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Read The White House Response To The Senate Impeachment Trial Summons : NPR

The White House released its formal response to the summons sent by the Senate last week, a procedural part of the impeachment process ahead of the trial that begins next Tuesday.

“The articles of impeachment submitted by House Democrats are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president,” the White House’s response says. “This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election.”

The White House response is part of the legal paperwork required in the process initiated Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The House impeachment managers filed Saturday their own “trial brief” on their arguments for the two articles of impeachment. The White House has until Monday to file its brief.

The House of Representatives voted last month to impeach President Trump for obstructing Congress and abuse of power. The process was linked to his phone call with his newly elected Ukrainian counterpart. Democrats say Trump sought an investigation into the Bidens in exchange for a release of frozen military aid and a White House visit. Trump has dismissed those allegations.

The Senate trial, where two-thirds of the 100 senators must vote to remove the president, begins Tuesday; Trump is almost certain to be acquitted.

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Sessions on Impeachment: ‘Dramatic Abuse’ by House — Pelosi Refusal to Send to Senate Shows Lack of Confidence

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — On Thursday, former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama, was on the campaign trail in his state’s Tennessee Valley, catching up with voters and local officials about the issues of the day.

Of notable importance was the House of Representatives’ passage of two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump a day earlier.

In comments given to Breitbart News, the former U.S. Senator and Attorney General criticized the House of Representatives’ effort on the grounds of substance and called it a “dramatic abuse” by the body.

“I think it has just been shocking to most Americans to see how little substance this is,” he said. “It’s like, is this all there is? After all these vicious charges against the president, it comes down to these vague charges of abuse and obstruction? What does that mean? I think it’s a dramatic abuse by the House of Representatives of the impeachment clause in the Constitution. And it’s not anything the House says it is. Some have tried to say that. But in truth, the Constitution says treason, bribery, high crimes, and misdemeanors. Those mean something. It means something other than we had a disagreement with you, and now we’re going to impeach you. This was a horrible, improper act, in my opinion.”

The former U.S. Attorney General also weighed in on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) refusal at the moment to transfer the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate, where a trial would take place. He said that gesture from Pelosi showed a lack of confidence in the two articles.

“I think there’s no doubt they don’t have confidence in them,” Sessions explained. “They’re not able to defend the charges. You had Professor [Jonathan] Turley, who I have gotten to know, Ken Starr, who is a great lawyer, being a law school dean and was a Clinton special prosecutor, but he says it is nowhere close to impeachable offenses. And Professor Turley does, too. He says it would be the least supported impeachment charge ever in our nation’s history. I’m totally in accord with that. Not sending it over is to me a clear indication that they’re not proud of their work. I said some weeks ago it looked like they were going to force this thing through and slink away, and hope it goes away. They know it doesn’t have legs in the Senate.”

Sessions did not have a recommendation as to whether or not witnesses should be called in the Senate trial. But he added that he did not think witnesses were necessary and pointed out that witnesses were not called in the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton in 1999.

“In my opinion, there’s so little substance in this impeachment charge that calling witnesses is not required to fulfill the responsibility of the Senate,” he said. “But I know Sen. McConnell and the White House are talking about that question. I won’t make a recommendation as to what they should do. I think they should think it through, and I think they probably should reach a good decision. I don’t think it’s required. We didn’t do witnesses on Clinton. With Clinton, there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt — all the elements of three different crimes. There’s no crime really charged here. The charges are vague, and they support impeachment for almost anything Congress wanted to do in the future if this is sustained.”

Sessions is the apparent front-runner in a crowded field for the seat he held for 20 years before accepting President Donald Trump’s appointment to serve as U.S. Attorney General. Sessions faces former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R) for the opportunity to run against incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) next November.

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US House holds debates before vote on impeachment

The US House of Representatives holds a full session to vote on two articles of impeachment that have been filed against President Donald Trump, Trend reports citing Sputnik.

If the House Democratic majority votes to impeach on 18 December, the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to start the formal impeachment trial which is likely to occur in the coming weeks or even days. A two-thirds Senate majority – 67 votes – is needed to convict the president and thereby remove him from office.

The impeachment inquiry was launched by House Democrats in September after a whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to probe his political rival and former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who once sat on the board of the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma. Trump has said that the impeachment inquiry is a sham and another political witch hunt by Democrats to reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election.

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Rattling Republicans, U.S. House committee delays impeachment vote to Friday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats delayed an impeachment vote by a U.S. House Committee just before midnight, incensing Republicans and setting up a Friday showdown over President Donald Trump’s future.

The committee had been expected to approve two articles of impeachment late on Thursday, setting up a vote by the Democratic-controlled House next week that is expected to make Trump the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

Instead, as the clock ticked toward midnight, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler sent lawmakers home for the night and said members would return to vote Friday at 10 a.m. ET (1500 GMT).

Asked why the votes did not occur late Thursday, House Judiciary Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon said “the American people deserve to see the vote.”

The scheduling appeared to have nothing to do with the substance of the impeachment fight nor was it a sign that Democrats lacked the needed votes. But it outraged Republican leaders, who said afterward many had been planning travel home on Friday and would now have to reset their schedules.

Doug Collins, the top Republican on the panel, appeared shocked by the announcement and immediately reacted with anger, saying the rescheduling was done so Democrats could hold their vote when more voters would be watching on television.

“This was the most bush league thing I have seen, forever,” Collins told reporters. “This committee is more concerned about getting on TV in the morning than it was finishing its job tonight and letting the members go home. Words cannot describe how inappropriate this was.”

Democrats had expected to wrap up the hearing early in the evening, but Republicans, led by Collins, proposed a series of amendments that had no hope of passage.

Republicans offered hours of remarks on their amendments, frequently repeating the same prepared commentary and often veering into other topics that ranged from natural gas drilling to the state of the economy.

The committee’s debate began Wednesday evening.

Much of the impeachment focus has been on a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. That is the basis for a charge by Democrats that Trump abused power.

Trump has also instructed current and former members of his administration not to testify or produce documents, leading senior officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to defy House subpoenas. Democrats say that behavior constitutes obstruction of Congress, forming the basis of the other impeachment charge.

Trump denies any wrongdoing and has condemned the impeachment inquiry as unfair. His Republican allies in Congress argue that there is no direct evidence of misconduct and that Democrats have conducted an improper process that did not give the president an opportunity to mount his own defense.

Slideshow (4 Images)

If the House impeaches Trump, who is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, he would then go on trial in the Senate. The Republican-led chamber is unlikely to vote to find the president guilty and remove him from office.

Republicans on the committee said that there were no crimes alleged in the impeachment articles and that “abuse of power” had become a catch-all for Democratic complaints about Trump.

“This notion of abuse of power is the lowest of low-energy impeachment theories,” said Republican Representative Matt Gaetz.

Reporting by David Morgan and Ginger Gibson; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Peter Cooney and Gerry Doyle

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Judiciary Committee poised to approve articles of impeachment

Democrats have framed the committee vote as an urgent and necessary decision to protect democracy from a president exhibiting autocratic tendencies and trying to warp the institutions of government to his own personal benefit. Republicans, though, say Democrats’ case is based on a thin record of evidence, as well as conjecture and hearsay, and that impeaching Trump would pave the way for partisan impeachments of future presidents.

“After they did all this [investigating], this is all they could come up with?” Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, said Wednesday night. “It’s been three years to get to here and this is all they got.”

Thursday’s markup began with some procedural jousting, as Democrats voted down a GOP effort to hold a “minority hearing day” to call their own set of witnesses before articles of impeachment were voted out of the committee.

Nadler said the Republicans’ demand for the hearing day could not be used to delay final consideration of the articles of impeachment, leading Collins to blast Nadler’s decision as “the death of minority rights” in the committee and a “crushing blow” that would resonate far into the future.

Democrats also offered a minor amendment to the articles of impeachment to refer to “Donald John Trump” rather than “Donald J. Trump.”

Trump himself appeared to be tuning into the committee’s marathon session Thursday morning. He wrote on Twitter that he was concerned about other nations sharing the burden of sending military aid Ukraine, appearing to justify his decision to place a temporary hold on U.S. security assistance to the besieged ally.

Much of the hearing was laden with a historical debate over the standards set in the last two presidential impeachment processes — those facing Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, who resigned just before the House voted on articles of impeachment.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who was a committee staffer during the Nixon impeachment and a Judiciary Committee member during the Clinton impeachment, said the bulk of witness testimony occurred outside of the Judiciary Committee, which primarily handled the constitutional arguments for impeachment.

The hearing also featured some tense moments behind the dais. After Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) approached the GOP side to chat with lawmakers, Nadler’s aides confronted him — likely because Meadows, a top ally of the president, is not a member of the Judiciary Committee. Meadows eventually left the dais.

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Democrats Expect Wide Scale Defections on Impeachment Vote

Democrats are expecting wide-scale defections among their rank and file when Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump come to the floor for a vote next week, the Washington Post reports.

the Washington Post’s Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis wrote late Wednesday:

House Democratic leaders are bracing for some defections among a group of moderate Democrats in swing districts who are concerned a vote to impeach President Trump could cost them their seats in November.

Bade and DeBonis quote three senior House Democrat officials saying that there will be at least a half dozen Democrats who join with all Republicans to oppose impeaching President Trump, but a third senior Democrat aide told them there would probably be many more than just a half dozen defections.

Bade and DeBonis wrote:

Lawmakers and senior aides are privately predicting they will lose more than the two Democrats who opposed the impeachment inquiry rules package in late September, according to multiple officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly. Two senior Democratic aides said the total could be as many as a half-dozen, while a third said the number could be higher.

Generally speaking, if leadership of the majority party is publicly leaking that they expect at least a half-dozen defections a week before the actual vote, the number of defections on said vote is likely to be much higher. It’s remarkable that Democrats are now readily admitting they will lose at least six Democrats on the vote, probably more, but Bade and DeBonis have also confirmed now that Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) will vote against Articles of Impeachment, just as he voted against opening the impeachment inquiry to begin with.

They also say that Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) has confirmed he is leaning against voting for Articles of Impeachment–Peterson was the other Democrat to join all Republicans in bipartisan opposition to the inquiry vote–but also that Democrat leaders expect that Peterson will join Van Drew and other Democrats in the bipartisan vote against the increasingly partisan impeachment push against Trump.

Bade and DeBonis reported that these frontline Democrats–there are yet no more who have as of yet publicly stated they intend to vote against Articles of Impeachment, but many are privately fretting the forthcoming vote–are having second thoughts about this, now that they have seen polling moving against impeachment.

Bade and DeBonis wrote:

Predictions about some defections come as a core group of centrists from districts Trump won in 2016 are having second thoughts. While many knew impeachment would never be popular in their GOP-leaning districts, some have been surprised that support hasn’t increased despite negative testimony about Trump from a series of blockbuster hearings last month. Several moderates have privately pined for other options, including a censure vote they know they’re unlikely to get. Others have even considered what one moderate called ‘splitting the baby’: backing one article of impeachment but not the other to try to show independence from the party.

Further complicating matters for Democrats is the fact that the U.S. Senate will not convict President Trump. To do so, the Senate would need 67 votes for conviction on Articles of Impeachment–and there are 53 Republicans in the Senate, all of whom are aligned behind Trump at this stage. What’s more, some Senate Democrats are potentially expected to join the bipartisan opposition to the partisan impeachment push–particularly Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), but also possibly Sens. Doug Jones (D-AL), Gary Peters (D-MI), or Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)–if it reaches that stage.

Manchin on Wednesday said he was “torn” over impeachment, and he even backed the White House’s push to have former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden be called in to testify in a potential Senate trial should it reach that stage.

While it still seems more likely than not that Articles of Impeachment will pass the House of Representatives next week, if enough of these vulnerable Democrats band together against them on the floor, they could avoid a messy Senate trial that would undoubtedly acquit Trump, giving him a massive boost going into his 2020 re-election campaign. Assuming Peterson does end up voting no, as Van Drew has confirmed he will, Democrats could only afford to lose a total of 17 more of their members on the floor and still pass impeachment.

There are four vacancies in the House, and former GOP Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan–who left the party over this–is expected to join the Democrats in the vote for impeachment, so that means Democrats would need 216 votes for impeachment to pass. As such, 19 total votes from Democrats against Articles of Impeachment–there is already at least one, probably two, with many more expected–could sink the vote.

There are 31 districts that Democrats currently represent that President Trump won in 2016, and another 20 or so that are considered battlegrounds with vulnerable incumbents.

Democrat leadership, meanwhile, does not intend to ensure its passage–and will not whip the votes for impeachment on the floor.

“In fact, Democratic leaders have said they don’t intend to whip the impeachment vote, allowing each member to make his or her own personal choice on such a historic roll call that many see as a legacy-defining issue,” Bade and DeBonis wrote before quoting Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), a deputy whip in House Democrat leadership, as confirming the plan by Democrat leaders to not whip the vote.

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House Judiciary Committee to hear evidence on Trump impeachment charges

The House Judiciary Committee will meet Monday morning to receive a report detailing the findings of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump that could lead to articles of impeachment being voted on as early as this week.

Rep. Jerrod Nadler, the panel’s chairman, sent a letter to the White House late Sunday that includes the House Intelligence Committee’s report from its investigation culled from interviews with former and current diplomatic and administration officials.

Nadler said the Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee must move forward with articles of impeachment “because of the threat that [Trump’s] pattern of conduct poses to the election itself.”

“We have a very rock-solid case. I think the case we have, if presented to a jury, would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

If approved, the full House could vote on the articles of impeachment by Christmas, setting the stage for a trial in the GOP-controlled Senate.

It’s unlikely the Senate would vote to remove the president, which would require a two-thirds vote. Republicans hold 53 seats in the chamber.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz called the process in the House a “kangaroo court” and asserted it would go down in flames in the Senate.

“It’s going to go to the Senate, it’s going to go nowhere. And I think the American people know this is a waste of time and this is Democrats putting on a circus,” Cruz said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Democrats allege that Trump abused the power of his office by using as leverage nearly $400 million in military assistance to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian energy company.

Rep. Jerrod Nadler
Rep. Jerrod NadlerGetty Images

The president has said there was nothing wrong with his July 25 call to Zelensky, and his Republican allies claim Trump held up the aid because he was concerned about the level of corruption in the country and didn’t want American tax dollars wasted.

The House Intelligence Committee released its 300-page report last week.

“The impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the leader of the Intelligence Committee, wrote in the report.

Republicans on the panel also released a report defending the president’s actions.

“The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor,” the 123-page report said.

With Post wires

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‘We’re Not Going to Legitimize’ Impeachment Hearing with Our Participation

Saturday, during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends Weekend, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham elaborated on the Trump administration’s decision to not participate in next week’s impeachment hearings before the House Judiciary Committee.

Grisham noted congressional Democrats had not been able to produce any evidence and called the endeavor the product of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) “silly games.”

“We’re not going to participate in a sham hearing that doesn’t give him any rights,” she said. “They get to choose all kinds of things. They keep moving the goalposts, moving the rules. I’ll also mention to people that the president was overseas when they invited him to be a part of that silly hearing. So, that timing was on purpose, and everybody knows it.”

“We’re not going to legitimize this hearing that has been absolutely ridiculous from the start,” Grisham continued. “The only evidence they have is the actual transcripts the president produced that shows he did nothing wrong. This last Judiciary hearing with those three witnesses calling out a 13-year-old son and very biased witnesses — the whole thing is a sham, and it has got to stop. It’s clearly not going to, and if it does move to the Senate, we look forward to that because it will be fair.”

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As Impeachment Inquiry Moves Forward, Questions Around Pompeo Continue To Swirl : NPR

Mike Pompeo attends his confirmation hearing to become CIA director on Jan. 12, 2017. Since becoming secretary of state in 2018, he has emerged as one of President Trump’s most influential advisers.

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Mike Pompeo attends his confirmation hearing to become CIA director on Jan. 12, 2017. Since becoming secretary of state in 2018, he has emerged as one of President Trump’s most influential advisers.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continues its march through Congress, questions are churning around his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

For example, did he know, as witnesses testified before House investigators, that President Trump sought political favors from Ukraine in exchange for millions in U.S. assistance? Why did he take days to reveal he was on the now infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy? And does he believe allies of the president who — despite the findings of the intelligence community — claim that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election?

For Pompeo, the questions surrounding what he knew about the Ukraine affair, and when, reflect the outsized role he has assumed as one of the president’s most influential advisers. It is a position that just four years ago would have seemed unlikely for Pompeo, yet underscores the extent to which the political fortunes of the onetime Trump critic have grown increasingly tied to the president.

From West Point to Kansas

Pompeo’s path from a West Point graduate to the nation’s chief diplomat is all the more remarkable considering his early resistance to Trump. He supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio during the 2016 Republican primary, and in a speech ahead of that year’s Kansas caucus, likened Trump to an autocrat.

“You know, Donald Trump the other day said that ‘if he tells a soldier to commit a war crime, the soldier will just go do it.’ He said, ‘They’ll do as I tell them to do.’ We’ve spent seven-and-a-half years with an authoritarian president who ignored our Constitution,” Pompeo said. “We don’t need four more years of that.”

It was a criticism steeped in Pompeo’s background not just in the military, but also the law.

Pompeo grew up in conservative Orange County, California, and after high school, attended West Point, where he finished first in his class in 1986. After graduation, he became an Army commander in Germany before returning to the U.S. to attend Harvard Law School. At Harvard, he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Law school took him to a prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm, Williams & Connolly, but in 1997, he left the firm to open an aircraft-parts manufacturing firm in Kansas with three of his West Point classmates. Among their investors was the venture capital fund of the billionaires and Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

In 2010, Pompeo left his business career to run for Congress. Jim McLean, managing director of public radio’s Kansas News Service, says Pompeo’s entry into politics came as the Koch brothers’ own forays into politics were growing.

“The Koch brothers really got politically active when he was getting into politics,” McLean said.

The Benghazi hearings

With his election in that year’s midterm elections, Pompeo joined a wave of 87 Republicans that helped propel the GOP back into the House majority. But it was not until the 2014 House inquiry into the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that Pompeo became a name in national news, according to McLean.

“He was pretty much a nonentity, politically speaking, on the national scene up to that point, and frankly, he was overshadowed even here in Kansas politically,” said McLean. “But those Benghazi hearings, he really did take on a lead role as inquisitor. And there was, you know, some very famous confrontations with Hillary Clinton during those hearings.”

Nancy McEldowney, a career diplomat and former director of the Foreign Service Institute, said Pompeo was among a cadre of Republicans who pushed the attack into becoming “the kind of domestic controversy that it was turned into.”

“They refused to join the consensus with the congressional investigatory committee and wrote their own addendum,” said McEldowney, who now teaches at Georgetown University. “They talked about a State Department seemingly more concerned with politics than protecting its own people.”

By 2017, Trump had won the White House and Pompeo’s work on the Benghazi committee had helped make him a leading voice on foreign policy in the Republican Party. Despite Pompeo’s earlier criticisms, Trump picked him to be his first CIA director, a position he held for a little over a year. He often personally delivered the daily security briefing to the president.

In March 2018, Trump nominated Pompeo to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. Tillerson had left key posts unfilled at the department, alienating many career foreign service officers. At the time, McEldowney said, many State Department personnel were heartened by the nomination.

“People thought at least his close relationship with the president and his experience as a military officer would help his leadership of the State Department,” said McEldowney. “So initially, there was a positive feeling, a hopefulness that Pompeo would turn around the destruction of the Tillerson time.”

At his confirmation hearing for the post, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican and Pompeo ally, said, “When Mike Pompeo speaks, the world will know the secretary of state speaks for the president.”

Questions around Ukraine

But the honeymoon was short-lived. From his perch as secretary of state, Pompeo has emerged as a key focus in the ongoing Ukraine investigation. More than two months after Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into the president, critical questions remain about how Pompeo disclosed that he was on the line for the July 25 call between Trump and Zelenskiy that became the focus of the whistleblower complaint that sparked the inquiry.

When Pompeo was asked about the call by reporters on Sept. 26, he said he still had not fully read the partial transcript of the call released by the White House one day earlier.

“I read the first couple of paragraphs and then got busy today,” Pompeo said. “But I’ll ultimately get a chance to see it. If I understand it right, it’s from someone who had secondhand knowledge.”

It wasn’t until almost a week later that he acknowledged he was on the call.

Peter Roskam, a former Republican congressman from Illinois who served with Pompeo, said he doesn’t believe the secretary misled the public.

“I’m convinced that he was forthright and direct with the American public and he’s been forthright and direct I think at every turn up and down,” said Roskam.

Questions have also been raised about why Pompeo did not defend U.S. diplomats from political attack, beginning with Marie Yovanovitch, who was relieved from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine this spring after becoming a target of criticism among the president’s allies. In testimony before impeachment investigators, diplomats described the ouster as part of an effort by the administration to exert pressure on Ukraine in exchange for political investigations.

“He allowed Yovanovitch to be first be smeared” and then removed from her post, McEldowney said of Pompeo. “He did not stop that. And that has had such a poisonous impact on other diplomats throughout the service.”

While the president has the prerogative to set foreign policy, she said, “It’s one thing to have powers that you can execute. It’s another to abuse them.”

As the impeachment inquiry approaches a potential trial in the Senate, Democrats will want Pompeo to testify as one of the aides closest to the president and his policy toward Ukraine. Pompeo was subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee, but Democrats on the committee say he has not complied with their requests.

Susan Glasser, who recently profiled Pompeo for The New Yorker, said lawmakers have no shortage of questions for Pompeo.

“What did he know about the withholding of nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine? When did he know it? What direct conversations, if any, did he have with the president? Rudy Giuliani says that everything he did was carried out with the knowledge of the State Department. Is that, in fact, the case?”

A return to Kansas?

While Pompeo has not testified in Congress about the Ukraine controversy, he has had made time to do interviews with local Kansas media. This has fanned speculation that Pompeo plans to leave Washington and run for a senate seat in Kansas, where McLean of the Kansas News Service says impeachment, Ukraine and quid pro quo sound a long way’s away.

“The initial stories that have been written about how Kansans would view Pompeo’s alleged role in whatever took place relative to Ukraine and the cover-up and all those issues, so far at least people seem to say, ‘Hmm, well, you know, that’s what’s happening in D.C.’ Nobody is really sure to what extent that would affect a candidacy here in Kansas.”

At this week’s NATO summit, President Trump told reporters he may ask Pompeo to return to Kansas to try to win a seat that would help Republicans keep control of the Senate. As Glasser pointed out, Pompeo has tied his political fortunes to Trump.

“His power and his currency comes from being as close as he can, allied with Trump and his policy preferences and Pompeo has really defined himself as there never ever being any daylight between himself and Trump,” said Glasser.

But it’s precisely Pompeo’s closeness to the president that makes him a crucial figure in the investigations and impeachment to come.

This story was produced and edited for broadcast by Peter Breslow and Martha Wexler.

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Pelosi goes it alone on impeachment

On Thursday, Pelosi jolted Washington by declaring that the House will begin drafting articles of impeachment against Trump — a task that she personally instructed her top committee chairs to begin. Pelosi stood alone before a bank of TV cameras, flanked by a row of American flags in the same storied spot where she announced the House would move ahead with an impeachment inquiry less than three months earlier.

Yet for the California Democrat, this is not just the latest episode in the long-running and frequently contentious “Trump vs. Pelosi” show. Despite all the shutdowns and the insults, the clapbacks and the walkouts, Pelosi has insisted that she respects the office of the presidency, if not the current occupant of that office. Both in public and in private, Pelosi instructs members of her caucus to remain “prayerful” and somber as they pursue impeachment. Pelosi insists she often prays for Trump.

In a closed-door caucus meeting following her announcement Thursday, Pelosi ended her remarks by paraphrasing a scripture from the Book of Jeremiah, urging members to “attend to matters of justice.”

“It spoke so clearly to what’s going on that everybody in there went, ‘Oh wow,’” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a Methodist pastor who often leads the caucus in prayer at the start of meetings. “It was powerful.”

Pelosi has insisted that there is urgency to act because Trump’s behavior — current and past — presents a “threat” to the 2020 elections.

“The president has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi told reporters.

But there is something of a contradiction in Pelosi’s handling of impeachment. Pelosi has been reaching out even more regularly than normal with her leadership team and her caucus to listen and to offer updates, a seemingly endless stream of conversations with her colleagues in her office, on the floor, and on the phone.

Some Democrats, however, say they have felt, recently, more like Pelosi is briefing rather than consulting them, often being told of a decision after she has already made up her mind.

Pelosi’s supporters say she has repeatedly demonstrated the seriousness of the undertaking, including in non-scripted moments, like her uncharacteristic burst of emotion on Thursday when she admonished a Sinclair TV network reporter for shouting, “Do you hate the president, Madame Speaker?” as she was exiting her weekly news conference.

“As a Catholic, I resent you using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me,” Pelosi said. She had abruptly turned back to the podium to make her remarks, so the whole room — and the cameras — could catch her final words.

“Don’t mess with me when it comes to a word like that,” Pelosi added in a stunning departure from her usually composed demeanor— especially in a televised event.

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