foreign-policy

Diplomats testifying in impeachment inspire pride, worry
Positive reviews come with increased fears over safety and political retaliation

Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council senior director, and David Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, are sworn in before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Few other parts of the U.S. government under the Trump administration feel as undermined and besieged as the State Department.

The department’s funding has repeatedly come under attack in White House budget requests; the expertise of its diplomats and policy specialists has routinely been ignored in favor of the opinions of Trump loyalists with little foreign affairs experience.

Trump comes out swinging, but Fiona Hill fights back in dramatic impeachment finale
Kyiv embassy official says he had ‘never seen anything like’ Sondland cafe call with U.S. president

Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia adviser, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came out swinging Thursday morning, but two witnesses who testified for hours in the impeachment inquiry pulled no punches as they overshadowed the president’s morning attacks.

Testimony by Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council Russia expert, and David Holmes, an official in the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, further undercut several contentions pushed by Trump, GOP lawmakers and the president’s surrogates. Hill, for instance, dismissed a conspiracy theory rejected by American intelligence agencies but espoused by Trump and other Republicans that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 U.S. election.

Teflon veep: Pence emerges largely unscathed as Sondland, Dems say he knew of quid pro quo
Trump’s No. 2 has left it to surrogates like Jim Jordan and Marc Short to swat away allegations

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified Wednesday during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers and witnesses this week repeatedly brought up Vice President Mike Pence during public impeachment hearings, but President Donald Trump’s No. 2 has emerged mostly unscathed.

Wednesday was a rough one for Trump, with testimony from a top U.S. diplomat implicating him in a quid pro quo. But no House Democrat during the public sessions has suggested articles of impeachment against Pence.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 21
Some Democrats want to subpoena Pompeo, Mulvaney and Bolton after Sondland testimony

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., listens as ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., holds a copy of the “Report on Russian Active Measures” during his opening statement in the House Select Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s testimony on Wednesday, some Democrats feel the Intelligence Committee should subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, according to Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee.

Sondland testified that the three senior officials were aware of and signed off on the pressure campaign on Ukraine.

Pentagon official says Ukraine asked about military aid in July
Ukrainians may have known about the hold on aid package this summer, undercutting GOP impeachment arguments

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, right, and David Hale, undersecretary of State for political affairs, are sworn in before they testify before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump on Nov. 20. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Laura Cooper, a Pentagon expert on Ukraine, told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday evening that Ukrainian embassy staff in Washington contacted her office in July with questions about the White House’s hold on military aid promised to their country.

Cooper’s testimony adds a new twist to the House impeachment inquiry, into the connection between the hold on that aid and President Donald Trump’s desired politically motivated investigations into a Ukrainian energy company and the Biden family.

Trump’s relationships and other takeaways after Gordon Sondland’s testimony
‘The Gordon problem’: Ambassador quips ‘that’s what my wife calls me’ during an odd day in Washington

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testifies during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS — Donald Trump stuck to the script Wednesday, one he personally wrote on an Air Force One notepad in black marker.

As the president gestured with his hands as he spoke to reporters, the pad in his left hand tilted toward journalists assembled on the White House’s South Lawn. His movements revealed the notes, writing in large letters with what appeared to be a thick black marker. (A White House official confirmed it was the president’s handwriting on the white page.)

Lots of no-shows for impeachment inquiry depositions
Overall Democrats participated more than Republicans, who had complained about access

Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, left, and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., make their way to votes in the Capitol on Friday. Jordan referred to the lack of attendance at the impeachment depositions in appealing for Gaetz to be able to attend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated Nov. 21, 2:28 p.m. | Only a fifth of the 104 members on the three House panels that conducted the impeachment inquiry depositions attended and participated in a majority of the proceedings, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of the available deposition transcripts.

The Intelligence Committee has released transcripts for 15 of the 17 depositions it has conducted with two other panels: Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs. 

Trump contends Sondland clears him
‘I want nothing. That’s what I want from Ukraine,’ POTUS says he told ambassador

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House on Oct. 10. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Reading from his own marker-written notes and running an hour behind schedule for a trip to Texas, President Donald Trump contended Wednesday that Gordon Sondland’s testimony proves he did not order a quid pro quo with Ukraine’s new president.

In yet another surreal moment of his presidency, Trump appeared to recite a version of a Sept. 9 phone conversation with Sondland that his ambassador to the EU took while sitting on the outdoor patio of a Kyiv restaurant.

Sondland tells Congress he acted at Trump's direction on Ukraine
Testimony from top ambassador ties Trump, Pompeo and other top officials to Ukrainian pressure campaign

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee during a hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on Wednesday told Congress that the president directed him to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Ukrainian energy company Burisma and, in turn, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The Trump donor and appointee stressed that the president never directly told him U.S. military aid to Ukraine was contingent upon the politically motivated investigations. But he testified, among other new revelations, that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on a pressure campaign.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 20
Testimony from Laura Cooper contradicts Republican argument that Ukraine did not know about the hold on security aid

Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testifies during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine Laura Cooper told the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday evening that Ukrainian Embassy staff in August were aware of the White House’s hold on military assistance to Kyiv.

Cooper’s testimony ran counter to a key Republican argument about the July phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and President Donald Trump — that Ukraine did not know about the hold on security aid.