The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

8:14 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

5 key developments in the impeachment inquiry

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Here are the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump:

  • Subpoena deadline: The Energy Department said it won't comply with a subpoena issued in the House impeachment inquiry. In a letter, Assistant Secretary of Energy Melissa Burnison said the request is for confidential communications "that are potentially protected by executive privilege and would require careful review."
  • Support for impeachment grows: Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Trump should be impeached, a major switch for a former Republican presidential candidate who had previously said there was not enough evidence to impeach the President.
  • Mick Mulvaney's comments: President Trump was asked to clarify his acting chief of staff's remarks in the briefing room yesterday. Trump responded: “I think he clarified it.” Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mulvaney’s comments a “confession” — and said it’s an example of the administration trying to make “lawlessness normal and even make lawlessness a virtue.” 
  • Rudy Giuliani: Career diplomat George Kent told congressional investigators in his closed-door testimony this week that Giuliani asked the State Department and the White House to grant a visa to the former Ukrainian official who Joe Biden had pushed to have removed when he was vice president, according to four people familiar with Kent's testimony.
  • Republicans blast inquiry: House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said he expects a vote to censure Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff will “come up Monday.” Republican Rep. Jim Jordan slammed the House impeachment probe as "partisan" and "unfair," saying Schiff is "the new special counsel."
7:07 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Rudy Giuliani pushed Trump administration to grant a visa to a Ukrainian official promising dirt on Democrats

Career diplomat George Kent told congressional investigators in his closed-door testimony this week that Rudy Giuliani asked the State Department and the White House to grant a visa to the former Ukrainian official who Joe Biden had pushed to have removed when he was vice president, according to four people familiar with Kent's testimony.

Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified that around January 2019 Giuliani requested a visa for former Ukrainian prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin to travel to the United States. Shokin had been pushed out of his position as Ukraine's top prosecutor in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including Biden, over concerns that he was not pursuing corruption cases.

Giuliani has previously told CNN he wanted to interview Shokin in person because the Ukrainian promised to reveal dirt on Democrats.

Kent told congressional investigators the State Department had objected to the request, and State did not grant the visa. Giuliani, Kent said, then appealed to the White House to have State reverse its decision. Shokin's visa was never granted, although Giuliani eventually spoke with Shokin over Skype.

Giuliani did not reply Friday to questions from CNN. The White House did not respond to request for comment. Kent's lawyer declined to comment for this story.

Keep reading here.

6:41 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

George Kent was a "fact witness" and did not testify on behalf of any side, his lawyer says

Career diplomat George Kent arrives for a closed-door deposition in front of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Oct. 15, 2019 as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Career diplomat George Kent arrives for a closed-door deposition in front of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Oct. 15, 2019 as part of the impeachment inquiry. ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images

George Kent, a career foreign service officer who testified before House committees this week as part of the impeachment inquiry, was a “fact witness” who did not testify on behalf of either side, his lawyer said in a statement.

“Those engaged in the broader political debate on either side will likely find both utility and inconvenience in his testimony. But those are matters for others. He was not there to testify on behalf of any side,” his lawyer said.

His lawyer went on to say that Kent’s testimony was not accurately represented.

“With varying degrees of accuracy, several news organizations and sources have characterized the testimony he provided in closed session. We would caution that cherry-picked elements of his testimony might not give the full picture. Ultimately, we refer those interested to the committees for the official transcript of his testimony should it become publicly available," the statement said.

About Kent: A source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN that Kent testified that he raised a question about the optics of Hunter Biden serving on the Burisma board, and he testified that he was told it wasn't a good time to be pushing then-Vice President Joe Biden on that topic because of the declining health of Beau Biden.

The source said that Kent didn't suggest he was alarmed at all about the matter and it was not seen as a big issue at the time.

The Washington Post first reported that Kent told congressional investigators earlier this week that he had raised concerns about the issue in early 2015.

President Trump referenced Kent by name today and said he “excoriated” the Obama administration and Joe Biden based on those reports.

6:29 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

What we know about the House impeachment probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) arrive at a closed session before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Oct. 17, 2019 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA) arrive at a closed session before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees on Oct. 17, 2019 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats say the evidence they've gathered from current and former Trump administration officials so far has bolstered their case.

Now they contend they may not even need to talk to the anonymous whistleblower, whose complaint has touched off an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, anymore.

Here's what we know:

  • Democrats are gathering information about how Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani circumvented the government on US-Ukraine policy, from pushing out US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in the spring to urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into the 2016 election and Burisma, the company that hired former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter.
  • They're also zeroing in on why US security aid to Ukraine had been frozen and whether that was conditioned on Ukraine investigating Trump's 2020 political opponent in a quid pro quo. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday said that the hold on aid was connected to Ukraine investigating the 2016 election — arguing that was separate from the Bidens and a legitimate request of a foreign government. Democrats say Mulvaney is helping make their case.
  • Democrats have interviewed six current and former Trump officials are part of the inquiry thus far, and they're teeing up numerous additional witnesses from the State Department, Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget and White House to fill out their case before they decide whether to move forward with impeaching a President for only the third time in US history.
  • They hope they can wrap up the interviews in the next few weeks before voting on articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving.

Keep reading here.

5:58 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Energy Department says it's "unable to comply" with impeachment subpoena

Assistant Secretary of Energy Melissa Burnison told the three committees involved in the House impeachment inquiry that the Energy Department is "unable to comply with your request for documents and communications at this time."

The letter argues about the validity of the inquiry and also contends the request is for confidential communications “that are potentially protected by executive privilege and would require careful review to ensure that no such information is improperly disclosed.”

Burnison concludes by saying the department “remains committed to working with Congress.”

5:05 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Podcast: Mick Mulvaney derails Trump's defense

CNN's senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson looks at acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's attempt to walk back his comments on the withheld Ukraine aid in the latest episode of "The Daily DC: Impeachment Watch" podcast.

Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday that the Trump administration "held up the money" for Ukraine because President Trump wanted to investigate "corruption" in Ukraine related to a conspiracy theory involving the whereabouts of the Democratic National Committee's computer server hacked by Russians during the last presidential campaign.

Today, Trump told reporters that he thinks Mulvaney clarified his remarks.

In today's podcast, Henderson also covers: 

  • The subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry. Can the administration continue to ignore document requests?
  • The Trump administration's claim that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election. Where does that idea come from?
  • The whistleblower’s credibility. Trump says the whistleblower has been discredited, but the facts tell a different story.

Henderson is joined by CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez and CNN reporter Daniel Dale. 

Listen to the podcast here.

4:45 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Trump says he'll nominate Perry's deputy as new Secretary of Energy

President Trump just tweeted that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry will depart the job at the end of the year.

In another tweet, the President said he'll nominate Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette to replace Perry.

Brouillette is a former executive at USAA and Ford. He also was chief of staff to the House Energy Committee. He’s a military veteran from Texas via Louisiana who has nine children.

Perry announced Thursday night in a video that he is resigning effective later this year. His resignation comes amid scrutiny over his role in the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine.

4:00 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Former GOP Gov. John Kasich says Trump deserves to be impeached

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich said today during an appearance on CNN that he now believes that President Trump deserves to be impeached.

Kasich, a Republican, said that what he's learned about the withholding of military aid to Ukraine — which he called "totally inappropriate" and "an abuse of power" — does "rise to the level of impeachment."

"I now believe it does and I say it with great sadness. This is not something...I really wanted to do," Kasich said.

Watch the moment:

4:23 p.m. ET, October 18, 2019

Catch up: The 6 latest developments in the impeachment inquiry

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on Oct. 18, 2019 in Washington, DC.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill on Oct. 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In case you're just tuning in, here are the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump:

  • Subpoena deadlines: Today is the deadline for Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the White House to produce subpoenaed documents to the Hill.
  • Mick Mulvaney's comments: President Trump was asked to clarify his acting chief of staff's remarks in the briefing room yesterday. Trump responded: “I think he clarified it.” Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mulvaney’s comments a “confession” — and said it’s an example of the administration trying to make “lawlessness normal and even make lawlessness a virtue.” 
  • Testimony on Hunter Biden: Career diplomat George Kent told congressional investigators earlier this week he had voiced concerns in early 2015 about Hunter Biden working for a Ukrainian natural gas company, the Washington Post reported Friday.
  • Republicans blast inquiry: House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said he expects a vote to censure Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff will “come up Monday.” Republican Rep. Jim Jordan slammed the House impeachment probe as "partisan" and "unfair," saying Schiff is "the new special counsel."
  • GOP lawmaker on impeachment: Rep. Francis Rooney, a Republican from Florida, would not rule out the prospects of supporting impeaching the President. He called Mulvaney's acknowledgment about withholding Ukraine aid "troubling," saying it is "not a good thing" to do that in connection "with threatening foreign leaders."
  • Perry is resigning: The Energy Secretary yesterday said his resignation "has nothing to do with Ukraine" and he's "looking to get back to Texas." He said he's leaving his post later this year.