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House launches Trump impeachment inquiry: Live updates

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said the whistleblower complaint was hand delivered and he has started to read it. He declined to provide initial impressions.

He spoke as he slipped out of a secure location on Capitol Hill and headed upstairs where votes are underway.

President Trump, speaking at a meeting earlier today, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “wasn’t tough enough" to stop the impeachment inquiry.

Trump referenced some hesitation regarding impeachment from House Democrats.

“A lot of her members now are having second thoughts,” he said during his meeting with El Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele.

He later called the impeachment inquiry a “hoax” and “the continuation of the witch hunt.”

There are at least 209 House Democrats who've made clear they support starting the impeachment inquiry process, while some have gone further, according to a CNN count.

Reminder: The House needs 218 votes to impeach Trump, though it is unknown if all those who are in favor of an impeachment inquiry will vote to do so.

One thing to note: The total number of representatives calling for an impeachment inquiry stands at 210. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who has since become an independent, has also called for the proceedings.

President Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference at 4 p.m. ET at the United Nations, where he's been this week for the UN's General Assembly.

Questions about the Ukraine drama and the House's impeachment inquiry are likely to come up.

Earlier today, the White House released a rough transcript of the President's July call with Ukraine's leader, which showed Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate his possible 2020 rival Joe Biden.

MARCUS TAPPAN/AFP/Getty Images
MARCUS TAPPAN/AFP/Getty Images

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is disputing a Washington Post report that he threatened to resign if he could not speak freely before Congress.

"I have never quit anything in my life, and I am not going to start now," Maguire said in the statement.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham also disputed the report, tweeting: "This is actually not true."

Here's the statement from Maguire:

“At no time have I considered resigning my position since assuming this role on Aug. 16, 2019. I have never quit anything in my life, and I am not going to start now. I am committed to leading the Intelligence Community to address the diverse and complex threats facing our nation.”

The whistleblower's complaint will be delivered this afternoon to the Senate so members of the Intelligence Committee can review it today, according to Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

He added that “perhaps by tomorrow morning” it will be available for other senators to review.

Cornyn, who is a member of the committee, did not know the mechanics of how it would be provided to the Senate or who exactly would deliver it — be it the director of National Intelligence, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community or someone else. It will be delivered to the Senate Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham also said the complaint is supposed to be available for intel committee members to look at today. He didn’t know how it was getting here. 

 Alex Wong/Getty Images
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republican Sen. John Thune said the President broached a topic he wouldn’t have in his call with the Ukrainian president.

"I don't like seeing that," the South Dakota lawmaker told CNN, after reading the transcript between Trump and Ukraine’s President.

Still, Thune argued that the call is far from enough to justify Democrats moving forward with a formal impeachment inquiry.

Thune said that the Senate will hear from the whistleblower tomorrow. He said he hoped that would add some context to the situation.

"I am not sure that the fact pattern here is something that is going to rise to the level or the threshold that they think it does. But, the American people will make that determination and we will see where it goes. But, I think our members are just kind of taking it in and reading the transcript and waiting for the other information to come out," he said.  

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden released a new statement on the rough transcript of the call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

The rough transcript features Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son, although there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either.  

“The 2,000-word summation of a 30-minute phone call released by the White House makes clear that days after the President ordered the delay of Congressionally-appropriated military assistance to Ukraine, he implored the President of Ukraine to work with his personal attorney to manufacture a smear against a domestic political opponent, using a malicious conspiracy theory that has been universally debunked by every independent outlet that has looked at it," Biden said in the statement.

Biden called Trump's behavior a "tragedy" and an "affront to every single American and the founding values of our country."

"This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It is a national security issue. It is a test of our democratic values. Congress must pursue the facts and quickly take prompt action to hold Donald Trump accountable," Biden said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats in a private meeting today that she wants to focus the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine — as Democrats debate how broad to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump, according to several sources involved in the discussions

Despite months of focus on the Mueller findings and allegations of obstruction of justice, Pelosi and top Democrats believe their strongest case for impeachment to the American public is over the President’s ask that the Ukrainians investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

What this means: If Democrats draft articles of impeachment, it is likely to be focused on the Ukraine controversy — not on allegations that Trump tried to thwart the Mueller probe since a broader resolution could make it more complicated to get the votes on the floor, according to multiple Democratic sources. But discussions about the scope of the articles of impeachment are continuing in the Democratic Caucus.

Sources also told CNN that there is a growing push to keep the probe focused narrowly so the House could take up articles of impeachment as early as this fall.