Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 2

The latest on the impeachment inquiry

The Capitol dome is frame by a protest sign as a coalition of progressive activist groups rallies at the Capitol for Congress to impeach President Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The Capitol dome is frame by a protest sign as a coalition of progressive activist groups rallies at the Capitol for Congress to impeach President Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted October 2, 2019 at 10:32am

Change of heart: New York Rep. Max Rose said Wednesday that he would “fully support” the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The freshman lawmaker was among a handful of House Democrats who had not backed the probe. Rose told a town hall audience in his Staten Island district that he opposes “a rush to judgement” but will “follow the facts where they lead no matter the consequences.”

Biden goal?: Trump refused to answer a reporter’s question about just what he wanted the Ukrainian government to do with former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden. Trump repeatedly snapped at Reuters’ Jeff Mason, who repeatedly asked the question to an increasingly agitated president.

Ghost writer?: Asked about a New York Times report that Schiff got an early description of the intelligence whistleblower’s coming complaint, Trump ripped the California Democrat. “It shows that Schiff is a fraud,” he said. “I think it’s a scandal that he knew before. I’ll go a step further. I think he probably helped write [the complaint]. … That’s a big story. … It’s a scam.”

“Hoax”: “I always cooperate,” President Trump said at a news conference with the president of Finland when asked if he intends to comply with a coming subpoena from House Democratic-run committees for documents related to his July 25 call with Ukraine’s new president. The president again called their probe “a hoax.”

Let me rephrase that: President Donald Trump first told reporters “I don’t care” when asked if the intelligence community official whose complaint prompted House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry should be protected and allowed to remain anonymous. But he added this, according to a pool report: “I think a whistleblower should be protected, if the whistleblower is legitimate.”

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Volker to appear: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters Wednesday that former U.S. representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker is expected to appear before his committee for a deposition on Thursday, despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo trying to block witnesses from appearing. Schiff also said that a deposition is scheduled next week with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Stonewall: Schiff said he is concerned about the administration trying to stonewall Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, noting that is why they have warned officials from whom they have requested documents or testimony that failure to comply would be considered obstruction of Congress. He noted that was an article in former President Richard Nixon’s impeachment. “We’ll have to decide whether to litigate or how to litigate,” Schiff said. “We’re not fooling around here though. We don’t want this to drag on for months and months.”

“Stuck in mud”: Trump took umbrage in real-time with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s contention she wants to work on legislative matters like lowering prescription drug prices even as House Democrats conduct an impeachment inquiry. “She is incapable of working on either. It is just camouflage for trying to win an election through impeachment. The Do Nothing Democrats are stuck in mud!” Trump tweeted as Pelosi and Schiff were addressing reporters.

[Pelosi, Trump engage in real-time messaging war on impeachment, legislating]

Trash talk: Trump responded to Schiff raising concerns about Pompeo potentially interfering with witnesses in the impeachment probe by calling the House Intelligence chairman names on Twitter. “Adam Schiff should only be so lucky to have the brains, honor and strength of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” the president wrote, calling Schiff a “lowlife.” Part of team Trump’s strategy, so far, to countermessage House Democrats has been for the president to try discrediting them and their investigation — including schoolyard-like taunts.

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More trash talk: Trump fired off an angry tweet after Pelosi and Schiff briefed reporters on the impeachment probe, dropping a curse word about his political rivals’ probe just minutes before he was scheduled to welcome the president of Finland, a partner in countering Russia, to the White House. “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306,” he wrote, then taunting Democrats: “Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!”

Another subpoena: The House Oversight and Reform Committee will subpoena the White House on Friday if the administration does not turn over documents it has requested related to President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, Chairman Elijah E. Cummingswrote it a memo Wednesday. “I do not take this step lightly,” Cummings wrote. “The White House’s flagrant disregard of multiple voluntary requests for documents—combined with stark and urgent warnings from the Inspector General about the gravity of these allegations—have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena.”

Within the month: A majority of impeachment supporters want Democrats to vote this month on multiple articles of impeachment, a poll commissioned by the pro-impeachment Progressive Change Institute found. The national poll surveyed 1,009 registered voters from Friday through Sunday and found poll respondents were largely split on impeachment, with 49 percent supporting the House Democrats’ inquiry, 43 percent opposed and 8 percent undecided.

Which way to go: As their impeachment inquiry quickly unfolds, there are new divisions in the caucus about how much evidence they need to proceed with articles of impeachment against Trump. Several Democrats believe the readout of a July 25 phone call of Trump asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate potential 2020 opponent former VP Joe Biden and his son, Trump’s admitting to the request and a whistleblower complaint about officials trying to “lock down” the call transcript is all the evidence they need to impeach. On the flip side are moderate Democrats who have only recently embraced the idea of an impeachment inquiry and are still a long way from being ready to vote for articles of impeachment.

Missed deadline: The Office of Management and Budget didn’t meet a Tuesday deadline from the House Appropriations and Budget committees to answer questions and provide documents that could shed light on the administration’s decision to temporary withhold assistance to Ukraine. OMB is discussing the request, which was made Friday, with the committees, according to an administration official.

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