Judge Hears Argument on Withdrawn Subpoena: Impeachment Update

Andrew Harris
Judge Hears Argument on Withdrawn Subpoena: Impeachment Update

(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats leading the panels running the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump announced their next steps during a news conference Tuesday in Washington.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal and Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney took part, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The impeachment resolution is here.

Here are the latest developments:

Judge Hears Argument on Withdrawn Subpoena (5:41 p.m.)

A lawyer for former White House aide Charles Kupperman urged a federal judge to decide whether he must honor a House Intelligence Committee subpoena demanding his testimony or obey Trump’s order that he refuse to comply -- even though the subpoena has been withdrawn.

Attorneys for the president and the House told U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington the matter is moot and that the case filed Oct. 25 by Kupperman, a former deputy national security adviser, should be thrown out.

Kupperman lawyer Charles Cooper said he didn’t trust lawmakers not to seek his client’s testimony if the case were dismissed, even after House attorney Todd Tatelman told Leon the House wasn’t planning to do so.

The judge told Cooper that in that case, “obviously, they’d be right back in this courtroom.” Leon reserved decision on which faction Kupperman was required to obey and whether the court could even consider the question, saying only that he’d put it “at the top of my priority list.”

Judiciary Panel to Begin Debate on Charges (3:28 p.m.)

The Judiciary Committee tentatively plans to begin considering the impeachment articles Wednesday evening with questions from lawmakers, according to a House official familiar with the plans. This is the process for considering revisions to finalize the measure for an eventual floor vote.

The committee will adjourn overnight, then continue on Thursday until the work is finished, the official said. -- Billy House

McConnell Says Trial Length Up to Senators (3:02 p.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said an impeachment trial would begin sometime in early to mid-January.

“We’ll let you have a date as soon as we have it,” McConnell said.

He said he and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer haven’t met to discuss a trial procedure yet. Republicans control the Senate 53-47, and a 51-member majority vote will decide issues that arise.

McConnell said he expects House Democratic impeachment managers to make their case against Trump and the president’s lawyers will give a response. Then senators will decide by majority vote whether to call witnesses and hear evidence or whether they’ve “heard enough” and are ready to vote on the charges, he said.

McConnell noted he has said earlier that he would be “totally surprised if there were 67 senators” who want to remove the president, and that he still believes that is the case.

Schumer called on the White House to offer a “fact-based” defense, saying “it is not lost” on senators that White House has blocked witnesses and hasn’t directly rebutted the charges. -- Laura Litvan

Barr ‘Smart Enough’ Not to Deal With Ukraine (1:56 p.m.)

Attorney General William Barr said Ukrainian officials never reached out to him after Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and “I was smart enough not to get involved with Ukraine.”

“I’ve had no dealings with Ukraine,” Barr said at an event Tuesday hosted by the Wall Street Journal. “And I’ve had no dealings with Rudy Giuliani about Ukraine.”

Asked about the two articles of impeachment introduced by Democrats on Tuesday, Barr said he wouldn’t comment on the first, which deals with Trump’s Ukraine call, and rejected the second, which alleges the president has obstructed justice. He said the administration has invoked a “legal privilege” in not complying with the House Democrats’ demands for information. -- Chris Strohm

Trump Undecided on Role in Trial, Aide Says (1:39 p.m.)

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Fox News she doesn’t know yet if Trump would participate in a Senate trial.

”Oh, I don’t know yet. I’m not going to get ahead of what he may do,” she said. “But I’m sure we will participate in some way, certainly with our counsel. And we’re going to be calling on witnesses and we’ll hope they will participate.”

Her last point contrasts with the view of one of Trump’s private lawyers, Jay Sekulow, who said on his syndicated radio show that he leans toward trying the case in the Senate “on the record that has been submitted” rather than calling additional witnesses or having other depositions.

Trump’s legal team hasn’t decided that question, he said.

“Whether there are additional witnesses called, or other depositions, or whether they just try the case on the record that has been submitted, the case is very, very weak so that is kind of where I would lean right now. It’s early to say,” Sekulow said.

House Judiciary Panel Releases Resolution (11:12 a.m.)

The Judiciary Committee released the two impeachment articles, combined in a single resolution.

The resolution said Trump “warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

In the abuse of power article, the resolution states that Trump “abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit.”

“He also betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.”

In the obstruction article, it states that “no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impeded so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’”

“President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self governance and the rule of law,” the resolution says. -- Billy House

Trump to Address Charges in Senate, Aide Says (10:11 a.m.)

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, “The president will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.”

Grisham called the impeachment effort “a baseless and partisan attempt to undermine a sitting president” and added that House Democrats “have determined that they must impeach President Trump because they cannot legitimately defeat him at the ballot box.”

The president expects to be represented by counsel in the Senate, according to a person familiar with the matter. -- Jordan Fabian

Mulvaney Says He Would Testify for Trump (9:39 a.m.)

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said that he’d testify at impeachment proceedings if Trump wanted him to.

“Part of me really wants to,” Mulvaney said Tuesday at a Wall Street Journal event in Washington. “We’ll do whatever the president wants us to do.”

Trump has told Mulvaney not to testify. -- Jordan Fabian

Democrats Target Abuse of Power, Obstruction (9:10 a.m.)

House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstructing Congress’s efforts to investigate his dealings with Ukraine.

When Trump was caught, he “engaged in unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” of Congress’s investigation, Nadler told reporters.

The Judiciary Committee will consider the articles later this week, Nadler said.

The committee leaders spoke a day after his panel concluded its second hearing into whether Trump used his office to pressure the newly elected Ukraine president to announce politically motivated investigations for Trump’s personal and political benefit.

Nadler said Trump’s actions toward Ukraine “compromised our national security and threatened the integrity of our elections.”

Schiff said that allowing Trump’s conduct to stand would leave future leaders free to be “as corrupt” as they want.

“The argument ‘why don’t you just wait’ amounts to this: Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election,” Schiff said. “Why not let him have foreign help one more time.”

“The president’s oath of office appears to mean very little to him,” Schiff said, but he added that Congress “can show that our oath means something to us.”

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement, “Americans don’t agree with this rank partisanship, but Democrats are putting on this political theater because they don’t have a viable candidate for 2020 and they know it.” -- Billy House

House Democrats to Unveil Two Articles Today (8:16 a.m.)

House Democrats plan to unveil two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Tuesday -- one on abuse of power and the other involving obstruction of Congress, a top Democrat said Tuesday.

An abuse of power count against Trump will include allegations he “betrayed his oath of office and endangered national security” and “is a clear and present danger to our elections in 2020,” Representative Katherine Clark, vice chairwoman of the Democratic caucus, told CNN.

She said there also will an obstruction of Congress article “because of all the barriers to getting to the truth that this White House and president have tried to put between the American people and the facts.”

Clark said Democratic lawmakers from swing districts have nothing to fear politically. “They are doing what’s right. They are following the truth. We’re not worried about the political ramifications. We’re worried about the future of our democracy.” -- Elizabeth Wasserman

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

Key Events

Monday’s House Judiciary hearing focused on accusations that Trump abused his office in dealing with Ukraine and obstructed a congressional investigation into the matter, indicating they may be heading toward tightly drawn articles of impeachment.The House Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here.Gordon Sondland’s transcript is here and here; Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of Holmes, a Foreign Service officer in Kyiv, is here.The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here. Philip Reeker transcript is here. Mark Sandy’s is here.

--With assistance from Jordan Fabian, Laura Litvan and Billy House.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in federal court in Washington at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman, Laurie Asséo

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