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Democrats announce eight witnesses, including Vindman, Sondland and Volker, for next week’s public impeachment hearings

President Trump listens during a White House event on Oct. 30. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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Read the latest: Trump impeachment hearings live updates

Eight witnesses are expected to testify next week in the House impeachment inquiry, the panel leading the probe announced Tuesday, as President Trump accused Democrats of relying on “2nd and 3rd hand” testimony on the eve of the first public hearing.

Among those expected to testify before the House Intelligence Committee are Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the former National Security Council director for European affairs; Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union; and Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine.

Two State Department officials — Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and acting ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor Jr. — on Wednesday will be the first witnesses to testify publicly.

A memo circulated by Republican staff earlier Tuesday previewed how the president’s party plans to defend him.

The memo, written by GOP staff on the intelligence panel, argues that Trump’s “mindset” is key to understanding the July call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at a time when U.S. military aid was being withheld.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said he no longer plans to seek a judge’s ruling on whether he should testify in the impeachment inquiry and will instead follow Trump’s order not to cooperate.

●White House infighting flares amid impeachment inquiry.

●Trump cites corruption in Kyiv and European stinginess to justify actions on Ukraine. Neither rationale withstands close scrutiny.

●Testimony from Pentagon and State Department officials undercuts a key piece of Trump’s impeachment defense.

●Republicans shrug off growing evidence, stand with Trump against impeachment.

Who’s involved in the impeachment inquiry | Key documents related to the inquiry | What’s next in the inquiry

10:00 p.m.: Giuliani pens Wall Street Journal op-ed defending Trump

The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed Tuesday night in which Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani argued that the president’s July 25 conversation with Zelensky was “innocent” and denounced the House impeachment inquiry as “a travesty.”

Trump “requested that Ukraine root out corruption; he didn’t demand it,” Giuliani wrote, adding that “out of a five-page transcript Mr. Trump spent only six lines on Joe Biden.”

“His words were cordial, agreeable and free of any element of threat or coercion,” he wrote. “Mr. Trump offered nothing in return to Ukraine for cleaning up corruption. If you doubt me, read the transcript.”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has released a guide that debunks many of the claims that have been made by Giuliani and other Trump allies.

9:20 p.m.: Who is Stephen R. Castor, the GOP staff attorney in the impeachment hearings?

The Republican staff member charged with questioning impeachment witnesses has served as an investigator in some of the biggest House probes of the past 15 years, including inquiries related to Hurricane Katrina, a gun-tracking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious and the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Yet the task facing Stephen R. Castor on Wednesday will be completely new, as Republicans seize the chance to bolster Trump’s case that there was no quid pro quo involving Ukraine during the impeachment inquiry’s first public hearing.

Read more here.

— Elise Viebeck

9:15 p.m.: Democrats’ impeachment lawyer cut his teeth prosecuting mobsters, Wall Street cheats

The Democrats’ lead impeachment hearing lawyer made his bones as a prosecutor by sending mobsters, stock swindlers and a multimillion-dollar inside trader to prison, cases in which colleagues said he mixed brains and “swagger” to win convictions.

Daniel S. Goldman spent a decade as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, a jurisdiction known for its tough, high-profile cases. He left that job in 2017 to become a television legal analyst but now holds a weightier role questioning witnesses called to testify about Trump’s effort to persuade Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

Read more here.

— Devlin Barrett

9:00 p.m.: Aides are counseling Trump not to fire Mulvaney, as acting chief of staff changes course again

Trump has been threatening for weeks to fire Mulvaney, but senior advisers have counseled him to hold off on such a drastic step amid the high-stakes impeachment probe, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

Trump has expressed particular anger over Mulvaney’s performance in an Oct. 17 news conference in which Mulvaney stunned White House aides by saying military aid to Ukraine was withheld to pressure its government to launch investigations that could politically benefit Trump, two of the people said. Later, Mulvaney issued a statement saying the media had misconstrued his televised comments and that “there was absolutely no quid pro quo.”

Senior advisers have cautioned Trump that removing Mulvaney at such a sensitive time could be perilous, the people said.

Read more here.

— Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and John Hudson

8:40 p.m.: At donor dinner, Giuliani associate said he discussed Ukraine with Trump, according to people familiar with his account

The April 2018 dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington was designed to be an intimate affair, an opportunity for a handful of big donors to a super PAC allied with Trump to personally interact with the president and his eldest son.

Among those in attendance were two Florida business executives who had little history with Republican politics but had snagged a spot at the dinner with the promise of a major contribution to the America First super PAC. They turned the conversation to Ukraine, according to people familiar with the event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private dinner.

One of the men, Lev Parnas, has described to associates that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, told Trump at the dinner that they thought the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was unfriendly to the president and his interests.

Read more here.

— Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey

8:25 p.m.: Pelosi rewards endangered House Democrats after impeachment vote

In rare appointments made amid the congressional term, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) named two moderate Democrats to desirable committees Monday — the first session day after an Oct. 31 vote formalizing the impeachment inquiry.

Both members represent districts that Trump won in 2016 where any support for impeachment could be politically treacherous. The unusual timing of the appointments suggests they are connected to the impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) won a spot on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) was named to the Armed Services Committee, a post he was passed up for earlier this year.

— Mike DeBonis

8:00 p.m.: Democrats announce witnesses for next week’s hearings

Eight witnesses will testify over three days next week, the House Intelligence Committee announced Tuesday night.

On Nov. 19, lawmakers will hear from Vindman; Volker; Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Pence on Europe and Russia; and Tim Morrison, a former White House national security aide.

Witnesses on Nov. 20 will be Sondland; Laura Cooper, the Pentagon official who oversees Ukraine policy; and David Hale, the State Department’s third-ranking official.

And on Nov. 21, Fiona Hill, former top Russia adviser to the White House, will testify.

Of the numerous witnesses Republicans had requested, only three — Morrison, Volker and Hale — were greenlighted by Democrats, who control the majority on the panel.

“The Majority has accepted all of the Minority requests that are within the scope of the impeachment inquiry,” Democrats on the Intelligence Committee said in a statement. “Additional details will be released in the coming days.”

7:30 p.m.: Democrats defend Atkinson after reports that Trump discussed firing him

The top Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence committees on Tuesday defended Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, after the New York Times reported that Trump had discussed firing him for reporting the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress.

“The Inspector General for the Intelligence Community did what the law demands of him,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a tweet. “In a democracy, public servants owe their loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law, not to the President’s personal, political interests.”

Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also denounced Trump’s reported efforts to fire Atkinson.

“It’s hard to imagine a clearer abuse of power than firing the Inspector General simply because he did his job and followed the law, instead of covering up accusations of wrongdoing against the President,” he tweeted.

6:45 p.m.: Congress likely to push government shutdown battle to Dec. 20

Congress plans to avert a government shutdown Nov. 21 by passing another short-term spending bill into December, setting up a collision with House votes on articles of impeachment against Trump.

The new stopgap spending bill, expected to come up for votes next week, would last through Dec. 20, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday after meeting with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.).

Both lawmakers expressed hope that the extension would give them more time to come up with a deal that would fund all government operations through Sept. 30, 2020, which is the end of the current fiscal year. But key issues remain unresolved, including how much money will go to Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Read more here.

— Erica Werner

5:10 p.m.: The U.S. relationship with Ukraine runs deep. Here’s why.

Ukraine is front and center on Capitol Hill these days. But decades before the ongoing impeachment inquiry began, the former Soviet republic became a key part of U.S. policy discussions.

Here’s a walk through the history of U.S.-Ukraine relations. The developments and dramas help inform the hearings now unfolding in the House.

Read more here.

— Miriam Berger

5 p.m.: Schiff says the fact that Trump’s scheme was unsuccessful doesn’t make his conduct ‘any less impeachable’

In an interview with NPR, Schiff pushed back Tuesday against claims from Republicans that Trump’s conduct is not impeachable because he ultimately was not successful in securing a Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens.

“The fact that the scheme was discovered, the fact that the scheme was unsuccessful — doesn’t make it any less odious or any less impeachable,” Schiff told host Steve Inskeep. “If the president … conditioned official acts on the performance of these political favors, whether Ukraine ever had to go through with it really doesn’t matter. What matters is: Did the president attempt to commit acts that ought to result in his removal from office?”

Schiff also noted that impeachment is “the most powerful sanction the House has.”

“And if that deters further presidential misconduct, then it may provide some remedy even in the absence of a conviction in the Senate,” he said.

4:10 p.m.: Democrats and Republicans prep in separate rehearsals for first televised hearings

Huddled in separate rooms in the House basement, Democrats and Republicans went over their strategies for Wednesday’s hearing.

Democrats on the Intelligence Committee exuded confidence, which they credited in part to knowing that they were about to put forward those they consider their best and most personally compelling witnesses.

“I’d go to trial with any of them any day,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said of Kent and Taylor, who will be in the hot seat Wednesday, and ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, scheduled for Friday. “I think they’re extraordinary.”

Democrats believe they have a “very simple” story to tell, according to one member who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the preparations, but they practiced how members will tag team with lawyers and each other.

Republicans on the committee met with the three top leaders of the House GOP as well as Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump confidant, in a room that was set up to look like the hearing — suggesting that they planned to let members practice grilling witnesses.

“Chairman Schiff continues to deny our ability to get the facts out … He wants to run his own version of an impeachment witch hunt,” House Minority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said, exiting the meeting. “The radical socialists want to nullify the results of the election.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), walking in a few moments later, said he wanted to “make sure the truth gets out.”

— Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade

3:45 p.m.: Burr predicts Senate impeachment trial would last six to eight weeks

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) predicted a Senate impeachment trial would last six to eight weeks, although the top Republican in the chamber, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), has yet to weigh in.

Burr made the comment Monday at an event at Wake Forest University with Warner, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel.

“I’m not going to make a statement about what the outcome is, because the likelihood is, he and I are going to be jurors,” Burr said, gesturing toward Warner. “Let me tell you what that means. It means the day we take it up, we go into session six days a week, from 12:30 until 6:30. Can’t say anything. The House are the prosecutors. The president’s lawyers are the defense attorneys. They hash it out. The chief justice of the Supreme Court comes in and he rules.”

Burr added that the role of senators is to “basically hear the case, and then we have to come to a verdict.”

“That will probably be six or eight weeks of process,” he said. “And at the end of the day, will there be more than what the American people know today? I don’t know.”

3:30 p.m.: Nixon and Clinton faced televised impeachment hearings. Now so will Trump.

On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee holds the first televised hearing in its impeachment investigation of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. It is just the third time in U.S. history that an impeachment inquiry will be televised.

Democrats see the hearings as an opportunity to sway public opinion further toward impeachment. But will that actually happen?

A look at the historical precedents — the televised impeachment investigations of President Richard M. Nixon and President Bill Clinton — yields mixed messages.

Read more here.

— Gillian Brockell

1 p.m.: Trump says impeachment efforts ‘are going nowhere’

In his remarks to the Economic Club of New York, Trump referenced the impeachment inquiry as he addressed a pending trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

Trump accused “nervous Nancy” — a reference to Pelosi — and other Democrats of not advancing the trade deal and complained that they prefer to focus on “outrageous hoaxes and delusional witch hunts, which are going nowhere, don’t worry about it.”

12:50 p.m.: What to know about open hearings in the impeachment probe of Trump

The fourth impeachment inquiry of a president in U.S. history moves from behind closed doors into public view Wednesday as the House Intelligence Committee holds its first televised hearing in its probe into Trump and his interactions with Ukraine.

Read more here about what to expect.

12:45 p.m.: Senate Democrats seek protections for hearing witnesses

Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote to two senior officials at the State Department on Tuesday, asking that they make public statements of support for the witnesses testifying this week in impeachment proceeds and commit to not retaliating against them.

All three witnesses scheduled to appear in public hearings this week are State Department officials.

“We call on you to emphatically and unequivocally support and protect these employees to your fullest abilities, including by issuing statements of support and ensuring they are not subject to any act of reprisal,” said the letter, which was addressed to Deputy Secretary John Sullivan and Undersecretary Brian Bulatao.

“We are writing you, and not Secretary Pompeo, because his silence to date speaks volumes,” the letter continued. “He has failed to stand up for his Department’s own people, despite their steadfast service to our country, despite their dedication to public service without regard to party, president, or politics.”

The Democrats signing the letter included Sens. Robert Menendez (N.J.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Christopher A. Coons (Del.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Edward J. Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Cory Booker (N.J.).

12 p.m.: Trump touting his stewardship of the economy in New York

President Trump praised the strength of the U.S. economy while speaking to the Economic Club of New York on Nov. 12. (Video: The Washington Post)

With Washington focused on impeachment, Trump was set to deliver remarks in New York touting his stewardship of the economy.

“Today, I am proud to stand before you as president to report that we have delivered on our promises — and exceeded our expectations,” Trump plans to say, according to an excerpt released by the White House. “We have ended the war on American workers, we have stopped the assault on American industry, and we have launched an economic boom the likes of which we have never seen before!”

11:50 a.m.: Pelosi takes issue with Trump’s use of ‘perfect’

Pelosi took aim at Trump for his repeated insistence that his July call with Zelensky was “perfect.”

“President Trump’s pressure campaign was ‘out of bounds,’ and every time he insists that it was ‘perfect’ he is saying that he is above the law,” Pelosi tweeted.

The tweet linked to a Washington Post piece that named 14 Republicans and Trump appointees who have characterized the call as less than perfect.

11 a.m.: Mulvaney reverses course, will not seek judge’s ruling

Mulvaney changed course Tuesday and abruptly ended plans to file a lawsuit asking the courts to rule on how he should respond to a House subpoena demanding his testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

In a court filing, Mulvaney’s lawyer made clear that the acting chief of staff now intends to follow the instruction of the president, who has issued a broad directive barring aides from participating in the impeachment inquiry, though some current and former aides have chosen to comply with subpoenas from Congress.

Others, such as former national security adviser John Bolton, have indicated that they would look to the courts for guidance on competing demands from two branches of government.

Tuesday’s court filing by Mulvaney came amid growing rancor inside the White House over how to respond to impeachment queries. It was the latest among a series of reversals by Mulvaney as he comes under fire from Capitol Hill and from present and former colleagues in the White House.

Late Monday, Mulvaney’s legal team had notified the court that he planned to file his own lawsuit against the House seeking court guidance on how to respond to a subpoena. The lawsuit, his lawyer said, would be related to one filed earlier by Bolton’s legal team on behalf of Bolton’s former top deputy Charles Kupperman.

Read more here.

Tom Hamburger

10:55 a.m.: Club for Growth targets more freshman Democrats

The conservative group Club for Growth announced it is expanding a campaign to target freshman Democratic House members serving in previously Republican-held seats for their stance on the impeachment inquiry.

The digital ads seek to make the case that the impeachment proceedings are “a distraction from the real issues facing everyday Americans” and ask constituents to call their representatives and tell them to stop the process.

“Now that socialists have driven the Democratic Party over the cliff with the sham impeachment, conservatives have an opportunity, especially in certain districts where recently elected Democrats who campaigned on moderation and independence have to go home and answer questions from voters about why they haven’t done more on issues like jobs and the economy,” David McIntosh, the group’s president, said in a statement announcing the ads.

The Democrats being targeted are Reps. Sean Casten (Ill.), Joe Cunningham (S.C.), Jared Golden (Maine), Ben McAdams (Utah) and Harley Rouda (Calif.).

10:45 a.m.: Trump shares video, decries ‘total Impeachment Scam’

Trump returned to Twitter to share a video produced by Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee that seeks to make the case that Schiff has treated Trump unfairly.

“A total Impeachment Scam by the Do Nothing Democrats!” Trump wrote in the tweet that linked to the video.

10:35 a.m.: Wednesday hearing expected to wrap up by 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s open hearing will be gaveled in at 10 a.m. and should wrap up sometime between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., according to plans shared by an official working on the impeachment inquiry.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss plans that have not been publicly announced.

10:10 a.m.: Schiff pledges fair process, outlines how questioning will proceed

Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff pledged in a letter to House colleagues on Monday that the open hearings would be “fair to the President, the Committee Members, and the witnesses” and outlined how questioning will proceed.

“Above all, these hearings are intended to bring the facts to light for the American people,” Schiff said in the letter.

Following opening statements, Schiff said, witnesses will face “extended questioning” by the chairman and ranking Republican or their staff counsel. After that, all members of the committee will be given five minutes apiece to ask questions, he said.

Three witnesses are scheduled to appear this week: Taylor and Kent on Wednesday and Yovanovitch on Friday.

Schiff said in his letter that additional witnesses will be announced this week.

He also said that House investigators are planning to release the remaining transcripts of closed-door depositions that have not yet been made public.

9:15 a.m.: Conway dismisses witnesses linking military aid to investigations

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway argued Tuesday that impeachment inquiry witnesses who have testified that military aid was conditioned on investigations that could benefit Trump politically are relying on “conjecture,” “interpretations” and “assumptions.”

“Folks, that is not how we impeach and remove presidents who are democratically elected,” Conway said during an appearance on Fox News. “That’s how the cheerleaders find out which one of them is going to be asked to the prom by the quarterback.”

Conway said the impeachment inquiry against Trump is proceeding because “people on Capitol Hill don’t like him, and the 2020 crowd has no idea how to beat him at the ballot box.”

8:45 a.m.: Nunes promotes view that Schiff is a ‘court jester’

As both parties girded for Wednesday’s public hearing, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, promoted an opinion piece written by a Fox News commentator that refers to the panel’s Democratic chairman as a “court jester playing the fool.”

The piece by Gregg Jarrett argues that Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, is presiding over a “clown show” that is “getting more comical and hapless by the day.”

Schiff “presides over an investigatory charade that is anathema to fundamental fairness and due process,” Jarrett wrote in the piece, which Nunes shared on Twitter.

8:30 a.m.: Neither Trump nor Democrats get high marks in new poll

On the eve of the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, neither congressional Democrats nor Trump are faring well in the eyes of most Americans, according to a CBS News-YouGov poll.

The poll finds that more Americans feel Democrats have done a bad job handling the inquiry (52 percent) than a good job (48 percent).

Meanwhile, more Americans feel Trump has done a bad job handling it (56 percent) than feel he has handled it well (43 percent).

7:30 a.m.: GOP staff says Trump’s ‘mindset’ key to call with Zelensky

A staff memo prepared for Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee argues that Trump’s “mindset” is key to interpreting his July 25 call with Zelensky.

“President Trump has generally been skeptical of foreign assistance, believing that European allies should contribute their fair share to regional defense,” says the memo, which is dated Tuesday and was first reported by Axios. “President Trump has had, for years preceding the call, a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism toward Ukraine due to its pervasive corruption. President Trump is well aware of actions by senior Ukrainian government officials to work for his defeat in the 2016 election. These experiences colored President Trump’s interaction with President Zelensky.”

The 18-page memo also takes aim at Democrats for running what GOP staff characterizes as an unfair inquiry without “due process” for Trump and concludes that “evidence gathered does not establish an impeachable offense.”

“President Trump never raised U.S. security assistance to President Zelensky, and ultimately the assistance was released and a presidential meeting occurred without Ukraine investigating the President’s political rivals,” the memo says.

7 a.m.: RNC urging Trump supporters to call Democrats in Congress

The Republican National Committee is urging Trump supporters to call Democratic members of Congress and ask them to curtail the impeachment inquiry.

“Make no mistake about it: Democrat leaders have wanted impeachment since the MOMENT @realDonaldTrump was elected,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a morning tweet. “Call your Democrat member of Congress and tell them to Stop The Madness!”

The tweet links to an RNC website set up to defend Trump.

6:45 a.m.: Trump says transcript of first Zelensky call to be released this week

Trump pledged again Tuesday morning that he would release a transcript of an April call of his with Zelensky by the end of the week.

“I will be releasing the transcript of the first, and therefore more important, phone call with the Ukrainian President before week’s end!” he said in a tweet.

The impeachment inquiry was sparked by a July call in which Trump pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens at a time when U.S. military aid was being withheld. The earlier call came shortly after Zelensky was elected.

Witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have described that earlier call as friendly and noncontroversial, according to testimony transcripts.

On Saturday, Trump told reporters a transcript of the call would “probably” be released on Tuesday.

On Monday night, he offered a less specific timetable.

“To continue being the most Transparent President in history, I will be releasing sometime this week the Transcript of the first, and therefore most important, phone call I had with the President of Ukraine,” he tweeted. “I am sure you will find it tantalizing!”

6:30 a.m.: Trump says Biden and his son should be forced to testify

Trump said both Biden and his son should be “forced to testify” as part of the impeachment inquiry in morning tweets in which he also complained that Democrats are relying on what he characterized as “2nd and 3rd hand witnesses.”

“Why is such a focus put on 2nd and 3rd hand witnesses, many of whom are Never Trumpers, or whose lawyers are Never Trumpers, when all you have to do is read the phone call (transcript) with the Ukrainian President and see first hand?” Trump tweeted, using a term for Republicans who were opposed to his presidency from the beginning.

He has offered no evidence that witnesses who have testified fall into that category.

In his tweets, Trump also asserted that as president he has an “obligation” to look into corruption and claimed that Hunter Biden was given a lucrative position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company “with no knowledge or talent.”

“Both Bidens should be forced to testify in this No Due Process Scam!” Trump said.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have requested that Hunter Biden appear as a witness at a public hearing. They have not requested the former vice president appear.

Under House rules, witnesses must be approved by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) or a vote of the full committee, on which Democrats have a majority of seats.

6 a.m.: Career federal employees take risky and rare role in impeachment drama

As diplomats kick off nationally televised impeachment hearings on Wednesday, it is clear how, more than in any political scandal in modern history, career employees have emerged as crucial witnesses.

Rank-and-file bureaucrats who work in the federal agencies that handle national security will defy the directive of the White House to stay quiet, instead describing what they saw as they went about, in their view, just doing their jobs.

Their role in recounting to the public how Trump and his allies attempted to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals will not come without risk. All but one of the 11 career Foreign Service staff, military officers and Pentagon officials who first testified in closed-door depositions in the Capitol basement are still in government.

Read more here.

— Lisa Rein

5 a.m.: Biden says there is ‘zero rationale’ for his son to testify in impeachment probe

Biden said Monday night there is “zero rationale” for the House Intelligence Committee to hear from his son Hunter as part of the impeachment inquiry, as Republicans have urged.

“There is zero rationale for that to happen,” Biden told CNN anchor Erin Burnett during a televised town hall from Iowa. “Nobody has suggested that anything was done that was inappropriate. This is all a diversion. This is classic Trump, classic Trump. Focus on the problems. We have a president who is one of the most corrupt people to serve in that office.”

Hunter Biden was among the witnesses requested by Republicans in a letter Saturday to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.). Trump and Giuliani pressed Ukraine to investigate the Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter Biden sat while his father was vice president.

Republicans are also seeking public testimony from the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.

Schiff has signaled that neither of those witnesses will be called. In a statement Saturday, he said the inquiry would not serve “as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the President pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”