Michael R Turner

‘Impeachapalooza 2019’: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of Nov. 18, 2019

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump in Longworth Building on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Sondland tells Congress he acted at Trump's direction on Ukraine
Testimony from top ambassador ties Trump, Pompeo and other top officials to Ukrainian pressure campaign

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on Wednesday told Congress that the president directed him to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Ukrainian energy company Burisma and, in turn, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The Trump donor and appointee stressed that the president never directly told him U.S. military aid to Ukraine was contingent upon the politically motivated investigations. But he testified, among other new revelations, that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on a pressure campaign.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 20
Testimony from Laura Cooper contradicts Republican argument that Ukraine did not know about the hold on security aid

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testifies during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine Laura Cooper told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday evening that Ukrainian Embassy staff in August were aware of the White House’s hold on military assistance to Kyiv.

Cooper’s testimony ran counter to a key Republican argument about the July phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and President Donald Trump — that Ukraine did not know about the hold on security aid.

Trump ally grills key witnesses in impeachment inquiry on whistleblower
National security officials testifying Tuesday among those who listened to the now-infamous July 25 call

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, arrive for the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump on Tuesday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The third day of public impeachment testimony grew heated Tuesday when Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, pressed Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman on conversations he had with an intelligence official about the now infamous July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Chairman Adam B. Schiff shut down the line of questioning, asserting that it was an attempt to disclose the identity of the whistleblower whose anonymous report sparked Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

Democrats target Trump defenses in first impeachment hearing
Two articulate and polished career diplomats lend gravitas to much-anticipated public event

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, joined by other House Democrats, speaks to reporters Wednesday's hearing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats used the first day of impeachment hearings to take aim at the various defenses President Donald Trump and his congressional allies have raised during the inquiry into his Ukraine dealings — a strategy that allows them to advance their case alongside a drumbeat of witness testimony over the next two weeks.

The House Intelligence Committee started that push Wednesday with two articulate and polished veteran diplomats, whose deep knowledge of Ukraine turned into succinct explanations of the unusual circumstances surrounding how the Trump administration handled almost $400 million in military aid to the country.

Most Republicans on impeachment committees aren’t showing up, transcripts reveal
Freedom Caucus members have taken lead role in questioning, foreshadowing public hearings

House Republicans hold a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to call for more access to the impeachment depositions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans have for weeks blasted the closed-door impeachment process, but transcripts released this week of private depositions show most GOP lawmakers on the three panels at the center of the probe have simply not shown up.

The low attendance for most committee Republicans paints a very different picture of a party that recently stormed the secure room where the depositions have been conducted, demanding to participate in the process. Republican questioning during these private interviews have been driven by a handful of President Donald Trump’s allies and GOP staff.

GOP laments Schiff’s handling of Ukraine probe, Volker testimony
Schiff: Trump actions ‘ought to be condemned by every member’

Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, arrives at the Capitol Visitor Center to be deposed by House committees as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans on Thursday said that testimony from the State Department’s former envoy to Ukraine, sought by House Democrats with regards to their impeachment inquiry, won’t advance the drive to impeach President Donald Trump.

Emerging from the day-long deposition, New York Republican Lee Zeldin said that former U.S. Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker’s private Thursday testimony, “blows a hole in the argument” presented by Democrats that  Trump asked the president of Ukraine for a quid pro quo.

Thornberry retirement latest shakeup on House Armed Services Committee
Former chairman is sixth Republican to announce plans to retire from the committee

Thornberry, a Texas Republican who spent two terms as Armed Services chairman before becoming ranking member after Democrats won control of the House, has been an ardent backer of higher Pentagon spending levels and a reliable hawk on policy matters ranging from the size of the Navy fleet to the nuclear arsenal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Mac Thornberry on Monday became the sixth Republican on the House Armed Services Committee to announce plans to retire at the end of this Congress, creating openings for ambitious younger members but also leaving a significant dearth of experience on the powerful panel.

Thornberry, a Texas Republican who spent two terms as Armed Services chairman before becoming ranking member after Democrats won control of the House, has been an ardent backer of higher Pentagon spending levels and a reliable hawk on policy matters ranging from the size of the Navy fleet to the nuclear arsenal.

Intel chief calls whistleblower complaint ‘unprecedented’
Acting director of national intelligence Maguire explains to House Intelligence Committee why he didn’t release complaint to Congress

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on the Capitol on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The acting director of national intelligence on Thursday told the House Intelligence Committee that he did not forward to the panel a whistleblower complaint regarding President Donald Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, as he first needed clarification if the complaint was one that could be superseded by executive privilege.

Joseph Maguire detailed the process he undertook after receiving the complaint, saying his staff spent the last several weeks working with the White House legal counsel to determine whether the president’s executive privilege would prevent him from sending the complaint to Congress.

Trump dings Biden during post-shootings trip, as lawmakers handle visits differently
‘Take these assault weapons off the streets,’ Sherrod Brown tells president in Dayton

Demonstrators line a street in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday before a visit from President Donald Trump. From there, he visited El Paso, Texas. Both cities were scenes of mass shootings last weekend that collectively left 31 people dead and dozens wounded. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump met privately Wednesday in Ohio and Texas with survivors of two deadly mass shootings, but he found time to publicly ridicule 2020 Democratic front-runner Joe Biden as several local lawmakers took differing approaches to his visits.

The day’s traveling press pool was not allowed access to Trump and first lady Melania Trump as they met with shooting survivors and local officials at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters aboard Air Force One as the president flew to El Paso, Texas, for a similar meeting that Trump was not there for a “photo op.” (The White House, however, released its own photos in a tweet.)