Key facts and latest news
- In two appearances at the White House, President Trump denounced Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry, calling for a chairman to be arrested for treason.
- House Democrats said they plan to issue a new subpoena for the White House to produce documents, and warned the White House and Pompeo not to obstruct their probe.
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed he was on a July call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.
- Soon after the July call, White House officials moved a record of the call to a highly classified computer system, severely restricting who could access it.
Washington — President Trump angrily lashed out at Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry and the whistleblower whose complaint prompted it, accusing a House chairman of treason and saying only “legitimate” whistleblowers should be entitled to protection from retaliation.
At a remarkable press conference with the president of Finland later in the East Room, Mr. Trump repeated a series of falsehoods about the whistleblower and the allegations in the complaint, stating the individual’s account of the call did not match a summary released by his own White House, and labeling Joe and Hunter Biden “stone cold corrupt.”
He berated a reporter for asking about the Ukraine call, and derided what he called the “corrupt and fake” media in general. He said the controversy was a “hoax” that amounted to a “fraudulent crime on the American people.”
Mr. Trump also called Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a “lowlife” who “should resign from office in disgrace.”
“And frankly they should look at him for treason,” the president said.
The dual outbursts came after Schiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned the White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to interfere with the impeachment inquiry, saying efforts to block witnesses or withhold testimony would be considered evidence of obstruction.
The committees leading the impeachment probe said Wednesday they plan to issue a new subpoena demanding the White House turn over documents about the president’s July phone call with the leader of Ukraine.
“They just need to know that, even as they try to undermine our ability to find the facts around the president’s effort to coerce a foreign leader to create dirt that he can use against a political opponent, that they will be strengthening the case on obstruction if they behave that way,” Schiff said at a press conference with Pelosi on Capitol Hill.
“We have to be worthy of the Constitution. As we said before, we have to be fair to the president and that’s why this is an investigative inquiry, not an outright impeachment,” Pelosi said. “And we have to give the president his chance to exonerate himself, but he thinks what he did was ‘perfect.'” — Stefan Becket
Giuliani confirms that documents provided to State Department IG originated with him
6:12 a.m.: In interviews on Fox News and CNN Wednesday night, Giuliani confirmed that some of the documents relating to Ukraine presented to the State Department inspector general originated with him. The State Department IG held a meeting with congressional staff on Wednesday to share the documents, which included accusations of wrongdoing by Biden.
In a briefing on Capitol Hill, the IG gave attendees a packet of “hallucinatory, propagandistic” materials and articles about Ukraine, Biden, Giuliani, Trump hotels and other matters that were sent to the secretary of state several months ago, according to Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin and congressional aides.
In light of the Ukraine controversy, Inspector General Steve Linick decided it was best to share the materials with Congress.
The cover sheet claimed — in calligraphy — that it was sent from the White House, but no one really knows who sent the materials. Raskin said he’ll study the “troubling” materials, but told reporters “it feels like a completely irrelevant distraction from the work at hand.”
A Senate aide called the briefing “weird.”
In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Giuliani said that the IG’s meeting backfired on the Democrats because they got a “absolutely terrific” outline as to how Biden is allegedly guilty.
“What they got shoved down their throats is a complete, total, absolutely terrific prosecutorial outline of why Joe Biden is guilty. It’s a joke for me even having to describe it to you,” Giuliani said about the IG’s briefing. — Nancy Cordes, Stefan Becket and Grace Segers
Whistleblower’s lawyer says no one helped draft complaint
Wednesday, 9:22 p.m.: Mark Zaid, one of the whistleblower’s lawyers, said his client drafted the complaint with no input from the legal team, a detail first reported by ABC News.
“We can absolutely confirm that the Whistleblower drafted the Complaint entirely on their own,” Zaid said in a statement. “Andrew Bakaj, the lead legal counsel, provided guidance on process but was not involved in the drafting of the document and did not review it in advance.”
Zaid said no one on the legal team had seen the complaint until it was released by the committee, and added that “no Member or congressional staff had any input into or reviewed the Complaint before it was submitted” to the inspector general. — Olivia Gazis and Stefan Becket
Read more here.
Whistleblower’s lawyer: Client never spoke to Schiff about complaint
Wednesday, 4:10 p.m.: Mark Zaid, an attorney representing the whistleblower, said in a statement that his client never discussed the complaint with Schiff.
“I can unequivocally state that neither any member of the legal team nor the whistleblower has ever met or spoken with Congressman Schiff about this matter,” Zaid said.
Zaid also said “there was no contact between the legal team and Congress until nearly a month after the whistleblower complaint was submitted to the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General,” pointing to a letter sent to the Intelligence Committee on September 9.
In its earlier statement, a spokesman for the committee said the whistleblower “contacted the Committee for guidance” and staffers advised the individual to hire legal counsel and contact the inspector general. — Olivia Gazis
House Intelligence Committee’s statement on New York Times report
Wednesday, 3:05 p.m.: A spokesman for Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee issued a statement confirming a New York Times report that the whistleblower asked a colleague to approach the committee before filing the complaint:
“Like other whistleblowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled Committees, the whistleblower contacted the Committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Community. This is a regular occurrence, given the Committee’s unique oversight role and responsibilities. Consistent with the Committee’s longstanding procedures, Committee staff appropriately advised the whistleblower to contact an Inspector General and to seek legal counsel.
“At no point did the Committee review or receive the complaint in advance. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, at the behest of the White House, refused to disclose the subject matter or the substance of the complaint to the Committee, despite its lawful obligation to do so, and despite the fact it was deemed ‘credible’ and of ‘urgent concern’ by the Intelligence Community Inspector General. The Committee did not receive the complaint until the night before the Acting Director of National Intelligence’s open hearing before the Committee — more than three weeks after the legal deadline by which the Committee should have received the complaint.
“The whistleblower should be commended for acting appropriately and lawfully throughout every step of the process. The Committee expects that they will be fully protected, despite the President’s threats. Only through their courage did these facts about the President’s abuse of power come to light. The Committee encourages all whistleblowers to come forward and seek advice on how to make disclosures of serious or flagrant wrongdoing. The Committee — and the nation — rely on brave members of the Intelligence Community to raise alarm and avail themselves of established channels.”
Trump says he’ll cooperate with House subpoena
Wednesday, 2:43 p.m.: At his press conference in the East Room, Mr. Trump said he would cooperate with a subpoena three House committees threatened to issue if the White House doesn’t meet a Friday deadline for turning over documents.
“Well, I always cooperate,” Mr. Trump said, before immediately launching into a defense of the call, reiterating several talking points from his press availability earlier on Wednesday.
“We’ll work together with ‘Shifty Schiff’ and Pelosi and all of them, and we’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the Intelligence Committee chairman. He called the controversy over the whistleblower complaint “a fraudulent crime on the American people.”
He again disparaged the whistleblower who wrote the complaint: “I have a lot of respect for whistleblowers, but only when they’re real.”
Asked about a New York Times report that the whistleblower approached a House Committee staffer before filing the complaint, Mr. Trump called it “a scandal,” and said Schiff “probably helped write” the whistleblower report.
“He knew long before, and he helped write it, too,” Mr. Trump said about Schiff, mischaracterizing the Times’ report. — Grace Segers
Trump doubles down on criticism of Schiff, whistleblower
Wednesday, 1:02 p.m.: The president doubled down on attacks on his critics while greeting Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in the Oval Office Wednesday. Mr. Trump repeated his suggestion that Schiff, a California Democrat, committed treason by paraphrasing him at a recent hearing.
“He should be forced to resign from Congress, Adam Schiff. He’s a lowlife,” Mr. Trump said in the Oval Office, as Niinistö looked on.
In a perplexing statement, Mr. Trump claimed Schiff couldn’t even hold Pompeo’s “‘blank’ strap.” The president is set to hold a joint press conference with the Finnish leader Wednesday afternoon. — Kathryn Watson
Read more here.
Schiff: Trump’s whistleblower comments an “incitement to violence”
Wednesday, 11:35 a.m.: Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Mr. Trump’s comments disparaging the whistleblower are tantamount to an “incitement to violence.”
“This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses. It’s an incitement of violence,” Schiff said in a joint press conference with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that he wants to know the identity of the whistleblower, and has suggested the whistleblower is a partisan actor.
Schiff also criticized Pompeo, who has opposed congressional depositions of several current and former State Department officials mentioned in the whistleblower complaint.
Schiff said any attempt to interfere in Congress’s inquiry “will be considered evidence of obstruction.”
“They just need to know that, even as they try to undermine our ability to find the facts around the president’s effort to coerce a foreign leader to create dirt that he can use against a political opponent, that they will be strengthening the case on obstruction if they behave that way,” Schiff said. — Grace Segers