It’s been a whirlwind week for the Ukraine pressure campaign, and as usual, quite a bit of news broke overnight. We’ve put together a run-down of several minor developments that might have slipped under your radar in the past 18 hours.
- U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland confirmed through his attorney that he will appear to testify before House committees steering the impeachment inquiry after the State Department blocked his deposition earlier this week. Notably, his attorney made it clear that Sondland was bucking the State Department’s directive in order to “honor the committees’ subpoena.”
- Bill Taylor, the longtime State Department official who mildly opposed U.S. diplomats’ efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden was asked to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiries. House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) hinted earlier this week that the committees were interested in hearing from Taylor, the U.S. charges d’affaires in Kyiv. It’s unclear if he’ll entertain the request.
- The Washington Post reported Thursday evening that at least four national security officials raised concerns to White House lawyer John Eisenberg about President Trump’s pressure campaign both before and after the now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. These officials were reportedly bothered by ex-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s abrupt removal, which allegedly came at Rudy Giuliani’s behest.
- Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) held at least three meetings with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the Giuliani associates arrested for campaign finance violations on Wednesday. Sessions is not named in the indictment, but is believed to be “Congressman 1,” who is tied to the duo’s efforts to oust Yovanovitch from the State Department. According to the Texas Observer, Sessions reportedly believes he was approached by the two because of his role as chair of the Turkey caucus.
- Former South Carolina congressman Trey Gowdy won’t be allowed to join Trump’s impeachment defense team until January because of “lobbying rules.”
- CNN reported Wednesday evening that Giuliani’s financial dealings with Parnas and Fruman have been scrutinized by the FBI and Southern District of New York prosecutors who are overseeing the Parnas/Fruman campaign finance violation case. CNN’s source did indicate that Giuliani is a target in the investigation.
- Marie Yovanovitch was apparently removed from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after she told Giuliani that he should use official governmental channels to relay his investigation requests, the Associated Press reported, citing an ex-diplomat who spoke to Yovanovitch about the issue.
- A top adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has resigned, The Washington Post reported. Pompeo is expected to announce the departure Friday. The career diplomat and adviser Michael McKinley was reportedly bothered by Pompeo’s lackluster support for the diplomats embroiled in the ongoing Ukraine-impeachment scandal.
- Former Trump aide Fiona Hill intends to testify before impeachment committees next week about Giuliani and Sondland’s efforts to skirt normal official procedures in order to pressure Ukraine. Hill was Trump’s adviser on Russia and Europe until recently and people close to Trump are growing increasingly anxious about her testimony, NBC News reported.
- Giuliani had a fishy trip planned earlier this week. According to the Atlantic’s Elaina Plott, Trump’s attorney attempted to schedule an interview with Plott around his scheduled plan to fly to Vienna, Austria, on Thursday afternoon. The trip apparently didn’t happen, but the timing is suspicious given Giuliani was planning to fly to Vienna nearly 24 hours after Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport.
- Giuliani has maintained that he works for Trump pro-bono for some time now. In a new Daily Beast piece on Democrats’ interest in tracking who paid Giuliani for his work for Trump, Giuliani said he was not paid for any of his pressure campaign work in Ukraine. Giuliani said only that the cost of his travel was covered by separate work for other clients that happened to correspond with his Ukraine schedule. He offered this one concrete example to the Daily Beast: “Speaking specifically about an August trip he made to Madrid to urge Andriy Yermak, a top Ukrainian official, to reinvestigate the Bidens, Giuliani said that he happened to be going to the Spanish capital already for ‘business and vacation.'”
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