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.
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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.
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Castor doubles down on conspiracy theory
Castor tried to justify the president’s actions on Ukraine on Monday, raising the allegations of corruption that surrounded Hunter Biden's Ukrainian employer and mentioning Ukrainian officials who didn’t like the president. One even wrote an op-ed, he recalled.
“These facts are important in assessing the president’s state of mind,” Castor said during testimony.
But while there may well be some Ukrainians who did not like the president — the president has many detractors here at home — there’s no evidence that the election interference orchestrated by the Russian government started in Ukraine as the president has repeatedly said. This is a conspiracy theory.
An 'alternative facts' for the age of impeachment
Expect to hear Republican lawyer Steve Castor's words replayed by Democrats.
Here's what he said about evidence collected in the investigation: "There are conflicting and ambiguous facts throughout the record."
Here's how Merriam-Webster defines a fact: "something that has actual existence ... an actual occurrence ... a piece of information presented as having objective reality."
Some party lawyer pleasantries
As Goldman and Castor stood up for the break, Castor turned to Goldman, patted him on the back and said, “Good job.”
Hearing is back in session
After the recess, Steve Castor, a lawyer for the Republicans, is beginning his presentation.
Nadler denies Republican witness requests, which include whistleblower and Schiff
Nadler denied Collins' witness requests — including the initial whistleblower and Rep. Adam Schiff — in a Monday letter, echoing Schiff's earlier rejection of a similar witness list provided by Rep. Devin Nunes during the House Intelligence Committee hearings.
Collins had requested eight witnesses in addition to any who were "requested by" Trump. Nadler wrote that since he understands Trump "is not requesting any witnesses to appear in our impeachment proceedings," there "is no further reason to address that request."
On other witnesses, Nadler said he agreed with Schiff that these hearings would not be used "as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the president pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit, or to facilitate the president's effort to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm."
But, Nadler said he remains "prepared" to hold a meeting after Monday's hearing if Collins wants to revisit the requests or make any additional ones.
Goldman: Trump’s actions are 'imminent threat' to elections, national security
Summarizing Goldman's points for Trump's impeachment
Near the end of his lengthy opening statement, Goldman summarized why he believes the evidence evaluated during the House Intelligence Committee investigation warrants Trump's impeachment.
- Trump's push for Ukraine to open investigations into the Bidens and Democrats "would benefit his 2020 re-election campaign, not the U.S. national interest."
- Trump "used his official office and the official tools of U.S. foreign policy — the withholding of an Oval Office meeting and $391 million in security assistance — to pressure Ukraine into meeting his demands."
- "Everyone" — meaning Pence, Mulvaney, Perry, others — "was in the loop" on Trump's Ukraine efforts.
- "Despite" Trump's efforts becoming public knowledge — something that "prompted" Trump to release the nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine — the president "has not given up." Trump "and his agents continue to solicit Ukrainian interference in our election, causing an imminent threat to our elections and our national security."
Fact check: GOP claims Trump impeachment inquiry 'shortest' in modern history
"The entire duration of the impeachment inquiry from the time Speaker Pelosi announced it on Sept. 24 until today has been 76 days," Republican counsel Steve Castor said Monday. "As Professor Turley testified last Wednesday, this impeachment would stand out among modern impeachments as the shortest proceeding with the thinnest evidentiary record and the narrowest grounds ever used to impeach a president."
Castor's timeline is false. While impeachment is quite rare, other impeachments have happened more quickly, and the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump hasn't yet concluded.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted Oct. 9, 1998, to begin impeachment proceedings against then-President Bill Clinton; he was impeached just 72 days later Dec. 19, 1998. While the scandal over his relationship with Monica Lewinsky had been ongoing for months, the actual impeachment process was pretty quick.
While perhaps not considered "modern," President Andrew Johnson's proceedings occurred even more rapidly. After impeachment proceedings were announced against Johnson on Feb. 22 1868, he was impeached two days later, on Feb. 24, 1868.
The impeachment inquiry into Trump began 76 days ago on Sept. 24 with Pelosi's announcement, as Castor notes. Last Thursday, Pelosi directed the House to proceed with drafting articles of impeachment.
More bickering over taking a 15-minute recess
The hearing is in recess for 15 minutes, but it required a vote and more arguing to make it happen. After he announced his "no" vote, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said the only reason the Democrats wanted to take a break is so they could speak with reporters.
Goldman: Trump's 'actions and words' show he will keep asking for foreign help, impeachment is 'warranted'
Daniel Goldman, the Democratic counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, wrapped up his opening statement by saying Trump's conduct toward Ukraine, when put into context with his conduct as a candidate and as president, shows he will keep soliciting foreign electoral interference.
"In June of this year, while sitting in the Oval Office, President Trump told a reporter that 'he’d take' information on his political opponent from a foreign country," Goldman said, citing comments from a Trump interview with ABC News. "This followed a nearly two-year investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller that found that Donald Trump’s 2016 political campaign expected that it would 'benefit electorally' from foreign help, which it knew about and utilized to win the election."
"Candidate Trump welcomed the help in 2016, but in 2019, he launched an extensive scheme to use the awesome power of the presidency to leverage official presidential acts in order to get that help again," he continued.
Goldman said Trump's "actions and words show that there is every reason to believe that he will continue to solicit foreign interference in our elections."
"This undermines the very foundation of our democracy: our independent and sovereign right to choose our elected officials, including and especially our commander in chief," he continued. "Ultimately, this committee and the House of Representatives must determine whether such conduct poses a clear and present danger to our elections and to our national security such that it warrants the impeachment of the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump."
Republicans keep fighting Nadler over parliamentary inquiries and points of order
The start of Monday's Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing was filled with back-and-forth bickering between Republican members and Nadler over points of order and parliamentary inquiries.
Republicans cut off Nadler just seconds into the hearing, demanding a minority hearing day — something that Nadler said he would later consider. Protests from Reps. Andy Biggs and Mike Johnson led to the tabling along party lines of a pair of motions they sought to have approved. Those mentions were aimed at striking certain remarks from Berke from the official record because they said those comments impugned Trump's motives.
At the onset of the hearing, Rep. Matt Gaetz began shouting back and forth with Nadler, leading to him being loudly gaveled by the chairman.
"Is this when we just hear staff ask questions of other staff and members get dealt out of this whole hearing and for the next four hours you're going to try to overturn the results of an election with unelected people?!" Gaetz, a close ally of the president, shouted.
Berke slams Trump impeachment defenses: 'He does not have the right to do whatever he wants'
Analysis: Democratic lawyer lays out rebuttal for each of Trump's defenses
Democratic lawyer Barry Berke, whose time just wrapped, gave a cocktail-napkin version of the Democratic rebuttal to each of Trump’s defenses:
1. The money for Ukraine defense was released: Berke noted it was released only “after he got caught.”
2. Trump was concerned broadly about corruption in Ukraine, not his political opponent: Berke pointed to the July 25 phone call, when Trump “ignored the talking points that were prepared” for him to discuss broad corruption and instead “only wanted to talk about the two things” that could affect his re-election.
3. Ukraine never felt pressured by Trump: To this day, Berke said, with continued U.S. aid on the line, Ukraine feels pressure. Specifically, he pointed to U.S. diplomats discussing on a text chain their desire to get the money but also not be trapped into engaging in U.S. domestic politics.
4. Trump never said “quid pro quo”: After Trump knew about the allegations against him, he spoke to U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland — according to Sondland — and literally said “no quid pro quo” for the investigations, but Berke noted that Trump “then described what he wanted.”
"None of these excuses hold any water,” Berke said. “They are refuted by testimony, contemporaneous records and more.”
White House press secretary's 'five indisputable facts'
Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, tweeted their main points in the case against impeachment.
Lofgren goes to the notepad
During the back and forth over the parliamentary objection, Rep. Zoe Lofgren said she calls to table the Republican motion. Ranking member Collins said that has to be in writing. So Rep. Lofgren wrote on a notepad at her desk, ripped it off and showed it to Rep. Collins.
Then the vote ensued.
Democrats revisit clip of Trump saying he has the right to do whatever he wants
Berke made a point to play a July clip of Trump saying he has the right to do whatever he wants — a clip that's been played now multiple times during the Judiciary Committee hearings
Berke made note of the comment when discussing how Trump's conduct is impeachable. The remarks served as Berke's basis that Trump views himself as above accountability — just as they were used in Thursday's hearing.
Trump's comments were made at a July speech before a Turning Point USA conference.
"Then, I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president," he said. "But I don’t even talk about that."
The GOP impeachment wall: Why Republicans won't walk away from Trump
Late in the afternoon of Aug. 7, 1974, Republican leaders in Congress traveled up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House to deliver a stark message to Richard Nixon: His presidency was over....
Today, as Democrats in the House of Representatives move toward bringing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, with the next Judiciary Committee hearing of evidence set for Monday, few Democrats are still clinging to the hope that Republicans will reach a breaking point with Trump like they did with Nixon.
"I really don't think there is any fact that would change their minds," Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC News.
Why? Two key changes since Nixon: a massive divide in American political life — we hate the other team more than ever before — and a media climate that fuels and reinforces that chasm, powered by Fox News on the Republican side.
Read the full story here.
Berke recounts what David Holmes heard on Trump-Sondland call
Berke recounted a key moment from the impeachment hearings in which longtime diplomat David Holmes explained how he was able to overhear a phone conversation between Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland at a Ukrainian restaurant.
Holmes testified that he was able to overhear the July 26 conversation between Trump and Sondland because Trump was speaking on the phone extremely loudly — so loudly, in fact, that Holmes said Sondland “winced” in discomfort and had to hold the phone away from his ear.
'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.
Impeachment rewind: Top moments from Gordon Sondland's testimony
Meet the lawyers who will be heard from in second hearing
Testimony will be heard from the attorneys for the Democrats, Daniel Goldman, and the Republicans' lawyer, Steve Castor. Barry Berke and Castor will provide opening statements for the majority and minority, respectively, according to a statement from the Judiciary Committee on Friday.
Goldman is a former prosecutor for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York from 2007 to 2017, where he served as the deputy chief of the organized crime unit. This past March, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tapped him to be the committee's senior adviser and director of investigations.
He received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his law degree from Stanford University. He is a former legal analyst for MSNBC.
He was brought over to the Intelligence Committee from the Oversight Committee by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
Castor has served as counsel for Oversight for 14 years and helped question witnesses during its probes of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi and into allegations the IRS was focusing on political targets during the Obama administration.
He earned his law degree from George Washington University and previously worked in commercial litigation in Philadelphia and Washington, according to a biography on the Federalist Society website.
A New York-based defense attorney, Berke is described by the committee as a leading trial lawyer and an expert on federal criminal law, including public corruption.
Impeachment rewind: Highlights from Fiona Hill and David Holmes' testimony
How the second day of testimony will go
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Friday released the procedure for their second hearing:
"Monday’s hearing will proceed in two phases. First, Majority and Minority counsel for the Judiciary Committee will present opening statements for up to one hour, equally divided. Second, Majority and Minority counsel for the Intelligence Committee will present for up to 90 minutes, equally divided. Majority and Minority counsel for the Intelligence Committee will then take questions from the Committee."
The hearing begins at 9 a.m.
'Weird': Congress reacts to Giuliani's latest Ukrainian venture
One of President Donald Trump's staunchest allies said it was "weird" and "odd" that the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was back digging for dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in Ukraine.
However, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., told ABC's "This Week" it was promising to hear that Trump said Giuliani wants to speak to Congress about his latest trip to Ukraine.
Echoing earlier remarks he made about it being "weird" that Giuliani was back in Ukraine, Gaetz said he believes Trump "urging Mayor Giuliani to provide that clarity to the Congress will be helpful in resolving what seems to be odd having him over there at this time."
The Florida Republican's comments came after Trump told reporters Saturday that he believed Giuliani would deliver findings from his recent trip to Ukraine to Congress and Attorney General William Barr.
Esper declines to say if he knew of political considerations involved with Ukraine aid
Defense Secretary Mark Esper declined to say Sunday whether he was aware of any political considerations regarding the months-long hold on nearly $400 million in U.S. security aid to Ukraine.
"I'm not going to get into any of that," Esper told "Fox News Sunday." "Again, there is a congressional inquiry underway and I'll leave that process unto itself."
Esper said there were "technical and legal issues" preventing the Pentagon from providing Congress with requested documents pertaining to the hold on military aid.
Swalwell: Mueller Report will be included in articles of impeachment as pattern of behavior
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., gave brief remarks after exiting a Judiciary Committee meeting in Longworth Office Building.
He discussed forthcoming potential articles of impeachment, indicated that the Mueller Report would at least be included in articles as far as establishing the president's pattern of behavior.
"I can promise you that the pattern of inviting foreign governments to help him cheat an election, and covering up investigations, that will be included," Swalwell said.
He noted that Monday's hearing will present to the American people evidence not previously revealed in live hearings, including phone calls involving the House Intelligence Committee's ranking member, Rep. Devin Nunes.
Nadler: Impeachment articles will go before Judiciary this week