Reaction and analysis from Trump 2020 campaign adviser Jenna Ellis.
Republicans ratcheted up their accusations that Democrats are overplaying their impeachment hand after court filings from the House Judiciary Committee indicated the two articles of impeachment adopted last week may only be the beginning.
GOP lawmakers already were fuming at Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her surprise decision to delay transmitting the articles to the Senate in a bid to extract favorable terms for President Trump's trial. But in the latest twist, the Democrat-led Judiciary panel referenced the possibility of yet additional impeachment articles in briefs filed Monday related to their quest for testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGahn and secret grand jury material from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
If the court allows them to obtain the information they seek, their attorney wrote, "new articles of impeachment" could be considered based on the evidence. GOP lawmakers reacted with stunned disbelief.
"Democrats are treating impeachment as an open bar tab," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted Monday afternoon. "Time to cut them off, take their car keys away (put GOP in control of the House), and end this insanity."
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who sits on the House Judiciary Committee that filed the briefs, reacted by saying, "You've got to be kidding."
He added: "It’s gone from the Kangaroo Court Impeachment… …to the Keystone Cops Impeachment(s).. Will Pelosi send the Articles from the last Impeachment before drafting the next ones?!"
The notion of new articles of impeachment was floated as the committee justified their need to have McGahn testify and acquire Mueller's secret grand jury information. Previously, they had argued that their ongoing impeachment investigation presented an urgent need for both — but with the House already voting to impeach Trump, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals gave them until Monday afternoon to explain why the case was still relevant and should not be dismissed as moot.
"If this material reveals new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles adopted by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly–including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment," committee attorney Douglas Letter wrote in the grand jury material case.
Letter used nearly identical language pertaining to McGahn's testimony in his brief in that case.
Trump last week was impeached on accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, related to his efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch politically beneficial investigations, all while withholding military aid (though Trump has maintained there was no "quid pro quo").
The latest filings did not detail what potential additional articles could be considered. Regardless, the briefs stated that even if McGahn’s testimony or the grand jury material do not lead to new articles of impeachment, they could be used in an upcoming Senate trial in relation to the obstruction of Congress allegations that Trump is currently facing.
Trump accuses Nancy Pelosi of 'playing games' with impeachment; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports.
Former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is warning his former colleagues in the Senate that they, along with President Trump, will be on trial when the articles of impeachment eventually move from the House to the upper chamber.
“President Trump is on trial. But in a very real sense, so are you. And so is the political party to which we belong,” Flake writes in an op-ed for The Washington Post Friday.
Flake, who left the Senate this year after having staked out a vocally anti-Trump stance, wrote after the House voted for two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The articles are expected to soon go to the Senate for a trial, although there are indications House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., may delay the articles being transmitted. In the Senate, Trump is almost certain of acquittal unless there is a sudden and dramatic shift of Republicans in favor of impeachment.
Flake urges Republicans to consider the evidence, but at the same time not to repeat House Republican assertions the president hasn’t done anything wrong: “He has.”
“The willingness of House Republicans to bend to the president’s will by attempting to shift blame with the promotion of bizarre and debunked conspiracy theories has been an appalling spectacle,” Flake argues. “It will have long-term ramifications for the country and the party, to say nothing of individual reputations.”
“I know the answer to that question with certainty, and so do you. You would have understood with striking clarity the threat it posed, and you would have known exactly what to do,” he says.
While Flake says he does not envy Republican senators’ task, he urges them to avoid “an alternate reality that would have us believe in things that obviously are not true, in the service of executive behavior that we never would have encouraged and a theory of executive power that we have always found abhorrent.”
“If there ever was a time to put country over party, it is now,” he writes. “And by putting country over party, you might just save the Grand Old Party before it’s too late.”
There have been no public signs so far of any mass defection against Trump by GOP senators. Despite rumors that a number of Republicans in the House may break off, no GOP members in the lower chamber voted for impeachment — while a few Democrats voted against.
It isn’t the first time Flake has indicated he believes that a Senate conviction of Trump is in the realm of possibility. He claimed in September that close to three dozen Republican senators would back ousting the president if the vote was held in private.
Juan Williams weighs in on new national impeachment polling and discusses if democrats should have gone for censure rather than impeachment
A group of prominent anti-Trump Republicans launched a new super PAC on Tuesday aimed at preventing the GOP incumbent’s 2020 re-election and even defeating some of the president’s top congressional allies at the ballot box next November.
“We are Republicans and we want Trump defeated,” is the title of an op-ed in the New York Times announcing the launch of the group, which is called the Lincoln Project.
“Over these next 11 months, our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference,” the GOP strategists behind the effort said.
The president’s re-election campaign quickly fired back, with communications director Tim Murtaugh calling the Lincoln Project a “pathetic little club of irrelevant and faux ‘Republicans,’ who are upset that they’ve lost all of their power and influence inside the Republican Party.”
The ringleaders of the group – which includes vocal anti-Trump critic attorney George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway – said in their op-ed that they've been “broadly conservative … in our politics and outlooks. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.”
George Conway's partners in the new anti-Trump effort include Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist who worked for then-President George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; GOP strategist John Weaver, who worked for then-President George H.W. Bush, McCain, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and Republican media consultant Rick Wilson, author of “Everything Trump Touches Dies” who frequently tears into Trump on Twitter and during cable appearances.
Murtaugh, in returning fire, described the super PAC’s leaders as “establishment charlatans, who for years enriched themselves off the backs of the conservative movement, were the very swamp he was referring too. Calling any of these people ‘conservative’ or even referring to them as ‘Republicans’ at this point is an insult to conservatives and Republicans everywhere.”
Pointing to a likely record-high turnout in the 2020 general election, the Lincoln Project’s leaders said that their “efforts are aimed at persuading enough disaffected conservatives, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in swing states and districts to help ensure a victory in the Electoral College, and congressional majorities that don’t enable or abet Mr. Trump’s violations of the Constitution, even if that means Democratic control of the Senate and an expanded Democratic majority in the House.”
They argue that the president “has neither the moral compass nor the temperament to serve” and say that Trump’s “actions are possible only with the craven acquiescence of congressional Republicans.”
The group told Fox News about five hours after the launch of their op-ed and website that “we have raised a significant amount of money since the op-ed went live this morning.” Former New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn, who’s serving as an adviser with the Lincoln Project, said that “we’re going to use all the resources that we have available to us to go out to go after President Trump and to also target in particular some of the Senate seats.”
Among those GOP-controlled Senate seats she listed were Arizona, Colorado, and Maine. She said that depending on the fundraising, the group would go up with digital, cable, and broadcast TV ads.
“It’s easy to figure out who our audience is,” Horn shared. “Likeminded disaffected Republicans – independents who are persuadable and lean right.”
Horn said that the group’s energies won’t be directed toward helping either of two remaining long-shot shot presidential primary challengers taking on Trump, who is on the cusp of facing a full House impeachment vote but is likely to be acquitted in the Senate.
One of those two challengers is former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who in April declared his bid for the GOP presidential nomination.
Hours after the announcement of the Lincoln Project, Weld told Fox News he shares the same goal as the group.
“It’s the same message. It’s that the president has misbehaved and deserves to be removed,” Weld said.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
OAN Newsroom UPDATED 9:03 AM PT — Monday, December 16, 2019
As the House prepares for its historic impeachment vote, Democrats are already planning ahead for the potential trial in the Senate. At the top of their agenda is who should stand before senators, who will be serving as jurors, and who will argue why President Trump should be removed from office.
That decision will ultimately be made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She’s expected to choose Democrats, likely some in the Judiciary or Intelligence Committee, who have been involved in the impeachment process. However, a group of 30 Democrats is urging her to go a different route — one that ends with naming independent congressman Justin Amash as an impeachment manager. Amash famously left the Republican Party this year to register, instead, as an independent.
“I think people need to stand up for what’s right, stand up for what they believe in, and be independent of these party loyalties that really divide us,” he stated.
FILE – In this June 12, 2019 file photo, independent Rep. Justin Amash listens to debate on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Before this move, however, he was the first Republican congressman to call for the president to be impeached. Some have argued that putting Amash front and center in the trial would send a statement that the impeachment inquiry is bipartisan, which is something Republicans say the investigation hasn’t been.
“What we’ve seen in the House was a partisan show trial,” stated Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). “It was one-sided.”
Meanwhile, others say choosing Amash is too much of a risk. The Washington Post reported that Amash is open to the task if he’s asked, but according to CNN it likely won’t be offered to him.
With that pivotal decision coming down to Speaker Pelosi, it’s unclear if she will take the gamble or pick someone safer. Either way, we won’t have to wait very long to find out as Pelosi is likely to announce her picks this week.
Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) Executive Director Adam Piper told Fox News the GOP's clean sweep of AG races on election night has drawn attention to the group and will help provide future judicial picks for the president to choose from.
"We're starting to get the attention," Piper said Friday. "There are some storylines that haven't been told, though. One of the things is America's farm team. Those Trump [judicial] appointees have spent years of the last decade in state AG offices."
Piper highlighted several key policy issues but said energy remains one of the group's top concerns, while Bloomberg remains one of their top targets.
"When you look at the left… George Soros and Michael Bloomberg have pumped over $10 million into this clandestine project at New York University [NYU] to pay for mercenaries… who go to work in state AG offices on the left," he said.
Piper referred to the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, which is headquartered at NYU Law and was created by Bloomberg in 2017. It seeks to hire and place attorneys in Democratic state AG offices in order to fight the Trump administration's energy policies.
Fox News reached out to the center, which denied having any affiliation with Soros. They also claimed their group is non-political and simply serves the public interest.
Piper disagreed and claimed: "Democrats couldn't keep up or play fairly, so they went out to Soros and Bloomberg as special assistant AGs."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who serves as RAGA's chairman, accused the center of being politically extreme and said Democratic AGs have ceded control of their offices to Bloomberg's foot soldiers.
“Environmental extremists can’t win at the ballot box or through the legislative process so they’re trying a new tactic: embed climate activists in the offices of Democrat state attorneys general," Paxton wrote in an email to Fox News.
"In their latest scheme, Democrat AGs are literally giving up control and letting Michael Bloomberg-funded staff run their offices," he continued. "Instead of pledging allegiance to the Constitution and rule of law, these 'Special Assistant Attorneys General' have to 'commit to defending environmental values and advancing progressive, clean energy, climate change and environmental legal positions.'"
Paxton also lamented the ethical implications of the center's involvement and said it serves as a backdoor for climate change activists to push environmental propaganda.
"The ethical problems with this scheme are obvious — Democratic state AG offices are taking on seasoned attorneys being paid by a radical, liberal Democratic presidential primary candidate, and in turn, wield state police power and use the authority of the state attorney general to implement Bloomberg’s progressive climate change agenda across the country," he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Trump has given her no choice but to authorize the drafting of articles of impeachment; chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel reports from Washington.
During the first day of public hearings from the committee on Wednesday, Collins and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner from Wisconsin goaded Nadler to provide details on when he planned on scheduling the requested hearing, and what his specific next steps were in the impeachment proceedings. But they were promptly shut down, as Nadler refused to recognize them during the hearings.
Collins' letter cited a rarely exercised privilege, stating that "Minority Members 'shall be entitled to … call witnesses selected by the minority to testify with respect to that measure or matter during at least one day of hearing thereon.'”
It is unclear who specifically Republicans plan on calling as a witness, although several have floated the idea of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., being called, after his committee released a report on the impeachment inquiry Tuesday that concluded Trump withheld nearly $391 million in military aid from Ukraine, conditioning its delivery — as well as a White House visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — on a public announcement that Zelensky was conducting investigations into 2020 Democrat Joe Biden and his son Hunter. It also accuses Trump of obstruction for instructing witnesses not to comply with congressional subpoenas, as well as witness intimidation.
"Mr. Schiff should testify. Chairman Schiff, not his staff, must appear before this committee to answer questions about the content of his report," Collins said Wednesday.
The president has ordered several key witnesses to the impeachment probe, including Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, not to testify.
"The requested minority hearing day must take place before articles of impeachment are considered by the Committee," the letter said.
Lincoln, however, was the preferred Republican president among Democrats (94 percent), independents (78 percent), and the pool of all respondents (75 percent). Lincoln was also tops among men, women and all other categories – except Republicans.
Among Republican respondents to a recent poll, Donald Trump is considered the best GOP president in a comparision with Abraham Lincoln.
In one section of the poll, Republicans were asked to rank Republican presidents on a scale of 1 to 8, with 1 being “best” and 8 being “worst.” Trump was considered the best by 32 percent of Republican respondents, followed by Lincoln (29 percent) and Reagan (27 percent).
With impeachment all but a certainty in the House, leading Republicans agree with White House officials that there should be a full trial and not a motion to dismiss; Kevin Corke reports from the White House.
House Democrats are entering what may be the final phase of their impeachment inquiry, after wrapping up a spree of hearings where witnesses tied top officials — including President Trump — to efforts to pressure Ukraine on political investigations while military aid was being withheld.
But the tables could turn, should the House approve impeachment articles and trigger a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate. There, Trump’s allies are already indicating they will look more closely at allegations involving Democrats.
"Frankly, I want a trial," Trump declared Friday on “Fox & Friends.”
Democrats have controlled everything during marathon proceedings in the House, frustrating GOP attempts to call witnesses pertaining to the matters Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate — specifically, the Bidens’ business dealings in that country and Kiev’s alleged interference in the 2016 election.
But that changes on the Senate side, where Republicans have the majority and Trump allies chair key committees. Already, they’ve signaled their interest in exploring issues that House Democrats glossed over during their hearings.
On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between former Vice President Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and to a meeting between son Hunter Biden’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
This pertains to questions surrounding the elder Biden’s role in pressing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating the natural gas firm Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board. Biden denies any wrongdoing, but Republicans have pressed for details throughout the impeachment process, in a bid to show that even though Trump’s pressure campaign on Kiev triggered the impeachment inquiry, his concern was legitimate.
On the House side, Republicans likewise encountered challenges digging into allegations of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election. While Trump has sought to press an unsupported theory that Ukraine was tied to Democratic National Committee hacking, GOP lawmakers have sought details on other issues that are more grounded in published reports — like whether former DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa was improperly digging up dirt on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others with Ukraine’s help at the time.
Democrats did not grant GOP requests to call Biden's son Hunter, Chalupa and others on the House side.
But while it’s unclear if Senate Republicans will at least attempt to call these and other witnesses, high-ranking members are showing their early interest in exploring the issues.
Aside from the Graham letter, Senate Oversight Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have penned a letter to the head of the National Archives and Records Administration to request records of multiple White House meetings that took place in 2016 involving Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives and Democratic National Committee officials.
Johnson and Grassley wrote that during a meeting in 2016, officials “brought up investigations relating to Burisma Holdings.” The senators added that a Ukrainian political officer working in the Ukraine Embassy in Washington said U.S. officials in that meeting asked that "Kiev drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over.”
They added that White House records revealed that Chalupa had attended “numerous meetings at the White House, including one event with President Obama.”
The new requests from Senate Republicans come as the House ended its series of scheduled hearings on Thursday. The Intelligence Committee could announce additional hearings and depositions, but at this time, nothing has been scheduled.
The committee may now write and transmit its report to the House Judiciary Committee, which could begin writing articles of impeachment ahead of a floor vote.
“What the House ends up passing will drive a lot of what we end up doing over here,” a senior Republican aide familiar with the ongoing discussions told Fox News Friday.
The aide told Fox News that the White House made a “positive” and “significant” development this week, as officials indicated “what they want” for the trial.
In the Senate trial, three separate parties have input to how it will play out: Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House.
“It is impossible for us to come up with contours for impeachment without input from the White House,” the aide said. “Their input is a very positive step so we can try to control this as much as possible.”
The White House, on Thursday, signaled that they would like a Senate trial to last no longer than two weeks. The impeachment of former President Bill Clinton lasted for six weeks.
“We all want speedy,” the aide said. “This is the first indication the White House has given and that’s a positive — before it was radio silence from them, and now they’re starting to indicate what they want this thing to look like.”
The aide explained that the Senate, once they receive articles of impeachment, will begin working on two resolutions — one that governs the timeline of the trial, and the other that sets up witnesses for closed-door depositions, as well as which witness will be required to testify on the stand.
The aide explained that the resolutions are “significant,” noting that they will “be the main avenue that evidence is admitted.”
The aide suggested that Republican senators like Graham, Grassley and Johnson could be attempting to help “shape” the witness list and the trial.
A senior administration official, though, claimed Friday there’s “ample reasons” for the Senate to simply dismiss the case – though GOP senators have indicated that’s unlikely to happen.
Yet the official still maintained it’s “100 percent to our advantage to have [a] full trial” in the Senate.
Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said sending articles of impeachment to the Senate was "good news."
“Everyone knows what they’re going to do next. They’re going to impeach the president and send it onto the Senate, but that is the good news. That’s good news,” Stewart said. “In the U.S. Senate, there won’t be any secret testimony or dishonest leadership … or to deny a defense.”
He added: “So we’ll finally be able to get to the truth.”
Stewart went on to list several witnesses he hoped the Senate would call to testify, including the whistleblower, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Hunter Biden, Burisma board member Devon Archer, Chalupa, and Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr.
And the president, himself, seems to be welcoming the trial as well.
“There’s nothing there,” Trump said Friday during an interview with “Fox & Friends,” saying “there should never be an impeachment,” and echoing GOP requests for the whistleblower, Schiff and Hunter Biden to appear as witnesses.
At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Kiev. That call prompted the whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.
The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a "quid pro quo" arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes gives his opening statement ahead of former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland Capitol Hill testimony.
The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has sent a letter to Chairman Adam Schiff asking that Hunter Biden and the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump be subpoenaed to appear before the committee.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., along with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, penned a scathing letter to Schiff in which they slammed the “sham ‘impeachment inquiry’” and notified the chairman of their intent to subpoena Biden and the whistleblower. Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has been appointed as a temporary member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“The American people understand how you have affirmatively prevented Republicans from examining serious issues directly relevant to the issues,” the two GOP lawmakers told Schiff in their letter. “Therefore, to provide some basic level of fairness and objectivity to your ‘impeachment inquiry,’ we intend to subpoena the anonymous whistleblower and Hunter Biden for sworn testimony in closed-door depositions.”
Nunes and Jordan added that they plan to subpoena the whistleblower’s documents and communications regarding the complaint, the records surrounding Hunter Biden’s role on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings and the Democratic National Committee’s communications with Ukrainian officials and records relating to Alexandra Chalupa.
A Ukrainian-American consultant for the Democratic National Committee, Chalupa allegedly had meetings with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss incriminating information about Trump campaign officials during the 2016 presidential election.
This is the second letter that Nunes has sent to Schiff that relayed his intentions to call the whistleblower and Hunter Biden.
Earlier this month, Nunes sent a similar letter to Schiff about wanting those witnesses, but it remains unclear how many of the Republicans’ proposed witnesses will be approved by Schiff. A recently approved resolution governing the impeachment inquiry gave the approval power to the chairman and the members of the majority.
"To provide transparency to your otherwise opaque and unfair process, and after consultation with [House Oversight Committee] Ranking Member Jim Jordan and [House Foreign Affairs Committee] Ranking Member Michael McCaul, the American people deserve to hear from the following witnesses in an open setting," Nunes said in his earlier letter.
The impeachment inquiry began when a whistleblower reported that Trump had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a public investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why former Vice President Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.
Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration's diplomatic dealings with Kiev. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
It is unclear, at this point, how many of the Republicans’ proposed witnesses will be approved by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the Democrats, because the newly-approved resolution governing the impeachment inquiry give the approval power to the chairman and the members of the majority.
"Americans see through this sham impeachment process, despite the Democrats' efforts to retroactively legitimize it last week," House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes wrote in a letter to Schiff on Saturday, referencing the impeachment rules.
"To provide transparency to your otherwise opaque and unfair process, and after consultation with [House Oversight Committee] Ranking Member Jim Jordan and [House Foreign Affairs Committee] Ranking Member Michael McCaul, the American people deserve to hear from the following witnesses in an open setting," he continued.
At the top of Republicans’ list is former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine controversy due to his business dealings.<br data-cke-eol="1"> (Getty)
At the top of Republicans’ list is former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine controversy due to his business dealings.
The impeachment inquiry began when a whistleblower reported that Trump had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why former Vice President Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, where Hunter held a lucrative role on the board, bringing in a reported $50,000 per month.
Republicans noted that in testimony from former State Department official George Kent raised concerns about "the appearance of a conflict of interest stemming from Mr. Biden's position on Burisma's board," and added that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich was prepared by the Obama State Department to address questions about Mr. Biden's position on Burisma during her Senate confirmation process.
At the time, the former vice president was running U.S.-Ukraine policy under former President Barack Obama.
Republicans also plan to call the younger Biden's former long-time business partner, Devon Archer, who also sat on the board of Burisma. Republicans claim Archer can help the public to understand "the nature and extent of Ukraine's pervasive corruption information that bears directly on President Trump's longstanding and deeply-held skepticism of the country."
Fox News has also learned that Republicans plan to call the whistleblower—whose identity remains anonymous—to testify publicly as part of the inquiry. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in September the whistleblower would appear before Congress “very soon,” but in recent weeks has suggested that testimony is unnecessary.
"Because President Trump should be afforded an opportunity to confront his accusers, the anonymous whistleblower should testify," Nunes wrote. "Moreover, given the multiple discrepancies between the whistleblower's complaint and the closed-door testimony of the witnesses, it is imperative that the American people hear definitively how the whistleblower developed his or her information, and who else the whistleblower may have fed the information he or she gathered and how that treatment of classified information may have led to the false narrative being perpetrated by the Democrats during this process."
Republicans are also requesting that the "more than half a dozen sources" the whistleblower cited in their complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, whose identities also remain anonymous, attend for a public deposition.
In addition, Republicans also are expected to call Alexandra Chalupa as a witness. Chalupa was a Ukrainian-American consultant for the Democratic National Committee who allegedly had meetings with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss incriminating information about Trump campaign officials during the 2016 presidential election.
Chalupa was first brought into the conversation in January 2017, after Politico published a report exposing her as a DNC operative, who worked in the Clinton White House and met with officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in an effort to expose ties between former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russia.
"Given President Trump's documented belief that the Ukrainian government meddled in the 2016 election to oppose his candidacy, which forms the basis for a reasonable desire for Ukraine to investigate the circumstances surrounding the election and any potential Ukrainian involvement, Ms. Chalupa is a prime fact witness who can assist Congress and the American public in better understanding the facts and circumstances surrounding Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election," Nunes wrote.
Also included in the list obtained by Fox News is Nellie Ohr—a researcher at opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the now–infamous anti-Trump dossier, and was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee through law firm Perkins Coie. Ohr and her husband, DOJ official Bruce Ohr, were critical figures in Republicans’ efforts to investigate the origin of the Russia probe. Republicans are calling Nellie Ohr to testify because in October 2018, she told congressional investigators that Fusion GPS was getting information from Ukrainian sources.
"In a 2018 interview with the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees, Ms. Ohr stated that, during her work with Fusion GPS that ultimately assisted in the production of the Steele Dossier—comprising false allegations against then-candidate Trump—Fusion GPS used information from sources in Ukraine, including Serhiy Leshchenko who recently lost his post from the Ukrainian parliament," Nunes wrote, noting that Ohr is a "prime fact witness."
Nunes, in his letter, said that he and Republicans "expect that you will call each of the witnesses listed above to ensure that the Democrats’ “impeachment inquiry” treats the President with fairness, as promised by Speaker Pelosi."
"Because the Democrats’ resolution unfairly restricts Minority rights and because you have provided no information about which witnesses you may invite to testify at future hearings not yet scheduled, we reserve our right to request additional witnesses, if necessary, as you announce additional hearings," he added. "Your failure to fulfill Minority witness requests shall constitute evidence of your denial of fundamental fairness and due process."
Meanwhile, Republicans will also call several officials that Democrats on the impeachment committees have already received testimony from—including ex-National Security Council official Tim Morrison, former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, and high-ranking State Department official David Hale.
The House approved formal rules for the impeachment inquiry process last week. While Republicans opposed the resolution and complained the rules were unfair, they still gave minority Republicans the ability to subpoena witnesses, with the concurrence of Democratic committee chairs. If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee.
This process still gives Democrats final say over witnesses.
Schiff, who is leading much of the impeachment inquiry, announced Wednesday that his committee would hold its first open hearings next week, featuring current and former officials with knowledge of the Ukraine controversy.
“Next week, the House Intelligence Committee will hold its first open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry,” Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted Wednesday.
“On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, we will hear from William Taylor and George Kent,” Schiff continued. “On Friday, November 15, 2019, we will hear from Marie Yovanovitch.”
Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., penned a letter to Schiff late Friday, demanding the chairman appear for a deposition behind closed doors ahead of the public hearings next week to testify on his contacts with the whistleblower.
Democratic committee chairmen say Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent's testimony 'strongly corroborates' testimony from other impeachment witnesses; Gillian Turner reports from Capitol Hill.
Sports are all about matchups.
The team at bat just dispatched a left-handed hitter from the dugout to the on-deck circle as a pinch hitter. The team in the field has a right-hander on the mound. The stadium PA announces the pinch hitter to the crowd. The new hitter slides a hollow weight onto the barrel of the bat and slimes his Louisville Slugger with gooey pine tar.
The PA announcement makes the lineup change official.
And, right on cue, the manager of the other club pops out of the opposing dugout. The skipper strides to the mound, glances at the home plate umpire and then slaps his left forearms with an open palm. It’s a call to the bullpen. The manager wants the best matchup. A southpaw relief pitcher to face the new left-handed batter. Statistically, it’s a better matchup for the team in the field. Supposedly left-handed batters fare better against righties and struggle against lefties.
Who faces who in a primary? Which Democrat is moderate enough, and therefore, best positioned, to run against that longtime Republican Congressman in a battleground district? Who can the administration nominate for a key cabinet post – who shares the president’s governing philosophies – but can also secure Senate confirmation?
Republicans are concerned about matchups in the impeachment inquiry, too.
Republicans are now trying to put their best lineup on the field to defend President Trump ahead of next week’s open impeachment hearings. Have a running back pick up a safety blitz. Get the big man on the other team into early foul trouble.
The problem is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., may be one step ahead of the GOP.
The House approved a resolution establishing the parameters of the impeachment probe last week. Pelosi asserted for weeks adoption of such a resolution wasn’t necessary for an impeachment investigation. But Pelosi saw the possibility of Democrats gaining their own matchup advantage in the impeachment milieu.
First, Pelosi granted significant power to one of her top lieutenants, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The Intelligence Committee is running the impeachment process thus far. Both open hearings next week are before the Intelligence panel. Part of the thinking is that Democrats believe they have a matchup advantage on the Intelligence Committee compared to the Republicans. Pelosi also has a lot of confidence in her California colleague.
The House Judiciary Committee will ultimately write articles of impeachment. But the standing of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., dropped with Pelosi in recent months. So, while the House impeachment process resolution was written to give Democrats a matchup advantage with GOPers, it was also crafted to give Pelosi the best internal matchup among her Democratic committee chairs. Pelosi also wanted to curb – for the time being – the influence of Nadler in the process, simultaneously elevating Schiff.
“The weakest people are on the Intelligence Committee for public hearings,” said one senior House GOP source. The source added that the strongest Republican voices were on the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees.
“There’s a reason (Intelligence Committee members) do much of their work in private,” said another source.
This is why Republicans are mulling a personnel shift of their own. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee. Under the current terms, Jordan’s been in the room for most closed-door depositions. But since he’s not a member of the Intelligence Committee, the Ohio Republican can’t ask questions. Jordan is one of Trump’s most ardent defenders. But, when the hearings go public next week, Jordan and Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y. – other vocal advocates for Mr. Trump – won’t be on the dais to counterpunch.
This is why GOPers want to call in someone from the bullpen to improve their matchup for the hearings.
Republicans hope to transfer Jordan to the Intelligence Committee. And, in a perfect world, they’d throw Meadows and Zeldin in there, too. Fox is told the maneuver will probably take place by this weekend. But, Republicans must first navigate their own internal political waters. Positioning Jordan on the Intelligence Committee means GOPers must yank one of their own off that panel. Sliding over Meadows and Zeldin entails the Herculean feat of stripping a grand total of three current Republicans from that committee.
“Politically, there’s no way for us to pull this off,” said one Republican source, adding that Jordan would likely be the only figure heading to Intelligence.
So, who steps down from the panel?
The obvious choices are retiring Republicans Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Michael Conaway, R-Texas. One knowledgeable source tells Fox there’s already an agreement to move one Republican off the committee. But, there could be some internecine GOP infighting.
“Why would they want to come off the committee?” asked one Republican when discussing Hurd and Conaway. “This is their last swan song. It’s the most important hearing of their careers.”
If Hurd or Conaway aren’t sidelined, Fox News is told GOPers could try to divert Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, or others.
We have likened this “matchup” scenario to baseball, football and basketball. But hockey may help us understand another component.
In hockey, the home team has what’s known as “last change.” After each stoppage in play, the visitors must put their skaters on the ice first. The home team has an advantage because it gets to judge who the visitors decided to go with and conceivably dispatch an advantageous matchup.
In many respects, Pelosi has “last change” in these circumstances.
The Intelligence Committee isn’t a garden variety House panel. In fact, its formal title is “The House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence.” As a “select” committee, the Speaker gets to approve the membership of the Intelligence panel.
Republicans are itching for a fight if Pelosi were to veto the installation of Jordan on the Intelligence Committee. Such a decision would mesh with the Republican narrative that Democrats are heavy-handed with impeachment and abusing the process. That said, with public hearings coming, it’s hard to see how Republicans could get traction once the forums start and people see GOPers asking questions of witnesses.
It is unclear if Pelosi would block such a transition of Jordan to the Intelligence Committee. A senior House Democratic source indicated that this was “hypothetical” until Republican leaders informed the Speaker of their intentions. On one hand, Pelosi may not care who the Republicans place on the Intelligence Committee. Another school of thought is that Pelosi knows Republicans hope she misplays her hand. So, the Speaker might not forbid the move.
But, Pelosi served for years on the Intelligence Committee as the ranking Democrat. One source said Pelosi could potentially block the move because she has a special appreciation for the Intelligence Committee. The source told Fox News that Pelosi could make the argument that you just don’t parachute people into the Intelligence Committee for political advantage.
Then again, Republicans may accuse Pelosi of politicizing the process, making the Intelligence Committee in charge of impeachment. So, unclear what the speaker may do on this front.
As they say in sports, this is the game within the game. The chess match. And everyone’s jockeying for position for one of the rarest events in politics: the possible impeachment of an American president.
House Republicans plan to call Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as one of their first witnesses in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump following the adoption of formal rules for the investigation, claiming he is a “fact witness” due to his office's early involvement with the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the proceedings.
A source familiar with Republicans’ strategy moving forward in the impeachment inquiry confirmed to Fox News on Monday that GOP members plan to call Schiff, D-Calif., for questioning — even if they are unlikely to succeed.
The source told Fox News that Republicans want answers to questions like: “How many times did he meet with the whistleblower? What did they advise the whistleblower to do? How much was Schiff involved in this? Did he recommend the whistleblower give the complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, even though there was no intel component, so that he could be involved?”
Schiff maintains that he has not personally spoken with the anonymous whistleblower. However, it was revealed several weeks ago that the whistleblower at least had early contact with his office, essentially giving them a heads-up about the complaint concerning Trump's July phone call with Ukraine's president.
Regarding that early discussion, the GOP source noted that Republicans could be interested in hearing from the “anonymous” Schiff staffer involved.
Republicans' effort to devise a strategy going forward comes after the House approved rules for the process last week. While Republicans opposed the resolution and complained the rules were unfair, they still gave minority Republicans the ability to subpoena witnesses, with the concurrence of Democratic committee chairs. If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee.
This process still gives Democrats final say over witnesses, however, and the GOP source acknowledged it's unlikely they would go along with the efforts to call Schiff — who is essentially leading the impeachment probe.
But GOP lawmakers for days had telegraphed that they were interested in making the attempt.
House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that Schiff is the "first person" who should be brought in, along with his staff.
Last week, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., publicly challenged Schiff to come before the judiciary panel.
“Come to the Judiciary Committee," Collins said after the passage of the impeachment rules resolution. "Be the first witness and take every question asked of you. Starting with your own involvement of the whistleblower.”
Schiff’s office last month said that the whistleblower had reached out to them before filing the complaint in mid-August, giving Democrats advance warning of the accusations that would lead them to launch an impeachment inquiry days later. The complaint to the agency’s inspector general about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky flagged concerns about efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as military aid to the country was being withheld.
A transcript released by the White House shows Trump making that request, but he and his congressional allies deny, and plan to continue to deny, that military aid was clearly linked to the request, or that there was any "quid pro quo." Some witnesses coming before House committees as part of the impeachment proceedings have challenged that assertion.
Meanwhile, Republicans are also hoping to call the whistleblower to testify, according to the source, who pointed to Schiff’s recent reversal on the issue.
Schiff in September had previewed testimony from the whistleblower “very soon,” but in recent weeks has suggested that testimony is unnecessary.
The president, repeatedly, has called for the individual to testify.
"The Whistleblower gave false information & dealt with corrupt politician Schiff. He must be brought forward to testify," the president tweeted Monday morning. "Written answers not acceptable! Where is the 2nd Whistleblower? He disappeared after I released the transcript. Does he even exist? Where is the informant? Con!"
The whistleblower's central allegation that Trump in July urged Ukraine to launch politically related investigations, however, has been supported by other witnesses as well as the call transcript released by the White House.
The whistleblower's attorney, Mark Zaid, tweeted over the weekend that his client would provide sworn, written answers under penalty of perjury.
But late Sunday, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan seemingly rejected Zaid's offer, saying, "written answers will not provide a sufficient opportunity to probe all the relevant facts and cross-examine the so-called whistleblower."
Republicans also plan to continue to criticize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not holding a formal floor vote on the impeachment inquiry process until a month after announcing the probe, and for crafting rules they say limit their ability to subpoena witnesses.
According to another GOP source familiar with the impeachment process, Republicans plan to continue arguing that the entire impeachment inquiry against Trump is a “sham,” and push back against the substance of the inquiry itself.
Trump addresses reporters on his return to the White House.
President Trump on Sunday urged Republicans privy to last week's House Intelligence Committee hearings to come forward with their own transcripts from the closed-door meetings that Democrats claim bolstered their claim for impeachment.
Trump also appeared to suggest that he has information that a recent witness, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, is a “Never-Trumper.” He was asked about any evidence he may have about Vindman and he responded, “We’ll be showing that to you real soon.”
"If Shifty Adam Schiff, who is a corrupt politician who fraudulently made up what I said on the “call,” is allowed to release transcripts of the Never Trumpers & others that are & were interviewed, he will change the words that were said to suit the Dems purposes: Republicans should give their own transcripts of the interviews to contrast with Schiff’s manipulated propaganda," he tweeted.
Trump tweet alluded to the July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky that the whistleblower referred to as “frightening.” Trump also attacked Schiff over his inaccurate, exaggerated version of a transcript of the call. Trump has said in the past that Schiff may have had a "mental breakdown" and may have committed a crime. Schiff himself later apologetically acknowledged it was a "parody."
Trump has suggested that the impeachment investigation is simply another attempt by Democrats to damage his presidency after the Mueller report fell short.
Democrats point to recent closed-door testimony as evidence of unscrupulous dealings between the Trump administration and Ukraine.
Vindman, in prepared remarks, wrote: “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine.”
He added, “Following the call, I… reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel,” a reference to top NSC lawyer John A. Eisenberg.
Both Trump and Zelensky deny any wrongdoing.
Vindman testified in a closed-door hearing about his concerns about the president’s phone call and a prior meeting with Ambassador Sondland about investigating Joe Biden and his son.
Gen. Joe Dunford, the recently retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave a full-throated endorsement of Vindman citing his honesty, patriotism and integrity. “He’s just a guy doing his job,” Dunford told Fox News.
The White House releases a statement defending President Trump against Democrats' 'illegitimate' impeachment probe after the House approves rules for the inquiry; John Roberts has more on the reaction.
Republican congressional leaders tore into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday after Democrats pushed through formal rules for the impeachment inquiry on the House floor, pointedly asking what changed since she declared in March that she’s opposed to the process absent a presidential offense of “overwhelming and bipartisan” concern.
“We believe in the rule of law. But unfortunately, in Nancy’s House, we do not,” House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said at a press conference after the vote on Thursday.
McCarthy referenced a March interview with The Washington Post Magazine in which Pelosi declared her opposition to impeachment, saying it’s “so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”
McCarthy asked: “What has changed since March?”
Much, in fact, has happened since then. Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe ended without finding evidence of criminal collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. But the spotlight then shifted to Ukraine, after a whistleblower alleged that Trump improperly pressured the country to launch politically related investigations — thus prompting Pelosi to announce the impeachment inquiry.
The House voted largely along party lines on Thursday to approve guidelines for that process going forward, a month after launching it. But Republicans allege those leading the charge have been looking to impeach all along. And they drew close attention to Pelosi’s March warning — especially considering Pelosi even cast a rare vote on the resolution itself, voting for it.
“This is not any cause for any glee or comfort. This is something that is very solemn … we had to gather so much information to take us to this next step," Pelosi said on the floor Thursday, explaining her current stance. "Nobody … comes to Congress to impeach the president of the United States, unless his actions are jeopardizing our honoring our oath of office."
She voiced hope that Congress would pursue this course "in a way that brings people together that is healing rather than dividing."
But Republicans argued that while she said in March any impeachment push should be bipartisan, the only bipartisan vote Thursday was to oppose the resolution, as two Democrats broke ranks in opposition. No Republicans supported it.
“In all the hearings, there’s nothing compelling, nothing overwhelming, so the speaker should follow her own words and that bipartisan vote on that floor and end the sham that has been putting the country through this nightmare,” McCarthy said.
The tone at dueling press conferences after the vote signaled that political unity is not likely on the horizon, despite Pelosi's floor comments.
Other top Republicans also went after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is essentially leading the probe right now.
“For one man to turn this country upside down, to have this vote today, our Founding Fathers warned about this in the Federalist Papers,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said. “That a future Congress would base impeachment, at some point in time, would base it on partisan politics.”
“Sadly, today in this chamber, their worst fears have been realized,” McCaul said.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., another top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “Schiff is the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, the chief strategist for lying and leaking.”
And House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., posed a challenge.
“Here’s my challenge to Mr. Schiff. You wanna be Ken Starr? Be Ken Starr,” Collins said, referring to the special prosecutor who led the investigation into Bill Clinton. “Come to the Judiciary Committee. Be the first witness and take every question asked of you. Starting with your own involvement of the whistleblower.”
Republicans have blasted Schiff in recent weeks over his office's prior contact with the whistleblower who filed a complaint to the agency’s inspector general about President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Schiff’s office, earlier this month, said that the whistleblower had reached out to them before filing that complaint in mid-August, giving Democrats advance warning of the accusations that would lead them to launch an impeachment inquiry days later.
“Folks, this ain't over,” Collins said. “Get ready. The cloud that is dropping will be dropping on their heads, because process matters and substance will always win out in the end, and this president has nothing to worry about.”
But on the other side of the House, Schiff and other top congressional Democrats touted the passage of the resolution and defended their handling of the probe.
“This is a solemn day in the history of our country, when the president’s misconduct has compelled us to continue to move forward with an impeachment inquiry,” Schiff said. “The founding fathers understood that a leader might take hold of the Oval Office, who would sacrifice the national security, it would fail to defend the Constitution, would place his personal and political interests above the interests of the country.”
He added: “They provided us with a mechanism to deal with it and that mechanism is called impeachment.”
Schiff went on to detail what the coming weeks would look like — including public hearings and staff counsel questioning witnesses for “lengthy periods of time,” giving both the majority and the minority 45 minutes each.
The resolution passed Thursday further directs the Intelligence Committee, in consultation with the other committees, to prepare a report on its findings to the Judiciary Committee, which would write any articles of impeachment. In response to GOP complaints about Democrats' selective leaks of opening statements and depositions, the document also authorizes the public release of testimony transcripts, with only sensitive or classified information being redacted. The resolution also allows Republican members to submit written demands for testimony and other evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, and raise objections.
Pelosi announced the Trump impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24, saying at the time that "the president must be held accountable" for his "betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and the betrayal of the integrity of our elections."
The inquiry was opened after a whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump, during a July phone call, pushed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as military aid to the country was being withheld.
A transcript released by the White House shows Trump making that request, but he and his allies deny that military aid was clearly linked to the request or that there was any quid pro quo. Some witnesses coming before House committees as part of the impeachment proceedings have challenged that assertion.
The White House, though, has maintained the president did nothing wrong.
"Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. "Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats have done nothing more than enshrine unacceptable violations of due process into House rules."
She added: "The Democrats want to render a verdict without giving the Administration a chance to mount a defense. That is unfair, unconstitutional, and fundamentally un-American."
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Tyler Olson, and John Roberts contributed to this report.
Former deputy national press secretary for the DNC Jose Aristimuno defends House Democrats' impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
The top Republicans on the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump blasted the investigation as “illegitimate” and a “sham” on Tuesday even after Democrats scheduled a vote to formalize the proceedings — signaling Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to hold that vote will not assuage the GOP's process complaints.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Texas, penned a letter to Rep. James McGovern, the chairman of the House Rules Committee who announced his panel would take up an impeachment procedure resolution on Wednesday to “ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward.”
“Under House Rules you championed at the beginning of this Congress, major legislation is required to be posted 72 hours in advance of a vote,” they wrote. “Yet, here, on the gravest and most solemn work the House can do, you are forcing the House to consider a resolution with text that is still not available two days before the vote.”
“Without text, we know nothing about the Democrats’ intended impeachment process. Your website describes the resolution as ‘directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigation,’” they continued. “Chairman Schiff does not need a resolution to continue leaking selective facts from his basement bunker.”
They added: “We can only assume, therefore, that this resolution is necessary to allow Democrats to subvert the ordinary legislative process.”
The fiery statement from them and other Republicans indicates the looming vote will not ease their concerns about the process being used to investigate Trump over allegations he improperly sought a politically related investigation from Ukraine and may have used U.S. military aid as leverage — which the president denies.
Republicans have for weeks complained about closed-door interviews being conducted as part of the probe and the lack of a formal House vote, challenging the legitimacy of the current framework for impeachment proceedings in the absence of one.
McGovern and Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Monday that the House would indeed vote on a resolution to formalize and establish the parameters of the Trump impeachment inquiry. Pelosi made clear that the vote is being conducted because of the Republican complaints.
“We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said Monday.
She accused Trump and his GOP allies of holding the position that "because the House has not taken a vote, they may simply pretend the impeachment inquiry does not exist."
The resolution is not an actual article of impeachment, but rather a measure that sets process ground rules.
But in their letter Tuesday, the ranking members went on to allege the resolution “will allow the Committees to ‘side step traditional time limits’ and allow unelected congressional staff additional time during public hearings to question witnesses.”
“The Democrats’ entire impeachment process is fundamentally unfair,” they wrote. “It is rigged. The American people see through this partisan charade.”
They added: “No matter how hard you try to legitimize this sham impeachment inquiry, it cannot hide the Democrats’ goal of relitigating the results of the 2016 presidential election.”
Pelosi announced the Trump impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24, saying at the time that "the president must be held accountable" for his "betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and the betrayal of the integrity of our elections."
The inquiry was opened after a whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump, during a July phone call, pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as military aid to the country was being withheld.
Raw video shows Republicans descending towards the facility.
CAPITOL HILL – Fox News learned in more detail how things went down Wednesday in the House Intelligence Committee when 25-30 House Republicans barged into a closed-door deposition of Pentagon official Laura Cooper.
Sources said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., summoned House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving to deal with the deluge of members who were not members of the Intelligence, Oversight or Foreign Affairs Committees.
“It was a violation of House rules and decorum,” said one source.
Fox News is told that the members led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., actually entered not just the non-secure anteroom and hallways of the Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF), but the secure room where Cooper was to be deposed.
That’s where members are not supposed to have electronic devices. Members are asked to agree to an oath that they will not do so. The facility was swept for electronic devices after member gave up their devices.
It appeared one member didn't surrender their device, prompting a deeper scrub that took around two hours.
The standoff occurred after lawmakers held a news conference accusing Democrats of lacking transparency and specifically calling out Schiff, who is leading the impeachment investigation into President Trump.
From there, the House Republicans stormed in the room where Cooper, who has overseen Ukraine policy at the Pentagon, was set to testify.
There was never any threat of arrest, but a source said some members asked to be arrested, citing the optics of being marched out of the SCIF in handcuffs in front of throngs of reporters and news cameras. That would have surely supported a running GOP narrative that Democrats have run amok with the impeachment process.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., speaking at a news conference in front of House Republicans after Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper arrived for the closed-door meeting to testifyin the House impeachment inquiry. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Republicans in the room were not rowdy, though their presence in a secure facility, in the middle of House panel business of which they are not members, still ruffled some feathers.
However, there wasn't much security officials could do, one congressional source told Fox News.
“They’re members. They’re expected to adhere to the rules. There’s no real punishment for breaking the rules,” said the source.
Schiff decided to wait the Republicans out, knowing there was a mid-afternoon vote on the House floor. The Republicans left and the deposition finished around 3:15 p.m.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., sent a letter to Irving, raising “serious concerns” about the security of SCIF’s. He asked Irving to “take action with respect to the Members involved in the breach.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff is doing the opposite of what Republicans did in 1998's impeachment proceedings.
Just hours after dozens of House Republicans stormed a closed-door deposition in a secure area and disrupted Democrats' impeachment inquiry, House Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan kept the pressure on Democrats by pushing for more transparency — including public testimony from the whistleblower at the center of the probe.
In an initial letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Wednesday, Jordan — joined by House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes and Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaul — pushed for the whistleblower to come out of hiding, so that his or her "sources and credibility" can be "fully assessed."
The committee chairs noted that Schiff had previously promised that the whistleblower would provide "unfiltered" testimony "very soon" concerning an Aug. 12 complaint.
But, the Republicans charged, Schiff abruptly "reversed course" after reports of the whistleblower's potential political bias emerged, along with evidence that Democratic congressional committee staff had spoken to the whistleblower before the complaint was filed.
The Republicans asserted that evidence has also emerged that "contradicts" the claims in the whistleblower's initial complaint, including that the Ukrainian president has said he felt no "pressure" during a July call with President Trump to investigate 2020 Dem front-runner Joe Biden, his son Hunter and Biden business interests in Ukraine.
Multiple apparent inconsistencies in the whistleblower's complaint, including the whistleblower's erroneous claim that Trump had asked Ukrainians to hand over a server, have previously prompted Republicans to demand more information on the person's sources.
The lawmakers further demanded testimony from any sources the whistleblower relied upon to draft the complaint, which contained only secondhand information.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., claimed that Schiff "fled with the testifying witness" when roughly 50 Republicans, including several not on one of those three committees, went "face-to-face and demand access to ongoing impeachment proceedings."
The whistleblower has acknowledged to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) that bias against Trump might be alleged against him or her for a third, previously unreported reason, sources familiar with the ICIG investigation told Fox News on Wednesday.
Fox News has previously reported the whistleblower is a registered Democrat and had a prior work history with a senior Democrat. Though Fox News has learned that an additional element of possible bias was identified by the whistleblower, its nature remains unclear.
Separately, Fox News has obtained a letter from Jordan to Acting Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker, who was slated to come to Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a deposition. Fox News reported Monday night that the deposition was rescheduled for Saturday, when the House would not be in session, ostensibly because House members did not want to conduct interviews during the ceremony Thursday in which the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who'd headed the House Oversight committee, will lie in state at the Capitol before his funeral in Baltimore on Friday.
In the letter, Jordan asserted that many members won't be able to attend the unusual Saturday session, and pushed Reeker to explain why the deposition was moved. Jordan asked Reeker “to testify on a business day to allow robust member attendance and participation," and suggested Schiff was hoping to continue to shroud the impeachment proceedings in unhealthy secrecy.
Jordan said he regrettably had to ask Reeker directly for the information, because he had he has "no confidence" that Schiff, as the leader of the impeachment inquiry, is "operating fairly or in good faith."
Jordan also asked Reeker about his "announced participation in a panel discussion sponsored by the Atlantic Council," which in 2018 received between $100,000 and $249,000 from Burisma — the Ukraine natural gas company where Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, obtained a lucrative role despite not having any relevant expertise. The Atlantic Council, Jordan noted, recently removed Reeker's name as a panelist at the event.
Specifically, Jordan asked Reeker why he was removed as a panelist, and who proposed rescheduling his testimony — and why they picked a Saturday.
Fox News' Chad Pergram and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.
The Affordable Care Act has undergone some big changes since President Trump took office; Jonathan Serrie reports.
The Republican Study Committee released a healthcare plan Tuesday to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, two years after the GOP was unable to agree on a health care plan during the first year of President Trump's administration.
The 66-page framework seeks to "transform the individual marketplace's current regulatory structure, unwind the ACA's Washington-centric approach and largely return regulatory authority to individual states."
This includes provisions to increase the portability of health insurance within the individual marketplace, provide federal funding for state-designed "guaranteed coverage pools" which would help cover individuals with pre-existing conditions — though it does not require states to run such pools — put a moratorium on Medicaid expansions so it can be "sustainable … for generations to come" and promotes "innovative care" such as telemedicine.
"It is a plan that: PROTECTS the vulnerable," a statement attached to the plan says, "especially those with pre-existing conditions; EMPOWERS individuals with greater control over their health care choices and dollars; and PERSONALIZES health care to meet individual needs and reduce premiums, deductibles, and the overall cost of health care."
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz. Rep. Larry Buchshon, R-Ind., Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa. Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., Rep John Joyce, R-Pa., Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C. and Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas all signed the document.
The health care portability provision, specifically, would extend similar protections to those moving from individual plan to individual plan as currently exist for those between employer-sponsored insurance plans. This, the framework's authors say, would prevent patients from being denied coverage while moving between individual plans, for example, while moving to a different state.
The RSC's document, which is not a bill but rather a list of ideas the RSC says will be hashed out through debate, also includes increased limits on health savings accounts. The RSC proposes uncoupling health savings accounts from high-deductible plans and raising the cap on such accounts to $9,000 for individuals and $18,000 for families, more than double what is allowed under current law.
The RSC framework does add one caveat to the use of health savings accounts, however.
"Critically, while the RSC plan would unleash health savings accounts, it would ensure that these accounts are pro-life and do not inadvertently allow a back-door method of subsidizing abortion procedures," the plan reads. "Accordingly, the RSC plan would ensure these accounts cannot be linked to a plan that provides abortions, nor would abortions or abortion drugs be an eligible expense."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed the RSC's ideas, criticizing Republicans for not bringing Democrats into the fold on their plans to replace the Affordable Care Act.
"After 10 years of refusing to work with Democrats to #ProtectOurCare, the only plans offered by Republicans don’t cover & protect preexisting conditions," she tweeted Tuesday. "They say their plan is an alternative to the Affordable Care Act but it’s really just an alternative to health care, period."
The conservative organization Freedomworks, on the other hand, released a statement in support of the RSC's proposal, saying it would improve health care for consumers while also sticking to small-government principles.
“We’re thrilled to see a coalition in Congress with a health care plan that is based around individual choice and ownership of health insurance," Jason Pye, FreedomWorks Vice President of Legislative Affairs, said. "The RSC plan also respects federalism by allowing states to decide how best to extend affordable coverage for their residents.
“From the large expansion of health savings accounts to the elimination of many provisions of current law that have made health insurance coverage so unaffordable, Americans across the country will benefit from the choice afforded to them by this plan."
Ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., along with several other Republican members of the panel penned a letter to Schiff on Friday accusing him and other Democrats of not providing physical copies or uploading digital versions of documents related to the impeachment inquiry to the minority staff.
Nunes and fellow Republican members cited several documents, including letters from Democrats on the committee, sent to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and others. The Republicans also cited letters requesting depositions for several key officials.
Later Friday, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., raised a similar issue with Schiff, along with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and House Oversight Committee acting Chair Carolyn Maloney—who are also jointly spearheading the impeachment inquiry–calling for access to investigative materials.
“Please make available all records, documents, transcripts and other materials related to or obtained in the course of the ongoing joint investigation between the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Committee on Oversight and Reform,” Collins wrote, giving a deadline of Oct. 22.
The Republican complaints come amid the House’s formal impeachment inquiry into the president, which was announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., earlier this month. Pelosi, though, has said the House will not vote at this point on whether to make the inquiry an official proceeding.
The impeachment inquiry was sparked by a whistleblower complaint that said that Trump had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over their business dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why the elder Biden pressured the former Ukrainian president to fire a top prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas firm where Hunter sat on the board. The whistleblower’s complaint stated their concerns that Trump was soliciting a foreign power to influence the 2020 presidential election.
The president’s request also came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, something critics have cited as evidence of a quid pro quo arrangement. The White House and the president’s allies, though, have denied any sort of quid pro quo, and the Bidens have maintained that they did “nothing wrong.”
But with regard to the whistleblower, Nunes and House Intelligence Committee Republicans also blasted Schiff for determining that the panel did not need to receive testimony from that individual.
“Given that you have recently acknowledged that the Committee no longer needs to receive testimony from the whistleblower, your ‘impeachment inquiry’ lacks any relationship with the jurisdiction of this Committee,” they wrote. “As you are aware, the Committee was established to conduct critical oversight of the Intelligence Community, and we are increasingly concerned our normal work is being overlooked in favor of partisan activities best suited for another Committee.”
Schiff did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
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Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., on Wednesday took steps to try to force a vote on his motion to condemn and censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for his "egregiously false and fabricated" reading of President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky during a hearing last month.
Biggs, who slammed the hearings in the impeachment inquiry into Trump as “Soviet-style proceedings,” brought his resolution to the floor after receiving the support of 135 Republican lawmakers in the lower chamber of Congress.
“We follow rules even when they are represented by the minority party," Biggs said on the House floor. “That’s not happening today. That’s why we have to introduce this motion to censure. No more secret proceedings. No more Soviet-style proceedings.”
The House now has two legislative days to decide when it would debate and vote on Biggs' privileged censure resolution of Schiff. It is assumed, however, that Democrats on Thursday will offer up a motion to table the resolution.
Democrats have the majority and control the floor in the House, but Republicans could still attempt to force a vote on the matter.
Biggs was one of a number of Republican lawmakers who were barred earlier in the day from seeing the transcript of last week’s testimony by U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker.
“This is a secret,” Biggs said earlier in the day. “And the only information you're getting out of what's happening there is coming from the leaks that are coming out from the Democrats.”
The resolution to censure Schiff — who has become a favorite target of Republicans for his role in the Trump impeachment inquiry — was first introduced late last month by Biggs, the Arizona Republican who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus. It quickly gained the support of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., among other ranking Republicans in the lower chamber of Congress.
Schiff, who is leading one of the committees investigating Trump in the impeachment inquiry announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been under fire from conservatives for the “parody” of the president’s call with Zelensky that he read at the testimony last month of Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.
Maguire was on Capitol Hill to defend his handling of the explosive whistleblower complaint detailing how Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The complaint contains allegations related to Trump’s call with Zelensky in July, when he urged him to investigate alleged corruption involving the Bidens.
The White House last month released an unclassified version of the transcript of the phone call. The memo, which does not reflect a “verbatim transcript” but is based on “notes and recollections” of those memorializing the call, shows Trump suggesting Zelensky pursue some kind of investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden.
On the dais during Maguire’s testimony, Schiff gave his own exaggerated version of the phone call.
“I have a favor I want from you,” Schiff said while appearing to read from a paper. “And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it, on this and on that.”
“My summary of the president’s call was meant to be at least, part, in parody,” Schiff said. “The fact that that’s not clear is a separate problem in and of itself. Of course, the president never said, ‘If you don’t understand me I’m going to say it seven more times’; my point is, that’s the message that the Ukraine president was receiving in not so many words.”
Schiff’s office did not return Fox News’ request for comment on the resolution to censure him.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.