Trump impeachment inquiry live updates

Meanwhile, Timothy Morrison, a deputy to John Bolton when he served as President Trump’s national security adviser, is expected to shed light in a closed-door deposition on Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

11 a.m.: Trump says impeachment inquiry is hurting stock market

As the House was taking a procedural vote, Trump weighed in on Twitter, asserting that the impeachment inquiry was negatively affecting the stock market.

“The Impeachment Hoax is hurting our Stock Market,” he tweeted. “The Do Nothing Democrats don’t care!”

10:50 a.m.: McCarthy asks what has changed since Pelosi said impeachment should be bipartisan

As debate over the resolution neared a close, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sought to turn the previous words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) against her.

McCarthy pointed to an interview in March in which Pelosi said she would only support impeachment if it is “something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan.”

“What has changed since those words have been spoken?” McCarthy asked, as the House prepared to take a vote expected to largely break down along party lines.

McCarthy called the impeachment inquiry “an attempt to undo the last election” and “an attempt to influence the next one as well.”

10:40 a.m.: Pelosi: ‘The facts are what they are’

At her weekly news conference, Pelosi was asked whether she believes Thursday’s vote will do anything to diminish the belief of the White House that the Democratic-led process is illegitimate and unfair.

“No. The facts are what they are,” Pelosi said. “They can try to misrepresent them, but the fact is, this is a process that has expanded opportunity for them” to show any evidence that they believe proves the innocent of the president.

She also maintained that the rules of the current process “are fairer than anything that has gone before.”

10:30 a.m.: Only a few members expected to break ranks

As the vote on the resolution approached, leaders in both parties were anticipating an overwhelmingly partisan vote, with only a few members on both sides expected to break ranks.

On the Democratic side, only Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) had announced his opposition ahead of the vote. But Democratic vote counters also said it was possible that Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) and Collin C. Peterson (Minn.) could defect.

Other Democratic moderates from Trump districts, including Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), Ben McAdams (Utah) and Joe Cunningham (S.C.), said they would stick with leadership and support the measure.

On the Republican side, the list of potential “yes” votes was even shorter with Republican whips concerned about only Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Francis Rooney (Fla.).

Asked if he expected any defections, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “No.”

10:15 a.m.: Pelosi says Republicans are afraid of the truth

Addressing members of the House while standing next to a large American flag, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that Thursday’s vote will ensure that members of the public can see the facts for themselves.

“I don’t know why the Republicans are afraid of the truth,” she said, adding that nothing less than the country’s democracy is at stake.

No House member would vote to impeach the president, Pelosi said, “unless his actions are jeopardizing our honoring our oath of office.”

She cited “the genius of the Constitution — a separation of powers, three coequal branches of government to be a check and balance on each other — and it is to that that we take an oath of office.”

“This is not cause for any glee or comfort,” she added.

Earlier in the debate, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) pledged the process going forward would be “one in which the American people will have the opportunity to hear from witnesses firsthand.”

“This is a very solemn and momentous chapter in our nation’s history, and we hope all members bring the appropriate sobriety to the task,” Schiff said.

9:40 a.m.: House investigators preparing for four witnesses on Monday

House investigators are preparing to hear from four more witnesses on Monday, including White House officials John Eisenberg and Robert Blair, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who requested anonymity to discuss closed-door proceedings.

Eisenberg is the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues. According to testimony this week by Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine adviser at the White House, Eisenberg proposed moving a transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky to a highly classified server and restricting access to it.

Blair is a top national security adviser to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Others called to testify on Monday include Michael Ellis, a legal adviser to the National Security Council, and Brian McCormack, an official with the Office of Management and Budget.

It was not immediately clear how likely it is the four individuals will appear.

9:25 a.m.: Rules chairman says ‘serious evidence’ Trump violated Constitution

Rules Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said he “never wanted the country to reach this point” as debate got underway on the resolution that defines the parameters of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry.

“We are not here in some partisan exercise,” McGovern said on the House floor. “There is serious evidence that President Trump may have violated the Constitution.”

The resolution lays out the rules for what McGovern described as “the public-facing phase of this process,” which will include nationally televised public hearings.

Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican member on the Rules Committee, unsuccessfully sought to expand debate on the resolution from one hour to four hours.

He then called the impeachment inquiry “nothing more than a partisan fishing expedition.”

“It’s not a fair process, it’s not an open process, it’s not a transparent process,” Cole said.

“It’s not fair to he president of the United States, it’s not fair to the House of Representatives, and it’s not fair to the American people.”

McGovern countered that Trump is being offered “better protections than former presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton did during their impeachment proceedings.

McGovern said it would be impossible to satisfy Republicans who are trying to “circle the wagons” around Trump.

9:20 a.m.: Morrison expected to corroborate testimony of senior U.S. diplomat

Morrison, the top Russia and Europe adviser on President Trump’s National Security Council, is expected to corroborate the testimony of a senior U.S. diplomat who last week offered to House impeachment investigators the most detailed account to date of how Trump tried to use his office to pressure Ukraine into launching an investigation of Biden, said a person familiar with the matter.

Morrison is expected to tell impeachment investigators on Thursday that the account offered by Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. is accurate, particularly that Morrison alerted him to the president’s and his deputies’ push to withhold security aid and a meeting with Ukraine’s president until that nation announced an investigation of the Bidens and 2016 election interference, the person said on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions

Morrison will also say that he did not necessarily view the president’s demands as improper or illegal, but rather problematic for U.S. policy in supporting an ally in the region, the person said.

— Carol D. Leonnig, John Hudson and Reis Thebault

9:15 a.m.: House opens debate on resolution on impeachment inquiry rules

The House has opened debate on the resolution that defines the parameters of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry.

8:30 a.m.: Trump shares assessments of conservative talk show host, former acting attorney general

Trump returned to Twitter on Thursday morning to share a string of friendly assessments from a conservative talk show host, his former acting attorney general and others about the impeachment inquiry process.

Trump quoted Fox News host Laura Ingraham at length urging Republicans “to stand together and defend the leader of their party against these smears” and asserting that “this farce should never be allowed to roll into a winter showtrial.”

Trump also shared a USA Today op-ed co-written by his former acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker that argued voters should determine Trump’s fate.

“Americans, not Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, will decide for themselves at the ballot box,” Whitaker and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) wrote, referring to the House speaker and Intelligence Committee chairman, both California Democrats.

“That’s how our system works,” Whitaker and Landry wrote. “It is not a system where you get a participation trophy or where everyone gets their way. In politics, like football, sore losers don’t get another bite at the apple.”

8:15 a.m.: Kellyanne Conway urges focus on transcript of Trump-Zelensky call

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway argued Thursday that the focus should be on the content of Trump’s call with Zelensky and not what witnesses appearing before House investigators have to say about it.

“The whole world has access to the call,” Conway said during an appearance on Fox News, referring to the rough transcript released by the White House last month that shows Trump pressing Zelensky to investigate the Bidens at a time when U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been withheld.

Trump and his aides have repeatedly argued that there is no “quid pro quo” because Trump does not condition the resumption of military aid on investigating the Bidens during the call.

“Here’s not what’s in the call: Any mention of 2020, any mention of Biden as some political opponent anybody should fear, any mention of aid being held up, any mention of the eight quid pro quos that were promised to Pelosi by the cable news cranks and the Twitter trolls,” Conway said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

“Go read the transcript everyone,” Conway added.

According to the rough transcript, Trump referred to the work that Biden’s son had done on a board of a Ukrainian gas company that had been under investigation and made some unsubstantiated claims about Biden.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great,” Trump told Zelensky, according to the transcript. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”

7:50 a.m.: McCarthy argues impeachment is getting in the way of other priorities

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sought Thursday to reinforce one of the Republican talking points on impeachment: that Democrats are unable to focus on other things.

“The worst part about their sham impeachment is all the things that are NOT getting done,” McCarthy said in a tweet, in which he asserted that the inquiry was responsible for a delay in passing a defense appropriations bill and ratifying a trade deal negotiated by Trump.

“They are making America weaker just because they dislike this president,” McCarthy said in a tweet that included a clip of him making the same points during a Fox News interview on Wednesday.

7:40 a.m.: Morrison arrives at Capitol for deposition

Morrison, the former Bolton deputy, has arrived at the Capitol ahead of his scheduled closed-door deposition.

7:30 a.m.: Pivotal House vote planned Thursday morning

A deeply divided House is set to take a pivotal vote Thursday morning on a resolution defining the parameters of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, which will feature nationally televised hearings with public testimony from key witnesses.

In advance of the vote, Democrats and Republicans alike have been working feverishly to ensure that there are few if any defections on their side.

The resolution, which is backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), hands the lead role to the House Intelligence Committee and its chairman, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who would have broad latitude to organize extended questioning of potential public witnesses.

It also sets out for the first time the ability of House Republicans to make their own requests for testimony and documents, though those requests will be subject to a vote of the Democratic-majority committee — a practice that matches the minority powers in the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

House Republican leaders have blasted the Democratic tactics, arguing that the impeachment process was fatally flawed from the beginning and cannot be redeemed with the adoption of new procedures.

7 a.m.: Former Bolton deputy Timothy Morrison expected to testify

Morrison, a former Bolton deputy who is scheduled to appear Thursday morning for a closed-door deposition, could provide crucial corroboration of an alleged quid pro quo, in which other witnesses have suggested Trump held back promised military aid to Ukraine until its leaders committed to launch investigations that could help Trump politically.

Thursday’s testimony from Morrison may back up some of the most incriminating parts of another official’s detailed account of how shadow policy on Ukraine driven by Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani began to undermine the objectives being pursued through regular national security channels.

William B. Taylor Jr., acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, previously testified that it was Morrison who told him in early September that nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid was being withheld until Zelensky publicly promised to conduct the investigations Trump wanted.

According to Taylor’s testimony, Morrison told him that Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, had communicated “that the security assistance money would not come until President Zelensky committed to pursue the Burisma investigation” — referring to a Ukrainian energy company that previously employed Biden’s son Hunter on its board.

6:30 a.m.: Trump highlights Graham’s assessment of solid Republican support in Senate

Trump highlighted a tweet early Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham in which the South Carolina Republican asserted that not a single member of his party in the Senate is prepared to vote to remove Trump from office.

“This is an unfair process being driven by sore losers,” Graham wrote. “There is not one vote [from Republicans] in the United States Senate to impeach President Trump based on this phone call because he did nothing wrong.”

“The Do Nothing Democrats have gone Crazy. Very bad for USA!” Trump added in his own words.

Trump’s retweet of Graham came shortly after he congratulated the Washington Nationals on winning the World Series in another post-midnight post on Twitter.

6:10 a.m.: A liberal fantasy no longer? Tom Steyer’s Need to Impeach campaign comes full circle with House vote

When Tom Steyer launched an eight-figure television ad campaign to impeach Trump in 2017, Democratic leaders urged the California businessman and megadonor to tone it down and spend his money elsewhere.

Now, almost exactly two years later, what was once derided as Steyer’s liberal fantasy is coming true: House Democrats will cast their first vote Thursday on an impeachment inquiry into Trump.

And to Steyer, now a 2020 presidential candidate struggling to register in the polls as a relative latecomer to a crowded field, the vote is an affirmation of his political instincts — and his long-shot presidential bid based on the idea that the current White House occupant and his administration are corrupt.

6:05 a.m.: Key Senate Democrats probe White House’s handling of Ukraine trade benefits

Two top Senate Democrats are demanding details of the Trump administration’s delay in restoring Ukraine’s trade privileges, which occurred last summer as Trump was also withholding military and security aid from the embattled U.S. ally.

The twin delays came as the White House sought to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden’s son.

“It would raise grave concerns both domestically and internationally if U.S. trade policy were used as a bargaining chip to achieve partisan political ends,” Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrats on the Senate Finance and Foreign Relations Committees, wrote in an Oct. 30 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer.

6 a.m.: Trump touts ‘change in Washington,’ rips Democrats over impeachment in World Series ad

A 30-second campaign ad that aired during Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night flaunted Trump’s purported political victories and attacked Democrats over the impeachment inquiry. The first half of the ad flashed through the president’s record on jobs, immigration and combating terrorism, while the last 15 seconds lambasted the Democrats’ focus on allegations of quid pro quo and foreign interference.

“He’s no Mr. Nice Guy, but sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington,” the ad declared to viewers during the Washington Nationals’ title-clinching win over the Houston Astros.

Fans gathered for the viewing party at Nationals Park booed as the pro-Trump commercial played on the stadium’s Jumbotron. Among political operatives and observers, many noted the video’s unprecedented timing and reach, as it was watched by millions of Americans on TV and on Twitter.

5 a.m.: White House lawyer moved transcript of Trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarms

Moments after Trump ended his phone call with Ukraine’s president on July 25, an unsettled national security aide rushed to the office of White House lawyer John Eisenberg.

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine adviser at the White House, had been listening to the call and was disturbed by the pressure Trump had applied to Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, according to people familiar with Vindman’s testimony to lawmakers this week.

Vindman told Eisenberg, the White House’s legal adviser on national security issues, that what the president did was wrong, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

Scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad, Eisenberg proposed a step that other officials have said is at odds with long-standing White House protocol: moving a transcript of the call to a highly classified server and restricting access to it, according to two people familiar with Vindman’s account.

— Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Greg Miller

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