Congress

Impeachment news roundup: Oct. 4

The latest on the impeachment inquiry

(Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Two weeks: The chairmen of the House Oversight and Reform, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees issued a subpoena to White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to produce documents by Oct. 18 as part of the Trump impeachment inquiry. 

“The White House has refused to engage with — or even respond to — multiple requests for documents from our Committees on a voluntary basis,” Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, Adam Schiff and Eliot L. Engel wrote in a letter Friday. “We deeply regret that President Trump has put us — and the nation — in this position, but his actions have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena.”

Thrust and Perry: The chairmen of three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump sent a letter Friday to Vice President Mike Pence, demanding that he turn over documents related to the president’s campaign to pressure Ukraine for political objectives, including records from Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the department he runs.

‘No’: Former White House counsel Don McGahn  had a one-word answer Friday to a question about whether Trump had committed an impeachable offense when he asked Ukraine and China to investigate a potential 2020 opponent.

“No,” McGahn responded at a panel discussion near the White House in Washington. “I signed up for an elections law thing, not a current events seminar. But I’ve never been shy to speak, so.” McGahn, now a partner at Jones Day, declined to expand on the answer. 

Romney weighs in: Sen. Mitt Romney has become one of very few Republicans to criticize Trump’s call for the Chinese government to investigate the Biden family.

“By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling,” the Utah Republican said in a tweet.

No quid pro quo: The president claimed that he never directly asked for a quid pro quo — meaning giving Ukraine or China something in return for a probe of 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden — even though text messages House Democrats released Thursday night showing conversations from top U.S. diplomats suggest otherwise.

“That’s the whole ballgame,” the president said, saying House Democrats lack enough evidence against him of a crime or abusing his power to impeach him — or convince enough Senate Republicans to vote with Democrats to remove him at the conclusion of the required trial in that chamber should the House approve articles of impeachment.

It’s done all the time:  As Washington buzzed about the text messages, Trump took to Twitter Friday and denied doing anything wrong. “It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!” he tweeted.

Serious concerns: Chairmen of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees released a trove of text messages they say show a State Department official raising concerns that military assistance to Ukraine and and a meeting between President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zerenskiy were being delayed to put pressure on Ukraine to launch “politically motivated investigations,” and Ukraine’s concerns about being used as an “instrument” of U.S. politics.

[Read the text messages]

What’s in those texts?: The messages show U.S. diplomats discussing the president’s unwillingness to grant Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy an Oval Office visit he greatly desired unless the Ukrainian leader looked into the former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine. In one, Bill Taylor, a senior American diplomat in Kiev drew a direct line between Zelenskiy’s White House meeting request and a nearly $400 million military aide package that Trump himself froze.

Taking the heat: Trump predicted a backlash against Democrats if they pushed impeachment proceedings and you would think if that was going to materialize, it would in a swing district like the one in Virginia that Rep. Elaine Luria represents. But the response from her constituents — a few heckles drowned out by resounding applause — could not have been  the type of scene the White House had hoped would greet Democrats in swing districts like hers.