Lawmakers Spar Over Whistle-Blower Identity: Impeachment Update




 

(Bloomberg) -- The House plans to take its first vote to support the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Thursday as Democrats seek to nullify Republicans' argument that the process is illegitimate.

On Tuesday, three House committees are hearing behind closed doors from Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's director for European affairs.

Here are the latest developments:

Lawmakers Spar Over Whistle-Blower Identity (2:26 p.m.)

Closed-door questioning of Vindman by members of the House impeachment committees Tuesday led to partisan sniping over Republican efforts to identify the still-unnamed whistle-blower whose complaint sparked the inquiry.

"The president and his defenders in Congress aren't interested in the act but are interested in risking the life of the whistle-blower," said Democrat Eric Swalwell, a member of the Intelligence Committee as well as the panel on Oversight and Reform.

Top Oversight Committee Republican Jim Jordan said Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has been blocking legitimate questions of Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the NSC.

"Schiff was clear that he didn't want the witness to answer certain questions," said Jordan, promising to talk more about those questions later Tuesday.

Schiff declined to comment.

Earlier, another Oversight Committee member and close Trump ally denied that Republicans were trying to use questions posed to Vindman to "out" the whistle-blower.

Republican Mark Meadows insisted that he doesn't know who the individual is, and that he and other Republicans haven't been waging a "fishing expedition" in questioning witnesses to find out the person's identity.

Yet another Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he has learned who the whistle-blower is and will be talking more about that with his colleagues.

House Vote Set for Thursday, Official Says (12:58 p.m.)

The text of the House resolution to affirm the ongoing impeachment inquiry will be posted Tuesday and is still expected to get a vote on Thursday, according to an official familiar with the plans.

The House is not scheduled to be in session on Friday.

Hoyer Casts Doubt on Thursday House Vote (11:59 a.m.)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Democratic leaders haven't determined whether the chamber will proceed with its first impeachment-related vote this week.

"I have not read it yet," Hoyer told reporters. "Members have not read it yet. We're going to have to consider whether or not it's ready to go on Thursday."

Hoyer Says House Could Stay to Late December (11:21 a.m.)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday the House could stay in session past the second week of December to keep working on the impeachment inquiry.

"We are continuing the process of determining whether there were high crimes and misdemeanors" by the president, which later could lead to impeachment, Hoyer said.

The Maryland Democrat also said there's no timeline for the inquiry to wrap up, and he declined to comment on whether it would be a political problem to continue impeachment hearings into a presidential election year. If the House impeaches Trump, he would be tried in the Republican-led Senate. If convicted, he would be removed from office.

The House is currently scheduled to recess for the holidays Dec. 12. Hoyer is responsible for the chamber's calendar.

Cheney Defends Army Officer's Patriotism (10:52 a.m.)

Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, a member of Republican leadership, pushed back on conservative commentators, lawmakers and White House officials who have questioned the motives and allegiances of career public servants who have testified before impeachment committees.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday about the witnesses, Cheney defended "their patriotism, their love of country," as Vindman was giving his private deposition.

"We're talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation who put their lives on the line and it is shameful to question their patriotism," Cheney said.

Her comment came less than an hour after Trump derided Vindman, an Iraq veteran, as a "Never Trumper."

Officer On Trump Call Arrives at Hearing (9:27 a.m.)

Vindman arrived for his closed-door testimony to the House impeachment committees, where he plans to describe his alarm after listening to Trump's July call with the Ukrainian president.

Vindman, who received a Purple Heart for his combat service in Iraq, works at the White House as director of European affairs at the National Security Council.

He plans to tell the committees he twice raised his concerns to an NSC lawyer about Trump administration officials conditioning military aid to Ukraine on that country agreeing to open investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden, according to his prepared remarks obtained Monday by Bloomberg News.

One of those instances, Vindman will say, occurred after he heard Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The Ukraine-born Vindman adds in his prepared statement that he "did not think it was proper" for the president to insist that a foreign government conduct investigations into his political opponents. -- Billy House

Key Events

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the chamber's vote on Thursday will "eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives."White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the vote won't legitimize the proceedings. She said Democrats' "secret, shady, closed-door depositions are completely and irreversibly illegitimate."Charles Kupperman, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, defied a subpoena to appear before the House committees on Monday after asking a judge to decide whether he must testify to Congress. Kupperman is Trump's former deputy national security adviser.

--With assistance from Billy House.

To contact the reporters on this story: Laura Litvan in Washington at llitvan@bloomberg.net;James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net

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

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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