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The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
By Fernando Alfonso III, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Rob Picheta, CNN
President Trump went on a tear at his first rally since the House voted on a path forward for an impeachment inquiry.
The President, speaking to a crowd at a “Keep America Great” rally in Tupelo, Mississippi, did not hold back when it came to attacking the inquiry.
Trump called the proceedings a “deranged witch hunt” and an “attack on democracy itself.” He extensively defended his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that set off the inquiry.
“They’re so damn dishonest,” the President told the crowd of supporters, “and they’ll just say let’s use Ukraine for help. And they won’t show the laughter and they won’t show the sarcasm and they won’t show the fun. Because they’re the most dishonorable people almost on earth.”
He claimed he didn’t even know Zelensky’s name when he called the leader.
“I call a brand new person, a man I have no idea who he is, and I’m on a phone, and I know many people are on the phone because when you call the leaders of country many people listen," Trump said.
“I don’t know who he is. I didn’t know his name until I looked down at the card,” he said.
He continued, saying he’s, “an honest person anyway, but do you think when I’m making a call to a newly elected president of a country, do you think I would say something improper when I knew there were all these people on the line?”
The President went on to detail all the people who could have been on the line.
“Whoever the hell wants to listen, they’ll listen, and they have me making some kind of a deal with all these people,” Trump said. “These people are sick.”
Trump also laid out several conspiracy theories about the investigations. “The Democrats, the media and the deep state are desperate to stop us. And it’s not me it’s us, it’s all of is,” he told crowd.
President Trump can accurately boast about the unemployment rate, 3.6% in September.
That remains the lowest in just under 50 years, if you don't count earlier months in the Trump presidency.
Instead, Trump said it was the lowest in "over 51 years."
As we've written before, he is endlessly exaggerating accomplishments that are impressive even if cited correctly.
President Trump invoked former President Barack Obama multiple times at the rally, referring to him on occasion as "Barack Hussein Obama."
He claimed that Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp had defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, even though Abrams had not only Barack Obama but former first lady Michelle Obama campaigning for her. Michelle Obama never campaigned for Abrams.
During tonight's rally, Trump also criticized CNN at length. And as he has repeatedly before, he claimed that he had just seen that CNN turned off its camera as he was doing this criticism, not wanting to televise such comments.
CNN did not turn off its camera.
President Trump complained that he is not receiving sufficient coverage over the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
He alleged that a Democrat would get more credit.
And Trump added: "With me, they don't even wanna — they actually played it down. And actually, and I'm happy about this — Conan, the dog, got more publicity than me. And I'm very happy about that."
About the ISIS leader: Baghdadi "blew himself up" after he was cornered by US forces during a daring, two-hour nighttime raid on his compound in northern Syria on Saturday.
President Trump has been serially dishonest — making 96 false claims just last week, by CNN's count, and more than 1,000 since we started counting each one on July 8.
At tonight's rally, though, Trump said, "I'm an honest guy."
Speaking of Democrats, he decried "the lying" and "the falsifying."
He added: "Remember this: truth is a force of nature."
A top White House official told lawmakers he tried to find out whether President Trump told a key US diplomat he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, multiple sources familiar with his closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill told CNN.
His actions show concern inside the White House about the extent of the President's role in the push for investigations that could help Trump politically.
Tim Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on Trump's National Security Council, had multiple conversations with American Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. In those discussions, the ambassador referenced talks he had with the President. Morrison became concerned that Sondland was going rogue on Ukraine.
Morrison told lawmakers he thought Sondland was a "free radical," according to two of the sources. The term was a reference to cells that cause cancer.
To find out whether Sondland had talked to the President, Morrison went so far as asking Trump's executive secretary if the President had actually talked with Sondland. The ambassador's claims about the conversations checked out each time, Morrison said in his testimony Thursday, according to the sources.
In his own opening statement, Sondland downplayed both Trump's role and his own in the effort to pressure Ukraine— suggesting he was reluctantly working with Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal attorney, who was running a shadow diplomatic operation in Ukraine.
House Republicans are sending letters of protest to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arguing that unredacted transcripts from closed depositions and hearings in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump must be made available to all House members.
In the letter, they say, "To the extent that you make any redactions in any of the transcripts, all members of the House must be supplied copies of the full and unredacted transcripts," arguing that House rules demand nothing less.
"Despite the vote in the House on October 31, House Democrats continue to conduct the partisan effort to impeach the President in secret," according to the letter.
House Republicans argue that Pelosi's "duty to the Constitution and the American people, as well as fundamental fairness, requires that you immediately release the full transcripts of all depositions taken since you pronounced the beginning of an impeachment inquiry on September 24, 2019."
Republicans accuse Democrats of selectively leaking testimony from witnesses to help their case.
"The selective leaking in which the House Intelligence Committee has been engaged must end immediately and the full and complete record must be provided for the American people to see," they wrote.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "Cuomo Prime Time" Thursday night that he plans to release transcripts from the closed-door hearings as early as next week.
"Those arguments you've heard are almost completely false, with only one exception," Schiff said. "And when you see the transcripts, and we expect to begin releasing them as early as next week, you'll see that the Republicans have every bit as much time to ask questions."
President Trump is holding a rally tonight in Tupelo, Mississippi, a day after the House approved a resolution to formalize the procedures of the impeachment inquiry.
Earlier today, Trump's campaign said the vote has only emboldened the President's supporters and bolstered their campaign contributions.
"Nancy Pelosi's impeachment resolution day turned into a MASSIVE fundraising day for ??@realDonaldTrump?," Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted this morning.
According to Parscale, the campaign raised $3 million online in one day, totaling $19 million in funds raised over the course of the month. The $3 million addition came the same day the House passed the resolution, which the campaign called a "sham."
You can watch the rally live in the video player above or here.