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National Govt & Politics
LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings
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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

A three day, nine witness impeachment hearing blitz comes to a conclusion on Thursday, as lawmakers will hear from a former Russia expert on the National Security Council, and a Foreign Service Officer who currently works at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, as Republicans and Democrats continue to consume these proceedings like people living on different planets.

After Wednesday's testimony with Ambassador Gordon Sondland, this session will feature Fiona Hill, who worked on the National Security Council until this July, and David Holmes, who overheard Sondland's phone conversation with President Trump, in which Mr. Trump reportedly asked about Ukraine announcing investigations sought by the President.

Here's the latest on the impeachment hearings:

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4:20 pm.  The hearing is over.  Here's my story.

4:15 pm.  As Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA ends this impeachment hearing, he appeals for Republicans to look at the evidence, and support this effort to remove President Trump from office.  

"Where is Howard Baker?" Schiff asked, reaching back to Watergate, and invoking the GOP Senator from Tennessee who asked the famous question, "What did the President know and when did he know it?"

3:20 pm.  GOP lawmakers continue to go after Holmes, and he continues to stand his ground on the Sondland-Trump phone call. At one point, Rep. Mike Conaway R-TX demanded that Holmes never talk in the future about calls like the Sondland-Trump call. Holmes fired back, saying that Sondland should not have held the call in public like he did, and defended going up the chain of command to report it.

2:50 pm.  It's always good to have a bit of levity at a hearing like this.  

2:25 pm. Unlike Jordan and Ratcliffe, Rep Mike Turner R-OH doesn't give Holmes a chance to answer his criticism, accusing Holmes of using 'anecdotal' evidence about the Sondland-Trump call to embarrass the Ukraine leader

2:15 pm.  It's been a very interesting last half hour.  GOP lawmakers have tried to undercut the testimony of Holmes about the Sondland-Trump phone call - but Holmes has held his own.

1:45 pm.   The 45 minutes are up for the GOP.  Fiona Hill forcefully pushed back on a series of GOP lines of questioning, as she bluntly said there was no reason to have anyone in the White House involved in the Giuliani effort in Ukraine, which she labeled a 'domestic political errand'

1:10 pm.  The White House has provided a statement on today's hearing denouncing the proceedings.  As you read this statement, one should remember that the White House has prevented a number of officials from testifying before this investigation.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

1:00 pm.  The hearing has resumed with Republicans asking 45 minutes of questions. Rep. Nunes starts by asking Hill & Holmes if they met with Alexander Chalupa, Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr, or Glenn Simpson.  All 'no' answers.  Then, Nunes pressed Hill on the Steele Dossier.  She says she was sent a copy of it a day before it was published by BuzzFeed in early January of 2017.

12:30 pm.  The hearing won't resume for about another 30 minutes.  Various photographers are using their expensive equipment to stake out their spots.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

11:05 am. The 45 minutes of questions are now over, and there is a break, with House votes coming soon. My best guess? The hearing does not resume for another 60-90 minutes.

10:50 am. Meanwhile, Giuliani's name keeps coming up repeatedly. Fiona Hill recounts her conversation with John Bolton, who said of Giuliani and his work in Ukraine: 

"Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up."

Hill finishes by saying, "that's where we are today."

10:40 am.  More from Holmes on the Trump phone call.  Holmes said, “I've never seen anything like this in my foreign service career.” 

10:25 am.  Fiona Hill makes a very direct jab at Republicans over the issue of people trying to switch the blame for 2016 election interference to Ukraine, and away from Russia.  It should spark some interesting Q&A with the GOP.

10:15 am.  Here is the video of Holmes talking about the Sondland-Trump phone call.

10:05 am.  Holmes has been going for almost 40 minutes.  A big chunk of his testimony was describing how he overheard Sondland talking on the phone with President Trump, as they sat at a table at a restaurant in Kyiv.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

9:50 am. In his testimony, Holmes is going through familiar testimony that Rudy Giuliani was pressing Ukraine for investigations sought by President Trump. Holmes backs up the quid pro quo assertion of Sondland that Giuliani was conditioning a White House visit on those probes.

9:25 am. Schiff and Nunes give their opening statements. Nunes starts by calling the hearings "bizarre" and denounces what he labels a "carousel of accusations" against the President

9:10 am.  The hearing has started a few minutes late.  There will be a break at some point for votes on the House floor later this morning.  The House and Senate are ready to leave town today for a Thanksgiving break.  At this point, we don't know when the next public impeachment hearing will be scheduled by this panel - or if there will be another.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

8:55 am.  Fiona Hill's opening statement is out.  The Russia expert has a message aimed at Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

8:40 am.  President Trump has no public events on his schedule until 3:30 pm.  He has been on Twitter expressing his frustration with the impeachment investigation.

8:15 am.  I'm back in the room at the Ways and Means Committee.  Reporters are arriving a bit more slowly today.  But the still photographers are already here staking out their spots from the initial photos as the witnesses arrive for testimony.

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

7:50 am.  The morning papers on the front step about the impeachment hearings.  

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

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LIVE UPDATES - Day 5 of the Trump Impeachment hearings

7:45 am.  If you missed the end of the Gordon Sondland hearing on Wednesday, members of the public audience gave him a standing ovation, and extended applause as he left the hearing room.  There was a similar reaction last Friday for ex-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

7:30 am.  The news from the evening hearing evidently did not sit well with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), as more than an hour after the hearing ended, Jordan tweeted out his skepticism about Cooper's testimony, and the discovery of her staff.

7:25 am.  The day after the July 25 phone call, a group of top U.S. officials gathered in Washington to meet about military aid to Ukraine.  The number three official in the State Department testified last night that a White House budget official made clear aid to Ukraine was on hold - under orders from the President.

7:15 am. The biggest piece of news to come out of last night's impeachment hearing was about when Ukraine officials found out that U.S. aid was being delayed.  Pentagon official Laura Cooper said her staff had uncovered emails which showed Ukraine embassy officials in Washington asking what was going on with U.S. aid money.  Those emails were sent on - July 25.  Why is that important? That's the same day President Trump had his phone call with the leader of Ukraine.

7:00 am. If you missed the Sondland hearing on Wednesday, you missed one of the more unique hearings in some time on Capitol Hill.  Sondland sharpened his previous testimony, accusing Rudy Giuliani of a quid pro quo in which he pressed Ukraine to announce investigations backed by President Trump, in exchange for a White House meeting with the President.  

When the hearing began, the top Republican said Sondland would be smeared - presumably by Democrats.  But it was GOP lawmakers who scrapped with the Ambassador over his testimony, where he all but said that President Trump had ordered a hold on aid to Ukraine, in order to get the government to announce investigations of Hunter Biden, and the conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Here is a link to Sondland's testimony.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Nearly 5.5 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.6 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Tuesday, May 26, continue below: US coronavirus cases approach 1.7M, deaths surpass 98K Published 1:08 a.m. EDT May 26: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged toward 1.7 million early Tuesday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,662,302 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 98,223 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 362,764 cases and 29,229 deaths and New Jersey with 155,092 cases and 11,147 deaths. Massachusetts, with 93,271 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,416, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 112,017. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 51,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 96,400 cases, resulting in 3,769 deaths • Pennsylvania: 71,925 cases, resulting in 5,146 deaths • Texas: 56,409 cases, resulting in 1,533 deaths • Michigan: 54,881 cases, resulting in 5,241 deaths • Florida: 51,746 cases, resulting in 2,252 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 40,000 cases; Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 31,000 cases; Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases; Iowa, Arizona and Wisconsin each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Alabama and Rhode Island each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases, followed by Mississippi with 13,458; Missouri and Nebraska each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 10,178 and Kansas with 9,125; Delaware, Kentucky, Utah and the District of Columbia each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases; Nevada and New Mexico each has confirmed at least 7,000 cases; Oklahoma and Arkansas each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • Universal Studios Orlando has announced it will reopen to the public June 5, but some passholders will get the chance to visit before then. Over the weekend, some passholders received an invite to visit the Florida theme park again June 3 or 4, WFTV reported. Universal has unveiled several new plans for how the park will implement new safety procedures. Social distancing starts when you park, with a space or two between vehicles. Everyone will be required to undergo a temperature check, and face coverings must be worn. There will also be new ride queue configurations for social distancing, and more virtual lines. Signs and announcements with the new rules throughout the park will also remind guests of the new policies. Other changes include more contactless pay options, and extra cleaning of equipment, especially at Volcano Bay.
  • The parents of Ahmaud Arbery have met with members of the Department of Justice as they investigate why it took so long to make an arrest in the murder case, their legal team said. Arbery, 25, was gunned down Feb. 23 as he went on a run near his home in Brunswick, Georgia. Travis James McMichael, 34, is charged with felony murder and aggravated assault in Arbery’s slaying. His father, Gregory Johns McMichael, 64, is charged as a party to felony murder and aggravated assault. The legal team for Arbery’s family said the meeting with U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District and the family happened late last week, WSB-TV reported. >> Ahmaud Arbery: Gregory and Travis McMichael charged with murder In a statement, the attorneys for Arbery’s parents said, in part: “This would involve the consideration both civil and criminal charges against state officials and conspirators involved in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. We left that meeting feeling satisfied that the DOJ would do their part to fully investigate all players involved in this murder and would hold those responsible accountable.” In a statement, the Department of Justice announced it is looking at federal hate crime charges in the case. “The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia have been supporting and will continue fully to support and participate in the state investigation. We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate. In addition, we are considering the request of the Attorney General of Georgia and have asked that he forward to federal authorities any information that he has about the handling of the investigation. We will continue to assess all information, and we will take any appropriate action that is warranted by the facts and the law.” Video of the shooting was leaked on social media earlier this month, prompting the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take over the case. Last week, the GBI announced a third arrest in the case against William “Robbie” Bryan, the man who shot the cellphone video showing the shooting that killed Arbery. The GBI charged Bryan with murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Critics say Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson mishandled the case from the beginning, before recusing herself. But Johnson said she was barely involved because suspect Greg McMichael used to be her chief prosecutor and that her office quickly pulled out of the investigation. But as she heads into a reelection campaign, Johnson now faces many questions and both federal and state investigations. In a recent interview with radio station WIFO-FM, Johnson blamed the Glynn County police for not calling in the GBI sooner and the media for the firestorm around her. “I don't fear the truth; I fear lies,” Johnson said. “We are under a cloud now because of the national media that's based on a lie.” Bryan, along with the McMichaels, remain in jail waiting for a court date to be set for a bond hearing.
  • Twenty hikers were rescued Monday after flash flooding near a swimming hole known as the Devil’s Bathtub in southwestern Virginia, authorities said. The U.S. Forestry Service closed the Devil’s Bathtub Trail for the rest of Monday after the hikers were accounted for shortly after 10 a.m., WJHL reported. According to Duffield Fire Chief Roger Carter, the hikers were rescued on trails around the Devil’s Bathtub after they were trapped by rising waters, ending an ordeal that began Sunday at 7:15 p.m, WCYB reported. “The real challenge is the stream crossings and when you have the water come up very quickly, that’s going to trap people in places where they can’t get out and they can’t get out because the terrain is so steep and in some places, sheer vertical cliffs and then other places, they may end up on an island trapped by water on all sides of them,” Billy Chrimes, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, told WJHL. Carter told reporters that one rescued hiker might have a twisted knee, while others have mild cases of hypothermia. Devil’s Bathtub is a naturally occurring swimming hole located in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. The trail leading to it is called Devil’s Fork and is a 7.2-mile round trip, CNN reported.
  • She does not have the moves of her famous father just yet, but 11-month-old Capri Bryant gave it a good try as she made her first uncertain steps. Vanessa Bryant continues to grieve the deaths of her husband and daughter -- NBA legend Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January -- but there have been some recent happy moments for the family. Vanessa Bryant shared an Instagram video shot over the weekend of the couple’s youngest child, Capri, taking her first steps. “I’m so proud of you!” Vanessa Bryant said in the video. “I knew you were gonna do it!” “My baby!!!! So proud of my Koko Bean,” Vanessa Bryant wrote on Instagram on Monday. “Capri took her first steps from her auntie Sophie to mama today.' Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, in late January, along with the pilot and six other people.

Washington Insider

  • The White House on Sunday added Brazil to the list of nations where foreign nationals are not allowed entry into the United States, in another bid to use travel restrictions to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. 'As of May 23, 2020, Brazil had 310,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world,' said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a statement.  'Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country,' she added. The new rules apply not only to Brazilians, but also any other non-U.S. citizen who has been in the South American nation. The changes will take place late this week. The decision comes as the virus outbreak has been spreading in Brazil, which is now seen as the third worst in the world, behind the U.S. and Russia. Last week, President Trump had hinted at such a move. 'I don't want people coming in here and infecting our people,' the President told reporters when asked about a possible move to slow travel with Brazil. 'Brazil is having some trouble. No question about it,' Mr. Trump added on May 19. The designation of Brazil adds that nation to a list of travel restrictions because of the Coronavirus which includes the United Kingdom, most countries in mainland Europe, and China.