Ukraine

Each week — and some days, it seems, each hour — brings more clarity to the picture of the Ukraine affair and the political crisis it sparked in Washington over impeachment.

But some of the biggest questions still don't have answers.

Here's a look at where the saga stands, what investigators want to learn and what major decisions still must be reached before the fever breaks.

The Ukraine affair

No one disputes the basic outlines of the Ukraine affair, including Trump:

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry plans to leave his position at the end of the year, President Trump confirmed to reporters Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump praised Perry and said he already has a replacement in mind.

"Rick has done a fantastic job," Trump said. "But it was time."

Trump said that Perry's resignation didn't come as a surprise and that he has considered leaving for six months because "he's got some very big plans."

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that President Trump expected concessions from Ukraine's president in exchange for engagement — but said that's just how business is done in diplomacy.

Mulvaney was asked whether it was a quid pro quo for the White House to condition a meeting between Trump and Ukraine's president on an agreement by Ukraine to launch an investigation that might help Trump politically.

Updated at 7:35 p.m. ET

White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged several substantial facts about the Ukraine affair on Thursday — but disputed that it was inappropriate or that the administration even was trying to hide what it had done.

Mulvaney acknowledged that President Trump expected concessions from his Ukrainian counterpart in exchange for engagement and also that Trump had empowered his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to run what has been called a parallel foreign policy for Ukraine on his own.

As the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland has an important job, though it's not a position that makes someone a household name.

So how has he become a crucial player in the controversy that could jeopardize the Trump presidency?

Updated at 5:28 p.m. ET

Two businessmen who allegedly conspired with associates of President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to illegally funnel foreign money into Republican campaigns pleaded not guilty Thursday in a federal court in New York.

David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin are alleged to have worked with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to make illegal campaign contributions with money from foreign donors.

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

Michael McKinley, a seasoned diplomat — and up until last week, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — has testified before House committees that are leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The White House removed the core of its Ukraine policy team in the spring and replaced it with "three amigos" considered more reliable for the plan to pressure Kyiv, a senior U.S. diplomat was described as telling House investigators on Tuesday.

That's according to the account Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., gave to reporters about the closed-door deposition by George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department's European and Eurasian Bureau.

The fourth Democratic debate was a long one, about three hours, and ended after 11 p.m. ET.

You might not have made it through the whole thing, but there were some potentially consequential moments.

Here are six takeaways:

1. The scrutiny came for Warren, and her vulnerabilities were exposed some

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was under fire Tuesday night from several opponents, and when that happens to a candidate, you know they're a front-runner.

Ukraine was bound to come up during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate at some point, but when it did, it quickly became clear that neither former Vice President Joe Biden nor his primary opponents wanted to focus on it.

With the debate's second question, Biden was given a chance to address the unfounded allegations lobbed by President Trump: that Biden used his federal power to corruptly favor a Ukrainian gas company that was paying his son, Hunter.

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