Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he is “weighing the alternatives” when it comes to testifying before Conress.
One week into the formal impeachment inquiry related to Donald Trump’s communications with Ukraine, House Democrats are facing some resistance from key players they hope to interview.
At the center of everything is a whistleblower complaint alleging that the president pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, then tried to cover up records of the conversation.
Here are the updates on impeachment as of Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Rudy Giuliani lawyered up
Giuliani’s lawyer, Jon Sale, is no stranger to presidential impeachment scandals: he was an assistant prosecutor in the Watergate case, which resulted in President Richard Nixon stepping down in the face of pending impeachment.
On Monday, three House committee chairmen issued a subpoena to the former New York City mayor, stating a “growing public record” implicating Giuliani in putting pressure on Ukraine to conduct investigations that might benefit Trump politically.
They requested records related to Giuliani’s communications with Ukraine. Giuliani has said publicly he contacted Ukrainian officials at the direction of the State Department.
Giuliani responded to the subpoena on Twitter Monday, saying “It raises significant issues concerning legitimacy and constitutional and legal issues including … attorney client and other privileges. It will be given appropriate consideration.”
Pompeo fired back at Dems over State Department depositions
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel objecting to planned State Department depositions.
Congress had been anticipating depositions with five State Department workers over the next two weeks, including with officials who were named in the whistleblower complaint.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch was slated for a closed-door deposition Wednesday. But Pompeo suggested in his letter that he would fight the request, which he called “an attempt to intimidate, bully and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”
“I will not tolerate such tactics, and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State,” he said.
Democrats were swift in their condemnation of Pompeo: “Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress – including State Department employees – is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.”
Pompeo’s statements may be an indication of how the Trump administration plans to respond to impeachment inquiry requests.
More on Pompeo: Secretary of State reportedly on the Ukraine call
News reports on Monday suggest that Pompeo was one of the administration officials who listened in on Trump’s July call with Zelensky.
Pompeo was not listed in the whistleblower complaint, but he was also subpoenaed by House Democrats for any documents relating to the State Department’s role in arranging conversations between Giuliani and Ukraine officials.
Giuliani posted a screenshot of a text message on Twitter last week that appeared to come from the now-resigned State Department special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who was also expected in a deposition this week.
Trump pushed story that rules were changed to allow whistleblower complaint
The Office of the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson, a Trump-appointed official, pushed back on a claim that the anonymous whistleblower was only able to file a complaint because rules were changed recently in order to allow second-hand information to qualify.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy also spread the claim: “Whistleblowers were required to provide direct, first-hand knowledge of allegations…but just days before the Ukraine whistleblower came forward, the IC secretly removed that requirement from the complaint form.”
The ICIG released a statement on Monday refuting those claims. The ICIG statement says that under law, second-hand information is acceptable, not only eye-witness accounts. That law has not changed.
The ICIG maintains that the whistleblower acted in accordance with the law and that the complaint was indeed an “urgent concern.”
It wasn’t the form that was changed but the accompanying informational materials that the ICIG says “incorrectly” suggested whistleblowers must possess first-hand information to file a complaint.
Trump asked Australia, other nations for help with investigation into Mueller probe
White House and Justice Department officials said on Monday that Trump has requested help from foreign countries, including at least Australia, in Attorney General William Barr’s investigation into the Robert Mueller Russia probe.
An unspecified number of nations’ leaders were asked on behalf of Barr, who has been leading an inquiry into whether U.S. officials abused their authority in the Mueller investigation into interference in the 2016 U.S. election.
“As the Department of Justice has previously announced, a team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating the origins of the U.S. counterintelligence probe of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Mr. Durham is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the president has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the attorney general and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials.”
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, Savannah Behrmann, Ledyard King, Kevin Johnson, David Jackson and Kristine Phillips
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