Committee Opposes Hold on McGahn Ruling: Impeachment Update

  • In Business
  • 2019-11-27 03:44:31Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- The House Intelligence Committee as well as other House committees are continuing to seek documents and other records from the administration in the impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump.

Here are the latest developments:

Committee Asks Judge to Deny McGahn Ruling Hold (10:30 p.m.)

The House Judiciary Committee urged a judge on Tuesday to deny a Justice Department request to put on hold her ruling compelling former White House Counsel Don McGahn to comply with a subpoena for his testimony.

In a federal court filing in Washington, the committee said the requested hold would "undermine public interest" and thwart the committee's ability to conduct an impeachment inquiry based on all of the relevant evidence, "which in turn could compromise the public's faith in the process."

The administration told U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson if she didn't rule by Wednesday morning, it would ask the appeals court in Washington to put her ruling on hold -- a move the committee said was wholly unnecessary since it agreed to wait for seven days to let the judge decide before taking any action. If the judge denies the administration's request, the committee said it would also give the appeals court seven days to consider the issue.

"The department has no basis to force this court to resolve the motion in one day," the committee said.

OMB Official Says He Questioned Aid Freeze (5:15 p.m.)

White House budget official Mark Sandy said he raised questions about the hold on the security assistance to Ukraine when he learned about it on July 18, and that he was given no reason for the delay for more than a month.

"It was an open question over the course of late July and pretty much all of August, I recall," Sandy testified. He said he couldn't recall another instance where a significant amount of assistance was held up and he wasn't given a rationale for such a long time.

Sandy said he was removed from the task and political appointee Michael Duffey was made the approver of the funds on July 30.

Finally, Sandy said, "I recall in early September an email that attributed the hold to the president's concern about other countries not contributing more to Ukraine."

The whistle-blower complaint that kicked off the impeachment inquiry was filed on Aug. 12. Members of Congress began asking about it in early September.

Committees Release Sandy, Reeker Transcripts (4:57 p.m.)

The House committees leading the inquiry released two transcripts from closed-door testimony: Mark Sandy, from the Office of Management and Budget, and Philip Reeker, from the State Department.

Sandy, a White House budget official responsible for national security, on Nov. 16 faced questions about the hold placed on nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine. Sandy was the only OMB official to appear for closed-door testimony. Sandy's transcript is here.

Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, said in his Oct. 26 testimony that he urged State Department leaders to publicly support the Ukraine ambassador at the time who was being maligned by Trump's allies and conservative media in the U.S. His transcript is here.

The committees also released a number of transcripts for scheduled depositions for several witnesses who didn't appear.

Supreme Court to Confer on Trump Tax Appeal (3:25 p.m.)

The Supreme Court indicated Tuesday it will use its Dec. 13 private conference to consider taking up Trump's bid to block a New York grand jury subpoena for his tax returns. The court could say as early as that day whether it will hear Trump's appeal.

The case is one of two fights that are testing the court's willingness to shield the president from investigations into his personal and business affairs.

Trump is separately fighting a subpoena for his financial records by a House committee. Trump's appeal is due to be filed by Dec. 5, and the court could put that case on the same schedule.

The House case doesn't directly stem from the impeachment inquiry, though Democrats could use any information they uncover to try to bolster their case for removing the president.

House Judiciary Plans Dec. 4 Public Hearing (2 p.m.)

The House Judiciary Committee will hold its first public hearing on impeaching Trump on Dec. 4 as the House moves into the next step of the proceedings, according to Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

The hearing aims to explain high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional grounds for impeachment, and how the evidence collected by numerous House committees applies.

Nadler, a New York Democrat, sent Trump a letter notifying him of the hearing and giving him until Dec. 1 to say whether he or his attorney plan to participate. Officials who briefed reporters said that no final decision has been made on whether to push for testimony from witnesses who have so far refused to appear.

The officials declined to discuss the schedule or timeline for committee actions beyond Wednesday's scheduled hearing. That includes when the Judiciary Committee expects to wrap up its work and possibly send articles of impeachment to the House floor for a vote.

Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said Monday in a memo to House colleagues that his committee expects to transmit a report on its impeachment investigation of Trump to the Judiciary Committee soon after this week's Thanksgiving recess. -- Billy House

Democrats Detail Ukraine Aid Violations (12:35 p.m.)

House Budget Committee Democrats said the Trump administration abused its own rules in withholding U.S. security aid to Ukraine and may have violated a law on spending money appropriated by Congress.

"It is clear that the apportionment process has been misused to withhold congressionally enacted appropriations, undermining Congress's constitutional power of the purse and raising serious legal concerns about impounding funds in violation of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974," according to a summary of documents turned over by the Office of Management and Budget that was provided by the committee.

As part of the House impeachment inquiry, Democrats are investigating whether Trump held up the $391 million in aid in order to pressure Ukraine to announce it would investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential challenger to the president in 2020.

The OMB said in a statement that it will continue to spend tax dollars consistent with the president's priorities and the law. It characterized the Democrats summary as "spin."

The White House budget office provided some of documents connected to the Ukraine aid that had been sought by the House panel. Democrats allege the process was violated by having political appointee Michael Duffey take over the oversight of the funding and by using an "apportionment" to slow down foreign aid without proper justification.

Under the 1974 Impoundment Control Act the executive branch is legally obligated to spend the money that Congress approves and which the president signs into law. -- Erik Wasson

Trump Says He's 'Fighting' for Successors (10:53 a.m.)

Trump said in a series of tweets on Tuesday that he'd like top officials in his administration to testify in the impeachment inquiry but that he's "fighting for future presidents and the Office of the President."

His tweets followed news that the Department of Justice sought a stay of a judge's order that former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify to Congress. Trump said he would "love" for his secretary of State, former secretary of Energy, acting chief of staff and former national security adviser to testify, indicating he believes they would help to exonerate him. -- Kathleen Miller

Polls Show Nearly Half Want Trump Removed (8:43 a.m.)

Two new polls registered little change among the nearly half of Americans who believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office since Congress held public hearings this month.

A CNN poll released Tuesday found that 50% support for impeaching Trump and removing him from office, with 43% opposed. That's the same split as an earlier CNN poll conducted before the five days of public impeachment inquiry hearings kicked off on Nov. 13.

But, in potentially troublesome news for Trump, the poll showed the share of Republicans saying Trump has improperly used his office to gain political advantage has doubled.

The phone survey of 1,007 adults conducted between Nov. 21 and 24 has a margin of error of plus-or- minus 3.7 percentage points.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll had similar findings, with 48% of 1,988 voters surveyed between Nov. 22 and 24 saying they strongly or somewhat supported the impeachment probe, the exact same result as a poll done a week earlier.

That poll, which had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2 points, had 43% saying they were strongly or somewhat opposed to the impeachment inquiry, compared to 45% a week earlier.

The two poll results undercut retweets from Trump early Wednesday asserting that impeachment is harming Democrats. -- Kathleen Miller

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

Key Events

Witnesses Fiona Hill and David Holmes testified Thursday that Ukrainian officials understood that they would only get a White House meeting and security aid in exchange for investigations into Joe Biden's family.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.

--With assistance from Kathleen Miller, Jack Fitzpatrick, Erik Wasson, Greg Stohr, Laura Litvan and Billy House.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Los Angeles at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at, John Harney, Laurie Asséo

For more articles like this, please visit us at

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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