Early Friday, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor also said he would conduct an “audit” of an investigation related to former vice president Joe Biden’s son.
The texts released late Thursday show how State Department officials coordinated with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s top aide and Trump’s personal lawyer to leverage a potential summit between Trump and Zelensky on a promise from the Ukrainians to investigate an energy company that employed Hunter Biden.
The White House also faced a Friday deadline to produced documents related to the controversy or be served with a subpoena.
●Trump publicly calls on China to investigate Bidens
●Trump’s removal would require Republican dissidents. But those who speak out become targets of viral disinformation.
●Trump wanted Ukraine’s president to launch investigations before face-to-face meeting, State Dept. texts show
Read the whistleblower complaint | The rough transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky | House Democrats’ letter on State Department texts
9:30 a.m.: Intelligence community inspector general meets with Congress today about whistleblower complaint
Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, will appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday to discuss the complaint from a whistleblower that touched off an impeachment probe against Trump.
The hearing is necessary “to establish additional details, leads and evidence” in the probe, Schiff wrote in a letter to colleagues last week. The hearing will not be public.
IG at center of impeachment inquiry promised robust whistleblower protections when he took job
“We have to flesh out all of the facts for the American people. The seriousness of the matter and the danger to our country demands nothing less,” Schiff wrote.
Atkinson alerted Schiff and other congressional committee leaders to the whistleblower’s complaint last month, but at the time acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire would not allow Atkinson to share the full complaint with the committees.
Read more here.
— Shane Harris, Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian
9 a.m.: House Republicans object to White House subpoena
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee on Friday made public a letter to Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in which they objected to his threatened subpoena of White House records related to Trump’s call with Zelensky.
“You decided to issue this subpoena without consulting Republicans and without allowing Members to debate the terms of the subpoena,” the Republicans wrote in the letter, dated Thursday. “Your memorandum cherry-picks and misstates information to propagate a misleading narrative about the President’s actions. We object strongly to the issuance of this subpoena and your stated reasons for issuing it.”
Cummings said earlier this week he would issue a subpoena if the White House didn’t reply with document requests by Friday.
8:50 a.m.: Trump seizes on unemployment rate in arguing against impeachment
Trump seized the release of new unemployment numbers Friday morning to argue against his impeachment.
“Breaking News: Unemployment Rate, at 3.5%, drops to a 50 YEAR LOW,” he tweeted. “Wow America, lets impeach your President (even though he did nothing wrong!).”
Trump made no mention that the same report showed the economy adding a modest 136,000 jobs in September, in what is likely to be interpreted as further evidence that the country is headed for a slowdown.
U.S. economy added just 136,000 jobs in September, in fresh sign economy is cooling
8:25 a.m.: Schiff says Republicans must decide if Trump has ‘absolute right’ he claims
In a morning tweet, Schiff responded to Trump’s late-night assertion that he has an “absolute right” to enlist foreign countries in corruption investigations.
Trump’s contention, in a tweet, came at the end of a day in which he publicly urged both Ukraine and China to investigate the business dealings of Hunter Biden.
“It comes down to this,” Schiff tweeted. “We’ve cut through the denials. The deflections. The nonsense. Donald Trump believes he can pressure a foreign nation to help him politically. It’s his ‘right.’ Every Republican in Congress has to decide: Is he right?”
Minutes after Schiff’s tweet, Trump doubled down on his assertion.
“As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries,” he tweeted. “It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!”
6:45 a.m.: Ukraine’s new chief prosecutor to ‘audit’ Biden case
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s new chief prosecutor said Friday his office will conduct an “audit” of an investigation into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that had recruited Hunter Biden for its board.
A criminal probe of the company was closed in 2016, and Trump has alleged it was because of pressure by Hunter Biden’s father, Joe Biden, who was then vice president. Trump has insisted that Ukraine open a new investigation.
Ukrainian officials said previously that the probe was focused on the years 2010 to 2012, before the younger Biden joined the board. They also have said that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.
Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka told a news conference that he is aware of at least 15 investigations that may have touched on Burisma, its owner Nikolai Zlochevsky, an associate named Serhiy Zerchenko, and Biden, and that all will be reviewed. He said no foreign or Ukrainian official has been in touch with him to request this audit.
Read more here.
— Will Englund
6:30 a.m.: Trump wanted Ukraine’s president to launch investigations before face-to-face meeting, texts show
House investigators released numerous text messages late Thursday night illustrating how senior State Department officials coordinated with the Ukrainian president’s top aide and Trump’s personal lawyer to leverage a potential summit between the heads of state on a promise from the Ukrainians to investigate the 2016 U.S. election and an energy company that employed Biden’s son.
The texts, which former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker provided investigators during a nearly 10-hour deposition Thursday, reveal that officials felt Trump would not agree to meet with Zelensky unless Zelensky promised to launch the investigations — and did so publicly.
Although the texts do not mention Biden by name, congressional Democrats leading an impeachment inquiry are pointing to them as clear evidence that Trump conditioned normal bilateral relations with Ukraine on that country first agreeing “to launch politically motivated investigations,” top Democrats said in a statement Thursday night.
“heard from White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker texted Zelensky’s aide, Andrey Yermak, on July 25, hours before Trump and the Ukrainian president spoke via phone.
Read more here.
— Karoun Demirjian, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and John Hudson
6 a.m.: Trump asserts ‘absolute right’ to investigate corruption
Trump on Thursday night asserted an “absolute right” to investigate corruption, which he said includes reaching out to foreign countries for assistance, and suggested that he might sue House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).
He comments on Twitter came hours after he told reporters that he would like to see investigations of the Bidens not only by Ukraine but also China, prompting an uproar from congressional Democrats.
“As the President of the United States, I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, CORRUPTION, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other Countries to help us out!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Later, he took aim at Pelosi for standing by Schiff’s comments in a hearing last week.
Trump has called for Schiff to resign for remarks in which he embellished Trump’s phone call with Zelensky. Schiff later said his remarks were intended as a parody and that Trump should have recognized that.
Pelosi defended Schiff during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that aired Thursday morning on “Good Morning America,” saying he remarks were “fair.”
“Nancy Pelosi today, on @GMA, actually said that Adam Schiffty Schiff didn’t fabricate my words in a major speech before Congress,” Trump said in his tweet. “She either had no idea what she was saying, in other words lost it, or she lied. Even Clinton lover @GStephanopoulos strongly called her out. Sue her?”
5 a.m.: Members of Congress getting pressed on developments back home
With Congress in recess, House and Senate members are getting pressed on developments in the Ukraine controversy while back home.
Here is a video of Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) responding to a constituent Thursday night at a town hall in Templeton, Iowa, who asked a pointed question about the president: “When are you guys going to say, ‘Enough?’”
5 a.m.: CNN declines to run Trump campaign ads
CNN said Thursday that it will not run two Trump campaign ads because they disparage the network’s journalists and make “demonstrably false” claims while discussing impeachment and pushing unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against Biden.
The network’s decisions come as the Trump administration escalates its attacks on congressional Democrats’ impeachment efforts and continues to lash out at media organizations it tries to discredit as “fake news.”
CNN’s move brought renewed ire from Trump’s reelection campaign, as Communications Director Tim Murtaugh called the news network a “Democrat public relations firm” that “spends all day protecting Joe Biden.”
Read more here.
— Hannah Knowles