Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of politics from the nation’s capital. We are now officially less than one year away from election day 2020 and less than 100 days until the Iowa caucuses. Let that sink in.
The House is on recess this week but the committees investigating impeachment remain in Washington to move forward with the inquiry over Donald Trump’s handling of military aid to Ukraine.
There are four witnesses – all political appointees – scheduled for depositions today, but it remains unclear if they’ll show up in defiance of White House orders not to cooperate in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
The witnesses include Robert Blair, an assistant to the president and senior adviser to Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Brian McCormack, the associate director for natural resources at the Office of Management and Budget; and White House attorneys John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis.
Trump has a busy day. At 11.45am he meets with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, in the Oval Office. Later in the afternoon, he hosts the 2019 World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals, on the South Lawn. Then the president departs for Lexington, Kentucky, where he will speak at a campaign rally ahead of the state’s gubernatorial elections on Tuesday.
Trump has also already started to tweet, and judging the time between when he stopped sending missives last night until he started up again this morning – the president isn’t operating on much sleep.
This morning Trump began by reviving the intrigue around an executive tweet early in his presidency that was the subject of much discussion among Washington insiders: “covfefe”. Here Trump playfully suggests the tweet “may be something with deep meaning”.
Returning to a more familiar subject, Trump fired off a blitz of tweets railing against the Ukraine scandal and the anonymous whistleblower who touched off the investigation.
Though multiple witnesses have confirmed key elements of the whistleblower complaint regarding a call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy – and not to mention that it also matches the rough transcript of the call released by the White House – Trump has stepped up his attacks on the whistleblower, demanding the identity be revealed. He also again slapped down an offer by the whistleblower’s lawyers to answers written questions from Republican members of Congress, an effort to show the person’s willingness to cooperate.
And he couldn’t help but to brag about his standing within the Republican party, which was on display last week as the GOP kept a united front against a resolution formally launching the investigation.