Congress

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 15

Trump accuses Democrats of selected leaks, and Democrats provide an impeachment update

Fiona Hill, President Donald Trump’s former Russia adviser, arrives at the Capitol to testify before Congress as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, and Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday they would not comply with congressional subpoenas.

“If they enforce it, then we will see what happens,” Giuliani told ABC News.

House Democrats also shot back at Republicans, defending their decisions to not hold a formal floor vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry, and promising transparency in their ongoing impeachment process against Trump. 

Tuesday was the deadline for Giuliani to comply with a subpoena for a wide array of documents, notes and communications referring to or relating to Hunter Biden, interactions between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials and a wide range of other topics.

Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought, were also required to turn over documents Tuesday.

Next steps: House Democrats did not decide during a Tuesday evening caucus meeting whether to hold a floor vote to formalize their impeachment inquiry, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the decision in a press conference.

“We’re not here to call bluffs,” she said. House Republicans have been calling for a vote of the full House, saying that without one, the Democrats’ inquiry isn’t valid. Past presidential impeachment proceedings have been launched with a vote of the full House.

Transparency ahead:Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that the witnesses that have come before the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry have been “fully cooperative.”

The Democrat from California addressed Republican complaints that the investigation has been held behind closed doors and that Republicans aren't getting equal chance to participate.

He said that because there is no special counsel investigation into the Trump relationship with Ukraine, it is especially important that witnesses cannot see other witnesses’ testimony and alter their own statements to lawmakers. Schiff said there is more transparency ahead, and that he anticipates a time when transcripts will be released. He also suggested that witnesses, both new or returning, could be called in for open hearings.

Pence pause: Vice President Mike Pence told House Democratic leaders he does not intend to cooperate with their impeachment inquiry, echoing the White House counsel in deeming the probe illegitimate.

“The purported ‘impeachment inquiry’ has been designed and implemented in a manner that calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights,” Pence’s counsel, Matthew E. Morgan, wrote in a letter to three House chairman at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

Pompeo and Perry sighted: Cabinet members were at the Capitol Tuesday, but didn’t say much about how they would respond to subpoenas. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is at the Capitol to meet about refugees, according to Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry also visited the Capitol and told reporters he was there to meet with people from Idaho. He didn’t respond to questions about how he will respond to congressional subpoenas as part of an impeachment inquiry.

Next up: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who is still a State Department employee, appeared Tuesday under subpoena, testifying for more than seven hours.

On Wednesday, members will question Michael McKinley, who resigned from his position as adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week. 

Members will hear from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, whose testimony last week was canceled late the night before he was supposed to appear before the committees, on Thursday. The ambassador acted as a middleman between the administration and the Ukrainians.

Hill on Capitol Hill: On Monday, Fiona Hill, a former Russia adviser on Trump’s National Security Council, reportedly told members that National Security Adviser John Bolton instructed her to notify the White House lawyer for the NSC about the rogue campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden being conducted by Giuliani, Sondland, and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulavaney.

[Freedom Caucus steps into the GOP messaging gap]

“I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton, who was fired by Trump in September, told Hill to tell White House lawyers, The New York Times reported, citing two people at the deposition.

Hill resigned from her position in July, before the phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which is at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Members of the House committees conducting their impeachment inquiry will get a chance to fill in more blanks with others involved in the relationship.

Opaque witch hunt: Trump on Tuesday claimed he does not know most of the current and former members of his administration that have testified or plan to in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

Trump has often claimed no personal connection to individuals or downplayed relationships with them when they have shared unflattering information about his administration or when he and his presidency face choppy waters.

“Democrats are allowing no transparency at the Witch Hunt hearings,” he wrote in a tweet. He added he wants details of the probe to “come out from the charade of people, most of whom I do not know, they are interviewing for 9 hours each, not selective leaks.”

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines: Tuesday was the deadline for subpoenas of documents from Giuliani, Pence and others.

The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees are seeking “all documents and communications” related to communications between Trump, other U.S. officials and a variety of Ukrainian officials, including Zelenskiy.

A letter to Congress from lawyer Jon Sale, who represented Giuliani until recently, said, “Mr. Giuliani will not participate because this appears to be an unconstitutional, baseless and illegitimate ’impeachment inquiry.” The letter called the subpoena “burdensome” and “overbroad.”

Poor judgment: Trump political rival Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, whose business dealings Trump was pushing Ukranians to investigate while U.S. aide was on hold, told ABC in an interview broadcast Tuesday that he might have used “poor judgment” in not seeing the political implications he was causing for his father, but said he did nothing wrong.

“I gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father. That’s where I made the mistake,” he said. “So I take full responsibility for that. Did I do anything improper? No, not in any way. Not in any way whatsoever.”

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