The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 12:57 p.m. ET, December 30, 2019
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1:37 p.m. ET, October 22, 2019

What House Democrats are saying about Taylor's testimony

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Democratic lawmakers are reacting today to acting US Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor's testimony, which is happening right now on Capitol Hill.

Members indicated Taylor's deposition will continue for a while.

Here's what they've said so far:

  • Massachusetts Rep. Stephen Lynch: He said Taylor’s testimony "is a sea change." He said Taylor’s testimony could lead the committee to revisit previous witnesses. Lynch would not specify which witnesses he would like to hear from again. He also said Taylor referenced personal notes that he took and that he kept “extensive notes on all of this.” Lynch continued: "I think it could accelerate matters. This will, I think, answer more questions than it raises. Let’s put it that way."
  • New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski: He said that Taylor’s testimony has “resolved any remaining doubts I may have.”
  • Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly: He said the testimony confirmed what he already believed. He also said that the need for John Bolton’s testimony appears more urgent every day.
1:23 p.m. ET, October 22, 2019

It took Bill Taylor an hour to deliver his opening statement

From CNN's Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, Jeremy Herb and Gloria Borger

The opening statement from Ambassador Bill Taylor took roughly an hour to deliver, according to multiple people in the room. Sources said that the statement was rich with detail.

Democrats described Taylor’s testimony as damning to the President.

“All I have to say is that in my 10 short months in Congress … it’s my most disturbing day in Congress so far,” said Rep. Andy Levin, a freshman Democrat from Michigan.

Republicans, however, downplayed Taylor’s testimony. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, said of Taylor’s testimony there was “nothing new here, I think.”

“We're trying to see if any witness has a connection between foreign aid and pausing the foreign aid. As it relates to the quid pro quo, we haven't had any witness suggest that,” Meadows said.

1:22 p.m. ET, October 22, 2019

EU ambassador cited political investigations as possible reason for Ukraine aid delay, Bill Taylor testified

From CNN's Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, Jeremy Herb and Gloria Borger

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Acting US Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor testified today that he was told by Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that security aid to Ukraine could have been held up in part because of a push for Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation that could help the President politically, according to sources in both parties.

In a lengthy and detailed opening statement, Taylor said that he and Sondland spoke by phone about why the aid was frozen, and Sondland cited the need for Ukraine to open an investigation among other reasons, according to the sources. 

Sondland told Taylor that the investigations potentially included both Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that hired former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, the sources said.

Asked about Taylor’s comments, a source familiar with Sondland’s testimony said that Sondland cited, in addition to the investigations, that the aid may have been frozen because the Europeans weren’t giving Ukraine enough and corruption generally. He said Sondland was only speculating when he referenced the political investigations into the 2016 election and Burisma.

“He made very clear in his testimony that nobody would give him a straight answer” about why the aid was being held up, the source of Sondland’s testimony.

Some background: Text messages between Taylor and Sondland and provided to Congress showed that the two discussed the aid being frozen on the phone, amid concerns Taylor had raised that it was being held up in order to help the President politically.

“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor texted Sondland on Sept. 9. Sondland then discussed the concern with the President and then texted Taylor there was no quid pro quo.

1:23 p.m. ET, October 22, 2019

Rep. Mark Meadows on Taylor's testimony so far: "Nothing new here, I think"

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

Speaking about Ambassador Bill Taylor's testimony today, GOP Rep. Mark Meadows told reporters there is “nothing new here, I think."

“We're trying to see if any witness has a connection between foreign aid and and pausing the foreign aid," Meadows said as he left the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF. "As it relates to the quid pro quo, we haven't had any witness suggest that.”

Asked if Taylor has addressed his text messages about the foreign aid, Meadows said he couldn’t talk about the specifics, but “I’m sure before the end of the day that that will be talked about.”

More context: Taylor, a key witness in the House impeachment inquiry, was thrust into the public eye following the release of his text exchanges with former Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker and President Trump's appointee to be the US ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland.

In the exchanges, Taylor expressed his concerns about foreign policy moves being tied to political motives, writing that it was "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."

12:09 p.m. ET, October 22, 2019

Congressional Black Caucus Chair:  Trump throws out "racial bombs" when back is against the wall

From CNN's Manu Raju

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass told CNN that President Trump’s lynching tweet is consistent with his pattern of throwing out “racial bombs” to his base when his back his against the wall.

"Whenever he has his back up against the wall, he throws a racial bomb," she said. "He knew exactly what he was saying. He knew exactly how it would come across."

Bass added: "And I think it's important for us to not always take the bait, but I think it was just an egregious statement."

About the tweet: Trump used a racially charged term to describe the House of Representative's impeachment inquiry, calling the process a "lynching" today. This marks his first use of the term "lynching" to describe the inquiry — a term deeply intertwined with horrific racial violence and a dark era in the United States.

Trump previously retweeted a statement during the 2016 election referring to his media treatment as a "disgusting lynching" in September 2015.

10:58 a.m. ET, October 22, 2019

Ambassador Taylor was subpoenaed this morning 

From CNN's Manu Raju

Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

An official working on the impeach inquiry told CNN the State Department attempted to direct Ambassador Bill Taylor not to testify this morning, forcing the House Intel committee to issue him a subpoena.

Here's how the source put it:

“In light of an attempt by the State Department to direct Ambassador William Taylor not to appear for his scheduled deposition, and efforts by the State Department to also limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel his testimony this morning," the official said.

The official added that Taylor is now complying with the subpoena.

10:44 a.m. ET, October 22, 2019

McCarthy on Trump's "lynching" tweet: "I don't agree with that language"

Susan Walsh/AP
Susan Walsh/AP

Asked during a House GOP's press conference about the President's tweet this morning referring to the impeachment inquiry as a "lynching," House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said, "That's not the language I would use."

"I don't agree with that language, pretty simple," McCarthy added.

McCarthy also accused Democrats of "abusing their power" during the impeachment inquiry.

“The Democrats have written this script. They hate this President, and they are abusing their power to undo an election," he said.

12:36 p.m. ET, October 22, 2019

Graham: "This is a lynching, in every sense. This is un-American"

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham defended President Trump’s "lynching" tweet from earlier this morning saying, it's "pretty well accurate."

“I think that’s pretty well accurate. This is a sham. This is a joke. I’m going to let the whole world know that if we were doing this to a Democratic president you would be all over me right now," he said.

“This is a lynching, in every sense. This in un-American," he added.

Graham then turned the focus back on the media coverage: “Not one person has asked me a question. What do you think about the fact that the President does not know who his accuser is ... it shows a lot of things about our national media. When it’s about Trump, who cares about the process? Long as you get ‘em.”

About the tweet: President Trump used a racially charged term to describe the House of Representative's impeachment inquiry, calling the process a "lynching" today. 

Trump has repeatedly railed against the probe, calling it a "witch hunt" and a "fraud" — but this marks his first use of the term "lynching," a term deeply intertwined with horrific racial violence and a dark era in the United States.

Trump previously retweeted a statement during the 2016 election referring to his media treatment as a "disgusting lynching" in September 2015.

CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to reflect that Sen. Graham said the treatment of Trump is a lynching in "every" sense.

10:04 a.m. ET, October 22, 2019

House Judiciary chair on inquiry timeline: Democrats will "take the time we need to take"

From CNN's Haley Byrd

Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told CNN this morning that Democrats will “take the time we need to take" when it comes to the impeachment inquiry.

This was in response to CNN's reporting yesterday about the timeline for the impeachment inquiry looking more drawn out than some had hoped.

Asked if Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have started the process of drafting articles of impeachment yet, Nadler said, “I can’t comment on that.”

“The work will be done when it has to be done,” he added. “Don’t forget that the intel committee has to finish its work, and then there are other committees, so it’s a process.”

Asked what the drafting process would look like for the articles of impeachment, Nadler said he didn’t know. “We’ll have to discuss that.”