The week in the impeachment inquiry went out with a bang. Check out all the news from the probe that came out on Friday:
Rogue operation or working at Trump’s direction? — A top White House official told lawmakers he tried to find out whether President Donald Trump had told a key US diplomat he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, multiple sources familiar with his closed-door impeachment inquiry deposition Thursday 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.
Tell no one — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who signed off on the transcript of President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and reported his concerns about Trump pressuring Zelensky up his chain of command, was told not to talk about the Ukraine call. Politico was first to report on this new aspect of Vindman’s testimony.
Trump’s proxies — White House attorneys have not been allowed in closed-door impeachment inquiry sessions on Capitol Hill, but two Republican congressmen, Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, have been attending and giving readouts to the administration, CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Pamela Brown report.
Giuliani and associates — A federal judge refused to let Igor Fruman, the associate of Rudy Giuliani accused of campaign finance law violations, off house arrest.
CNN’s Vicky Ward reported on new details of Fruman’s co-defendant and fellow Giuliani associate Lev Parnas’ relationship with a Ukrainian oligarch, which resulted in him being “the best-paid interpreter in the world.”
CNN’s K-File found new footage of Parnas, who’s also charged with breaking campaign finance laws, standing behind Trump at a 2018 rally in Nevada.
Fireside chats. Is this a serious idea?
“At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it,” Trump told the Washington Examiner when asked about his July call with Zelensky. “When you read it, it’s a straight call.”
Trump says it would exonerate him. But, as CNN’s Chris Cillizza writes, the transcript doesn’t do what Trump seems to think it does. It, in fact, does the opposite of what Trump thinks it does — revealing a clear attempt to link the US’ work for Ukraine to a reward for, you know, for the effort.
‘We had to act’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pretty much exactly the opposite view from Trump. She said Democrats couldn’t do anything other than pursue impeachment after the release of the transcript.
“What the President did vis-a-vis the President of Ukraine just removed all doubt that we had to act,” the California Democrat said in an interview with David Westin on Bloomberg’s “Balance of Power” that aired Friday.
Transcripts are coming
In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, House Intelligence Chairman and impeachment czar Adam Schiff said transcripts of the closed-door depositions could start to be released next week. He said they’ll show that Republicans have been given ample opportunity to question witnesses.
“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.”
All the interviews so far have been behind closed doors, and what is known about them has come from the release of witnesses’ opening statements to the media and leaks from those inside the room, writes CNN’s Paul LeBlanc.
Next week’s lineup (more of a wish list)
It is completely unclear which, if any, of these witnesses will actually show up. 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
‘Impeachment Watch’ podcast
Are Democrats fighting a losing battle by looking into impeaching Trump? And will they pay a price in 2020?
CNN senior reporter Vicky Ward guest-hosts and discusses Trump’s resilience and potential weaknesses with S.E. Cupp, the host of “SE Cupp Unfiltered,” and CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers.
What are we doing here?
The President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election.
Democrats want to impeach him for it.
It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what’s acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.