Jan 21, 2020

Cipollone falsely claims Republicans were barred from impeachment depositions

White House counsel and lead Trump lawyer Pat Cipollone falsely claimed during the Senate trial Tuesday that Republicans were barred from attending the House impeachment inquiry's closed-door hearings.

Reality check: Republicans who are members of the three committees conducting the impeachment inquiry — the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees — were invited to and did attend impeachment hearings, which took in place in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).

  • "Not even Mr. Schiff's Republican colleagues were allowed into the SCIF," Cipollone claimed.
  • Head impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-N.Y.) responded that he would not suggest that Cipollone would "deliberately make a false statement,” but that "he's mistaken" and that Republicans were given equal time to question witnesses during the closed-door depositions.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) led a group of House Republicans in storming a closed-door hearing in October to protest the alleged lack of transparency from Democrats — despite the fact that at least a dozen of the participating GOP lawmakers sit on one of the authorized committees.

Cipollone also claimed that the impeachment inquiry began when Democrats "made false allegations about a telephone call" and that Schiff began focusing on the second phone call when allegations about the first fell flat.

  • Reality check: The inquiry began when a whistleblower alleged that Trump sought to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son during a July 25 phone call. The other phone call, which took place in April, was never considered central to the allegations.

Go deeper ... Live updates: Senators debate rules of Trump impeachment trial

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Esper catches White House off guard with opposition to military use, photo op

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a press briefing Wednesday that he does not currently support invoking the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that permits the president to use active-duty troops on U.S. soil, in order to quell protests against racial injustice.

Why it matters: President Trump threatened this week to deploy military forces if state and local governments aren't able to squash violent protests. Axios reported on Tuesday that Trump is backing off the idea for now, but that he hasn't ruled it out.

Updates: George Floyd protests continue for 9th day

Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue on June 3. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Wednesday, marking nine straight days of demonstrations.

The latest: As several major cities moved to lift curfews, NYPD officers "aggressively" dispersed large crowds in Brooklyn and Manhattan beyond New York City's 8 p.m. curfew, per the New York Times. The National Guard was stationed outside many protests Wednesday night, including in Hollywood and Atlanta.

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"