The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

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12:38 p.m. ET, October 25, 2019

John Bolton's lawyers are talking to impeachment inquiry committees

Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images
Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images

LawLawyers for former national security adviser John Bolton have had talks with the impeachment inquiry committees about a possible deposition, according to a source familiar.

Former NSC official Fiona Hill testified before the committee last week that she saw "wrongdoing" in the American foreign policy and tried to report it to officials including the National Security Council's attorney, according to multiple sources. 

"She saw wrongdoing related to the Ukraine policy and reported it," one source said. The same source told CNN that Hill testified that Bolton referred to Giuliani -- Trump's personal attorney -- as a "hand grenade" who was "going to blow everybody up.”

Hill additionally told lawmakers about what she described as a rogue operation carried out by US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, which Bolton characterized as being like a "drug deal," that source said.

Another source familiar said Hill testified about a July 10 meeting on Ukraine where Sondland discussed investigations, something that was interpreted as a reference to the President's call for investigations into the Bidens.

Bolton and Hill both were concerned about the comments, and Bolton urged Hill to report the incident to National Security Council lawyer John Eisenberg, according to the source familiar with her testimony. 

Top US diplomat to Ukraine Bill Taylor told Congress that Bolton had expressed concerns about a call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to Taylor's opening statement. “Ambassador Bolton opposed a call between President Zelensky and President Trump out of concern that it would ‘be a disaster,'" Taylor wrote.

9:34 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

"Anonymous" Trump official to expose private conversations with President in book

The anonymous senior Trump administration official, who previously alleged that there's an internal administration resistance to President Trump, plans to recount the President's conversations in their forthcoming book.

The anonymous official was a frequent participant in meetings with the President and had access to internal notes they plan to include in their new book on Trump, "A Warning."

"In these pages, you will not just hear from me. You will hear a great deal from Donald Trump directly, for there is no better witness to his character than his own words and no better evidence of the danger he poses than his own conduct," the book's back cover, which was first obtained by Axios, reads. 

"A Warning" will be released November 19, and the author's intent is to convince the nation to not reelect Trump in 2020, CNN previously reported. 

"The truth about the president must be spoken, not after Americans have stood in the voting booth to consider whether to give him another term and not after he has departed office," the book's jacket cover says. "Hopefully others will remedy the error of silence and choose to speak out."

The book's author has agreed to an interview with a journalist -- but the format and interviewer haven't yet been determined.

The anonymous official penned a New York Times op-ed in 2018, claiming to be part of a "resistance" working to thwart Trump's worst impulses.

The author wrote that people within the administration are acting out of duty to the country because the "president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic." 

Trump called the author "gutless" and said that the Times' decision to publish the op-ed could be called "treason."

8:14 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

The White House is still struggling to form a cohesive messaging strategy

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

One month after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she was endorsing an impeachment inquiry, the White House is still struggling to form a cohesive messaging strategy.

Disagreements over how to proceed and a feud between the chief of staff and legal counsel have complicated efforts to push back against Democrats, who aides recognize are moving quickly and aggressively. 

This has frustrated White House officials who feel the last several weeks have been squandered while witness after witness has testified on Capitol Hill. Democrats are winning the messaging battle, they privately say. 

Inside the president’s inner circle, there have been arguments over whether there should be a “war room.” The president has argued against it, while some advisers have told him there’s no other option. Even those who agree on a need for one have disagreed over who should run it — with multiple names being thrown out daily. 

There is currently a plan to hire additional communications aides; though whether they will work in a "war room-like" atmosphere seems unclear still. Top White House officials have reached out to several individuals over the last several days, though there are concerns about who would take on the daunting role. 

7:28 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

White House official expected to back up diplomat's testimony over Trump push for Ukraine probe into Bidens

Tim Morrison, a top Russia and Europe adviser on President Donald Trump's National Security Council, is expected to testify before House impeachment investigators next week and corroborate key elements of a top US diplomat's account that Trump was pressing for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into the Bidens before he would greenlight US security assistance, according to sources.

Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, said in extraordinary testimony on Tuesday that Trump pushed for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations, including one into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, using as leverage the military aid the country sought to fight back against Russian aggression.

Morrison's testimony is expected to be significant because he is a current White House official whose name was cited 15 times in Taylor's opening statement, which Democrats view as damning for Trump.

Morrison also listened to the July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian leader, CNN reported earlier this month. His testimony would be one of the first from someone who heard the call directly. A transcript of the call was released by the White House but was not a full verbatim.

Read the full story here.

11:15 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

Why Bill Clinton's impeachment playbook won't work for Trump

Republicans trying to deal with the mushrooming impeachment crisis are asking Donald Trump for something it may be impossible for him ever to deliver: the message discipline of his predecessor Bill Clinton.

They want consistency from a President ready to ignore distractions and dedicated to governing as they seek to impose order on his chaotic impeachment defense. And GOP lawmakers who are being asked to save Trump's presidency also want more structure and coherence from a White House that has always reflected the President's own disorderly and improvisational character.

President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton depart Andrews Air Force Base in December 1998.
President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton depart Andrews Air Force Base in December 1998. Joyce Naltchayan/AFP/Getty Images

But, to succeed, this strategy would require Trump to abandon the most dominant traits of his unchained personality and political method -- the qualities that led him to fame and fortune, powered his unlikely political rise and made him America's most unusual President.

Read Collinson's full analysis here.

5:00 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

Barr's investigation into origins of Trump-Russia probe is now a criminal investigation

Attorney General William Barr's probe into the intelligence and origins of the 2016 Trump-Russia investigation is now a criminal investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The so-called investigation of the investigators is led by John Durham, a Connecticut-based federal prosecutor, who so far has conducted some interviews but also has run into some obstacles from witnesses who have declined voluntary interviews, CNN reported last week.

The move to make it a criminal inquiry was always anticipated, and it allows Durham to use subpoenas to compel testimony and comes as President Donald Trump faces an onslaught of negative headlines stemming from the House impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine. It's not clear what, if any, part of the Trump-Russia investigation is a target of Durham's criminal probe.

Read the full article here.

4:31 a.m. ET, October 25, 2019

5 key developments in the impeachment inquiry from yesterday

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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

  • GOP senators condemn process: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a resolution critical of the House impeachment process against President Trump. The resolution calls on the House to hold a vote to initiate a formal inquiry.
  • Graham rejects testimony: Earlier this week, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, testified that he had been told that Trump had withheld military aid for Ukraine in exchange for publicly announcing investigations that could help him politically. On Thursday, Graham rejected the testimony, calling it “hearsay.” Graham argued that Taylor only talked to Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, about his conversation with Trump.
  • Possible public hearings: Democrats plan on holding public hearings with some witnesses who have been deposed as part of their plan to provide some transparency to the impeachment inquiry. The hearings could begin in mid-November or after Thanksgiving depending on the witnesses.
  • Trump met with senators: Trump hosted several Republican senators at the White House on Thursday for lunch. Graham, who attended the lunch, said Trump complained that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and while senators agreed the process was “flawed,” they urged him to model his response after President Bill Clinton — focus on governing.
  • More depositions scheduled: Four US officials are scheduled to testify next week, as part of the investigation into Trump.