ethics

Trump, White House aides show some restraint on Day One of public impeachment hearings
‘I haven’t watched,’ president claims after spokeswoman called televised session ‘boring’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference following their meeting at the White House on Wednesday. Trump also weighed in on Wednesday’s impeachment hearing. (Halil Sagirkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — For once, the often-brash and always-combative Trump White House played it safe.

On day one of House Democrats’ public impeachment hearings, President Donald Trump and his top aides opted against firing back to sometimes-damning testimony by two administration witnesses and allegations of corrupt intent from Intelligence Committee Democrats.

GOP relies on familiar defenses as impeachment hearings open
Jordan presses witnesses on Ukraine aid being released without investigation sought

Ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and minority counsel Stephen Castor, confer during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans reached for oft-cited complaints about the impeachment process Wednesday to counter arguments from Democrats and detailed statements from two career diplomats at the start of what will likely be several weeks of contentious hearings into President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

It wasn’t until early afternoon, when a temporary member added to the House Intelligence Committee roster to bolster questioning during the televised proceedings, provided the most forceful defense of Trump in a hearing that otherwise shed little new light — for the viewing public, at least — on the weeks-long inquiry.

White House says Trump ‘too busy’ to watch ‘boring’ impeachment hearing
President cared more about Biden probe than corruption in Ukraine, diplomat testifies

President Donald Trump speaks at an event at the White House earlier this year. He said Wednesday he is not watching the first public impeachment hearing. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump — an avid cable news consumer — contended Wednesday he is “too busy” to watch the first public impeachment hearing, but he dismissed it as a made-for-television “hoax.”

The White House-Republican strategy for providing a counter message to testimony from acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent about two quid-pro-quos with Ukraine’s new president orchestrated by Trump began to unfold in the hearing’s first two hours.

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Secret ’Stache

Federal prosecutors want to remove Duncan Hunter’s lawyer
Hunter faces trial in January in California

Federal prosecutors say an attorney for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., should not be able to represent him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federal prosecutors are seeking to remove Duncan Hunter’s attorney, Paul Pfingst, from representing the embattled California Republican in his upcoming campaign finance case, alleging a conflict of interest.

Pfingst and his law firm, Higgs Fletcher & Mack, should be disqualified from representing Hunter because the firm also represents multiple witnesses who have testified adversely to Hunter’s interests and will likely be called as witnesses in his trial, U.S. attorney David D. Leshner, wrote in a court filing Monday.

Trump declines to endorse Jeff Sessions’ Senate bid — but doesn't deliver death knell
President says of House Democrats in impeachment probe: ‘We're kicking their ass’

Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing during his confirmation hearing to be attorney general in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Donald Trump on Friday declined to endorse Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general he fired after several clashes, as the Alabama Republican seeks the Senate seat he held for decades before joining the administration.

But he also did not demand the former AG end his bid on its first full day, giving Sessions’ campaign life — because of “nice” things the Alabaman said about the president on television. As he departed the White House for fundraisers and an event with black voters, he also told reporters during another wild “Chopper Talk” gaggle he is “kicking their ass,” referring to House Democrats in their impeachment probe.

3 takeaways after Trump rallies in Louisiana: President takes ownership of governor’s race
GOP Sen. Kennedy urges voters at Monroe rally to resist being ‘happy with crappy’

President Donald Trump looks on as the Republican candidate for governor in Louisiana, businessman Eddie Rispone, speaks during a rally at the Monroe Civic Center on Wednesday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — Donald Trump had a very special announcement for supporters Wednesday night in Monroe, Louisiana. It was one that shows the extent to which the president is taking ownership of — and rolling the dice on — the tight race for the governor’s mansion there.

“By the way, this Saturday … I’m going to be at a certain game,” a smiling Trump said. “Let’s see, it’s LSU versus a pretty good team from Alabama. … I’m a football fan, I hear you have a great quarterback. We’re going to see him,” he said of Joe Burrow, the star QB of the No. 2 Tigers. “But I’m actually going to the game. I said: That’s the game I want to go to.

Gloom and doom in Louisiana: Trump warns of deep ‘depression’ if he loses in 2020
President tries to swing governor’s race toward Republican Eddie Rispone

President Donald Trump, here at a rally in Dallas last month, warned supporters of a “depression the likes of which you’ve never seen before” if he loses reelection next year. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images file photo)

Using his typical brash rhetoric, President Donald Trump on Wednesday night warned a Louisiana rally crowd to expect economic gloom and doom if he is defeated next November.

“You will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen before,” he said.

Republicans push for whistleblower's identity, but not naming names — yet
President and his son encourage media to out the whistleblower, while lawyers caution liability

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at a campaign rally Monday with President Donald Trump in Kentucky called for the media to expose the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry. (Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and his congressional allies have created an uneasy tension on Capitol Hill around a push to out the whistleblower whose report launched the House impeachment inquiry, in the days since a right-wing outlet reported a name and work history without direct confirmation.

Trump, at the White House on Sunday, discussed the details of the report but didn’t mention the name and twice added: “I don’t know if that’s true or not.” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, mentioned a resume item at a Republican press conference Friday and on Fox News on Tuesday but didn’t say the name.