What Happened in the Impeachment Inquiry This Week?

What Happened in the Impeachment Inquiry This Week?

Well, that escalated quickly. Congress is back. There were meltdowns. There was testimony. Representative Elijah Cummings, a powerful Baltimore Democrat who was a key figure in the impeachment investigation of President Trump, ?]

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CreditJustin T. Gellerson for The New York Times

A son of sharecroppers, Mr. Cummings fought tirelessly for his hometown, Baltimore, and became a key figure in the impeachment investigation. At the time of his death, he was chairman of the House Oversight Committee. On the panel, which is charged with maintaining integrity in government, Mr. Cummings may have left his most lasting legacy. The position gave him sweeping power to investigate Mr. Trump and his administration, and he used it. Mr. Cummings’s death left a gaping void on the committee.

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It was supposed to be a briefing for lawmakers on the administration’s Syria policy. But a roughly 20-minute meeting on Wednesday, the first with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump since the impeachment inquiry began, devolved into name-calling and finger-pointing. Ms. Pelosi said Mr. Trump called her a “third-grade” politician, but the White House and Senator Chuck Schumer said the insult was actually “third-rate.” Ms. Pelosi told Mr. Trump that Russia had always wanted a foothold in the Middle East and that it now had one because of his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. “All roads with you lead to Putin,” she said, referring to Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin. At another point, Mr. Trump said, “I hate ISIS more than you do.” Somewhere in there, Mr. Trump also insulted Jim Mattis, his former defense secretary, calling him, “the world’s most overrated general.” (Later in the week, Mr. Mattis said: “I have earned my spurs on the battlefield,” adding, “Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor.”)

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After vowing not to cooperate with a “kangaroo court,” the president has largely failed to prevent current and former administration members from spending hours with Democrats seeking to impeach him. A parade of career diplomats and senior officials has offered a cascade of revelations. Among those testifying this week were Michael McKinley, above center, who resigned as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He testified that he quit because career diplomats had been sidelined on Ukraine. “I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents,” he said in his opening statement.

Also, George P. Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, told impeachment investigators that he raised concerns with a senior Obama White House official in 2015 about Hunter Biden holding a position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. But the warning was ignored, according to two people familiar with Mr. Kent’s testimony. The White House official told Mr. Kent that Joseph R. Biden Jr. did not have the “bandwidth” to address the concerns while his son Beau was undergoing cancer treatment, according to the people, who were not authorized to discuss the private deposition. Mr. Kent’s remarks about the Bidens were first reported by The Washington Post.

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Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, continued to play a central role in the impeachment inquiry. A White House aide quoted John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, as calling Mr. Giuliani “a hand grenade” in reference to his activities relating to Ukraine. Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, told House impeachment investigators that Mr. Trump delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to Mr. Giuliani. Mr. Sondland, a hotelier from Portland, Ore., and Trump donor, testified under subpoena that he did not understand until later that Mr. Giuliani’s goal may have been an effort “to involve Ukrainians, directly or indirectly, in the president’s 2020 re-election campaign.” If you were wondering how Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, got to this point, carve out some time to watch this episode of “The Weekly.” You can find it here, if you have Hulu.

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Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who has drawn scrutiny for his role in the controversy surrounding President Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine officials to investigate the son of a political rival, on Thursday told the president he would resign from the cabinet.


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