Impeachment inquiry: Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker transcripts to be released today – live updates – CBS News, CBS News

Impeachment inquiry: Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker transcripts to be released today – live updates – CBS News, CBS News






First transcripts in impeachment inquiry released                                                   

The latest news on the impeachment inquiry

  • House Democrats have released the transcripts of closed-door testimony by the former ambassador to Ukraine and a former top State Department official.
  • Two other crucial transcripts are set to be released Tuesday.
  • Republican leadersare consideringtemporarily assigning Representative Jim Jordan to the Intelligence Committee for public impeachment hearings.
  • The Justice Department concluded senior White House advisers have “absolute immunity” from congressional subpoenas for th eir testimony, according to aletterobtained by CBS News.

Washington– The release of transcripts of testimony by high-level US officials is providing the public the first official glimpse into closed-door proceedings by the committees leading the impeachment probe.

On Monday, the committees released the first transcripts of closed-door depositions in the intensifying probe into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

The Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels released transcripts of hours-long hearings they held with former US Ambassador to UkraineMarie YovanovitchandMichael McKinley, a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The testimony of two other key witnesses – Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker – are set to be released Tuesday.

Yovanovitch and McKinley are just two of several current and former Trump administration officials who were summoned to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, which was formalized through a House resolution last week. Yovanovitch was recalled early from her post in the spring, and McKinley resigned in part over the lack of support for her among State Department officials.

The top Democrats on the committees leading the inquiry said the testimony of both diplomats highlighted the “contamination” of American foreign policy by allies of the president who sought to create an “irregular back channel “to accomplish Mr. Trump’s personal and political objectives.

“As we move towards this new public phase of the impeachment inquiry, the American public will begin to see for themselves the evidence that the committees have collected, “Representatives Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney said in a statement. “With each new interview, we learn more about the President’s attempt to manipulate the levers of power to his personal political benefit.”

The lawmakers said the testimony shows the president and his top aides relied on “public falsehoods and smears” to oust Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine earlier this year.

Although there were efforts to mount public support for Yovanovitch within the diplomatic community, the committee chairs said the released testimonies showed that senior State Department officials feared that the president could’ve stepped in and undermined their efforts.

Trump slams “deranged” impeachment inquiry at Kentucky rally


7: 56 AM:At a rally in Kentucky Monday evening, Mr. Trump slammed what he called the “deranged hyper-partisanimpeachment witch hunt. ” He also stoked anger toward the “fake news media” at the rally, specifically targeting the “disgusting” Washington Post, and told his supporters to “get ’em out” – though he quickly qualified “be very gentle, please, I don ‘t want to get sued. “

His supporters, clad in white shirts reading “READ THE TRANSCRIPT,” jeered. The message on the shirts referred to a memo summarizing the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president which Mr. Trump has incorrectly referred to as a direct transcript.

The rally also featured an appearance from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Paul, a Republican, claimed that “we now know the name of thewhistleblower, “and called on the media to” do your job “and reveal the identity. His short speech, which also included a call to subpoena Hunter Biden and the whistleblower, prompted cheers of “do your job!” from the crowd.


Giuliani associate Parnas to comply with congressional subpoena


6: 48 AMAn attorney for Giuliani associate Lev Parnas tells CBS News that Parnas will comply with a congressional subpoena from impeachment investigators. He will provide documentation and answer questions, subject to limitations on his legal privileges, including that of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Attorney Joseph Bondy said it’s not that his client is now prepared to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry involving President Trump, but rather that Parnas is now willing comply with a subpoena.

In late October, Parnas pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges heillegally funneled foreign donationsto political committees supporting President Trump and other Republicans.

– Pat Milton



Monday, November 4


Republicans consider moving Jordan to Intel Committee for public hearings


Trump Impeachment                
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio speaks to a reporter on Capitol Hill on Monday, November 4, 2019.                                                    Andrew Harnik / AP                                     

6: 11 PM:As theimpeachment inquiryenters its public phase, top Republicans in the House are weighing whether to temporarily assign Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the panel that will conduct the initial public hearings. Discussions about adding Jordan to the committee are “active and serious,” a senior Republican involved in the process told CBS News.

Jordan, currently the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and an outspoken defender of the president, has essentially led Republican efforts in the closed-door impeachment proceedings thus far, where three committees have been able to participate. His top investigator, Steve Castor, has conducted the bulk of witness questioning.

If Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were to temporarily assign Jordan to the Intelligence Committee, he would have to make room for him by removing a current member. The move would also undermine Devin Nunes, the committee’s top Republican. McCarthy has sole discretion over Intelligence Committee assignments.

Read the full storyhere.

Sondland and Volker transcripts to be released Tuesday, Schiff says


2: 05 PM :The transcripts of testimony by two other key officials will be released Tuesday, Schiff said.

The committees will release the testimony of Gordon Sondland , the US ambassador to the EU, andKurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine. Both featured prominently inmessagesreleased by the committees in October, and were central to efforts to pressure Ukraine to open investigations. –Stefan Becket

Schiff says White House “not going to delay” probe by blocking witnesses




Democrat leading impeachment inquiry says witness no-shows “not going to delay our work”                                                   

12: 57 pm:House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff criticized the White House for instructing current White House officials to refuse congressional subpoenas to testify before the committees on Monday.

“That would allow these witnesses and the White House to succeed in their goal, which is to delay, deny, obstruct, “Schiff said on Capitol Hill. Two officials failed to appear for scheduled depositions Monday morning, and two others are expected to decline to appear in the afternoon.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded that top White House aides have “absolute immunity” from congressional subpoenas, an assertion Schiff rejected: “There’s no such thing as ‘absolute immunity.'”

Some witnesses refused to testify on the basis that their agency’s lawyers are not allowed in the hearing room. Schiff said doing so would violate House rules governing depositions.

Schiff spoke to reporters shortly after his committee released the first transcripts from the closed-door impeachment proceedings. He said the transcripts of Yovanovitch and McKinley’s testimonies showed that Republicans on the impeachment committees had equal opportunity to ask witnesses questions.

The Democratic chairman also criticized Republicans for their shifting justifications for opposing the impeachment inquiry, citing last week’s vote in the full House to establish the inquiry’s ground rules. He accused Republican members of being hypocrites, since previous investigations under Republican majorities, like the Benghazi investigation, featured closed-door testimony from witnesses without agency lawyers present.

“If they join the president’s objections, they do so in a fashion that is directly contradictory to their practices when they were in the majority,” Schiff said. –Caroline Cournoyer


McKinley: Lack of support for Yovanovitch was “baffling”


Former Pompeo Advisor P. Michael McKinley Interviewed Amid Impeachment Inquiry


Michael McKinley arrives on Capitol Hill for a closed-door hearing at the Capitol on October 16, 2019, in Washington, DC                                                    Zach Gibson / Getty Images                                     

12: 50 pm:McKinley testified he resigned from his post after a “puzzling and baffling “lack of support for the former US ambassador to Ukraine, according to the transcript.

In his appearance before the committees on October 16, 2019, McKinley told lawmakers he resigned after 37 years in foreign service over the State Department’s treatment ofYovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post earlier this year, and other diplomats. He testified about his failed attempts to encourage Pompeo to release a strong statement of support for the former ambassador in response to Mr. Trump’s disparaging remarks about her.

According to the (summary) of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the president said of Yovanovitch, “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that, “according to the White House summary.

The president told Zelensky the ambassador was “going to go through some things.”

Read morehere.

Yovanovitch told lawmakers Giuliani allied with U Krainian prosecutor to oust her


Former Ambassador To Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch Interviewed By Intel Committee In Impeachment Inquiry                
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch arrives at the Capitol on October 11, 2019, in Washington, DC                                                    Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images                                     

12: 45 pm:Yovanovitch testified that Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney , worked to have her removed from her post.

According to a transcript of her testimony on October 11 released on Monday, Yovanovitch testified she learned in late 2018 that Giuliani and former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko had plans to “do things, including to me.” She said Lutsenko and Giuliani had several meetings, and Lutsenko sought to remove her in retribution for the embassy’s efforts to rid the prosecutor general’s office of corruption.

She and other State Department officials had concerns about Giuliani’s role in Ukraine, according to her testimony, but they did not feel they could stop Giuliani’s efforts. Giuliani spread rumors about Yovanovitch, including allegations she opposed Mr. Giuliani Trump and was standing in the way of investigations into alleged Ukrainian interference in the (elections and the Bidens.)

Read morehere.


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