Trump lashed out at Democrats minutes after the explosive whistleblower report was made public, and he urged Republicans to “STICK TOGETHER” as another dramatic day in Washington unfolded.
Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, spent more than three hours Thursday morning before the House Intelligence Committee, where lawmakers questioned him about the complaint, which revealed that Trump had pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son. A redacted version of the complaint was made public Thursday morning.
● Whistleblower claimed Trump abused his office and that White House officials tried to cover it up
7:00 p.m. Top Democrats accuse Trump of trying to intimidate whistleblower to obstruct justice
Democratic Reps. Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), chairman of the Oversight Committee, issued a joint statement condemning Trump’s comments that seem to threaten the whistleblower’s life.
At a private event, Trump called whistleblower a spy.
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? With spies and treason, right? We used to handle them a little differently than we do now,” Trump said.
The Democratic leaders said the president’s remarks were akin to obstructing the House impeachment inquiry by seeking to intimidate the whistleblower from cooperating.
“We condemn the President’s attacks, and we invite our Republican counterparts to do the same because Congress must do all it can to protect this whistleblower, and all whistleblowers,” they said. “Threats of violence from the leader of our country have a chilling effect on the entire whistleblower process, with grave consequences for our democracy and national security.”
6:30 p.m.: New polls find nation divided over impeachment inquiry
Two flash polls found mixed reactions to the House of Representatives’ opening of an impeachment inquiry and the seriousness of the whistleblower’s claims.
An NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll conducted on Wednesday found 49 percent of Americans supported opening the impeachment inquiry while 46 percent were opposed, though independents tilted in disapproval, 50 percent to 44 percent.
A separate HuffPost-YouGov poll conducted from Tuesday to Thursday found 47 percent saying “Trump should be impeached and removed from office,” slightly higher than 43 percent in the same poll earlier this month. But that increase was driven more by increased support among Democrats than independents.
The NPR-PBS-Marist poll found 50 percent saying the impeachment inquiry is “a serious matter” compared with 48 percent who called it “just politics.” But a slightly larger 55 percent said the official notes about President Trump’s call with president of Ukraine is a serious matter.
More than 7 in 10 said the whistleblower should testify before Congress.
6:15 p.m.: Ocasio-Cortez suggests Republicans who can’t find the time to read whistleblower complaint should quit
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) offered a blunt assessment of the congressional Republicans who have dodged reporters’ questions about the whistleblower complaint by saying they didn’t read it.
“There is almost no excuse for a member of Congress to have not read the whistleblower report by now. It’s a few pages. This is literally our jobs,” she tweeted. “If you don’t have the commitment to be here and do the work, cut your fancy fundraisers & make the time, or quit.”
Ocasio-Cortez was responding directly to a list posted by CNN of Republican senators’ reactions to the complaint that shows many of them offering some variation of: “I didn’t read it yet.”
5:50 p.m.: Schiff says he’s ‘deeply concerned’ about whistleblower’s safety
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said he is concerned about the safety of the whistleblower who raised the alarm about Trump’s call with Zelensky, citing “repugnant threats” made by the president earlier Thursday.
“I’m deeply concerned about it,” Schiff told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer when asked about the whistleblower’s safety. “And obviously, we’re going to do everything we can … to protect the whistleblower’s identity. But given those real, repugnant threats coming from the president, I have a real concern about this.”
Hours earlier, in a meeting with U.S. diplomats in New York, Trump had likened the whistleblower to a spy and suggested that the person should be punished for his or her actions.
Schiff also dismissed criticism from Republicans who have seized on his opening statement at Thursday’s hearing, in which he offered what he has described as a “parody” of Trump’s call with Zelensky.
“Oh, I don’t think it’s making light of the situation,” Schiff said on CNN. “And I certainly wouldn’t want to suggest that there’s anything comical about this.”
He added that it was accurate to say, as he did in the hearing, that Trump was “speaking like an organized crime boss.”
5:30 p.m.: Former Ukraine prosecutor says Hunter Biden ‘did not violate anything’
A former top Ukrainian prosecutor, whose allegations were at the heart of the dirt-digging effort by Rudolph W. Giuliani, said Thursday he believed that Hunter Biden did not run afoul of any laws in Ukraine.
“From the perspective of Ukrainian legislation, he did not violate anything,” former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko told The Washington Post in his first interview since the disclosure of a whistleblower complaint alleging pressure by Trump on Zelensky.
Lutsenko’s comments about Hunter Biden — which echo what he told Bloomberg News in May — were significant, because Trump and his personal attorney Giuliani have sought to stir up suspicions about both Hunter and Joe Biden’s conduct in Ukraine in recent weeks.
— Michael Birnbaum, David L. Stern and Natalie Gryvnyak
4:30 p.m.: American Academy of Diplomacy says Trump’s statements about Yovanovich are cause for ‘great concern’
The American Academy of Diplomacy, a nonprofit that supports the work of U.S. diplomats, put out a strongly worded statement condemning the disparaging comments Trump made about Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, during his call with the Ukrainian president.
According to the rough transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky provided by the White House, Trump said, “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”
Then Trump added, “She’s going to go through some things.”
The nonprofit’s chairman, Thomas Pickering, and its president, Ronald Neumann, said Trump’s comments causes them “great concern.”
Pickering worked in the State Department and as an ambassador under every president from Richard M. Nixon to Bill Clinton, while Neumann served as ambassador to Afghanistan and Bahrain under President George W. Bush and Algeria under Clinton.
“The threatening tone of this statement is deeply troubling,” they said in a joint statement. “It suggests actions outside of and contrary to the procedures and standards of a professional service whose officers, like their military counterparts, take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Whatever views the Administration has of Ambassador Yovanovitch’s performance, we call on the Administration to make clear that retaliation for political reasons will not be tolerated.
Yovanovitch was called back from her post in Ukraine in May, a move that Democrats have called a “political hit job.”
4:10 p.m.: Pompeo declines to say whether State Department told Giuliani to reach out to Ukraine
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to say Thursday whether the State Department directed Giuliani to contact Zelensky and his aides.
Giuliani said in a Fox News Channel interview earlier this week that he was “operating at the request of the State Department” when he reached out to Ukrainian officials about investigating Biden.
But in a news conference in New York, Pompeo dodged a question on Giuliani’s claim. He said he had yet to read the whistleblower’s complaint, telling reporters that he “read the first couple of paragraphs and then got busy today.” And he maintained that “to the best of my knowledge,” the behavior of State Department officials was “entirely appropriate.”
“We have tried to use this opportunity to create a better relationship between the United States and Ukraine, to build on the opportunities, to tighten our relationship, to help end corruption in Ukraine,” Pompeo said. “This was what President Zelensky ran on. We’re hopeful that we can help him execute and achieve that.”
4 p.m.: Clinton says Trump’s efforts to undercut Biden mirror his attacks against her in 2016
In an interview taped before Pelosi officially announced her support for an impeachment inquiry into Trump, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton described the latest developments regarding Trump’s alleged actions as “incredibly troubling.” She said Trump’s attempts to damage Biden’s 2020 chances are similar to his efforts to undercut her in 2016.
“The most outrageously false things were said about me,” Clinton said in an interview with CBS’s “Sunday Morning.” “And unfortunately, enough people believed them. So this is an effort to sow these falsehoods against Biden. And I don’t care if you’re for the [Democrats] or you’re a Republican, when the president of the United States — who has taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution — uses his position to, in effect, extort a foreign government for his political purposes, I think that is very much what the founders worried about in high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Later in the interview, Clinton called Trump “a clear and present danger.”
The interview will air in its entirety on Sunday.
3:50 p.m.: Biden campaign says Trump’s actions extend from ‘fear’ that the former vice president will beat him in 2020
The Biden campaign responded to the latest revelations in Trump’s alleged efforts to seek incriminating information from Ukraine about the former vice president, claiming that Trump’s alleged actions are “all borne from his deep, fully substantiated fear that Joe Biden will beat him in November 2020.”
“An intelligence community whistleblower said, ‘I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,’” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement.
“An hour after the report was made public, the Acting Director of National Intelligence called this report ‘urgent and important’ and ‘totally unprecedented.’ And now we know that President Trump’s response to all of this was to privately issue a thinly veiled threat this morning to execute the national security professionals who followed their oath to uphold the Constitution by bringing this to light.”
Bedingfield added that Trump’s “abuse of power makes him one of the most divisive, unfit individuals to occupy the Oval Office in our nation’s history.”
3:30 p.m.: Trump compares whistleblower to a ‘spy’
In remarks at a meeting with staffers for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations on Thursday, Trump likened the whistleblower to a spy and suggested that the person should be punished for his or her actions.
He told staffers that “basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy.”
“I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,” Trump said, according to audio of his remarks posted by the Los Angeles Times and confirmed to The Washington Post by a person in the room. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”
At a separate event with campaign donors at New York City’s Cipriani restaurant on Thursday, Trump waved a copy of the rough transcript of his call with Zelensky and boasted that it was good news for the GOP because it had prompted a flood of donations.
“This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to the Republican Party,” Trump said, according to an attendee.
When the crowd chanted “four more years,” the president responded by joking that they shouldn’t stop there.
“If you really want their heads to explode, you should chant eight more years,” Trump said.
2:30 p.m.: Timeline: The alarming pattern of actions by Trump included in whistleblower allegations
Six weeks after it was submitted, a complaint from an intelligence community whistleblower has been declassified and released publicly. Part of the complaint centers on the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky. The whistleblower complaint, filed more than a month earlier, accurately captures the content of that call, lending validity to the rest of the assertions in the complaint.
With that in mind, we’ve pulled out the significant dates mentioned in the whistleblower complaint to give a sense of how the effort by Trump and Giuliani to elicit an investigation in Ukraine unfolded.
1:30 p.m.: Number of House members supportive of impeachment inquiry stands at 220
The number of House members who support an impeachment inquiry into Trump has grown slightly to 220, according to a Washington Post tally.
The figure includes 219 Democrats and one independent member.
Of those, 27 have gone a step further and said they support impeaching the president.
The ranks of Democrats calling for an impeachment inquiry swelled in the past week, culminating Tuesday when Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced a formal inquiry.
1 p.m.: Trump arrives back in Washington
President Trump landed in Washington Thursday afternoon — and immediately lashed out at Democrats over their continued scrutiny of his phone call with Zelensky.
It was an “absolutely perfect phone call,” Trump told reporters shortly after getting off the plane.
He argued that Pelosi has been “hijacked by the radical left,” renewing his attacks on the speaker of the House after she announced her support for an impeachment inquiry.
1 p.m.: Schiff says Democrats are ‘determined to get to the bottom of this’
Schiff said his committee would work through an upcoming two-week recess as it continues to probe Trump’s interactions with Zelensky.
“We are determined to get to the bottom of this,” Schiff said, suggesting the committee would interview multiple witnesses, including the whistleblower.
The committee also wants to learn more about the roles of Attorney General William P. Barr and Giuliani among others, Schiff said.
Schiff spoke to reporters shortly after his panel adjourned after hearing from Maguire for more than three hours.
12:50 p.m.: Trump lashes out at Schiff after hearing wraps up
Trump took to Twitter shortly after the House Intelligence Committee hearing wrapped up, taking aim at its chairman and dismissing the whistleblower report as “second hand information.”
“Adam B. Schiff has zero credibility. Another fantasy to hurt the Republican Party!” Trump tweeted.
The tweet came as Schiff (D-Calif.) was fielding questions following the hearing from reporters, one of whom asked about Trump’s tweet.
“I’m always flattered when I’m attacked by someone of the president’s character,” Schiff responded.
In a separate tweet, Trump sought to play down the seriousness of the allegations of the whistleblower, who acknowledged no firsthand knowledge of Trump’s actions but said the complaint was informed by “more than half a dozen U.S. officials.”
“A whistleblower with second hand information? Another Fake News Story! See what was said on the very nice, no pressure, call. Another Witch Hunt!” Trump wrote.
Later, Trump targeted Schiff again on Twitter, writing: “Liddle’ Adam B. Schiff, who has worked unsuccessfully for 3 years to hurt the Republican Party and President, has just said that the Whistleblower, even though he or she only had second hand information, “is credible.” How can that be with zero info and a known bias. Democrat Scam!”
12:40 p.m.: Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, voices support for impeachment inquiry
Phil Scott on Thursday became the nation’s first Republican governor to voice support for the House’s impeachment inquiry against Trump.
“I believe we need to figure out what exactly did happen, establish the facts, and let the facts drive us from there to where we go,” Scott, who has been a frequent Trump critic, said at a news conference in Vermont.
12:30 p.m.: Lewandowski denies having conversations with White House about leading impeachment team
Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, denied a CNN report that he has had discussions with the White House about potentially leading the president’s impeachment team.
“For the last five years, I have done my best to help this president in any capacity that he has asked me,” Lewandowski said in a phone interview with The Washington Post. “But I have had no conversation with anyone at the White House regarding this.”
Lewandowski signaled, however, that he is open to helping Trump fight back against impeachment in whatever way the president requests.
“If the president asks me to push back on the fake impeachment narrative, I will do that in any way I can,” Lewandowski said.
CNN reported earlier Thursday that Lewandowski, who is mulling a U.S. Senate bid, representing his home state of New Hampshire, has had recent conversations with White House officials about taking an administration position as the impeachment battle ramps up.
12:20 p.m.: Maguire hearing wraps up
The House Intelligence Committee hearing concluded Thursday afternoon after more than three hours of heated questioning of Maguire by lawmakers.
Maguire is expected to go behind closed doors later Thursday to address the Senate Intelligence Committee.
12:10 p.m.: Republicans plan another House vote on impeachment authorization
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he will force another House vote on authorizing an impeachment investigation, in a move designed to put pressure on Democrats on the issue.
“Every member owes it to their constituents — their constituents are the ones who lend their voice to the members for two years,” McCarthy said at his weekly news conference. “And they should be very clear on where they stand.”
On Thursday morning, the number of House members backing an impeachment inquiry had passed the halfway mark, with 218 House Democrats and one independent member supporting at least opening an inquiry into whether Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
But some Democrats are still holding out, including several in Republican-leaning districts.
12 p.m.: Senate panel debates withholding State Department funds
The Senate Appropriations Committee spent some time Thursday morning debating an amendment that would have withheld some State Department funds until $448 million in security assistance is released for Ukraine.
Ultimately, the committee didn’t vote on the amendment after its author — Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) — withdrew it. Murphy said he didn’t want to set a bad precedent and wanted to retain bipartisan agreement on the committee. He also said he trusted a commitment from Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) to ensure funding for Ukraine. Graham chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations.
“I accept Senator Graham’s commitment to continue to work on this,” Murphy said. “I would rather have us stay together united, Republicans and Democrats, speaking for the importance of continuing to fund aid to Ukraine, and I agree with him that even without this language, when we spend money, when we appropriate it, the president is legally obligated to spend it.”
Underlying the discussion was Trump’s decision to hold up security assistance for Ukraine until recently, as revelations emerged about his phone call with the president of Ukraine in which Trump suggested that Biden should be investigated by authorities in that country.
Graham insisted that Trump was withholding funds as a means to get other countries to pay more. Murphy raised questions about that explanation.
Several Democrats said that under the circumstances, there was a need for statutory language requiring money appropriated for Ukraine to be spent.
“The plot has thickened dramatically,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.).
But the discussion ended without specific resolution.
“I just want to find a way to tell the Ukraine we’re with them and not screw up everything else,” Graham said.
11:45 a.m.: Trump’s other Ukraine problem: New concern about his business
Buried in the controversy over Trump’s phone call with Zelensky was an effort by the Ukrainian leader at currying favor with Trump through his business.
“Actually, last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park, and I stayed at the Trump Tower,” Zelensky told Trump, according to a rough transcript of the July 25 call released Wednesday.
Zelensky’s comments mark the first known example of the kind of interaction Democrats and government ethics experts had warned about when Trump took office: that foreign leaders would try to influence Trump by spending money at his properties and telling him about it.
Other Ukrainian officials have also patronized Trump properties. A top Zelensky aide met at Trump’s D.C. hotel in July with Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, a frequent patron of the hotel himself, according to the New York Times. A lobbyist who registered as an agent of Zelensky’s with the U.S. government hosted a $1,900 event at the D.C. hotel in April, according to a federal filing.
— Jonathan O’Connell and David A. Fahrenthold
11:40 a.m.: Lawmakers urge Congress not to go on recess
The House is scheduled to leave town on Friday for a two-week recess. But several Democrats are arguing that lawmakers should remain in Washington amid the intensifying focus on Trump’s conduct and the whistleblower complaint.
“Trump clearly sees the Oval Office as his campaign office,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said in a tweet. “We cannot let the occupant make a mockery of our Constitution any longer. Congress must cancel the upcoming recess so we can finally impeach this president.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) also said that “Congress must not leave for recess tomorrow.”
“If we are committed to holding Trump accountable and passing something on gun violence, we have to keep working here in DC,” he said in a tweet. “The stakes are too high.”
The liberal group Indivisible said in a statement earlier this week that Pelosi should cancel recess “and get to a vote on articles of impeachment as soon as humanly possible.”
11:15 a.m.: Pelosi accuses the White House of a “coverup”
Pointing to the whistleblower’s report during remarks to reporters late Thursday morning, Pelosi repeatedly accused the White House of having engaged in a “coverup.”
She was responding to claims by the whistleblower from the U.S. intelligence community that not only did Trump misuse his office for personal gain and endanger national security, but that unidentified White House officials had tried to hide that conduct.
According to the complaint, White House officials were so alarmed by Trump’s call with Zelensky that they sought to limit access to its written record.
“Their actions are a coverup,” Pelosi said at her weekly press briefing. “It’s not only happened that one time. My understanding is it may have happened before.”
Pelosi also said that there was no timeline on the impeachment inquiry announced earlier this week and that Trump would have an opportunity to present exculpatory information.
“There is no rush to judgment,” Pelosi said.
She said the episode involving Ukraine would take precedence in the impeachment inquiry.
“We are at a different level of lawlessness that is self-evident to the American people,” Pelosi said.
11 a.m.: Schumer says Senate will serve as ‘solemn jurors of our democracy’ if House impeaches Trump
In remarks as the Senate opened Thursday morning, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for lawmakers to place the best interests of the country, not their political parties, front and center as they weigh their next steps following the release of the whistleblower’s complaint.
“We have a responsibility to consider the facts that emerge squarely and with the best interest of our country — not our party — in our hearts,” Schumer said. “We have a responsibility not to rush to final judgment or overstate the case — not to let ourselves be ruled by passion, but by reason.”
He added that “if the House at the end of its inquiry sees fit to accuse the president of impeachable offenses, we in the Senate will act as jury.”
“And our role as the solemn jurors of democracy demands that we place fidelity to the country and fidelity to the Constitution above all else,” he said.
10:30 a.m.: Trump campaign says Democrats are the ones interfering in the 2020 election
A spokesman for Trump’s reelection campaign said Thursday morning that it wasn’t Trump who sought to interfere in the 2020 elections — but Democrats.
“All of this amounts to Democrats interfering in the 2020 election by attempting to block @realDonaldTrump from running for re-election,” Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for Trump’s campaign, wrote on Twitter. “They want to deny Americans the opportunity to vote to re-elect the President. They know they can’t beat him, so they have to try to impeach.”
10:15 a.m.: House Republicans highlight 20-year-old clips of Democrats opposing President Bill Clinton’s impeachment
As House Democrats sought to build a case for impeachment against Trump, House Republicans were using their Twitter account to share two-decade-old video clips of Democrats taking issue with the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
The House Republican conference account shared clips of more than a half-dozen lawmakers speaking out against Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, with some of them complaining about a partisan process seeking to undo the will of voters.
One video depicted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), currently the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, speaking on the House floor.
“I am greatly disappointed in the raw, unmasked, unbridled hatred and meanness that drives this impeachment coup d’etat. The unapologetic disregard for the voice of the people,” she said.
Others Democrats highlighted in the clips included Pelosi, now-House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), now-Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Tex.) and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn.).
9:45 a.m.: Democratic White House hopefuls start weighing in on whistleblower complaint
Democratic White House contenders have started weighing in on the whistleblower complaint, with one — former congressman Beto O’Rourke (Tex.) — calling on the House to cancel its upcoming two-week recess.
“The House should cancel its break and start impeachment proceedings now,” O’Rourke said in a tweet. “As the whistleblower made clear: Every day Trump is in office, our democracy is less safe. We can’t wait to act.”
Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) shared on Twitter that he had read the report.
“It’s as straightforward as can be,” Ryan said, alleging it detailed “third-rate, banana republic behavior.”
“I can’t believe my Republican colleagues are going to ignore this,” Ryan said in another tweet. “Would they if our President was an Democrat?”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) also weighed in, writing on Twitter: “Donald Trump solicited foreign interference in our elections from the Oval Office. He attempted to cover up his actions. And his appointees intervened, against the law, to attempt to suppress this whistleblower complaint.”
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), meanwhile, highlighted a paragraph in the report and offered her assessment: “This is a coverup.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) later asserted in a statement that the whistleblower complaint was “only the tip of an iceberg of corrupt, illegal and immoral behavior by this president.”
“What the House must do is thoroughly investigate Trump’s cover-up of this call and his other attempts to use government resources to help his re-election campaign,” he said.
9:20 a.m.: White House dismisses whistleblower complaint as ‘third-hand accounts’
Shortly after the whistleblower complaint was made public, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement.
“Nothing has changed with the release of this complaint, which is nothing more than a collection of third-hand accounts of events and cobbled-together press clippings — all of which shows nothing improper,” she said.
9:15 a.m.: Whistleblower claimed Trump abused his office and that White House officials tried to cover it up
The House Intelligence Committee has released the whistleblower complaint at the heart of the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s July phone call with the Ukrainian president — an explosive document that claims not only that Trump misused his office for personal gain, but that unidentified White House officials tried to hide that fact.
“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,” the whistleblower wrote in the complaint dated Aug. 12. “This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph W. Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General (William P.) Barr appears to be involved as well.”
8:45 a.m.: Trump lashes out at Democrats as whistleblower complaint is released
Minutes after a whistleblower complaint was made public, Trump lashed out at Democrats in a tweet written in all capital letters in which he accused them of trying to destroy the Republican Party “AND ALL THAT IT STANDS FOR.”
“STICK TOGETHER, PLAY THEIR GAME, AND FIGHT HARD REPUBLICANS. OUR COUNTRY IS AT STAKE!” he counseled members of his party.
The tweet was in response to a whistleblower from the U.S. intelligence community who alleged that Trump had improperly pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son.
8:10 a.m.: Sarah Sanders argues impeachment drive helps Trump politically
Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders argued Thursday that House Democrats have given Trump a political boost by launching a formal impeachment inquiry.
“I think that it’s one of the dumbest and most ridiculous political moves that we’ve seen in history, how they have forced impeachment over this issue,” Sanders said during an appearance on Fox News, where she is now a contributor.
“All this is doing is helping fuel his campaign,” Sanders said of the Democrats’ move. “They’re raising more money, they’re rallying his base, and they’re unifying the Republican Party in a way that only they can by attacking this president the way they do time and time again.”
7:30 a.m.: Trump unleashes spate of morning tweets
The president asserted Thursday that the stock market would crash if Democrats followed through with impeaching him, a warning sent in the midst of a morning spate of tweets and retweets about the inquiry announced this week by Pelosi.
In one tweet, Trump highlighted a Fox Business Network report with the headline: “Stocks hit session lows after Pelosi calls for impeachment inquiry.”
“If they actually did this the markets would crash,” Trump wrote in response. “Do you think it was luck that got us to the best Stock Market and Economy in our history. It wasn’t!”
Trump also highlighted a tweet by his daughter Ivanka, a White House adviser, in which she thanked him for his work and included a photo of her father pumping his fist.
“So cute! Her father is under siege, for no reason, since his first day in office!” Trump wrote.
In another, he wrote: “THE GREATEST SCAM IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN POLITICS!”
6:30 a.m.: Biden suggests a motive for Trump reaching out to Ukraine
Speaking at a fundraiser Wednesday night in Los Angeles, Biden said there was no proof of Trump’s allegation that he and his son Hunter Biden had conflicts of interest while he served as vice president.
“This is not about me, and it really isn’t because not a single publication said anything he has ever said about me or my son is true,” Biden said. “Everyone has gone and researched it and said it’s not true.”
Biden suggested that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate him and his son because “70-something polls show that I’ll kick his … toes.” The audience burst into laughter.
6:15 a.m.: Some House Democrats fret as Pelosi forges ahead with impeachment
As his fellow House Democrats moved en masse toward impeaching Trump after months of hesitation, Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey could only watch in bewilderment.
“I don’t get surprised often,” the freshman moderate said Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Pelosi dropped her own qualms and launched the House’s official impeachment inquiry targeting Trump. “But really, truly, I just was like, ‘Wow.’ It happened so quickly.”
As other Democrats proclaimed unity and resolve after Pelosi described the “dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office,” pledging to move quickly toward impeachment articles, Van Drew stood with a group of Democrats who say they continue to have reservations and fear a rash impeachment could obliterate the rest of the party’s governing agenda, improve Trump’s chances of reelection and imperil their own.
6 a.m.: Biden edges closer to calling for impeachment on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’
Biden edged closer to calling for impeachment on Wednesday night, pointing to a rough transcript of a conversation between Trump and Ukraine’s president as evidence that Trump is likely to have committed “an impeachable offense.”
Biden, who had stopped short of calling for the president to be ousted earlier this week, adjusted his stance after the White House shared the details of a 30-minute phone call Trump made to Zelensky in July. According to the 2,000-word rough transcript, Trump repeatedly suggested that Zelensky investigate Biden, offering help from the Justice Department and raising the possibility of inviting the foreign leader to the White House.
“Based on the material that they acknowledged today, it seems to me it’s awful hard to avoid the conclusion that it is an impeachable offense and a violation of constitutional responsibility,” Biden said during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
5 a.m.: 218 House Democrats support impeachment inquiry
As of Wednesday evening, there were now 217 House Democrats and Independent Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.) who support launching an impeachment inquiry, giving 218 votes to impeach Trump — the threshold number of votes needed to pass anything in the House.
In the past two days, 78 Democrats said they wanted the House to go through with an impeachment process. Before the whistleblower complaint news broke last week, there were 95 members total who supported doing so.
“Today, for the world to see, we learned in his own words that the President of the United States used the full weight of the most sacred office in the land to coerce a foreign leader in a way that undermines our democracy and threatens our national security,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), who came out for an impeachment inquiry Wednesday night.
But just because 218 lawmakers want the House to go through with the impeachment process, there’s no guarantee that they would vote to impeach Trump at the end of it. Of the 218, only 25 have said they’d vote to impeach the president right now.