Key facts and latest news
- The White House said it will not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, rejecting demands for documents and testimony.
- At the direction of the State Department, the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. did not appear for testimony before House lawmakers. President Trump said he would “love” to send Gordon Sondland to testify, but not before what he called a “totally compromised kangaroo court.”
- On a July call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Before the call, the president instructed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to hold off on releasing military aid to Ukraine that had been appropriated by Congress.
- Soon after the July call, White House officials moved a record of the call to a highly classified computer system, severely restricting who could access it.
Washington — The White House told House Democrats it will not comply with demands for documents and testimony in Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, setting up a legal showdown between the two branches of government.
“You have designed and implemented your inquiry in a manner that violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in an eight-page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the committees leading the inquiry.
Cipollone argued the investigation is “invalid” because there has not been a formal vote to open an impeachment inquiry. He said the inquiry clearly seeks “to influence the election of 2020” and has “no legitimate basis.” The letter also condemned Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a frequent target of the president.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was scheduled to be interviewed by House committees as part of the impeachment inquiry, was ordered not to appear for his deposition by the State Department, according to a statement issued by his attorney. Sondland was mentioned in the original whistleblower complaint and is a key witness to the Trump-Ukraine dealings.
Democrats issued a subpoena later Tuesday demanding documents from Sondland and setting a date for his deposition.
Trump slams whistleblower probe, suggests Schiff should be “impeached”
7:30 a.m. President Trump took to twitter to bemoan the ongoing probe into his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He suggested the whistleblower had ties to a Democratic opponent and that his attorney was a “big Democrat” as well.
Mr. Trump later claimed that House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff should be “impeached” despite the fact that sitting members of Congress do not go through impeachment proceedings.
Members of Congress can be expelled from office and disciplined in other ways, such as expulsion from the House of Representatives.
Pelosi blasts White House’s “unlawful” obstruction of impeachment inquiry
6:30 a.m. In a response to a letter from the White House saying they would not comply with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment charge, Pelosi says the White House is now trying to “normalize lawlessness.”
White House counsel’s letter to Pelosi and the three House committee chairmen leading the impeachment inquiry informed the Democrats that the White House would not cooperate with the inquiry until it is formalized with a floor vote.
Pelosi called the letter from the White House counsel “manifestly wrong” and “unlawful.”
In her response, she warned that continued efforts to “hide the truth” will be regarded as “further evidence of obstruction.”
“Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable,” Pelosi wrote.
Giuliani suggests he’d like to testify before Congress
6:15 a.m. During his latest appearance on “Fox News”, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani spoke with Fox host Laura Ingraham where he accused Democrats of having a double standard as they launch an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
On the White House’s letter to Nancy Pelosi, Giuliani said the letter emphasizes why due process is necessary to proceed with impeachment; otherwise, the Democrats efforts are “unconstitutional” and are keeping America “bitter and divided.”
While he denied the legitimacy of the whistleblower’s report, Giuliani would not confirm whether or not he would testify in the Senate following an invitation from Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham. He said that although he would love to testify and discuss Biden’s alleged corruption, he needs to weigh that decision with the president.
This comes just one day after Giuliani suggested quite the opposite — telling The Washington Post he “can’t imagine” other administration officials cooperating with the investigation.
“I wouldn’t testify in front of that committee until there is a vote of Congress and he is removed,” Giuliani said, referring to Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s chairman.
Democrats subpoena Sondland for documents and testimony
Tuesday, 6:12 p.m.: House Democrats issued a subpoena for Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U., demanding documents and testimony about his involvement in the Ukraine matter. Democrats set a deadline of October 14 for Sondland to produce documents to the House Intelligence Committee, and scheduled a deposition for October 16.
“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the direction or behest of the President, the White House, or the State Department, shall constitute further evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President,” three committee chairs wrote in a letter to Sondland. — Stefan Becket
White House says it won’t cooperate with impeachment inquiry
Tuesday, 5:06 p.m.: White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and three House committee chairmen saying the White House will not cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry because the investigation “violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process.”
Cipollone accused the Democrats of cooking up an inquiry to “overturn the results of the 2016 election and deprive the American people of the President they have freely chosen.”
“Your highly partisan and unconstitutional effort threatens grave and lasting damage to our democratic institutions, to our system of free elections, and to the American people,” Cipollone wrote.
Cipollone argued the investigation is “invalid” because there has not been a formal vote to open an impeachment inquiry. He also wrote that the inquiry clearly seeks “to influence the election of 2020” and has “no legitimate basis.”
“We hope that, in light of the many deficiencies we have identified in your proceedings, you will abandon the current invalid efforts to pursue an impeachment inquiry and join the President in focusing on the many important goals that matter to the American people,” Cipollone concluded. — Grace Segers
Giuliani says he won’t cooperate with House as Graham asks him to testify in the Senate
Tuesday, 5:02 p.m.: The president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, appeared poised to defy a subpoena by the House Intelligence Committee to provide documents by October 15. Giuliani told The Washington Post he “can’t imagine” other administration officials cooperating with the investigation.
“I wouldn’t testify in front of that committee until there is a vote of Congress and he is removed,” Giuliani said, referring to Schiff, the chairman.
Giuliani’s comments come after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham invited him to testify before the committee regarding his allegations about the Bidens in Ukraine.
“Have heard on numerous occasions disturbing allegations by @RudyGiuliani about corruption in Ukraine and the many improprieties surrounding the firing of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin,” Graham wrote on Twitter, referring to unsubstantiated allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden pushed for Shokin to be removed because Shokin was investigating a company with ties to Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
“Given the House of Representatives’ behavior, it is time for the Senate to inquire about corruption and other improprieties involving Ukraine. … Therefore I will offer to Mr. Giuliani the opportunity to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to inform the committee of his concerns,” Graham said.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Giuliani said he was “very interested in accepting Graham’s offer.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also expressed interest in Giuliani’s potential testimony, with the caveat that Giuliani would have to testify under oath. — Grace Segers
Trey Gowdy under consideration to join Trump’s outside legal team
Tuesday, 4:26 p.m.: Former Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy is under consideration to join Mr. Trump’s outside legal team, which is seeking to expand amid the impeachment inquiry.
Gowdy, a state and former federal prosecutor, is seen as a potentially valuable TV and legal spokesperson for the president. Gowdy served as the chair of the House Oversight Committee until the beginning of this year, and did not seek reelection in 2018. — Major Garrett
House lawyer says impeachment inquiry extends beyond Ukraine
Tuesday, 2:48 p.m.: A lawyer for the House told a federal judge that Democrats’ impeachment inquiry extends beyond the Ukraine controversy and includes potential obstruction of justice by the president.
Over the course of two hours in U.S. District Court in Washington, government lawyers on opposing sides of an effort to obtain secret grand jury proceedings illustrated the evolving nature of the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Douglas Letter, the lawyer for the House, urged the judge to grant the House Judiciary Committee access to currently redacted material in the special counsel’s report, specifically the underlying grand jury material collected during the Mueller investigation, and FBI documents. Elizabeth Shapiro, a Justice Department lawyer, opposed releasing the grand jury information, and argued certain FBI documents contain confidential communications between White House advisers and should remain redacted.
Letter argued the House impeachment inquiry extends beyond the circumstances surrounding the president’s call with Ukraine, pointing to the fact that the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees had already opened informal impeachment probes before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched an official inquiry.
“[An] impeachment inquiry was already going on,” Letter said in response to questioning by Chief Judge Beryl Howell. — Clare Hymes
Senate Intelligence Committee releases report on Russian use of social media
Tuesday, 1:45 p.m.: The Senate Intelligence Committee released the second volume of its bipartisan report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, detailing Russian use of social media to stoke division among the American public.
Among its findings:
- The Internet Research Agency, the Russian-backed disinformation group, “sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump at the direction of the Kremlin.”
- “Russia’s targeting of the 2016 U.S. presidential election was part of a broader, sophisticated, and ongoing information warfare campaign designed to sow discord in American politics and society.”
- “The IRA targeted not only Hillary Clinton, but also Republican candidates during the presidential primaries. For example, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were targeted and denigrated, as was Jeb Bush.”
- “No single group of Americans was targeted by IRA information operatives more than African-Americans. By far, race and related issues were the preferred target of the information warfare campaign designed to divide the country in 2016.”
Read the full report here.