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Taylor time and the SCIF tiff

PoliticsTaylor time and the SCIF tiff

President Donald Trump stands during a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony for auto racing great Roger Penske in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

We did it, everyone. We made it to Friday. This is OnPolitics.

All you need to know about the impeachment inquiry

As the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump entered its fifth week, the former top diplomat to Ukraine offered some of the most compelling testimony yet. Bill Taylor, who led diplomatic relations in Ukraine, said it was made clear to the Eastern European country that the release of military aid would be contingent on whether it opened an investigation into an energy company that employed former Vice President Joe Biden‘s son. Taylor said he was told that directly on the phone by U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who gave his own testimony in the inquiry last week.  

Another key takeaway from Taylor’s testimony was his assessment that the U.S. had two diplomatic channels operating in Ukraine: One that was official, and helmed by the State Department, and a second, unofficial channel “which included then-Special Envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador (Gordon) Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I subsequently learned, Mr. (Rudy) Giuliani,” Taylor told congressional members and staff.

But the week got really contentious when about three dozen Republicans decided they’d had enough, and pushed their way into the secure room where a Defense official was giving testimony. They were upset about what they called a “secret” impeachment investigation, but there are still 47 Republicans who have access to the closed-door depositions. Either way, the audience of at least one was pleased: “Thank you to House Republicans for being tough, smart, and understanding in detail the greatest Witch Hunt in American History,” Trump later tweeted.

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves as he goes on stage at Liberal election headquarters in Montreal, on Monday night.

A criminal investigation begins

In political news unrelated to the impeachment inquiry, the Justice Department’s inquiry into the origins of the Russia investigation has shifted from an administrative review to a criminal probe, a person familiar with the matter said late Thursday. Attorney General William Barr launched the inquiry in April into whether federal investigators abused their surveillance authority as they sought to understand Russia’s interference during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has called the investigation a “witch hunt.”

Political world says goodbye to Cummings

Rep. Elijah Cummings’ legacy and life will continue to be honored Friday morning, as former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are set to speak at the late congressman’s funeral. Cummings laid in state in Statuary Hall Thursday, making him the the first black lawmaker to do so in the Capitol, according to the Congressional Black Caucus.

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