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The Trump Impeachment Inquiry: Latest Updates

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House Democrats reconvene after Yom Kippur today with fresh support for their impeachment efforts, as well as some nagging dilemmas. On Wednesday, Joseph R. Biden Jr. came out in support of President Trump’s impeachment for the first time, joining several other Democratic presidential candidates who have already done so.

But those leading the impeachment inquiry face challenging questions about how quickly to proceed. Already this week, Democratic lawmakers have acknowledged the need to strike a balance, continuing with investigations and preparing additional subpoenas, but not letting their efforts stall as the White House embraces a strategy of defiance.

The two men, Lev Parnas, who was born in Ukraine, and Igor Fruman, who was born in Belarus, are believed to be important witnesses in the House’s impeachment inquiry of Mr. Trump. Their arrest on campaign finance charges were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman aided Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to gin up investigations in Ukraine into Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden, among other potentially political beneficial investigations for Mr. Trump. Mr. Parnas had been scheduled to participate in a deposition with House impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill on Thursday, and Mr. Fruman on Friday. Neither had been expected to show up voluntarily. House Democrats were preparing to issue subpoenas to force them to do so.

The men are said to have made possibly illegal donations to Mr. Trump’s Super PAC and to the campaigns of prominent House Republicans to curry political favors, including former Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, who was defeated for re-election last year.

Shortly after their indictment became public, House impeachment investigators issued subpoenas to both Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, compelling them to speak with Congress about their work with Mr. Giuliani in Ukraine.

Mr. Parnas had been scheduled to appear for a deposition on Thursday and Mr. Fruman on Friday, but even before their arrests, a lawyer for both men had indicated they would not comply voluntarily. The subpoena, which instructs them to now appear next Wednesday, makes no mention of the federal indictment, which may complicate their ability or willingness to cooperate with the House’s investigation.

Facing criminal charges for work that appears to have at least some connection to the subject of the impeachment inquiry, they may choose to assert Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

In a letter to John Dowd, the lawyer representing both men, three House committee chairmen wrote that Mr. Parnas and Mr. Furman were “required by law to comply with the enclosed subpoenas.”

[Read the letter from committee chairmen.]

“They are not exempted from this requirement merely because they happen to work with Mr. Giuliani, and they may not defy congressional subpoenas merely because President Trump has chosen the path of denial, defiance, and obstruction,” wrote Representatives Adam B. Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Eliot L. Engel of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Mr. Trump took to Twitter on Thursday morning, clearly unhappy that Fox News Channel, the conservative media redoubt that he needs to maintain the support of his core voters, has been insufficiently supportive.

The president appears to be incensed with a Fox News poll that showed 51 percent of registered voters support his impeachment and removal from office, up 10 percentage points from July. “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck,” Mr. Trump wrote.

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The president is highlighting divisions at Fox between some of the network’s commentators, such as Andrew Napolitano, and the general line that the House’s impeachment inquiry is not legitimate. That is clear in his own Twitter feed. After attacking Fox for giving Mr. Napolitano a megaphone — “he’s been terrible” — employing Donna Brazile — “who gave Crooked Hillary the debate questions & got fired from @CNN” — and generally venting his displeasure, he then retweeted Maria Bartiromo, a Fox Business anchor who has been broadcasting supportive statements from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

But Mr. Trump has more problems with conservative media than just a few Fox personalities. The Drudge Report, which rose to prominence during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, has been remarkably amenable to the impeachment of the current president. On Thursday, its purveyor, Matt Drudge, was amplifying the Fox poll that Mr. Trump objected to, blaring, “FOX SHOCK: 51% WANT TRUMP REMOVED.”

Mr. Trump reserved the right to do what he wants with the media: “@FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore,” he wrote. “It is so different than it used to be. Oh well, I’m President!”

Speaking of Fox News, the cable news channel is touting word from Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s newly elected president, that Mr. Trump did not “blackmail” him in July when he asked for “a favor” on a president-to-president phone call that is the heart of the House’s impeachment inquiry.

What Mr. Zelensky said is not exactly exonerating. As Fox News quoted him, the Ukrainian leader told reporters “there was no blackmail.” But he went on to say, “They blocked this money and nobody asked us” for “anything,” an apparent reference to the hundreds of millions of military aid that Mr. Trump had frozen before the call in which he asked Ukraine for help investigating a political rival, Mr. Biden, and his son, Hunter. Mr. Trump has never acknowledged that the freeze in military aid was tied to the request for dirt, although a State Department envoy said it was in a text message to the ambassador to the European Union.

Mr. Trump was satisfied, however: “That should end this Democrat Scam.”

Trey Gowdy, the former South Carolina congressman and federal prosecutor, was announced on Wednesday evening as the latest addition to President Trump’s legal team.



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