Donald Trump has attacked House impeachment inquiry witnesses as “Never Trumpers” without basis and delayed the release of a transcript of his first call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, a gesture his supporters had hoped would prove the president’s intentions towards the country were entirely innocent.
Kiev was reportedly alarmed by the hold-up of $400m (£312m) in American military aid this summer and reached out to Washington for answers, according to the latest records of witness testimony released by the inquiry from senior officials Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson.
A federal judge has meanwhile ruled that the president cannot sue to stop his home state of New York from acquiring his tax returns while Mr Trump has unexpectedly come under fire from Fox host Andrew Napolitano, who took him to task for his “often tasteless banter” and disrespect for the US Constitution.
One man who also won’t be suing: Mick Mulvaney. The president’s acting chief of staff said Tuesday that he no longer plans to sue over the House impeachment proceedings and will instead follow Mr Trump’s directions and decline to cooperate.
In a court filing Tuesday, one day before the impeachment inquiry enters a critical phase of public hearings, Mr Mulvaney said he no longer planned to ask a judge for guidance on whether he must cooperate with the House.
He said he would rely on Mr Trump’s instructions “as supported by an opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel of the US Department of Justice, in not appearing for the relevant deposition.”
Mr Mulvaney had been subpoenaed to appear last week for a closed-door deposition before House impeachment investigators but did not show up.
House Democrats had seen him as a potentially important witness, in part because he has publicly confirmed the contours of a quid pro quo arrangement in which the Trump administration would release military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the country announcing an investigation into Democratic rival Joe Biden.
His name has also repeatedly surfaced in the testimony of other witnesses who have cooperated.
The Justice Department legal opinion that Mr Mulvaney references says close advisers to the president are immune from having to testify to Congress because “preparing for such examinations would force them to divert time and attention from their duties to the President at the whim of congressional committees.”
Additional reporting by the Associated Press. Please allow a moment for our live blog to load