Oct 27, 2019

Impeachment inquiry: What to watch in the week ahead

Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

The pace of House Democrats' investigation into President Trump and Ukraine will accelerate this week with a series of hearings from key administration officials, including a highly anticipated appearance from a top official on the National Security Council.

What we're watching: Tim Morrison, the NSC's Russia and Europe director, will be the first currently serving White House official to testify before the committees on Thursday. He's also the first official who is believed to have been on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the crux of the Dems' inquiry.

  • Democrats are eager to ask Morrison about the explosive testimony of Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Taylor said Morrison had been told that Trump insisted Zelensky publicly commit to investigating the 2016 election and the Bidens, and that hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine hinged on his willingness to do so.
  • Worth noting: Morrison's name appeared 15 times in Taylor's opening statement.

Meanwhile, the White House is being stymied in its efforts to prevent current and former officials from complying with the committees' requests, and Morrison appears to be no exception.

  • Morrison's lawyer told Politico that "If subpoenaed, Mr. Morrison plans to appear for his deposition.”

Trump, who compared the impeachment inquiry to a "lynching" this week, has been extremely frustrated with Democrats' investigation, and he has lashed out at the officials cooperating.

  • The president has specifically singled out Taylor — who was handpicked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — calling him a "Never Trumper" and adding that "Never Trumpers" are "human scum."

But three veterans who have served with Taylor defended him in powerful interviews with CNN's Jake Tapper and Kate Sullivan, describing him as a "man of honor," "public servant" and "role model" who "represents the best of our Department of State."

What's next: The following current and former administration officials are also scheduled to testify this week:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 9:30 am: National Security Council Director for European Affairs Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 9:30 am: Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger.

Former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman was subpoenaed by the House committees to appear on Monday.

  • However, Kupperman filed a lawsuit on Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he can testify, given that Trump has asserted that he is immune from the congressional process and instructed him not to testify.

Go deeper

Former White House official confirms top Ukraine diplomat's testimony

White House Russia expert Tim Morrison arriving for his deposition. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Tim Morrison, the National Security Council's former Russia and Europe director, has confirmed parts of the explosive testimony from Bill Taylor, the administration's top diplomat to Ukraine, according to a copy of his opening statement reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: House Democrats were eager to speak with Morrison because of his direct ties to the White House and because he was on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Go deeperArrowOct 31, 2019

The coming appearances in House Democrats' impeachment probe

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The three House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine have sent multiple letters to key Trump administration officials demanding they appear as part of Democrats' rapidly expanding impeachment inquiry.

The latest: Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton was asked on Wednesday to testify before House impeachment committees on Nov. 7. The top lawyer on the national security council John Eisenberg and his deputy Michael Ellis were also asked on to testify on Nov. 4. It is unclear whether any will show up.

The coming schedule ArrowUpdated Oct 30, 2019

Tim Morrison resigns from National Security Council ahead of impeachment testimony

Tim Morrison, the National Security Council's Russia and Europe director has left his White House post as his Thursday impeachment inquiry testimony looms.

Where it stands: Morrison told the House committees Thursday morning that he resigned on his volition late Wednesday evening, two sources familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 31, 2019