Nicandro Iannacci  //  11/8/19  //  Daily Update

The impeachment inquiry continues with a barrage of news about various witnesses, including John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney. Reports emerge that the President asked Attorney General Barr to clear him of wrongdoing, but Barr refused. And a federal judge orders the President to pay $2 million for misusing funds from the Trump Foundation.



The House continues to seek and receive testimony from numerous witnesses.

  • House investigators subpoenaed acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify about President Trump’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine. (POLITICO)
  • Jennifer WIlliams, a special adviser to Mike Pence, testified for four hours on Thursday. (WaPo, POLITICO)
  • A transcript of the testimony of deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent revealed that the president sought politically motivated investigations that would publicly name Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as targets (NYT, WaPo, POLITICO).
  • Former national security adviser John Bolton suggested he is willing to testify if a court upholds a congressional subpoena (WaPo, POLITICO).
  • Just Security compiled a list of the Ukraine witnesses.

President Trump wanted AG Bill Barr to hold a press conference declaring the president had done nothing illegal on his call with the Ukrainian president, but Barr declined to do it (NYT, WaPo).

  • Barr didn’t, but DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec did, and she did it long after a series of overt acts that benefited the president, writes Empty Wheel.

The GAO is reviewing the president’s decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine after Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) asked if the decision violated appropriations law (WSJ, POLITICO).

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied ignoring concerns from a top adviser about attacks on Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine (WaPo, POLITICO).

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the State Department to release records related to Hunter Biden (POLITICO).

The House GOP plans to deflect blame from President Trump to U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondlund, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and acting COS Mick Mulvaney (WaPo).

For their part, House Democrats are divided about what issues to ultimately include in articles of impeachment (BuzzFeed News).

The Ukraine scandal echoes campaign-law scandals faced by Presidents Nixon and Clinton, writes Kenneth P. Doyle at Bloomberg Government.

Still, the president probably didn’t violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, writes Matthew Stephenson at Global Anticorruption Blog.



The trial of Trump adviser Roger Stone continues this week.

  • Prosecutors revealed private communicates between Stone and Trump campaign officials to suggest he lied to Congress about being an intermediary between the campaign and Wikileaks (WSJ, POLITICO, The Hill).
  • Stone associate Randy Credico denied that he ever served as an intermediary between Stone and Wikileaks (NYT, WaPo, The Hill).



Since Border Patrol agents started conducting initial asylum screenings in June, they have approved fewer than half of them, a steep drop from the usual rate (BuzzFeed News).



Even as President Trump touts the passage of the First Step Act, DOJ is arguing that hundreds of prisoners are ineligible for its benefits (WaPo).

In an internal memo, a senior U.S. diplomat in Syria highly criticized the president for withdrawing troops from Syria and not doing more to stop Turkey’s invasion (WaPo, WSJ). 

The U.S. accused Iran of intimidating nuclear inspectors after an inspector was blocked from the country’s main enrichment site and briefly stopped from leaving the country (WSJ).



A federal judge ordered President Trump to pay $2 million for misusing funds from the Trump Foundation (WaPo, WSJ, BuzzFeed News, POLITICO).

Donations from an American businessman resulted in access to the president for the donor’s son and a Turkish businessman with close ties to Turkish President Erdogan (CREW).



DOE Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to testify before the House Education and Labor Committee about the DOE’s collection of debt from Corinthian College students, drawing a subpoena threat from the committee (POLITICO).

The U.S. and China both agreed to reduce tariffs if a trade agreement is reached (NYT, WSJ).

  • The president’s steel tariffs, and the response from other countries, threaten the free trade system, writes Lucas Siegmund at The Regulatory Review

The EPA inspector general is in an ongoing legal dispute with EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson over Jackson’s efforts to influence a scientist’s congressional testimony (WaPo).

The Trump administration will allow coastal communities to take sand from protected ecosystems to replenish their beaches, after receiving a request from Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), who voted against the impeachment inquiry (NYT).

NOAA officials did not intend to publicly rebuke the president for his false prediction of the path of Hurricane Dorian (NYT).



President Trump has appointed one quarter of federal appellate court judges (NYT, The Hill).

  • Senior Judge Paul Friedman of the U.S. District Court for D.C. criticized the president for his attacks on judges and decisions he doesn’t like (The Hill).



A forthcoming book by an anonymous Trump administration official claims senior officials considered residing en masse in a “midnight self-massacre” to sound a public alarm about the president’s conduct (WaPo).

Daily Update | December 23, 2019

12/23/19  //  Daily Update

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seek to leverage uncertainties in the rules for impeachment to their advantage. White House officials indicated that President Trump threatened to veto a recent spending bill if it included language requiring release of military aid to Ukraine early next year. The DHS OIG said that it found “no misconduct” by department officials in the deaths of two migrant children who died in Border Patrol custody last year. And the FISA court ordered the Justice Department to review all cases that former FBI official Kevin Clinesmith worked on.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 20, 2019

12/20/19  //  Daily Update

Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated the House will be “ready” to move forward with the next steps once the Senate has agreed on ground rules, but the House may withhold from sending the articles to the Senate until after the new year. Commentary continues about the Fifth Circuit's mixed decision on the status of the ACA.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 19, 2019

12/19/19  //  Daily Update

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump. Some Democrats urge House leaders to withhold the articles to delay a trial in the Senate. Meanwhile, the Fifth Circuit issues an inconclusive decision about the future of the ACA, and DHS and DOJ proposed a new rulemaking to amend the list of crimes that bar relief for asylum seekers.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School