Politics Live updates: Trump lashes out at Democrats before historic impeachment proceeding is set to begin

16:55  13 november  2019
16:55  13 november  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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President Trump lashed out at Democrats, contending the deck is stacked against him, hours before a historic, nationally televised impeachment hearing was set to begin Wednesday before the House Intelligence Committee.

The first open hearing in the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, scheduled for 10 a.m., will feature testimony from William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.

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US President Donald Trump is lashing out at House Democrats amid an impeachment investigation and a whistleblower complaint over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.

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Democrats see both diplomats as key to building their case in the inquiry, which was prompted by a complaint from an anonymous whistleblower about Trump pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden at a time when U.S. military aid to Ukraine was being withheld.

Slideshow by photo services

●Historic impeachment hearings are set to begin, with GOP and Democrats pushing dueling messages on Trump’s conduct.

●Aides are counseling Trump not to fire Mick Mulvaney, as the acting White House chief of staff changes course again.

●At donor dinner, associate of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said he discussed Ukraine with the president, according to people familiar with his account.

●How the decline of public trust shaped Trump’s, Nixon’s and Clinton’s endgames.

Who’s involved in the impeachment inquiry | Key documents related to the inquiry | What’s next in the inquiry | What to know about open hearings

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Tuesday ahead of returning to the White House from New York. © Andrew Harnik/AP President Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Tuesday ahead of returning to the White House from New York.

9:15 a.m.: Taylor arrives for testimony

Taylor has arrived at the Longworth House Office Building ahead of his testimony scheduled for 10 a.m.

Both Taylor and Kent will be appearing under subpoena, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued the subpoenas Wednesday morning, said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss part of the proceedings that had not been publicly announced.

John Wagner

8:30 AM: Trump returns to Twitter, shares disparaging quote about Pelosi

Trump returned to Twitter to share an extended quote from Charles Hurt, the opinion editor of The Washington Times, disparaging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry.

Hurt, according to Trump’s tweet, said Pelosi “cares more about power than she does about principle” and accused Democrats of turning impeachment into “a political cudgel.”

In subsequent tweets, Trump wrote “NEVER TRUMPERS!” and “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!”

In recent days, Trump has contended that the witnesses being called by Democrats are “Never Trumpers,” a term that refers to Republicans who were against his presidency from the start. He has not provided any evidence.

Trump has also argued that the transcript of a July call with Zelensky shows he did nothing wrong because he did not explicitly condition the resumption of military aid on investigating the Bidens.

John Wagner

7:15 AM: Trump lashes out at Democrats ahead of hearing

Trump lashed out at Democrats and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) hours before Schiff was scheduled to gavel in the first open hearing in the impeachment proceedings against the president.

In tweets, Trump quoted conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh calling the inquiry a “partisan sham” and shared the assertion of Fox News host Steve Doocy that the Democrats “have stacked the deck against President Trump and the Republicans.”

In one tweet, Trump seemed to suggest that Daniel S. Goldman, the lawyer Democrats have tapped to question witnesses, had a conflict because he had worked for Trump.

“Also, why is corrupt politician Schiff allowed to hand over cross examination to a high priced outside lawyer,” Trump tweeted. “Did that lawyer ever work for me, which would be a conflict?”

It was not clear what Trump was referencing, and a White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for elaboration.

Goldman previously spent a decade as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, a jurisdiction known for its tough, high-profile cases. He left that job in 2017, shortly after Trump became president, to become a television legal analyst.

John Wagner and Devlin Barrett

7:00 AM: First public hearing will feature testimony from Taylor and Kent

The first open impeachment hearing before the House Intelligence Committee is set to begin at 10 a.m. with testimony from Taylor and Kent, two diplomats who previously told lawmakers in closed-door depositions that the White House improperly sought to leverage U.S. military assistance and an Oval Office meeting to pressure Ukraine to open investigations into Democrats.

Taylor previously testified that he learned through conversations with White House aides, national security officials and Trump’s point people in Ukraine that there was a concerted effort to force Ukraine into a quid pro quo. However, he couldn’t conclusively say Trump directed all of this.

Kent previously testified that Trump wanted Zelensky to publicly and explicitly announce he would be investigating matters involving Democrats, and he wanted him to use the words “Biden” and “Clinton.” Kent said he didn’t hear this directly from Trump, but rather from other officials who talked to people who talked to Trump.

After opening statements, lawyers for the Democrats and Republicans will be given 45 minutes to question witnesses before committee members proceed with traditional five-minute rounds of questioning.

John Wagner and Amber Phillips

7:00 AM: Trump allies take to Twitter early Wednesday to defend him

Trump’s allies went on Twitter to defend him hours before Wednesday’s hearing was set to begin.

“Facts matter,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted. “And the facts prove this entire sham has been a premeditated plot to take down the president.”

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel characterized the upcoming proceeds as a “kangaroo court” and asked her followers to remember that neither Taylor nor Kent were “present for any key meetings/calls that would allow them to corroborate Dems’ bogus allegations.”

Meanwhile, Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, dismissed the hearing as “a new act in the Democrat sham impeachment.”

“Democrat-selected ‘witnesses’ will just offer their opinions of a phone call, the transcript of which we can all read ourselves.”

John Wagner

6:45 AM: Turkish leader to visit the White House as hearing plays out on Capitol Hill

As witnesses testify in the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, Trump plans to welcome Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House on Wednesday.

The visit comes just weeks after Turkey invaded Syria and attacked U.S.-allied Kurdish forces.

In a letter last week, more than a dozen members of Congress, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) called on Trump to rescind his invitation, arguing that “now is a particularly inappropriate time for President Erdogan to visit the United States.”

Erdogan is scheduled to arrive at noon, two hours after the House hearing begins. His visit includes a meeting with a group of Republican senators.

Trump and Erdogan have a joint news conference scheduled at 3:10 p.m.

It is unclear whether the House proceedings will still be going on at that point. An official working on the impeachment inquiry has estimated that the hearing will wrap up sometime between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

John Wagner

6:30 AM: In late-night tweets, Trump quotes Hannity calling hearings a ‘phony showtrial’

Trump went on Twitter late Tuesday night to share a lengthy quote from Fox News host Sean Hannity disparaging the upcoming impeachment hearings, which he called a “phony showtrial.”

“Everything you’re going to see in the next two weeks is rigged,” Trump quoted Hannity as saying. “There is zero due process, none. It is yet another fraudulent hoax conspiracy theory. It is another Witch Hunt. This is what the Socialist Doemocrat Party has become.” (Democrat was misspelled in the tweet.)

Trump closed out his tweets by offering praise for Hannity: “Sean the amazing warrior!”

John Wagner

6:15 AM: Democrats announce witnesses for next week’s hearings

Eight witnesses will testify over three days next week, the House Intelligence Committee announced Tuesday night.

On Nov. 19, lawmakers will hear from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council director for European affairs; Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine; Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Pence on Europe and Russia; and Tim Morrison, a former White House national security aide.

Witnesses on Nov. 20 will be Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union; Laura Cooper, the Pentagon official who oversees Ukraine policy; and David Hale, the State Department’s third-ranking official.

And on Nov. 21, Fiona Hill, former top Russia adviser to the White House, will testify.

Of the numerous witnesses Republicans had requested, only three — Morrison, Volker and Hale — were greenlighted by Democrats, who control the majority on the panel.

“The Majority has accepted all of the Minority requests that are within the scope of the impeachment inquiry,” Democrats on the Intelligence Committee said in a statement.

Felicia Sonmez

6:00 AM: Giuliani writes Wall Street Journal op-ed defending Trump

The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed Tuesday night in which Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani argued that the president’s July 25 conversation with Zelensky was “innocent” and denounced the House impeachment inquiry as “a travesty.”

Trump “requested that Ukraine root out corruption; he didn’t demand it,” Giuliani wrote, adding that “out of a five-page transcript Mr. Trump spent only six lines on Joe Biden.”

“His words were cordial, agreeable and free of any element of threat or coercion,” he wrote. “Mr. Trump offered nothing in return to Ukraine for cleaning up corruption. If you doubt me, read the transcript.”

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has released a guide that debunks many of the claims that have been made by Giuliani and other Trump allies.

Felicia Sonmez

Takeaways so far from House public impeachment hearings .
In several hours of testimony, and even bickering among lawmakers, some memorable moments have emerged. In several hours of testimony, and even bickering among lawmakers, some memorable moments have emerged.

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