The latest news on the impeachment inquiry
- House Democrats have released transcripts of the testimony of two key figures in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland
- House Democrats sent a letter to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney requesting he appear before impeachment inquiry committees on Friday.
- Republican leaders are considering temporarily assigning Representative Jim Jordan to the Intelligence Committee for public impeachment hearings.
- The Justice Department concluded senior White House advisers have "absolute immunity" from congressional subpoenas for their testimony, according to a letter obtained by CBS News.
Washington -- U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, in an addendum to his October testimony, is claiming that his memory has been "refreshed" after reviewing others' testimony. Now, in revised testimony dated Monday, November 4, Sondland said he recalls that aid to Ukraine was, according to his understanding, conditioned on Ukraine making a public anti-corruption statement.
Sondland initially told lawmakers he was unaware Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was targeting former Vice President Joe Biden by urging Ukrainian officials to open an investigation into Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which had put Biden's son on its board of directors.
In the addendum, Sondland said he now remembers a September conversation with Andrey Yermak, an aide to Ukraine's president, in which he "said that the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks."
On Tuesday, House Democrats released transcripts of the testimony by Sondland and former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, both of whom are central witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.
Earlier, Democrats sent a letter to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney requesting his testimony, a request that the White House shot down hours later.
The chairs of the committees wrote that Mulvaney "may have been directly involved" in efforts by Mr. Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to withhold aid from Ukraine. Mulvaney did not comply with an earlier subpoena for documents related to his involvement with Ukraine policy.
"Past Democrat and Republican Administrations would not be inclined to permit Senior Advisers to the President to participate in such a ridiculous, partisan, illegitimate proceeding - and neither is this one," spokesman Hogan Gidley said Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels released transcripts of hours-long hearings they held with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley, a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Yovanovitch and McKinley are just two of several current and former Trump administration officials who been summoned to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, which was formalized through a House resolution last week. Yovanovitch was recalled early from her post in the spring, and McKinley resigned in part over the lack of support for her among State Department officials.
The top Democrats on the committees leading the inquiry said the testimony of both diplomats highlighted the "contamination" of American foreign policy by allies of the president who sought to create an "irregular back channel" to accomplish Mr. Trump's personal and political objectives.
"As we move towards this new public phase of the impeachment inquiry, the American public will begin to see for themselves the evidence that the committees have collected," Representatives Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney said in a statement. "With each new interview, we learn more about the President's attempt to manipulate the levers of power to his personal political benefit."
DNC calls Sondland's revised testimony a "nightmare" for Trump
6:55 p.m.: Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez described Sondland's revised testimony as a "nightmare" for Mr. Trump and Republicans.
"For weeks, Trump and his Republican allies used Sondland's denials as Exhibit A in their effort to protect Trump. But now Sondland admitted the truth, and it's a nightmare for Trump," Perez said in a statement to CBS News.
"It's long past time for Republicans to put country above party and hold this president accountable. No one is above the law - not even the president."
-- Kathryn Watson
White House lawyers to take lead on impeachment defense
6:21 p.m.: White House lawyers are expected to take the lead on defending the president in the impeachment inquiry as it moves to its public phase, CBS News has learned.
Throughout the Mueller investigation, the president relied on a team of personal attorneys to represent him on television and in the criminal proceeding. But government lawyers will now take the lead in defending the president against Democrats seeking to remove him from office, a reflection of the fact that this investigation is based on actions the president took while in the White House.
The president's personal attorneys will still have a role to play in certain aspects of the impeachment inquiry, but they will also be busy with litigation over their clients tax returns that is headed to the Supreme Court and other legal challenges facing the president outside of Washington. -- Paula Reid
Graham won't read impeachment transcripts, calls process "B.S."
4:09 p.m.: Lindsey Graham, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, doesn't plan on reading the transcripts of testimony from Volker or Sondland, declaring the entire deposition and impeachment process "B.S."
Graham dismissed Sondland's apparent reversal in which he now admits he thought Ukraine aid was tied to Ukraine making a public anti-corruption statement. Graham suggested he doesn't care what any "bureaucrat" like Sondland thinks. But Sondland is no bureaucrat -- he was a prominent businessman before becoming ambassador and was a strong supporter of the president, donating $1 million to his inaugural fund.
"That's his opinion," Graham said of Sondland. "All I can say is that the president of Ukraine didn't believe that. The president of the United States on the phone call didn't say that ... if the person being threatened with withholding the aid, if they say, 'I wasn't threatened,' I don't care what any bureaucrat says." -- Alan He and Kathryn Watson
White House responds to release of Sondland and Volker transcripts
3:30 p.m.: White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham attempted to paint a narrative that the deposition transcripts from Sondland and Volker help rather than hurt the White House. It's the media, she insisted, that's crafting a misleading narrative, even as Americans can read the hundreds of pages for themselves.
"Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought," Grisham said in a statement. "Ambassador Sondland squarely states that he 'did not know, (and still does not know) when, why or by whom the aid was suspended.' He also said he 'presumed' there was a link to the aid--but cannot identify any solid source for that assumption.
"By contrast, Volker's testimony confirms there could not have been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know about the military aid hold at the time. No amount of salacious media-biased headlines, which are clearly designed to influence the narrative, change the fact that the president has done nothing wrong." -- Kathryn Watson
Sondland revises testimony, says he now recalls Ukraine aid being linked to public anti-corruption statement
2:00 p.m.: In a multi-page addendum to his testimony, all of which was released Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland claimed that his memory has been "refreshed" after reviewing others' testimony. Now, in revised testimony dated Monday, November 4, Sondland said he recalls that aid to Ukraine was, according to his understanding, conditioned on Ukraine making a public anti-corruption statement.
Sondland, a Trump donor whose initial testimony seemed to reflect favorably upon the president, had initially testified he was unaware Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani was targeting former Vice President Joe Biden by urging Ukrainian officials to open an investigation into Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which had put Biden's son, Hunter Biden, on its board.
In the addendum to his testimony, Sondland said he now more vividly remembers a conversation with Andrey Yermak, an aide to Ukraine's president.
"I now recall speaking individually with Mr. Yermak" at a September meeting in Ukraine, "where I said that the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks," Sondland said in his revised testimony.
At multiple points in his revised testimony, Sondland said he now recalls details that were previously cloudy. -- Kathryn Watson and Nancy Cordes
Sondland and Volker testimony transcripts released
1:50 p.m.: House Democrats have released transcripts of the testimony of two key figures in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland.
In October, Sondland testified he and other diplomats reluctantly worked with Rudy Giuliani at the direction of President Trump. Sondland and others have testified that it was Giuliani who wanted to push Ukraine to investigate U.S. election interference in 2016 and also Burisma, an energy company that employed Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.
Volker testified that he had expressed misgivings about Rudy Giuliani's influence on the president's view of Ukraine, and he submitted text messages to Congress that included exchanges with Sondland and another diplomat about the efforts to urge Ukraine to announce investigations into Democrats and 2016 election interference.
Read the transcripts here:
-- Stefan Becket
Impeachment committees request deposition with Mick Mulvaney
12:40 p.m.: The chairs of the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry sent a letter asking Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to appear before the committees on Friday, November 8.
"Based on evidence gathered in the impeachment inquiry and public reporting, we believe that you possess substantial first-hand knowledge and information relevant to the House's impeachment inquiry," the letter said.
The letter says Mulvaney "may have been directly involved" in efforts by Mr. Trump and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to withhold aid from Ukraine.
However, the White House has refused to cooperate with the inquiry, arguing that it is illegitimate. Mulvaney is also the director of the Office of Management and Budget, which has also refused to cooperate with the inquiry.
The committees subpoenaed Mulvaney for documents in early October, which he defied.
During a White House press briefing in October, Mulvaney appeared to admit the administration had in fact engaged in a quid pro quo with the government of Ukraine.
"[Did] he also mentioned to me, in the past, that the corruption related to the DNC server?" Mulvaney told reporters, referring to the president. "Absolutely, no question about that. But that's it. And that's why we held up the money."
Mulvaney later tried to walk back his remarks. -- Grace Segers
House impeachment witnesses unlikely to appear at Tuesday's hearings
9:55 a.m.: More than 40 minutes after he was scheduled to arrive for his closed-door interview with House investigators, Wells Griffith, special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for international energy and environment, had not arrived at the Capitol. CBS News has not received an official notice from the committee, but it seems unlikely he will appear.
Michael Duffey, the Office of Management and Budget associate director for national security programs was asked to appear today, as well. However, an OMB official confirmed to CBS News on Sunday he would not be appearing before the committee. -- Rebecca Kaplan and Sara Cook
Trump slams "deranged" impeachment inquiry at Kentucky rally
7:56 a.m.: At a rally in Kentucky Monday evening, Mr. Trump slammed what he called the "deranged hyper-partisan impeachment witch hunt." He also stoked anger toward the "fake news media" at the rally, specifically targeting the "disgusting" Washington Post, and told his supporters to "get 'em out" -- though he quickly qualified "be very gentle, please, I don't want to get sued."
His supporters, clad in white shirts reading "READ THE TRANSCRIPT," jeered. The message on the shirts referred to a memo summarizing the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president which Mr. Trump has incorrectly referred to as a direct transcript.
The rally also featured an appearance from Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Paul, a Republican, claimed that "we now know the name of the whistleblower," and called on the media to "do your job" and reveal the identity. His short speech, which also included a call to subpoena Hunter Biden and the whistleblower, prompted cheers of "do your job!" from the crowd.
Giuliani associate Parnas to comply with congressional subpoena
6:48 a.m. An attorney for Giuliani associate Lev Parnas tells CBS News that Parnas will comply with a congressional subpoena from impeachment investigators. He will provide documentation and answer questions, subject to limitations on his legal privileges, including that of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Attorney Joseph Bondy said it's not that his client is now prepared to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry involving President Trump, but rather that Parnas is now willing comply with a subpoena.
In late October, Parnas pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges he illegally funneled foreign donations to political committees supporting President Trump and other Republicans. -- Pat Milton
Republicans consider moving Jordan to Intel Committee for public hearings
Monday, 6:11 p.m.: As the impeachment inquiry enters its public phase, top Republicans in the House are weighing whether to temporarily assign Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the panel that will conduct the initial public hearings. Discussions about adding Jordan to the committee are "active and serious," a senior Republican involved in the process told CBS News.
Jordan, currently the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and an outspoken defender of the president, has essentially led Republican efforts in the closed-door impeachment proceedings thus far, where three committees have been able to participate. His top investigator, Steve Castor, has conducted the bulk of witness questioning.
If Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were to temporarily assign Jordan to the Intelligence Committee, he would have to make room for him by removing a current member. The move would also undermine Devin Nunes, the committee's top Republican. McCarthy has sole discretion over Intelligence Committee assignments.
Read the full story here.