The Latest: Schiff says no-shows more proof of obstruction

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November 04, 2019 - 1:01 pm

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, accompanied by Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., left, speaks to reporters about the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the House impeachment inquiry (all times local):

12:45 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says the four no-show impeachment witnesses are just more fodder for the list of President Donald Trump's obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.

Schiff, who is leading the House's impeachment drive, said that "this will only further add to the body of evidence on a potential obstruction of Congress."

He said that during President Richard Nixon's impeachment, additional articles were generated based on his obstruction.

Four officials defied subpoenas Monday, including lead lawyer for the National Security Council John Eisenberg and White House aide Robert Blair. Two others are not expected to show: National Security Council aide Michael Ellis and Office of Management and Budget aide Brian McCormack.

Democrats want to talk to all four about Trump's July phone call with Ukraine's president.

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12:38 p.m.

The House impeachment panels are starting to release transcripts from their investigation. And in one of them, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch says that Ukrainian officials warned her in advance that Rudy Giuliani and his allies were planning to "do things, including to me."

Yovanovitch was the target of a smear campaign before being recalled from her post by President Donald Trump.

The former envoy also told investigators that she was not disloyal to the president.

She says she heard the allegation in the media that she supposedly told her embassy team to ignore the president's orders since he was going to be impeached. She says that "allegation is false" and that she "never said such a thing" to her embassy colleagues or anyone eIse.

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10:30 a.m.

The Justice Department says the lead lawyer for the National Security Council is "absolutely immune" from being compelled to testify before House impeachment investigators.

John Eisenberg is defying a subpoena to appear Monday. Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel said in a letter to the House that as an adviser to the president, Eisenberg is immune because of his role.

His private attorney said his client did not have ample time to prepare, and even if he did, President Donald Trump ordered him not to appear.

White House aide Robert Blair also did not show up for scheduled 9 a.m. interviews in the Democrats' impeachment inquiry. Blair's lawyer has not responded to repeated requests from the AP for comment.

Two other White House witnesses scheduled for this afternoon are also not expected to show. All four witnesses had been subpoenaed.

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8 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the whistleblower's offer to answer questions in writing isn't good enough.

Trump is reacting to the offer on Twitter. He says that, "Written answers not acceptable!" and that the person who raised alarms about his dealings with Ukraine and spurred the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry "must be brought forward to testify."

A lawyer for the whistleblower announced over the weekend that his client has offered to answer questions submitted by House Republicans "in writing, under oath & penalty of perjury."

The offer comes amid escalating efforts by Trump and his GOP allies to unmask the person's identity.

The whistleblower sparked the impeachment inquiry after raising concerns about Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In his tweet Monday, Trump blasted the whole thing as a "Con!"

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7:50 a.m.

The lead lawyer for the National Security Council is expected to defy a subpoena to appear before House impeachment investigators, following President Donald Trump's orders not to cooperate with the probe.

John Eisenberg is one of four White House witnesses scheduled for depositions Monday. None of the four is expected to appear, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential interviews.

Eisenberg was instrumental in discussions about how to handle a White House memo recounting the Trump phone call with Ukraine that is central to the impeachment inquiry.

The other witnesses scheduled to testify on Monday are White House aide Robert Blair, National Security Council aide Michael Ellis and Office of Management and Budget aide Brian McCormack. All four have been subpoenaed.

—By Mary Clare Jalonick

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12:45 a.m.

The whistleblower who raised alarms about President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine and touched off the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry is willing to answer written questions submitted by House Republicans. That from the whistleblower's lawyer.

The offer made over the weekend to Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the intelligence committee, was aimed in part at fending off escalating attacks by Trump and his GOP allies who are demanding the whistleblower's identity be revealed.

It would allow Republicans to ask questions of the whistleblower without having to go through the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff of California. Mark Zaid, the whistleblower's attorney, said the whistleblower would answer questions directly from Republican members "in writing, under oath & penalty of perjury."

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