/Impeachment latest: Mulvaney subpoenaed by House Intelligence Committee – live updates

Impeachment latest: Mulvaney subpoenaed by House Intelligence Committee – live updates


State Department official’s testimony details efforts to pressure Ukraine


The latest news on the impeachment inquiry

  • President Trump wanted Attorney General Barr to hold a news conference saying he didn’t break any laws during his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • The House committees leading the impeachment probe released a transcript of closed-door testimony by State Department official George Kent.
  • Kent, according to the transcript, said Rudy Giuliani waged a “campaign of slander” against former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, one that was “without basis, untrue, period.”
  • Democrats will not subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton to appear before the joint committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.
  • The House Intelligence Committee will hold the first open hearings of the impeachment inquiry next week, featuring public testimony from three key witnesses.
  • The House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for a previously scheduled deposition on Friday morning, an official working on the impeachment inquiry told CBS News.
  • Mark Zaid, the attorney for the whistleblower, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mr. Trump’s attorneys, saying the president’s “rhetoric and activity” has put his client and their family in danger.

Washington — The House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for Friday’s previously scheduled deposition, an official working on the impeachment inquiry told CBS News late Thursday.

“Mr. Mulvaney has the opportunity to uphold his oath to the nation and constitution by testifying tomorrow under oath about matters of keen national importance,” the official said. “We hope Mr. Mulvaney does not hide behind the President’s ongoing efforts to conceal the truth and obstruct our investigation.”

During a White House press briefing in October, Mulvaney appeared to admit the administration had in fact engaged in a quid pro quo with the government of Ukraine.

“[Did] he also mention to me, in the past, that the corruption related to the DNC server?” Mulvaney told reporters, referring to the president. “Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money.”

Earlier Thursday, multiple sources told CBS News that President Trump wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold a news conference saying he didn’t break any laws during his July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.

Barr ultimately declined to do so, although the Justice Department did release a statement alongside the release of a rough transcript summary of the call saying that the Office of Legal Counsel had found no evidence of wrongdoing. However, an anonymous whistleblower submitted a complaint to the government expressing concern about the call, and that complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry of the president.

The president’s desire to publicly be cleared by Barr was first reported by The Washington Post. Mr. Trump called the Post story a “fake Washington Post con job” in a tweet Thursday morning. He also called it “pure fiction” about “Bill Barr & myself,” and said, “We both deny the story.” However, Barr has not yet denied the story, and the Justice Department has not responded.

A top State Department official told the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry that Rudy Giuliani waged a “campaign of slander” against a former ambassador to Ukraine, one that was “without basis, untrue, period.”

George Kent, according to a transcript of his testimony before Congress released today, said other officials were “engaged in an effort to undermine her standing by claiming that she was disloyal” as far back as 2018.

By March 2019, Kent said Giuliani’s “campaign of slander” against Yovanovitch was “almost unmissable,” as the former New York mayor used TV appearances and his Twitter account to attack the ambassador. He said Giuliani’s accusations were “without basis, untrue, period.”

Kent also testified that three officials declared they were in charge of Ukraine policy after a White House meeting in May: Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, a career foreign service officer.

The House Intelligence Committee announced the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry will take place next week, featuring testimony from three witnesses.

The committees released a transcript of closed-door testimony by Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, on Wednesday. Taylor repeatedly raised concerns about linking U.S. military aid to investigations into the president’s rivals.

“That was my clear understanding: security assistance money would not come until the president [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation,” Taylor said under questioning, according to the transcript.

The committee will hear from Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent next Wednesday, November 13. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify before the committee two days later.

“Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses themselves,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters at the Capitol. — Paula Reid contributed reporting

Whistleblower’s lawyer issues cease-and-desist to Trump’s attorneys

Mark Zaid, the attorney for the whistleblower, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Mr. Trump’s attorneys, saying the president’s “rhetoric and activity” has put his client and their family in danger. Zaid provided a copy of the letter to CBS News.

The letter lists statements made by Mr. Trump on September 26 as well as other later comments that Zaid says “seek to intimidate my client — and they have.” CNN first reported the letter.

Zaid says those comments amount to “tampering with a witness or informant,” which is a violation of the law.

“It goes without saying, although it appears that it must be said, that the Office of the President is the most powerful elected office in the nation,” the letter said. “The occupant of the office is often referred to as the “Leader of the Free World”, representing the principles and ideals of liberty and freedom. As the leader of the world’s remaining global superpower, the words of the President carry great weight and have the ability to change the course of history.”

House Intelligence Committee subpoenas acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney

10:45 p.m.: The House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for a previously scheduled deposition on Friday, an official working with the impeachment committee confirmed to CBS News. It is unlikely Mulvaney will appear on Friday.

“Mr. Mulvaney has the opportunity to uphold his oath to the nation and constitution by testifying tomorrow under oath about matters of keen national importance,” the official said. “We hope Mr. Mulvaney does not hide behind the President’s ongoing efforts to conceal the truth and obstruct our investigation.”

Axios first reported the news of the subpoena.

On Tuesday, the chairs of the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry sent a letter asking Mulvaney to appear before the committees on Friday, November 8.

“Based on evidence gathered in the impeachment inquiry and public reporting, we believe that you possess substantial first-hand knowledge and information relevant to the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the letter said.

Mulvaney, who is also director of the Office of Management and Budget, previously defied a subpoena for documents.

During a White House press briefing in October, Mulvaney appeared to admit the administration had engaged in a quid pro quo with the government of Ukraine.

“[Did] he also mention to me, in the past, that the corruption related to the DNC server?” Mulvaney told reporters, referring to the president. “Absolutely, no question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money.”

Mulvaney later tried to walk back his remarks. — Rebecca Kaplan

State Department to offer aid for legal bills to employees testifying in impeachment inquiry

6:35 p.m.: The impeachment inquiry is likely to cost taxpayers more than expected.

A State Department official told CBS News State Department Reporter Christina Ruffini on Thursday that the federal agency will offer financial aid to its employees who have incurred legal costs because of the impeachment hearings.

It’s unclear whether the aid will extend to former as well as current employees or to those who have refused to testify. While 14 officials have given closed-door testimony so far, 13 others rejected requests to appear before the impeachment committees. Most of the witnesses have been current or former State Department officials. — Christina Ruffini

Read more here.


Kent says Giuliani waged “campaign of slander” against former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine

House releases transcript of testimony by top State Department official George Kent

A top State Department official told the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry that Rudy Giuliani waged a “campaign of slander” against a former ambassador to Ukraine, one that was “without basis, untrue, period.”

According to the transcript of his testimony before the joint committees, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, George Kent, said Rudy Giuliani’s campaign against the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, went back as far as 2018, while she was the ambassador.

By March 2019, Kent said Giuliani’s “campaign of slander” against Yovanovitch was “almost unmissable,” as the former New York mayor used TV appearances and his Twitter account to attack the ambassador. He said Giuliani’s accusations were “without basis, untrue, period.”

Kent said the situation “was clearly a crisis” that was “threatening to consume” the U.S. relationship with Ukraine, particularly after Donald Trump Jr. tweeted an attack on Yovanovitch.

He also testified that three officials declared they were in charge of Ukraine policy after a White House meeting in May: Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, a career foreign service officer. — Stefan Becket

Read more here.


Pence denies Trump did anything wrong in call with Ukrainian president

3:45 p.m.:Vice President Mike Pence denied any wrongdoing by President Trump in his July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“American people have the transcripts of the president’s call. And they can see there was no quid pro quo,” Pence told reporters gathered at the New Hampshire State House. The vice president visited the “first-in-the-nation” state Thursday to file for the New Hampshire primaries on behalf of Donald Trump, adding his name to the upcoming 2020 Republican ballot.

Following the filing, the vice president called impeachment proceedings “the latest effort by Democrats to try and overturn the results of the 2016 election.” — Nicole Sganga in Concord, New Hampshire

Read more here.


​House releases transcript of testimony by George Kent

2:55 p.m.: The House committees have released the transcript of testimony by George Kent, a State Department official who pushed back on efforts to discredit the former ambassador to Ukraine. Read more here.


​Congressional watchdog reviewing delay in military aid to Ukraine

2:34 p.m.: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is reviewing the legality of the Trump administration’s decision to delay the release of military aid to Ukraine over the summer, a GAO spokesman said. The review was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Spokesman Charles Young confirmed the office is conducting a review of the legality of the delay at the request of Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen.

The delay in military aid is at the center of the alleged quid pro quo to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president’s rivals. — Kathryn Watson

Pence aide leaves Capitol after testimony

Trump Impeachment
Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, arrives for a closed-door interview in the impeachment inquiry at the Capitol on Thursday, November 7, 2019.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP


2:03 p.m.: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, left the Capitol after about five hours of testimony before the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry. Williams participated in the July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.

Williams’ testimony, although lengthy, was shorter than that of many witnesses who have appeared before the joint committee. Previous witnesses have appeared in closed hearings into the evening. — Grace Segers


​GOP senators call on State Department to release documents on Hunter Biden and Burisma

12:58 p.m.: Republican Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of documents relating to Hunter Biden’s previous role on the board of Ukrainian gas firm Burisma.

State Department emails made public through a Freedom of Information Act request show that Burisma’s consulting firm noted Hunter Biden’s role on the board when requesting a meeting with State Department officials.

Mr. Trump has alleged, without evidence, that former Vice President Joe Biden urged the dismissal of a former Ukrainian prosecutor general because he was investigating Burisma. — Grace Segers


Schiff requests proposed witnesses from Republican minority

12:00 p.m.: Schiff has sent a letter to Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, formally requesting Republican witnesses for next week. The minority needs to request witnesses within 72 hours after the first hearing is noticed, meaning that the deadline is 11:20 a.m. on Saturday, November 8.

The requests must be accompanied by “a detailed written justification of the relevance to the inquiry of the testimony,” Schiff’s letter said.

The letter also said that if the minority wants a witness to testify in an open hearing, they should include that in their request for the witness. — Olivia Gazis


​House Intelligence Committee will not subpoena Bolton

11:45 a.m.: An official on the House Intelligence Committee said that the committee will not subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton to appear before the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry, since Bolton’s attorneys have said he would defer to a judge’s ruling if issued a subpoena.

“We would welcome John Bolton’s deposition, and he did not appear as he was requested today. His counsel has informed us that unlike three other dedicated public servants who worked for him on the NSC and have complied with lawful subpoenas, Mr. Bolton would take us to court if we subpoenaed him,” the official said.

“We regret Mr. Bolton’s decision not to appear voluntarily, but we have no interest in allowing the administration to play rope-a-dope with us in the courts for months. Rather, the White House instruction that he not appear will add to the evidence of the President’s obstruction of Congress,” the official continued. — Rebecca Kaplan


​White House brings on Pam Bondi and Tony Sayegh to help with impeachment messaging

White House adding personnel to beef up impeachment messaging

11:29 a.m.: Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and former Treasury Department official Tony Sayegh are expected to join the White House communications team to work on proactive impeachment messaging and other special projects as they arise, according to a senior administration official.

Their roles will be within the White House as temporary special government employees.

Trump allies have long pushed for a more coordinated messaging strategy from the White House. But the president’s senior aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been pushing hard to bring Sayegh on board.

Kushner had been a strong advocate for Sayegh while he was in the administration and had been lobbying for Sayegh to replace former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. That role ultimately went to Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director. Sayegh left the administration six months ago to join the consulting company Teneo.

Bondi and Sayegh will report to White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, according to a senior administration official. Both are expected to depart the White House as soon as impeachment proceedings have concluded.

The White House and congressional Republicans are keeping the messaging extremely simple because they believe most people don’t understand the Ukraine narrative. A message that can easily be repeated, they believe, is the best defense. — Paula Reid, Fin Gomez and Ben Tracy


​Trump tweets Joe and Hunter Biden “must” testify

9:51 a.m. Repeating what Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said at a rally in his state Wednesday night, the president insisted that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden testify.

Kennedy had asked what Biden had done to get $50,000 a month for being on the board of a Ukraine energy company.

“A very good question,” the president tweeted Thursday morning. “He and Sleepy Joe must testify!”

The Washington Post reported some Senate Republicans were considering having the Bidens testify in a Senate trial, should one take place.


Pence aide arrives at Capitol to testify

8:50 a.m.: Jennifer Williams, a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence who participated in the July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, has arrived at the Capitol to testify before the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry.

Williams is appearing before the committees under subpoena, an official working on the impeachment inquiry told CBS News.

“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. As required of her, Ms. Williams is complying with the subpoena and answering questions from both Democratic and Republican Members and staff,” the official said. — Rebecca Kaplan


Trump wanted Barr to hold a press conference saying the president did not break any laws

8:27 a.m.: President Trump wanted Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference saying the president did not break any laws during the July 25 phone call, when he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a political rival, CBS News has confirmed.

Barr ultimately declined to do so, although the Justice Department did release a statement alongside the release of a rough transcript summary of the call saying that the Office of Legal Counsel found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Mr. Trump’s desire for Barr to state publicly that the president had broken no laws was first reported by The Washington Post. The whistleblower complaint expressing concern about the call has been the impetus for an ongoing impeachment inquiry. Barr has largely stayed absent from the spotlight since the impeachment inquiry was opened.

On Thursday morning, Mr. Trump denied that Barr had declined his request to hold a press conference, calling the story a “fake Washington Post con job.”

“Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine. The story was a Fake Washington Post con job with an “anonymous” source that doesn’t exist. Just read the Transcript. The Justice Department already ruled that the call was good. We don’t have freedom of the press!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. — Paula Reid and Grace Segers


Pence adviser expected to appear in closed hearing Thursday

7:18 a.m.: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, is expected to appear before the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry on Thursday. Williams participated in the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president.

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton was also scheduled to appear before the committees in a closed hearing on Thursday, but he is unlikely to show up. His attorneys have previously said that he would not appear without a subpoena.


​White House coordinating with House GOP

Wednesday, 5:49 p.m.: Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry in late September, the communications teams for Republican leaders in the House and the ranking members of the committees involved have held daily meetings to go over new developments and hash out messaging and strategy for handling the inquiry.

Until a week ago, no one from the White House attended these meetings, a senior House Republican aide told CBS News. The aide said the White House eventually reached out and asked to be part of the sessions.

The White House has been represented by either Tori Symonds, the director of government communications, or Alexa Henning, director of broadcast media. But they are essentially in “listen only” mode — they don’t deliver messages on behalf of Mr. Trump or the press shop. Instead, they report back what House Republicans are doing and saying so everyone is on the same page.

Still, their participation is another sign that White House officials are finally recognizing the need to have a stronger game plan.

The White House wants to have a firm impeachment-specific communications team in place before the public hearings start on Wednesday, but it’s unclear when or if a formal announcement will be made. — Weijia Jiang


House withdraws subpoena for official who asked court to intervene

Wednesday, 4:08 p.m.: The House of Representatives has formally withdrawn its subpoena of Charles Kupperman, a deputy of former National Security Adviser John Bolton, court records show.

Although he received a subpoena to appear in October, he was told by the White House that he couldn’t testify. Torn between the legislative and executive branch directives, Kupperman filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia requesting the court decide whether he should comply with the subpoena or the White House’s directive.

“There is no proper basis for a witness to sue the Congress in court to oppose a duly authorized congressional subpoena,” a committee official said to explain the move. “Nevertheless, given the schedule of our impeachment hearings, a court process that leads to the dismissal of Dr. Kupperman’s flawed lawsuit would only result in delay, so we have withdrawn his subpoena.”

Oral arguments in the case weren’t scheduled to take place until December 10 – well after the depositions would have wrapped and moved onto public hearings in the impeachment inquiry.

The Intelligence Committee likely expects Kupperman to follow whatever guidance the court gives when it rules on whether former White House Counsel Don McGahn has to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a separate case. The White House tried to claim that both Kupperman and McGahn had “absolute immunity” from subpoenas to testify.

The McGahn case is much further along and will likely be resolved sooner than the Kupperman case.

It is unclear is what this means for Bolton, who has the same attorney as Kupperman. — Rebecca Kaplan and Grace Segers


​Giuliani hires several attorneys

Wednesday, 3:43 p.m.: Rudy Giuliani wrote on Twitter that he is being represented by several attorneys himself. The attorneys all have extensive experience in criminal investigations in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, including one who was previously a former deputy chief of criminal investigations.

“I am represented and assisted by Robert Costello and the Pierce Bainbridge firm in particular , Eric Creizman and Melissa Madrigal,” Giuliani tweeted. — Paula Reid


​Graham says Trump administration “incapable of forming a quid pro quo”

Wednesday, 11:58 a.m.: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham made the argument to reporters Wednesday that the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy was “incoherent,” and the administration was “incapable of forming a quid pro quo.”

Graham made the comments to reporters on Capitol Hill, reiterating that he won’t read the transcripts from the impeachment inquiry. Graham said the entire impeachment process is a sham.

“I heard something yesterday I could not believe,” a reporter posed to Graham. “Former impeachment manager Lindsey Graham says he’s not going to read the impeachment transcripts? Really?”

“I’m not going to read these transcripts,” Graham responded. “The whole process is a joke.”

“You just pick things you like,” Graham added. “Y’all hate this guy you all want to get him impeached. I’m not buying into Schiff running a legitimate operation.”

Graham had told reporters on Capitol Hill the day before he didn’t plan on reading transcripts released Tuesday from depositions with U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, former special representative to Ukraine. — Alan He and Kathryn Watson