Politics

A brief guide to another blitz of news from Washington

Developments in the impeachment probe pour in

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The first full week of the House Democratic impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump started with a flurry of news involving Trump, Attorney General William Barr, Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and the administration's attempts to get foreign help in investigations of the Mueller report and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Here's a list of what happened:

Intel inspector general pushes back at claims that whistleblower's information was secondhand

The Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson forcefully pushed back Monday on assertions by Trump and some other Republicans about the lack of firsthand knowledge and rules regarding how whistleblower complaints are processed.

In a statement released Monday, the inspector general said the whistleblower had "direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct." The statement appears to debunk a theory that has been pushed by Trump and several of his Republican allies, who have sought to raise questions about the complaint's credibility by falsely claiming that it is based on "hearsay."

As a reminder, the whistleblower complaint released this past week alleges Trump abused his official powers "to solicit interference" from Ukraine in the 2020 election and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

A rough transcript released by the White House shows Trump repeatedly pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden, Trump's potential 2020 political rival, and his son Hunter Biden.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on Trump's July call with the Ukrainian President

Pompeo was on the July 25 phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian President, a source familiar told CNN.

Pompeo was asked about the whistleblower complaint last week while in New York for the United Nations General Assembly and said at the time that he had not yet read it in full. When asked if he or his staff had acted improperly Pompeo did say that, to the best of his knowledge, "each of the actions that were undertaken by State Department officials was entirely appropriate."

Trump pressed Australian leader to help with Justice Department review of Russia probe origins

Trump pressed Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, during a recent phone call to help Barr with his review of the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, according to an official familiar with the call.

The call happened with Barr's knowledge and at his suggestion, the official said.

The official notes this is seeking assistance with the review, which is being conducted by US Attorney John Durham, and so is seen as appropriate and completely different from the Ukraine matter. Justice Department officials say it is appropriate for the attorney general and the President to seek help from foreign countries with an investigation of 2016 election interference.

Mueller's report, which was released in April, detailed numerous cases in which Trump asked his aides to take actions that would have obstructed the investigation, but stated they were unsuccessful because the aides refused his orders. Mueller's investigation pointedly states it was unable to conclude "no criminal conduct occurred."

Ukrainians named in whistleblower report say Giuliani was clear about wanting to open an investigation into political rivals dealings in Kiev

Two Ukrainians named in the whistleblower report have told CNN that Giuliani actively pushed for an investigation into his political rivals' dealings in the country.

Andreii Telizhenko, who worked in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington between December 2015 and May 2016, says Giuliani approached him for a face-to-face meeting in May of this year. And Sergeii Leschenko, an adviser to Zelensky, says Giuliani began applying pressure on Zelensky's team to dig up dirt on Biden and his son shortly after the former comedian was elected in April.

While each has a different perspective on the crisis -- Telizhenko believes that the issues surrounding Biden merit further investigation -- both agree that Giuliani was open in his motivations.

House Democrats subpoena Giuliani for Ukraine documents in impeachment inquiry

Key House Democrats announced on Monday that they are issuing a subpoena to Giuliani for documents related to Ukraine as part of the House impeachment inquiry.

The whistleblower complaint labels Giuliani as "central figure" in the controversy. US officials were concerned, the whistleblower said, with Giuliani and his contacts with Ukrainian officials.

Mitch McConnell says the Senate would 'have no choice but to' take up House's impeachment of Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday the Senate "would have no choice but to" take up impeachment if the House passed articles charging the President with crimes, according to the chamber's rules.

CNN poll finds support for impeaching Trump is up among independents and Republicans

Americans are about evenly split over impeaching Trump and removing him from office, as support for that move has risen among independents and Republicans, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS after the announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry by House Democrats last week.

About half, 47%, support impeaching the President and removing him from office, up from 41% who felt that way in a CNN poll in May. The current level matches the high point for impeaching Trump in previous CNN polling -- 47% said they felt that way in September 2018.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to more precisely describe what the Ukrainians named in the whistleblower report told CNN about Rudy Giuliani.

CNN's Zachary Cohen, Evan Perez, Alex Rogers, Clare Foran and Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.


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