The deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia will testify in the House impeachment inquiry Wednesday about the withholding of military aid from Ukraine, following up the stunning testimony of the top US diplomat in Ukraine. This as President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appear to be at odds on one point. McConnell said Tuesday that he never discussed the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with the president, even though Trump described their apparent conversation earlier this month. Details:
- A denial: "I don't recall any conversations with the president about that phone call. We've not had any conversations on that subject," McConnell told reporters Tuesday, per Politico. Speaking earlier this month on the rough transcript of the call, he said there was "no quid pro quo" and it's "laughable to think this is anywhere close to an impeachable offense."
- Trump's story: But on Oct. 3, Trump said McConnell had "put out a statement that said that was the most innocent phone call he's read, and I spoke to him about it, too. He read my phone call with the president of Ukraine. Mitch McConnell—he said, 'That was the most innocent phone call that I've read.' I mean, give me a break."
- Who's lying? While McConnell refused to call Trump a liar on Tuesday—"You'll have to ask him," he said when asked if the president was fibbing—Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer came close. "When President Trump says something, I think peoples' initial reaction ... is skepticism," he said, adding, "I'll let the two of them figure that out for themselves."
- More inconsistencies: Some Democrats were calling Tuesday for Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union, to return to Capitol Hill to revise his Thursday testimony after another inconsistency surfaced. William Taylor testified that Sondland had told him "everything," including an aid package, depended on Ukraine launching investigations into 2016 election interference, Joe Biden, and the Ukrainian gas company that hired Biden's son.
- A "sea change": Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, said Taylor's testimony was a "sea change" that could "accelerate" the impeachment process, per USA Today. Meanwhile, the Hill reports Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, plans to introduce a resolution denouncing the inquiry and arguing that impeachment articles should be dismissed in the Senate without a trial.
- Next up: Laura Cooper is scheduled to testify behind closed doors before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees on Wednesday. USAT reports she'll be asked why the US withheld aid from Ukraine against the advice of the Pentagon as Trump was pushing Zelensky to investigate a political rival. CNN reports she's appearing voluntarily.
- More to come: Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker is also scheduled to testify this week, per the Hill.
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