Trump threatens to have Schiff, Bidens, Pelosi testify in Senate trial as he dares House to impeach

closeIs Trump leveraging his own impeachment to get a trade deal over the finish line?Video

Is Trump leveraging his own impeachment to get a trade deal over the finish line?

Media reporter for The Hill Joe Concha explains the optics of the impeachment inquiry.

President Trump on Thursday challenged House Democrats to impeach him “fast” and ship the process over to the Senate, where he threatened to seek testimony from top Democrats including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House. They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy,” Trump tweeted early Thursday, just before Pelosi announced that she wants the Judiciary Committee to proceed with articles of impeachment.

“Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate and so that our Country can get back to business,” he continued. “We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is.”

He added: “I was elected to ‘Clean the Swamp,’ and that’s what I am doing!”

The president’s tweets follow an hourslong hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, in what set the stage for the next phase of the Democratic-led House impeachment inquiry, with majority-invited law professors making the case that the president did abuse the office of the presidency. But the sole witness called by Republicans argued the contrary — he said the legal case to impeach Trump was “woefully inadequate” and even “dangerous."

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE REPUBLICANS COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday morning, just after the president's tweets, called for the House to proceed with drafting articles of impeachment.

"The facts are uncontested. The president abused his power," Pelosi said on Thursday morning. "The president's actions have seriously violated the Constitution."

"Our president leaves us no chance but to act," she continued. "Sadly, but with confidence and humility, today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., in concurrence with the other chairs of committees involved – Schiff, D-Calif., and Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. – will now draft articles of impeachment. Should the House pass those articles, the impeachment inquiry would transform into a full-fledged Senate trial.

"@SpeakerPelosi & the Democrats should be ashamed. @realDonaldTrump has done nothing but lead our country – resulting in a booming economy, more jobs & a stronger military, to name just a few of his major accomplishments. We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate," White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted after Pelosi's announcement.

Republicans hold the majority in the Senate and Trump allies hold chairmanships on key committees, with many of them signaling their interest in exploring issues that House Democrats glossed over during their hearings — such as the Bidens’ business dealings in Ukraine and alleged Ukraine interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But despite his threats, the president does not, alone, have the power to call witnesses to testify in those proceedings. In the Senate trial, three separate parties have input to how it will play out: Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House.

Rep Ratcliffe: Pelosi's impeachment vote good for RepublicansVideo

A senior Senate Republican aide told Fox News last month that once they receive articles of impeachment, they 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 witnesses will be required to testify on the stand.

The aide suggested that Republican senators – like Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis. – could be attempting to help “shape” the witness list and the trial in their recent attempts to obtain documents and information from the administration and companies related to Hunter Biden.

Last month, Sen. Graham penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between 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.

Does Adam Schiff's report show a case for impeachment?Video

Also last month, Johnson and Grassley 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

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, and 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.

LEGAL SCHOLARS CLASH IN HEARING OVER WHETHER TRUMP COMMITTED IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE

But Thursday was not the first time the president has threatened to have Rep. Schiff appear as a witness. Last month, during an exclusive interview with “Fox & Friends,” the president said there was “only one person” he wanted to testify more than Hunter Biden.

“And that is Adam Schiff,” Trump said during that interview, also calling for the still-anonymous whistleblower to come forward to testify as well.

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.

Original Article

Judge orders ex-White House counsel Don McGahn to testify

closeKarl Rove: Democrats 'overplayed their hand' with impeachment pushVideo

Karl Rove: Democrats 'overplayed their hand' with impeachment push

Fox News contributor and former deputy chief of staff during President George W. Bush's administration Karl Rove discusses why support for impeachment is weaker in battleground states, which points to the Democrats' inability to prove an impeachable case.

Ex-White House counsel Don McGahn must appear before Congress pursuant to a subpoena issued earlier this year, a federal judge ruled late Monday, in a major setback to President Trump's effort to keep aides from testifying.

McGahn was subpoenaed on April 22 by Democrats probing possible obstruction of justice by the president in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. But, the ruling had apparent ramifications for Democrats seeking to compel other top White House officials to testify as part of their ongoing impeachment inquiry concerning the president's Ukraine policy.

U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a Barack Obama appointee, ruled that the "venerated constitutional principles that animate the structure of our government and undergird our most vital democratic institutions" were at stake.

“Indeed, when DOJ insists that Presidents can lawfully prevent their senior-level aides from responding to compelled congressional process and that neither the federal courts nor Congress has the power to do anything about it, DOJ promotes a conception of separation-of-powers principles that gets these constitutional commands exactly backwards," Jackson wrote. "In reality, it is a core tenet of this Nation’s founding that the powers of a monarch must be split between the branches of the government to prevent tyranny.

READ THE JUDGE'S ORDER

"As far as the duty to appear is concerned, this Court holds that Executive branch officials are not absolutely immune from compulsory congressional process—no matter how many times the Executive branch has asserted as much over the years—even if the President expressly directs such officials’ non-compliance," she continued. "This result is unavoidable as a matter of basic constitutional law, as the Miers court recognized more than a decade ago."

Then-White House counsel Don McGahn looks on as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Washington. 

Then-White House counsel Don McGahn looks on as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Washington. (Associated Press)

Jackson concluded: "Today, this Court adds that this conclusion is inescapable precisely because compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one, and per the Constitution, no one is above the law. That is to say, however busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking an action that the law requires."

Instead, "the law requires the aide to appear as directed, and assert executive privilege as appropriate," Jackson wrote. An appeal by the government was likely.

In May, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone penned a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., notifying him that McGahn would not comply with the Democrats' subpoena, which sought certain White House records given to McGahn that are related to Mueller's investigation.

“The White House provided these records to Mr. McGahn in connection with its cooperation with the Special Counsel’s investigation and with the clear understanding that the records remain subject to the control of the White House for all purposes,” Cipollone wrote. “The White House records remain legally protected from disclosure under longstanding constitutional principles, because they implicate significant Executive Branch confidentiality interests and executive privilege.”

LIZ PEEK: DEMS ARE PAYING PRICE FOR IMPEACHMENT, AND NOW THEY'RE LOCKED INTO IT

He added: “Because Mr. McGahn does not have the legal right to disclose these documents to third parties, I would ask the Committee to direct any request for such records to the White House, the appropriate legal custodian.”

Monday's ruling comes hours after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., signaled he would soon hand over a report — and control over the impeachment probe — to the House Judiciary Committee.

But, Schiff left open the possibility that more hearings before his panel could be possible.

"As required under House Resolution 660, the Committees are now preparing a report summarizing the evidence we have found this far, which will be transmitted to the Judiciary Committee soon after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess," Schiff wrote in a letter to congressional colleagues.

This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates. Fox News' Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Original Article

Cooper, Hale testify in impeachment probe, after Sondland’s blockbuster remarks

closeAndy McCarthy: There's a 'flaw' in Schiff's claims of bribery by Trump as an impeachable offenseVideo

Andy McCarthy: There's a 'flaw' in Schiff's claims of bribery by Trump as an impeachable offense

Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, and top State Department official David Hale were testifying Wednesday evening in Democrats' impeachment inquiry, after President Trump claimed vindication from European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland's blockbuster remarks earlier in the day.

While Sondland tied top Trump administration officials to a “potential quid pro quo” involving U.S. military aid to Ukraine and investigations desired by the president, he acknowledged under cross-examination from Republicans that he never heard that from Trump, saying he was making presumptions and the president expressly rejected any such arrangement. Democrats, though, argued that Sondland nevertheless described a quid pro quo arrangement in his testimony, suggesting Trump must have been involved.

Hale and Cooper were expected to offer additional details about the White House's anticorruption push in Ukraine, and whether the U.S. may have held up military aid to Ukraine in order to secure a probe into Joe and Hunter Biden.

Cooper, for example, testified last month that the Trump administration had pushed Ukraine to issue a public statement disavowing any efforts to influence U.S. elections — but she stopped short of saying that officials wanted to include a reference to Joe and Hunter Biden's business dealings in the country.

SONDLAND SAYS TRUMP EXPLICITLY RULED OUT QUID PRO QUO

Cooper said that on Aug. 20, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker met with her — and the idea of mentioning the Bidens apparently didn't come up.

"In that meeting, he did mention something to me that, you know, was the first about, somehow, an effort that he was engaged in to see if there was a statement that the government of Ukraine would make that would somehow disavow any interference in U.S. elections and would commit to the prosecution of any individuals involved in election interference," Cooper said. "And, that was about as specific as it got."

Additionally, Cooper has testified that Pentagon officials began receiving "phone calls from industry" — apparently referring to private companies that supply weapons and military hardware to the government — after President Trump initiated a hold on military aid to Ukraine earlier this year.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, left, arrives to review her testimony as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper, left, arrives to review her testimony as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Separately, Cooper testified about Defense Department concerns that Trump's temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine may have been illegal. The legalities likely regarded the issue of "impoundment" – the requirement that the president either had to spend the money or "impound" it. The White House was coming up against an impoundment deadline when it released the funds for Ukraine.

DOD OFFICIAL SAYS PRIVATE INDUSTRY PRESSURED PENTAGON TO RESUME AID TO UKRAINE

Moreover, Cooper said, Defense Department officials were concerned that Trump's decision would weaken a "strategic partner."

Meanwhile, Hale — the State Department’s No. 3 official — testified in a Nov. 6 closed-door deposition that no one in the Trump administration or any "government channel" ever mentioned Joe or Hunter Biden as a reason for withholding aid from Ukraine, according to a transcript of his remarks.

Democrats have argued that the White House improperly pressured Ukraine to look into the Bidens and Burisma Holdings, the natural gas company where Hunter Biden held a lucrative role despite limited expertise while his father oversaw Ukraine policy as vice president. Trump has suggested that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden's dealings in Ukraine, including the former vice president's successful push to have Ukraine's top prosecutor fired by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid.

George Kent, a State Department official who has also testified in the impeachment investigation, said he flagged Hunter Biden's apparent conflict of interest to the Obama administration at the time. Reports emerged Wednesday afternoon that Ukrainian prosecutors had drawn up an indictment against Burisma's founder.

David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, to be interview for the impeachment inquiry. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, to be interview for the impeachment inquiry. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

However, Hale said, he saw the Bidens referenced only in media reports — as well as in a "speculative" email from former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who testified last week.

STATE DEPT OFFICIAL SAYS BIDEN, BURISMA NOT MENTIONED REGARDING AID HOLDUP

Yovanovitch "mentioned that Mayor [Rudy] Giuliani might have been motivated to sully Vice President Biden's reputation by reminding the world of the issue regarding his son's activities in Ukraine," Hale testified, referring to President Trump's personal attorney.

Hale and Cooper's testimony came shortly after Sondland tied top officials to the “potential quid pro quo” involving U.S. military aid to Ukraine and investigations desired by Trump – yet said he never heard that link from the president himself.

One of the key witnesses in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against Trump, Sondland claimed he kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aware of what was going on and said he specifically told Vice President Pence he "had concerns" the military aid to Ukraine "had become tied" to investigations — though a Pence aide denied it. And he repeatedly lambasted Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s leading role in the administration’s Ukraine dealings.

"Everyone was in the loop," Sondland testified. "It was no secret."

He testified to a clear "quid pro quo" linking a White House meeting with Ukraine's president to the investigation request, even as he couched his language regarding the aid.

In comments touted by Trump later in the day, Sondland clarified: “I never heard from President Trump that aid was conditioned on an announcement" of investigations. He said he never personally heard Trump discuss preconditions. And at one point, he confirmed Trump told him, "I want nothing."

Original Article

‘The Gordon Problem’ set to testify in impeachment inquiry’s main event

closeWhat does Ambassador Sondland know?Video

What does Ambassador Sondland know?

Bret Baier and Harris Faulkner discuss Ambassador Sondland's upcoming testimony this Wednesday and the politics of the impeachment inquiry

Former National Security Council (NSC) aide Tim Morrison testified on Tuesday that one of his colleagues warned him about President Trump’s European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland, and even coined a name for her concerns: “the Gordon problem.”

Sondland will testify Wednesday morning as the impeachment inquiry's most anticipated witness, less than 24 hours after Republicans declared total victory in Tuesday's afternoon hearings. But it remained unclear whether the wealthy hotelier-turned-diplomat will pose a problem for Democrats, Republicans, or all of the above.

VINDMAN WAS ASKED THREE TIMES TO BE UKRAINE DEFENSE MINISTER

Sondland is more directly entangled than any witness yet in the president’s alleged efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and Democrats in the 2016 election. Yet Sondland has already amended his testimony once– “I now do recall,” he said, talking to Ukraine about anti-corruption investigations — and has frustrated Democrats' efforts to build a consistent narrative of misconduct by the president.

Most notably, Sondland previously testified behind closed doors that Trump directly told him there were to be "no quid pro quos of any kind" with Ukraine, and that he didn’t recall any conversations with the White House about withholding military assistance in return for Ukraine helping with the president’s political campaign.

MORRISON, VOLKER UNDERCUT DEMS' CLAIMS OF BRIBERY, AS GOP DECLARES VICTORY: 'A GREAT DAY FOR THE PRESIDENT'

Ambassador Kurt Volker, left, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council are sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Ambassador Kurt Volker, left, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council are sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Then, William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d'affaires for Ukraine, told lawmakers that Sondland himself said "everything" — a White House visit for Ukraine's new leader and the release of military aid to the former Soviet republic — was contingent on a public announcement of investigations into the 2016 election and into Ukraine gas company Burisma Holdings. (Hunter Biden held a highly lucrative role on the board of Burisma, despite having little relevant experience, while his father oversaw Ukraine policy as vice president.)

Weeks later, after testimony from Taylor and Morrison placed him at the center of key discussions, Sondland amended his testimony and claimed his recollection had been "refreshed." Sondland said he now could recall a September conversation in which he told an aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that military aid likely would not occur until Ukraine made public announcements about corruption investigations. Sondland said he came to "understand" that arrangement from other sources.

Additionally, Sondland has insisted he knew acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney only well enough to wave and say hello. He said he may have spoken to him once or twice on the phone, but not about Ukraine. Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an NSC official, has testified Sondland cited a discussion with Mulvaney when pushing Ukrainian officials to open the investigations that Trump wanted into alleged 2016 U.S. presidential election interference and the Bidens.

Separately, Fiona Hill, another White House national security official, said Sondland often talked of meetings with Mulvaney. In a further link between the two men, she quoted the-then National Security Adviser John Bolton as telling her he didn’t want to be part of “whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney were cooking up.” Hill is to testify Thursday.

Trump, meanwhile, has recently tried to suggest that he barely knows his hand-picked ambassador, but Sondland has said he has spoken several times with the president and was acting on his direction.

Sondland routinely bragged about his proximity to Trump and drew alarm from the foreign service and national security apparatus as part of an irregular channel of diplomacy led by the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Last week, State Department official David Holmes revealed one of those interactions to impeachment investigators, saying he recalled it “vividly.”

The political counselor was having lunch with Sondland in Kiev when the ambassador dialed up the president on his cell phone and Holmes could hear Trump’s voice.

“I then heard President Trump ask, quote, ‘So he’s going to do the investigation?’” Holmes testified. “Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘He’s going to do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will, quote, ‘do anything you ask him to.’”

Holmes testified that he told "a number of friends of mine" about the call because it was "like, a really extraordinary thing" to be "part of" a lunch in which "someone called the president." He insisted he didn't go into detail about the call while he boasted about it, but estimated that he may have told as many as six friends.

Sondland was known for telling others "he was in charge of Ukraine" despite being the U.S. envoy in Brussels, Hill testified.

"And I asked, well, on whose authority?” said Hill. "And he said, the president."

Also testifying on Wednesday are Pentagon official Laura Cooper and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Hale.

Their appearances will follow the testimony Tuesday of four national security and diplomatic officials, including two GOP witnesses — Morrison and former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker — who largely undercut Democrats' primary arguments for impeachment.

Both Volker and Morrison repeatedly denied that there was any bribery or extortion by the president in his call with Zelensky. Their answers underscored a problem facing House Democrats as their impeachment inquiry continued into its second week of public hearings: With more witnesses testifying, more soundbites have emerged that may help Republicans and the Trump campaign argue that the proceedings were politically motivated theater, long in the works and foreshadowed openly by Democrats for months, if not years.

"Ambassador Volker, I presume you got a readout of the call," Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y, asked at one point. "Was there any reference to withholding aid? Any reference to bribery? Any reference to quid pro quo? Any reference to extortion?"

"No, there was not," Volker replied, again and again.

Shortly after that moment, President Trump tweeted, "A great day for Republicans, a great day for our Country!"

"Kind of hard to prove a corrupt quid pro quo theory when the key U.S. policy people, plus the Ukrainians, were never aware of such an arrangement," Texas GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw added late Tuesday, noting that Ukraine's president has said he felt no pressure from Trump to open any probes. "Can we go back to governing now, that’d be great thanks."

However, Volker did provide some good moments for Democrats. He shifted his own account of a July 10 White House meeting to say Sondland did, in fact, discuss investigations with the visiting Ukrainians. “I think all of us thought it was inappropriate; the conversation did not continue and the meeting concluded,” Volker said.

Volker said Sondland had raised the idea of investigations “in a generic way," and that Bolton immediately ended the meeting.

A series of text messages Volker provided to lawmakers showed conversations between him, Sondland and other leaders in which they discussed a need for Ukraine to launch investigations, including into Burisma Holdings. Volker also said he didn't initially realize the connection between a Trump-sought investigation of Burisma and the Bidens,

Volker went on to testify that during a September dinner with top Ukrainian official Andriy Yermak, he’d discouraged Ukraine from trying to prosecute the country’s previous president. Volker says he warned it would sow deep societal divisions.

Volker said Yermak quipped in response, “You mean like asking us to investigate Clinton and Biden?” Volker claimed he didn’t “quite understand” the head-turning remark and was “kind of puzzled” by it.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., center, flanked by House Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman, left, and ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., uses his gavel as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., center, flanked by House Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman, left, and ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., uses his gavel as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Burisma had been under investigation before then-Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor in charge. In his call with Zelensky, Trump suggested the Ukrainians look into the circumstances of the prosecutor's termination, including Joe Biden's boast that he had the prosecutor fired by threatening to withhold $1 billion in critical aid.

Another witness who testified earlier Tuesday was a career Army officer who described Trump’s call with Zelensky as “improper.”

"Frankly, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing," he testified. "In certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out."

Vindman told lawmakers it was his “duty” to report his concerns about the call, as he deflected Republican attacks, including from the White House on his loyalty and career in public service.

It wasn’t the first time Vindland had registered his concerns over Ukraine policy. He testified about the July 10 meeting at the White House when Sondland told visiting Ukraine officials they would need to “deliver” before the administration would agree to a meeting Zelenskiy wanted with Trump.

OPINION: VINDMAN NEEDS TO BE FIRED, AFTER TESTIMONY REVEALS HIS INSUBORDINATION AND ALLEGED PROPENSITY FOR LEAKS

“Ambassador Sondland referred to investigations into the Bidens and Burisma in 2016,” Vindman testified.

However, Vindman was caught in an apparent contradiction late in the day by Republican Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup. Vindman testified earlier in the day that he did not discuss his concerns about Trump's July phone call with Morrison, his superior, because he was unavailable.

Under questioning from Wenstrup, Morrison confirmed that Vindman had given him edits of the transcript of the call, on the same day that Vindman testified Morrison was unreachable.

Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar offered a blunt assessment of Vindman's testimony, tweeting: "I think people need a reminder: the democrats said they would impeach starting in December 2016–before @realDonaldTrump was even sworn in. This is a hearing looking for a reason. It’s corrupt and immoral. The dude in the uniform is a seditionist."

Morrison, meanwhile, also said he had heard others express concern that Vindman was a leaker, and could not be trusted with key information. Asked about that allegation, Vindman read from a glowing performance review that described him as an exemplary officer.

In a particularly remarkable moment, Vindman testified that he was asked to serve as Ukraine’s defense minister three times — but repeatedly denied the offers — when he traveled to Kiev for the inauguration of Ukraine's president. Oleksander Danylyuk, the former Chairman of the National Security and Defence Council in Ukraine, reportedly said on Tuesday the offer was "clearly a joke."

EXPLOSIVE DOJ FILING OUTLINES STRZOK'S 'SECURITY VIOLATIONS' AMID AFFAIR — AND HOW COMEY CAME TO DISCLOSE THE WEINER EMAILS

At the White House, Trump said he had watched part of the day’s testimony and slammed the ongoing impeachment hearings as a “disgrace.” Over the weekend, Trump assailed Vice President Pence aide Jennifer Williams as part of the “Never Trumpers” who oppose his presidency, though there is no indication she has shown any partisanship. Williams was critical of Trump's call with Zelensky.

However, in his testimony, Morrison suggested the impeachment brouhaha was predictable partisan politics as usual.

"I feared at the time of the call on July 25th how its disclosure would play in Washington's political climate," Morrison said in his opening statement on Tuesday. "My fears have been realized."

Fox News' Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Justice Department watchdog scheduled to testify on alleged FBI, DOJ surveillance abuses

closeReport: Criminal referrals likely in Horowitz FISA abuse reportVideo

Report: Criminal referrals likely in Horowitz FISA abuse report

Investigation findings expected soon; Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Andy Biggs weigh in.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11, all but confirming the imminent release of his widely anticipated report into potential FBI and DOJ surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign.

A source told Fox News last month that Horowitz's upcoming report will shed light on why Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham's ongoing probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation.

In announcing Horowitz's upcoming testimony, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called the independent watchdog a "good man" who has "served our nation well." Horowitz was appointed to the post by then-President Obama.

“I appreciate all the hard work by Mr. Horowitz and his team regarding the Carter Page FISA warrant application and the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign," Graham said in a statement.

Page is the Trump campaign adviser whom the FBI targeted for surveillance beginning in 2016. The bureau, in its 2016 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application to monitor Page, flatly called him "an agent of a foreign power." Additionally, the FBI assured the FISA court on numerous occasions that other sources independently corroborated the dossier's claims but did not clearly state that the dossier's author worked for a firm hired by Hillary Clinton's campaign.

PAGE SAYS FBI INFORMANT 'INTENSIFIED' COMMS JUST DAYS BEFORE FISA WARRANT

Page was not charged with any wrongdoing despite over a year of federal surveillance, and he has since sued numerous entities — including the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — for defamation related to claims he worked with Russia. Meanwhile, the dossier that the FBI cited in its FISA application has largely been discredited as a political document rife with inaccuracies.

Carter Page: GOP just wanted the facts from Mueller but were stonewalledVideo

And, documents obtained by Fox News have suggested that internal clashes erupted in real time between the FBI and DOJ, concerning the strength of the bureau's case.

For example, just nine days before the FBI applied for its FISA warrant to monitor Page, FBI officials were battling with a senior Justice Department official who had "continued concerns" about the "possible bias" of a source pivotal to the application, according to internal text messages published by Fox News earlier this year.

The 2016 messages, sent between former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, also revealed that bureau brass circulated at least two anti-Trump blog articles, including a Lawfare blog post sent shortly after Election Day that called Trump possibly "among the major threats to the security of the country."

Horowitz, in an initial report last year, flagged numerous senior FBI officials for tainting their work with the overt appearance of bias and leaking wantonly to the media, among other concerns. At the time, the watchdog said a more comprehensive review would be forthcoming.

“Mr. Horowitz will be appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 11, where he will deliver a detailed report of what he found regarding his investigation, along with recommendations as to how to make our judicial and investigative systems better," Graham continued in his letter.

EX-TRUMP ADVISER HEADS TO GREECE, SAYING HE'S ON A MISSION TO RETRIEVE 'ENTRAPMENT' MONEY FROM SAFE

The FBI formally opened its counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign July 31, 2016, several days after Page says he first met U.S. intelligence informant Stefan Halper at the symposium. From 2012 to 2018, the Defense Department paid Halper more than $1 million for consulting work.

Trump touts importance of Durham Russia investigationVideo

"I had a longstanding relationship with Professor Halper," Page told Fox News this past June. "I always believe in 'innocent until proven guilty,' but my conversations with him intensified right in the month before my illegitimate FISA warrant in September 2016, when all these defamatory articles are being placed by the [Democratic National Committee]."

Page separately told Fox News in October that he was "frustrated" that Horowitz had not interviewed him directly.

Also in October, Horowitz told Senate and House lawmakers that the process of finalizing his report into potential FISA abuses was "nearing completion," according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

The "lengthy" draft report "concerns sensitive national security and law enforcement matters," Horowitz wrote in the letter, adding that he anticipated "the final report will be released publicly with few redactions."

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Horowitz noted that he did not anticipate a need to prepare or issue "separate classified and public versions of the report."

"After we receive the final classification markings from the Department and the FBI, we will then proceed with our usual process for preparing a final report, including ensuring that appropriate reviews occur for accuracy and comment purposes," Horowitz wrote in the letter. "Once begun, we do not anticipate the time for that review to be lengthy."

Original Article

Trump says he’ll ‘strongly consider’ Pelosi invite to testify in impeachment hearings

closePresident Trump says Republicans are being denied 'due process' in impeachment inquiry hearingsVideo

President Trump says Republicans are being denied 'due process' in impeachment inquiry hearings

Ken Starr and Jordan Sekulow weigh in on former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s Capitol Hill testimony.

President Trump said Monday he would “strongly consider” testifying or providing answers in writing as part of the House impeachment inquiry, after Democrats challenged him to appear as part of the probe.

“Our Crazy, Do Nothing (where’s USMCA, infrastructure, lower drug pricing & much more?) Speaker of the House, Nervous Nancy Pelosi, who is petrified by her Radical Left knowing she will soon be gone (they & Fake News Media are her BOSS), suggested on Sunday’s DEFACE THE NATION that I testify about the phony Impeachment Witch Hunt,” Trump tweeted, in a derogatory reference to "Face the Nation."

“She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!” he continued.

The president’s tweet comes after Pelosi, D-Calif., challenged him to testify before Congress if he wants to set the record straight.

“The president could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants. He has every opportunity to present his case,” Pelosi said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Pelosi extended the invitation ahead of a week that is expected to be jam-packed with witness testimony in the impeachment inquiry. Pelosi said lawmakers would “look forward” to seeing any information from Trump “that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame.”

Nancy Pelosi should not be president if Trump administration is impeached, New York Times op-ed arguesVideo

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also echoed the suggestion.

“If Donald Trump doesn’t agree with what he’s hearing, doesn’t like what he’s hearing, he shouldn’t tweet,” Schumer said. “He should come to the committee and testify under oath. And he should allow all those around him to come to the committee and testify under oath."

The challenge was paired with Pelosi's warning not to go after the whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry — though Democrats initially had indicated that the whistleblower could testify, only to back off and now urge Trump to testify instead.

"I will make sure he does not intimidate the whistleblower," Pelosi said. "I told the president you're in my wheelhouse when you come after the whistleblower."

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House.

On the call, Trump pressed Zelensky to open an investigation into Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.

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.

Fox News' Andrew O'Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Roger Stone does not testify as closing arguments set in federal trial

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Fox News Flash top headlines for Nov. 12

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Roger Stone's defense team rested its case Tuesday afternoon, with the usually outspoken Stone opting not to take the stand in his federal criminal trial.

Instead, Stone's team played a partial recording of his 2017 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which prosecutors allege included false statements regarding Stone's knowledge of WikiLeaks and their publication of hacked Democratic National Committee emails. The defense’s argument is that Stone’s statements were true, even if he may have intended to lie.

STEVE BANNON TESTIFIES ROGER STONE 'IMPLIED' HE HAD WIKILEAKS CONNECTION

“In order for Roger Stone to be convicted of a false statement, the statement must be proven false. It does not matter if a defendant believes he is lying,” Stone’s legal team argued in a motion for acquittal filed Tuesday. “Right or wrong, he gets the benefit of the truthful answer or a poorly worded question.”

This argument relies on what Stone's defense claims is the government’s failure to prove that the 67-year-old lied about having just one intermediary between himself and WikiLeaks. The prosecution claimed during their opening statement that Stone used both radio host Randy Credico and author Jerome Corsi as intermediaries. The defense argued that “the government did not prove that either Jerome Corsi or Randy Credico were intermediaries between Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, and Roger Stone,” and that they did not sufficiently show that they were intermediaries “[r]egardless of Roger Stone’s belief about whether either were intermediaries[.]”

The motion claimed that while the prosecution may believe it is enough that Stone directed Credico to contact Assange, there is no proof that Credico actually made contact and was thus not truly an intermediary.

“There is no such crime as attempted false statement,” the motion argued, later adding, “Credico did not pass messages to Assange, even if Stone wished that Credico did, and even if Credico falsely reported to Stone that he had.”

Roger Stone's criminal trial begins in WashingtonVideo

The defense claimed that this undermines the charges against Stone, as the prosecutors did not adequately meet their burden of proof.

Stone’s decision not to take the stand, while common in criminal defense trials, goes against his prior approach of making public statements in his own defense.

After his indictment, Stone often spoke out about the case, making multiple media appearances and posting about the case on social media. This eventually prompted U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to issue a gag order prohibiting Stone from talking about the case after an Instagram post that featured an image of Jackson with crosshairs.

The defense rested its case after playing the recording for the jury.

Earlier in the day, the prosecution rested their case after recalling a former FBI agent who had previously testified about a series of phone calls between Stone and then-candidate Trump — including three calls on July 14, 2016 — the day that a massive hack of the Democratic National Committee's servers was reported.

The prosecution's case did not provide any dramatic new evidence about whether Trump was aware of the impending WikiLeaks releases, but emphasized that senior campaign officials were deeply engaged in trying to figure out what was happening with WikiLeaks.

Trump's former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates also testified Tuesday and recalled a July 2016 car ride with Trump, during which the candidate was on the phone with Stone. Gates said that after the call Trump said that Stone told Trump that more information was coming from WikiLeaks.

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Gates also testified that it was his understanding that Stone had a source providing him information about WikiLeaks beyond what the general public was receiving.

On cross-examination, Stone's defense brought up the charges Gates once faced alongside his former boss and onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Gates eventually reached a plea agreement that included cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Closing arguments in Stone's trial are expected to take place Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Joe Biden says there’s ‘zero rationale’ for GOP to call on son Hunter to testify in impeachment hearings

closeRepublicans name 9 witnesses they want to appear during public impeachment hearingsVideo

Republicans name 9 witnesses they want to appear during public impeachment hearings

GOP lawmakers call for Ukraine whistleblower, Hunter Biden to appear; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports from the North Lawn.

Former Vice President Joe Biden declared Monday there was "zero rationale" for Republican lawmakers to have his son Hunter testify before Congress as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Hunter Biden's financial involvement in the Ukraine gas company Burisma — while his father was in office — has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks since the House of Representatives formally launched the impeachment inquiry into President Trump over his conversation with the Ukrainian president about investigating the Bidens. With public impeachment hearings scheduled for this week, Republicans recently included Hunter Biden on a list of witnesses they wanted to hear under oath.

Appearing on a televised town hall Monday, the 2020 frontrunner doubled down on his claim that no wrongdoing took place while he was vice president.

"Every single, solitary, serious investigator… looked at this and said there's absolutely zero basis to the accusation that I acted inappropriately or that my son did," Biden told the Iowa audience. "This is all about Trump trying to create a diversion… There's not a scintilla of evidence pointing out that anything is wrong."

After calling Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani a "chump," Biden dismissed Republicans' inclusion of his son on their testimony wish list.

BIDEN EDGES RIVALS, BUTTIGIEG JOINS TOP TIER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE POLL

House Republicans request Hunter Biden, whistleblower testify in impeachment probeVideo

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"There is zero rationale for that to happen," Biden told CNN anchor Erin Burnett. "Nobody has suggested that anything was done that was inappropriate. This is all a diversion. This is classic Trump, classic Trump. Focus on the problems. We have a president who is one of the most corrupt people to serve in that office."

The former vice president continued, "I released 21 years of my tax returns in detail. Mr. President, you're worried about corruption? Release some of yours!"

Original Article

Schiff denies GOP request to have Ukraine whistleblower testify publicly, warns against ‘sham investigations’

closeGOP releases witness list in impeachment probeVideo

GOP releases witness list in impeachment probe

Florida Republican Rep. Ross Spano says he believes Rep. Adam Schiff will reject the GOP subpoena requests.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., rejected a request by Republicans to have the Ukraine phone call whistleblower testify at next week's public impeachment inquiry hearings, saying that their testimony was "redundant and unnecessary."

The GOP witness list, obtained by Fox News earlier Saturday, included Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, and the anonymous intelligence community whistleblower whose complaint about a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky triggered the impeachment inquiry.

"The committee also will not facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm," Schiff said in a letter to Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif. " … The whistleblower has a right under laws championed by this committee to remain anonymous and to be protected from harm."

REPUBLICANS WANT HUNTER BIDEN, UKRAINE WHISTLEBLOWER AS IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY WITNESSES

Malinowski: Every single witness has told us that the order to freeze the aid came directly from the presidentVideo

"The impeachment inquiry, moreover, has gathered an ever-growing body of evidence — from witnesses and documents, including the president's own words in his July 25 call record — that not only confirms but far exceeds the initial information in the whistleblower's complaint. The whistleblower's testimony is therefore redundant and unnecessary," Schiff concluded his letter "In light of the president's threats, the individual's appearance before us would only place their personal safety at grave risk."

Earlier in his letter, Schiff had warned Nunes that the impeachment inquiry and the House Intelligence Committee "will not serve as vehicles" for what he called "sham investigations into the Bidens or debunked conspiracies about 2016 U.S. election interference that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit."

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.

Some House GOP members call for Hunter Biden, Ukraine whistleblower to testify in impeachment inquiryVideo

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.

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."

Schiff said in September the whistleblower would appear before Congress “very soon,” but in recent weeks has suggested that testimony is unnecessary.

Rep. Adam Schiff responds to congressional Republicans' witness list requestVideo

In his letter to Schiff requesting the whistleblower testify publicly, Nunes said: "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.

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The list of witnesses also includes Nellie Ohr, a researcher at opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the now–infamous anti-Trump dossier; Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American consultant for the Democratic National Committee who allegedly met with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss incriminating information about Trump campaign officials; ex-National Security Council official Tim Morrison, former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, and high-ranking State Department official David Hale.

Earlier Saturday, the president again called the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt” and said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Joe Biden should be added to the list of witnesses who would be called to testify.

"The witch hunt continues, lot of witch hunt continues,” he told reporters. "The Republicans have never been so united and I think the people of our country have never been so united.”

Fox News' Brooke Singman and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

Original Article

Nunes demands Schiff testify in private as part of House impeachment inquiry

closeRepublicans call on Schiff to testify in impeachment probeVideo

Republicans call on Schiff to testify in impeachment probe

House Intelligence Committee Republican member Rep. Elise Stefanik says there are serious questions surrounding the coordination of the whistleblower and Rep. Adam Schiff.

EXCLUSIVE: The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has formally requested that the panel's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., testify in a closed-door setting as part of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Fox News has obtained a letter written by committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who demanded that Schiff appear for a deposition in private before lawmakers.

"On November 6th, you announced the beginning of public hearings associated with the Democratic Party's partisan impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump," Nunes wrote Friday. "Based on the precedent and lack of jurisdiction, the House Intelligence Committee should not take the lead in conducting such hearings; however, by now the American people know your desire to see the duly-elected president removed from office outweighs your sense of responsibility to running a functioning intelligence oversight committee.

"Prior to the start of your public show trial next week, at least one additional closed-door deposition must take place," he continued. "Specifically, I request that you sit for a closed-door deposition before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees."

Nunes praises John Solomon's reporting on impeachment inquiry, Biden-Ukraine controversyVideo

Nunes went on to note that in August 2019, Schiff and his staff "met with or talked to the whistleblower who raised an issue with President Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President [Volodymyr] Zelensky."

"Although you publicly claim nothing inappropriate was discussed, the three committees deserve to hear directly from you the substance and circumstances surrounding any discussions conducted with the whistleblower, and any instructions you issued regarding those discussions," Nunes wrote. "Given that you have reneged on your public commitment to let the committees interview the whistleblower directly, you are the only individual who can provide clarity as to these conversations."

BOLTON LAWYER TEASES KNOWLEDGE ABOUT UKRAINE NOT YET MADE PUBLIC IN LETTER TO CONGRESS

He added: "As you know, the House Intelligence Committee has precedent for such an arrangement. During the Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, sitting Members of Congress agreed to participate in closed-door depositions. Given your championing of such an arrangement two years ago, you should have no problem with you appearing before the three committees to discuss your interactions with the whistleblower."

Schiff maintains that he has not personally spoken with the anonymous whistleblower. However, it was revealed several weeks ago that the whistleblower had early contact with his office, essentially giving them a heads-up about the complaint concerning Trump's July 25 phone call with Zelensky.

President Trump 'not concerned' by impeachment inquiry, declares witnesses testimony 'fine'Video

Meanwhile, Republicans are expected to release a full list of proposed witnesses for testimony in a public setting in the coming days.

Nunes’ and Republicans’ effort to devise a strategy going forward comes after the House approved rules for the impeachment inquiry process last week. While Republicans opposed the resolution and complained the rules were unfair, Democrats still gave GOP lawmakers 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.

BOLTON WARNED OF 'HAND GRENADE' GIULIANI, SHUT DOWN UKRAINE MEETING, AIDE TOLD IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

This process still gives Democrats final say over witnesses. A GOP source told Fox News this week that it's unlikely Democrats would go along with the efforts to call Schiff — who is essentially leading the impeachment probe.

The source told Fox News that Republicans want answers to questions like: “How many times did he [Schiff] 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?”

But GOP lawmakers for days had telegraphed that they were interested in making the attempt.

Rep. McCarthy: Schiff is a fact witness and cannot be a prosecutorVideo

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 [with] the whistleblower.”

STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL FLAGGED HUNTER BIDEN'S 'CONFLICT OF INTEREST' IN UKRAINE, TESTIMONY SHOWS

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 the inquiry days later. The inspector general's complaint about Trump’s phone call with 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 who have appeared 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.

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Schiff in September had promised testimony from the whistleblower “very soon." But in recent weeks has suggested that testimony is unnecessary.

Meanwhile, Schiff announced Wednesday that his committee would hold the first open hearings of the impeachment inquiry next week, featuring current and former officials with knowledge of the Ukraine controversy.

“On Wednesday, November 13, 2019, we will hear from [U.S. charge d'affaires for Ukraine] William Taylor and [diplomat] George Kent,” Schiff announced. “On Friday, November 15, 2019, we will hear from [former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine] Marie Yovanovitch.

Original Article

House Republicans plan to call Adam Schiff to testify in impeachment inquiry, say he is ‘fact witness’

closeRep. Adam Schiff releases transcripts from impeachment inquiryVideo

Rep. Adam Schiff releases transcripts from impeachment inquiry

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.

TRUMP SAYS UKRAINE WHISTLEBLOWER 'MUST' TESTIFY, BLASTS OFFER OF WRITTEN ANSWERS

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.

REPUBLICANS SLAM PELOSI OVER IMPEACHMENT REVERSAL AFTER FLOOR VOTE: 'WHAT HAS CHANGED?'

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.

Original Article

Trump says Ukraine whistleblower ‘must’ testify, blasts offer of written answers

closeWhistleblower offers to answer House GOP questions with written statementsVideo

Whistleblower offers to answer House GOP questions with written statements

Criminal defense attorney David Bruno weighs in.

President Trump joined congressional Republicans in publicly rejecting the Ukraine call whistleblower's offer to respond to written questions from Republican lawmakers, instead insisting that he or she appear in person as part of the impeachment inquiry — a move that would reveal the anonymous official's identity.

The whistleblower's attorney, Mark Zaid, tweeted over the weekend that his client — whose complaint about Trump's July phone call with the president of Ukraine touched off the impeachment probe — would provide sworn, written answers under penalty of perjury. Trump in turn attacked the whistleblower's credibility and demanded in-person testimony.

REP. JIM JORDAN REJECTS WHISTLEBLOWER'S OFFER TO PROVIDE WRITTEN ANSWERS TO GOP QUESTIONS

"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!"

Trump was referring to the whistleblower's early interaction with Schiff's staff. 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.

But the president joins House Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in calling for the whistleblower to come forward and testify in person.

Late Sunday, 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."

Jordan has claimed the only one in Congress who knows the whistleblower's identity is House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is leading the impeachment inquiry. Zaid insists that Schiff has not personally had any contact with the whistleblower or their legal team.

The Republican allegations about Schiff's ties to the whistleblower stem from the revelation that in the weeks after Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Vlolodymyr Zelensky and the filing of the whistleblower's complaint, the whistleblower was in touch with Schiff's staff but failed to disclose this.

Trump has used this as a talking point for casting doubt on the complaint and the ensuing impeachment inquiry that is currently exploring whether the president pressured Ukraine into investigating his political opponents.

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Current and former Trump administration officials have testified regarding the phone call and surrounding events, as Democrat-led House committees attempt to learn more about the context of Trump's request for Zelensky to assist in the investigations of Democratic activities during the 2016 election as well as former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, specifically pertaining to Hunter's business dealings with Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.

Zaid tweeted Sunday that he and his team have "directly engaged GOP as to the irrelevance of the whistleblower's information and identity."

Fox News' Gregg Re, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Rick Perry, other officials called to testify on Wednesday behind closed doors

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Fox News Flash top headlines for Nov. 1

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On the heels of a House vote formalizing the impeachment inquiry process, Fox News learned Friday that multiple officials, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, have been called to testify behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Also called to give a deposition are the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought; State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbul; and David Hale. undersecretary of state for political affairs

In response to the deposition request, Perry spokeswoman Shaylyn Hayes said: "The Secretary will not partake in a secret star chamber inquisition where agency counsel is forbidden to be present. If the committee is interested in conducting a serious proceeding they are welcome to send for the Secretary’s consideration an invitation to participate in an open hearing where the Department’s counsel can be present and the American people can witness."

On Oct. 17, Perry told Trump he planned to resign, and Fox News was told it’s likely to happen at the end of the year. Perry has come under scrutiny for the role he played in the president’s dealings with Ukraine, the subject of the impeachment inquiry. House Democrats subpoenaed Perry earlier that day.

Trump has said that Perry was the one who prompted him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. In that call, it's been alleged that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate political opponent Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Biden business in Ukraine — all while millions of dollars in military aid to the Ukrainians had been frozen.

RICK PERRY DENIES DISCUSSING BIDENS OR UKRAINE OFFICIALS: REPORTS

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for the secretary, said Perry had wanted Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader on matters related to boosting U.S. energy ties to Eastern Europe, part of a long-term effort to lessen the political control Russia has wielded over the fuel supply.

Perry told The Wall Street Journal the president told him to seek out Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, to look into possible Ukrainian corruption. "Visit with Rudy," Perry recalled Trump telling him. Perry said Trump was not convinced Kiev, with a history of corruption, had yet “straightened up” its act. However he told The Journal he had never heard the president or Giuliani talk about an investigation into the Bidens.

RICK PERRY SAYS TRUMP DIRECTED HIM TO GIULIANIA ABOUT ALLEGED UKRAINE CORRUPTION

In his phone call with Giuliani, Perry recalled, Trump’s lawyer told him the president was “really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election. He thinks they’re corrupt and … that there are still people over there engaged that are absolutely corrupt.”

Perry told the Christian Broadcasting Network that his dealings in Ukraine were simply aimed at eliminating corruption in the country so that U.S. businesses could have confidence doing business there.

"This has been a very intense, very focused push to get Ukraine to clean up the corruption,” Perry told the Christian network. “It's a very well-known fact that this was historically a corrupt place and the message was clear: You clean up the corruption and the United States will be certainly willing to come in and help you."

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Also called to testify is Vought, whose office received a letter on Oct. 7 from House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees seeking documents relating to the hold Trump had placed on Ukraine aid prior to that July phone call.

Fox News' Chad Pergram, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Rick Perry, other officials called to testify on Wednesday behind closed doors

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Fox News Flash top headlines for Nov. 1

Fox News Flash top headlines for Nov. 1 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

On the heels of a House vote formalizing the impeachment inquiry process, Fox News learned Friday that multiple officials, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry, have been called to testify behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Also called to give a deposition are the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought; State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbul; and David Hale. under secretary of state for political affairs

It’s not clear whether Perry will show up for a closed-door session.

On Oct. 17, Perry told Trump he planned to resign, and Fox News was told it’s likely to happen at the end of the year. Perry has come under scrutiny for the role he played in the president’s dealings with Ukraine, the subject of the impeachment inquiry. House Democrats subpoenaed Perry earlier that day.

Trump has said that Perry was the one who prompted him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. In that call, it's been alleged that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate political opponent Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and Biden business in Ukraine — all while millions of dollars in military aid to the Ukrainians had been frozen.

RICK PERRY DENIES DISCUSSING BIDENS OR UKRAINE OFFICIALS: REPORTS

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman for the secretary, said Perry had wanted Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader on matters related to boosting U.S. energy ties to Eastern Europe, part of a long-term effort to lessen the political control Russia has wielded over the fuel supply.

Perry told The Wall Street Journal the president told him to seek out Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, to look into possible Ukrainian corruption. "Visit with Rudy," Perry recalled Trump telling him. Perry said Trump was not convinced Kiev, with a history of corruption, had yet “straightened up” its act. However he told The Journal he had never heard the president or Giuliani talk about an investigation into the Bidens.

RICK PERRY SAYS TRUMP DIRECTED HIM TO GIULIANIA ABOUT ALLEGED UKRAINE CORRUPTION

In his phone call with Giuliani, Perry recalled, Trump’s lawyer told him the president was “really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election. He thinks they’re corrupt and … that there are still people over there engaged that are absolutely corrupt.”

Perry told the Christian Broadcasting Network that his dealings in Ukraine were simply aimed at eliminating corruption in the country so that U.S. businesses could have confidence doing business there.

"This has been a very intense, very focused push to get Ukraine to clean up the corruption,” Perry told the Christian network. “It's a very well-known fact that this was historically a corrupt place and the message was clear: You clean up the corruption and the United States will be certainly willing to come in and help you."

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Also called to testify is Vought, whose office received a letter on Oct. 7 from House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees seeking documents relating to the hold Trump had placed on Ukraine aid prior to that July phone call.

Fox News' Chad Pergram, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Vindman’s identical twin may be called to testify

closeLt. Col. Alexander Vindman reportedly raised concerns over gaps in Trump-Zelensky transcriptVideo

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman reportedly raised concerns over gaps in Trump-Zelensky transcript

According to the New York Times, Vindman testified that crucial words and phrases were edited out of the final transcript of the July 25 call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president; chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports from the North Lawn.

The identical twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official who shared before House committees this week his concerns about President Trump’s July phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, may also be called to testify.

CLINTON-OBAMA EMAILS SOUGHT BY GOP

Col. Vindman allegedly told impeachment investigators that his sibling, Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, an NSC lawyer handling ethics issues, had witnessed the decision to move the call’s transcript to a top secret server. House committees have contacted his lawyer, although no decision has been made, according to a person briefed on the outreach.

Col. Yevgeny Vindman didn’t listen in on the call, during which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic front-runner Joe Biden and other matters, according to a person familiar with his brother’s testimony. However, Col. Yevgeny Vindman was allegedly present when his brother, at the direction of superiors, reported the call to the NSC’s general counsel, John Eisenberg, according to a person familiar with Col. Alexander Vindman’s testimony.

He allegedly reported his concerns to Eisenberg in person at the NSC shortly after the Trump-Zelensky phone call took place. During that meeting, Col. Alexander Vindman read the notes he took while listening in on the leaders’ call in his capacity as director of Ukraine policy and expressed his concern.

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Original Article

NSC official to testify that he was ‘concerned’ after listening to Ukraine phone call, alerted counsel

closeLt. Col. Vindman to testify on concerns over Trump's Ukraine callVideo

Lt. Col. Vindman to testify on concerns over Trump's Ukraine call

Former deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo and Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz weigh in on the impeachment fight.

As part of the House’s impeachment inquiry, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a director of national security affairs at the National Security Council, is expected to testify Tuesday that he listened to the July phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Situation Room, and reported his concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel.

In prepared remarks obtained by Fox News, Vindman 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.

MORE QUESTIONS EMERGE ABOUT HUNTER BIDEN'S BUSINESS DEALINGS, EVEN AS TRUMP IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY INTENSIFIES

Joe Biden defends son's business dealings in UkraineVideo

The Democrats’ inquiry was opened after a whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump, during the 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 whistleblower’s complaint about the contents of Trump’s phone call to the intelligence community inspector general in August has since led to a parade of witnesses testifying behind closed doors about the president's effort to pressure Ukraine, including allegations that he held back military aid as leverage.

The White House and the president’s allies have maintained there was no such quid pro quo.

“We had a very good conversation with the Ukrainian president. The conversation was — was perfect. They don't ever talk about the conversation. It started with a whistleblower. Now they don't want the whistleblower. Then they had a second whistleblower. Now they don't want the second whistleblower,” Trump said Monday to media about the allegations.

Steve Hilton: The truth about impeachmentVideo

Vindman also is expected to say that Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, made political demands of the Ukrainians during a July 10 visit to Washington,“Following the debriefing meeting, I reported my concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel. Dr. Hill also reported the incident to the NSC’s lead counsel.”

Sondland, whose name surfaced in the whistleblower complaint in August, testified that Trump told him there was no quid pro quo when it came to Trump’s call with Zelensky.

Sondland testified on October 17.

Also expected to testify this week are Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger on Wednesday and the National Security Council’s current Russia and Europe director, Tim Morrison on Wednesday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday the House will vote this week on a resolution to formalize — and establish the parameters — of the Trump impeachment inquiry. In a letter sent to Democratic House lawmakers, Pelosi, D-Calif., said the resolution "affirms the ongoing, existing investigation" and "establishes the procedure" for future investigative steps.

Pelosi on Sept. 24 announced the formalization of the Trump impeachment inquiry, 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."

President Trump dismisses the need for an impeachment teamVideo

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Vindman also is expected to tell lawmakers at his Tuesday morning closed-door deposition about his background and ideology: “I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics.”

His remarks continued: “For over 20 years as an active-duty United States military officer and diplomat, I have served this country in a nonpartisan manner, and have done so with the utmost respect and professionalism for both Republican and Democratic administrations.”

Fox News' Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

Original Article

Reeker expected to testify this weekend in impeachment inquiry

closeFox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 23Video

Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 23

Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 23 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com

Ambassador Philip Reeker is expected to appear in closed session before three Democrat-led House committees conducting an impeachment investigation into President Trump on Saturday, a congressional source told Fox News.

REPUBLICANS PRESS FOR WHISTLEBLOWER TESTIMONY, AND FOR ANSWERS ON A HEARING DELAY

Acting Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker is expected to appear in a closed session Saturday.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker is expected to appear in a closed session Saturday. (State Department)

Reeker’s testimony was originally scheduled for Thursday but members did not want to question the witness during a ceremony where the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., will lie in state at the Capitol. Cummings’ funeral will be in Baltimore on Friday.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who is the top-ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state, demanding that the deposition be rescheduled to a business day to allow more GOP lawmakers to attend.

Jordan called on Reeker to explain the reasoning behind the rare Saturday deposition. He said he regrettably had to ask Reeker directly for the information because he had he has "no confidence" that Rep. Adam Schiff, as the leader of the impeachment inquiry, is "operating fairly or in good faith."

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

Former Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Charles Kupperman is expected to appear in a closed session on Monday and Timothy Morrison, a special assistant to the president, is expected to appear in a closed session next Thursday. The Committees are in ongoing discussions with other witnesses.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Original Article

Top diplomats to testify to Congress despite opposition from State Dept., White House

closeNetworks refuse to air Trump ads aimed at Biden's ties to UkraineVideo

Networks refuse to air Trump ads aimed at Biden's ties to Ukraine

The media continue to cave to Democrats as networks refuse to air a Trump campaign ad aimed at opponent Joe Biden. Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce reacts to that and the Biden campaign attacking a new Ukraine op-ed in The New York Times.

Two diplomats at the center of the Ukraine controversy are now set to testify to House lawmakers as part of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, despite significant pushback from both the State Department and the White House.

Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. envoy to Kiev and someone President Trump has privately called "bad news," is scheduled to sit for a potentially explosive transcribed interview with lawmakers and staff on Capitol Hill on Friday — although it was not a definite that she would appear.

TRUMP ALLED FORMER UKRAINE DIPLOMAT 'BAD NEWS'…AND NOW SHE'S SET TO TESTIFY

Trump and his allies have sought to paint Yovanovitch as a rogue employee with an anti-Trump bias. She was ousted in May amid alleged attempts by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani to press Ukraine into investigating Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. Those efforts ultimately led to the impeachment inquiry after the emergence of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — in which Trump asked the premier to “look into” the allegations about Biden's conduct in the country.

While Yovanovitch, a long-time diplomat, has been praised by her colleagues as a "top-notch diplomat," Trump mentioned her in the call with Zelensky as “bad news” and someone who is “going to go through some things.” Giuliani and other critics have accused her of working to undermine Trump’s interests.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, is set to testify on Friday on Capitol Hill. (Mikhail Palinchak, Presidential Press Service Pool Photo via AP)

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, is set to testify on Friday on Capitol Hill. (Mikhail Palinchak, Presidential Press Service Pool Photo via AP)

Also Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland announced that he will testify to Congress, a week after the State Department directed him not to appear before lawmakers at a scheduled deposition. The shift comes after House Democrats on Wednesday subpoenaed him to appear before the joint committees to testify. He said in a statement that he is scheduled to appear on Thursday.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BLOCKS AMBASSADOR FROM TESTIFYING IN HOUSE IMPEACHMENT DEPOSITION

“Notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction to not testify, Ambassador Sondland will honor the Committees’ subpoena, and he looks forward to testifying on Thursday,” the statement said. "Ambassador Sondland has at all times acted with integrity and in the interests of the United States. He has no agenda apart from answering the Committees’ questions fully and truthfully.”

Trump had dismissed the deposition as a “kangaroo court,” while Democrats warned that a failure for Sondland and other witnesses to appear was evidence of obstruction of Congress.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see,” Trump tweeted.

State Department blocks Amb. Sondland from impeachment testimonyVideo

Democrats claim that Trump used $400 million in military aid as leverage in a quid pro quo for the Ukrainians to investigate a political opponent, and opened an impeachment inquiry, firing off a raft of subpoenas within a few days to top administration and White House officials. While a call transcript shows the president urging a Biden-related investigation, Trump denies any 'quid pro quo' claims.

Sondland is a wealthy hotelier, philanthropist and contributor to political campaigns. He is a key figure as he had texted with Bill Taylor, a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, arguing over allegations of a quid pro quo.

In early September, Taylor wrote: "Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?"

Days later, he followed up: "As I said over the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."

Sondland responded, defending the president: "Bill, I believe you are incorrect about President Trump's intentions. The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind. The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign.”

It is not clear how much of the change in Sondland’s position is his own, and how much the Trump administration has shifted on the question of whether he should appear. Axios reported Friday that Republicans close to Trump encouraged the president to let the ambassador come before the committees and that his allies believe Sondland's testimony will be helpful to them.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ALL-NEW FOXBUSINESS.COM

But the White House has been aggressive in its pushback against the impeachment inquiry, which it sees as illegitimate and politically motivated. On Wednesday the White House issued a defiant letter saying it would not cooperate with the inquiry.

"President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process," the letter stated. "Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice. In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."

Fox News' Gregg Re, Lillian LeCroy, Nick Kalman, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

Ukraine whistleblower wants to testify in writing instead of appearing in person, report says

closeTrump wants whistleblower 'exposed and questioned' after reports of ties to 2020 DemocratVideo

Trump wants whistleblower 'exposed and questioned' after reports of ties to 2020 Democrat

Former U.S. attorney for Utah Brett Tolman says the president needs to be granted some ability to defend himself in Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

The Ukraine whistleblower at the center of the House Democratic impeachment inquiry wants to testify to Congress in writing instead of appearing in person, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal reported that lawyers for the anonymous CIA officer have asked lawmakers if the whistleblower could submit testimony in writing, but Congress has not yet responded.

WHISTLEBLOWER LAWYER ACKNOWLEDGES CLIENT HAD 'CONTACT' WITH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

The request comes amid Democrats' desire to protect the identity of the whistleblower, along with worries over safety and media scrutiny. President Trump and Republicans believe the president should have a right to confront his accuser, and have also cited new reports indicating the whistleblower could have partisan motives. His attorneys have acknowledged he is a registered Democrat who has worked with at least one 2020 candidate. On Thursday, reports surfaced that the candidate was Joe Biden.

Democrats formally launched an impeachment inquiry after the anonymous whistleblower filed a complaint about President Trump pressing Ukrainian officials this summer to investigate 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business activities in Ukraine.

Other interviews are being conducted on Capitol Hill, as Democrats intensify their impeachment inquiry: Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. envoy to Kiev, is scheduled to sit for a transcribed interview with lawmakers and staff on Friday.

Trump has pushed for information on the identity of the Ukraine whistleblower. In recent tweets, the president has asked, “why aren’t we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him.”

GRAPHIC LANGUAGE WARNING: Trump says Biden was only a good VP because he understood how to 'kiss Obama's a--'Video

During a rally in Minnesota on Thursday night, Trump cited a new report in The Washington Examiner that the whistleblower at the center of Democrats' impeachment push had worked with Biden. The whistleblower's anti-Trump attorney, Mark Zaid, acknowledged earlier in the week that his client had "contact" with current presidential contenders "from both parties."

TRUMP BELITTLES BIDENS WITH GRAPHIC LANGUAGE AT MINNEAPOLIS RALLY, AS CHAOS UNFOLDS OUTSIDE ARENA

Fox News recently reported of the possibility that a secret session between the whistleblower and lawmakers could be held away from the U.S. Capitol complex. “Bringing someone up here [to Capitol Hill] is tough,” said one congressional source who asked to not be identified.

It’s unclear where lawmakers could hold such a forum with the whistleblower. A secure facility exists on Capitol Hill, as well as in various quarters of government – ranging from the Department of Justice to the intelligence community.

Earlier this week, the whistleblower’s attorneys said, “The whistleblower is not the story. To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources. For that reason the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant."

Fox News’ Gregg Re and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

Original Article