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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.

Trump, White House aides show some restraint on Day One of public impeachment hearings
‘I haven’t watched,’ president claims after spokeswoman called televised session ‘boring’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference following their meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Trump also weighed in on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. (Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — For once, the often-brash and always-combative Trump White House played it safe.

On day one of House Democrats’ public impeachment hearings, President Donald Trump and his top aides opted against firing back to sometimes-damning testimony by two administration witnesses and allegations of corrupt intent from Intelligence Committee Democrats.

Therapy dogs provide paws to impeachment hearing stress
Capitol Hill wasn’t entirely miserable on Wednesday

Heard on the Hill correspondent Kathryn Lyons with therapy dogs Zamboni and Spumoni, who were on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for an event run by Pet Partners and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council to help provide staffers stress relief. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

First high-tension impeachment hearings in a generation got you stressed? Then take a little, ahem, “paws” from the proceedings and allow therapy dogs Lola, Zamboni and Spumoni to soothe some of those, um, “ruff” feelings.

The pups came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, courtesy of Pet Partners and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, to spread some positive vibes among the two-leggers, and timing of their appearance couldn’t have been more opportune as the House Intelligence Committee began its first public hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. 

Roger Stone’s lies caused inaccurate House Russia report, Mueller team says
Defense says the longtime Trump confidant had no 'motive' to lie

Roger Stone, and his wife, Nydia, arrive at federal court for his trial on Nov. 8, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Lawyers delivered closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of Roger Stone, a longtime Republican political operative and confidant of President Donald Trump accused of lying to Congress about his interactions with the president’s 2016 campaign and his connections to WikiLeaks.

Stone pleaded not guilty in January to a seven-count indictment of lying to investigators, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. The jury is expected to begin deliberations Thursday.

Senate Democrats pick fight over gun provisions in VAWA
Bipartisan talks broke down over renewing law aimed at curbing domestic violence

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar urged Republicans to stand up to the National Rifle Association after a dispute over gun provisions led to a breakdown in bipartisan talks over renewing the Violence Against Women Act. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced the same Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill passed by the House, days after they say talks with Republicans about a compromise broke down over controversial gun provisions.  

The entire Democratic caucus has backed the bill, which has provisions restricting gun rights of certain convicts that helped spur the split with Senate Republicans. While promoting the measure during a news conference Wednesday, Democrats blamed the National Rifle Association’s sway in the chamber for the Republicans’ reluctance to back the bill.

Democrats urge career EPA scientist to resist research limits
Proposed EPA rule would prohibit rules based on science that doesn't identify research subjects

The EPA has proposed limits on the kinds of science that can be used to make environmental rules.  l(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The long-serving EPA scientist came to a House committee to defend a Trump administration proposal to limit the kind of science used in environmental rulemaking, but Democrats on the panel urged her to resist the change. 

Testifying before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday, Jennifer to stand up against the agency’s political leadership as she defended a Trump , EPA’s science adviser and principal deputy assistant administrator for science at the agency’s Office of Research and Development, defended the agency’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule as necessary for making sound decisions.

Lawmakers aim to thwart Amtrak forced-arbitration policy
New rule prevents lawsuits over injuries or deaths of passengers in rail accidents

Emergency crews at the scene of an Amtrak train derailment that killed three people in December 2017 near DuPont, Wash. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Lawmakers are in the initial stages of determining whether they can prevent Amtrak from implementing a forced arbitration policy that would bar passengers from suing if they’re hurt or killed in crashes.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, said Wednesday that he was trying to determine how best to stop the government-supported passenger rail service from imposing the forced arbitration policy on customers. Amtrak began imposing the policy in January.

Woof, impeachment hearings are stressful. We have a solution

Roll Call reporter Kathryn Lyons interviews Lola, a therapy dog, during an event run by Pet Partners and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council to help provide staffers stress relief. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump's alleged misdeeds with Ukraine are front and center on Capitol Hill today as Congress holds its first public impeachment inquiry hearing.  So, Heard on the Hill decided to make a ruff day better with a trio of therapy dogs stationed just one office building away.

Senators move ahead with enhancing Olympics oversight
Commerce Committee advanced bill after debate about role of Congress

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., left, and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., are leading legislation to give Congress more authority over Olympic sports. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators moved ahead with an effort to enhance congressional oversight of U.S. participation in the Olympics on Wednesday, part of an ongoing response to recent sexual abuse scandals in sports.

The voice vote by the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to advance an amended version of a bipartisan bill came despite concerns raised by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

GOP relies on familiar defenses as impeachment hearings open
Jordan presses witnesses on Ukraine aid being released without investigation sought

Ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and minority counsel Stephen Castor, confer during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans reached for oft-cited complaints about the impeachment process Wednesday to counter arguments from Democrats and detailed statements from two career diplomats at the start of what will likely be several weeks of contentious hearings into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

It wasn’t until early afternoon, when a temporary member added to the House Intelligence Committee roster to bolster questioning during the televised proceedings, provided the most forceful defense of Trump in a hearing that otherwise shed little new light — for the viewing public, at least — on the weeks-long inquiry.