What happened today
A federal judge in Washington declared that the House’s impeachment investigation was legal and legitimate even without a formal vote by lawmakers, undercutting one of the White House’s key arguments.
The judge also ordered the Department of Justice to hand over secret grand jury evidence from Robert Mueller’s investigation to the House Judiciary Committee, despite efforts by William Barr, the attorney general, to withhold it.
Three more administration officials were subpoenaed, including Russell Vought, the acting head of the White House budget office.
Why Democrats want to talk to John Bolton
Impeachment investigators are in talks with a lawyer for John Bolton about bringing the mustachioed former national security adviser in for a closed-door deposition. I talked to my colleague Peter Baker, who is writing a story on Mr. Bolton’s potential role in the impeachment inquiry, about what could make him a valuable witness.
Peter, we know Mr. Bolton’s departure from the White House was acrimonious. Why do Democrats want to talk to him?
This is the man everyone wants to hear from. As national security adviser, he was thick in the middle of all these issues and moments with Ukraine. Even if he ever was deeply loyal to the president, considering how they parted ways, he has less incentive to hold back and more incentive to say what he knows. It doesn’t mean that he will necessarily damn the president. But we at least assume he’ll have a more independent view of things than someone considered to be a loyalist.
What made him unhappy with his boss?
He didn’t like the way Mr. Trump was doing policy in certain ways, like with Iran and North Korea. We assumed that was the crux of the departure. But Ukraine could be a part of it. He had just gotten back from there before he was forced out. He went to Kiev right before Mr. Trump was supposed to meet with Ukraine’s president.
What makes him different from the other witnesses who’ve been deposed?
He has cachet among conservatives. If he has testimony to give implicating the president in some way, he would have greater sway with Republicans than what the White House has been calling the “unelected bureaucrats” who have talked to investigators. Unlike with Bill Taylor, a certain number of Americans actually do know who Mr. Bolton is. He almost ran for president himself. He goes on Fox News. He’s known and supported by a lot of people on the right. He isn’t as easy to dismiss as someone they’d call a functionary of the state.
Mr. Bolton is working on a book, right?
As far as we know. He did one after he left the Bush administration. It was bracingly candid. He didn’t hold back. He never has. He’s always said what he thinks, even if it makes people uncomfortable.
There will be weekend testimony: Investigators are scheduled to talk tomorrow to Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia.
Charles Kupperman, who served until last month as deputy national security adviser at the White House, is scheduled to sit for questioning on Monday. Mr. Kupperman worked closely with Mr. Bolton.
And Timothy Morrison, the senior director for Europe and Russia on the National Security Council and a Bolton loyalist, is scheduled to appear next Thursday. He would be the first current White House official to speak with investigators.
What else we’re reading
As State Department officials began testifying in the impeachment inquiry, officials from the department’s employee association sent a request to its members: send money. Witnesses have racked up bills of $15,000 or more for lawyers.
The government’s inspectors general sharply criticized a Justice Department ruling from last month that determined that the whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president should not go to Congress.
On the latest episode of “The Argument,” the podcast from The Times’s opinion section, David Leonhardt, Michelle Goldberg and Ross Douthat discuss the Democrats’ impeachment strategy so far, and whether there’s anything that could convince Republicans in the Senate to vote against the president.
ProPublica investigated how Lev Parnas, one of Rudy Giuliani’s indicted associates, worked with a reporter for The Hill to promote a “disinformation campaign” about the Biden family’s activity in Ukraine.
An NBC reporter noticed an unusual voice mail on his phone — it was from Mr. Giuliani, who had accidentally called him and left a three-minute recording of a private conversation.
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