From CNN's Nikki Carvajal
President Trump is having a “routine annual physical exam” at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, this afternoon, according to White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
“Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed,” Grisham said in a statement.
From CNN Kevin Bohn
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff received a warm welcome as he was introduced to speak at the California Democratic Party fall nominating convention held today.
Schiff criticized President Trump at the event, calling him “a charlatan.”
“We will send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne he came from and you know why, because we vote. How do we build another big beautiful wave, we vote," Schiff said.
Schiff's recent history with Trump: The President has repeatedly slammed Schiff’s description of his call with the Ukrainian president.
Trump has focused often on a statement Schiff made in September in which he gave his own interpretation of Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Schiff's statement included what he said was "the essence" of what the President communicated to Zelensky, rather than the "exact transcribed version of the call."
Since then, the President's characterization of Schiff -- while always negative -- has shifted dramatically, with Trump referring to Schiff's comments as illegal, criminal or treasonous at least eight times. He has even threatened to sue Schiff.
From CNN's Jeremy Herb
Mark Sandy, a senior career official at the Office of Management and Budget, was subpoenaed today to testify in the impeachment inquiry.
“In light of an attempt by OMB to direct Mark Sandy not to appear for his scheduled deposition, and efforts to limit any testimony that does occur, the House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena to compel his testimony,” an official working on the impeachment inquiry told CNN. “As required of him by law, Mr. Sandy is complying with the subpoena and answering questions from both Democratic and Republican Members and staff.”
More on the impeachment inquiry and Sandy: The impeachment investigation is focused on whether President Trump and his allies withheld funding for Ukraine's military, which is fighting a Russian invasion, while seeking a political favor from the country's president.
Sandy is expected to have insight into internal conversations when the administration was taking the unusual step of freezing the funding.
From CNN's Nikki Carvajal
President Trump attacked Democrats on Twitter this morning and threatened an economic depression if he is impeached.
“Dow hits 28,000 - FIRST TIME EVER, HIGHEST EVER!,” the President wrote. “Gee, Pelosi & Schitt have a good idea, “lets Impeach the President.”
Trump has referred to Rep. Adam Schiff as “Schitt” in the past.
“If something like that ever happened, it would lead to the biggest FALL in Market History,” he continued. “It’s called a Depression, not a Recession! So much for 401-K’s & Jobs!”
The three major US stock indexes rallied to fresh record highs Friday, as investor sentiment was helped by hopes for a US-China trade deal and better-than-expected retail sales.
The Dow rallied above 28,000 points for the first time ever. The first public impeachment hearings also took place last week.
Read Trump's tweet below:
From CNN's Mike Callahan
Mark Sandy, a senior career official at the Office of Management and Budget, has arrived on Capitol Hill for his deposition behind closed doors in the impeachment inquiry.
Sandy is the first OMB official to meet with investigators after others have refused. Political appointees in the office have fought subpoenas, refused to provide documents, and tried in other ways to stonewall the probe.
Sandy is expected to have insight into internal conversations when the administration was taking the unusual step of freezing the funding. A source familiar with the matter said Sandy did not know at the time why at the time the aid was frozen.
Where Sandy fits in with the impeachment inquiry: The impeachment investigation is focused on whether Trump and his allies withheld funding for Ukraine's military, which is fighting a Russian invasion, while seeking a political favor from the country's president.
Sandy is expected to have insight into internal conversations when the administration was taking the unusual step of freezing the funding. A source familiar with the matter said Sandy did not know at the time why at the time it was frozen.The funding was held earlier this year at the direction of Trump, according to an administration official and testimony of Catherine Croft, a diplomatic aide.
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Nicole Gaouette
In the face of attacks from President Trump and relative silence from the State Department, former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch offered a strong defense of the work of career foreign service officers — and warned of the impact the attacks were having on the diplomatic ranks.
The highly respected envoy, who testified publicly as part of the House impeachment inquiry yesterday, was forced out of her post in Kiev after a targeted smear campaign amplified by Trump's allies, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
In her opening statement, Yovanovitch sought to defend her work and that of her colleagues in the foreign service and called upon the leadership in the State Department to do the same. Her eloquent and forceful assessment of foreign service officers' service and sacrifices earned praise and pride from the more than half a dozen current and former State Department officials who spoke to CNN.
"We take our oath of office seriously, the same oath that each one of you take, 'to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic' and to 'bear true faith and allegiance to the same,'" she told the lawmakers.
Contrasting the "perception that diplomats lead a comfortable life throwing dinner parties in fancy homes," Yovanovitch described her own tenure in the foreign service: moving 13 times, serving in five hardship posts, being stationed in Somalia during the civil war, getting caught in crossfire in Russia.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
"We are professionals, public servants who by vocation and training pursue the policies of the President, regardless of who holds that office or what party they affiliate with," she said of the foreign service.
"I count myself lucky to be a Foreign Service Officer, fortunate to serve with the best America has to offer, blessed to serve the American people for the last 33 years," Yovanovitch said. At the end of her hearing, she walked out to a seemingly spontaneous round of applause.
From CNN's Gregory Wallace, Rene Marsh and Sara Murray
House impeachment investigators have little visibility into the inner workings of the White House at the time when President Trump allegedly ordered a hold on military assistance for Ukraine.
That could change today when Mark Sandy, a senior career official at the Office of Management and Budget, is expected to testify behind closed doors.
Sandy will become the first OMB official to meet with investigators after others have refused. Political appointees in the office have fought subpoenas, refused to provide documents, and tried in other ways to stonewall the probe.
He is senior enough that he led the agency as acting director in the early weeks of the Trump administration, before political appointees could be put in place. He previously worked under both Republican and Democrat administrations.
"He's a longstanding public servant with an excellent reputation," said Sam Berger, a high-ranking OMB political appointee from the Obama administration who worked with Sandy.
How Sandy fits in with the impeachment inquiry: The impeachment investigation is focused on whether Trump and his allies withheld funding for Ukraine's military, which is fighting a Russian invasion, while seeking a political favor from the country's president.
From his perch in OMB's national security programs office, Sandy is expected to have insight into internal conversations when the administration was taking the unusual step of freezing the funding. A source familiar with the matter said Sandy did not know at the time why at the time it was frozen.
The funding was held earlier this year at the direction of Trump, according to an administration official and testimony of Catherine Croft, a diplomatic aide.
Michael Duffey, the Trump-appointed associate director overseeing the office Sandy works in, signed some of the documentation that froze the funding, according to two sources.
From CNN's Vicky Ward
Among the many guests who had their pictures taken with President Donald Trump at the White House's annual Hanukkah party last year were two Soviet-born businessmen from Florida, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
In the picture, which Parnas posted on social media, he and Fruman are seen smiling alongside Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani, the President's personal lawyer.
At one point during the party that night, Parnas and Fruman slipped out of a large reception room packed with hundreds of Trump donors to have a private meeting with the President and Giuliani, according to two acquaintances in whom Parnas confided right after the meeting.
Word of the encounter in the White House last December, which has not been previously reported, is further indication that Trump knew Parnas and Fruman, despite Trump publicly stating that he did not on the day after the two men were arrested at Dulles International Airport last month.
Eventually, according to what Parnas told his confidants, the topic turned to Ukraine that night. According to those two confidants, Parnas said that "the big guy," as he sometimes referred to the President in conversation, talked about tasking him and Fruman with what Parnas described as "a secret mission" to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
In the days immediately following the meeting, Parnas insinuated to the two people he confided in that he clearly believed he'd been given a special assignment by the President; like some sort of "James Bond mission," according to one of the people.
To Parnas, the chain of command was clear: Giuliani would issue the President's directives while Parnas, who speaks fluent Russian, would be an on-the-ground investigator alongside Fruman, who has numerous business contacts in Ukraine.
"Parnas viewed the assignment as a great crusade," says one of the people in whom Parnas confided. "He believed he was doing the right thing for Trump."
The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment to a series of questions regarding the meeting and Trump's relationship with Parnas and Fruman.
Giuliani, through his lawyer, Robert Costello, denies that any private meeting took place that night at the White House, saying it was a mere handshake and photo opportunity. Costello also rejects Parnas' claims of being put on a "James Bond" style mission, saying that Parnas is "no Sean Connery," and that he suffers from "delusions of grandeur."
Joseph A. Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, told CNN, "Mr. Parnas at all times believed that he was acting only on behalf of the President, as directed by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and never on behalf of any Ukrainian officials."
A lawyer for Fruman declined to comment for this article.
Read the full story here.
From CNN's Adam Levine
State Department aide David Holmes said in September, before the hold on Ukraine military aid was lifted, diplomat Bill Taylor told him that the US was insisting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky make a statement about specific investigations, contrary to what diplomats on the ground had been advising the Ukrainians.
“Now they’re insisting Zelensky commit to the investigation in an interview with CNN,” Holmes testified, describing what Taylor told him.
“I was surprised the requirement was so specific,” Holmes observed in his statement, explaining that they had advised Ukrainians they should voice commitment to adhering to the rule of law and generally needing to investigate corruption. “This was a demand that President Zelensky personally commit to a specific investigation of President Trump’s political rival on a cable news channel.”
A few days later, the possibility of Zelensky doing an interview to announce the investigations was still a possibility. Holmes and Taylor ran into a top aide of the Ukrainian president and Taylor stressed the importance of “staying out of the US politics and said he hoped no interview was