Oct 5, 2019

Channeling Democrats on impeachment

Trump on October 3, 2019 in Florida. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The top of Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section has two sharp, interesting articles that help explain why Democrats think they have a strong hand on impeachment.

The big picture: For nearly a month, the White House has refused to comply with House investigations into whether Trump jeopardized national security by allegedly pressing Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, and by withholding security assistance provided by Congress to help Ukraine.

1) "Secondhand information often has severe legal consequences," writes former public defender Sarah Lustbader:

  • "Law enforcement is expected to use hearsay to lead to more direct sources of information. ... That’s pretty much what happened with the whistleblower complaint: It prompted officials to seek the rough transcript ... And ... the House deposed the former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who provided incriminating text messages..."
  • Keep reading.

2) "I classified presidential calls. The White House is abusing the system," writes former National Security Council staffer Kelly Magsamen, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama:

  • "I have ... spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in the White House Situation Room. It is difficult to overstate just how abnormal and suspicious" the handling of the Ukraine call appears.
  • "The apparent abuse of the classification system offers reason enough for congressional review."
  • "What national security reason was offered for moving the record ... to the code word system? Which NSC lawyers made that decision? Was the national security adviser involved?"
  • Keep reading.

Go deeper: Which House Democrats support impeaching Trump

Go deeper

Trump-Ukraine scandal: The key players, dates and documents

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The House's impeachment inquiry has been driven forward by new disclosures of what exactly President Trump wanted the government of Ukraine to do — revealed in 3 key documents, but nonetheless distorted and disputed along the way.

We've gathered the key players, events and disclosures of the Trump-Ukraine saga in one place to clear up what's happened so far and examine where we go from here.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

Kurt Volker's former advisers testify before impeachment probe

Croft and Anderson testify on Oct. 30. Photos: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Former National Security Council staffer Catherine Croft and Ukraine expert Christopher Anderson testified before House impeachment committees Wednesday.

Why it matters: Croft and Anderson are former advisers to Kurt Volker, the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, who was named in the whistleblower complaint about the July 25 presidential phone call that spurred an impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Go deeperArrowOct 31, 2019

Trey Gowdy agrees to serve as outside counsel for Trump

Trey Gowdy conducts a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

President Trump has asked former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy to assist him with legal advice from outside the White House and Gowdy has agreed, though details are yet to be finalized, according to people familiar with the situation.

Where it stands: As the president faces an impeachment inquiry, Gowdy can offer Trump another opinion on where legal theory meets political reality, a person familiar told Axios' Margaret Talev, adding that his Benghazi experience is seen as an asset. Gowdy is expected to advise the White House behind the scenes and appear on TV to advocate on behalf of the president.

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019