The Week In Impeachment
Public hearings: The House held its first two public hearings in the impeachment probe this week, with members grilling career diplomats about the highly unusual actions they witnessed from the Trump administration. On Wednesday, Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified about the ouster of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in relations with Ukraine. Taylor surprised the room with a new revelation: one of his staffers overheard President Trump on the phone asking EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland about “the investigations.” News broke later that a second embassy staffer also overheard the phone call.
On Friday, ousted Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified about the circumstances under which she was abruptly recalled from her post. In the hearing, Yovanovitch revealed that she received the fateful phone call demanding her return to the U.S. during an event honoring a murdered Ukrainian anti-corruption activist. She also picked apart the Republican talking point that the Ukrainians sought to damage Trump during the 2016 election.
New transcripts: The House released more transcripts early this week, and we rounded up the highlights from the depositions of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, Kurt Volker aide Christopher Anderson and former Volker aide Catherine Croft.
Mulvaney booted from lawsuit: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tried to join a lawsuit brought by former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman asking a federal judge to rule whether he must comply with a House subpoena or follow White House orders to stay mum. Yet Kupperman and former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who plans to follow the judge’s order in Kupperman’s case, objected. Mulvaney ultimately dropped his attempt to glom onto the case.
Trump rage: As the impeachment probe chugs along, Trump has reportedly turned his anger over the whistleblower on the inspector general for the intelligence community, who first alerted Congress to the whistleblower complaint. The New York Times reported that Trump has discussed firing Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson for being disloyal.
Coming up: House investigators scheduled two more closed-door depositions for this week. David Holmes, the embassy staffer who reportedly told Taylor that he overheard Sondland’s call with Trump, will be deposed Friday. Mark Sandy, a career official at the Office of Management and Budget, will be deposed on Saturday.
On the Senate side: An early estimate from Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC) indicates that the Senate impeachment trial could last six to eight weeks.
In Other News
Trump’s tax returns: We saw news in three separate cases regarding Trump’s financial information this week. On Monday, a federal judge dismissed the President’s lawsuit seeking to New York state from releasing his tax returns to Congress. Trump could still file a similar lawsuit in New York.
On Wednesday, the full D.C. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to review a decision by the three-judge panel of the appeals court upholding a congressional subpoena of Trump’s tax returns, setting the case up for potential Supreme Court action. Trump then sought an emergency ruling from the Supreme Court blocking the subpoena from being enforced while the court decides whether to take the case.
On Thursday, Trump asked the Supreme Court to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from obtaining Trump’s state tax returns.
Roger Stone guilty: A jury on Friday found Roger Stone guilty on all seven counts he faced in his case stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
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