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The latest on Trump's impeachment inquiry

Jeremy Herb/CNN
Jeremy Herb/CNN

The State Department's Inspector General Steve Linick has now left Capitol Hall after requesting an urgent briefing with senior congressional staff members.

He declined to comment on the meeting as he left the building.

The request for the briefing came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back on House Democratic demands to turn over Ukraine documents.

Earlier today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told House Democratic lawmakers that she didn't know anything about the briefing.

A person familiar with the briefing told CNN Linick planned to "provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine" this afternoon in the bipartisan closed-door briefing.

The Trump Administration agreed today in a court filing to preserve for now records of President Trump’s communications with foreign leaders, as requested by groups suing him and the White House, alleging such records have not been preserved as required by federal law. 

The commitment applies to “all records reflecting Defendants' meetings, phone calls, and other communications with foreign leaders” as well as records of White House preservation and communication policies. It specifically includes “all records of efforts by White House or other executive branch officials to return, claw back, ‘lock down,’ or recall White House records reflecting Defendants' meetings, phone calls, and other communications with foreign leaders were distributed to or otherwise shared with agency officials.”

Some background: The lawsuit was filed in May, long before the Ukraine scandal, by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, known as CREW, the National Security Archive at George Washington University, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations over concerns the White House was not complying with the Presidential Records Act. 

But Tuesday a request for a temporary restraining order was filed after the whistleblower complaint raised allegations of how the White House handles records of Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders.  

An attorney representing the intelligence whistleblower told CNN that no one from House Intelligence Committee helped his client write the complaint. 

President Trump alleged today that House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff helped the whistleblower write the complaint. The committee said it didn't see the complaint in advance.

The whistleblower's attorney, Mark Zaid, was asked by CNN if Schiff or the Intel Committee helped with the complaint in any way, his response: “Absolutely not.”

The House Intelligence Committee said it did not review the whistleblower's complaint in advance — just as President Trump claimed, without evidence, that Chair Adam Schiff "helped write it."

First, some background: The New York Times reported minutes before Trump’s press conference began that the House Intel committee was contacted by the whistleblower for “guidance” on how to report his complaint. 

Patrick Boland, a spokesperson for Schiff, confirmed that the whistleblower contacted the committee for guidance, "like other whistleblowers have done before," but insisted the committee did not see the complaint in advance.

However, President Trump claimed, without any evidence, that Schiff knew about the whistleblowers' complaint and helped author it.

“I think it’s a scandal that he knew before, I’d go a step further — I think he probably helped write it. OK? That’s what the word is," Trump said.

Trump added that said he gives the New York Times “a lot of respect” for reporting the story — even though less than an hour ago he was slamming a report by two New York Times journalists. 

President Trump, in response to a question about treason, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issues subpoenas "like they're cookies."

"She hands out subpoenas like they're cookies. You want a subpoena? Here you go. Take them. Like they're cookies," Trump said.

More context: House Democrats plan to subpoena the White House on Friday for documents related to Trump's call with the President of Ukraine. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have both been served with subpoenas.

The Justice Department told White House personnel on Wednesday that they must preserve all presidential records, including any notes regarding President Trump's meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders. 

"Defendants today instructed relevant personnel to preserve the information," DOJ lawyers wrote to a federal judge Wednesday afternoon. 

The question of whether the White House was doing this bubbled up in federal court yesterday, following government transparency and historical archivist groups' emergency request about how the White House treated notes from the Trump-Zelensky July 25 call and other Trump discussions with world leaders.

From the Justice Department's statement to the court this afternoon:

"Defendants today instructed relevant personnel to preserve the information in the six categories identified in Plaintiffs’ Motion. This preservation instruction is consistent with and supplements the litigation hold already in effect in this action, which instructed relevant personnel to preserve all evidence relevant to the claims and defenses in this case. It further supplements pre-existing instructions to all White House personnel to preserve all presidential records, whether in hard-copy or electronic form."
Jeremy Herb/CNN
Jeremy Herb/CNN

The State Department's Inspector General has arrived on Capitol Hill after requesting an urgent briefing with senior congressional staff members after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back on House Democratic demands to turn over Ukraine documents.

State inspector general Steve Linick declined to comment to CNN on what he planned to tell Congress today.

What we know: Linick plans to "provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine" this afternoon in a bipartisan closed-door briefing with relevant congressional committees, a person familiar with the briefing told CNN.

The briefing comes amid the House Democrats' impeachment investigation, which has been fueled by the US Intelligence Community's inspector general's review of a complaint by a whistleblower who alleged President Trump sought help from Ukraine's government to interfere in the 2020 elections.

President Trump, asked about news that three house committees are sending a subpoena to the White House for Ukraine documents, called the impeachment inquiry "the greatest hoax."

"This is a hoax. This is the greatest hoax," Trump said.

The President added that he will work with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff.

"This is a fraudulent crime on the American people. But we'll work together. With shifty Schiff and Pelosi and all of them, and we'll see what happens, because we did absolutely — I had a great call with the president of Ukraine. It was 100%. You have the transcript."

The whistleblower contacted the House Intelligence Committee “for guidance” on how to report complaint, Rep. Adam Schiff’s office confirmed today.

However, Schiff's office denied seeing the complaint in advance.

“Like other whistleblowers have done before and since under Republican and Democratic-controlled committees, the whistleblower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report possible wrongdoing within the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Community," said Patrick Boland, the committee's spokesperson.

Boland, who is also a spokesperson for Schiff who chairs the committee, said in the statement that this is a "regular occurrence."

He added that the committee did not receive the complaint "in advance," stating that they did not see it "until the night before the Acting Director of National Intelligence’s open hearing before the Committee." Boland said this was "more than three weeks after the legal deadline by which the committee should have received the complaint."