Live updates: Trump suggests Ukraine and China should investigate Bidens — impeachment inquiry, latest today – CBS News

Live updates: Trump suggests Ukraine and China should investigate Bidens — impeachment inquiry, latest today – CBS News
Trump says China and Ukraine should investigate Joe and Hunter Biden

Key facts and latest news

  • Three House committees released a trove of material provided by the former special envoy to Ukraine, who testified for more than nine hours behind closed doors.
  • The inspector general for the intelligence community will appear before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing on Friday.
  • The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was removed three months early in May was given an ultimatum that she could either quietly leave her post or face consequences, a former official said.
  • 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 — The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry released a trove of messages provided by the former special envoy to Ukraine who resigned abruptly last week. The messages show a concerted effort by U.S. diplomats to get the Ukrainian government to commit to opening investigations that would benefit President Trump politically.

On Thursday, the president suggested China and Ukraine should open investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden, stating publicly what he is accused of insinuating on the July call with the Ukrainian president at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

“I would say, President Zelensky, if it was me, I would start an investigation into the Bidens,” he said, referring to the Ukrainian leader.

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn on Thursday, Mr. Trump also said the Chinese president may want to investigate Biden and his son.

“Clearly it’s something we should start thinking about,” he said.

Also on Thursday, the Pentagon said it had begun in June to release $250 million in Ukraine aid approved by Congress, but in late July, on July 25 or 26, the White House Office of Management and Budget ordered a pause in the disbursement of those funds. Mr. Trump’s conversation with Zelensky took place on July 25.

Trump repeats unfounded claim that whistleblower had facts “wrong”

9:11 a.m. Mr. Trump continues to take to Twitter to defend himself, tweeting that the the whistleblower had “the facts wrong” about his call with Ukraine’s president.

Mr. Trump, however, has been unable to identify exactly what the whistleblower got wrong. Asked to identify what the whistleblower got wrong Thursday, Mr. Trump appeared to be unable to do so.

“Well, if you look at the whistleblower’s complaint, it’s totally inaccurate because the conversation that I had was absolutely perfect. And most people that have read it say the same thing,” Mr. Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn Thursday. “The whistleblower never saw the — saw the conversation. He got his information, I guess, second- or third-hand. He wrote something that was total fiction. And now, when people see that, they’re not happy.”

Mr. Trump in the same tweet Friday also criticized Schiff for failing to disclose that the whistleblower had reached out to his staff earlier this year.

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice warns “our democracy is under assault”

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice warns our “democracy is under assault” and that attack is coming “from within”

9:09 a.m.: Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned our “democracy is under assault” and that attack is coming “from within” in an interview with “CBS This Morning” on Friday.

Rice who served during the Obama administration, said that she was shocked by Mr. Trump’s requests to China and Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. She noted that the U.S. and China are currently in a trade war, and that the “clear implication” of Mr. Trump’s request was that he would ease tariffs on China in return for investigating the Bidens.

She also defended Joe Biden’s push for the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor general while he was vice president, saying that prosecutor was widely considered as corrupt.

“This prosecutor that he was pushing on all of our behalf to have removed was a corrupt prosecutor who was supposed to go after corruption. So the difference here is very simple,” Rice said. “President Trump on the one hand is asking Ukraine for a favor that benefits him personally and politically. Joe Biden, on behalf of {resident Obama, the United States, and the western world, was asking and pushing for the removal of somebody who on behalf of our policy, on behalf of our national interest. That’s the difference. And Biden did it transparently.”

“The first time that I can remember our democracy is under assault. Our country is in effect under attack,” Rice continued. “That attack is coming now from within. It’s coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Trump insists his requests for foreign countries to investigate Biden has “nothing to do with politics”

8:30 a.m.: In a tweet on Friday morning, Mr. Trump reiterated the claim that he has the right as president to ask foreign leaders to investigate “corruption,” referring to his requests for Ukraine and China to probe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

“As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries. It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!” Mr. Trump said.

There is no evidence that has surfaced of any wrongdoing by either Biden in Ukraine or China.

Intelligence Community Inspector General to appear before House Intelligence Committee

7:43 a.m.: Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session on Friday. This is the second time that Atkinson has spoken before the committee.

Ukrainian prosecutor general announces probe of firm with ties to Hunter Biden

6:46 a.m.: The Ukrainian prosecutor general announced Friday that he is investigating Burisma, the Ukrainian gas firm where Hunter Biden was formerly a board member. Mr. Trump has urged Ukraine to investigate the Bidens’ role in the firing of former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who has promoted the conspiracy theory that Joe Biden worked to push him out because he was investigating Burisma.

“We are conducting an audit of the cases that were earlier overseen by the Prosecutor-General’s Office,” current Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka told reporters, according to the AFP. “We are reviewing all cases that were closed…to make a decision on whether this was illegal.”

However, according to Reuters, Ryaboshapka also said Friday he was not aware of any evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden, and he had not been contacted by any foreign lawyers about the case.

House committees release trove of Ukraine documents

Thursday, 10:38 p.m.: The chairmen of the three House committees investigating the Ukraine matter sent a letter to colleagues and released a trove of materials provided by Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine. Find them here and below:

The text messages were from Volker to other officials including Bill Taylor, Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Ukraine, Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the EU, Andrey Yermak, aide to Zelensky and the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

These texts reflect a clear effort by Volker and Sondland to get Zelensky to make a public statement promising to investigate Burisma and the 2016 elections. In return, the Ukrainians wanted a White House visit and a “reset” of US-Ukrainian relations. Volker and Sondland assist Zelensky’s aide in writing the statement, with input from Giuliani. Throughout the exchanges, Taylor raised concerns about Ukraine becoming an “instrument” for domestic politics and the entirety of the aid-for-investigations proposition. — Rebecca Kaplan and Olivia Gazis

Ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was given ultimatum to leave, source says

Trump Impeachment
In this March 6, 2019 file photo, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, center, sits during her meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, Ukraine.

Mikhail Palinchak / AP

Thursday, 6:42 p.m.: A former official told CBS News it was made clear to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch in the spring that it was the White House that had a problem with her. She was given an ultimatum that she quietly leave her post in Kiev early or face consequences, the official said.

Rudy Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the president himself discussed removing Yovanovitch from her post. Giuliani also said he personally discussed the matter with Pompeo. Pompeo approved the removal but has not since replaced her.

Despite extraordinary targeted political attacks in Ukraine and from Donald Trump Jr. himself, Pompeo never publicly defended Yovanovitch, which has caused a lot of concern within the foreign service. Yovanovitch is a three-time ambassador and well-respected among fellow diplomats.

The former official told CBS News that the fact that someone as high ranking as a U.S. ambassador could face political targeting has sent chills through the State Department.

“It is concerning to have no one speak up,” a senior foreign service officer said. “There has not been a word of defense or support.”

“These are career professions and they don’t do politics. They serve their country just like the military. This isn’t Obama’s ambassador. This is the U.S. ambassador.”

The official said the administration “has politicized the State Department. But this is another level.”

It is still ultimately up to the State Department to decide whether to allow Yovanovitch to appear before Congress next week. Negotiations are still underway regarding how the expected deposition will be carried out. Those details include the question of who will be in the room with her when she answers questions. The State Department lawyers would be representing the administration, not Yovanovitch.

“Masha still needs permission,” this senior foreign service officer pointed out.

George Kent, deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian bureau, is also expected to be deposed. Kent’s email exchanges expressing concern in March 2019 about the politically motivated attacks on Yovanovitch were revealed in documents presented to Congress by the State Department inspector general on Wednesday and obtained by CBS News. — Margaret Brennan

​State Department signs off on $39.2 million Javelin missile sale to Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen with Javelin anti-tank missiles during a military parade in Kiev on August 24, 2018, to celebrate Independence Day, 27 years since Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union.

Genya Savilov / AFP/Getty Images

Thursday, 3:38 p.m.: The State Department informed Congress it has approved a potential $39.2 million sale of 150 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 10 launchers to the Ukrainian government. The Javelins were discussed during the July 25 call between Mr. Trump and Zelensky, the president of Ukraine.

In the call, Zelensky said he was “almost ready” to purchase the missiles, which are effective for destroying Russian tanks. Zelensky’s comment prompted Mr. Trump to respond that he would “like you to do us a favor though” and raise Ukraine’s cooperation with the Justice Department’s investigation into the origins of the Mueller probe. Mr. Trump brought up the Bidens later in the call.

The State Department said the deal, which is not yet final, also includes training and support services.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine,” the department said in its notification to Congress. “The Javelin system will help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements.” — Stefan Becket


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