The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Congress isn't back in session until tomorrow but there were still some key developments today in the impeachment inquiry. Let us catch you up...
- Another witness testified: Trump's former adviser Fiona Hill is on Capitol Hill testifying today in front of the three House panels that stuck around Washington during the Congressional recess to continue the impeachment probe into the President. Hill was expected to tell Congress that she was unaware of some aspects of the escalating Ukraine scandal, according to a source close with Hill who spoke to her Thursday.
- Congressman kicked out of the hearing: Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he was kicked out of this morning's deposition of Fiona Hill by House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff. Gaetz is not on any of the three committees conducting the impeachment investigation — Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight.
- More complaints from Republicans about the impeachment process: Ahead of Fiona Hill's deposition this morning, Republicans complained about the investigation process led by House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff, charging that Democrats should release the interview transcripts and allow Republicans subpoena power. Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, said Hill had been subpoenaed even though she was willing to testify voluntarily.
- What are we expecting tomorrow: Three Trump administration officials face subpoena deadlines – Vice President Mike Pence faces a deadline on a request for Ukraine-related documents sent earlier this month, while Defense Secretary Mark Esper and acting director of Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought both face a deadline on subpoenas requesting documents as part of the impeachment inquiry.
For today’s episode of "The Daily DC: Impeachment Watch," host David Chalian will cover Joe Biden’s new response to Trump and his campaign’s handling of Trump’s attacks on Hunter.
Here's a look at what they'll focus on:
- The Hunter response this weekend
- Biden’s response to reporters in Iowa yesterday saying no family member of his will be serving on foreign boards if he is president.
- Biden turning the frame to the Trump family to draw contrast.
- The change in how Biden has moved from just saying “ask the right question” to actually announcing the policy and acknowledging a shift
- How his poll numbers haven’t seemed to take a hit in the last three weeks during this story.
Chalian is joined by CNN reporter Arlette Saenz and CNN political commentator Karen Finney to talk through the latest impeachment developments.
A source with knowledge of Fiona Hill’s testimony today said that she had high praise for President Trump’s ousted ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who had been targeted by Rudy Giuliani and his associates and criticized by Trump.
She made her opinions known about Yovanovitch’s removal, the source said.
Hill's deposition is still ongoing.
Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent is expected to appear in a closed-door session on Tuesday in the impeachment inquiry, an official working on the impeachment inquiry told CNN today.
Later this week, Democrats have depositions scheduled with Gordon Sondland, ambassador for the European Union, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, US State Department counselor.
The House Intelligence Committee and one of Rudy Giuliani’s associates have reached ”an understanding” for now to avoid a closed-door deposition over any knowledge he may have of Giuliani’s efforts to push the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, according to the associate’s attorney.
The committee had scheduled a deposition with Semyon Kislin, the Giuliani associate, for Monday, sending a letter earlier this month demanding a wide range of information related to President Trump’s personal attorney’s efforts to push for an investigation into the Bidens and what he may know about the freezing of US aid for Ukraine.
An attorney for Kislin said his client was “being cooperative” with the House panel but had no knowledge to advance the inquiry.
“Following an understanding reached with counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Kislin will not be appearing for an interview or deposition today,” the lawyer said. “Mr. Kislin is not refusing to cooperate with the Committee's requests. I continue to communicate with the Committee's counsel to satisfy the Committee that Mr. Kislin has no knowledge of any matters relevant to the pending impeachment inquiry.”
Who is Kislin: Kislin is a longtime aide to Giuliani. His website says he was on Giuliani’s Council of Economic Advisers when Giuliani was mayor of New York.
Kislin was one of three Giuliani associates that received requests for documents and testimony from House Democrats. The other two, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were indicted last week on charges of funneling foreign money into US elections and were served with subpoenas last week by the House Intelligence Committee to turn over documents. But it had been unclear why Kislin had not been issued a subpoena.
The committees requested he provide documents related to Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens, and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that hired Hunter Biden; to the freezing of US aid to Ukraine and any communications with former Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican who consulted with Parnas and Fruman.
President Trump is tweeting that Hunter Biden is “being forced to leave a Chinese Company," when in reality Biden announced Sunday he will resign at the end of the month from his board role in the management company of a private equity fund backed by Chinese state-owned entities.
The announcement comes as President Trump continues to lash out at the Bidens amid a House impeachment inquiry into his attempts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the former vice president during a July 25 phone call. That call is the focus of a whistleblower complaint at the center of Democrats' probe.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
More context here: Trump has pushed an unproven accusation that Joe Biden was improperly trying to help Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, when the then-vice president pressured the Ukrainian government to fire the country's prosecutor general.
The Obama administration, American allies, the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, among others, had all made clear that they were displeased with the performance of Viktor Shokin, who became prosecutor general in 2015.
Here's Trump's tweet:
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he was kicked out of this morning's hearing with Fiona Hill.
An official working on the impeachment inquiry said Gaetz was booted because he does not sit on any of the committees conducting the impeachment investigation.
“Pursuant to the House Rules and the House Deposition Regulations, only Members and designated staff from the three committees undertaking the joint investigation – the Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees – are permitted to attend and participate in a deposition," the official told CNN.
Gaetz "attempted to crash today’s deposition despite being ineligible and refused to leave, causing an unnecessary delay in the deposition," the source added.
Crashing hearings is unusual but not unprecedented. In 2015, Rep. Darrell Issa tried to attend a closed-door Benghazi hearing but was asked to leave by Chairman Trey Gowdy.
The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to former National Security Council official Fiona Hill because of White House attempts to direct witnesses not to cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry, an official working on the impeachment inquiry told CNN.
Here's how the official put it:
“In light of attempts by the White House and the Administration to direct witnesses not to cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry and efforts by the White House to limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to former National Security Council official Dr. Fiona Hill to compel her testimony this morning."
There is no indication the White House tried to block Hill’s testimony.
As is required of her, Hill is now complying with the subpoena and answering questions from both Democratic and Republican members and staff.
Some context: Some Republicans have complained about the investigation process led by House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff. Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, said Hill — who is a former adviser to Trump on Russia — had been subpoenaed even though she was willing to testify voluntarily.
Joe Biden's presidential campaign was aware of his son’s interview with ABC News ahead of time — but it was Hunter Biden’s decision to sit for it, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.
“The campaign did not arrange this, but Hunter has been under attack in personal and vicious terms for the past couple of weeks from the President and his sons and made the decision to defend himself,” the source said.
Yesterday, Joe Biden told reporters he knew the statement from his son’s attorney about Hunter’s business dealings was coming, but the former Vice President said he didn’t consult with them while it was being released.
What is this all about: Hunter Biden will speak about President Trump's recent attacks on his foreign business dealings in the television interview, which is set to air tomorrow — the same day of the CNN/New York Times Democratic presidential debate.
Hunter Biden announced on Sunday he will step down from his board role in the management company of a private equity fund backed by Chinese state-owned entities and not work for any company that is foreign owned if his father is elected president.