The latest news on the impeachment inquiry
- The House Intelligence Committee will hold the first open hearings of the impeachment inquiry next week, featuring public testimony from three key witnesses.
- Democrats released the transcript of closed-door testimony by one of the witnesses, Bill Taylor, on Wednesday.
- Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Treasury Department official Tony Sayegh are expected to join the White House communications team to work on impeachment.
Washington — The House Intelligence Committee announced the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry will take place next week, featuring testimony from three witnesses.
The committees released a transcript of closed-door testimony by one of those witnesses on Wednesday. Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, repeatedly raised concerns about linking U.S. military aid to investigations into the president’s rivals.
“That was my clear understanding: security assistance money would not come until the president [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation,” Taylor said under questioning, according to the transcript.
The committee will hear from Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent next Wednesday, November 13. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify before the committee two days later.
“Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses themselves,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters at the Capitol.
On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland revised earlier testimony to the House committees leading the impeachment probe, saying he now recalls telling a top Ukrainian official that the release of military aid “likely” required the country to announce anti-corruption investigations into President Trump’s rivals.
Sondland, in an addendum to his October testimony, claimed his memory has been “refreshed” after reviewing others’ testimony. Now, in revised testimony dated Monday, November 4, Sondland said he recalls that aid to Ukraine was, according to his understanding, conditioned on Ukraine making a public anti-corruption statement.
White House coordinating with House GOP
Wednesday, 5:49 p.m.: Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry in late September, the communications teams for Republican leaders in the House and the ranking members of the committees involved have held daily meetings to go over new developments and hash out messaging and strategy for handling the inquiry.
Until a week ago, no one from the White House attended these meetings, a senior House Republican aide told CBS News. The aide said the White House eventually reached out and asked to be part of the sessions.
The White House has been represented by either Tori Symonds, the director of government communications, or Alexa Henning, director of broadcast media. But they are essentially in “listen only” mode — they don’t deliver messages on behalf of Mr. Trump or the press shop. Instead, they report back what House Republicans are doing and saying so everyone is on the same page.
Still, their participation is another sign that White House officials are finally recognizing the need to have a stronger game plan.
The White House wants to have a firm impeachment-specific communications team in place before the public hearings start on Wednesday, but it’s unclear when or if a formal announcement will be made. — Weijia Jiang
House withdraws subpoena for official who asked court to intervene
Wednesday, 4:08 p.m.: The House of Representatives has formally withdrawn its subpoena of Charles Kupperman, a deputy of former National Security Adviser John Bolton, court records show.
Although he received a subpoena to appear in October, he was told by the White House that he couldn’t testify. Torn between the legislative and executive branch directives, Kupperman filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia requesting the court decide whether he should comply with the subpoena or the White House’s directive.
“There is no proper basis for a witness to sue the Congress in court to oppose a duly authorized congressional subpoena,” a committee official said to explain the move. “Nevertheless, given the schedule of our impeachment hearings, a court process that leads to the dismissal of Dr. Kupperman’s flawed lawsuit would only result in delay, so we have withdrawn his subpoena.”
Oral arguments in the case weren’t scheduled to take place until December 10 – well after the depositions would have wrapped and moved onto public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.
The Intelligence Committee likely expects Kupperman to follow whatever guidance the court gives when it rules on whether former White House Counsel Don McGahn has to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a separate case. The White House tried to claim that both Kupperman and McGahn had “absolute immunity” from subpoenas to testify.
The McGahn case is much further along and will likely be resolved sooner than the Kupperman case.
It is unclear is what this means for Bolton, who has the same attorney as Kupperman. — Rebecca Kaplan and Grace Segers
Giuliani hires several attorneys
Wednesday, 3:43 p.m.: Rudy Giuliani wrote on Twitter that he is being represented by several attorneys himself. The attorneys all have extensive experience in criminal investigations in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, including one who was previously a former deputy chief of criminal investigations.
“I am represented and assisted by Robert Costello and the Pierce Bainbridge firm in particular , Eric Creizman and Melissa Madrigal,” Giuliani tweeted. — Paula Reid
White House brings on Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh to help with impeachment messaging
2:18 p.m.: Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Treasury Department official Tony Sayegh are expected to join the White House communications team to work on proactive impeachment messaging and other special projects as they arise, according to a senior administration official.
Their roles will be within the White House as temporary special government employees.
Trump allies have long pushed for a more coordinated messaging strategy from the White House. — Paula Reid
Graham says Trump administration “incapable of forming a quid pro quo”
11:58 a.m.: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham made the argument to reporters Wednesday that the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy was “incoherent,” and the administration was “incapable of forming a quid pro quo.”
Graham made the comments to reporters on Capitol Hill, reiterating that he won’t read the transcripts from the impeachment inquiry. Graham said the entire impeachment process is a sham.
“I heard something yesterday I could not believe,” a reporter posed to Graham. “Former impeachment manager Lindsey Graham says he’s not going to read the impeachment transcripts? Really?”
“I’m not going to read these transcripts,” Graham responded. “The whole process is a joke.”
“You just pick things you like,” Graham added. “Y’all hate this guy you all want to get him impeached. I’m not buying into Schiff running a legitimate operation.”
Graham had told reporters on Capitol Hill the day before he didn’t plan on reading transcripts released Tuesday from depositions with U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, former special representative to Ukraine. — Alan He and Kathryn Watson