Oct 3, 2019

Trump impeachment threat engulfs government

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House's formal impeachment inquiry is just 10 days old, but has swiftly transcended D.C. inertia and swept in huge swaths of America's government.

Why it matters: We thought nothing could break through Washington gridlock, nothing could stick to Trump, and nothing could command sustained attention in this media environment.

  • Those "certainties" could turn out to be wrong, wrong and wrong.

The state of play: Vice President Pence's role suddenly became a major issue; President Trump seethed about the investigators during an appearance with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö; and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked about the Ukraine call while appearing in Rome with his Italian counterpart.

  • That was all yesterday. For good measure, a Trump tweet included the word "BULLSHIT" — all caps.
  • Other parts of government that are ensnared: An intelligence community whistleblower lit the fire; Attorney General William Barr has been a central figure from the get-go; impeachment is an issue for senators and others on the 2020 trail in a way that the Mueller investigation never was; and most other Capitol Hill business has been drowned out.

Two things we learned yesterday:

1) House Democratic leaders struck a tough, insistent tone, and committees are threatening the White House with subpoenas if it doesn't meet tight timelines.

  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said: "We’re not fooling around here."
  • Speaker Pelosi said on a call with the House Democratic Caucus, according to a readout from her office: "I think that our Chairman [Schiff] used a really good word for Barr and Pompeo and Giuliani, and they are, henchmen."

2) Trump, who always needs a foil, and his media chorus are trying to make Schiff the face of the inquiry, way more than Pelosi.

  • Trump, who has suggested arresting Schiff for treason, said: "We don't call him 'Shifty Schiff' for nothing. He's a shifty, dishonest guy."

What's next: Congress hears its first impeachment witness today.

  • Kurt Volker, the special U.S. envoy to Ukraine until he resigned last week, was little known outside of foreign policy circles. Now a central figure in the early stage of the inquiry, he's scheduled to testify in private today. (AP)

Go deeper: Tweets, threats and truth

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Trump: "We must determine the Whistleblower’s identity"

Photo by Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump on Monday said in a pair of tweets Monday the whistleblower who filed the complaint that set off the House impeachment inquiry must "testify to explain why he got my Ukraine conversation sooo wrong" and that they must be identified "to determine WHY this was done to the USA."

Adam Schiff now doesn’t seem to want the Whistleblower to testify. NO! Must testify to explain why he got my Ukraine conversation sooo wrong, not even close. Did Schiff tell him to do that? We must determine the Whistleblower’s identity to determine WHY this was done to the USA.
Go deeperArrowOct 14, 2019

Adam Schiff is Democrats' Ken Starr

Photos: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images; Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is the closest thing to a Ken Starr that exists for President Trump's impeachment inquiry — at least for now — lawmakers and committee staff tell Axios.

The bottom line: In the absence of an independent or special counsel to manage the Ukraine investigation, Schiff has taken on a dual-hat role, as both a key committee chairman and chief investigator.

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019

Schiff slams Trump's call for China to investigate Bidens as "repugnant"

Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that President Trump's call for China to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden is "repugnant" and "ought to be condemned by every member" of Congress.

"A president of the United States encouraging a foreign nation to interfere again to help his campaign by investigating a rival is a fundamental breach of the presidential oath."
Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019