A three day, nine witness impeachment hearing blitz comes to a conclusion on Thursday, as lawmakers will hear from a former Russia expert on the National Security Council, and a Foreign Service Officer who currently works at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, as Republicans and Democrats continue to consume these proceedings like people living on different planets.
After Wednesday's testimony with Ambassador Gordon Sondland, this session will feature Fiona Hill, who worked on the National Security Council until this July, and David Holmes, who overheard Sondland's phone conversation with President Trump, in which Mr. Trump reportedly asked about Ukraine announcing investigations sought by the President.
Here's the latest on the impeachment hearings:
4:20 pm. The hearing is over. Here's my story.
4:15 pm. As Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA ends this impeachment hearing, he appeals for Republicans to look at the evidence, and support this effort to remove President Trump from office.
"Where is Howard Baker?" Schiff asked, reaching back to Watergate, and invoking the GOP Senator from Tennessee who asked the famous question, "What did the President know and when did he know it?"
3:20 pm. GOP lawmakers continue to go after Holmes, and he continues to stand his ground on the Sondland-Trump phone call. At one point, Rep. Mike Conaway R-TX demanded that Holmes never talk in the future about calls like the Sondland-Trump call. Holmes fired back, saying that Sondland should not have held the call in public like he did, and defended going up the chain of command to report it.
2:50 pm. It's always good to have a bit of levity at a hearing like this.
2:25 pm. Unlike Jordan and Ratcliffe, Rep Mike Turner R-OH doesn't give Holmes a chance to answer his criticism, accusing Holmes of using 'anecdotal' evidence about the Sondland-Trump call to embarrass the Ukraine leader
2:15 pm. It's been a very interesting last half hour. GOP lawmakers have tried to undercut the testimony of Holmes about the Sondland-Trump phone call - but Holmes has held his own.
1:45 pm. The 45 minutes are up for the GOP. Fiona Hill forcefully pushed back on a series of GOP lines of questioning, as she bluntly said there was no reason to have anyone in the White House involved in the Giuliani effort in Ukraine, which she labeled a 'domestic political errand'
1:10 pm. The White House has provided a statement on today's hearing denouncing the proceedings. As you read this statement, one should remember that the White House has prevented a number of officials from testifying before this investigation.
1:00 pm. The hearing has resumed with Republicans asking 45 minutes of questions. Rep. Nunes starts by asking Hill & Holmes if they met with Alexander Chalupa, Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr, or Glenn Simpson. All 'no' answers. Then, Nunes pressed Hill on the Steele Dossier. She says she was sent a copy of it a day before it was published by BuzzFeed in early January of 2017.
12:30 pm. The hearing won't resume for about another 30 minutes. Various photographers are using their expensive equipment to stake out their spots.
11:05 am. The 45 minutes of questions are now over, and there is a break, with House votes coming soon. My best guess? The hearing does not resume for another 60-90 minutes.
10:50 am. Meanwhile, Giuliani's name keeps coming up repeatedly. Fiona Hill recounts her conversation with John Bolton, who said of Giuliani and his work in Ukraine:
"Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up."
Hill finishes by saying, "that's where we are today."
10:40 am. More from Holmes on the Trump phone call. Holmes said, “I've never seen anything like this in my foreign service career.”
10:25 am. Fiona Hill makes a very direct jab at Republicans over the issue of people trying to switch the blame for 2016 election interference to Ukraine, and away from Russia. It should spark some interesting Q&A with the GOP.
10:15 am. Here is the video of Holmes talking about the Sondland-Trump phone call.
10:05 am. Holmes has been going for almost 40 minutes. A big chunk of his testimony was describing how he overheard Sondland talking on the phone with President Trump, as they sat at a table at a restaurant in Kyiv.
9:50 am. In his testimony, Holmes is going through familiar testimony that Rudy Giuliani was pressing Ukraine for investigations sought by President Trump. Holmes backs up the quid pro quo assertion of Sondland that Giuliani was conditioning a White House visit on those probes.
9:25 am. Schiff and Nunes give their opening statements. Nunes starts by calling the hearings "bizarre" and denounces what he labels a "carousel of accusations" against the President
9:10 am. The hearing has started a few minutes late. There will be a break at some point for votes on the House floor later this morning. The House and Senate are ready to leave town today for a Thanksgiving break. At this point, we don't know when the next public impeachment hearing will be scheduled by this panel - or if there will be another.
8:55 am. Fiona Hill's opening statement is out. The Russia expert has a message aimed at Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.
8:40 am. President Trump has no public events on his schedule until 3:30 pm. He has been on Twitter expressing his frustration with the impeachment investigation.
8:15 am. I'm back in the room at the Ways and Means Committee. Reporters are arriving a bit more slowly today. But the still photographers are already here staking out their spots from the initial photos as the witnesses arrive for testimony.
7:50 am. The morning papers on the front step about the impeachment hearings.
7:45 am. If you missed the end of the Gordon Sondland hearing on Wednesday, members of the public audience gave him a standing ovation, and extended applause as he left the hearing room. There was a similar reaction last Friday for ex-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
7:30 am. The news from the evening hearing evidently did not sit well with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as more than an hour after the hearing ended, Jordan tweeted out his skepticism about Cooper's testimony, and the discovery of her staff.
7:25 am. The day after the July 25 phone call, a group of top U.S. officials gathered in Washington to meet about military aid to Ukraine. The number three official in the State Department testified last night that a White House budget official made clear aid to Ukraine was on hold - under orders from the President.
7:15 am. The biggest piece of news to come out of last night's impeachment hearing was about when Ukraine officials found out that U.S. aid was being delayed. Pentagon official Laura Cooper said her staff had uncovered emails which showed Ukraine embassy officials in Washington asking what was going on with U.S. aid money. Those emails were sent on - July 25. Why is that important? That's the same day President Trump had his phone call with the leader of Ukraine.
7:00 am. If you missed the Sondland hearing on Wednesday, you missed one of the more unique hearings in some time on Capitol Hill. Sondland sharpened his previous testimony, accusing Rudy Giuliani of a quid pro quo in which he pressed Ukraine to announce investigations backed by President Trump, in exchange for a White House meeting with the President.
When the hearing began, the top Republican said Sondland would be smeared - presumably by Democrats. But it was GOP lawmakers who scrapped with the Ambassador over his testimony, where he all but said that President Trump had ordered a hold on aid to Ukraine, in order to get the government to announce investigations of Hunter Biden, and the conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.
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