The first full week of the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump got underway with a rapid-fire succession of bombshell events that are likely to affect the course of the investigation.
At 3:53 p.m. in Washington, the Democratic chairmen of three House committees subpoenaed Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for documents related to the president’s request for an investigation by Ukrainian officials into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Reps. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and Elijah Cummings cited Giuliani’s cable news appearances, saying the former New York City mayor “admitted on national television that, while serving as the president’s personal attorney, he asked the government of Ukraine to target” Biden.
“In addition to this stark admission, you stated more recently that you are in possession of evidence — in the form of text messages, phone records, and other communications — indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump Administration officials may have been involved in this scheme,” the chairmen wrote.
Minutes later, at 4:04 p.m., the Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among those who listened in on Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is the basis of the House investigation.
Last week, when Pompeo was interviewed by ABC News, he denied firsthand knowledge about what Trump and Zelensky discussed.
The State Department had not disclosed that Pompeo had been on the call with Zelensky. Democrats are also seeking to learn if State Department Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl was listening in as well. On Friday, Democrats subpoenaed Pompeo for documents related to the administration’s dealings with Ukraine.
Thirteen minutes after the Wall Street Journal’s story on Pompeo was published, the New York Times reported that Trump sought additional foreign help with his political troubles. In a recent phone call with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Times reported, Trump sought information that could help discredit former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. That investigation was kicked off, in part, by the disclosure that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos had discussed the Russian efforts with an Australian diplomat in London.
It wasn’t clear how Trump would benefit from reopening questions about the Mueller investigation, which ended in April with the publication of a report that Trump claimed, inaccurately, exonerated him completely.
Just as with Trump’s call with Zelensky, the White House restricted access to transcripts of his call with Morrison.
At 5:11 p.m. ET, the Washington Post reported that Attorney General William Barr also sought foreign assistance in building a case to discredit the Mueller report, by contacting British intelligence officials and personally traveling to Italy last week to meet with officials.