An attorney for the anonymous whistleblower said Sunday he offered to have Republican lawmakers submit questions to his client directly without having to go through the committee’s Democratic majority.
While the whistleblower previously offered to answer lawmakers’ questions under oath and in writing if they were submitted by the House Intelligence Committee as a whole, this new offer would be a direct channel of communication with the Republicans who are in the minority on that committee.
Republican leadership has complained that the process is unfair and overly restrictive on their ability to question witnesses.
The attorney, Mark Zaid, said the offer underscores his client’s desire to ensure his complaint is handled in a nonpartisan way. “Being a whistleblower is not a partisan job nor is impeachment an objective. That is not our role,” Zaid tweeted, adding that they “stand ready to cooperate and ensure facts — rather than partisanship — dictates any process involving” his client.
Trump has repeatedly attacked the whistleblower and tried to discredit the individual, saying he deserves to “meet his accuser” and has demanded the whistleblower’s identity be revealed. Trump also accused the whistleblower of partisanship though he said he had no personal knowledge.
As a reminder — the whistleblower’s complaint alleges Trump abused his official powers “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the 2020 election and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
A rough transcript released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s potential 2020 political rival, and his son Hunter Biden. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.
All four White House officials scheduled for House inquiry depositions Monday won’t testify — National Security Council lawyers John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis will not testify Monday, a source with knowledge of the situation tells CNN.
The two officials will join Robert Blair, assistant to the President and senior adviser to the acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and Brian McCormack, associate director for natural resources, energy & science at the Office of Management and Budget, in not testifying on Monday, CNN reported earlier.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who was scheduled to appear Wednesday, will not participate in a closed door deposition, an Energy Department spokesperson said Friday.
Trump says Bolton testimony up to him and ‘the lawyers’ — Trump said it is up to his former national security adviser John Bolton and “the lawyers” if he is going to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Bolton has been in talks with the House committees investigating Trump about giving his testimony about US policy toward Ukraine.
Other witnesses have already testified that Bolton had concerns about US security aid to Ukraine being withheld amid pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democrats. More from CNN’s Jeremy Diamond.
White House aide refusing to testify was on the Trump-Ukraine call — The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry are hoping to hear from Robert Blair, an assistant to Trump and senior adviser to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, though that looks unlikely considering Blair’s attorney said he has refused to testify in the probe.
Trump discusses Mulvaney — The acting White House chief of staff didn’t exactly get a ringing endorsement from Trump, who was asked if he still has confidence in Mulvaney.
“Well, he’s workin’,” Trump replied. “As long as he’s with me, I have confidence.”
Mulvaney drew criticism from Republicans and Trump’s ire after his briefing room performance last month where he admitted to a quid pro quo over Ukraine. He later walked back the assertion.
But more recently, White House sources have said it is unlikely that Mulvaney is going to be fired.
Manafort pushed Ukraine conspiracy as far back as 2016 — Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort blamed Ukrainians for the hack into computers of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign rather than the long-held conclusion of US intelligence that the Russians played a role in the election meddling, newly released documents from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation show. More from CNN’s Katelyn Polantz and Kevin Bohn.
Kellyanne Conway claims asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival is “not impeachable” — On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the President, would not say whether it was appropriate for Trump to ask a foreign power to look into Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
When pressed further on the issue by CNN’s Dana Bash, Conway contended that asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival is “not impeachable” and repeatedly denied that there was a quid pro quo related to Ukrainian military aid.
When asked about the US holding up military aid from Ukraine, Conway continually answered that Ukrainians now have aid from the US. However, when asked if there was a time when aid was held up because Trump wanted Ukraine to look into the Bidens, Conway answered, “I don’t know, but I know they’ve got their aid.”
Later in the exchange, Bash asked Conway point blank about a quid pro quo related to the military aid, to which Conway answered she didn’t know “whether aid was being held up or for how long.”
Trump claims to ‘have the real polls’ on impeachment
Trump told CNN’s Jeremy Diamond on the south lawn of the White House Sunday that polls showing growing support for impeachment are “fake” and “lousy.”
The comments come as three polls released in recent days have found that nearly half of Americans support impeaching Trump and removing him from office.
All three polls also found majorities disapproving of the President’s handling of his job — 58% in the Post/ABC poll, 57% in the Fox News poll and 53% in the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. All were conducted Oct. 27-30.
Trump claimed to “have the real polls” and dismissed impeachment as a “phony scam.” He did not give any details on what he says are the “real polls.”
Team Trump still divided over decision to release Ukraine transcript
When Trump declared in September he hoped the world would read his phone call with Zelensky, 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.
Dems prep next impeachment phase
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.
A number of House Democrats told CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb that it’s time for that next step, saying they’ve already built enough evidence to advance the proceedings to the public stage.
Reminder — Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN some of the transcripts of the closed-door interviews could be made public as early as this week.