Key facts and latest news
- Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, returned to Capitol Hill for an unannounced second meeting with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. Michael McKinley, the former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also testified before the House committees.
- Former Vice President Joe Biden, at the Democratic debate, responded to President Trump’s attacks, saying he and his son “did nothing wrong.”
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday she won’t call a full House vote to formally authorize the impeachment inquiry.
- On a July call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.
Washington — The former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, has returned to Capitol Hill for a second unannounced meeting with lawmakers. Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also testified before House committees leading the impeachment inquiry.
McKinley testified that he resigned over the department’s treatment of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post earlier this year. Volker left the Capitol after nearly five hours, during which he reviewed a transcript of his earlier testimony.
McKinley, who resigned last week, is no longer a State Department employee. According to an official working on the impeachment inquiry, he agreed to appear voluntarily for a closed transcribed interview
Last night, given his first opportunity to address President Trump’s attacks against him and his son before a large national audience, former Vice President Joe Biden said he and Hunter Biden had done nothing wrong, and encouraged voters to instead focus on Mr. Trump’s actions in office.
“My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden said at the Democratic debate in Ohio Tuesday night. “I carried out the policy of the United States government of rooting out corruption in Ukraine. What I think is important is we focus on why it’s so important to remove this man from office.”
All of the dozen Democrats on stage said they support at minimum the impeachment inquiry in the House.
“Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said.
Just hours earlier, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents about his efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government, with his attorney calling the impeachment inquiry “unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate.”
The House committees leading the impeachment probe had initially issued a voluntary request for documents, and issued the subpoena after Giuliani refused to hand them over.
Two of Giuliani’s associates who were involved in his Ukraine work were indicted on federal campaign finance charges last week. Federal investigators are looking into Giuliani’s involvement with the two men, and the investigation will include any business dealings Giuliani may have had with them, a person familiar with the matter previously told CBS News. Giuliani denied any knowledge of a federal investigation.
Pelosi says impeachment didn’t come up at heated White House meeting
4:39 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the topic of impeachment didn’t come up at a meeting of congressional leaders and administration officials at the White House on the situation in Syria.
Pelosi and Democratic leaders said the meeting devolved into chaos, with the president insulting them and calling Pelosi a “third-grade politician.”
“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown, sad to say,” Pelosi told reporters on the White House driveway after the meeting.
Read more here.
Ex-Pompeo adviser resigned over treatment of former Ukraine ambassador
2:24 p.m.: McKinley, the former senior adviser to Pompeo, told lawmakers he resigned over the department’s failure to defend Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post early.
A source familiar with McKinley’s testimony said he testified that he was upset there was no statement or letter supporting Yovanovitch, a respected career diplomat. Another source said McKinley also testified McKinley testified about political targeting at the State Department and the mistreatment of career diplomats beyond Yovanovitch. — Rebecca Kaplan and Margaret Brennan
Trump accuses Obama of “corruption” in the 2016 election
1:43 p.m.: Mr. Trump twice on Wednesday suggested that his predecessor may have been involved in “corruption,” promoting the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine worked against the Trump campaign in 2016.
“Maybe it goes right up to President Obama. I happen to think it does,” Mr. Trump said. There is no evidence that President Obama interfered in any way in the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump also urged Senator Lindsey Graham to continue investigating the origins of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, suggesting that Graham might look into Mr. Obama as well. — Grace Segers
Trump holds press conference with Italian president
1 p.m.: The president is holding a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the East Room. Watch live here.
Trump praises Giuliani, saying he was “seeking out corruption”
11:39 a.m.: Speaking to reporters in a joint press availability with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Mr. Trump praised Giuliani, and gently pushed back against reports that former National Security Adviser John Bolton saw Giuliani as a “hand grenade.”
“I don’t know that he got along with Rudy Giuliani,” Mr. Trump said. He added that Giuliani was the “best mayor in the history of New York,” and said his personal attorney was only interested in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.
“Rudy was seeking out corruption and I think there’s nothing wrong with seeking out corruption,” Mr. Trump said. He also suggested without evidence that President Obama may be involved in corruption in Ukraine.
— Grace Segers
Former Pompeo adviser to testify before House committees
9:34 a.m.: Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is testifying before the House committees undertaking the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday. McKinley will testify in a closed deposition.
McKinley, who resigned last week, is no longer a State Department employee and according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry, he agreed to appear voluntarily for a closed transcribed interview. McKinley was a cautious, thoughtful career diplomat, and was not the type to bash the administration.
Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, also arrived for an unannounced second meeting with the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.
Volker is here to review the transcript from his October 3 testimony with his attorney. A number of House Republicans from the Freedom Caucus came to the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility around 10:30 to try to sit in on today’s interview and to demand to see the Volker transcript. They said they were originally told the transcript would be available by noon today; now they are being told it’s not ready and there’s no time frame for when it will be.
Wednesday is also the deadline set by the committees for Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani who were indicted on campaign fraud charges last week, to turn over requested documents. — Grace Segers, Rebecca Kaplan and Christina Ruffini
Pentagon refuses to comply with Congressional subpoena
7:21 a.m.: In a letter obtained by CBS News’ David Martin, the Department of Defense wrote to House panel leaders that it will not comply with a subpoena for documents and communications, arguing that the impeachment inquiry has not been validly authorized.
The Pentagon also cited executive privilege in not releasing information that “appears to consist of confidential Executive Branch communications.” Separately, the Department took issue with the House committee’s threat that refusing to comply would constitute “evidence of obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry.”
“Invoking reasonable legal defenses to a subpoena, including invoking legal privileges that are held by the president, in no way manifests evidence of obstruction or otherwise warrants an adverse inference. Indeed, the very idea that reasonably asserting legal rights is itself evidence of wrongdoing turns fundamental notions of fairness on their head and is inconsistent with the rule of law. In fact, the department is diligently preserving and collecting potentially responsive documents,” they wrote.
The move follows a pattern of Trump administration officials and key agencies declining their respective subpoenas in the House impeachment probe. Some State Department officials, however, have ignored attempts by the White House to intervene, and have offered eye-opening testimony to House members in the past week.
Biden defends himself at debate
Tuesday, 8:16 p.m.: In one of the early exchanges of the night, Biden addressed Mr. Trump’s frequent criticism of Hunter Biden’s decision to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president. Moderator Anderson Cooper noted there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden, although Mr. Trump has called on Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens.
“My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong,” Biden said. “I carried out the policy of the United States government of rooting out corruption in Ukraine. What I think is important is we focus on why it’s so important to remove this man from office.”
Pelosi won’t hold full House vote on impeachment inquiry
Tuesday, 7:26 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s not planning to hold a full House vote to formally authorize an impeachment inquiry, following a meeting with House Democrats to discuss the possibility Tuesday night.
“There’s no requirement that we have a vote, and so at this time, we will not be having a vote,” Pelosi said at a press conference after the meeting. “We’re not here to call bluffs.”
Republicans have argued that the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate because the full House has not voted to formally begin an investigation. The inquiry is currently being carried out by several committees. The White House counsel has also cited the lack of a full vote as a reason that the White House is not cooperating with the inquiry. A formal House vote is not a step that is required by the Constitution to begin an impeachment inquiry, although previous inquiries have started with such a vote. — Grace Segers
Read more here.
Ex-congressman cooperating with feds in Giuliani case
Tuesday, 6:28 p.m.: Pete Sessions, the former congressman who received $20,000 in campaign contributions linked to two Giuliani associates now under federal indictment, is cooperating with federal investigators looking into Giuliani’s dealings with the men.
“Mr. Sessions is cooperating with the US Attorney from the Southern District of New York and will be providing documents to their office related to this matter over the next couple of weeks as requested,” Sessions spokesman Matt Mackowiak said in a statement. Sessions has denied any wrongdoing.
In the indictment against Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman last week, federal prosecutors in New York alleged the two men illegally funneled money to a super PAC that donated $20,000 to the campaign of an unnamed congressman. Public records made clear Sessions was the congressman in question. In exchange, prosecutors said the congressman pressed administration officials to oust the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Tuesday evening that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed Sessions for documents related to the effort to recall the ambassador. The Journal reported Giuliani is the “primary focus of the subpoena.” The former New York mayor has said he is unaware of any investigation into his dealings and has denied wrongdoing. — Stefan Becket and Andres Triay
Pence rejects Democrats’ request for documents
Tuesday, 6:07 p.m.: Vice President Mike Pence won’t provide House investigators documents they requested as part of the impeachment probe, his counsel wrote in a letter to committee chairmen.
The letter cites the lack of a full floor vote authorizing an inquiry as justification for rejecting the request, saying the “‘impeachment inquiry’ has been designed and implemented in a manner that calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights.”
“Never before in history has the Speaker of the House attempted to launch an ‘impeachment inquiry’ against a President without a majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process,” wrote Matthew Morgan, counsel to the vice president. — Stefan Becket
Giuliani refuses to comply with congressional subpoena, parts ways with attorney
Tuesday, 3:50 p.m.: Giuliani is rebuffing a congressional subpoena for documents related to his work on Ukraine, citing a letter from the White House counsel despite his status as a private citizen. He has also parted ways with his attorney, John Sale, who he recently hired to represent him in the impeachment inquiry.
In a letter to the counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, Sale said Giuliani “adopts all the positions set forth in” White House counsel Pat Cipollone letter from October 8, in which Cipollone said the executive branch would not comply with subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry. In his letter, Sale described the impeachment inquiry as “unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate.” He also said the documents requested in the subpoena fall under attorney-client and executive privilege.
The House committees initially asked Giuliani to surrender documents voluntarily, and issued a subpoena after Giuliani refused. The deadline for the subpoena was today. — Stefan Becket