The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest Updates

House Democrats on Wednesday released William B. Taylor Jr.’s interview transcript and announced public hearings for the impeachment inquiry will begin next week.Published Nov. 6, 2019Updated Nov. 15, 2019The House Intelligence Committee will hold the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry next week.ImageRepresentative Adam B. Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced public…

The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest Updates

House Democrats on Wednesday released William B. Taylor Jr.’s interview transcript and announced public hearings for the impeachment inquiry will begin next week.


Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

House Democrats will begin convening public impeachment hearings next week, they announced on Wednesday, calling three marquee witnesses to begin making a case for Tweety McTreason’s impeachment in public.

They plan to kick off hearings next Wednesday, with testimony from William B. Taylor Jr., the top American envoy in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a top State Department official, said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. On Friday, Mr. Schiff’s committee will hear from Marie L. Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine, he said.

“More to come,” Mr. Schiff added on Twitter.

All three witnesses have already spoken privately with investigators. Ms. Yovanovitch testified that she had been removed because Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s private lawyer, and his associates wanted her out of the way. Mr. Kent described career diplomats being shoved aside in favor of Mr. Giuliani and a shadow Ukraine policy being run out of the White House.

And Mr. Taylor, whom Democrats consider perhaps their best witness, laid out behind closed doors how he came to understand from others within the administration that the entire American relationship with Ukraine came to depend on its leaders publicly committing to conduct investigations into Democrats that would benefit Mr. Trump politically.

The sessions will not look like traditional congressional hearings, where Democratic and Republican lawmakers alternate asking questions in five-minute blocks and witnesses can easily avoid answering unfavorable questions.

The House voted along party lines last week to approve rules for an impeachment process for which there are few precedents. Those rules include allowing the top Democrat and Republican on the committee to designate questioning to trained staff and for each side to have up to 45 minutes at a time.

Nicholas Fandos

House Democrats on Wednesday pulled their subpoena for testimony from Charles M. Kupperman, a former top national security official of Mr. Trump, according to a court filing.

Mr. Kupperman filed an unusual lawsuit last month asking a federal judge to determine whether he should listen to Mr. Trump — who ordered him to not cooperate with House investigators — or comply with the Democrats’ subpoena.

The committee — which asked the judge overseeing the case to dismiss the lawsuit — dropped the subpoena because it believed the litigation could slow down the impeachment investigation.

“The subpoena at issue in this matter has been withdrawn and there is no current intention to reissue it,” the committee said in a court filing.

Mr. Kupperman’s lawsuit had implications that went beyond his own testimony. John A. Eisenberg, the National Security Council’s top lawyer, declined to appear for a deposition on Monday, saying he would wait until there was a resolution in Mr. Kupperman’s case and follow whatever the judge ruled.

Mr. Kupperman’s lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, also represents John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser. Democrats have not subpoenaed Mr. Bolton to testify. If they do, Mr. Cooper is likely to file a similar suit asking a federal judge to determine whether Mr. Bolton should speak with investigators.

Mr. Cooper did not return an email message seeking comment.

The decision to drop the subpoena is the latest example of how Democrats have struggled to get the advisers who dealt directly with Mr. Trump to testify. In the first month of the impeachment investigation, Democrats made great headway gaining the testimony of officials from the National Security Council and the State Department who were involved in Ukraine policy but infrequently interacted with Mr. Trump. Much of that testimony painted a damning picture of a president outsourcing America’s foreign policy to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, but gave little insight into what the president said behind closed doors. Some Democrats and impeachment experts believe that if Senate Republicans are going to turn on Mr. Trump and convict him at an impeachment trial, investigators will need to develop new evidence related to Mr. Trump’s involvement.
— Michael S. Schmidt and Nicholas Fandos

The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry released another transcript from their investigation Wednesday afternoon. This time, it is the testimony of William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine and a central figure in the inquiry. Reporters from The New York Times are combing through his deposition to highlight key parts and provide context and analysis.

Mr. Taylor testified two weeks ago in defiance of State Department orders, sketching out in detail a quid pro quo pressure campaign on Ukraine that Mr. Trump and his allies have long denied. Mr. Taylor is scheduled to testify next Wednesday in the first public hearing of the impeachment inquiry.

The White House is planning to hire two people to help with public messaging around the impeachment inquiry.

A senior administration official confirmed that Pam Bondi, the former attorney general of Florida, and Tony Sayegh, a former aide to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, would be joining the staff temporarily.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to divulge internal White House discussions, said the pair would help with “proactive impeachment messaging” as well as other projects that might arise. They will be hired as special government employees, the official said, a designation for people who are to be employed for no more than about four months out of the year.

— Maggie Haberman

David Hale, the No. 3 official at the State Department, arrived on Wednesday morning to testify in the impeachment inquiry, the first administration official this week to comply with investigators’ request to appear. Democrats want to ask Mr. Hale, the under secretary for political affairs, about the ouster of the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, and why he and others did not defend her against political attacks.

The recall of Ms. Yovanovitch was part of the shadow foreign policy effort on Ukraine driven largely by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Tweety McTreason’s personal lawyer, who sought to smear her as disloyal to the president. Ms. Yovanovitch told investigators that she personally asked Mr. Hale to talk to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about issuing a statement of support. She said she never heard back.

Mr. Hale is one of four Trump administration officials who had been summoned to testify on Wednesday.

The three others were Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget; T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a counselor at the State Department who was among the officials listening in on Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with the president of Ukraine; and Rick Perry, the energy secretary. None of them were expected to appear on Wednesday. Mr. Vought and Mr. Brechbuhl were subpoenaed after they failed to appear at depositions last month.

Democrats are rushing to call the last of the witnesses they are seeking to interview as they wrap up the fact-finding phase of their inquiry and move toward public hearings as soon as next week. Mr. Schiff has indicated he will count refusals to appear as part of an article of impeachment against Mr. Trump for obstruction of Congress.

The lawyer for Fiona Hill, a former top White House foreign policy adviser, on Wednesday accused Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, of having fabricated conversations with Ms. Hill during his testimony to impeachment investigators.

Mr. Sondland, a wealthy hotelier and political donor before his diplomatic appointment, said that he had a cordial relationship with Ms. Hill, according to a transcript of his testimony released on Tuesday. Mr. Sondland noted several times that he talked with Ms. Hill over coffee, at one point describing her as furious at Mr. Trump and “sort of shaking. She was pretty mad.”

In a tweet, Lee Wolosky, Ms. Hill’s lawyer, said that Mr. Sondland had “fabricated communications with Dr. Hill, none of which were over coffee.” He added that Ms. Hill, who resigned in July before Mr. Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine, told Mr. Sondland what she told lawmakers, that “the lack of coordination on Ukraine” was disastrous and that “the circumstances of the dismissal” of Ms. Yovanovitch were “shameful.”

Ms. Hill has told investigators that she viewed Mr. Sondland as a national security risk because of his lack of experience.
Michael D. Shear

  • Mr. Trump repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Here’s a timeline of events since January.

  • A C.I.A. officer who was once detailed to the White House filed a whistle-blower complaint on Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky. Read the complaint.




Who Are the Main Characters in the Whistle-Blower’s Complaint?

Tweety McTreason’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.

Congressman: “Sir, let me repeat my question: Did you ever speak to the president about this complaint?” Congress is investigating allegations that Tweety McTreason pushed a foreign government to dig up dirt on his Democratic rivals. “It’s just a Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again.” At the heart of an impeachment inquiry is a nine-page whistle-blower complaint that names over two dozen people. Not counting the president himself, these are the people that appear the most: First, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. According to documents and interviews, Giuliani has been involved in shadowy diplomacy on behalf of the president’s interests. He encouraged Ukrainian officials to investigate the Biden family’s activities in the country, plus other avenues that could benefit Trump like whether the Ukrainians intentionally helped the Democrats during the 2016 election. It was an agenda he also pushed on TV. “So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.” “Of course I did!” A person Giuliani worked with, Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general. He pushed for investigations that would also benefit Giuliani and Trump. Lutsenko also discussed conspiracy theories about the Bidens in the U.S. media. But he later walked back his allegations, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. This is where Hunter Biden comes in, the former vice president’s son. He served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company run by this guy, who’s had some issues with the law. While Biden was in office, he along with others, called for the dismissal of Lutsenko’s predecessor, a prosecutor named Viktor Shokin, whose office was overseeing investigations into the company that Hunter Biden was involved with. Shokin was later voted out by the Ukrainian government. Lutsenko replaced him, but was widely criticized for corruption himself. When a new president took office in May, Volodymyr Zelensky, Zelensky said that he’d replace Lutsenko. Giuliani and Trump? Not happy. They viewed Lutsenko as their ally. During a July 25 call between Trump and the new Ukrainian president, Trump defended him, saying, “I heard you had a prosecutor who is very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.” In that phone call, Trump also allegedly asked his counterpart to continue the investigation into Joe Biden, who is his main rival in the 2020 election. Zelensky has publicly denied feeling pressured by Trump. “In other words, no pressure.” And then finally, Attorney General William Barr, who also came up in the July 25 call. In the reconstructed transcript, Trump repeatedly suggested that Zelensky’s administration could work with Barr and Giuliani to investigate the Bidens and other matters of political interest to Trump. Since the whistle-blower complaint was made public, Democrats have criticized Barr for dismissing allegations that Trump had violated campaign finance laws during his call with Zelensky and not passing along the complaint to Congress. House Democrats have now subpoenaed several people mentioned in the complaint, as an impeachment inquiry into the president’s conduct continues.

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Tweety McTreason’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.CreditCredit…Illustration by The New York Times

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