Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defied a subpoena from House investigators and skipped a scheduled closed-door deposition on Friday, in an accelerating impeachment inquiry that will move to public hearings next week .
Mulvaney’s defiance comes as Democrats leading the inquiry prepare to release more transcripts from previous depositions. In a transcript released Thursday, Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent described President Trump’s shadow efforts to force Ukraine’s leadership to open investigations that would benefit him politically, including one into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Meanwhile, in a break with her father and leading congressional Republicans, Ivanka Trump said it was “not particularly relevant” to know the identity of the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the probe into Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine at a time when nearly $ 400 in military aid was being withheld.
● Trump’s demands of Ukrainecame down to three words: ‘Investigations, Biden and Clinton,’ official’s testimony states.
10 am Mulvaney has not shown up for his desposition
Mulvaney has not shown up for a closed-door deposition scheduled at the Capitol at 9 a.m. He is under subpoena.
Mark Sandy, the associate director for national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, was scheduled to appear at 9: 30 am He also has not shown up.
9: 50 am: GOP fundraise off investigating Bidens
Republicans have been raising money off the impeachment inquiry since it began weeks ago , but Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan went a step further Friday soliciting funds off the idea of investigating the Bidens.
Walberg’s campaign repeats Trump talking points, suggesting there was something nefarious about Hunter Biden serving on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company. Walberg asks, “Should Congress investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, as President Trump has demanded?”
Trump’s desire for an investigation into the Bidens by the Ukrainian government is at the center of the impeachment inquiry that is probing whether the president abused his power by pressuring a foreign leader to help him gather information on a political foe.
8 am: Republicans continue focus on 2017 tweets by whistleblower lawyer
As they sought to discredit the impeachment inquiry, Republicans continued to focus Friday on tweets from 2017 in which Mark S. Zaid, a lawyer for the whistleblower, predicted Trump’s impeachment.
“The whistleblower’s attorney was calling for @ realDonaldTrump’s impeachment just 10 DAYS into his presidency, ”Republican National Committee Charwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted. “This has never been about facts – it’s always been about overturning the 2016 election!”
Shortly afterward, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham echoed those remarks during an appearance on Fox Business Network.
“The fact that the whistleblower has now his attorneys who since the day the president took office were tweeting about a coup and how they had to get the president out of the office should be of concern to a lot of people, ”Grisham said.
Zaid referred to impeachment on Twitter in January 2017 after Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce executive policies.
“# coup has started. First of many steps. #rebellion. #impeachment will follow ultimately, ”Zaid wrote.
In July 2017 tweets, Zaid also predicted that CNN “would play a key role in @realDonaldTrump not finishing out his full term as president” and said: “We will get rid of him, and this country is strong enough to survive even him and his supporters . ”
Zaid responded to his Republican critics Thursday.
“ I live in the United States. Not Nazi Germany. Not Stalinist Russia. Not North Korea, ”he tweeted in response to Trump’s son Eric’s suggestion that he go to prison.
“ Here, we have the right to object to the policies – and indeed the person – who holds the office of president. I rep a lawful #whistleblower, ”he added. “Which country do all of you want to live in?”
7: 30 am: Ivanka Trump says identity of whistleblower ‘not particularly relevant’
Breaking with her father and several leading congressional Republicans, Ivanka Trump said Friday that the identity of the whistleblower is “not particularly relevant” to the impeachment inquiry.
Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser,spoke to the Associated Pressduring a trip to Morocco where she has been promoting a US program aimed at helping empower women in developing countries.
She noted that the anonymous U.S. intelligence official whose complaint sparked the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry was not party to the July 25 call in which Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to conduct investigations that could benefit Trump politically.
“This is a third party who was not privy to the call and did not have firsthand information, ”Ivanka Trump said. “That is what was the catalyst for all of this discussion. But to me, it’s not particularly relevant aside from what the motivation behind all of this was. ”
President Trump has repeatedly calling for unmasking the whistleblower, and congressional Republicans have said they will seek public testimony from him.
Earlier this week, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, shared a post on Twitter that mentioned the “alleged whistleblower” by name.
In the AP interview, Ivanka Trump was critical of Democrats, saying they are interesting in “overturning the results of the 2016 election ”through impeachment.
7 am: Mulvaney expected to defy subpoena
Mulvaney is expected to defy a subpoena and not show up Friday for a scheduled deposition before House investigators.
In a letter Tuesday , leading House Democrats said they are interested in Mulvaney’s involvement in an effort by Trump, his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani an d others to withhold a White House meeting from the Ukrainian president and nearly $ 400 million in U.S. military aid at a time when Trump was pressing Ukraine for investigations that could benefit him politically.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday that Mulvaney would not appear for the requested deposition.
“I’m told no,” she told reporters at the White House when asked if Mulvaney plans to appear.
“Why would we try to be complicit in an impeachment inquiry that we’re not even sure what it’s about? ”Conway said. “What is it about? If I gave you a blank piece of paper, literally, what would you write on it? What are we telling the American people, right here right now, as to why we’re impeaching the president? ”
On Thursday, House investigators issued a subpoena in an attempt to compel Mulvaney to appear but that is not expected to change the dynamic.
Mark Sandy, the associate director for national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, has also been asked to appear before House investigators on Friday. Other OMB officials have defied requests or subpoenas for information.
6 am: Whistleblower’s lawyer sends cease-and-desist letter to Trump
Lawyer Andrew Bakaj, in a letter to the White House dated Thursday, demanded that Trump stop calling for the publication of the whistleblower’s identity and alleged that his “Reckless and dangerous” comments already had intimidated the whistleblower.
“Let me be clear: should any harm befall any suspected named whistleblower or their family, the blame will rest squarely with your client, ”Said the letter, addressed to Pat Cipollone, counsel to the president, and copied to congressional leaders.
Trump and his allies have attacked the whistleblower and argued that the person does not deserve anonymity. Republicans want to bring the whistleblower in to testify in the public hearings. Democrats say his testimony doesn’t matter because his complaint has been corroborated by several witnesses.
“I submit that it is in your client’s best interest to cease and desist in calling for the public disclosure of my client’s identity and to cease in rhetoric that may endanger their life and the lives of their family, ”Bakaj said in the letter to Cipollone. “Should anyone be physically harmed, my co-counsel, Mark Zaid, and I will not hesitate to take any and all appropriate action against your client.”
– Craig Timberg
6 am: Trump ‘ violates all recognized democratic norms, ‘federal judge says in biting speech on judicial independence
In an unusually critical speech that lamented the public’s flagging confidence in the independence of the judicial branch, a federal judge slammed Trump for “feeding right into this destructive narrative” with repeated attacks and personal insults toward judges he dislikes.
US District Judge Paul L. Friedman of the District of Columbia said Trump’s rhetoric “violates all recognized democratic norms” during a speech at the annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture in Washington on Wednesday.
“ We are in unchartered territory, ”said Friedman, 75, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton. “We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a co-equal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions. ”
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment early Friday on Friedman’s speech.
– Katie Shepherd
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings