Trump impeachment inquiry live upates

In closed-door testimony released Wednesday, Taylor said associates of President Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.

Trump, meanwhile, complained Thursday morning following a Washington Post report that he wanted Attorney General William P. Barr to hold a news conference declaring that Trump broke no laws during a July phone call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the investigations.

11:30 a.m.: Bolton willing to defy White House and testify if court clears the way, according to people familiar with his views

Former national security adviser John Bolton is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry about his alarm at the Ukraine pressure campaign if a federal court clears the way, according to people familiar with his views.

Bolton could be a powerful witness for Democrats: Top State Department and national security officials have already testified that he was deeply concerned about efforts by Trump and his allies to push Ukraine to open investigations into the president’s political rivals while the administration held up military aid to that country.

The former national security adviser, who abruptly left his post in September, is expected to confirm their statements and describe his conversations with Trump, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing inquiry.

— Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger

10:40 a.m.: Schumer criticizes Paul for blocking whistleblower resolution

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for blocking a resolution Wednesday that would have reaffirmed the Senate’s support for whistleblower protection laws.

“Even though his or her account has been verified by other sources, the White House — and, most particularly, the junior senator from Kentucky — seem committed to discrediting the whistleblower, disclosing the whistleblower’s identity and turning the right-wing media machine on this person, and they can be vicious,” Schumer said Thursday in remarks on the Senate floor.

The whistleblower-protection laws referenced in Wednesday’s resolution, which was introduced by Schumer and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), “have been on the books for a very long time,” Schumer added.

“We’re going down a dangerous road when members of this body are refusing to stand up for our nation’s laws,” Schumer said.

Paul said he was blocking the resolution because Senate Democrats refused to consider his own whistleblower legislation, the Hill reported.

10:30 a.m.: Trump complains about House rules, takes another shot at The Washington Post

Trump returned to Twitter to complain that, under House rules, he will not be allowed to have a lawyer present next week when public hearings begin before the House Intelligence Committee.

“It was just explained to me that for next weeks Fake Hearing (trial) in the House, as they interview Never Trumpers and others, I get NO LAWYER & NO DUE PROCESS,” he tweeted, before taking aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.).

“It is a Pelosi, Schiff, Scam against the Republican Party and me,” he added. “This Witch Hunt should not be allowed to proceed!”

Trump will be allowed to have a lawyer in the room if the Judiciary Committee moves forward with impeachment proceedings once the Intelligence Committee wraps up its work and issues a report.

Trump would also be represented by counsel if a trial is held in the Senate following impeachment by the House.

In another tweet, Trump took another shot at The Washington Post for its report that Trump sought to have Barr hold a news conference regarding his call with Zelensky.

In his latest tweet on the subject, Trump named the story’s three authors, calling them “lowlife reporters” and said The Post is a “garbage newspaper.”

10:05 a.m.: Williams testifying under subpoena, official says

Williams is testifying under subpoena, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door proceedings.

“In light of an attempt by the White House to direct Jennifer Williams not to appear for her scheduled deposition, and efforts to limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel her testimony this morning,” the official said, adding that Williams was now answering questions from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and staff.

10 a.m.: A Ukrainian twist in Trump’s Greenland ‘debacle’ has Danes puzzled

When it was first revealed in August that Trump wanted to purchase Greenland from Denmark, many Danes initially assumed it was a joke. It was not until the president postponed a visit to Copenhagen — citing the Danish government’s lack of interest in selling the autonomous island — that many Danes realized he was serious about this idea.

The U.S. president may have been serious about it, but the whole notion was “absurd,” as Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen put it.

The awkward episode that has strained Danish-U. S. relations in recent months surfaced once again on Wednesday, when House investigators released a transcript of the closed-door testimony of the acting ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr. As part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, Taylor was supposed to testify on questions surrounding Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine this summer.

9:55 a.m.: Trump demands Bidens testify in impeachment proceedings

Trump demanded Thursday that Biden and his son Hunter be called to testify as part of impeachment proceedings.

In a tweet, Trump quoted Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) asking, “What did Hunter Biden do for the money?”

“A very good question,” Trump added in his own words. “He and Sleepy Joe must testify.”

Trump routinely refers to the former vice president and 2020 presidential candidate as “Sleepy Joe.”

Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president, reportedly making about $50,000 a month.

9:40 a.m.: Trump’s allies turned to online campaign in quest to unmask Ukraine whistleblower

Tweets on Wednesday by Donald Trump Jr. capped more than a month of efforts by the president’s allies to surface the supposed name of the whistleblower.

Most news organizations, including The Washington Post, have withheld the name of the whistleblower, whose account about Trump’s call with Zelensky has been largely confirmed by diplomats and others with firsthand knowledge as well as by a reconstructed transcript released by the White House. The whistleblower’s name has been kept confidential by U.S. officials, in line with federal law designed to prevent retaliation.

But the supposed name of the whistleblower has been circulating in conservative corners of social media since at least Oct. 3, culminating in Trump Jr.’s Wednesday morning retweet of a Breitbart News article that named an individual. During one 24-hour period last week, the CIA officer’s name was mentioned in more than 150,000 tweets.

— Isaac Stanley-Becker and Craig Timberg

9:05 a.m.: Jordan says Republicans will request whistleblower as witness

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a staunch defender of Trump, told reporters that Republicans will request that the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry be included among the witnesses who will testify in open hearings.

Under rules adopted by the House, Republicans have the right to request witnesses, but they must be approved House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) or by a vote of the full committee, on which Democrats hold a majority of seats.

9 a.m.: Trump calls for end of impeachment inquiry, citing 2017 tweets by lawyer for whistleblower

Trump called for an immediate end to the impeachment inquiry on Thursday, citing 2017 tweets predicting his impeachment by Mark S. Zaid, one of the lawyers representing the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the Democratic-led inquiry.

“Based on the information released last night about the Fake Whistleblowers attorney, the Impeachment Hoax should be ended IMMEDIATELY!” Trump tweeted. “There is no case, except against the other side!”

Zaid responded on Twitter in January 2017 to Trump’s firing of Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce executive policies.

“#coup has started. First of many steps. #rebellion. #impeachment will follow ultimately,” Zaid wrote.

In July 2017 tweets, Zaid also predicted on Twitter that CNN “would play a key role in @realDonaldTrump not finishing out his full term as president” and said: “We will get rid of him, and this country is strong enough to survive even him and his supporters.”

8:55 a.m.: Williams has arrived at the Capitol

Williams has arrived at the Capitol ahead of her scheduled closed-door deposition.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a senior National Security Council official, has also entered the secure area of the Capitol where depositions are being taken. It is customary for past witnesses to return to review transcripts of their depositions.

Vindman previously testified that a top White House lawyer instructed him not to discuss his grave concerns about Trump’s conversation with Zelensky with anyone outside the White House.

8:50 a.m.: ‘Read the Transcript!’ Trump urges his Twitter followers

Trump returned to Twitter to take another shot at The Washington Post, calling the publication “degenerate” for its report that he sought a Barr news conference, and to urge his more than 66 million followers to “Read the Transcript!”

He was referring to the rough transcript the White House released of the July call in which he pressed Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. Trump has repeatedly said the call was “perfect” and has argued that it shows he did nothing wrong because he does not explicitly condition the release of withheld military aid on the investigations he is seeking.

7:30 a.m.: Trump pushes back on reports he sought a Barr news conference

Trump dismissed as “FAKE NEWS” reports that he wanted Barr to hold a news conference declaring that Trump broke no laws during a phone call in which he pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the Bidens.

According to a story first reported by The Washington Post, Barr ultimately declined to do so, and Trump has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference.

Other outlets, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, later matched The Post’s report.

“Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “The story was a Fake Washington Post con job with an ‘anonymous’ source that doesn’t exist.”

His comments echoed other tweets sent after midnight in which he called The Post’s report “totally untrue and just another FAKE NEWS story.”

“The LameStream Media, which is The Enemy of the People, is working overtime with made up stories in order to drive dissension and distrust!” Trump contended.

His tweets came early Thursday morning after returning from a Wednesday night campaign rally in Monroe, La.

At that event, Trump accused Democrats of “trying to overthrow American democracy to impose their socialist agenda” and attacked one of the lawyers representing the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry.

7 a.m.: Pence staffer expected to appear for closed-door deposition

House investigators expect to hear Thursday from the first person from Vice President Pence’s staff to give testimony in the impeachment probe.

Williams is Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia, and could offer important insights into the vice president’s interactions with Ukrainian leaders and any contact that he might have had with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

Williams’s attorney confirmed Wednesday night that his client intends to appear.

“Jennifer is a longtime dedicated State Department employee,” her attorney, Justin Shur, said in a statement. “If required to appear, she will answer the Committees’ questions. We expect her testimony will largely reflect what is already in the public record.”

Williams is among the last witnesses scheduled to provide a closed-door deposition before public hearings begin next week.

6:30 a.m.: Bolton expected to be a no-show for deposition

Former national security adviser John Bolton has been summoned to the Capitol for a deposition on Thursday but is not expected to appear.

Bolton, who left the White House amid acrimony with Trump in September, could offer direct testimony about the president’s alleged efforts to pressure Zelensky for information on the Bidens in exchange for U.S. military aid and a meeting with the president.

Top State Department and national security officials have already testified that Bolton was deeply concerned about those efforts.

5 a.m.: Sen. Kennedy calls Pelosi ‘dumb’ at Trump rally

Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.), appearing alongside Trump at a campaign rally in Monroe, La., on Wednesday night, questioned the intelligence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who launched the impeachment inquiry.

“In three short years, President Trump has doubled the growth in the greatest economy in all of human history. And do you know what our Democratic friends have done for him?” Kennedy asked. “Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to impeach him.”

“I don’t mean any disrespect, but it must suck to be that dumb,” Kennedy added, as Trump stood beside him grinning.

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