Top diplomat in Ukraine set to testify in impeachment inquiry — live updates

Key facts and latest news

  • William Taylor, the top U.S. official in Ukraine, is scheduled to testify before lawmakers behind closed doors on Tuesday.
  • President Trump on Monday urged Republicans to unite behind him on impeachment, saying they “have to get tougher and fight.”
  • Russ Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), tweeted Monday morning that he and Mike Duffey, another top OMB official, will not comply with congressional requests for interviews.
  • On a July call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

Washington— The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine is set to testify before House lawmakers leading the impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, the latest diplomatic official to appear before the committees despite a White House directive not to cooperate with investigators.

William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Kiev, was involved in the events at the center of the impeachment inquiry. In messages with other diplomats from August and September released earlier this month, Taylor raised concerns about the U.S. withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

“I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote to Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, two other officials who have testified before the committees.

During a Cabinet meeting at the White House on Monday, the president implored congressional Republicans to fight back against Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

“I watched a couple of people on television today talking about it. They were talking about what a phony deal it is, and Republicans have to get tougher and fight,” Mr. Trump said. “We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election, which is something where we’re doing very well.”

The president said he thinks Democrats “fight dirty,” but have two advantages: “They’re vicious, and they stick together.”

“They don’t have Mitt Romney in their midst,” the president said, referring to the Utah senator who has become a vocal critic of his administration. “They don’t have people like that. They stick together. You never see them break off.”

Mr. Trump said Democrats “want to impeach me because it’s the only way they’re going to win. They’ve got nothing.”

“This whole thing is very bad for our country,” the president said.

​House Democrats block GOP resolution to censure Schiff

Monday, 7:12 p.m.: House Democrats on Monday blocked a vote on Republican resolution to censure House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff over his handling of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Lawmakers voted to table the censure resolution, effectively killing it, by a vote of 218 to 185. The vote fell completely along party lines, with independent Representative Justin Amash, a former Republican, siding with the Democrats.

The measure was introduced last week by GOP Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. It cited several reasons for Schiff’s censure, including his recitation of an embellished account of the call between Mr. Trump and the president of Ukraine during a congressional hearing, his accusations that Mr. Trump was colluding with the Russians and contact between committee staff and the whistleblower. — Caroline Cournoyer

Read the full story here.

​Romney calls Mulvaney’s comments a “real concern”

Senator Mitt Romney speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday, October 21, 2019. CBS News

Monday, 6:06 p.m.: Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said Mulvaney’s comments on the delay in Ukraine aid were a “real concern,” but urged his fellow senators to “not jump to any conclusions” ahead of a potential trial in the Senate.

“Obviously what he said in the press conference was of real concern because he said, in effect, that they were holding up funding going to Ukraine, in part based upon a desire to have Ukraine carry out an investigation with regards to the 2016 election,” Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And in holding up funds to a foreign nation, particularly one that’s under military threat, in order to fulfill a political purpose is a real problem.”

Romney said he thinks most senators “are looking at what’s going on in the House with interest, obviously with concern.”

“But ultimately we may well become a jury. And if that’s the case, I think people want to make their own decision and not jump to any conclusions at this early stage,” he said. — Alan He

2 officials to testify in the impeachment inquiry this week

Monday, 4:55 p.m.: In deference to services honoring the late Congressman Elijah Cummings, only two witnesses will appear before the committees leading the impeachment inquiry this week, according to an official working on the investigation:

  • William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires in Ukraine who raised concerns about withholding military aid, is expected to appear in closed session on Tuesday.
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper is expected to appear in closed session on Wednesday.

Cummings, who died last week after battle long-standing health problems, will lie in state in Statuary Hall in the Capitol on Thursday, and his wake and funeral will be held Friday in Baltimore. — Rebecca Kaplan

Schumer inquires about protections for whistleblower

Monday, 3:50 p.m.: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is asking how the director of national intelligence and intelligence community inspector general are protecting the identity of the whistleblower who filed the complaint about the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

In a letter to Acting Director Joseph Maguire and Inspector General Michael Atkinson, Schumer said the president’s statements have put the whistleblower at risk of being exposed.

“The President has also incorrectly stated that he has a right to ‘confront’ the whistleblower, and has said that he is ‘trying to find out’ the whistleblower’s identity — notwithstanding the fact that whistleblower anonymity is protected by law,” Schumer wrote.

Schumer said he fears Mr. Trump “may disclose the whistleblower’s identity or cause it to be disclosed.” If it is, Schumer said the pair “must be prepared to protect the whistleblower from both workplace reprisal and threats to his or her personal safety.”

“I understand that some security measures may already have been taken, but I fear that risks may increase in the event that the whistleblower’s identity is disclosed,” the Democratic leader wrote. “I also note reports that one or more additional whistleblowers may be coming forward, creating added security concerns. I therefore ask that you inform me regarding your plans to ensure that these whistleblowers are adequately protected.” — Stefan Becket

​OMB officials won’t comply with House depositions, acting director says

Monday, 12:35 p.m.: Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), tweeted Monday morning that he and Mike Duffey, another top OMB official, won’t comply with deposition requests.

“I saw some Fake News over the weekend to correct,” Vought wrote on Twitter. “As the WH letter made clear two weeks ago, OMB officials – myself and Mike Duffey – will not be complying with deposition requests this week. #shamprocess”

Vought took over for Mulvaney as acting director when Mulvaney became acting White House chief of staff. OMB was involved in delaying the release of military funding for Ukraine. — Kathryn Watson

The uncharted road to the impeachment and removal of a president

Monday, 12:13 p.m.: The three other times in which lawmakers filed articles of impeachment against presidents, targeting Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, offer insight into the mechanics of Congress’ extraordinary constitutional recourse to unseat the nation’s leader through democratic means.

The precedent they set is limited, however. One of the impeachment campaigns did not lead to a Senate trial and none of them resulted in a president’s conviction and removal from office. Because of this, part of the path to a president’s removal through an impeachment process remains uncharted territory.

With the help of experts of American politics and constitutional law, we have outlined what we know — and don’t know — about impeaching and removing a sitting president.

Read more here.

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