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Analysis after House Judiciary Committee votes to impeach President Trump

Lawmakers act against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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The House Judiciary Committee voted Friday to impeach President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstructing Congress. The historic vote lasted just a few minutes following a marathon, 14-hour public discussion about amendments to the articles.

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.

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Trump complains 'It's not fair' he's being impeached

 

Analysis: Trump faces fight or flight moment in Senate impeachment trial

WASHINGTON — The closer Republicans get to a Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the more it looks like an improvised political explosive.

The White House and the Senate Republican Conference are united in their desire to dispose of it, but divided over how to do that in the way that inflicts the most damage on Democrats and the least harm on them — a show that gives Trump the chance to turn the tables on his accusers, or a quick dismissal that amounts to an exercise in self-preservation for him and GOP senators.

In other words, it's fight or flight time for Trump.

With his legacy, his re-election and his movement on the line — at a time when congressional Republicans are in lockstep defense of his actions — it would be quite a silent retreat for the chest-thumping, trash-talking Trump to slip away from the chance to have a made-for-TV trial befitting his reality-era presidency.

He sounds like he doesn't want to.

"I wouldn’t mind the long process, because I’d like to see the whistleblower, who’s a fraud, having the whistleblower called to testify in the Senate trial," he said Friday, referring to the anonymous intelligence community official who first accused him of wrongdoing in a complaint filed with the intelligence community inspector general.

He also noted that he believes that the House's impeachment process — the Judiciary Committee there approved two articles against him on Friday morning and the full House is expected to approve them next week — has benefited him.

For the full analysis, click here

Article II: Inside Impeachment - The 7-Minute Vote

The House Judiciary Committee passed two articles of impeachment against President Trump Friday morning. The panel met for just seven minutes to cast their votes, after debating late into the evening on Thursday. 

Garrett Haake, MSNBC Washington Correspondent, explains how this committee vote propels the two articles of impeachment to a vote before the entire House of Representatives next week. 

Click here to listen to the episode

New Hampshire voters react to impeachment news

Independent voters in New Hampshire greeted the House Judiciary Committee's decision to authorize articles of impeachment with skepticism, but said it likely won't impact the way they vote. 

Richard Novotny, an Idaho transplant now living in Lee, N.H., said "I have been trying to look at the facts myself and just try to make a non-partisan decision. I hope politicians can do the same in both the House and the Senate."

He said he believes the president may have abused his power, "but I'm not a lawmaker, so I don't know."  He added he's not sure who he's going to vote for in the primary.

Fritz Manson of New Boston said he doesn't see impeachment "as being particularly important."

"It may rouse President Trump's base a bit more," he said, calling Democrats' efforts "self-sabotaging" and "a waste of time." 

He said he doesn't think it will impact his vote, and is trying to decide between Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders.

Lisa Kilbreth, an independent from Manchester, called the vote "disappointing," and said it appears Democrats have been trying to impeach Trump since he took office. 

Asked if she was happy with the president, she said, "Yes. No problems whatsoever." 

One House Democrat goes on record opposing Trump impeachment

House Democrats hailing from conservative swing districts are all lining up to vote in favor of two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump next week — except for one congressman from New Jersey.

An NBC News survey of more than 40 vulnerable House Democrats found only Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who represents the southern tip of the state, plans to vote against the articles of impeachment.

"My district is red — a good chunk of it — and they're definitely anti-impeachment. And then I have the part that is purple, and they are more pro-impeachment. So whatever you do," he told NBC News, "you're going to aggravate people."

The outspoken Van Drew — who was profiled recently by NBCNews.com focusing on his opposition to impeachment — was only one of two Democrats to vote against the House resolution in October that formalized the rules and procedure for the impeachment inquiry.

The other was Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who represents a rural district Trump won by 30 points in 2016. A spokesperson for Peterson told NBC News on Friday that he's undecided on how he'll vote on the articles on the House floor, likely on Wednesday.

For the full story click here

Giuliani met with Trump at the White House on Friday

Rudy Giuliani confirmed via text he did meet with Trump at the White House on Friday. 

“I’m caught going to meet with my client? Is that an impeachable offense?” he added.

Earlier, he texted this statement: “If abuse of power, as defined by this Congress,  then starting with Schiff, Pelosi and Nadler they should resign or be removed from office. Their abuse of Constitutional rights and the Constitution will, God willing,  be the worst we ever experience. Future Congresses will use the Pelosi Congress as the Hamilton nightmare come true and avoid its disrespect for the law.”

One victory for Trump on Friday — at least a temporary one

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear President Donald Trump's appeal of lower court orders, now on hold, that require his banks and accountants to turn over financial records to the House and local prosecutors in New York.

By granting review of these cases now, the justices made it possible for them to be heard during the current court term, most likely in March, with a decision by the end of June — just as the general election campaign heats up.

The court will decide whether President Trump's accounting firm must respond to a grand jury subpoena obtained by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance. It seeks nearly a decade's worth of tax returns and other financial documents for an investigation of hush money payments made to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump, allegations the president has consistently denied.

It will also take up the court battles over subpoenas issued by House committees seeking financial documents from his accountants and two banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One.

For the full story click here

 

Schumer: 'Paramount' that Senate hold a fair and honest trial

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reacted to the votes in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday and emphasized how important it is for the Senate to conduct a fair trial early next year, assuming the House adopts the articles of impeachment next week. 

“If articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate, every single senator will take an oath to render ‘impartial justice.’ Making sure the Senate conducts a fair and honest trial that allows all the facts to come out is paramount,” he said in a statement Friday. 

Earlier in the week, Schumer told reporters at the Capitol that he’s told members of his caucus that they must prioritize the Senate trial when they return to Washington in January, including the senators running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. 

“This has to come first,” he said. “This is one of the most solemn decisions that anyone has to make and I’ve told all members of my caucus that scheduling concerns are secondary to doing this the right way.”

What happens next? An impeachment trial road map

What’s next?

Well, it’s not entirely clear, as it pertains to specifics, but there is a road map in place, as NBC News' Pete Williams, Alex Moe and Frank Thorp have pointed out.

Full House vote

First, the full House must vote on the impeachment resolution. This is likely to occur Wednesday.

Managers selected

Next, the House will appoint members to serve as "managers," or prosecutors, for the Senate trial. Pelosi has sole discretion to appoint House managers, and, as Jon Allen reported on Thursday, House members have already started campaigning and jockeying for what will be a career-defining appointment.

Senate trial

The Constitution lays out only three requirements for a Senate impeachment: The chief justice presides over the Senate trial of a president (but not the trial of any other official); each senator must be sworn (similar to the way jurors take an oath), and a two-thirds vote is required to convict on any article of impeachment. Once the preliminaries are out of the way, the trial takes place under procedures similar to courtrooms. The House managers make an opening statement, followed by a statement from lawyers for the president. The Senate has yet to decide whether, if Trump is impeached, witnesses will be allowed to testify to the full Senate. There's no requirement for the president to appear, and he cannot be compelled to testify. Like jurors in a trial, senators sit and listen. The rules say if they have questions, they can submit them in writing to be asked by the chief justice.

After both sides make their closing arguments, the Senate begins deliberations, traditionally in closed session. The Senate then votes separately on each article of impeachment, which must take place in open session.

Can the president pardon himself if he's impeached?

No. The same constitutional provision that gives the president the power "to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States" adds this phrase: "except in cases of impeachment."

What happens if the Senate convicts Trump?

He would be immediately removed from office, triggering the 25th Amendment. Vice President Mike Pence would become president.

Pence slams impeachment as 'complete waste of time'

Vice President Mike Pence slammed the Democrats' impeachment process of Trump as "partisan" and "a complete waste of time." 

“Never in our country’s history has a President been treated so unfairly by a sham investigation with one-sided testimony meant to undermine the will of the American people," Pence’s press secretary, Katie Waldman, said in a statement.

"Democrats in Congress should heed the voice of the American people and reject this partisan impeachment that has been a complete waste of time," Waldman added. "Democrats in Congress need to get back to work for the American people!”