House Republicans came forward Saturday with a list of witnesses they want the House Intelligence Committee to hear from in the public hearings set to start this coming week. Most prominent among them: the anonymous whistleblower and former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter.
"Americans see through this sham impeachment process, despite the Democrats' efforts to retroactively legitimize it last week," Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the House Intelligence Committee's top Republican, wrote in a letter to the panel's Democratic chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., on Saturday.
"To provide transparency to your otherwise opaque and unfair process, and after consultation with [House Oversight Committee] Ranking Member Jim Jordan and [House Foreign Affairs Committee] Ranking Member Michael McCaul, the American people deserve to hear from the following witnesses in an open setting."
"It is imperative that the American people hear definitively how the whistleblower developed his or her information, and who else the whistleblower may have fed the information he or she gathered and how that treatment of classified information may have led to the false narrative being perpetrated by the Democrats during this process," Nunes' letter added.
Schiff pushed back immediately, putting out a statement that warned Republicans his panel’s probe wouldn’t be used to look into Biden or unfounded claims that Ukraine was involved in 2016 election meddling.
“This inquiry is not, and will not serve ... as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the President pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit, or to facilitate the President’s effort to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm,” Schiff said in a statement tweeted by NBC News.
“The Committee is evaluating the Minority’s witness requests and will give due consideration to witnesses within the scope of the impeachment inquiry, as voted on by the House,” Schiff said.
“As we move into the open hearing phase of the inquiry, the Committee is mindful that we are engaged in a sober endeavor rooted in the Constitution to determine whether the President of the United States engaged in misconduct that warrants impeachment by the House,” he added.
Investigators in the inquiry Friday released hundreds of pages of testimony from Fiona Hill, a former White House Russia adviser, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council. Both testified they were concerned Trump was inappropriately pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democrats.
Ivanka Trump told The Associated Press on Friday the identity of whistleblower is "not particularly relevant" and "shouldn't be a substantive part of the conversation." The whistleblower sparked the inquiry into Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, was aware of "many relevant meetings and conversations" related to the Ukraine pressure campaign that House impeachment investigators have not yet learned about, his attorney Charles Cooper wrote in a letter to the House general counsel. Cooper wants a federal judge to determine whether Bolton and his former deputy, Charles Kupperman, can be compelled to testify against the White House wishes.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Office of Management and Budget associate director Marky Sandy defied House investigator subpoenas and were no-shows for their scheduled depositions Friday.
Mulvaney has asked to join a lawsuit brought by another of the president's advisers challenging a congressional subpoena. That suit, filed by former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, asks a court to decide which of two directives Kupperman must follow — one from Congress ordering him to testify, the other from the White House telling him not to. A lawyer for Mulvaney says his case presents the same legal issues as Kupperman's and that he is a closer and even more senior adviser to the president than Kupperman was.
Investigators are preparing to start public hearings in the coming week. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said three State Department witnesses will appear in two hearings Wednesday and Friday: the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, career department official George Kent, and Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch was ousted in May on Trump's orders and Taylor replaced her; both have testified about their concerns with the administration's policy on Ukraine.
The committee also must consider whether to summon the witnesses sought by Republicans, who call the impeachment process a sham.
This past week, a dozen Trump administration figures, including big names like Mulvaney and Bolton, declined to appear before the Democratic-led panel. Democrats are wrapping up the closed-door portion of the proceedings.
Trump's daughter and presidential aide Ivanka Trump granted a rare interview while on a trip to Morocco. Speaking with The Associated Press, she questioned the motives of the anonymous whistleblower whose allegations touched off the Trump impeachment inquiry and suggested that former Vice President Joe Biden profited from his time in public service.
The House committees probing Trump's Ukraine dealings released transcripts of the depositions of Vindman and Hill:
Previously released transcripts:
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