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Senate Democrats question Pentagon over protecting impeachment witnesses
Defense Department's No. 2 official also urged to protect anonymous whistleblowers from retribution

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, testifies during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump spilled over Wednesday into an unrelated Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing, where senators pressed the Defense Department’s second-highest official about protections for witnesses and whistleblowers.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., asked Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist about news reports that the Army was considering extra security for the family of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified in the impeachment probe on Tuesday.

Sondland tells Congress he acted at Trump's direction on Ukraine
Testimony from top ambassador ties Trump, Pompeo and other top official 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 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
Republicans push 2016 election Ukraine-Democratic collusion narrative in Sondland questioning

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

House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes began his questioning of Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland on Wednesday by highlighting instances where former Ukrainian government officials disparaged President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign and allegedly sought to boost Hillary Clinton.

Nunes and his fellow House Republicans have argued that Trump fervently believed Ukrainians are “all corrupt” and that he had legitimate cause to request that the new Ukrainian government launch anti-corruption investigations into allegations of wrongdoing by Democrats during the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Our offbeat debrief of the off-year elections: Trump ‘always makes it about him’
Political Theater, Episode 102

President Donald Trump concludes a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on May 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It is tempting to read into the 2019 campaign results, so-called off-year elections, for signs of what’s to come in next year’s big political brouhaha. Political prognosticators beware!

But while we don’t want to look too much into what happened in high-profile gubernatorial and special elections that President Donald Trump campaigned in, there are a few key data points to consider, particularly a growing rural-suburban partisan divide that showed up in places as disparate as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky and Virginia. 

Democrats prepare to duel McConnell over year-end wish list
Amid push for legislation benefiting Kentucky constituents, Dems seek their own concessions

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing several initiatives to benefit his constituents, including renewal of tax breaks for bourbon distillers, aid for retired coal miners and appropriations to bolster Kentucky’s hemp industry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As former Sen. Wendell Ford often said, with small variations: “Kentucky is beautiful women, fast horses, bourbon whiskey, cigarettes and coal. I represent Kentucky, and that’s what I represent.”

The colorful Ford, a Democrat who died in 2015, had little else in common with Mitch McConnell, the stoic Kentucky Republican who served as the junior senator from the Bluegrass State alongside Ford for 15 years until the latter’s 1999 retirement. But the Senate majority leader is clearly taking a few pages from Ford’s playbook in the year-end legislative scramble as he heads into a potentially difficult reelection campaign in 2020.

‘I don’t know any of these people’: 3 takeaways as Trump watches impeachment saga
Williams gives VP cover after his spox noted ‘she doesn’t directly report to the vice president’

President Donald Trump talks to the media on the South Lawn upon his return to the White House via Marine One on Nov. 3. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

The third day of public impeachment hearings temporarily transformed President Donald Trump into a history professor as he and his surrogates tried to discredit government witnesses and panned House Democrats.

Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who oversees European matters at the National Security Council, told the House Intelligence Committee that Trump’s talk on a July 25 call with Ukraine’s president of his government investigating U.S. Democrats was “inappropriate” and a “partisan play.” He also panned attacks on other witnesses as “callow and cowardly,” appearing to criticize his commander in chief. Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, called that telephone conversation “unusual” because Trump was focused on a domestic political matter.

Trump calls Pelosi ‘incompetent’ for launching impeachment inquiry
White House official says Trump ‘is expected to sign’ short-term spending bill

President Donald Trump argues at December meeting about border security with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as Vice President Mike Pence looks on in the Oval Office. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Continuing their yearslong feud, President Donald Trump on Tuesday called Speaker Nancy Pelosi “incompetent” over House Democrats’ impeachment probe.

The president also lashed out at the media, saying their coverage of his unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday shows news outlets are “sick.” There also were indications from the president’s staff that he will not trigger another government shutdown later this week.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 19
Congressional investigators hearing from two aides who listened in on Trump’s July call with Zelenskiy

Jennifer Williams, left, special adviser for Europe and Russia to Vice President Mike Pence, and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, are sworn in Tuesday before testifying in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Intelligence Committee heard Tuesday afternoon from two witnesses called by Republicans on the panel in its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Europe and Russia policy both gave testimony Tuesday afternoon.

In run-up to crucial impeachment hearings, president hits a rough patch
Despite Trump’s troubles, has impeachment ‘moved the needle?’ One Dem strategist says no

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told House lawmakers she felt “threatened” and intimated by President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

An embattled Donald Trump enters one of the most consequential weeks of his presidency on defense, reeling from self-inflicted wounds, political setbacks and a surprise hospital visit the White House is struggling to explain.

This week will keep the focus on the president as nine administration witnesses head to Capitol Hill to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Several told lawmakers behind closed doors they understood Trump ordered military aid to Ukraine frozen until its new president agreed to publicly state he would investigate U.S. Democrats.

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