The House Judiciary Committee on Monday heard from lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans on findings from the Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry over allegations that President Donald Trump withheld aid to Ukraine in order to pressure its government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Witnesses for the Intelligence Committee included majority counsel Daniel Goldman and the Republicans' lawyer, Steve Castor. Also on the witness list was Barry Berke, majority counsel for the Judiciary Committee. The hearing began at 9 a.m.
Follow us here for all of the latest breaking news and analysis from NBC News' political reporters, as well as our teams on Capitol Hill and at the White House.
TRUMP IMPEACHMENT HIGHLIGHTS
- The House will announce articles of impeachment against President Trump on Tuesday, multiple sources told NBC News. They are expected to be abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
- The Monday hearing, which included roughly nine hours of testimony, was marked by interruptions and fiery exchanges.
- Rudy Giuliani's role in the push by Trump to investigate a political rival once again became the focus during an intense round of questioning by the Democrats' lawyer.
- As the Republicans' lawyer was being questioned, the Justice Department inspector general released its long-awaited report examining the origins of the probe into Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.
Download the NBC News mobile app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry
'Why are we here?': Collins blasts impeachment as 'PR move' by Democrats
Ranking member Collins opened the second House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing with a familiar argument: President Donald Trump did nothing wrong and the Democrats have a vendetta against him because they lost the 2016 election.
"This may be known as the focus group impeachment," Collins said, adding that it's a "good PR move" from Democrats to try to convince the American people to favor impeachment.
He also took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced Thursday that she has asked key chairmen leading the inquiry to draft articles of impeachment against the president. He said she undercut their inquiry by pushing to draft articles of impeachment as the committee is beginning its inquiry.
Collins also excoriated Democrats for how they have run the inquiry, saying the committee has become a "rubber stamp" and warned that "this institution is in danger" because he said it has not been a fair process for the president.
"It's all political," he said. "It's a show."
Collins says Schiff 'misled the American people.' What's he talking about?
In his opening remarks Monday, Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, argued that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff "misled the American people" and made up facts to make his case for impeachment. He's touching on a frequent Republican talking point: Schiff's parody of Trump's July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart.
"I guess that's what you get when you're making up impeachment as you go," Collins said.
This is misleading. During a hearing in September, Schiff parodied Trump’s rhetoric and exaggerated some of the president's language while making it clear at the time he was illustrating a point and not reading verbatim the White House's record of that July 25 conversation. Some of his phrasing matches the White House's own summary of what Trump said. Read more about the backstory behind this claim here.
After Trump attacked him, Schiff acknowledged that the president was "right about one thing — your words needs no mockery." Read the White House's record of the call here.
Analysis: Giuliani is now Exhibit A
One reason that Giuliani’s recent trip to Ukraine is so confounding is that it is so central to the Democrats’ case that Trump’s actions not only merit impeachment, but also require it.
The idea is that the president is corrupt and that his corruption is an ongoing danger, meaning that only removing him from office would protect the nation from him.
That’s what Nadler said about Giuliani’s “apparent attempt to gin up the same so-called favors” from Ukraine that resulted in the impeachment inquiry in the first place. “This pattern of conduct represents a continuing risk to the country,” Nadler said.
Giuliani is now Exhibit A.
The White House lays out its case against impeachment
While the president has already indicated his focus is more on the upcoming release of the DOJ inspector general report later today, the White House is still working to rebut the closing arguments by Democrats on Judiciary.
According to an official working on the strategy, the administration's arguments against this "unfair" and "unprecedented" impeachment process, in their view, boil down to the following: .
- They continue to insist there is "no evidence of wrongdoing" by Trump;
- They point out Ukraine's leader has said there was no pressure;
- They say aid to Ukraine wouldn’t even exist without Trump (pointing out that he made the decision to begin providing Ukraine with lethal aid);
- And they continue to argue there's no obstruction (since, they say, it’s not obstruction "to raise long-standing constitutionally based privileges.")
Watch as InfoWars host interrupts start of hearing, shouting down Nadler for 'Democratic treason'
InfoWars host Owen Shroyer interrupted the start of Monday's second Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, shouting "Democratic treason" and "Americans are sick of your impeachment scam" among other shouts directed at Nadler.
He was escorted out of the hearing room by Capitol Police.
Shroyer was live-streaming his protest on Twitter.
Earlier this year, Shroyer called for the lynching of former President Obama.
Inside the hearing room...
Quotes from both Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Cedric Richmond are prominently displayed behind the Republican side of the dias.
"We can not accept a second term for Donald Trump," Speaker Pelosi May 7, 2019
"My sole focus right now is to make sure that he's not the president next term," Rep. Cedric Richmond April 29, 2019
A short time later, Republicans replaced the Pelosi quote with one that says “Where’s Adam?” This presumably is referring to Chairman Schiff, whom Republicans want to testify.
Scalise accuses Schiff of 'spying' on Congress, Giuliani, the press
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., accused House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of "spying" on Congress during a Monday interview with "Fox and Friends."
Scalise was referencing the release of call logs in the Democratic House Intelligence Committee report on Trump's conduct with regards to Ukraine, which showed contacts involving the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his indicted associate Lev Parnas, as well as Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, and conservative journalist John Solomon, whose work provided fodder for much of what Trump and his allies have focused on in Ukraine.
"It's a real concern," said Scalise, the second-highest ranking House Republican. "I mean the fact that Adam Schiff has been spying on members of the press, on members of Congress, on the president's own attorney. Who else is Adam Schiff spying on? And where are the rest of these phone records?"
"We don't know who all the people are that he got phone records of," Scalise added. "We do know some people of the press and some members of Congress are people who he had been spying on. The press ought to be outraged by this by the way. It does really go after their ability to do their job."
Speaking with CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Schiff said the "blowback" to the release of the call logs, which appeared to be obtained through a subpoena to AT&T, "has only come from the far right."
"Every investigator seeks phone records to corroborate, sometimes to contradict, a witness’s testimony," he said, adding, "The fact that Mr. Nunes or Giuliani or others show up in this scheme doesn’t make them irrelevant, doesn’t give them a pass."
Highlights from the Constitutional experts' testimony
Analysis: Why moderates are holding back on impeachment
WASHINGTON — Like many of the 31 Democrats from districts President Donald Trump won in 2016, freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., is feeling the squeeze of impeachment.
A former CIA, Pentagon and National Security Council staffer before winning election to the House last year, Slotkin helped launch the House inquiry into Trump's Ukraine scandal by co-writing an opinion column calling for a probe after an intelligence community whistleblower accused the president of abusing his office.
But now, as the House Judiciary Committee drafts articles of impeachment and Democrats from politically competitive districts wait to see how they are written, Slotkin is being lobbied by Republican colleagues who argue that Trump's actions — even if imperfect — don't amount to impeachable offenses and that she should accept, given her background, that the president needs room to use leverage in foreign policy.
"I feel very strongly that in my prior life, we often went to other countries and foreign governments when I was at the Pentagon and said, 'We want you to do X in exchange for Y,' but that exchange was exclusively for the national security interests of the country, not for Elissa Slotkin's personal or political gain," said Slotkin, who hasn't committed one way or the other on impeachment. "And that's a pretty fundamental difference and that was the conversation I had with one of my peers."
While the GOP push hasn't been persuasive, moderate Democrats are worried that liberals in their own party are going to put forward articles of impeachment that are hard to vote for and even harder to explain voting for.
Democrats split on whether to include Mueller obstruction in articles of impeachment
Democrats are publicly split on whether to include evidence from former special counsel Robert Mueller's report in the articles of impeachment being drafted against President Donald Trump.
Democrats, as NBC News has reported, are considering one article of impeachment related to the Mueller report and obstruction of justice in addition to articles of impeachment directly related to Trump's conduct toward Ukraine. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that Democrats would proceed with drafting articles of impeachment.
Speaking with both NBC's "Meet the Press" and CNN's "State of the Union" in interviews broadcast Sunday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., would not commit to including evidence of obstruction contained in the Mueller report in the articles of impeachment, telling CNN, "We're going to have to take a lot of considerations into account."
On Trump's push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and Democrats, Nadler said there was "considerable direct evidence" and that the Democrats' case "if presented to a jury would be a guilty verdict in about three minutes flat."
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told CBS' "Face the Nation" he believed Democrats should focus articles of impeachment "on those issues that provide the greatest threat to the country." Pointing to his pre-congressional career as a prosecutor, Schiff said his advice for colleagues is to file articles for which "there is the strongest and most overwhelming evidence," not to charge everything they possibly could.