(Bloomberg) -- Michael McKinley, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo until resigning the post last week, testified Wednesday before three committees leading the House impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump.
Here are the latest developments:
Perry Says Trump Asked Him to Contact Giuliani (9:20 p.m.)
Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that Trump asked him to contact Rudy Giuliani to discuss corruption in Ukraine, according to a report published Wednesday night.
Perry told the Wall Street Journal that he reached out to Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York, to help arrange a meeting with Ukraine’s top energy official. He added that neither the president nor his aides raised the issue of an investigation of Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Giuliani confirmed to the Journal a telephone conversation with Perry that occurred shortly after the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Perry told the Journal that he called Giuliani for a clearer picture of Trump’s concerns on Ukraine.
On Tuesday, a senior State Department official told House impeachment investigators that the White House had designated a three-person team -- Perry, then-Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland -- to bypass formal U.S.-Ukraine policy. Sondland is scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry on Thursday.
Trial Could End By Holidays, Senator Says (6:01 p.m.)
Republican senators discussed the possibility of finishing an impeachment trial before the holidays if the House impeaches Trump before Thanksgiving, GOP Senator Kevin Cramer told reporters Wednesday.
Cramer said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell briefed Republican senators behind closed doors on procedures for a trial, which McConnell told reporters would be held six days a week.
McConnell said the trial would begin after noon each day, and senators wouldn’t be allowed to speak during the proceedings. Cramer said the Senate could agree to other rules as they did on a bipartisan basis for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment -- an uncertainty in today’s polarized Senate.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters McConnell should reach out to Democrats on how to handle a trial.
Separately, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham -- who served as a House manager of the Clinton impeachment -- met privately with House Republicans to discuss impeachment history and issues.
“The House Republicans have been closed out,” he said to reporters.
“I’ve actually been through this process,” Graham said, adding that the House GOP should get a chance to call witnesses and subpoena documents. “And that’s not happening in the House. So, I think that’s a big mistake.”
“Stick to your guns and insist on a fair process,” he said was his advice to House Republicans.
Ex-Pompeo Aide Says State Didn’t Back Staff (5:26 p.m.)
McKinley, a former senior adviser to Pompeo, told House committees he resigned last week in part because of the State Department’s failure “to offer support to foreign service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine,” according to excerpts released by a former colleague familiar with the testimony.
The excerpt didn’t say which officials he was referencing. But lawmakers who attended the closed-door meeting said he expressed his full support for former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and thought her removal was unjustified.
McKinley said he also quit because of “what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives,” according to the excerpt.
“I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents,” he said, according to the excerpt. “I could no longer look the other way as colleagues are denied the professional support and respect they deserve from us all.”
Ex-Pompeo Aide Backs Ousted Envoy in Inquiry (2:09 p.m.)
A former senior adviser to Pompeo told House impeachment investigators he thought the removal of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was unjustified, said Republican and Democratic lawmakers attending the closed-door questioning.
Michael McKinley, who resigned last week, expressed his full support for Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled to Washington in May by Trump, the lawmakers said. They wouldn’t immediately say whether he tried to save her job, or whether he said his decision to leave the department was related to that.
“But he is another quiet American hero who will be celebrated,” said Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. McKinley testified for about five hours.
Yovanovitch’s removal came as Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was pressing Ukrainian officials to investigate corruption allegations against Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Yovanovitch had raised concerns about Giuliani’s activities and became a target of his claims that she was attempting to undermine Trump. She testified privately to the three impeachment committees last Friday.
Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, said of McKinley, “Overall his comments are more in support of his fellow colleague, Ambassador Yovanovitch, and that is understandable.”
“Beyond that, he has been very complimentary about Secretary Pompeo’s role at the State Department,” said Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Meadows wouldn’t say what McKinley was saying about Giuliani. “I would have to talk about specifics to be able to do that,” the lawmaker said.
Separately, Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, is scheduled to appear before the panels on Oct. 22, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Taylor had warned against conditioning U.S. military assistance on an investigation, writing on Sept. 9: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Defense Department Rebuffs House Subpoena (12:01 p.m.)
The Defense Department rebuffed a subpoena from the House committees, saying in a letter Wednesday that it is withholding documents and communications because the impeachment probe hasn’t been properly authorized by a House vote. The agency’s stance echoes the White House position that the impeachment inquiry is invalid.
The committees last week subpoenaed recordings, transcripts or notes of Trump’s phone conversations with Ukraine’s president on April 21 and July 25; as well as information on efforts by administration officials and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to ask Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton.
The Defense Department said much of the material sought by the committees is covered by executive privilege. The department said it is preserving the records “should there be resolution of this matter.” -- Justin Sink
Trump Defends His Personal Lawyer, Rudy Giuliani (11:04 a.m.)
Trump on Wednesday defended his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whose own legal peril threatens to ensnare the president.
Trump told reporters at the White House that “Rudy was a great prosecutor” and the best mayor in the history of New York.
Giuliani is being scrutinized by federal investigators for his financial dealings following the indictment of two of his associates for violating campaign finance laws.
Giuliani has been privy to the president’s thinking, strategy and behind-the-scenes efforts to push Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. That makes him a key potential witness in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
A Florida businessman has turned himself in to federal authorities after being indicted along with two Giuliani associates and another man on charges of campaign finance violations, the Associated Press said Wednesday. AP said David Correia and the other three defendants are expected to appear in court in Manhattan on Thursday. -- Justin Sink
Ex-Pompeo Aide McKinley Testifies to Inquiry (9:57 a.m.)
McKinley, senior adviser to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo until resigning last week, arrived at the Capitol to testify before three committees leading the impeachment investigation.
The veteran diplomat stepped down Friday as Pompeo’s senior adviser, a role he held since May 2018. McKinley is testifying behind closed doors.
The House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs committees are scrutinizing Trump’s Ukraine interactions, including any Pompeo and State Department activities related to Rudy Giuliani’s effort to pressure Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit Trump politically.
Also on Wednesday, Kurt Volker -- Trump’s former special envoy to Ukraine until his resignation in late September -- returned to the Capitol after testifying on Oct. 3. He planned to review the transcript of his testimony, according to a committee official familiar with the matter. -- Steven T. Dennis
Gallup Poll Finds 52% Approve Removing Trump (9:10 a.m.)
A new Gallup Poll finds a slim majority of Americans approve of the impeachment and removal of Trump, But with support among Republicans still in single digits, it’s unlikely to sway enough GOP senators to take action.
The share of Americans favoring Trump’s impeachment and removal has has risen to 52% from 45% in a June poll following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian meddling investigation. Then 53% were opposed.
But there’s a silver lining for Trump in the results: Republican views haven’t changed. Just 6% want him removed, down from 7% in June, making it nearly impossible to forecast a successful removal in a GOP Senate. Twenty Senate Republican votes would be needed, and they’d be going against their own party.
The impeachment inquiry also corresponds with a surge in approval of Congress among Democrats.
The poll, conducted Oct. 1-13, had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.
Mike Pence’s lawyer said the vice president’s office isn’t cooperating with a request for documents in the investigation. Pence’s counsel Matthew Morgan repeated claims the White House has already made, including that the investigation isn’t legitimate because there hasn’t been a full House vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry.The White House budget office also said it won’t turn over documents sought by the House committees.Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he’ll defy a subpoena for documents. Giuliani’s own lawyer, Jon Sale, is no longer representing him after sending the letter that said Giuliani “will not participate” in the inquiry. Sale said in an interview that he had planned all along to leave after responding to the subpoena.
--With assistance from Justin Sink and Nick Wadhams.
To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Steven T. Dennis in Washington at email@example.com
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