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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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News

  • About a dozen American flags lined up along Highland Avenue in Needham, Massachusetts, were burned Sunday night, according to police. A dozen more flags set on the lawn near the Exchange Club were found destroyed, as well. According to Boston's WFXT, the flags have been replaced, but the ashes are still scattered along the grass. Longtime Needham resident Kate Robey takes it upon herself to display the flags on Highland Avenue during patriotic holidays. “I think everyone appreciates it. I get honks and the waves and the thank-yous,” Robey said. But this Fourth of July, the flags were vandalized. “Dedicated people put those out and to just burn them, nonchalantly, it’s hurtful,” said Robey. Robey has been working with the Needham VFW for years and has displayed these flags in the same parts of town for almost a decade now. She’s left confused and wondering why someone would vandalize her tribute to the men and women serving the country. “As I do the flags, I think of the veterans, fallen brave and the military out there fighting for our freedom now,” Robey said. Robey said about a dozen were burned by Memorial Park and a dozen more burned outside the Needham Exchange Club, where 500 flags were displayed in lieu of a scaled-back Fourth of July celebration. “I don’t mind what you do at your home with your flags, but these flags are my flags, and it’s vandalism,” Robey said. Police said they are investigating the matter.
  • An off-duty volunteer firefighter is being hailed as a hero after he rescued a baby while swimming at a Maryland park. According to the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department, one of its firefighters, Andrew Bell, heard a woman shouting as he swam at Swallow Falls State Park while off-duty on Sunday.  'A raft that a baby was floating on had flipped over, and the baby went into the water,' the department said in a Facebook post Sunday night.  Bell quickly found the baby, who was unconscious, the Cumberland Times-News reported.  'I put it on its back for a little bit, and it started spitting up water,' Bell told the newspaper.  Bell then called an ambulance and continued to help the family until rescue crews arrived, the Fire Department said. 'It's our understanding that baby is going to be OK,' the department added. 'Great work, FF Bell!' Bell told the Times-News that even though he wasn't on duty at the time of the incident, it was still his 'duty to go help that person.' Read more here or here.
  • A PGA golf pro, his son and two stepchildren were among the eight people who died in an Idaho plane crash Sunday, multiple news outlets are reporting. According to KPTV, Oregon residents Sean Fredrickson, 48; son Hayden Fredrickson, 16; and stepchildren Sofia Olsen, 15, and Quinn Olsen, 11, were killed Sunday afternoon when two planes collided over Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene and crashed into the water. All eight people on the two planes died in the crash, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office said. Authorities said Fredrickson and the children were on board a Brooks Seaplane piloted by 58-year-old Neil Lunt of Liberty Lake, Washington, at the time of the crash, the Spokesman-Review reported. Officials have not yet identified a sixth person who also was on the plane.  The two people on board the other plane, a Cessna TU206G, have been identified, but officials have not publicly released their names, according to the Spokesman-Review. As of Tuesday, crews were still working to recover two of the victims' bodies, the newspaper reported.  Fredrickson, the Pacific Northwest PGA Section's president, was the lead golf pro at Oregon's Oswego Lake Country Club, according to KPTV. “A rising star in the PGA, Sean led the Section through an unprecedented time, first taking the reins a year early as president and then leading us wisely through this pandemic,” the Pacific Northwest PGA Section said in a statement. “We are all better because of Sean’s leadership over the past 12 years.” Fredrickson's wife, April Fredrickson, told KPTV that her family 'died while they were on an adventure.' 'I think that, at the end of the day, they died doing what they loved, which was ... being together,' she told the news outlet. Read more here or here.
  • Atlanta police released a new video and surveillance photos from its investigation into the shooting death of an 8-year-old girl. According to WSB-TV, Secoriea Turner was shot while riding in a car with her mother and her mother’s friend Saturday night. The shooting happened not far from the Wendy’s on University Avenue where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed last month. The video shows a Black man in a white shirt carrying what police identified as an AR-15. Lt. Pete Malecki said the man is just one of several persons of interest in the case. “We believe there is going to be a minimum of three additional suspects. That number could change,” he said. “Although we have a lot of work to identify the remaining individuals responsible, this is the first step in that process.” Investigators said Secoriea Turner was riding in a Jeep Cherokee Saturday night when the driver tried to get around a “makeshift roadblock that was manned by numerous armed individuals.” Malecki said they believe the shots were fired intentionally into the car. At a news conference Sunday, Secoriea Turner’s mother said that her daughter died in her arms. “She was only 8 years old,” Charmaine Turner said. “She would have been on Tik Tok dancing on her phone, just got done eating. We understand the frustration of Rayshard Brooks. We didn’t have anything to do with that. We’re innocent. My baby didn’t mean no harm.” Secoriya Williamson, Secoriea Turner’s father, also spoke out. “They say Black lives matter,” Williamson said. “You killed your own this time. You killed a child. She didn’t do nothing to nobody.” Police are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Secoriea Turner’s killers. Information can be submitted anonymously to the Crime Stoppers Atlanta tip line at 404-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.StopCrimeATL.com. Hours following the police news conference, the community came together for a prayer vigil.
  • A 17-month-old girl was killed in a pit bull attack last weekend during a Fourth of July party in Illinois, authorities said. According to The Associated Press and WMAQ-TV, the incident occurred early Sunday in the bedroom of a family friend's Joliet home. The toddler, whose parents were attending a holiday gathering at the residence, was in a playpen when two dogs somehow got free from the basement, Joliet police said. After hearing a noise, the homeowner went into the bedroom to find one of the two dogs – both pit bull mixes – biting the child, the AP reported. Authorities responded to the home shortly before 1:30 a.m. and found the girl unresponsive with multiple bite wounds, the Herald-News reported. Crews rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she later died. The Will County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Marley Wilander, according to the newspaper. The dog is now in the custody of Animal Control, police said.  – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. was hospitalized briefly after suffering a fall last month at a Maryland country club, a Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed Tuesday night. Roberts, 65, required an overnight stay, The Washington Post reported. Roberts suffered the fall June 21 at the Chevy Chase Club in Maryland and required stitches, the newspaper reported. He was released from an area hospital after staying overnight for observation. “The Chief Justice was treated at a local hospital on June 21 for an injury to his forehead sustained in a fall while walking for exercise near his home,” Kathleen Arberg, public information officer for the Supreme Court, said in a statement. “The injury required sutures, and out of an abundance of caution, he stayed in the hospital overnight and was discharged the next morning. His doctors ruled out a seizure. They believe the fall was likely due to light-headedness caused by dehydration.” Roberts experienced seizures in 1993 and 2007, the Post reported. Roberts has not publicly mentioned the hospitalization.