On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

clear-day
63°
Sunny
H 67° L 50°
  • clear-day
    63°
    Current Conditions
    Sunny. H 67° L 50°
  • clear-day
    51°
    Morning
    Sunny. H 67° L 50°
  • clear-day
    66°
    Afternoon
    Sunny. H 69° L 52°
Listen
Pause
Error

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    At the same time one of President Donald Trump's National Security Council staffers testified before Congress on Tuesday, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman found himself taking social media flak from the official White House Twitter account, and from aides to the who also work with Vindman at the White House complex. 'I don't know what the President was thinking,' was one of a series of quotes from Vindman tweeted out by the White House, part of a GOP effort to argue against impeachment hearings led by Democrats in the House. Vindman's testimony represented the first time witnesses had publicly discussed what they heard in a July 25 phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine, where President Trump pressed Ukraine to open up a pair of investigations which could help Mr. Trump politically. 'Frankly, I couldn't believe what I was hearing,' said Vindman, who answered most of the questions, and was challenged the most by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. 'It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and a political opponent,' Vindman said. The other witness, Jennifer Williams, a State Department foreign policy expert who is currently detailed as an adviser for the staff of Vice President Mike Pence, also expressed her concerns. 'I found the July 25th phone call unusual,' Williams said in her testimony. 'It was the first time I had heard internally the president reference particular investigations that previously I had only heard about through Mr. Giuliani's press interviews,' Williams added. While Vindman found himself a Twitter target today, Williams had experienced that on Sunday, when the President loudly objected to her characterization of the Ukraine phone call, accusing her of being a 'Never Trumper.' 'It certainly surprised me,' Williams said. 'I was not expecting to be called out by name.' Maybe the most contentious part of the morning hearing came as Republicans sought to find out who Vindman told of the July 25 phone call, as GOP lawmakers moved to undercut Vindman's work on the National Security Council, which dovetailed with the message of the White House. Republicans said Vindman had puffed up his responsibilities, and jumped on his admission that he had never met with President Trump. 'You've never met the President of the United States, right?' asked Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). 'That is correct,' Vindman said. 'So, you have never advised the President of the United States on Ukraine,' Turner added, part of a GOP push to downplay Vindman's role on Ukraine policy. Those type of responses netted a series of posts from the White House on Twitter during the hearing. The hearing also featured some exchanges of note regarding the Ukraine whistleblower, as it was clear Republicans believe Vindman notified someone in the Intelligence Community about the July 25 call who may have relayed that information to the whistleblower. 'I do not know who the whistleblower is,' Vindman said at one point, but he refused to name the official he briefed soon after the July 25 call, saying the person was in a 'need to know' situation. Republicans were not pleased. 'You're here to answer questions, and you're hear under subpoena,' said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). But heeding a ruling from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Vindman refused to say whom he briefed on the call. GOP lawmakers also came close to accusing Vindman of being a leaker as well. 'Colonel, you never leaked information?' asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). 'I never did, never would, that is preposterous that I would do that,' Vindman replied. You can find a more detailed review of this morning's hearing at this link.
  • With nine witnesses scheduled in the next three days, the U.S. House Impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump will delve further into questions of how the President pressed the leader of Ukraine to start politically charged investigations, as lawmakers will hear Tuesday morning from two people who raised concerns about the May 25 call between the two leaders. Tuesday's four witnesses - two in the morning - two more in the afternoon - will serve as the setup for what could be an explosive day on Wednesday morning, as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland is set to testify, after days of reports brimming with new details about his conversations with President Trump regarding U.S. aid to Ukraine, and the President's desire for Ukraine to start investigations sought by Mr. Trump. Check back on this live blog through the day for the latest from the House Intelligence Committee. - 5:25 pm.  Volker was supposedly going to be a GOP witness.  But his testimony on the 'investigations' isn't exactly what the White House might want to hear.  Volker says he saw nothing credible about the various conspiracy theories (Crowdstrike, etc) that Ukraine interfered in the US elections in 2016 - those have been embraced by President Trump. 5:15 pm. The last half hour has reinforced what Democrats have often been arguing, that Rudy Giuliani's work in Ukraine to stir up various conspiracy theories, which resulted in President Trump asking for investigations by the Ukraine government, had stalled US-Ukraine relations.  “We had gotten nowhere,” Volker said. 4:45 pm.  Morrison continues to give the Democratic counsel answers which Democrats will be pleased to talk about. For example, Morrison says he went to NSC lawyers after phone calls with Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland in September, which made clear (to Morrison) that the aid to Ukraine was being held back while waiting on the investigations asked for by the President in July. 4:30 pm.  Morrison has been talked about a lot by GOP lawmakers today, especially as a way to push back against Vindman from this morning.  But watching and listening to Morrison here in the hearing room, he seems a bit uncomfortable in this setting.   Volker does not. 4:15 pm.  As he talks repeatedly about the issues surrounding Ukraine and President Trump, Volker keeps referring to 'conspiracy theories' pressed by Giuliani which filtered down to President Trump.  Volker quoted the President as saying he was hearing bad things about Ukraine's government from Giuliani. 4:00 pm.  Volker is certainly not going to see his testimony tweeted out by the White House. 3:55 pm.  Kurt Volker testifies that he struggled to get President Trump to set a meeting with the leader of Ukraine, blaming it on a deeply negative view of Ukraine, which was fueled by information coming from the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. 3:35 pm.  Tim Morrison testifies first.   He has a very short statement, and is testifying in a voice that is hard to hear.  He's going to get a lot of attention today from GOP lawmakers, who have used his deposition to try to undercut Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. 3:25 pm.  The gavel has sounded, as the hearings are getting underway again.  The witnesses today are former National Security Council official Tim Morrison, and Kurt Volker, an ex-US special envoy to Ukraine. 2:30 pm.  The afternoon hearing was originally set to start by now, but because of the House floor schedule, the afternoon part of the impeachment hearings may not begin until around 3:15 pm.  And depending on what happens on the floor, it could slip further.  In the meantime, many photographers have left their cameras by the witness table, staking out their spots. 2:00 pm.  Judging from the tweets by the White House, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman might need to find a new place of employment, rather than the National Security Council.  And that might go for his brother, too. 1:40 pm.  Part one of today's hearing is over.  The next two witnesses, Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison are scheduled to start testifying at 2:30 pm. 1:25 pm.  Vindman works at the White House.  The official White House Twitter account has already had one post about him today - and now another.  1:22 pm.  Asked again about the July 25 Trump-Ukraine call, Vindman said, 'Frankly, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.' He said he immediately reported it to the NSC lawyer because it 'was my duty.'   Some applause after that line of questioning finished. 1:10 pm.  One interesting note about that line of questions from the GOP.  Vindman says the NSC lawyer told him not to talk to anyone about the call - not immediately - but later, after Vindman raised red flags.  That's why Vindman says he did not tell his direct boss, Morrison.  1:05 pm.  Republicans at today's hearing have repeatedly criticized Vindman for going to the top lawyer for the National Security Council immediately after the July 25 call, instead of his direct boss, Tim Morrison - who will testify later today.  Here's how GOP lawmakers are making that case on Twitter today. 12:50 pm.  A needed light moment as Rep Joaquin Castro D-TX talks about being a fellow identical twin, like Vindman and his brother. Castro jokes about being asked to grow a beard - which he did so people wouldn't think he was his brother, the Presidential candidate, Julian Castro. 12:40 pm.  Here is some video from President Trump. 12:20 pm.  From earlier - when Rep. Jordan intimated that superiors thought Vindman was leaking information about Ukraine. 12:10 pm.  News is being made at the White House on several fronts by President Trump. 12:00 pm.  Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH all but accused Vindman of being a leaker, raising questions about what his superiors thought of his job performance.  Vindman denied he had ever leaked anything, and quickly read from his last performance review by former White House aide Fiona Hill, who testifies on Thursday.  Jordan moved on. 11:55 am.  Democrats ask Jennifer Williams about a tweet from President Trump on Sunday, in which he assailed Williams, and called her a “Never Trumper.” 'It certainly surprised me. I was not expecting to be called out by name,” Williams told lawmakers. Here is the tweet. 11:50 am.  The White House quickly turns around that exchange, and posts it on the official White House Twitter account. 11:20 am.  Last questions for Vindman just before a short break in the hearing. Did you ever talk to Giuliani? No. Did you ever discuss Ukraine with President Trump?  Vindman: 'I have never had any contact with the President of the United States.' 11:10 am.  Asked by the GOP counsel, Vindman says Ukraine officials actually offered him the job of Defense minister of Ukraine at one point. Vindman says he immediately reported it to his superiors and intelligence officials. 'The whole notion is rather comical.' 11:05 am.  The GOP counsel walked Williams through a number of questions for why Vice President Pence scrapped a planned trip to Ukraine for the inauguration of the new leader, President Zelensky.  Instead, Pence went to Canada for an event on the US free trade deal with Mexico and Canada.  10:50 am.  Rep. Nunes: 'Mr. Vindman, you testified at your deposition that you did not know the whistleblower.' Vindman: 'Ranking member, it's Lt. Col. Vindman, please.' 10:45 am. We have just had our first real witness skirmish over the identify of the Ukraine whistleblower. Nunes asked Vindman who he told of the July 25 call. Vindman said there were two people outside the White House; he refused to ID the person in the intelligence community. 10:40 am. Nunes acknowledges that Williams and Vindman are the first 'firsthand' witnesses to testify about the Trump-Zelensky phone call. Nunes asking both witnesses if they spoke with any reporters or knew of leaks. Both answer in the negative. 10:35 am. Republicans are now starting their 45 minutes of questioning. Rep. Nunes immediately goes into questions surrounding Burisma and Hunter Biden. 10:20 am. The Democratic counsel is walking both witnesses through the July 25 call in detail, getting them to repeat their concerns about the call.  These are the first witnesses to testify who heard the actual phone call.  GOP lawmakers outside the hearing room are not impressed. 9:55 am.  We have had our first witness refuse to answer a question in these hearings.  The lawyer for Williams won't let her answer a question about a phone call between Vice President Pence and the leader of Ukraine. 9:45 am. Vindman on the May 25 Trump-Zelensky call: 'It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and a political opponent.' 9:40 am. Williams repeats her deposition testimony that she found the May 25 Trump-Zelensky call unusual, 'because in contrast to other Presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.' 9:35 am. Both witnesses have been sworn in. Williams starts first. Schiff pointedly noted she worked for the 2004 Bush campaign. 9:30 am.  Nunes wraps up his opening statement.  He did not mention either of the two witnesses sitting before the panel. 9:20 am.  Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA begins his statement by criticizing the press for impeachment coverage. 'This is the same preposterous reporting the media offered for three years on the Russia hoax.'  Nunes says the news media is nothing but “puppets of the Democratic Party.” 9:17 am.  Vindman spoke about his family during his opening statement. 9:15 am.  Sitting behind the witness table is Vindman's brother.  Ironically, film maker Ken Burns interviewed them as young boys about how their family made it to the United States. 9:10 am.  Schiff starts by warning the audience against audible outbursts.  It's probably a reaction to the cheers at the end of Friday's hearing with former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.  9:05 am. It is very quiet in the hearing room as Vindman and Williams sit down at the witness table. No one talking.  And I mean, no one is talking. All you here is the clicking of shutters from the still photographers.  It's an odd feel. 9:00 am.  The public is filing in.  The press section is filled.  We are waiting for the witnesses to arrive.  Here is a shot of the news media tables.  Standing up on the far side in the middle is veteran AP reporter Al Fram, who like me, has seen a lot on Capitol Hill. 8:55 am.  If you want to read through the past testimony of today's witnesses, the deposition of Jennifer Williams is here - she is a State Department employee detailed to the staff of Vice President Pence.  The deposition link of Alexander Vindman is here. 8:45 am.  One of the witnesses today is National Security Council staffer, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who raised concerns up his chain of command about the President's July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine.  It has resulted in questions about Vindman's personal security, as well as that of his family.  The Wall Street Journal reports that Vindman may be moved to a military facility, just in case. 8:30 am.  I'm seated over in my same spot, alongside the technical people for the C-SPAN TV coverage, and the still photographers from a variety of news organizations, who run a unique cooperative effort to take and distribute photos quickly from the hearing.  Every person in this business is different in how they prepare for their job.  Washington Post staff photographer Melina Mara was working just in front of me for a few minutes - and I snapped a picture of her laptop, which has a series of items attached with Velcro to the computer to help do her job. 8:20 am. The angling for position is underway around the witness table, as still photographers and videographers stake out their positions to get the initial shot of the witnesses arriving at the table for this hearing.  If you are watching as the hearing begins, you will see a big mass of people all around the table, and then the gavel will fall, and photographers will be shooed away.  It will be much more crowded by 9 am ET. 8:05 am. One thing to watch for today is whether President Trump decides to make an 'appearance' in this hearing via Twitter. On Friday, his tweets about former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch totally changed the hearing - and frankly, it also undermined whatever media strategy Republicans had developed for that hearing. One of the witnesses today, Jennifer Williams, who is a State Department employee detailed as a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, has already been targeted by the President on Twitter. Will he repeat it as she is testifying? 8:00 am. There are four witnesses today. Three are scheduled for Wednesday. Two more witnesses on Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday feature separate morning and afternoon sessions. Frankly, I don't know how today (Tuesday's) two hearings can finish before around 8 pm, even if the proceedings begin at 9 am. There will be breaks for votes on the floor of the House at least two different times today, as lawmakers vote on a stop gap funding plan to keep the government from running out of money, extending that spending until December 20 - to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this week. 7:45 am. Once again, I will have a seat in the historic Ways and Means Committee hearing room, where the impeachment hearings are being held - but like my youth spent at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, I will have an obstructed view of the proceedings. I have a great view of the witness table from the side of the room - but unfortunately, the lawyer for one of the witnesses usually blocks my view. And then, there is a giant television screen which has been brought in for visuals - that sits right between me and the dais. Since I'm in radio, I am used to looking down and listening, and that's what I will get to do again today.
  • With Democrats on a House panel offering lawyers for President Donald Trump ten extra days to submit legal arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court on a subpoena to his accounting firm for his tax returns, Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday granted a temporary stay of an appeals court order requiring that those financial documents be provided to Congress on Wednesday. 'IT IS ORDERED that the mandate of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, case No. 19-5142, is hereby stayed pending receipt of a response, due on or before Thursday, November 21, 2019, by 3 p.m. ET, and further order of the undersigned or of the Court,' the Chief Justice wrote in a Monday order. The move came after the House Oversight and Reform Committee filed a letter agreeing to give the President's legal team extra time to deal with the case. Without such action, the appeals court order for the President's accounting firm, Mazar's, to produce the financial documents requested by Congress would have taken effect on Wednesday. The move by the Chief Justice was what is known as an 'administrative stay' - not really getting to the merits of the matter. 'This is a totally standard procedural move, nothing more,' tweeted Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas. It's likely the broader issues could be considered at a regularly scheduled conference meeting on Friday, where the Justices consider whether to take up certain cases before the High Court. The Supreme Court has several options - the Justices could allow the lower court ruling to stand, which ordered Mazar's to abide by the subpoena, and turn over the President's documents. Or, the Justices could decide to hold a special set of arguments on the case. President Trump's legal team has already asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and block a similar subpoena from prosecutors in New York City, who are also seeking the President's financial records from Mazar. The Supreme Court has not taken any action with respect to that New York case.  As for the matter involving the House Oversight Committee, lower courts have ruled against the President's bid to block a subpoena to his accounting firm as well. In the New York case, the President's lawyers told the Supreme Court last week that Mr. Trump has 'absolute immunity' from any criminal investigation while in office.
  • Two days after ridiculing his former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine as she testified at impeachment hearings in the Congress, President Donald Trump on Sunday blasted a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, after she told lawmakers in a deposition that she considered the President's May 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine to be 'unusual and inappropriate.' 'Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls,' the President tweeted from the White House on Sunday afternoon. In deposition testimony released by Congressional investigators this weekend, Williams, the Special Adviser for Europe and Russia in the Office of the Vice President, raised concerns about the President's push to get the government of Ukraine to start a pair of investigations which could be of political benefit to Mr. Trump back home. 'I would say that it struck me as unusual and inappropriate,' Williams said of the phone call on May 25, 2019. There was only a minimal response from the Vice President's office, which noted that Williams is on detail from the State Department. The President's real-time tweets attacking ex-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch drew complaints from Democrats about witness intimidation, the President's Sunday Twitter shot at Williams had the same result. Williams is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday morning, along with National Security Council staffer, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. It's an extremely busy week for the impeachment hearings, as Democrats try to cram a series of witnesses into sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The highlights include testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, on Wednesday morning - Sondland has been the focus of a number of recent revelations focusing on his communications with the President about getting Ukraine to start investigations of the son of former Vice President Biden, and about questions of whether Ukraine - and not Russia - hacked Democrats in 2016. Sondland's testimony on Wednesday morning is has become maybe the biggest item on the schedule this week. Here is this week's announced schedule: Tuesday morning: Pence foreign policy aide Jennifer Williams, and National Security Council staffer Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Tuesday afternoon: Former US envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, and National Security Council staffer Tim Morrison. Wednesday morning: US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Wednesday afternoon: Pentagon official Laura Cooper, State Department official David Hale. Thursday: Former Trump White House Russia expert Fiona Hill.
  • Despite a series of visits and late political rallies on behalf of the Republican running for Governor in the Bayou State, President Donald Trump's help for the GOP fell short in Louisiana on Saturday, as Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards narrowly won re-election to a second term, the second election setback for the President in two weeks. With 100 percent of precincts reporting on Sunday morning, Edwards led Republican Eddie Rispone, a Baton Route area businessman, by 40,000 votes, with 51.3 percent of the vote. The GOP defeat came just days after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky conceded defeat in a close race from earlier this month, as Democrats overcame as series of campaign rallies held by the President, and won two of the three Governor's races in the South in 2019. 'And as for the President,' Edwards said to cheering supporters, 'God Bless his heart,' using a well known Southern put down. The President had come to Louisiana three times for rallies, fully embracing the battle to knock off Edwards. While Democrats celebrated the second direct voter rebuke of Mr. Trump in two weeks, Republicans downplayed the results. 'He was going to own the losses either way,' said GOP strategist Liam Donovan on Sunday morning. 'Not sure any of it mattered all that much in the end in either direction.' In his campaign stops, and on Twitter, the President had cast the more conservative Edwards as a radical liberal, not worthy of the votes of the Bayou State. 'If you want to defend your values, your jobs, and your freedom, then you need to REPLACE Radical Liberal John Bel Edwards with a true Louisiana Patriot,' Mr. Trump said on Twitter before the vote. But while Eddie Rispone led Edwards for much of the night, the late arriving results from Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and the suburban areas of those cities spelled doom for the President. It was a familiar formula which has led to GOP losses in once-reliable GOP suburbs in cities all over the country: Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, and more. 'Hey are these Trump rallies definitely helping the Republicans?' asked Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) on Twitter as the returns rolled in. Democrats will find out that answer for 2020, in 50 weeks.
  • The second day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump was thrown off stride on Friday by the President himself, as he went on Twitter and ridiculed the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine as she testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, prompting Democrats to accuse Mr. Trump of blatant witness intimidation. 'As we sit here testifying, the President is attacking you on Twitter,' said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). 'He is smearing you right now as you are testifying,' said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). 'Expect witness tampering to be an article of impeachment,' tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who left the Republican Party after endorsing an impeachment investigation against the President. The President's tweets came as in the midst of questioning for Marie Yovanovitch, as Democrats swiftly moved to bring Mr. Trump's real time comments into the hearing. 'I mean, I can't speak to what the President is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating,' Yovanovitch said in her impeachment appearance. The President's tweets unexpectedly upended whatever GOP planning had been done for the hearing, forcing Republican lawmakers yet again to answer for the reactions of Mr. Trump, and leading to headlines which clearly took Republicans off script. GOP lawmakers tried their best to steer around Yovanovitch, engaging in no line of questions which had any type of confrontational element during the hearing. Instead, Republicans praised her diplomatic work, noting that she had landed a fellowship at Georgetown University, at the same rate of pay as her ambassadorial post. Democrats mocked that talk. 'It's like a Hallmark movie, you ended up at Georgetown! It's all okay!' said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) in a sarcastic tone. Democrats returned again and again to the President's tweets during the hearing, accusing him of trying to undermine the impeachment investigation. 'This is another step by the President to intimidate witnesses,' said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).  'He didn't intimidate you,' Welch told Yovanovitch. Republicans again did their best to simply say the entire process was a sham. 'The American people know this is nonsense,' said Rep. Chris Stewart. At the end of the hearing, top Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) called the second hearing an 'embarrassment.' But a couple minutes later, members of the public were standing and cheering for Yovanovitch. For a closer look at what went on in the hearing, click on this link for more video.
  • With President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress continuing to denounce investigative proceedings led by Democrats, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee was holding a second day of impeachment hearings on Friday, continuing to focus on efforts by the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to undermine American diplomats in Ukraine. After hearing on Wednesday from the acting U.S. Ambassador and a top State Department official, the focus in this hearing is the ex-Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who was forced out of her post earlier in 2019, after a campaign which she - and other State Department officials - have blamed on Giuliani. 'I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me,' Yovanovitch said in a closed door deposition in October. Follow here for updates on today's hearing. - 3:25 pm. Schiff ends the hearing with a quick gavel, much to the GOP's aggravation. The audience stands and cheers for Yovanovitch as she leaves the hearing room.  That is not a usual scene in a hearing room. 3:00 pm.  This hearing is almost over.  But down in the bowels of the Capitol, another deposition is beginning in the impeachment investigation.  This one is with a staff aide to the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who reportedly overheard a conversation between the President and Gordon Sondland. 2:55 pm.  After a break, Rep. Jim Jordan R-OH again presses the GOP case about why President Trump should feel worried over political actions by people in the Ukraine government in 2016.  After Jordan rattles off a series of statements, Yovanovitch dryly says politicians say stuff - and that she did not see any evidence of a concerted effort by the government of Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 election. 2:25 pm. Asked by Rep. John Ratcliffe R-TX about the prep she received for her nomination in 2016 as Ambassador to Ukraine, Yovanovitch said her guidance was - if asked by a Senator about Hunter Biden and Burisma - to say, “I would refer you to the Vice President's office on that.”  Later, Yovanovitch again says the situation could create the perception of a conflict of interest. 2:05 pm. Yovanovitch was asked about how she dealt with the question of what to do about the campaign against her spurred by Rudy Giuliani.  Yovanovitch said she asked Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, what to do. Sondland had close ties to the President. 1:50 pm. Yovanovitch repeats again that certainly a President can remove an Ambassador for any reason - but she openly asks why there needed to be a smear campaign against her. Rep Wenstrup R-OH: 'Well, I wasn't asking about that.'   1:25 pm. GOP lawmakers are repeatedly asking Yovanovitch about her post-Ukraine career (now on a fellowship at Georgetown), making the case that she has not been fired or punished after her removal. 1:05 pm.  Castor's time for questions to Yovanovitch finally ends.  He almost seemed relieved. 12:55 pm.  After starting by making clear that Yovanovitch did not have first hand knowledge about what happened with the President's actions with respect to Ukraine, now the GOP counsel is asking about items which happened before she arrived in Ukraine in 2016. 12:45 pm.  In a lengthy line of questioning, Castor is allowing Yovanovitch to more fully explain how Giuliani was trying to push her out. 12:30 pm.  The GOP committee counsel continues to make the case that since Yovanovitch was not the Ambassador after May 20, she has no evidence to offer.  12:25 pm.  The 45 minutes of time for Rep. Nunes begins, as Republicans press the argument that she knows nothing about the events related to impeachment. 'I'm not exactly sure what the Ambassador is doing here today,' said Nunes. 12:15 pm.  President Trump is not pleased with the Stone verdict. 12:00 pm.  Stone guilty of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and more. 11:55 am.  Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, news is breaking, as Trump confidant Roger Stone has been found guilty on seven counts stemming from the Mueller investigation.  Some of the still photographers in the hearing room here are scrambling to grab their gear and run down to get pictures. 11:45 am.  From Fox News about today's events.  The President's tweets have clearly derailed whatever GOP messaging plans Republicans had for today's hearing. 11:40 am.  Critics of the President see his tweets this morning about Yovanovitch as yet another marker for impeachment efforts in the House. 11:20 am.  House Republicans grabbed one of my tweets this morning, and it has become a hot property for GOP voices on Twitter in the last hour. 11:15 am.  Don't expect an avalanche of negative reaction from the GOP over today's tweets from the President. 11:05 am.  There are a number of votes on the House floor. We are being told not to expect the hearing to reconvene for maybe another hour or more. 10:55 am.  It seems that viewers on Fox News are getting a different portrayal than usual today. 10:50 am.  The President's tweets are quickly frowned on by one member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Elise Stefanik R-NY. 10:45 am.  The President's tweets are getting a lot of attention.  This from Fox News. 10:25 am.  It is an extraordinary moment.  Yovanovitch is testifying, and at the same time the President is attacking her on Twitter.  Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA interrupts questioning to read the new tweets.  “It's very intimidating,” says Yovanovitch.  “The effect is to be intimidating.” 10:15 am.  Asked about the President's comments about her in his July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, Yovanovitch said she was alarmed. “She's going to go through some things,” Yovanovitch quotes the President from the call transcript.  “It didn't sound good.  It sounded like a threat.” 10:10 am.  As Yovanovitch tells her story to the impeachment hearing, President Trump is attacking her on Twitter. 10:05 am.  Yovanovitch says State Department officials asked her in early March to stay through July of 2020 as Ambassador.  Six weeks later, they told her to get on the next flight out of the country. 9:55 am.  As on Wednesday, most of the initial 45 minutes of questioning by Democrats will be done by the Democratic counsel on the House Intelligence Committee. 9:55 am.  Not only is Yovanovitch talking about why she was ousted, but she is also sticking up for fellow diplomats - and basically skewering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not standing up for those in the Foreign Service. 9:45 am.  Yovanovitch repeatedly says she did nothing wrong as U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine.  And she repeatedly returns to the efforts of Rudy Giuliani to target her.  “I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me.”  Yovanovitch also said she had done nothing to undermine President Trump.  “The Obama Administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign.” 9:37 am.  Yovanovitch details her diplomatic career.  She joined the Foreign Service during the Reagan Administration.  Like the two witnesses on Wednesday, she stresses the importance of serving the U.S. overseas, no matter who is President, as Yovanovitch said she had no 'agenda' as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. 9:28 am.  Schiff follows Nunes by calling on President Trump to release documents withheld from investigators.  Also asks the White House to reveal why - after this April call - Vice President Pence was not sent to attend the inauguration of the new Ukraine leader. 9:25 am.  Nunes is now reading from a rough transcript of the first phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine in April. 9:20 am.  The top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA, starts his statement with another blistering attack on the impeachment investigation, arguing Democrats are engaged in an effort to 'fulfill their Watergate fantasies.' 9:15 am.  Democrats begin by going after Rudy Giuliani, asking why the President's lawyer had coordinated a concerted campaign to undermine the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. 'Why did Rudy Giuliani want her gone?' asked Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA. 9:07 am.  The hearing is underway. 8:55 am.  Normally, I would have a perfect view of the dais and witness table.  But the Intelligence Committee has brought in giant television screens to be used for visuals during the hearing.  And they planted one between me and the lawmakers on the panel.  So, this is my view. 8:45 am.  Lots of familiar faces are here in terms of my colleagues, as we work shoulder-to-shoulder in the hallways of the Capitol.  There are a series of press tables in the room behind the witness table.  Right across from me, Manu Raju of CNN and Chad Pergram of Fox News. 8:35 am.  Most of you would not know the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine if she were sitting next to you.  And that was her life until late 2018 and 2019, when something changed.  She says it was a campaign run against her by President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani - and State Department officials agree. 8:25 am.  Most of the electronics in this room are set out by C-SPAN, which is running the “pool” television coverage.  I'm seated in an area by some of the C-SPAN technical personnel, along with the still photographers, who have a very high tech operation to take photos, quickly edit, them, and then send them out immediately across the world. 8:15 am.  I am in the room along with other reporters, producers, still photographers, and press people.  There is a lot of elbowing going on as photographers try to get the best shot of the witness arriving for testimony.
  • After hearing testimony earlier this week from two State Department officials about an 'irregular' diplomatic channel in Ukraine led by President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the House Intelligence Committee will hear from the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who was the target of a campaign led by Giuliani in March of 2018, which led to her replacement. In her closed door testimony to impeachment investigators, veteran U.S. diplomat Marie Yovanovitch joined in pointing a finger of blame at Giuliani for leading what one State Department official called a 'campaign of slander' against the Ambassador. 'I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me,' Yovanovitch said in her deposition. Not a household name by any stretch of the imagination, the veteran diplomat suddenly found herself the subject of attacks on Fox News and in conservative media circles starting on March 20, 2019. An article by John Solomon was quickly followed by a tweet by President Trump, segments on Fox News, questions about Hunter Biden, George Soros and more - all in a short four day rush. All of it came just a few days after Yovanovitch had agreed to a State Department request for her to stay on as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine through 2020. As Ambassador Yovanovitch repeatedly told investigators last month, she still has no idea why President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani had targeted her, accusing her of corruption, and working against President Trump - what colleagues called a 'campaign of slander' against her which had no truth. 'That allegation is false,' she testified of charges that she told U.S. embassy personnel to ignore orders from President Trump. 'Honestly, it's a mystery to me,” Yovanovitch said of why Rudy Giuliani was drumming up opposition to her inside Ukraine - and back at the White House. 'Well, clearly, they didn't want me in Ukraine anymore,' Yovanovitch told impeachment investigators, as she was removed by President Trump soon after. What did Yovanovitch do wrong? There is no clear answer. In reviewing press releases, news stories, and social media posts from 2017 and 2018, absolutely nothing jumps out about the Ambassador's actions under President Trump. In Ukraine, she spoke at events with dry titles like 'Economic Opportunities for people affected by Conflict in Ukraine,' made visits and speeches to places like the Ukrainian Catholic University, and spoke about innovation by businesses in Ukraine. But starting in March 2019, everything changed once the John Solomon article was published. She gets her chance on Friday in the impeachment hearings to speak in public for the first time about what happened.
  • Trying to boost Republican efforts to defeat Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, President Donald Trump rallies again in Louisiana on Thursday evening, just two days before a Saturday runoff election that's being closely watched by leaders in both parties. It's second time in eight days that the President has come to the Bayou State for a campaign rally to help Republican Eddie Rispone, as polls have basically shown a dead heat. 'You're going out to replace a radical, liberal Democrat,' Mr. Trump said to cheers last week, using an attack line which has had mixed success for Republicans in recent elections. 'John Bel Edwards has not done the job,' the President added ahead of Louisiana's unusual November 16 runoff. For Republicans, the Louisiana race for Governor is a chance to offset a loss earlier this month in Kentucky, where GOP Gov. Matt Bevin lost by just over 5,000 votes to Democrat Andy Beshear. While the President campaigned for Bevin - as he has for Rispone in Louisiana - Bevin was an unpopular Governor, as he netted fewer votes than other Republicans on the ballot running in statewide elections. After making various unsupported claims about possible voter fraud, and holding out the possibility of an extended challenge to the results, Bevin on Thursday afternoon conceded defeat. That came after a recanvass in each Kentucky county showed no evidence of any changes in vote totals, as the Governor never produced any evidence of voter fraud. There were three races for Governor in 2019 - Democrats won in Kentucky, and Republicans kept control with a victory in Mississippi. That makes the Louisiana runoff the rubber match for this political year.  Recent polls have shown a dead heat between Edwards and Rispone.
  • The first day of impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump included new evidence from the acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who told lawmakers that one of his aides had listened to a top U.S. diplomat speak with the President, reporting that Mr. Trump had inquired repeatedly about political investigations he was seeking. William Taylor told the House Intelligence Committee that since his recent deposition in October, one of his staffers had reported the unsecured cell phone call between U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and the President, saying the message was clear. 'President Trump cares more about the investigation of Biden, that Giuliani was pressing for,' Taylor told the first day of impeachment hearings. At the White House, the President denied the assertion by Taylor, telling reporters he did not remember any such call with Sondland, which Taylor said occurred a day after a July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, where the President asked for Ukraine to start certain political investigations. In the hearing, Taylor and State Department official George Kent repeatedly found themselves trying to walk an almost impossible tightrope of being a truth-telling non-partisan diplomat, thrust into the midst of a politically explosive impeachment hearing, in which their every answer could be used by one party or the other to buttress or undermine their impeachment arugments. 'I'm not here to do anything having to do with, to decide about impeachment.' Taylor said at one point to Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX). 'That is not what either of us are here to do. This is your job.' But Republicans tried to use the first hearing to undermine the testimony of both Taylor and Kent, repeatedly saying that they had no first hand knowledge of what President Trump was doing. 'Not only no conversations with the President of the United States about Ukraine, you've not had any contact with the President,' said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). 'Correct?' In a back and forth with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Taylor tried to keep a smile on his face as Jordan described Taylor as the supposedly prime witness for Democrats out to get President Trump. 'I don't consider myself a star witness for anything,' Taylor said. 'They do,' Jordan said of Democrats. While Ambassador Taylor dominated most of the headlines, Kent also provided some news, as he made clear that he felt the naming of Hunter Biden - the son of the former Vice President - to the board of a Ukrainian energy company, was a red flag which needed to be watched. But under questioning, Kent said he never found any evidence that it led to corruption - or anything illegal involving the younger Biden. Both Kent and Taylor raised questions about the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as Taylor frowned on what he described as an 'irregular' diplomatic back channel in Ukraine led by Giuliani. 'What interest do you believe he was promoting?' asked Rep. Val Demings (D-FL). 'I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle,” Kent said. “I agree with Mr. Kent,” Taylor added, as the two officials reinforced the suspicions of Democrats that Giuliani was leading an effort which not only unseated the U.S. Ambassador, but led to the President pressing Ukraine for investigations of the Bidens, and of Ukraine interference in the 2016 elections. Asked about the question of Ukraine interference, Kent said there was 'no factual basis,' pointing the finger directly at Russia - as U.S. Intelligence agencies have done. There likely will be more discussion of Giuliani's role in Ukraine in the next hearing on Friday, when lawmakers hear from the ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Kent testified there was a campaign of 'slander' against Yovanovitch, which began March 20, 2018.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Two jail guards tasked with monitoring wealthy financier and accused child predator Jeffrey Epstein on the night he committed suicide were arrested Tuesday and accused of falsifying records to hide the fact that they apparently slept during their shifts and browsed the internet instead of conducting mandated inmate checks. >> Read more trending news  Prosecutors said guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas falsified records at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York to make it appear as though they carried out the required checks every half-hour on Aug. 9-10. Instead, authorities said, they spent 'substantial portions of their shifts' sitting at their desks, browsing the internet and moving around the common area of the jail's Special Housing Unit. During one two-hour period, the indictment said, both appeared to have been asleep. 'As alleged, the defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,' U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. 'Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.' Authorities said video surveillance from the jail showed that no one checked on Epstein between at least 10:30 p.m. Aug. 9 and 6:30 a.m. Aug. 10, despite U.S. Bureau of Prisons protocol mandating inmate checks every half-hour. When Noel and Thomas went to serve inmates breakfast just after 6:30 a.m., they found Epstein dead in his cell with a noose around his neck, prosecutors said. Montell Figgens, a lawyer for Thomas, told The Associated Press both guards are being “scapegoated.” 'We feel this a rush to judgment by the U.S. attorney's office,' he said. 'They're going after the low man on the totem pole here.' U.S. Attorney General William Barr vowed earlier this year to investigate Epstein's death and some 'serious irregularities' in his treatment at MCC. In August, Barr announced the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons had been replaced and reassigned. Epstein died weeks after an earlier suicide attempt, according to investigators. Officers found him with a strip of bedsheet around his neck in July after he apparently tried to hang himself, authorities said in the indictment unsealed Tuesday. Officials briefly placed Epstein on suicide watch after the July suicide attempt, though that status had been lifted before Epstein's suicide in August. Epstein had been housed at MCC since his arrest in July on federal sex trafficking charges. He had been accused of sexually abusing and exploiting dozens of girls as young as age 14 between 2002 and 2005. He had pleaded not guilty and was preparing to argue that he could not be charged because of a 2008 deal he made to avoid federal prosecution on similar allegations in Florida. Epstein’s death prompted a whirl of conspiracy theories from people, including members of Epstein’s family and some of his alleged victims, who questioned whether it was possible that he’d killed himself in such a high-security setting. His death was considered a major embarrassment for the Bureau of Prisons, according to the AP. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The Clay County Sheriff's Office says it has identified a person of interest, nearly a month after a Fleming Island woman was reported missing. Deputies say Susan Mauldin was last seen on October 23 and was reported missing from the Eagle Harbor area the following day. At that time, detectives said they did not believe that Mauldin was in danger.  But now, the sheriff's office says their detectives have identified a person of interest in Mauldin's disappearance, which it says has 'mysterious' circumstances associated with it.  'The facts and circumstances developed during the course of this investigation led us to believe an individual, identified as Corey Binderim, has pertinent information related to this case. Mr. Binderim has cooperated during the course of this investigation, but until recently, he's left the area all of sudden, with no explanation and his whereabouts are unknown at this time, ' says Detective Howard Fryer.  The sheriff's office says their investigation revealed that Mauldin wasn't the type of woman to wander off and has missed several medical appointments.  'She would tell her friends if she had any plans to travel and there's no signs of financial transactions or travel plans made. Mr. Binderim's association with Susan Mauldin was, he is a contractor, contracted to perform a remodeling job in her bathroom. During the course of that contract, he failed to perform all the work. He took a deposit from her, which during the course of that, Ms. Mauldin determined she didn't want to work with him anymore and requested her money back. There's no indication during the course of our investigation that Ms. Mauldin left her home, willingly. Her vehicle is still at the house. There were signs that she was to be there at the house, with no indications of leaving,' says Fryer.  Anyone with information about Mauldin's or Binderim's whereabouts is urged to contact the sheriff's office.
  • A 16-year-old girl has been arrested after authorities discovered her plan to kill people at a predominantly black church in Hall County. >> Read more trending news  The teen, who is white, planned to attack the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, according to Gainesville police. “Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,” police Chief Jay Parrish said Tuesday in a news release. “The church was immediately notified of the incident by Gainesville police to ensure the safety of our community and the current threat was under control.” Students at Gainesville High School told school administrators that the girl had a notebook with “detailed plans to commit murder” at the church, Parrish said. Administrators notified school resource officers of the plan on Friday and opened an investigation. They verified the threat and turned the investigation over to Gainesville police, who took the girl into custody, Parrish said. Her name has not been released. The teen was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder and taken to the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center. “This is an active investigation and a prime example of how strong relationships between the student body, school administration and law enforcement can intercept a potentially horrific incident,” Parrish said.
  • President Donald Trump checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday for medical tests as part of his annual physical, White House officials said. >> Read more trending news   The trip, which was not on the president's public schedule, sparked speculation about the 73-year-old's health. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump is 'anticipating a very busy 2020' and wanted to take advantage of 'a free weekend' in Washington to begin portions of his routine checkup. Here are the latest updates: Update 12:45 p.m. EST Nov. 19: At a Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday, President Donald Trump complained about speculation that he might have suffered a heart attack over the weekend. Speculation swirled after Trump visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for two hours Saturday. The trip had not been on Trump's public schedule, though White House officials said the visit was routine. 'I went and did a very routine -- just a piece of it, the rest takes place in January -- very routine physical,' he said, according to CNN. When he returned to the White House, he said, 'I get greeted with the news, 'We understand you had a heart attack.'' 'These people are sick and the press really in this country is dangerous,' Trump said. 'We don't have freedom of the press in this country. We have the opposite. We have a very corrupt media.' Update 11:33 p.m. EST Nov. 18: In a memorandum, President Donald Trump's physician said Monday the president's visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday was merely part of a 'routine, planned interim checkup, several media outlets reported. 'This past Saturday afternoon the President traveled up to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a routine, planned interim checkup as part of the regular, primary preventative care he receives throughout the year,' Sean P. Conley wrote in the memo, CBS News reported. 'Due to scheduling uncertainties, the trip was kept off the record. 'Despite some of the speculation, the President has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues,' Conley wrote. 'Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations.'  Update 2:05 p.m. EST Nov. 18: White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham deflected rumors about President Donald Trump's health, saying it is “absolutely not” true that the president's visit to a doctor Saturday was anything other than a routine procedure, The Washington Post reported. Grisham also said the President is “healthy as can be,' the newspaper reported. In a statement Saturday, Grisham said Trump, 73, had “a quick exam and labs” and “remains healthy and energetic without complaints, as demonstrated by his repeated vigorous rally performances in front of thousands of Americans several times a week,” the Post reported. Grisham said rumors about the president 'are always flying.' 'He is healthy as can be,' Grisham told Fox News Channel host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday. 'I put a statement out about that. He’s got more energy than anybody in the White House. That man works from 6 a.m. until, you know, very, very late at night. He’s doing just fine.” Update 12:56 a.m. EST Nov. 17: Trump took to Twitter early Sunday, just hours after his visit to Walter Reed Medical Center. 'Visited a great family of a young man under major surgery at the amazing Walter Reed Medical Center,' he tweeted shortly after midnight. 'Those are truly some of the best doctors anywhere in the world. Also began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.' According to The Associated Press, the two-hour appointment did not appear on the president's public schedule like his previous annual physicals.  Original story: '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,' Stephanie Grisham, White House press secretary, said in a statement, CNN reported. Trump’s last physical was in February at Walter Reed. He weighed 243 pounds with a body mass index of 29.9, and 30 is considered obese, USA Today reported. He also had increased his use of a statin that helps control his cholesterol. 'I am happy to announce the president of the United States is in very good health and I anticipate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency, and beyond,' Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, wrote at the time.  The visit Saturday is different than the president’s previous physicals. The last two physicals were announced beforehand and noted on the president’s calendar. Trump usually takes the Marine One helicopter to Walter Reed, but this time, a motorcade dropped him off unannounced, CNN reported. 
  • One of two women accused of cutting an infant out of an expectant mother's womb earlier this year has given birth to a child of her own, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  Cook County Sheriff's Office spokesman Joseph Ryan told the Chicago Tribune that Desiree Figueroa, 25, gave birth Nov. 1 at the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. She has been in custody since May, when she and her mother, Clarisa Figueroa, were arrested and charged in the death of 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez. Desiree Figueroa has since been returned to jail, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Additional information was not immediately available. Prosecutors said Clarisa Figueroa, 46, lured Ochoa-Lopez to her home on Chicago's Southwest Side in April after they met through a Facebook group geared toward young mothers. Authorities said the Figueroas strangled Ochoa-Lopez and cut her baby from her womb. Clarisa Figueroa later called 911 to falsely claim she'd given birth to a child who was not breathing, investigators said. Tests later confirmed the newborn was Ochoa-Lopez's son. The baby, named Yovanny Jadiel Lopez, died in June of severe brain injury. Both Figeuroas have been charged with one count each of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, dismembering a human body and concealing a homicidal death. They pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 26, the Tribune reported. Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend, 40-year-old Piotr Bobak, was also arrested and charged with one count of concealment of a homicide. He has also pleaded not guilty, according to WTTW.

The Latest News Videos