Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Senate eyes sending stopgap spending bill back to House | Sondland delivers bombshell impeachment testimony | Pentagon deputy says he didn't try to block official's testimony

Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Senate eyes sending stopgap spending bill back to House | Sondland delivers bombshell impeachment testimony | Pentagon deputy says he didn't try to block official's testimony
© Greg Nash

Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.

 

THE TOPLINE: The stopgap spending measure to keep the government open past Thursday is awaiting a Senate vote, but there could be one more step than expected to getting it to the president's desk.

Senators are weighing bouncing the continuing resolution (CR) back to the House.

Staffers are discussing switching the shell -- the bill CR is attached to -- on the Senate floor, a procedural roadblock that would force the House to vote a second time.

A GOP aide said it was unclear if the bill would be sent again to the House, but it's under discussion. A second GOP aide said senators thought they "need to" attach the CR to another bill and send it back to the House.

The House is expecting to have to vote again on the spending bill before leaving town on Thursday for Thanksgiving break, according to a House Democratic aide.

Why?: The concern, according to Republicans, is that the legislation the CR was attached to in the House would prevent the Senate from formally going to conference later this year on a package for a  fiscal 2020 bill.

The House had been expected to include the CR as part of a commemorative coin bill. Instead, due to an objection by Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyPelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership GOP lawmakers want answers from Disney on Mulan, China Freedom Caucus member Chip Roy touts bipartisanship in first campaign ad MORE (R-Texas), they passed the legislation on Wednesday using a fiscal 2020 bill. 

But Republicans want to preserve that bill for an eventual conference committee.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate to push funding bill vote up against shutdown deadline Senate GOP eyes early exit Dems discussing government funding bill into February MORE (R-Ala.) said it appeared likely that the CR would be sent back to the House, forcing the chamber to vote again before leaving town on Thursday for the weeklong Thanksgiving break.

"I would think so," Shelby told reporters when asked if he thought the spending bill would bounce back to the House.

 

 

IMPEACHMENT LATEST: U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Top Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland MORE testified Wednesday there was a quid pro quo between Ukraine conducting politically motivated investigations and getting a meeting between President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Sondland said the connection between these two issues was widely known throughout the administration.

"I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo?' As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes," Sondland said in his opening statement.

Sondland also said U.S. military assistance to Ukraine was withheld and that in "the absence of any credible" reason for the hold on assistance, he emailed Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPutin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Pompeo accused of stumping for Trump ahead of election MORE and asked if Trump and Zelensky should meet to try to break that "logjam." He said Pompeo responded affirmatively.

Sondland in his testimony says that many throughout the Trump administration realized the link between the issues of quid pro quo and the White House visit, delivering a blow to Republicans who have sought to bat down claims there were contingencies placed by Trump for such probes, which are now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.

"Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret. Everyone was informed view email on July 19, days before the Presidential call," he said. "As I communicated to the team, I told President Zelensky in advance that assurances to 'run a fully transparent investigation' and 'turn over every stone' were necessary in his call with President Trump."

The names on the email included Pompeo, acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOn The Money: House panel pulls Powell into partisan battles | New York considers hiking taxes on the rich | Treasury: Trump's payroll tax deferral won't hurt Social Security Blockchain trade group names Mick Mulvaney to board Mick Mulvaney to start hedge fund MORE, the chief of staff to then-Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryEnergy secretary questions consensus that humans cause climate change OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project MORE, and others.

Trump's response: Trump said he didn't know Sondland "very well" and that Sondland's ongoing testimony Wednesday means that the House impeachment inquiry should be "over."

Reading from a packet of notes, Trump reenacted a conversation he had with Sondland that was described in testimony, with the president saying he wanted "nothing" from Ukraine in exchange for investigations.

"That means it's all over. What do you want from Ukraine, he asks me, screaming. What do you want from Ukraine? I keep seeing all these ideas and theories," Trump told reporters before departing the White House for a trip to Austin, Texas, providing his account of Sondland's part of the conversation.

"Here is my response that he just gave. Ready? You have the cameras rolling? I want nothing. That's what I want from Ukraine," Trump continued. "I want nothing -- I said it twice."

Perry's response: Perry's team pushed back on Sondland's testimony, saying the words "Biden" and "Burisma" did not come up during conversations between Perry and the president's personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting CIA found Putin 'probably directing' campaign against Biden: report Democrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate MORE.

The Department of Energy said in a statement Wednesday that Sondland misrepresented Perry's communications with Giuliani and the president.

"Ambassador Sondland's testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry's interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump," the statement reads. "As previously stated, Secretary Perry spoke to Rudy Giuliani only once at the President's request."

"At no point before, during or after that phone call did the words 'Biden' or 'Burisma' ever come up in the presence of Secretary Perry," it continues.

Pompeo's response: Pompeo responded to a reporter's question on Sondland's testimony by saying he "didn't see" it.

"I didn't see a single thing today. I was working. Sounds like you might not have been," Pompeo said after a reporter asked for his response to Sondland's testimony.

"I was in meetings all day and haven't had a chance to see any of that testimony," the top diplomat added.

Pence's response: Vice President Pence's office pushed back on Sondland's testimony Wednesday that he raised concerns that aid for Ukraine had become tied to Trump's desire for investigations.

"The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations," Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, said in a statement

Sondland said in his opening statement that he brought up the issue during a Sept. 1 meeting with Pence in Warsaw. However, Short denied the exchange ever took place.

"Multiple witnesses have testified under oath that Vice President Pence never raised Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Fox News poll: Biden ahead of Trump in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Ohio MORE, Crowdstrike, Burisma, or investigations in any conversation with Ukrainians or President Zelensky before, during, or after the September 1 meeting in Poland," Short said.

 

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On the other side of the Capitol: The No. 2 official at the Pentagon on Wednesday insisted he was not seeking to block the testimony of another senior Pentagon official when he sent her lawyer a letter outlining the Trump administration's objections to the impeachment inquiry.

During an unrelated Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Pentagon's recently completed audit, Democrats pushed Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist on protections the department is providing for witnesses in the impeachment inquiry.

Pressed by Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoManchin defends Supreme Court candidate Barrett: 'It's awful to bring in religion' Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Democrats unveil plan declaring racism a public health issue MORE (D-Hawaii) on a letter he sent to the lawyers for Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, ahead of her closed-door deposition last month, Norquist said he "did not prohibit her" from testifying.

"I forwarded to her lawyer the information we had received from the White House that expressed their views about the impeachment process," Norquist said. "One of the challenges, we wouldn't be able to send a lawyer with her. I wanted her to have that available information."

"We understand each of the individuals are making their own decision," he added.

More coverage: The Hill again kept a liveblog of the hearing. Catch up here. And here are five of the most explosive bombshells from the hearing.

 

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ON TAP FOR TOMORROW

The House Intelligence Committee will hear from Fiona Hill in the latest public impeachment hearing at 9 a.m. at the Longworth House Office Building, room 1100. https://bit.ly/35jpkqJ

A House Armed Services Committee subpanel will hold a hearing on "The Department of Defense Organic Industrial Base: Challenges, Solutions and Readiness Impacts" at 9 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2118. https://bit.ly/2QE92Vk

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyOvernight Defense: Trump's battle with Pentagon poses risks in November | Lawmakers launch Fort Hood probe | Military members can't opt out of tax deferral Lawmakers launch investigation into Fort Hood after 28th death this year Overnight Defense: China aims to double nuclear arsenal | Fort Hood commander removed after string of deaths MORE will speak at the American Enterprise Institution at 10 a.m. https://bit.ly/2QEOM5R

 

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