The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry
Our live coverage of the impeachment probe has ended for the day. Read below for the latest news.
House investigators, bracing for more witnesses to defy their demands at the behest of the White House, are now signaling they are prepared to begin the next phase of their impeachment inquiry even if their subpoenas are ignored across the board.
Democrats have lined up an ambitious schedule next week and are eager to secure the testimony of former national security adviser John Bolton, who was concerned about the push for Ukraine to investigate President Trump's political rivals at a time when vital aid to the country had been held up by the White House, according to sworn testimony from key witnesses.
But the testimony of Bolton and at least 10 other key witnesses is far from assured, forcing Democrats to make a decision: Fight to secure testimony that could add more evidence to their case and will take time to play out, or urgently take the matter to the public as they begin their historic pursuit to potentially make Trump just the third President in history to get impeached.
A number of House Democrats told CNN that it's time for that next step, saying they've already built enough evidence to advance the proceedings to the public stage.
"This isn't an Agatha Christie novel ? this is a shakedown," said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland who has taken part in the closed-door depositions. "I think we have established an overwhelming case. But we have got very careful prosecutors on the staff who rightfully want to leave no witness unexamined, and they want every detail to be nailed down as much as possible. That's good."
When President Trump declared in September he hoped the world would read his phone call with Ukraine's President, some of his advisers cringed. The transcript, they believed, would not provide the instant vindication Trump hoped.
One month, more than a dozen witnesses and a formal vote on impeachment proceedings later, the move is still a sore spot. Some aides wonder why the transcript was released at all. And the document's rollout has been viewed in some corners as a disaster.
But if the resentments are still percolating, the precedent was set. As the impeachment crisis enters a new phase, Trump has established himself as the sole architect of his defense. Instead of working to craft a coherent strategy, officials are now aiming simply to adapt to the President's lead.
"He is the war room," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Friday on Fox News, dismissing the suggestion a more robust defense effort be mounted since Trump, she said, was innocent. "We don't feel the need for a war room and we'll see what happens."
Putting the impeachment inquiry in perspective: A year away from his election reckoning, Trump this week became the fourth US president subjected to formal House impeachment investigation opened by vote. A string of witnesses, some still working at the White House, have come forward to the investigative committees to detail what they describe as concerning behavior toward Ukraine.
At the White House and Trump campaign headquarters, the impeachment developments have become all-consuming. A half-hearted attempt to wall off the matter inside the West Wing has largely been abandoned. Policy items the President once hoped to complete this fall, such as drug price reforms and some type of gun control action, have been put aside.
Some of Trump's allies, including Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have encouraged him to leave the impeachment matter to lawyers and communications specialists. Instead of trying to ignore the matter, however, aides say they are following the lead of the President, who has railed against impeachment at nearly every public appearance since September and tweets about it every day.
It is completely unclear which, if any, of the following witnesses will show up for their depositions in the impeachment inquiry. The most obvious questions would go to John Eisenberg, the National Security Council attorney who heard Vindman's concerns and then placed the call transcript in a more secure location.
Here's the full lineup as of now the Democrats are summoning next week.
Witnesses expected to testify in closed session on Monday:
- Eisenberg, deputy counsel to the President for national security affairs and legal adviser to the National Security Council
- Robert Blair, assistant to the President and senior adviser to the acting chief of staff
- Michael Ellis, senior associate counsel to the President and deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council
- Brian McCormack, associate director for natural resources, energy and science, Office of Management and Budget
Witnesses expected to testify on Tuesday:
- Wells Griffith, special assistant to the President and senior director for international energy and environment at the National Security Council
- Michael Duffey, associate director for national security programs, Office of Management and Budget
Witnesses expected to testify Wednesday, an official working on the inquiry tells CNN's Manu Raju:
- Acting OMB Director Russell Vought
- State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl
- Secretary of Energy Rick Perry
- Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale
Witnesses scheduled to testify on Thursday:
- Former national security adviser John Bolton
Energy Secretary Rick Perry will not participate in a closed-door deposition with impeachment investigators but would consider testifying in an open hearing, according to the Department of Energy.
"The Secretary will not partake in a secret star chamber inquisition where agency counsel is forbidden to be present," department spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement Friday.
But, Hynes added, "If the committee is interested in conducting a serious proceeding they are welcome to send for the Secretary's consideration an invitation to participate in an open hearing where the Department's counsel can be present and the American people can witness."
Perry had been asked to appear before the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday.
Perry and the impeachment inquiry: Perry, who plans to leave his post at year's end, had been under scrutiny over his role in the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine.
A whistleblower complaint, which prompted the House impeachment inquiry, alleged that President Trump abused his official powers "to solicit interference" from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied doing anything improper.
A White House-released rough transcript of a July 25 call showed that Trump had asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had been on a board of a Ukrainian natural gas company.
Trump told House Republicans in early October that Perry had urged him to make the July call to Zelensky to discuss a liquefied natural gas project, The Washington Post reported.
Here are the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump:
- Subpoenas issued: The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer on the White House’s National Security Council, and Brian McCormack, the former chief of staff to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, according to a source familiar with the matter.
- Rick Perry asked to testify: House impeachment investigators asked the Energy Secretary to testify next week. But Department of Energy spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said Perry will not participate in the closed hearing.
- New polls: Two new polls show Americans are divided on the impeachment inquiry. A poll from the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune found that Texas voters were about evenly split over whether Trump should be removed from office before the end of his term. The Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Americans are split along party lines on whether to impeach and remove Trump.
- White House goes on defense: White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the ongoing impeachment inquiry "a sham and a kangaroo court" in an interview with Fox News this morning. She said Democrats were "unhinged" and described the ongoing probe "unjust and unfair."
- House on recess: Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN the House recess, which will go through Nov. 11, will not impede their investigation. Schiff said some of the transcripts of the closed-door interviews could be made public as early as next week.
- More details emerge: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, testified this week that he was told not to talk with anyone about the July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, according to a source familiar with the testimony. Tim Morrison, the President's top Russia adviser who also testified this week, told lawmakers he tried to find out whether Trump told a key US diplomat he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, multiple sources familiar with his closed-door impeachment inquiry deposition on Capitol Hill told CNN.