What’s ahead for the impeachment inquiry?

JOHN YANG: President Trump headed abroad today,
while, here at home, the House moves closer to a potential vote on impeachment. Mr. Trump will be participating in a NATO
summit in London this week as the House Judiciary Committee holds its first impeachment hearing. Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins
is here to tell us what’s ahead. Lisa, the president has now landed the London,
but while he was in the air, the impeachment news kept happening here at home. What happened while he was in the air? LISA DESJARDINS: And here he is talking to
important allies, but on his mind as well is the impeachment hearing going forward. I want to first of all play what the president
had to say on his way to London as he left the White House today. He’s going to remark on something that the
Ukrainian president, Zelensky, said. We’re going to come to that. But here’s the president basically building
his case even as he left the White House today. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Because the whole thing is a hoax. Everybody knows it. All you have to do is look at the words of
the Ukrainian president that he just issued, and you know it’s a hoax. It’s an absolute disgrace, what they’re doing
to our country. LISA DESJARDINS: We will continue to hear
this from Republicans, the idea that this investigation and impeachment is a hoax or
a sham. Let’s talk about what President Zelensky said
specifically that the president thinks exonerates him. Here are the words from the Ukrainian president
in an interview that was published in the last day. He said: “Look, I never talked to the president
from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing. But you have to understand we’re at war. If you’re a strategic partner, then you can’t
go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness.” There’s a lot in that quote, John, but, essentially,
he’s saying a quid pro quo is not his thing. I don’t know if that’s a clear exoneration
of the president. But he went on farther, this as the president’s
job is at stake here. Zelensky thinks his country is at stake over
there over U.S. policy, so an important development. Also something today that I think we need
to keep our eye on for the next week, this man. His name is Lev Parnas. We are going to show a photo of him. He’s a known associate of Rudy Giuliani who
was working in Ukraine on behalf of Giuliani and is known to have been part of this idea
of a parallel track of diplomacy. He’s under indictment. And in court today, his lawyer said he would
like to turn over a large amount of documents and electronic devices, 14 cell phones and
laptops with information that he thinks House Democrats should get. That’s working through the courts, but the
judge indicates — the judge — that they may grant that request and get that evidence
to Democrats. JOHN YANG: Sort of tantalizing. We don’t know what’s there. LISA DESJARDINS: No. No. JOHN YANG: But he says it could be helpful
or of interest. LISA DESJARDINS: Yes. JOHN YANG: Now, the White House said over
the weekend that it won’t participate in this week’s House Judiciary Committee impeachment
hearing. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. JOHN YANG: How does that affect things? LISA DESJARDINS: Well, it’s fascinating because
this is the first opportunity to the White House has had to participate. They could not participate in the House Intelligence
Committee hearing, something that they have raised a lot of criticism about. But we did get this letter from the White
House counsel, Pat Cipollone. He’s the one sort of heading up impeachment
from a legal standpoint. He wrote in this letter to the House Judiciary
chairman: “An invitation to an academic discussion with law professors,” which is what the hearing
is on Wednesday, “does not begin to provide the president with any semblance of a fair
process. Accordingly, under the current circumstances,
we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing.” And I will note, we have gotten that witness
list. It is four law professors, one of whom was
chosen by Republicans. But still the White House is saying that’s
not enough. Interestingly enough, John, they may participate
later. In this same letter, the White House counsel
says they’re considering whether they will call other witnesses or participate at a different
time. But there’s a deadline for them to make that
decision as well. JOHN YANG: Where does this go from here? I mean, what’s going to happen this week,
and then what’s the process after that? LISA DESJARDINS: Let’s go to the calendar. I love it. First, let’s talk about this week. Again, this is the hearing on Wednesday, the
4th. That is the first House Judiciary Committee
hearing with those law professors. Now, after that, on Friday, that is the deadline
that Democrats have set for the White House to announce if they will participate at all,
if they want to call any witnesses, cross-examine any witnesses in the future. One reason that deadline is so tight is because
the following week is when Democrats seem to be moving toward at least a committee vote
on actual articles of impeachment. If things move along quickly, that could also
be a House floor vote. So if the White House is going to participate,
they need to announce that soon. Now, after that, an important date, of course,
the 25th, Christmas, this has sort of been the tool by which — or the measure for Democrats
when they would like to have articles of impeachment through the House altogether. I want to point out a couple other dates in
December that may affect everything. December 9, that’s when the inspector general
at the Department of Justice releases a report about the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation. That’s something Republicans say will show
bias against the president. There’s some reporting it may not. That’s a big date. Then, December 20, oh, just the deadline for
government spending. That’s when government spending will run out. So that’s something else that members of Congress
and the president have to agree on in the midst of all of this kind of upheaval and
very serious constitutional debate. JOHN YANG: And, meanwhile, the House Republicans
said today that they will have something to say about this. Right? LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. Just in the last hour or so, we received a
report from House Republicans. They have written their own prebuttal to the
impeachment hearings of the week. That is 110 pages. Essentially, they say the president never
pressured the Ukrainian president. And this document really lays out, I think,
how they will proceed. By tomorrow night, John, we should also get
the Democrats’ Intelligence report. We expect that to be lengthy and significant. It will first be presented behind closed doors,
but we should get a look at it by tomorrow night, just in time for that Wednesday hearing. It’s going to be busy. JOHN YANG: And so that goes to the Judiciary
Committee as sort of the basis for their work. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. The thinking is, the Intelligence Committee
Democrats will recommend impeachment move forward to House Judiciary. JOHN YANG: Lisa Desjardins, busy days ahead. LISA DESJARDINS: Indeed. JOHN YANG: Thanks very much. LISA DESJARDINS: You’re welcome.

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