GOP Senator Backs Whistle-Blower Testimony: Impeachment Update

Laura Litvan and Erik Wasson

(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the House will move ahead with drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and top Republican Doug Collins have both mentioned a hearing next week focusing on the impeachment report’s evidence and conclusions, but they didn’t provide details.

Here are the latest developments:

GOP Senator Backs Whistle-Blower Testimony (1:53 p.m.)

Republican Senator Ron Johnson said he expects the White House will want to call the whistle-blower to testify in any Senate impeachment trial, and said he will be supportive because it would give Trump a chance “to confront his accuser.”

“He should be able to mount a defense and that includes calling witnesses, including the whistle-blower,” Johnson said. He dismissed the idea that the whistle-blower’s identity should be protected, calling that a “charade” because his name has been published.

Johnson said people want to know what kind of interaction the whistle-blower had with Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee before filing the complaint, and what type of political biases the person might have.

The senator said “Republicans control this body, and I think Republicans ought to afford the president the ability to defend himself and put on a robust defense, within reason.”

Johnson of Wisconsin said he disagrees with some House Republicans who want testimony from former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. He said he doesn’t think they could provide much insight into the allegations against Trump.

White House Says Democrats Abused Power (12:58 p.m.)

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Democrats in Congress “have clearly abused their power” with what she called an “illegitimate impeachment hoax.”

“Speaker Pelosi’s instruction to advance this impeachment process – one that has violated every precedent - moves this country toward the most partisan and illegitimate subversion of the Constitution in our history,” Grisham said in a statement.

Pelosi Says She Doesn’t ‘Hate’ Trump (11:14 a.m.)

Pelosi told reporters she doesn’t hate Trump and that the impeachment effort is unrelated to politics.

Asked if she hates the president, Pelosi responded, “I don’t hate anyone,” and that as a Catholic she resents having the word attributed to her. “Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that,” she said.

“I think he is a coward when it comes to helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence,” the speaker said. “I think he is cruel when he doesn’t help our Dreamers. I think he is denial about the climate crisis.”

“However, that’s about the election,” she said, while impeachment “is about the Constitution of the United States.”

Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine is related to her contention that “all roads lead to Putin,” Pelosi said. “Who benefited form our withholding military assistance? Russia.”

Pelosi also told reporters she has asked the chairmen of six House committees to make recommendations about the articles of impeachment.

She wouldn’t say whether the articles will include any conduct that was investigated by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and gave no hint on when the House might vote on impeachment.

Judiciary Plans Next Hearing on Monday (10:54 a.m.)

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Monday to receive presentations from lawyers for the House Intelligence and Judiciary panels.

Nadler said his panel will hear from lawyers for Democrats and Republicans on each committee.

Trump Campaign Aide Calls for ‘Fair Trial’ (9:46 a.m.)

Trump’s campaign chairman says Democrats “should just get on with” impeaching the president “so we can have a fair trial in the Senate and expose the swamp for what it is.”

“We are less than a year away from election day 2020 and Democrats can’t possibly explain to the American people why they want to take the decision of who should be president out of the hands of voters,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said in an emailed statement.

He said Pelosi, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Joe Biden’s son Hunter should testify at an impeachment trial.

Democrats to Draft Impeachment Articles, Pelosi Says (9:18 a.m.)

Pelosi said Trump’s actions are a “profound violation of the public trust” and she is asking committee chairmen to proceed with drafting articles of impeachment.

“The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit,” she said.

Pelosi said Trump “abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security” and said he did it “in exchange for an announcement of an investigation of his political rival.”

“If we allow a president to be above the law, we do so surely at the peril of our republic,“ said the speaker, who started her statement by reading the opening words of the Declaration of Independence. “His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution.”

“Today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” said Pelosi, who did not say how soon the House will act.

Trump Says ‘Do It Now,’ Send Case to Senate (8:25 a.m.)

Trump asserted on Twitter Thursday that Democrats “have no impeachment case” and urged the party’s lawmakers to move quickly to bring charges against him so the nation can move beyond the matter.

“If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business,” the president said in a pair of Thursday-morning tweets shortly before Speaker Pelosi was due to make a statement on the status in the inquiry.

Trump said Democrats “have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country.”

Pelosi’s office hasn’t said what her statement will entail, but it’s possible she could offer a timeline for House consideration of any articles of impeachment the Judiciary Committee might draft.

Pompeo Dismisses House Report as ‘All Wrong’ (7:20 a.m.)

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo continued Thursday to fend off questions related to his role in the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine that are now at the center the House impeachment inquiry.

“It’s just all wrong,” Pompeo told reporters in Lisbon, when asked about the House Intelligence Committee report’s account of his actions.

Pompeo challenged a reporter’s characterization of language in the report,without elaborating on what his role in fact was.

The report, compiled by the panel’s majority Democrats, states that Pompeo and other Trump subordinates -- including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry -- had “knowledge of, in some cases facilitated and furthered the president’s scheme, and withheld information about the scheme from the Congress and the American public.” -- Kathleen Hunter and Nick Wadhams

Pelosi to Speak at 9 a.m. on Inquiry Status (6:23 a.m.)

Speaker Pelosi plans to make a statement Thursday morning on the status of the House’s impeachment inquiry, a day after the Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on the matter.

Pelosi’s office announced that she would speak to reporters at 9 a.m. eastern time in the Speaker’s Balcony Hallway in the Capitol.

Judiciary Chairman Nadler closed yesterday’s hearing by declaring Trump had committed “impeachable offenses,” saying his actions were “a direct threat” to the nation. -- Kathleen Hunter

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

Key Events

At Wednesday’s hearing, House Democrats hinted they’re moving toward bringing articles of impeachment against Trump on charges of abuse of power, bribery and obstruction. They dismissed Republican objections that their entire inquiry is flawed.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 Nick Wadhams and Billy House.

To contact the reporters on this story: Laura Litvan in Washington at llitvan@bloomberg.net;Erik Wasson in Washington at ewasson@bloomberg.net

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

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