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 RoyDemocrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill Congressional Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses two Texas Democrats Congressional investigation finds Coast Guard leadership fell short on handling bullying 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 ShelbyLawmakers strike spending deal to avert shutdown McConnell accuses Democrats of stonewalling funding talks with wall demands  On The Money: Pelosi, Trump tout deal on new NAFTA | McConnell says no trade vote until impeachment trial wraps up | Lawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday 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 SondlandConservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Democrat suggests Republicans took acting classes based on ability to 'suspend disbelief' Gaetz: We didn't impeach Obama even though 'a lot of constituents' think he abused his power MORE testified Wednesday there was a quid pro quo between Ukraine conducting politically motivated investigations and getting a meeting between President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed 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 PompeoKobach has lead in Kansas Senate race unless Pompeo enters: report The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial 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 MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' MORE, the chief of staff to then-Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryNew Energy secretary cancels Paris trip amid mass strikes against Macron proposal Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in Overnight Energy: Critics call EPA air guidance 'an industry dream' | New Energy secretary says Trump wants to boost coal | EPA looks to speed approval of disputed industry pollution permits 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 GiulianiDOJ releases memos backing Trump immunity claims ahead of impeachment vote Giuliani to Trump after Ukraine trip: I got 'more than you can imagine' Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' 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 BidenDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Media organization fights Trump administration over Ukraine documents FOIA Buttigieg releases list of campaign bundlers 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.



Next-gen technology for missions of the future:

Supporting the H-47 Chinook Block II enhancements will lift the nation above any challenge for decades to come. Learn more.


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 HironoHorowitz offers troubling picture of FBI's Trump campaign probe Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill Democrats rip Barr over IG statement: 'Mouthpiece' for Trump 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.



H-47 Chinook Block II — Supporting the soldiers:

The enhanced capabilities and performance of Chinook Block II will prepare troops of today for missions of the future. Learn more.



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 McCarthyRepublicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases Top Armed Services Democrat scolds military leaders on Trump's intervention in war crimes cases MORE will speak at the American Enterprise Institution at 10 a.m. https://bit.ly/2QEOM5R



-- The Hill: Pentagon chief: US giving Vietnam surplus ship for coast guard

-- The Hill: 2 US service members killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash

-- The Hill: Opinion: A fresh approach to peace in Afghanistan

-- Associated Press: Germany offers expert group in bid to end NATO rift

-- The Washington Post: Esper: 'We're not the ones looking for a Cold War' with China