The latest news on the impeachment inquiry
- A decorated Army officer who listened to the president’s call with the Ukrainian president plans to testify about the conversation to House lawmakers Tuesday.
- House Democrats will vote on a resolution laying out procedures as the impeachment inquiry approaches its “public-facing phase.”
- On the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.
Washington— A White House official and decorated Army officer who listened to President Trump’s now-infamous call with the Ukrainian president was so alarmed by what he heard that he reported it to a top national security lawyer, according to his prepared testimony.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) who received a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq, plans to tell the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry that he “did not think it was proper” for the president to insist that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky open investigations into his political opponents. He said he reported his concerns to the lead counsel at the NSC.
Vindman is scheduled to be deposed on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. He is appearing under a subpoena by the House Intelligence Committee. CBS News obtained a copy of his prepared opening statement, the details of which were first reported by The New York Times.
On Monday, House Democrats said they’re preparing a resolution establishing the groundwork for the next stage of the impeachment inquiry.
“This week, we will bring a resolution to the Floor that affirms the ongoing, existing investigation that is currently being conducted by our committees as part of this impeachment inquiry, including all requests for documents, subpoenas for records and testimony, and any other investigative steps previously taken or to be taken as part of this investigation,” Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues.
The House Rules Committee will introduce the resolution “to ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward” as the inquiry approaches its “public-facing phase,” the committee said. The committee will mark up the resolution Wednesday
Republicans and the White House have criticized Democrats for not holding a formal vote authorizing the impeachment proceedings, which is not required under the Constitution. Pelosi said they are taking the vote to “eliminate any doubt” about whether the administration can block witnesses, withhold documents or ignore subpoenas.
Trump calls Vindman a “Never Trumper”
9:21 a.m.: As Alexander Vindman arrived at the Capitol for his testimony, Mr. Trump tweeted — without basis — that Vindman is a “Never Trumper.”
“Supposedly, according to the Corrupt Media, the Ukraine call “concerned” today’s Never Trumper witness. Was he on the same call that I was? Can’t be possible! Please ask him to read the Transcript of the call. Witch Hunt!” Mr. Trump wrote.
An official working on the impeachment inquiry told CBS News that in light of an attempt by the White House to direct Vindman not to appear for his scheduled deposition and efforts by the White House to limit his testimony, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel his testimony this morning.
As is required under the subpoena, Vindman is now complying with the subpoena and answering questions from both Democratic and Republican members and staff.
According to his prepared testimony, Vindman said in his opening statement that he was concerned by the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president. Vindman, a lieutenant colonel in the Army who received a Purple Heart, has given no indication that he opposes Mr. Trump.
“I have served this country in a nonpartisan manner, and have done so with the utmost respect and professionalism for both Republican and Democratic administrations,” Vindman’s statement before Congress reads.
–With reporting by Rebecca Kaplan
Vindman arrives for testimony
9:15 a.m. National Security Council director of European Affairs Alexander Vindman arrived at the Capitol at approximately 9:13 a.m. for his closed-door testimony before investigators from the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees.
He is the first current White House official to testify and the tenth person to give closed-door testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
Vindman, in his opening statement to Congress obtained by CBS News, described how he had raised concerns to the top NSC lawyer afterward because he did not think it was proper to ask a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen and because he was concerned that if Ukraine began investigating Joe Biden and Burisma, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would lose bipartisan support.
— Rebecca Kaplan
Trump suggests he’s “never heard of” NSC’s Vindman
7:50 a.m. Hours before a White House official is due to testify on Capitol Hill about what he heard during the president’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnky, President Trump is claiming he has no idea who the official is.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs at the National Security Council (NSC), said he listened in on the call four days later, along with other NSC officials and members of the vice president’s staff.
“I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman will tell Congress, according to his prepared testimony. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.”
Vindman said such a result “would all undermine U.S. national security.”
White House official on Trump’s Ukraine call reported concerns to top lawyer
11:04 p.m.: After Zelensky’s party won parliamentary elections in Ukraine on July 21, the NSC recommended Mr. Trump call Zelensky to congratulate him. Vindman said he listened in on the call four days later, along with other NSC officials and members of the vice president’s staff.
“I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,” Vindman wrote. “I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.”
Vindman said such a result “would all undermine U.S. national security.”
After the call ended, “I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel,” he wrote. — Stefan Becket
Read Vindman’s opening statement here.
Graham says House resolution “a bit like un-ringing a bell”
5:51 p.m.: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who last week introduced his own resolution in the Senate criticizing Democrats’ handling of the impeachment probe, said the House’s move to hold a vote “is an acknowledgement of the success of our efforts.”
“A vote now is a bit like un-ringing a bell as House Democrats have selectively leaked information in order to damage President Trump for weeks,” Graham said in a statement. “There is no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming response House Democrats heard from the American people and Senate Republicans in support of my resolution forced their hand.”
Graham said he would review the House resolution to ensure “it provides President Trump with the rights and privileges Republicans afforded former President Clinton during the 1998 impeachment process.” Graham was one of the House managers during President Clinton’s impeachment trial. — Alan He
Schiff says House Intel will hold public hearings
5:35 p.m.: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff confirmed his committee will hold public hearings pursuant to the resolution that will be introduced in the House.
“This week, we will bring to the Floor a resolution that establishes the format for open hearings that will be conducted by the House Intelligence Committee as part of the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry, as well as procedures to transmit any evidence or report to the Judiciary Committee,” Schiff said. “The American people will hear firsthand about the President’s misconduct.” — Rebecca Kaplan
White House claims victory with impeachment resolution
4:40 p.m.: The White House, which has for weeks decried the Democrats’ impeachment process as shrouded in secret and illegitimate, tried to claim victory over the Democrats’ impending resolution.
“We won’t be able to comment fully until we see the actual text, but Speaker Pelosi is finally admitting what the rest of America already knew – that Democrats were conducting an unauthorized impeachment proceeding, refusing to give the president due process, and their secret, shady, closed door depositions are completely and irreversibly illegitimate,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement to the White House press pool.
It’s unclear how Democrats’ push for further transparency will change the White House’s impeachment strategy, given that officials have largely criticized the impeachment process rather than rebut the evidence the investigation has uncovered. — Kathryn Watson
Pelosi says resolution will “eliminate any doubt” about inquiry’s status
3:48 p.m.: In the letter to her Democratic colleagues, Pelosi said the House will vote on a resolution laying out the next steps in the impeachment inquiry to rebut the administration’s arguments that the inquiry is illegitimate without a full House vote.
“We are taking this step to 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,” Pelosi wrote.
The speaker said the resolution will establish “the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the President and his Counsel.” — Nancy Cordes
House Dems preparing resolution to “ensure transparency” on impeachment
3:28 p.m.: The House Rules Committee is preparing to mark up a resolution for a full House vote that will “ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward” as the “public-facing phase” of the impeachment inquiry approaches.
“As committees continue to gather evidence and prepare to present their findings, I will be introducing a resolution to ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward, which the Rules Committee will mark up this week,” Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern of Massachusetts said in a statement. “This is the right thing to do for the institution and the American people.”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has said that Democrats will eventually hold public hearings and release transcripts of closed-door depositions.
The Rules Committee will mark up the resolution on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and introduce the resolution for a full House vote. — Rebecca Kaplan