The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Republican sources claim diplomat Bill Taylor's testimony was a game changer and is "reverberating" up on Capitol Hill.
And according to one GOP source, Taylor's testimony "points to quid pro quo."
More context: Taylor testified Tuesday that he had been told President Trump would withhold military aid to the country until it publicly declared investigations would be launched that could help his reelection chances — including into former Vice President Joe Biden, according to a copy of Taylor's opening statement obtained by CNN.
Your questions, answered
If the House goes to court to litigate the White House’s refusal to comply with subpoenas, how long would it take? Could the House go direct to the Supreme Court?
Litigation takes time — perhaps more time than House Democrats realistically have.
First, House Democrats would have to file suit in federal district court (the lowest, trial-level federal court). It likely would take months to get a ruling at this level. For example, the House Judiciary Committee filed suit to enforce a subpoena on former White House counsel Don McGahn in early August 2019 and the district court has not yet ruled, over two months later.
After the district court rules, the losing side then has the right to appeal the case to the federal court of appeals. It likely would take at least a few months to complete briefing and argument and to receive a ruling, even if the process were expedited. Then, after the court of appeals rules, the losing party can seek review in the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does not have to take any particular case, and in fact only takes a very small percentage of them. If the Supreme Court declines the case, it would take at least a few weeks to issue the declination; if the Supreme Court takes the case, it likely would take several months to brief and argue the case, and to receive a final ruling.
There is a mechanism through which House Democrats could seek to expedite the process by effectively skipping the middle layer of review (the court of appeals). Under a Supreme Court rule, a party can apply to bring a case direct from the district court to the Supreme Court “only upon a showing that the case is of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination in this Court.” The Supreme Court rarely grants such expedited review, but it did so in the famous 1974 US v. Richard Nixon case where the Court ordered the White House to comply with a subpoena from a special prosecutor and produce the incriminating White House tapes.
Your questions, answered
If the House impeaches and the Senate convicts the President, does he have any options to appeal or contest his removal?
On the face of the Constitution, there is no way for a president or other federal official to appeal an impeachment and conviction. Article I of the Constitution gives the House “sole power of impeachment” and the Senate “sole power to try all impeachments,” and makes no mention of any right of appeal. In fact, the Constitution specifies only one role for the Judiciary Branch in the impeachment process: the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over a Senate trial.
Nonetheless, President Trump has suggested by tweet that he might contest an impeachment in the Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court already has ruled that it has no role in reviewing impeachments. In a 1993 case Nixon v. United States, federal judge Walter Nixon appealed his impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate to the Supreme Court. The Court firmly rejected Nixon’s case, ruling that the Constitution commits impeachment and removal solely to Congress and that the Court plays no role in reviewing impeachment proceedings.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brushed off a question about whether the impeachment inquiry had damaged his image and leadership at the State Department, suggesting it was “noise” and again accused Congress of unprofessional behavior.
“I don’t think about that stuff. I work hard. I do the right thing as best I can tell every day. I try to make sure my team is similarly focused,” Pompeo told The Wichita Eagle on Thursday. “You all talk about this noise an awful lot, that you all are fixated on this. The State Department you should know is not.”
Pompeo also said that the impeachment inquiry had not changed his consideration of a Senate run, saying he is still focused on his “mission set” at the State Department.
Pompeo refused to answer questions about whether he relayed Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor’s concerns about the withholding of Ukraine military assistance to the President. Asked what he did with the cable Taylor testified he sent on Aug. 29, Pompeo said, “I’m not going to talk about [the] inquiry this morning.”
“So did you relay his concerns to the president?” Pompeo was asked.
“Look, I came here today to talk about workforce development. I came here today to talk about the great things that are going on here in Kansas,” he responded. “This inquiry will proceed. Congress will perform its oversight function, the State Department will continue to do all of the things that were required to do under the law and the Constitution.”
“We understand their role. I was a member of Congress. I think it’s absolutely important that they perform their function in a way that is professional. I wish that they were doing that. Unfortunately, today, they are not,” Pompeo continued.
The US secretary of state, noting that they are “not allowed to have State Department officials in the hearing room,” claimed he gets “notes from people in Kansas all the time saying it’s not right, they think it’s unfair too.”
“I think the American people understand that. I hope that they’ll proceed in a way that is transparent and fair. And then the inquiry will wrap up,” he said.
Asked whether the State Department would comply with a Wednesday court order on turning over communications with Rudy Giuliani within 30 days, Pompeo claimed he hadn’t seen the ruling.
“I saw a headline. I haven’t seen the ruling. But I can assure the American people that their State Department always complies with everything we’re required to do under the law. There’s no reason to think we would do any different there,” he said.
Several GOP senators dismissed Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony where he said that he had been told President Trump wanted to withhold Ukraine aid in exchange for Ukraine announcing investigations — with the No. 2 GOP senator, John Thune, walking back the concerns he raised yesterday. He said Taylor’s testimony is second-hand information.
Sen. John Kennedy, from Louisiana, said that he needed to see the cross-examination of Taylor so he wouldn’t take his comments at face value.
Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas, said that the President is being denied due process and needed to hear the other part of Taylor's testimony.
And others — like Sen. Tim Scott, from South Carolina, and Sen. Mike Lee, of Utah — refused to answer questions.
Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters today that he is offering a resolution, which Sen. Mitch McConnell is co-sponsoring, that would condemn the House’s impeachment inquiry process.
Graham said he is no longer planning to write a letter with 53 senators attacking the inquiry as he previously announced.
Graham says the resolution will urge the House to adopt the same procedures regarding impeachment that were available to President Clinton and Nixon allowing them to call witnesses and defend themselves.
The Republican senator from South Carolina has scheduled a press conference to discuss the resolution at 3 p.m. ET.
President Trump has just thanked House Republicans “for being tough, smart, and understanding in detail the greatest Witch Hunt in American History.”
Roughly two-dozen House Republicans on Wednesday stormed a closed-door deposition in secure House Intelligence Committee spaces to rail against the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, a political stunt ratcheting up the GOP complaints about the process that delayed Wednesday's scheduled deposition for five hours.
Here's Trump's tweet:
Democrats plan on holding public hearings with some witnesses who have been deposed as part of their plan to provide some transparency to the inquiry.
It is possible, sources say, that public hearings could begin in mid-November. It is also possible, they could slip until after Thanksgiving.
Multiple House Democratic sources say the exact timeline is unknown because witnesses have provided more leads for them to track down and other witnesses have been difficult to schedule.
It’s also possible that former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, President Trump's former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill, top US diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, could be among the witnesses to testify in open session.
Sen. Lindsey Graham said to CNN’s Many Raju this morning that he rejects Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony that he had been told that the President had withheld military aid for Ukraine in exchange for publicly announcing investigations that could help him politically.
Graham called it “hearsay” because Taylor only talked to Sondland about his conversation with President Trump.
Taylor’s testimony needs to be “tested,” Graham said
Here is Graham's full exchange with CNN:
CNN: Hey Senator, are you okay with what has came out of the Bill Taylor testimony—that the President apparently had directed the military aid to be withheld in exchange for a public declaration investigations that could help politically?
GRAHAM: Did he talk to the President?
CNN: He talked to Ambassador Sondland who talked to the President.
GRAHAM: Oh, that’s hearsay.
CNN: You don’t think he’s trustworthy?
GRAHAM: No, here’s what I cant get over, if Rudy Giuliani has a 15-page statement saying he did nothing wrong wouldn’t you want to know more? Would you accept that statement? I’ve got nothing against Bill Taylor, it’s the process. You’re asking me do I believe something based on a statement that hasn’t been tested. I can not tell you how disgusted I am with this process. House failed to have an impeachment inquiry of over 100 vote. I think they’ve got 95 votes for a formal inquiry, so that was rejected. They’ve come up with a process in intel where you do things behind the closed doors. You give me 15 pages of testimony that has never been subject to cross examination and wont be to comment on it? Forget that.
CNN: Do you think he is a "Never Trumper" like President Trump said?
GRAHAM: I have no idea.