiry during her final speech on the House floor Friday.
“Today as my final act, I voted to move forward with the impeachment of Donald Trump on behalf of the women of the United States of America,” Hill said. “We will not stand down. We will not be broken. We will not be silenced. We will rise, and we will make tomorrow better than today.”
The ethics investigation stems from allegations that Hill had been romantically involved with her legislative director. Hill has denied the charge but admitted to engaging in a consensual three-person relationship with her now-estranged husband and a member of her campaign staff.
The freshman lawmaker, who identifies as bisexual, became embroiled in controversy this month after a conservative news site and British tabloid published nude photos of her without her consent.
In her speech, Hill said she is leaving because of a “double standard” in how the sexual conduct of men and women is viewed.
1:45 p.m.: Explaining his ‘no’ vote, Democrat Peterson says impeachment process is ‘hopelessly partisan’
Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.) issued a statement Thursday explaining his vote against the House resolution on impeachment procedures. He described the process as “hopelessly partisan” and said he is “skeptical that we will have a process that is open, transparent and fair.”
“Without support from Senate Republicans, going down this path is a mistake,” Peterson said. “Today’s vote is both unnecessary, and widely misrepresented in the media and by Republicans as a vote on impeachment. I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented.”
1:30 p.m.: Republican lawmakers lunch with Trump at White House
A group of Republican lawmakers were invited to have lunch with Trump at the White House after the vote Thursday on the resolution related to the impeachment inquiry.
1:20 p.m.: Court weighs Trump claim that ex-White House counsel McGahn, top aides are absolutely immune from congressional subpoena
A federal judge on Thursday will weigh the Trump administration’s claim that former White House counsel Donald McGahn and top presidential aides are absolutely immune from Congress’s subpoenas in a potential landmark lawsuit brought by the House Judiciary Committee to force McGahn to testify.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has fast-tracked the scheduled 2 p.m. hearing for McGahn, whom House Democrats described as one of their “most important” witnesses in an impeachment inquiry.
The case is one of several major political and legal battles between Congress and the Trump White House over the Constitution’s balance of powers, as Democrats formally probe Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian government officials to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
— Spencer S. Hsu
1:10 p.m.: John Bolton’s former deputy asks judge to resolve conflicting demands for House impeachment testimony
A former top national security aide to Trump will ask a federal judge in Washington on Thursday to decide whether he must comply with a House subpoena in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Kupperman, who served as deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit last week to try to resolve conflicting orders from Congress and the White House over his participation in the investigation into Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president’s political rivals.
Kupperman did not appear for a House deposition Monday and is instead awaiting direction from U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon after a court hearing set for Thursday afternoon.
— Ann E. Marimow
1 p.m.: ‘This is a solemn day in the history of our country,’ Schiff says
At a news conference after Thursday’s vote, top House Democrats cast the move as a historic one that is far bigger than Trump. They offered few details, however, on the timeline for the next steps in the impeachment inquiry or on which witnesses they plan to call to testify in public.
“This is a solemn day in the history of our country,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said. “We take no joy in having to move down this road … but neither do we shrink from it.”
He argued that despite House Republicans’ complaints that they have been shut out of the deposition process so far, “most of the members who have been permitted to attend have failed to attend.”
Acting Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.) quoted her late predecessor on the panel, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.): “We are fighting for the soul of democracy.”
Asked how he interprets Republicans’ votes against the resolution, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) replied that it was “evidence that they don’t want to see a proper investigation, period.”
Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.) argued that the Trump administration’s abuse of power has resulted in U.S. foreign policy being subverted and U.S. diplomats being smeared and sidelined.
“Foreign aid is just not the president’s personal piñata,” Engel said, arguing that Trump took American money — not his own personal assets — and withheld it from Ukraine in order to help his own reelection. “If that isn’t crazy, then I don’t know what is.”
12:50 p.m.: McCarthy says GOP willing to defend Trump on substance of allegations
Asked if Republicans would go on the record saying Trump did nothing improper, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) offered a “very clear yes” and was echoed by about two dozens GOP lawmakers standing behind him at a news conference.
“There is nothing in that phone call that is wrong or impeachable.” McCarthy said, referring to Trump’s July call in which he pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens at a time when U.S. military aid was being withheld from Ukraine.
“Every single day our government works with other governments to solve cases,” McCarthy added. “Ukraine did nothing for the money to be released.”
12:30 p.m.: Rep. Liz Cheney says Pelosi has ‘neutered’ the Intelligence Committee
Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the House Republican conference chairwoman, chastised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday for giving the House Intelligence Committee the lead in the impeachment inquiry.
At a Republican news conference, where a parade of members attacked the Democrats and defended Trump, Cheney argued that impeachment work would take away from the Intelligence Committee’s focus on national security.
“She has completely neutered the Intelligence Committee,” Cheney said of Pelosi and the committee led by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.).
“History will hold them accountable. History will judge them,” Cheney said.
At the same news conference, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) accused Democrats of running a “Soviet-style impeachment process” and argued voters should be able to determine Trump’s fate.
“The country will be deciding next year who our president should be,” he said.
12 p.m.: Trump campaign warns of electoral consequences for Democrats
In a statement issued after Thursday’s vote, Trump’s presidential campaign warned that Democrats will face consequences at the ballot box over their efforts to impeach the president.
“Voters will punish Democrats who support this farce and President Trump will be easily re-elected,” Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in the statement.
11:45 a.m.: Democrats’ impeachment ‘obsession’ hurts the American people, White House claims
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a scathing statement after Thursday’s vote on the impeachment inquiry procedures, arguing that Democrats’ “unhinged obsession” with impeachment does not hurt Trump but rather “hurts the American people” by taking lawmakers’ attention away from other issues.
Democrats “are choosing every day to waste time on a sham impeachment — a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the president,” Grisham said.
“With today’s vote, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats have done nothing more than enshrine unacceptable violations of due process into House rules. ... The Democrats want to render a verdict without giving the administration a chance to mount a defense. That is unfair, unconstitutional, and fundamentally un-American,” she added.
Democrats have likened the early stages of the impeachment inquiry to grand jury proceedings, which are closed to the public. They say transcripts will be made available later and some witnesses will be recalled to provide public testimony.
11:35 a.m.: Trump offers an instant assessment of House vote
Moments after the resolution cleared the House, Trump took to Twitter, writing, “The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!”
11:30 a.m.: Resolution passes on near party-line vote
The resolution guiding the impeachment inquiry has passed, 232 to 196.
Two Democrats — Reps. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) and Collin C. Peterson (Minn.) — voted against the measure, which defines the parameters of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry.
The vote was nearly identical to the procedural vote beforehand. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not vote on the procedural measure.
11:20 a.m.: Vote underway on resolution guiding impeachment inquiry
A procedural measure allowing a vote on the resolution guiding the impeachment inquiry has passed, 231 to 196, largely along party lines. Two Democrats broke with their party, while Republicans stuck together.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is now presiding over a five-minute vote on the resolution itself.
11 a.m.: Trump says impeachment inquiry is hurting stock market
As the House was taking a procedural vote, Trump weighed in on Twitter, asserting that the impeachment inquiry was negatively affecting the stock market.
“The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market,” he tweeted. “The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!”
10:50 a.m.: McCarthy asks what has changed since Pelosi said impeachment should be bipartisan
As debate over the resolution neared a close, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sought to turn the previous words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) against her.
McCarthy pointed to an interview in March in which Pelosi said she would only support impeachment if it is “something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan.”
“What has changed since those words have been spoken?” McCarthy asked, as the House prepared to take a vote expected to largely break down along party lines.
McCarthy called the impeachment inquiry “an attempt to undo the last election” and “an attempt to influence the next one as well.”
10:40 a.m.: Pelosi: ‘The facts are what they are’
At her weekly news conference, Pelosi was asked whether she believes Thursday’s vote will do anything to diminish the belief of the White House that the Democratic-led process is illegitimate and unfair.
“No. The facts are what they are,” Pelosi said. “They can try to misrepresent them, but the fact is, this is a process that has expanded opportunity for them” to show any evidence that they believe proves the innocent of the president.
She also maintained that the rules of the current process “are fairer than anything that has gone before.”
10:30 a.m.: Only a few members expected to break ranks
As the vote on the resolution approached, leaders in both parties were anticipating an overwhelmingly partisan vote, with only a few members on both sides expected to break ranks.
On the Democratic side, only Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) had announced his opposition ahead of the vote. But Democratic vote counters also said it was possible that Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) and Collin C. Peterson (Minn.) could defect.
Other Democratic moderates from Trump districts, including Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), Ben McAdams (Utah) and Joe Cunningham (S.C.), said they would stick with leadership and support the measure.
On the Republican side, the list of potential “yes” votes was even shorter with Republican whips concerned about only Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Francis Rooney (Fla.).
Asked if he expected any defections, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “No.”
— Mike DeBonis
10:15 a.m.: Pelosi says Republicans are afraid of the truth
Addressing members of the House while standing next to a large American flag, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that Thursday’s vote will ensure that members of the public can see the facts for themselves.
“I don’t know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth,” she said, adding that nothing less than the country’s democracy is at stake.
No House member would vote to impeach the president, Pelosi said, “unless his actions are jeopardizing our honoring our oath of office.”
She cited “the genius of the Constitution — a separation of powers, three coequal branches of government to be a check and balance on each other — and it is to that that we take an oath of office.”
“This is not cause for any glee or comfort,” she added.
Earlier in the debate, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) pledged the process going forward would be “one in which the American people will have the opportunity to hear from witnesses firsthand.”
“This is a very solemn and momentous chapter in our nation’s history, and we hope all members bring the appropriate sobriety to the task,” Schiff said.
9:40 a.m.: House investigators preparing for four witnesses on Monday
House investigators are preparing to hear from four more witnesses on Monday, including White House officials John Eisenberg and Robert Blair, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who requested anonymity to discuss closed-door proceedings.
Eisenberg is the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues. According to testimony this week by Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine adviser at the White House, Eisenberg proposed moving a transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky to a highly classified server and restricting access to it.
Blair is a top national security adviser to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
Others called to testify on Monday include Michael Ellis, a legal adviser to the National Security Council, and Brian McCormack, an official with the Office of Management and Budget.
It was not immediately clear how likely it is the four individuals will appear.
9:25 a.m.: Rules chairman says ‘serious evidence’ Trump violated Constitution
Rules Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said he “never wanted the country to reach this point” as debate got underway on the resolution that defines the parameters of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry.
“We are not here in some partisan exercise,” McGovern said on the House floor. “There is serious evidence that President Trump may have violated the Constitution.”
The resolution lays out the rules for what McGovern described as “the public-facing phase of this process,” which will include nationally televised public hearings.
Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican member on the Rules Committee, unsuccessfully sought to expand debate on the resolution from one hour to four hours.
He then called the impeachment inquiry “nothing more than a partisan fishing expedition.”
“It’s not a fair process, it’s not an open process, it’s not a transparent process,” Cole said.
“It’s not fair to he president of the United States, it’s not fair to the House of Representatives, and it’s not fair to the American people.”
McGovern countered that Trump is being offered “better protections than former presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton did during their impeachment proceedings.
McGovern said it would be impossible to satisfy Republicans who are trying to “circle the wagons” around Trump.
9:20 a.m.: Morrison expected to corroborate testimony of senior U.S. diplomat
Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, is expected to corroborate the testimony of a senior U.S. diplomat who last week offered to House impeachment investigators the most detailed account to date of how Trump tried to use his office to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of Biden, said a person familiar with the matter.
Morrison is expected to tell impeachment investigators on Thursday that the account offered by Taylor is accurate, particularly that Morrison alerted him to the president’s and his deputies’ push to withhold security aid and a meeting with Ukraine’s president until that nation announced an investigation of the Bidens and 2016 election interference, the person said on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions
Morrison will also say that he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region, the person said.
— Carol D. Leonnig, John Hudson and Reis Thebault
9:15 a.m.: House opens debate on resolution on impeachment inquiry rules
The House has opened debate on the resolution that defines the parameters of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry.
8:30 a.m.: Trump shares assessments of conservative talk show host, former acting attorney general
Trump returned to Twitter on Thursday morning to share a string of friendly assessments from a conservative talk show host, his former acting attorney general and others about the impeachment inquiry process.
Trump quoted Fox News host Laura Ingraham at length urging Republicans “to stand together and defend the leader of their party against these smears” and asserting that “this farce should never be allowed to roll into a winter showtrial.”
Trump also shared a USA Today op-ed co-written by his former acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker that argued voters should determine Trump’s fate.
“Americans, not Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, will decide for themselves at the ballot box,” Whitaker and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) wrote, referring to the House speaker and Intelligence Committee chairman, both California Democrats.
“That’s how our system works,” Whitaker and Landry wrote. “It is not a system where you get a participation trophy or where everyone gets their way. In politics, like football, sore losers don’t get another bite at the apple.”
8:15 a.m.: Kellyanne Conway urges focus on transcript of Trump-Zelensky call
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway argued Thursday that the focus should be on the content of Trump’s call with Zelensky and not what witnesses appearing before House investigators have to say about it.
“The whole world has access to the call,” Conway said during an appearance on Fox News, referring to the rough transcript released by the White House last month that shows Trump pressing Zelensky to investigate the Bidens at a time when U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been withheld.
Trump and his aides have repeatedly argued that there is no “quid pro quo” because Trump does not condition the resumption of military aid on investigating the Bidens during the call.
“Here’s not what’s in the call: Any mention of 2020, any mention of Biden as some political opponent anybody should fear, any mention of aid being held up, any mention of the eight quid pro quos that were promised to Pelosi by the cable news cranks and the Twitter trolls,” Conway said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
“Go read the transcript everyone,” Conway added.
According to the rough transcript, Trump referred to the work that Biden’s son had done on a board of a Ukrainian gas company that had been under investigation and made some unsubstantiated claims about Biden.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Trump told Zelensky, according to the transcript. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.”
7:50 a.m.: McCarthy argues impeachment is getting in the way of other priorities
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sought Thursday to reinforce one of the Republican talking points on impeachment: that Democrats are unable to focus on other things.
“The worst part about their sham impeachment is all the things that are NOT getting done,” McCarthy said in a tweet, in which he asserted that the inquiry was responsible for a delay in passing a defense appropriations bill and ratifying a trade deal negotiated by Trump.
“They are making America weaker just because they dislike this president,” McCarthy said in a tweet that included a clip of him making the same points during a Fox News interview on Wednesday.
7:40 a.m.: Morrison arrives at Capitol for deposition
Morrison, the former Bolton deputy, has arrived at the Capitol ahead of his scheduled closed-door deposition.
7:30 a.m.: Pivotal House vote planned Thursday morning
A deeply divided House is set to take a pivotal vote Thursday morning on a resolution defining the parameters of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, which will feature nationally televised hearings with public testimony from key witnesses.
In advance of the vote, Democrats and Republicans alike have been working feverishly to ensure that there are few if any defections on their side.
The resolution, which is backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), hands the lead role to the House Intelligence Committee and its chairman, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), 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.
7 a.m.: Former Bolton deputy Timothy Morrison expected to testify
Morrison, a former Bolton deputy who is scheduled to appear Thursday morning for a closed-door deposition, could provide crucial corroboration of an alleged quid pro quo, in which other witnesses have suggested Trump held back promised military aid to Ukraine until its leaders committed to launch investigations that could help Trump politically.
Thursday’s testimony from Morrison may back up some of the most incriminating parts of another official’s detailed account of how shadow policy on Ukraine driven by Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani began to undermine the objectives being pursued through regular national security channels.
William B. Taylor Jr., acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, previously testified that it was Morrison who told him in early September that nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid was being withheld until Zelensky publicly promised to conduct the investigations Trump wanted.
According to Taylor’s testimony, Morrison told him that Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, had communicated “that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation” — referring to a Ukrainian energy company that previously employed Biden’s son Hunter on its board.
News broke Wednesday that Morrison is preparing to leave the Trump administration.
6:30 a.m.: Trump highlights Graham’s assessment of solid Republican support in Senate
Trump highlighted a tweet early Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham in which the South Carolina Republican asserted that not a single member of his party in the Senate is prepared to vote to remove Trump from office.
“This is an unfair process being driven by sore losers,” Graham wrote. “There is not one vote [from Republicans] in the United States Senate to impeach President Trump based on this phone call because he did nothing wrong.”
“The Do Nothing Democrats have gone Crazy. Very bad for USA!” Trump added in his own words.
Trump’s retweet of Graham came shortly after he congratulated the Washington Nationals on winning the World Series in another post-midnight post on Twitter.
6:10 a.m.: A liberal fantasy no longer? Tom Steyer’s Need to Impeach campaign comes full circle with House vote
When Tom Steyer launched an eight-figure television ad campaign to impeach Trump in 2017, Democratic leaders urged the California businessman and megadonor to tone it down and spend his money elsewhere.
Now, almost exactly two years later, what was once derided as Steyer’s liberal fantasy is coming true: House Democrats will cast their first vote Thursday on an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
And to Steyer, now a 2020 presidential candidate struggling to register in the polls as a relative latecomer to a crowded field, the vote is an affirmation of his political instincts — and his long-shot presidential bid based on the idea that the current White House occupant and his administration are corrupt.
— Jacqueline Alemany
6:05 a.m.: Key Senate Democrats probe White House’s handling of Ukraine trade benefits
Two top Senate Democrats are demanding details of the Trump administration’s delay in restoring Ukraine’s trade privileges, which occurred last summer as Trump was also withholding military and security aid from the embattled U.S. ally.
The twin delays came as the White House sought to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden’s son.
“It would raise grave concerns both domestically and internationally if U.S. trade policy were used as a bargaining chip to achieve partisan political ends,” Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrats on the Senate Finance and Foreign Relations Committees, wrote in an Oct. 30 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer.
— David J. Lynch
6 a.m.: Trump touts ‘change in Washington,’ rips Democrats over impeachment in World Series ad
A 30-second campaign ad that aired during Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night flaunted Trump’s purported political victories and attacked Democrats over the impeachment inquiry. The first half of the ad flashed through the president’s record on jobs, immigration and combating terrorism, while the last 15 seconds lambasted the Democrats’ focus on allegations of quid pro quo and foreign interference.
“He’s no Mr. Nice Guy, but sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington,” the ad declared to viewers during the Washington Nationals’ title-clinching win over the Houston Astros.
Fans gathered for the viewing party at Nationals Park booed as the pro-Trump commercial played on the stadium’s Jumbotron. Among political operatives and observers, many noted the video’s unprecedented timing and reach, as it was watched by millions of Americans on TV and on Twitter.
— Katie Shepherd
5 a.m.: White House lawyer moved transcript of Trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarms
Moments after Trump ended his phone call with Ukraine’s president on July 25, an unsettled national security aide rushed to the office of White House lawyer John Eisenberg.
Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine adviser at the White House, had been listening to the call and was disturbed by the pressure Trump had applied to Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, according to people familiar with Vindman’s testimony to lawmakers this week.
Vindman told Eisenberg, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues, that what the president did was wrong, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad, Eisenberg proposed a step that other officials have said is at odds with long-standing White House protocol: moving a transcript of the call to a highly classified server and restricting access to it, according to two people familiar with Vindman’s account.
— Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Greg Miller