Three key witnesses testify in impeachment inquiry

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6:54 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Sondland put his luggage in the wrong overhead bin, and said "my whole day has been like this"

US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland boarded his flight back to Brussels after his impeachment inquiry testimony — and accidentally put his carry-on bag into the wrong overhead bin.

Karen-Marie Hyland was on the flight with him. She tells CNN his response to the luggage mix-up was, "My whole day has been like this."

She snapped this picture of the ambassador on the plane:

6:40 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Pentagon official reveals Ukrainians asked about stalled aid as early as July

From CNN's Kevin Liptak 

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Top Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified that Ukrainian officials knew as early as July 25 that there was an issue with US aid to the country.

This undercuts a key Republican rebuttal to accusations of a "quid pro quo" linking the aid to investigations into President Trump's political rivals.

In their defense of Trump, Republicans have alleged that no bribery could exist if the Ukrainians weren't aware the aid was being held.

But Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, testified as part of the House impeachment inquiry that some members of her staff recalled receiving emails from the Ukrainian embassy on July 25 -- the same day as Trump's much-scrutinized phone call with the Ukrainian president.

"What was going on with Ukrainian security assistance?" one Ukrainian contact emailed a member of her staff, Cooper said.

7:01 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Laura Cooper describes three inquiries on Ukraine aid on July 25

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, describes three interactions by her staff on July 25 that indicate the Ukrainian government was aware there was an issue with US aid to the country.

  • An email from the State Department that Cooper said came through at 2:31 p.m. It said the “Ukrainian embassy and House foreign affairs committee are asking about security assistance.”
  • Another email, also from the State Department, came at 4:25 p.m. It said, “The Hill knows about the FMF (foreign military financing) situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian embassy.”
  • Cooper said “a member of my staff got a question from a Ukraine embassy contact asking what was going on with Ukraine security assistance.”

Why this matters: This dramatically shifts the timeline of when the Ukrainian government was aware of the issues surrounding the aid.

And that, in turn, dramatically undercuts a key Republican talking point: that there could not be a “quid pro quo” if the Ukrainian government wasn’t aware the aid was being held up.

6:29 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Hale: Holding up foreign aid isn't normal, but it "does occur"

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Undersecretary of state David Hale said he wouldn't characterize a hold on foreign aid as "normal" but said it does happen.

Asked by Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe — who pointed out that other countries such as Pakistan and Lebanon have recently had their aid held up — asked Hale if it was normal to have delays on foreign aid.

"It is certainly an occurrence. It does occur," Hale said.

6:27 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Here's what the sign behind Republican members says

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

House Intel Republicans are keeping the House printing shop busy with quick work to replace the poster quote in the hearing room for this evening’s session.

Now, they're displaying an exchange between Gordon Sondland and President Trump.

The sign reads:

“Ambassador Sondland: What do you want from Ukraine? President Trump: I want nothing.” 

That’s the same quote that Trump read to reporters earlier today, from Sondland’s Sept. 9 call. Republicans have used displayed quotes for each day’s hearings.

6:26 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Ukraine knew about aid issue as early as July 25. Here's why that matters.

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Laura Cooper, a top Pentagon official, just testified that Ukrainian officials knew as early as July 25 that there was an issue with US aid to the country

Why this matters: This undercuts a key Republican rebuttal to accusations of a "quid pro quo" linking the aid to investigations into President Trump's political rivals. In their defense of Trump, Republicans have alleged that no bribery could exist if the Ukrainians weren't aware the aid was being held.

Today, Cooper said some members of her staff recalled receiving emails from the Ukrainian embassy on July 25 — the same day as Trump's much-scrutinized phone call with the Ukrainian president.

"What was going on with Ukrainian security assistance?" one Ukrainian contact emailed a member of her staff, Cooper said.
6:26 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Fact check: Nunes' claim about the complaint submission form that the whistleblower filled out

From CNN's Holmes Lybrand

Pool
Pool

In his opening statement, ranking member Devin Nunes claimed that Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s Inspector General (ICIG), “changed the guidance on the complaint forms to eliminate the requirement for firsthand information” in order to accept the Whistleblower’s original complaint.

Facts First: This is false. The submission form that whistleblowers from the intelligence community filled out was revised in August 2019, the revision did not change the rules on who can submit a whistleblower complaint.

The whistleblower submission form that appears on the national intelligence director website has a revision date of August 2019. The new version has a field for the filer to check one of two boxes stating they either have direct knowledge of the event or “heard about it from others.”

A previous version of the form that whistleblowers submit to alert the ICIG of an “urgent concern” states that in order for the inspector general to determine that the concern is credible “the ICIG must be in possession of reliable, first-hand information.”

This does not mean that the inspector general would reject a complaint if it presented only secondhand knowledge, but that firsthand information would be needed for the complaint to be found credible and passed further up the chain of command. The inspector general has 14 days from when the complaint is submitted to investigate and determine whether the urgent concern is credible. And that’s exactly what happened in the case of this whistleblower.

In a Sept. 30 statement clarifying the confusion spread by Republicans and right-wing websites, Atkinson wrote that the form submitted by the whistleblower on Aug. 12, 2019, was the same one the ICIG has had in place since May 24, 2018. The statement reiterated the fact that having firsthand knowledge of the event has never been required in order to submit a whistleblower complaint.”

You can read CNN’s full fact check on this conspiracy theory here.

6:23 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Laura Cooper just testified about two July 25 emails

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, just testified about two July 25 emails she previously did not know about.

She said that after a transcript of her closed-door deposition was released, her staff brought the two emails to her attention. Both came on the same day as the Trump-Ukraine call.

"One was received on July 25, at 2:31 p.m. That email said that the Ukrainian embassy and House Foreign Affairs Committee are asking about security assistance. The second email was received July 25th at 4:25 p.m.," Cooper said.
6:09 p.m. ET, November 20, 2019

Cooper was at the Pentagon on 9/11

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Pentagon official Laura Cooper said in her opening statement that she was at the Pentagon when the building was hit by a plane during the attacks on September 11, 2001.

"My strong sense of pride in serving my country and dedication to my Pentagon colleagues were cemented in the moments after I felt the Pentagon shake beneath me on September 11, 2001," she said.

Cooper said her office was scheduled to move into the section of the Pentagon that was destroyed in the attack, but a construction delay meant they "were still at our old desks in the adjacent section on that devastating day."