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Analysis after a contentious second day of Judiciary Committee testimony

Presenting the evidence: The House Judiciary Committee is hearing from lawyers for Democrats and Republicans about the Intelligence Committee's investigation into Trump.

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

'Kangaroo court': Republicans slam process, Dem lawyer

Republican lawmakers have largely used their time to lambaste the impeachment inquiry and attack Goldman. 

Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, refused to ask the witnesses questions during his time and instead castigated Goldman for the way in which Democrats have run the hearing and his reluctance to answer some of their questions about how the House Intelligence Committee compiled its report and how call logs made it into the impeachment report. 

 

Gohmert called the process a "kangaroo court" and seemed to argue that there is little difference between Biden, acting on behalf of the Obama administration, demanding the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor and Trump allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival. 

"We already got the forms. All we have to do is eliminate Donald Trump’s name and put Joe Biden’s name," he said. "He’s already admitted to the crime that’s been foisted on the president."

Biden's ‘No Malarkey’ tour defense declared 'a lot of malarkey’

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, criticized Hunter Biden’s top dollar work in Ukraine and his father’s defense of it, zeroing in on a testy spat the former vice president had with a voter last week during his ‘No Malarkey’ campaign tour.

The former vice president “falsely stating once again that nobody said there was anything wrong with his son’s deal in Ukraine,” Chabot said. “That’s a lot of malarkey!”

 

Old-timey phrases aside, Chabot’s retelling of the spat is inaccurate: Biden was accused of directing his son to take a job in Ukraine and sell access. There’s no evidence the elder Biden was involved in his son’s work. While there are ample critics who say Hunter’s work presents an appearance of conflict of interest, there are no credible claims that his father was at all involved.

Comey tweets Fox News canceled on him

Following the release of the Justice Department inspector general's report, former FBI director James Comey said in a tweet that he was bounced from a Tuesday morning appearance on "Fox & Friends," but he will be on MSNBC during the 4 p.m. hour today.

Fox News later issued a statement refuting that he was slated to be on as a guest. 

“James Comey was not booked and was never confirmed to appear on Fox & Friends,” the statement said.

The Economist says it is 'puzzled' by Sen. Kennedy's Ukraine claim on 'Meet the Press'

The Economist magazine refuted a claim made by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election in a letter released to NBC News on Monday. 

The publication said it was "puzzled" after Kennedy claimed multiple times during an interview on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Dec. 1 that Kyiv interfered in the election citing multiple news outlets to support his allegation. 

"I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. I think it's been well documented in the Financial Times, in Politico, in The Economist, in the Washington Examiner, even on CBS, that the prime minister of Ukraine, the interior minister, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, the head of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption League, all meddled in the election on social media and otherwise," Kennedy said. 

However, John Prideaux, the U.S. editor of The Economist, cited in the letter two articles of its reporting on Ukraine refuting that claim, one of which reported that the then-Ukrainian president favored Hillary Clinton but did not direct any of its government agencies to meddle in the election. It also reported that Ukrainian officials at the time supported Clinton because they believed she would be tougher on Russia than Trump.

"But there is no evidence we have seen that Ukraine was engaged in subversion or disinformation, which is what Sen. Kennedy seems to be implying," Prideaux wrote. 

The president and his allies, including some Republican lawmakers, have floated a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine — not Russia — that interfered in the election. U.S intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.

Hearing has resumed

After a 10-minute recess, the hearing is back in session. 

DOJ inspector general report drops during impeachment hearing as witnesses grilled

Just as impeachment witnesses were being grilled during the second House Judiciary Committee hearing, the Justice Department inspector general released its long-awaited report examining the origins of the probe into Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. 

Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the investigation was justified and was not tainted by political bias, refuting Trump and his allies who have argued that partisanship drove the FBI probe. 

 

It also found, however, that the FBI mishandled parts of its application to monitor Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide, as it was probing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Horowitz concluded that the investigation was launched because of evidence the Russian government was using emissaries to contact the Trump campaign as part of its efforts to influence the election.

Read the full article here

Goldman details Trump's political interests in alleged demand for investigations

Goldman made a key point when breaking down the political implications of Trump's alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Goldman, a seasoned prosecutor, noted the fact that Trump wanted only the announcement of an investigation by the Ukrainians is an indication of him wanting it to help his campaign because investigations are done covertly and then an announcement is made. 

He also undercut the Republican argument that there was no bribery because the needed military aid was released after the whistleblower complaint began to circulate in the administration and news of Congress inquiring about the holdup. 

Watch as Collins has testy back-and-forth with Goldman over call records

Collins and Goldman had one of the fiercest exchanges of the day, with Collins shouting at Goldman over the House Intelligence Committee releasing call logs from Giuliani and his indicted associate Lev Parnas that showed conversations with Nunes and conservative journalist John Solomon.

Pressed on who looked for Nunes' phone number in the call information they received, which appeared to come from subpoenas the committee made to AT&T, Goldman said he would not address how they conducted the investigation. On why it was decided to include the information in the report, Goldman said it was peripheral evidence to the probe and that questions about the calls were better addressed to the individuals who were actually on the calls.

 

“I’m done with you right now,” Collins said to Goldman at one point when Goldman was trying to expand upon an answer. Minutes earlier, Republicans were criticizing Democrats for "badgering" their counsel, Castor.

Collins also pushed Goldman to say who authorized the release of the phone call information in the report, to which Goldman said he would not address specific deliberations of the investigation.

At another point, Collins criticized Goldman for suggesting Sondland landed his ambassadorship because he was a major Trump donor. Sondland donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration.

"Mr. Goldman, you’re a great attorney, but you’re not Adam Schiff and you don’t wear a pin,” Collins said. Gaetz later jumped in, shouting at Goldman that Republicans "want Schiff in that chair and not you."

In conclusion, Goldman tried to offer a closing statement in the exchange but Collins cut him off, saying, "you won't answer my questions, so we're done.

'Talk to Rudy': Everything's coming up Giuliani during impeachment questioning

Once again, the focus during an intense round of questioning by the Democrats' lawyer is Giuliani's role in the push by Trump to investigate a political rival. 

The U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, testified last month that he handled communications with Giuliani and that the president's personal lawyer played a key role in shaping the president’s view of Ukraine and alleged efforts to investigate Biden. 

Sondland said Trump was "skeptical" of Ukraine and that he thought Ukraine was not serious about reform. Sondland said the president thought  Ukraine tried to take him down in 2016 and as a result Trump "directed us to 'talk with Rudy.'"

"We understood that 'talk with Rudy' meant talk with Mr. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. Let me say again: We weren’t happy with the president’s directive to talk with Rudy," he said. "We did not want to involve Mr. Giuliani. I believed then, as I do now, that the men and women of the State Department, not the president’s personal lawyer, should take responsibility for Ukraine matters."

Trump is staring down at least 2 articles of impeachment: Abuse of Power and Contempt of Congress.

The debate among Democrats right now revolves around whether they nod to obstruction in the broader Abuse of Power article or break it out into a separate one.

If you noticed, neither Berke nor Goldman used the words “bribe” or “extortion”and that was intentional. It appears that despite a lot of public and internal pressure to do this, a separate count on bribery/extortion is unlikely.

Some advising Democrats, see Larry Tribe tweet below, say the fact that Trump’s demand that Zelenskiy not only investigate the Bidens but, essentially, undo any smear against Putin (blame Ukraine instead of Russia for 2016 meddling) is cause enough for the committee to nod to obstruction in a broader Abuse of Power article. 

Others want a separate count related to Mueller given the counts in his report and a two-year investigation. But critics say that would be vulnerable to the fact that the main witness to obstruction, Don McGahn, and his refusal to testify is still being adjudicated. His live testimony is considered indispensable. The same argument can be made about the grand jury material (it’s all still in the courts and being adjudicated.)

Castor: Biden isn't a front-runner

Republican counsel Castor dodged a question on whether Trump viewed Biden as a front-runner in the 2020 election.

“I wouldn’t agree with that,” Castor said. “It’s too early.”

 

And what about all the things Trump tweeted about Biden?

"I try to stay off Twitter, lately," Castor countered.

We'll let the polling speak for itself.

Analysis: Castor's 'don't trust, verify' defense of Trump's posture toward Ukraine

Castor's defense of Trump, who ran as an anti-corruption outsider in 2016, is that he believed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who ran as an anti-corruption outsider, might actually be so corrupt that it was best to freeze aid appropriated by Congress and the president, thus empowering Russia, to make certain that Zelenskiy wasn't corrupt.

Castor cites op-ed in The Hill as evidence of Ukrainian electoral interference

In his opening rebuttal to the House Democrats, Castor cited a three-year-old op-ed in The Hill as evidence of Ukrainian electoral interference — which Republicans have cited in recent weeks as a key piece to back up assertions that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

The op-ed, from Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., was critical of Trump's remarks about Ukraine, Crimea and Russia — remarks that were counter to U.S. policy and the Republican Party's platform at the time that the contested territory was Ukraine's and not Russia's. Russia invaded Crimea and annexed it in 2014.

"Recent comments by Republican nominee Donald Trump about the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea — occupied by Russia since March 2014 — have raised serious concerns in Kyiv and beyond Ukraine," the ambassador, Valeriy Chaly, wrote. "Many in Ukraine are unsure what to think, since Trump's comments stand in sharp contrast to the Republican party platform. Since the Russian aggression, there has been bipartisan support for U.S. sanctions against Russia, and for such sanctions to remain in place until the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored. Efforts to enhance Ukraine's defense capacity are supported across the aisle, as well, to ensure that Ukraine becomes strong enough to deter Russia’s aggression."

"Even if Trump's comments are only speculative, and do not really reflect a future foreign policy, they call for appeasement of an aggressor and support the violation of a sovereign country's territorial integrity and another's breach of international law," he continued. "In the eyes of the world, such comments seem alien to a country seen by partners as a strong defender of democracy and international order."

Of course, the repeated citation of this op-ed in recent weeks followed former Trump national security council official Fiona Hill testifying before the House Intelligence Committee that the theory of Ukrainian interference was a product of Russian misinformation meant to clear the nation of its efforts in 2016. And, Hill said that while individual Ukrainians may have sought to influence the election, it did not mirror the top-down effort from the Russian government.

"Really?" tweeted the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, in response to Castor citing the op-ed. "Can you trace for me the causal impact on American voters from the publication of a Hill oped (what’s the distribution of that publication?) by a Ukrainian ambassador? If truly an act of “influence”, an incredibly ineffective one!"

McFaul tweeted Sunday that it's "also not meddling in our election for an ambassador to defend the sovereignty of his country in an oped."

"That also is a ridiculous argument," he wrote. "By that metric any criticism of Obama policy in 2016 by foreign governments — and there was a lot — was meddling."

Giuliani claims he found 'overwhelming' evidence against Biden during Ukraine trip

The president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said Monday he plans to release a report regarding his recent trip to Ukraine in an attempt to counter the impeachment inquiry into Trump. 

Giuliani said in an interview on "War Room: Impeachment," a podcast hosted by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, he was going to do an outline of the report and “try to present” it to Republicans and Attorney General William Barr at the end of this week. He also said that he “certainly would like to” meet with House Republicans before a vote on articles of impeachment.

Giuliani has been at the forefront of efforts among the president and his allies to turn up information in Ukraine to try and undercut the impeachment probe. He has also been at the center of the allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. 

"I was going to do an outline of it and try to present it at the convenience of the Republicans in Congress and the attorney general at the end of this week," he said. "I should have it ready by Wednesday or Thursday, I don't know exactly when it will be made public."

Giuliani said he had "overwhelming" evidence that would be damaging to the Bidens and the Democrats, but did not disclose it during the interview. 

This past Saturday, Trump said he is waiting to see what Giuliani gathers because he did not know what his attorney found. 

"I just know that he's come back from someplace. He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information yet."

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.

Got Schiff?

 

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.

Image: Richard Nixon
President Richard Nixon gestures toward transcripts of White House tapes after announcing he would turn them over to House impeachment investigators and make them public in April of 1974.AP file

"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. 

Image: Steve Chabot, Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan
Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee arrive as the panel convenes to hear investigative findings in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump on Dec. 9, 2019. From left are Reps. Steve Chabot, Louie Gohmert, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

 

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?"

Image: Rep. Steve Scalise, R-LA, speaks during a House resolution vote on Oct. 31, 2019.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-LA, speaks during a House resolution vote on Oct. 31, 2019.

"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.

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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.

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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.

Daniel Goldman

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.

Steve Castor

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

Barry Berke

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.

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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.

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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