Depositions in the House’s impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump resume on Tuesday, as investigators try to parse out whether Trump corruptly withheld military aid to Ukraine to force the U.S. ally to investigate one of his chief political opponents.
Here’s what’s happening on the impeachment front:
Depositions continue: Investigators will sit down on Tuesday with Bill Taylor, the American diplomat who ran the embassy in Kyiv. Taylor was thrust into the spotlight when texts he exchanged with Trump ally Gordon Sondland emerged.
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“I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote in the text message, which provides evidence of a quid pro quo.
Two other Trump administration officials — Russ Vought and Mike Duffey — who were supposed to sit for depositions have now said they won’t comply and will instead refuse to show up. They’re following directions from Trump, who is trying to block everyone from testifying — a move that could earn him an article of impeachment for obstructing justice.
“I saw some Fake News over the weekend to correct,” Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, tweeted. “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 and Duffey — both Trump political appointees — were the ones who would have withheld the military aid to Ukraine, and known who the order to withhold that aid came from.
What you may have missed: On Monday, Trump held a Cabinet meeting in which he railed against the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry in the first place.
At this point, the whistleblower is irrelevant, as multiple administration officials have backed up the whistleblower’s account.
But Trump is mad that the whistleblower sounded the alarm about his corrupt dealings with Ukraine, and is lying about what the whistleblower said in the complaint.
“The whistleblower and the other whistleblower and the informer — all these people — they’d seemed to have disappeared,” Trump said at the Cabinet meeting. “You know why they disappeared? Because they talked about another conversation — a conversation that I never had.”
Trump kept raging on about the whistleblower, eventually suggesting he wants to release the whistleblower’s identity. (Federal law protects whistleblowers.)
“Now you have to say, ‘Well, do we have to protect somebody that gave a false account?’ You know, these whistleblowers, they have them like they’re angels. Okay? So do we have to protect somebody that gave a totally false account of my conversation? I don’t know. You tell me,” Trump said.
Trump’s attacks on the whistleblower have Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer so worried that he went to the intelligence community to ask what is being done to protect their identity, according to Politico.
Also on Monday, Republicans failed to censure Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic congressman who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
Republicans have tried to vilify Schiff as they attack the impeachment process. It’s a transparent effort to make a boogeyman for Republicans to rail against, despite the fact that Schiff did nothing wrong.
GOP lawmakers are attacking the process because they can’t, or won’t, defend Trump’s actions. It goes to show just how precarious Trump’s position is.
“What the @HouseGOP fears the most is the truth,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted after the failed vote. “Instead of discussing the facts, they choose to attack @RepAdamSchiff. To be clear: Rep. Schiff is a great patriot. America is well-served by his strategic leadership.”