President Trump: Failed impeachment inquiry shows Democrats are ‘crooked’

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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UPDATED 6:55 AM PT — Thursday, February 13, 2020

According to President Trump, the main take-away from the impeachment process is that Democrat lawmakers are corrupt. While speaking to reporters at the White House Wednesday, he suggested top Democrats are guilty of wrong doing.

The president was reiterating his previous claim that the impeachment process should have never started. He pointed out that Democrats have spared no effort to attack his administration for no reason at all with help from the media.

When asked what he learned from the impeachment process, President Trump didn’t hesitate to say the main thing he gathered was simply that the Democrats are crooked.

“They got a lot of crooked things going…that they’re vicious…that the shouldn’t have brought impeachment,” he stated. “And my poll numbers are ten points higher because of fake news like NBC, which reports the news very inaccurately. ”

The president has continued his calls to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation as well as impeachment and said those responsible must be held accountable.

RELATED: Impeachment Will Cause Democrats To Lose House In 2020, according to pollster

Original Article

President Trump: Failed impeachment inquiry shows Democrats are ‘crooked’

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 6:55 AM PT — Thursday, February 13, 2020

According to President Trump, the main take-away from the impeachment process is that Democrat lawmakers are corrupt. While speaking to reporters at the White House Wednesday, he suggested top Democrats are guilty of wrong doing.

The president was reiterating his previous claim that the impeachment process should have never started. He pointed out that Democrats have spared no effort to attack his administration for no reason at all with help from the media.

When asked what he learned from the impeachment process, President Trump didn’t hesitate to say the main thing he gathered was simply that the Democrats are crooked.

“They got a lot of crooked things going…that they’re vicious…that the shouldn’t have brought impeachment,” he stated. “And my poll numbers are ten points higher because of fake news like NBC, which reports the news very inaccurately. ”

The president has continued his calls to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation as well as impeachment and said those responsible must be held accountable.

RELATED: Impeachment Will Cause Democrats To Lose House In 2020, according to pollster

Original Article

Ambassador Bill Taylor, who testified in impeachment inquiry, leaving Ukraine post

closeTrump will be impeached in House, not convicted in Senate: Bill McGurnVideo

Trump will be impeached in House, not convicted in Senate: Bill McGurn

Fox News contributor and WSJ editorial board member Bill McGurn discusses impeachment and a Washington Post report saying an average of national polls shows 41 percent of voters oppose impeachment.

Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat for Ukraine who testified before the House in the impeachment inquiry, plans to leave his post by the end of the year, a person familiar with his plans told Fox News on Tuesday.

Under the terms of the Vacancies Act, Taylor could have remained in his position until Jan. 8 — and even longer under his current State Department contract — but will hand over his responsibilities to the Deputy Chief of Mission on Jan. 1 and leave Kiev the following day.

Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. 

Ambassador Bill Taylor and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, testify before a House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. (Reuters)

Taylor’s future plans with the State Department were not immediately clear, nor was it clear who Taylor’s permanent replacement would be.

Taylor was serving as the acting ambassador, having never been formally confirmed by the Senate. Ukraine has been without a permanent ambassador since Marie Yovanovitch was fired from the position in May.

DEM REP. MCGOVERN SAYS IMPEACHMENT INTENDED TO STOP ‘CRIME IN PROGRESS,’ PREVENT ‘RIGGING’ OF 2020 VOTE

Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran who previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine under President George Bush, was tapped by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to replace Yovanovitch in June.

Taylor made headlines last month while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee regarding his knowledge of President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that have set in motion an impeachment investigation.

In September, Taylor texted U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland saying it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

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Hours later, Sondland replied: “The President has been crystal clear: no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”

Original Article

Trump tears into impeachment inquiry, Democrats at Florida ‘homecoming rally’

closePresident Trump speaks at Keep America Great rally in Sunrise, FloridaVideo

President Trump speaks at Keep America Great rally in Sunrise, Florida

President Trump took the stage in Sunrise, Fla. Tuesday night to address supporters at what his reelection campaign rally had dubbed a “homecoming rally” before the start of his Thanksgiving break at Mar-a-Lago, his new primary residence.

TRUMP USES TURKEY PARDON TO MOCK SCHIFF, SAYS BIRDS ALREADY RECEIVED SUBPOENAS

Tuesday's rally marked his first official campaign visit to the Sunshine State since he changed his state of residence from New York.

Trump claimed the move was motivated by the poor treatment he was receiving from New York politicians investigating him. However, Florida's far more attractive tax rates could have played some part in the decision as well.

Winning Florida will be crucial for the president’s reelection. Trump won the state over Hillary Clinton by 110,000 votes, but Tuesday's rally took place in one of the most Democratic areas of the state. Clinton overwhelmingly won Broward County, where Sunrise is located, in 2016.

About 200 anti-Trump protesters rallied on a street outside the BB&T Center before the president arrived. They raised a helium-filled “Baby Trump” balloon, and some chanted, “Lock him up.”

However thousands inside the arena broke out in chants of "four more years," and "USA, USA." During Vice President Mike Pence's introductory remarks, a chant of "Conan, Conan" broke out when Pence mentioned the Belgian Malinois that played a starring role in the raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"Our troops are coming home and Conan the hero dog is just fine," Pence told the crowd.

Trump told Florida voters he would head to the ballot box right alongside them in less than a year, promising to keep control of the House, win back the Senate, and "keep that beautiful White House."

The president touted his administration's record on the economy, noting that the stock market just reached another all-time high: "Everybody's getting rich and I'm working my a– off." He noted the 6.7 million new jobs created under his administration and the almost 600,000 jobs created in Florida since 2016.

Trump also defended his decision earlier this month to pardon two soldiers accused or convicted of war crimes, including Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance who was six years into a 19-year sentence for second-degree murder after he ordered his soldiers to open fire and kill three men in Afghanistan.

"We're going to take care of our warriors," the president said. "I will always stick up for our fighters, people can sit in their air-conditioned offices and complain."

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He then pivoted to impeachment, accusing what he called "the radical left Democrats" of "trying to rip our nation apart."

"First it was the Russia hoax, total hoax, a failed overthrow attempt and the biggest fraud in the history of our country," Trump said. "Now the same maniacs are pushing the deranged impeachment, a witch hunt the same as before."

However, the president pointed to polls that show the public to be ambivalent about impeachment.

"A lot of bad things are happening to them," he said. "You see what's happening in the polls? Everybody said, 'You know what? That's real bulls—."

This is a developing story, check back for more updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

As impeachment inquiry breaks for Thanksgiving, conversations over turkey could dictate next steps

closeDo Democrats have any actual articles of impeachment?Video

Do Democrats have any actual articles of impeachment?

Reaction and analysis with former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray and Trump 2020 campaign adviser Harmeet Dhillon.

“Ambassador Sondland,” warned Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., from the dais on day four of the open impeachment hearings. “You are here to be smeared.”

Nunes is the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. But it wasn’t clear at that moment to U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, that Republicans may be doing the smearing.

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE REPUBLICANS COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

Sondland told lawmakers that there was indeed a quid pro quo. He testified that Rudolph Giuliani said requests for a quid pro quo were linked to possible White House meetings for Ukrainian leaders and to prompt investigations of the Bidens. Sondland announced that U.S. aid would not flow to Kiev unless there were probes. Sondland even testified he told Vice President Mike Pence in early September of harboring concerns about connecting the aid to investigations.

But then Mark Short, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, unloaded on Sondland.

“The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,” said Short. “Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened.”

Sondland testified that he pieced together what was going on: a linkage between aid to Ukraine and an investigation of the Bidens.

“It was a presumption,” said Sondland. “Two plus two equals four in my mind.”

Nunes seized on Sondland, divining President Trump’s approach toward Ukraine – without really grasping the policy.

Nunes said it would be “great” if Sondland actually knew the status of the foreign aid “rather than doing funny little math problems here. Two plus two equals four.”

The Republican attorney for the impeachment inquest, counsel Steve Castor, called into question the veracity of Sondland’s interpretations – since the ambassador conceded he rarely took notes.

“You don’t have records. You don’t have your notes because you didn’t take notes. You don’t have a lot of recollections. I mean, this is like the trifecta of unreliability. Isn’t that true?” hectored Castor. “It’s a lot of speculation. A lot of it is your guessing. And we’re talking about impeachment of the President of the United States. So the evidence should be pretty darn good.”

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, challenged precisely what Sondland thought he may have known about the status of military assistance to Ukraine – and what factors were in play about its release.

Trump says 'it's all over' for impeachment inquiry after Sondland testimonyVideo

“No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations. Yes or no?” asked Turner.

WHITE HOUSE WANTS ITS LAWYERS TO CROSS-EXAMINE, CALL WITNESES IF IMPEACHMENT GOES TO HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

“Yes,” replied Sondland.

“So you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?” continued Turner.

“Other than my own presumptions,” answered Sondland.

It wasn’t long after Sondland concluded that more Republicans off Capitol Hill began to muddy the ambassador’s testimony.

“Gordon Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the President was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry emerged in the Ukraine affair as one of the “three amigos” who were crafting U.S. policy with Ukraine – potentially beyond the bounds of regular diplomatic channels. The other two “amigos” were Sondland and former envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker. But Perry’s team pushed back on Sondland as well.

“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry’s interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump,” said Perry spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes. “As previously stated, Secretary Perry spoke to Rudy Giuliani only once at the President’s request. No one else was on that call. At no point before, during or after that phone call did the words ‘Biden’ or ‘Burisma’ ever come up in the presence of Secretary Perry.”

Secretary Rick Perry on Gordon Sondland's impeachment testimony: He's surmisingVideo

There are problems with Sondland’s testimony. Much of it is predicated on interpretations and perceptions. And, to be fair, Republicans may not really be “smearing” Sondland here. Both sides are fighting to frame their arguments. Like in a court case, GOPers are naturally trying to undercut the credibility of witnesses. Any good counsel would poke holes in testimony, question credibility of the witness and cast doubt.

Before Messrs. Sondland, Perry and Volker rode as the “three amigos,” children of the ‘80s recall a critically-panned, but now cult classic comedy movie titled the “Three Amigos.” The film starred comedy legends Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase. Martin, balladeer Randy Newman and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels wrote the script. But the passing reference to the ‘80s comedy was far from the only pop cultural reference in the impeachment hearings.

Sondland may have lacked concrete information about U.S. Ukraine policy. But what Sondland seemed to remember most from his phone call with President Trump on July 26 from a Kiev restaurant, was discussion of rapper A$AP Rocky. Sondland testified he didn’t initially mention the phone call when House investigators first deposed him in October. But discussion by others about A$AP Rocky jogged his memory.

“That’s the way memory works,” observed Intelligence Committee Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman.

In fact, Sondland testified that much of his conversation with President Trump centered on the legal status of A$AP Rocky, held by Swedish authorities after an alleged assault.

A$AP Rocky emerged as a fringe figure in the impeachment inquiry after U.S. diplomat to Ukraine David Holmes, lunching that day with Sondland in Kiev, testified that A$AP Rocky’s detention appeared prominently in President Trump’s phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.

Holmes told the Intelligence Committee that Sondland said to Mr. Trump “the President of Sweden ‘should have released (A$AP Rocky) on your word,’ but that ‘you can tell the Kardashians you tried.’”

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And you thought all President Trump cared about was an investigation of the Bidens.

But, these discussions may have created a special moment in American history. Neither the Kardashians nor A$AP Rocky came up during the impeachment investigations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. However, the historical record is a little unclear as to whether the Kardashians played a side role in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.

Congress is out until early December for the Thanksgiving recess. Perhaps the biggest thing to watch now is where public opinion goes over the Thanksgiving recess. Expect lots of debate – and maybe actual arguments about impeachment – at dinner tables over turkey, gravy, stuffing, cornbread and pumpkin pie.

Those Thanksgiving conversations could dictate where impeachment is headed.

And there may even be chatter about A$AP Rocky, too.

Original Article

Independents souring on impeachment as inquiry heats up, polls indicate

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Discussing how impeachment is impacting his polling, President Trump says this is a continuation of the Russia hoax and his polls are going

Recent polling on impeachment indicates that independent voters are far from sold on ousting the GOP incumbent from the White House. In fact, the national surveys suggest support for impeaching and removing the president has deteriorated over the past month, even as the House inquiry has ramped up.

Fifty percent of independents questioned in an NPR/PBS/Marist poll conducted Nov. 11-15 did not support impeaching and removing Trump from office, with just 42 percent backing such a move. That’s a slight dip in support compared with the previous NPR/PBS/Marist poll – conducted the first week in October – when support stood at 45 percent.

TRUMP CALLS FOR SENATE TRIAL DURING 'FOX AND FRIENDS' INTERVIEW

The new survey was conducted before this week’s high-profile testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, where a parade of witnesses testified about top-level involvement in efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats while aid was withheld to the eastern European country involved in a war with Russia. Trump, calling into ‘Fox and Friends’ Friday morning, blasted the hearings as “a continuation of the witch hunt” and downplayed the impact of the testimony.

While impeachment still enjoys support from a slight plurality overall in an average of polls by RealClearPolitics, the RCP average points to a dimming view from crucial independents — indicating more independents are now opposed, in a reversal from mid-October.

A Gallup poll conducted the first two weeks of November – also before this week’s testimony – indicated that 45 percent of independent voters supported impeaching and removing the president – with 53 percent opposing the move. That’s a switch from October, when the previous Gallup survey put the split at 53-44 percent.

And just 42 percent of independents questioned in a Monmouth University poll conducted Oct. 30-Nov. 3 supported impeaching and removing Trump from the White House, with 51 percent saying no.

The president’s facing impeachment over his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings in the eastern European country. Biden is one of the top Democratic 2020 presidential contenders hoping to challenge Trump in next year’s election. Fueled by whistleblower complaints, a transcript of the call released by the White House, and testimony by witnesses in the inquiry, Democrats say that the president was asking a foreign country to potentially interfere in a U.S. election.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that before that phone call, millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine was put on hold. Despite allegations that the president was using that money as leverage, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong. He says there was no "quid pro quo" and has on numerous occasions described his conversation with the Ukrainian leader as “perfect.”

The president argued in his Fox News interview Friday morning that he’s rising in the polls “because of the impeachment thing.”

“You’ve seen the polls over the last week. I’m going through the roof. In Wisconsin I’m way up over every Democrat,” he emphasized.

Trump was likely referring to a Marquette University Law School poll released on Wednesday that indicated the president with a single-digit edge over Biden (47-44 percent), Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (48-45 percent), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (48-43 percent) in hypothetical general election matchups in the crucial battleground state of Wisconsin. Trump enjoyed a 47-39 percent lead over South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the survey.

Trump was up just 2 percentage points over Buttigieg in the previous Marquette University Law School poll, which was conducted a month ago. Biden, Warren and Sanders had single-digit advantages over Trump in the earlier survey.

Fifty-three percent of registered voters in Wisconsin opposed impeachment, according to the survey, a slight 2-point bump from their earlier poll.

Original Article

Trump says ‘it’s all over’ for impeachment inquiry after Sondland testimony

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President Trump addresses the testimony of Ambassador Sondland.

President Trump on Wednesday said that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee should exonerate him of any claims of wrongdoing in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into him.

Speaking to reporters before departing on a scheduled trip to Texas, Trump claimed that Sondland’s testimony means “it’s all over” for the proceedings and that the House inquiry into Trump should come to a halt.

“I just noticed one thing and that would mean it’s all over,” Trump said on the White House lawn before reading from handwritten notes taken during Sondland’s testimony.

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS: LIVE UPDATES FROM DAY FOUR

Sondland testified about a conversation with Trump where he asked the president what he wanted from Ukraine.

“And it was a very short, abrupt conversation,” the ambassador said. “He was not in a good mood. And he just said, ‘I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.’ Something to that effect.”

Ambassador Sondland: 'Trump never told me aid was conditioned,' it was my 'personal guess'Video

While Trump argued that Sondland’s statement proves there was no quid pro quo between his administration and Ukraine — the matter at the heart of the impeachment probe — Sondland gave a more nuanced account.

He confirmed he never heard directly from Trump on a quid pro quo linking military aid for Ukraine to politically advantageous investigations.

But Sondland said “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the Bidens. And he said he came to presume aid was linked to investigations too.

He said he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, where he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy departments and White House staff.

Sondland added: "It was no secret."

Sondland testified later that he worked with Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Ukraine at Trump’s “express direction” and pushed a “quid pro quo” with Kiev because it was what Trump wanted.

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Amb. Sondland: Ukraine quid pro quo based on 'my own personal guess'Video

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called Sondland’s testimony “a very important moment in the history of this investigation'' and said it showed “for the first time that knowledge of this scheme was pervasive.’’

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article

‘The Gordon Problem’ set to testify in impeachment inquiry’s main event

closeWhat does Ambassador Sondland know?Video

What does Ambassador Sondland know?

Bret Baier and Harris Faulkner discuss Ambassador Sondland's upcoming testimony this Wednesday and the politics of the impeachment inquiry

Former National Security Council (NSC) aide Tim Morrison testified on Tuesday that one of his colleagues warned him about President Trump’s European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland, and even coined a name for her concerns: “the Gordon problem.”

Sondland will testify Wednesday morning as the impeachment inquiry's most anticipated witness, less than 24 hours after Republicans declared total victory in Tuesday's afternoon hearings. But it remained unclear whether the wealthy hotelier-turned-diplomat will pose a problem for Democrats, Republicans, or all of the above.

VINDMAN WAS ASKED THREE TIMES TO BE UKRAINE DEFENSE MINISTER

Sondland is more directly entangled than any witness yet in the president’s alleged efforts to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden and Democrats in the 2016 election. Yet Sondland has already amended his testimony once– “I now do recall,” he said, talking to Ukraine about anti-corruption investigations — and has frustrated Democrats' efforts to build a consistent narrative of misconduct by the president.

Most notably, Sondland previously testified behind closed doors that Trump directly told him there were to be "no quid pro quos of any kind" with Ukraine, and that he didn’t recall any conversations with the White House about withholding military assistance in return for Ukraine helping with the president’s political campaign.

MORRISON, VOLKER UNDERCUT DEMS' CLAIMS OF BRIBERY, AS GOP DECLARES VICTORY: 'A GREAT DAY FOR THE PRESIDENT'

Ambassador Kurt Volker, left, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council are sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Ambassador Kurt Volker, left, former special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former official at the National Security Council are sworn in to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Then, William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d'affaires for Ukraine, told lawmakers that Sondland himself said "everything" — a White House visit for Ukraine's new leader and the release of military aid to the former Soviet republic — was contingent on a public announcement of investigations into the 2016 election and into Ukraine gas company Burisma Holdings. (Hunter Biden held a highly lucrative role on the board of Burisma, despite having little relevant experience, while his father oversaw Ukraine policy as vice president.)

Weeks later, after testimony from Taylor and Morrison placed him at the center of key discussions, Sondland amended his testimony and claimed his recollection had been "refreshed." Sondland said he now could recall a September conversation in which he told an aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that military aid likely would not occur until Ukraine made public announcements about corruption investigations. Sondland said he came to "understand" that arrangement from other sources.

Additionally, Sondland has insisted he knew acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney only well enough to wave and say hello. He said he may have spoken to him once or twice on the phone, but not about Ukraine. Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an NSC official, has testified Sondland cited a discussion with Mulvaney when pushing Ukrainian officials to open the investigations that Trump wanted into alleged 2016 U.S. presidential election interference and the Bidens.

Separately, Fiona Hill, another White House national security official, said Sondland often talked of meetings with Mulvaney. In a further link between the two men, she quoted the-then National Security Adviser John Bolton as telling her he didn’t want to be part of “whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney were cooking up.” Hill is to testify Thursday.

Trump, meanwhile, has recently tried to suggest that he barely knows his hand-picked ambassador, but Sondland has said he has spoken several times with the president and was acting on his direction.

Sondland routinely bragged about his proximity to Trump and drew alarm from the foreign service and national security apparatus as part of an irregular channel of diplomacy led by the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Last week, State Department official David Holmes revealed one of those interactions to impeachment investigators, saying he recalled it “vividly.”

The political counselor was having lunch with Sondland in Kiev when the ambassador dialed up the president on his cell phone and Holmes could hear Trump’s voice.

“I then heard President Trump ask, quote, ‘So he’s going to do the investigation?’” Holmes testified. “Ambassador Sondland replied that ‘He’s going to do it,’ adding that President Zelensky will, quote, ‘do anything you ask him to.’”

Holmes testified that he told "a number of friends of mine" about the call because it was "like, a really extraordinary thing" to be "part of" a lunch in which "someone called the president." He insisted he didn't go into detail about the call while he boasted about it, but estimated that he may have told as many as six friends.

Sondland was known for telling others "he was in charge of Ukraine" despite being the U.S. envoy in Brussels, Hill testified.

"And I asked, well, on whose authority?” said Hill. "And he said, the president."

Also testifying on Wednesday are Pentagon official Laura Cooper and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Hale.

Their appearances will follow the testimony Tuesday of four national security and diplomatic officials, including two GOP witnesses — Morrison and former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker — who largely undercut Democrats' primary arguments for impeachment.

Both Volker and Morrison repeatedly denied that there was any bribery or extortion by the president in his call with Zelensky. Their answers underscored a problem facing House Democrats as their impeachment inquiry continued into its second week of public hearings: With more witnesses testifying, more soundbites have emerged that may help Republicans and the Trump campaign argue that the proceedings were politically motivated theater, long in the works and foreshadowed openly by Democrats for months, if not years.

"Ambassador Volker, I presume you got a readout of the call," Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y, asked at one point. "Was there any reference to withholding aid? Any reference to bribery? Any reference to quid pro quo? Any reference to extortion?"

"No, there was not," Volker replied, again and again.

Shortly after that moment, President Trump tweeted, "A great day for Republicans, a great day for our Country!"

"Kind of hard to prove a corrupt quid pro quo theory when the key U.S. policy people, plus the Ukrainians, were never aware of such an arrangement," Texas GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw added late Tuesday, noting that Ukraine's president has said he felt no pressure from Trump to open any probes. "Can we go back to governing now, that’d be great thanks."

However, Volker did provide some good moments for Democrats. He shifted his own account of a July 10 White House meeting to say Sondland did, in fact, discuss investigations with the visiting Ukrainians. “I think all of us thought it was inappropriate; the conversation did not continue and the meeting concluded,” Volker said.

Volker said Sondland had raised the idea of investigations “in a generic way," and that Bolton immediately ended the meeting.

A series of text messages Volker provided to lawmakers showed conversations between him, Sondland and other leaders in which they discussed a need for Ukraine to launch investigations, including into Burisma Holdings. Volker also said he didn't initially realize the connection between a Trump-sought investigation of Burisma and the Bidens,

Volker went on to testify that during a September dinner with top Ukrainian official Andriy Yermak, he’d discouraged Ukraine from trying to prosecute the country’s previous president. Volker says he warned it would sow deep societal divisions.

Volker said Yermak quipped in response, “You mean like asking us to investigate Clinton and Biden?” Volker claimed he didn’t “quite understand” the head-turning remark and was “kind of puzzled” by it.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., center, flanked by House Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman, left, and ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., uses his gavel as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., center, flanked by House Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman, left, and ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., uses his gavel as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Burisma had been under investigation before then-Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor in charge. In his call with Zelensky, Trump suggested the Ukrainians look into the circumstances of the prosecutor's termination, including Joe Biden's boast that he had the prosecutor fired by threatening to withhold $1 billion in critical aid.

Another witness who testified earlier Tuesday was a career Army officer who described Trump’s call with Zelensky as “improper.”

"Frankly, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing," he testified. "In certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out."

Vindman told lawmakers it was his “duty” to report his concerns about the call, as he deflected Republican attacks, including from the White House on his loyalty and career in public service.

It wasn’t the first time Vindland had registered his concerns over Ukraine policy. He testified about the July 10 meeting at the White House when Sondland told visiting Ukraine officials they would need to “deliver” before the administration would agree to a meeting Zelenskiy wanted with Trump.

OPINION: VINDMAN NEEDS TO BE FIRED, AFTER TESTIMONY REVEALS HIS INSUBORDINATION AND ALLEGED PROPENSITY FOR LEAKS

“Ambassador Sondland referred to investigations into the Bidens and Burisma in 2016,” Vindman testified.

However, Vindman was caught in an apparent contradiction late in the day by Republican Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup. Vindman testified earlier in the day that he did not discuss his concerns about Trump's July phone call with Morrison, his superior, because he was unavailable.

Under questioning from Wenstrup, Morrison confirmed that Vindman had given him edits of the transcript of the call, on the same day that Vindman testified Morrison was unreachable.

Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar offered a blunt assessment of Vindman's testimony, tweeting: "I think people need a reminder: the democrats said they would impeach starting in December 2016–before @realDonaldTrump was even sworn in. This is a hearing looking for a reason. It’s corrupt and immoral. The dude in the uniform is a seditionist."

Morrison, meanwhile, also said he had heard others express concern that Vindman was a leaker, and could not be trusted with key information. Asked about that allegation, Vindman read from a glowing performance review that described him as an exemplary officer.

In a particularly remarkable moment, Vindman testified that he was asked to serve as Ukraine’s defense minister three times — but repeatedly denied the offers — when he traveled to Kiev for the inauguration of Ukraine's president. Oleksander Danylyuk, the former Chairman of the National Security and Defence Council in Ukraine, reportedly said on Tuesday the offer was "clearly a joke."

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At the White House, Trump said he had watched part of the day’s testimony and slammed the ongoing impeachment hearings as a “disgrace.” Over the weekend, Trump assailed Vice President Pence aide Jennifer Williams as part of the “Never Trumpers” who oppose his presidency, though there is no indication she has shown any partisanship. Williams was critical of Trump's call with Zelensky.

However, in his testimony, Morrison suggested the impeachment brouhaha was predictable partisan politics as usual.

"I feared at the time of the call on July 25th how its disclosure would play in Washington's political climate," Morrison said in his opening statement on Tuesday. "My fears have been realized."

Fox News' Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump brands impeachment inquiry a ‘coup’ as House holds third day of public hearings

closeVindman: Was offered Ukrainian Defense Minister job three timesVideo

Vindman: Was offered Ukrainian Defense Minister job three times

Lt. Col. Alexanders Vindman says he was offered the job of Ukrainian Defense Minister three times by Oleksandr Danyliuk

President Trump branded House Democrats' impeachment inquiry a "coup" and "charade" in an apparent rebuke of the way they were handling a public hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

His attack came hours into a contentious House Intelligence Committee hearing where administration officials testified about Trump's now-infamous phone call with Ukraine in July.

In a video posted to Twitter, the Trump campaign indicated the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., led a coup that Democrats plotted after his election in 2016.

"This impeachment is a charade," a narrator said alongside a video of Schiff. It pointed to a tweet from Mark Zaid — the lawyer for the whistleblower who reported that call — in which he claimed that a "coup has started."

"That's right. The whistleblower's own lawyer wrote that the coup has started and that impeachment will follow," the narrator said. "They promised a coup and now they're trying to carry it out. The Democrats are trying to overthrow President Trump, undo the 2016 election, and silence our voices. Don't let them."

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The video echoed the administration's previous criticisms and touched on a concern raised about Zaid's impartiality.

The campaign video was referring to a 2017 tweet in which Zaid responded to Trump's criticism of Sally Yates, a former DOJ official whom the president accused of betraying her department after she famously told employees not to defend the president's travel ban.

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Zaid also tweeted predictions that Trump would face impeachment. "Johnson (1868), Nixon (1973), Clinton (1998) impeachment hearings. Next up @realDonaldTrump (2017)," he said in a 2017 tweet.

“Those tweets were reflective and repeated the sentiments of millions of people," Zaid told Fox News in November. "I was referring to a completely lawful process of what President Trump would likely face as a result of stepping over the line, and that particularly whatever would happen would come about as a result of lawyers. The coup comment referred to those working inside the Administration who were already, just a week into office, standing up to him to enforce recognized rules of law.“

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