House implies Trump lied in Mueller probe

Our Foreign Staff
Donald Trump - 2017 Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee plans to hear from eight witnesses in open hearings this week in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

The first ones, testifying Tuesday, will be Jennifer Williams of Vice President Mike Pence’s office, National Security Council official Alexander Vindman, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and NSC official Timothy Morrison.

The House Judiciary Committee needs to see materials and transcripts from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury including, potentially, evidence that Trump might have lied, an attorney for House Democrats told a US appeals court in Washington on Monday.

The lawyer, Douglas Letter, made that claim in opposing the Justice Department’s request to keep those materials under seal while it appeals a lower court order granting the committee’s request for the records last month.

Chief Judge Beryl Howell on October 25 rejected Justice Department arguments that the House impeachment process doesn’t qualify as a judicial proceeding for the purposes of turning over grand jury materials that are ordinarily kept sealed.

Justice Department lawyer Mark Freeman reiterated that argument Monday before a three-judge panel. The panel includes one judge appointed by a Democratic president and two appointed by Republicans. One, Neomi Rao, was placed on the court by Trump earlier this year.

Defending Howell’s ruling, Letter told the court there’s evidence that “very sadly, the president might have provided untruthful answers” to the Mueller probe.

President Donald Trump, in a tweet on Monday morning, said that he’d “strongly consider” testifying in the House’s impeachment inquiry after Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that he’s welcome to do so.

“The president could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants -- if he wants to take the oath of office or he could do it in writing,” Pelosi said in a interview for CBS’s “Face the Nation” broadcast on Sunday. “He has every opportunity to present his case.”

Trump on Monday criticized the hearing, questioned the House’s progress on passing the US Mexico-Canada trade agreement and referenced Pelosi’s comments. “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!”

Trump similarly suggested repeatedly that he’d agree to an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators. But his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani later said he’d only answer limited questions on whether his presidential campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election. Trump -- via Giuliani -- demanded in return that he isn’t asked questions about obstruction of justice.

After the House’s first week of public impeachment hearings, 70% of Americans think Trump’s request that Ukraine‘s president investigate political rival Joe Biden was wrong, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll has found.

Just over half of Americans -- 51% -- said Trump should be impeached and removed from office over those actions.

Another 19% deemed Trump’s actions wrong, yet said he should either be impeached by the House but not removed from office by the Senate, or that he should neither be impeached nor removed.

Underscoring the continued divisiveness in America, the poll found that 25% don’t think Trump did anything wrong.

The House is conducting an inquiry into whether the Trump administration tried to get newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce an investigation into Biden and his son, in exchange for releasing nearly $400 million in US security aid or scheduling a meeting between the two leaders.