Officials say Pompeo was on Trump-Ukraine call: Impeachment update

Gregory Korte

President Donald Trump unleashed a torrent of tweets over the weekend attacking Democrats and demanding to meet the whistle-blower who said the president asked Ukraine’s president to dig up political dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The president is portraying himself as the victim, the subject of two partisan “witch hunts” to oust him, and urging his loyal base to punish his opponents at the polls.

Here are the latest developments:

Officials say Pompeo was on Trump-Ukraine call

Two U.S. officials say Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president that is at the center of a whistleblower complaint.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal matter.

It was the first confirmation that a Cabinet official was on the call in which Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Hunter Biden’s membership on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

It also increases the number of people known to have first-hand knowledge of a call that has sparked an impeachment inquiry by Congress.

The State Department had no comment.

Giuliani subpoenaed by House panel for documents 

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was subpoenaed Monday to provide documents to Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, as the impeachment inquiry into the president accelerates.

Three House panels said Giuliani has claimed to have text messages, phone records and other communications regarding requests for the government of Ukraine to target Biden. They set an Oct. 15 deadline.

Rudy Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump

“Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the Office of the President,” the chairmen wrote in their letter.

Americans split in poll on removing Trump

Americans are evenly divided, 47-47%, on whether Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Monday.

A Quinnipiac poll published on Sept. 24, just before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, showed 37% backing impeachment and removal, and 57% in opposition.

President Donald Trump

The new support in Monday’s poll comes largely from Democrats, who are now 90% in favor of impeachment and removal to 5% against. Last week, they were 73%-21% in favor of impeachment.

Warner decries Trump attack on whistleblower

Democratic Senator Mark Warner warned that President Donald Trump’s attacks on an intelligence community whistle-blower is a threat to both government accountability and national security.The ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee said on Twitter that the president’s “comments about spies and treason’ and what we used to do in the old days’ are totally unacceptable and will do serious damage far beyond this news cycle.” Warner, of Virginia, said the integrity of the whistle-blower process must be protected and that the onslaught from Trump and his allies “needs to end immediately.”Warner was responding to several tweets from Trump over the past 24 hours that suggested a whistle-blower who raised alarms about the president’s conversation with the leader of Ukraine was “spying” on him and demanded that he should be allowed to meet his accuser. – Laura Litvan

McConnell says 'no choice’ on Senate vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the GOP-led Senate won’t maneuver for a way to avoid a trial of charges against Trump if the House approves articles of impeachment against him.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” McConnell said Senate rules require the Senate to take up House-approved articles of impeachment that are presented. He has no interest in trying to change the rules, and he said it would take 67 votes to do it. That would be a tall order in a chamber that Republicans control with just 53 votes.

“I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said. “How long you’re on it is a whole different matter.” – Laura Litvan

GOP senators ask DOJ for details on Biden, Democrats

Two senior Republicans are asking the Justice Department for information about Joe Biden’s interactions with Ukrainian officials and whether Ukraine worked with Democrats to get damaging information on President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson made the request as Trump and his allies try to turn the tables on an investigation by House Democrats into allegations that the president pressured Ukraine’s leader to investigate Biden, one of his chief political rivals.

As Democrats begin an official impeachment inquiry into Trump, the president has raised discredited claims about Biden’s involvement in stopping a probe into his son’s work in Ukraine and allegations that the Democratic Party in 2016 worked with Ukrainian officials to discover ties between Trump, his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is now in prison, and Russian figures.

“Ukrainian efforts, abetted by a U.S. political party, to interfere in the 2016 election should not be ignored. Such allegations of corruption deserve due scrutiny, and the American people have a right to know when foreign forces attempt to undermine our democratic processes,” the senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General William Barr. – Joe Sobczyk

Flake calls on GOP to abandon Trump

Former GOP Senator Jeff Flake urged his former colleagues to stand up to Trump and condemn his behavior as wrong in an op-ed published in the Washington Post.

Flake wrote that impeachment is divisive and presents a tough decision for senators who could have to vote on whether to remove the president from office if the House votes to impeach him. Flake said impeachment “now seems inevitable,” and the resulting division in the country could end up benefiting Trump politically.

However, should Trump survive the impeachment inquiry, Flake said it should be an easy decision for Republicans to decide not to support him for re-election in 2020. Flake said he decided not to run for re-election in 2018 because he could not stand behind Trump in the way that many GOP voters now demand of their elected representatives.

“My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles,” Flake wrote. “Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.” – Anna Edgerton

Key events

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that “We could not ignore what the president did” in his interactions with Ukraine’s president. “I always said we will follow the facts where they take us. And when we see them, we will be ready. And we are ready,” she said.
  • Trump unleashed a 23-post tweetstorm Saturday night recirculating clips from the RNC, as well as missives calling Democrats “sick” and “savages.”
  • A CBS News poll released Sunday said 55% of Americans support the House impeachment inquiry and 42% say Trump should be removed from office. Just 36% said he shouldn’t be impeached.
  • Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday disparaged the whistle-blower’s complaint as a “seven-page little Nancy Drew novel,” a reference to the fictional teenage sleuth.