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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.

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.

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

NBC News

 

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

Steve Kornacki

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

Amanda Golden

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

NBC News

 

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

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

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!”

Rudy Giuliani calls Trump's impeachment a 'smokescreen'

NBC News

'Witch hunt,' 'sham,' 'hoax': Trump shreds impeachment process in first comments since vote

Trump, talking to reporters alongside his Paraguayan counterpart, shredded the impeachment process, calling it a "witch hunt," a "sham," and a "hoax."

"To be using this for a perfect phone call," he said, referring to the July 25 phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that was partly the basis for the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, is a "scam," he said.

He added that it was "a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment," which, Trump said, "is supposed to be used in an emergency."

Trump said Democrats were "trivializing impeachment."

"It's a very bad thing for our country," he added.

 

Trump predicted that the saga will eventually backfire on Democrats.

"Someday there will be a Democrat president and a Republican House, and I suspect they’re going to, they’ll remember it," Trump said. 

"The people are disgusted," he continued. "No one has ever seen anything like this."

Asked about whether he would prefer a brief Senate trial or one that is more drawn out, Trump responded, "I'll do long or short."

"I wouldn't mind a long process," he said. "I'd like to see the whistleblower."

These are the other presidents who were impeached — and their fates

If the full House votes to impeach Trump next week, Trump will be just the third president in U.S. history to face such a fate, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Richard Nixon faced near-certain impeachment but resigned before it could occur. 

Andrew Johnson

Johnson was impeached in 1868, facing 11 articles of impeachment for the allegation that he violated the Tenure of Office Act — a law designed to limit presidential power to remove federal appointees. The Senate voted to not convict him, and he was not removed from office.

Bill Clinton

Clinton was impeached in 1998, facing two articles — perjury and obstruction of justice — based on allegations that he lied to investigators about, and interfered with the investigation itself, into his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The Senate voted to not convict him, and he was not removed from office.

Bonus item: Richard Nixon

Nixon faced near-certain impeachment for his role in the Watergate scandal, but resigned before he was formally impeached. In July 1974, the House Judiciary Committee recommended three articles of impeachment for a full House vote — obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress — but Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974, before the full House vote could occur.

How the vote looked on paper

NBC News

Image: House Judiciary Committee
The vote count sits on a desk at the House Judiciary Committee as members voted on House Resolution 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Dec. 13, 2019.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

 

How the historic vote in the House Judiciary Committee played out

NBC News

White House: We’re ready to ‘clear the president’

Pam Bondi, the White House adviser on impeachment, told Fox News that the White House is ready to tackle the Senate impeachment trial whenever it happens.

White House attorneys “have been working non-stop on this,” she said while declining to note whether they would participate in the Senate impeachment trial and condemning the overall process as a "waste of the American people's time."

Bondi continued: “If they want to start this next week, we're ready to go. We are ready to go and clear the president."

Rules committee to mark up impeachment Tuesday; full House vote likely Wednesday

The House Rules Committee on Friday said it would hold a meeting Tuesday to consider a resolution impeaching Trump.

Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass., said his panel will mark up the resolution Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. This meeting will dictate rules like length of floor debate for the full House vote that would follow.

The mark-up meeting sets up a likely Wednesday vote by the full House on impeachment.

Collins: Democrats have 'gravely abused their power'

In a statement, Collins — the ranking Republican on the committee — slammed Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee for delaying the vote on the articles until Friday and accused them of having "gravely abused their power."

“Today’s vote highlights the pettiness of last night’s delay and the folly of articles of impeachment that allege no crime and establish no case. While it’s already clear that Democrats broke their own promises to rig this outcome, what will become more obvious in the coming days and years is that Democrats gravely abused their power," Collins said.

“This abuse of power doesn’t just undermine the integrity of our chamber or the independence of future presidencies. Democrats have sacrificed core American tenets of due process, fairness and the presumption of innocence on the altar of a 2016 election that they lost three years ago," he added.

“Rather than help Americans move into the future with confidence, Democrats are attempting to knee-cap our democracy," Collins said. "They’re telling millions of voters that Democrats will work to overturn the will of the people whenever it conflicts with the will of liberal elites.”

Nadler says it's a 'sad day' and the 'House will act expeditiously'

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Shortly after voting to send the two articles of impeachment to a full House vote, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler made a brief statement. 

"Today is a solemn and sad day," he said. "For the third time in a little over a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeachment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

"The House will act expeditiously."

He did not take questions from reporters. 

White House slams Dems' impeachment inquiry as 'desperate charade' that reached 'shameful end'

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has issued a statement slamming the impeachment inquiry against Trump as a "desperate charade" that has reached a "shameful end."

"This desperate charade of an impeachment inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee has reached its shameful end," Grisham said. "The President looks forward to receiving in the Senate the fair treatment and due process which continues to be disgracefully denied to him by the House." 

Moments earlier, following announcements from both Trump and Beijing that they'd reached a Phase One trade deal, Grisham had tweeted that Pelosi should "take note" of "what real leadership looks like."

Trump tweets on China trade deal — but not impeachment

NBC News

 

Eric Trump chimes in on Twitter moments after vote

Advocates for Trump, including his son Eric, immediately chimed in on Twitter, following the House Judiciary Committee's historic vote to recommend two impeachment articles against the president.

Eric Trump tweeted about stock market gains seen under his father's presidency, just as his father announced on Twitter a "very large Phase One" trade deal with China.

 

Later, members of the Trump re-election campaign weighed in.

“This committee vote is just another act in the Democrats’ political theater. The baseless, sham impeachment is just out-of-control partisan politics and the American people are rejecting it," Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement.

Kayleigh McEnany, the national press secretary for the president's re-election campaign, tweeted that House Democrats had "made a choice to betray the American people."

 

The view from the White House after the Judiciary Committee votes to impeach trump

When asked if President Trump was watching the vote as it unfolded, Kellyanne Conway told NBC News she was with him moments ago and he wasn’t watching.

Other White House officials say it’s likely the president will address impeachment when he meets with the President of Paraguay at 11:10 a.m.

These officials would not say if Rudy Giuliani — who was spotted at the White House this morning — was scheduled to meet with the president but said he remains the president’s personal attorney, to the best of their knowledge.

Rudy Giuliani spotted at the White House

NBC News

The president's personal lawyer and the man at the center of Trump's Ukraine affair was seen by reporters heading toward the White House Friday, just as the Judiciary Committee votes were getting underway.

Nadler adjourns committee

Following a quick committee vote to recommend both articles of impeachment for a full House vote, Chairman Jerrold Nadler has adjourned the committee meeting.

Committee votes to recommend second impeachment article against Trump

The House Judiciary Committee has now voted to recommend the second of two impeachment articles against Trump for a full House vote, completing an arduous committee process for the most powerful action Congress can take against a commander-in-chief.

The committee voted along party lines, again 23-17, to advance the article on obstruction of Congress against Trump.

Moments earlier, the committee voted along party lines to advance the first article against Trump — abuse of power — for a full House vote. 

The full House is now expected to hold a floor vote on the impeachment articles, mostly likely on Wednesday, before lawmakers leave for their holiday break. 

If approved by the full House next week, a trial about whether to convict Trump and remove him from office will be held in the Senate in January.

Committee votes to recommend first impeachment article against Trump

After a three-day markup session, the House Judiciary Committee has voted to recommend the first of two impeachment articles against President Donald Trump for a full House vote.

The committee voted along party lines Friday morning to advance the article on abuse of power against Trump for a full House vote. 

Another vote will occur in the coming moments on the impeachment article against Trump for obstruction of Congress.

The full House vote is expected next week. 

The third day of the markup has resumed

NBC News

The third day of the markup meeting is got underway at 10:03 a.m. with votes on both articles of impeachment expected to take place soon. 

Here's what we're expecting Friday once the Judiciary Committee meeting resumes

Alex Moe

At 10 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will continue its three-day markup to consider the two articles of impeachment against President Trump  — one on abuse of power and one on obstruction of Congress.

The markup debate is over and no additional amendments can be offered Friday. All there’s really left to do is vote on recommending Article I and then Article II to the House floor. It’s possible, given how upset Republicans were Thursday night about the surprise move by Nadler, that there could be procedural moves by the Republicans to delay the vote. 

WH counsel Pat Cipollone expected to defend Trump in Senate impeachment trial

White House counsel Pat Cipollone is expected to argue on behalf of President Donald Trump during the Senate impeachment trial, a senior administration official told NBC News Friday.

News of Cipollone's plan to defend Trump was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Read the full NBC News story here

Image: White House Counsel Pat Cipollone exits the U.S. Capitol after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone exits the U.S. Capitol after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Dec. 12, 2019.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

House Republicans narrow in on potential Democratic defectors for final impeachment votes

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Haley Talbot

Leigh Ann Caldwell and Haley Talbot

WASHINGTON — Confident that their ranks will remain united in the potential final House votes on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Republicans are turning their attention to Democrats, hoping to pressure at least a handful into joining them in opposition, according to two Republican House aides.

In particular, Republicans are focusing on as many as eight Democrats who have indicated that they remain undecided on the matter, according to one aide with knowledge of the effort. Those eight are part of a group of 31 who won their seats in 2018 from districts also carried by Trump in 2016.

“Some of our members will do informal outreach to Democrats on the fence they have relationships with,” a second GOP aide told NBC News. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has also been talking with some Democrats, according to an second aide familiar with the conversations.

Final votes on the articles are expected next week after Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee announced suddenly late Thursday that the panel would not vote on them as planned, delaying their expected passage and angering Republicans.

Read the full article here

Trump tweets praise for House Republican 'warriors'

NBC News

The president is wasting no time taking to Twitter on Friday morning, picking up where he left off

NBC News

NBC News

 

Trump mischaracterizes Pelosi comments about impeachment

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Dartunorro Clark

Rebecca Shabad and Dartunorro Clark

President Donald Trump, in a tweet late Thursday, mischaracterized comments made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., earlier in the week, in which he claimed she said that she was “duped” in an interview by saying “she has been working on impeaching me for ‘two and a half years.’”

That, however, is not what Pelosi said during an event Tuesday afternoon at Politico’s “Women Rule” summit

Politico’s Anna Palmer asked Pelosi to react to the criticism that Democrats are racing through their impeachment inquiry of the president. 

“It’s been going on for 22 months, two-and-a-half years actually,” Pelosi said initially. 

Then immediately made clear she was referring to the Mueller investigation. 

“I think we are not moving with speed. Was it two and a half years ago they initiated the Mueller investigation? It’s not about speed. It’s about urgency. One of the charges against the president of the United States is that he was violating his oath of office by asking for government to interfere in our election undermining the integrity of our elections,” she said.

Republicans have repeatedly argued throughout the impeachment process that Democrats have been trying to impeach Trump since he first came to office in 2017. Democrats, however, have said they’ve collected detailed evidence from Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign that merit impeachment.

The tweet was one of many for Trump on Thursday. 

NO VOTE THURSDAY: Nadler recesses debate, angering Republicans

Alex Moe

Dartunorro Clark

Alex Moe and Dartunorro Clark

In a surprise move, Nadler announced after over 14 hours of debate and fiery exchanges between Republicans and Democrats that the committee will be in recess until 10 a.m. on Friday. 

Nadler urged members to spend the time searching their conscience and evaluating how history will judge them. However, when he gaveled out, Republicans were outraged and accused Nadler of railroading the debate.

A visibly frustrated Collins, the ranking member, said GOP lawmakers were not consulted beforehand and Nadler's "integrity is gone" and "they have nothing they can offer except the kangaroo court." 

"That was the most bush league play I have ever seen in life," Collins said. 

Someone else in the meeting room could be heard saying "this is a sneaky move on their part" in an apparent reference to Democrats. 

Democrats left the room after the meeting ended and many Republicans stayed and gave media interviews, accusing Democrats of blindsiding them. 

Debate. Rinse. Repeat.

Alex Moe

The Judiciary Committee is currently debating the substitute amendment that Chairman Nadler offered in the first hour of the meeting on Thursday morning about tweaking the language from Donald J. Trump to Donald John Trump. 

We BELIEVE that debate on this amendment should be the last of the evening. However, members can each speak for 5 minutes so that can still take more than 3 hours if each member wishes to speak. 

After all debate concludes, there will likely be three votes:

Vote on the substitute amendment 

Vote on Article I

Vote on Article II

McConnell: 'No chance' Trump will be convicted in the Senate

Dartunorro Clark

Mitch Felan

Dartunorro Clark and Mitch Felan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday that President Trump will not face conviction and removal in the GOP-controlled Senate as the House continued to debate articles of impeachment. 

"The case is so darn weak coming from the House. We know how it's going to end. There's no chance the president's going to be removed from office," he said. "My hope is that there won't be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment and, Sean, it wouldn't surprise me if we got one or two Democrats."

The session has resumed

NBC News

When will they vote? Who knows at the moment?

"As long as they have amendments, we're going to stay here," Rep. Sheila Jackson, D-Tex, said on MSNBC as the meeting resumed.

Trump involved in marathon session of his own on Twitter

NBC News

The day is still not over, but as of 9:30 p.m., Trump has tweeted or retweeted 115 times on Thursday — most of them centered on impeachment.

It’s been a prolific last few days for the president's thumbs. On Sunday, he tweeted and retweeted 105 times.  

The session is in recess for half an hour

NBC News

After the fifth amendment was voted down, Nadler announced a half-hour recess. 

Dems knock down another GOP amendment from Jordan

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

After roughly two hours of debate, the Judiciary Committee defeated the GOP’s fifth amendment to the articles of impeachment in another 23-17 party-line vote. 

The amendment from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, would have removed the last eight lines of both articles of impeachment, which both end with language about how Trump “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”

In response, it says that Trump warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.

Anything new? McClintock says what many are thinking

Dartunorro Clark

As we approach the 12th hour of this debate, a frustrated Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., had somewhat of a breaking-the-fourth-wall moment and said what many are thinking: Does anyone have anything new to say? 

“The same talking points have been repeated over and over again ad nauseam by both sides,” he said. "Repeating a fact over and over doesn't make it true and denying a fact over and over doesn't make it false - everybody knows this, everybody watching knows this."

He added: "This hearing's been enough of an institutional embarrassment without putting it on an endless loop so if I could if could just offer a modest suggestion — if no one has anything new to add that they resist the temptation to inflict what we already heard over and over again." 

 

At White House congressional ball, Trump predicts: 'We’re going to have a fantastic year'

NBC News

At the congressional ball mentioned earlier, President Trump made brief remarks while the Judiciary Committee members continued to debate the articles of impeachment.

He began by calling it a “very exciting month in Washington, D.C.,” to laughter.

“Our country is doing really great,” he said, while touting the stock market records and thanking the Pences and the first lady. 

He said his family calls the White House a home, but some presidents called it a house — and some called it much worse.

'We’re going to have a fantastic year,” he said. “The best year in decades.”

Jordan introduces fifth GOP amendment

Dartunorro Clark

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, introduced a fifth amendment aiming to strike the last eight lines of both articles of impeachment. 

Both articles have the same language: "Wherefore President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States."

The other four amendments introduced by Republicans have each failed with a party-line vote. 

Fourth GOP amendment killed ahead of committee vote on articles of impeachment

Dartunorro Clark

The fourth GOP amendment was killed in another party-line 23-17 vote. The three other amendments introduced by Republicans were also killed after lengthy debates. 

The fourth amendment was introduced by Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Penn., to strike the entire second article of impeachment: obstruction of Congress.

Floor vote scheduling... if things stay on schedule

Alex Moe

If things continue to come together on schedule, we are looking at votes Tuesday on appropriations, Wednesday on impeachment, and Thursday on USMCA. With again, a caveat this could all change. 

An energy boost?

NBC News

 

Fourth amendment introduced to strike entire second article of impeachment

Dartunorro Clark

Alex Moe

Dartunorro Clark and Alex Moe

The fourth GOP amendment has been introduced by Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Penn., to strike the entire second article of impeachment: obstruction of Congress.

The three other amendments introduced by Republicans have been killed along party lines by a vote of 23-17.

  • Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, introduced the first amendment to strike the entire first article of impeachment, which deals with abuse of power.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., introduced the second amendment to strike reference of Joe Biden with his son Hunter Biden and Burisma, the Ukraine gas company for which he worked.
  • Rep Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., introduced the third amendment arguing that military aid was released after the Ukrainian president showed he was serious about reform when he signed two major anti-corruption measures into law. 

Democrats vote down GOP amendment on aid to Ukraine

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The committee voted 23-17 along party lines against the third GOP amendment, which was offered by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. 

The amendment would have inserted language into the articles for impeachment that says the U.S. aid to Ukraine that was held up over the summer was eventually released.

Cliché away! Lawmakers use quips in impeachment hearing

Dartunorro Clark

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., whipped out a yoga reference to make her case for impeaching Trump when she excoriated Republicans for twisting the record.  

"My sister's a yoga teacher. She doesn't contort the way the Republicans do on the facts," she said. 

Throughout the markup, there has been a long list of clichés, similes, metaphors and allusions — some good, some not so good — as lawmakers trudge ahead with a marathon debate on the two articles of impeachment. 

 

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., went biblical and compared Republicans to Judas "because Judas for 30 pieces of silver betrayed Jesus; for 30 positive tweets for easy re-election, the other side is willing to betray the American people."

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon. D-Va., also had a cliché, arguing that if it "smells like a duck" then it's a duck in explaining Trump's call to Ukraine to ask them to open an investigation into the Bidens. 

NBC News

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., compared Republican lawmakers to Judas, saying they "would betray the American people" for "30 positive tweets" from President Trump.

 

White House counsel meets with McConnell during markup

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Eric Ueland, the legislative affairs director, met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for over an hour on Capitol Hill on Thursday afternoon. 

“This is one of a regular set of conversations we’ve been having with Senate Republicans on the issue of impeachment, and we’re going to keep having good conversations about it," Ueland said.

When asked if he has a preference for how long the hearing will be, Ueland said, “Look, I’m not in the prognostication business, I don’t have a crystal ball in terms of timing. The president deserves to have his case heard. Unfortunately, the process in the House was fatally flawed and based on facts that were not all correct since the president did nothing wrong. So we continue to make our case to the American public.”

Cipollone did not answer questions from reporters.

Biggs introduces amendment arguing administration did nothing wrong freezing aid to Ukraine

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., introduced the third amendment of the day, which would insert language into the articles for impeachment that says the U.S. aid to Ukraine that was held up over the summer was eventually released

“The aid was released within days of Ukrainian President Zelenskiy signing two major anti-corruption measures into law, convincing President Trump that the new Ukrainian administration was serious about reform measures and consistent with Administration policy to ensure foreign aid is not used for corrupt purposes,” the amendment says. 

In explaining his amendment, Biggs brought up a letter from the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the distribution of U.S. aid to foreign countries, that he said walks through the entire process.

Biggs said that the Trump administration “never intended to or actually violated the law” and that it “always intended to release the funds.” 

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., however, then questioned why Biggs was tying the release of the aid to anti-corruption efforts when she said that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney himself said at a White House press conference that the aid was clearly being withheld as leverage to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations demanded by Trump. 

The aid was frozen by July 18 and the hold wasn’t lifted until September 11.

Folks, we could really be in for a long night

After three-and-a-half hours of debate, members voted down Gaetz's amendment to replace Biden's name in the articles of impeachment with his son's name and the name of a Ukrainian company he sat on the board of.

Three-and-a-half hours (which did include an hour-and-a-half recess) over an amendment to alter one line of the articles of impeachment.

The committee is just now debating its third proposed amendment of the day. The hearing started nearly seven hours ago. On top of this, Collins suggested the committee could be in session "all night" as part of this process. And there will likely be more breaks. 

If you're planning on sticking with this all the way through, find a comfortable seat if you haven't already. 

Gaetz amendment to articles of impeachment fails

Dartunorro Clark

An amendment introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz failed to pass during the House Judiciary Committee's debate to bring the articles of impeachment against Trump into final form. 

Gaetz had introduced an amendment to strike a reference of former Vice President Joe Biden from the articles of impeachment and put in Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, and Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of that company while his father was in office. 

It failed to pass with 23 Democrats voting against and 17 Republicans voting in favor. 

Where we are now...

Dartunorro Clark

It has been roughly six hours since Thursday's markup meeting began and now Republicans and Democrats are fiercely making their case for and against impeachment. 

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., introduced an amendment to strike a reference from Joe Biden from the articles of impeachment and replace it with Hunter Biden and Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where he worked, in an apparent effort to argue that the company was corrupt and Biden was unqualified but well-connected.  

Republicans have repeatedly hammered home their position that Trump did not abuse his power when he spoke with the Ukrainian president on July 25 because he had legitimate concerns about corruption in the country before releasing critical military aid. GOP lawmakers also said that because Ukraine did not feel pressured, did not know the aid was held up and it was later released, there was no wrongdoing. Republicans also have slammed Democrats for the process, saying it is moving too quickly, unfair to the president and has limited committee Republicans from fully making their case. 

Democrats, on the other hand, have implored their Republican colleagues to remember their oath is to the Constitution, not the president. They have also argued that impeachment is the last resort to hold Trump accountable or else he will abuse his power and usurp Congress’ authority again. Committee Democrats argued that Trump gave Ukraine the aid before this year and held up and eventually released the aid after the whistleblower complaint began circulating. Democrats also said that Trump was not concerned about corruption because it was not mentioned on the call, but his own re-election.

NBC News

 

Collins says hearing could go on 'all night'

It might be an even longer day than we anticipated.

Ahead of tonight's congressional ball, Collins just said there will plenty of opportunities to attend such swanky parties in the future and suggested the hearing could go on "all night."

Markup is back in session

NBC News

Following a roughly hour-and-a-half break, the meeting has resumed.  

Meacham: We're having a historic debate in unhistoric fashion

NBC News

Historian Jon Meacham reacts to the House Judiciary Committee hearing to vote on articles of impeachment. Meacham says the committee is having a historic debate in an unhistoric fashion.

 

4 takeaways from the hearing so far

We're still in what we'd describe as an intermission of today's Judiciary Committee markup, so here are some of the bigger takeaways from this morning's action — or lack thereof.

  1. Republicans echo Trump in their lead defense: "No crimes" being alleged in the articles of impeachment. Democrats pointed to similar articles drafted during the Nixon impeachment proceedings.
  2. We're moving at a very slow pace. Through the first four hours, there have only been two amendments debated. So far, only one of those amendments has earned a vote, and it was shot down.
  3. Republicans insist there's no evidence Ukraine knew of the hold on aid until it became widely known. That runs counter to evidence provided by the Pentagon's Laura Cooper, who testified that Ukrainians emailed her staff as early as July 25 asking what was going on with the aid.
  4. Trump's watching closely. He already tweeted in direct response to little-noticed comments made by Democratic lawmakers during the proceedings.

Markup is in recess. So far, it's been 4 hours, 2 amendments and 1 vote.

Members are taking an extended break from today's hearing, which just hit the four-hour mark.

In those four hours, we've seen debate over just two amendments that were introduced so far. And only one of those amendments reached the point of being voted on. It was shot down.

Buckle up, folks. It looks like it's going to be a long day.

Democrats jockeying for coveted House manager appointments

+2

Geoff Bennett

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Alex Moe

Geoff Bennett, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Alex Moe

Once impeachment deliberations move to the Senate, it will be up to House “managers” — or prosecutors — to present the case against President Trump at trial.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sole discretion to appoint House managers, and sources tells us members have already started campaigning and jockeying for what will be a career-defining appointment.

As Jon Allen notes today, “It's a complicated task for the politically ambitious because the picks will be made solely at the discretion of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and many House members presume that it could be disqualifying to lobby too hard — especially publicly — for posts that require the utmost solemnity.”

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler are almost certain to make the cut as managers. (As Garrett Haake notes: Republicans who want Schiff to appear as a witness in a Senate trial may get their wish, in that Schiff would be in a position to answer questions.)

Pelosi has privately signaled that she wants the group to represent a range of regional, gender and racial diversity – two sources familiar tell NBC News.

Pelosi, one source says, is especially interested in “regional diversity,” to help counter the Republican criticism that the House process is being led by a “coastal impeachment squad.” 

During the Clinton impeachment, 13 House Republicans served as managers, all of whom were on the Judiciary Committee.

This time, according to a second source familiar, it will likely be a mix of House Intelligence and House Judiciary members.

Among the Democratic representatives whose names are circulating (and this is not meant to be a complete list):

  • Schiff, Calif.
  • Nadler, N.Y.
  • Hakeem Jeffries, N.Y.; House Democratic Caucus chairman
  • Zoe Lofgren, Calif.
  • Jamie Raskin, Md.
  • Jackie Speier, Calif.
  • Eric Swalwell, Calif.
  • Val Demings, Fla.
  • Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ill.

Gaetz brings up Hunter Biden's past substance issues — and it immediately backfired

Debate surrounding the next amendment to be introduced quickly divulged into a tit-for-tat involving allegations of cocaine usage and driving under the influence charges.

It began with Gaetz introducing an amendment to strike former Vice President Joe Biden from the articles of impeachment as the subject of an investigation Trump wanted Ukraine to launch and replace him with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, and Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of that company.

Gaetz said the purpose of Trump's ask was clear: probe Hunter Biden's conduct. In the July phone call with Zelenskiy, Trump asked his counterpart to investigate "the Bidens."

But then Gaetz went into an extensive speech in which he highlighted Hunter Biden's past cocaine and crack abuse.

 

"I don't want to make light of anybody's substance abuse issues," Gaetz said. "But it's a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car."

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., took note of Gaetz highlighting Hunter Biden's past substance abuse and said it was rather hypocritical to hear such commentary, alluding to Gaetz's 2008 arrest on a charge of driving under the influence.

Gaetz calling out Hunter Biden's substance abuse was like the "pot calling the kettle black," Johnson said, adding that if someone had a DUI, it would not be something he'd bring up. The charge against Gaetz was eventually dropped.  

"I would say that the pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do," Johnson said. "I don't know what members, if any, have had any problems with substance abuse, been busted in DUI, I don't know."

"But if I did, I wouldn't raise it against anyone on this committee," he continued. "I don't think it's proper."

Collins: Democrats have 'lowered the standard' for impeachment

NBC News

 

Jordan's effort to eliminate first article of impeachment is defeated

After nearly three hours of debate, Jordan's amendment to eliminate the first article of impeachment against Trump — the one charging him with abuse of power — was voted down along party lines.

Raskin criticizes Republican defense of Trump: 'They don't accept the facts'

 

Pelosi says Democrats are not whipping members to support impeachment articles

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that Democratic leaders are not whipping their members in favor of the articles of impeachment, assuming they come out of the Judiciary Committee and to the floor. 

“We are not whipping this legislation, nor do we ever whip something like this. People have to come to their own conclusions,” she said at her weekly press conference when asked if she had a message to moderate Democrats who may be undecided about how to vote next week. 

Pelosi added that she “rather not ask anybody what their vote is.” 

 

Though, she said emphatically, “The facts are clear — irrefutable, in fact.” 

Asked to react to Trump calling the articles of impeachment against him “impeachment lite,” Pelosi said. “The president is wrong.” 

The president made the comment this week suggesting he expected Democrats to introduce more articles than just abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

When asked why bribery wasn’t another article, Pelosi said that she’s not a lawyer.

"The articles are what they are. They're very powerful, they're very strong."

Inside the jockeying to prosecute Donald Trump's impeachment

WASHINGTON — In furtive conversations with senior colleagues on the House floor, with their own aides and in private conclaves like Wednesday's weekly Congressional Black Caucus luncheon, Democratic lawmakers have been quietly trying to game out how to become one of the "managers" who will prosecute the case in the Senate if the House impeaches President Donald Trump.

"There are a lot of discussions going on and rumors," Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the CBC, said after the panel's impeachment session Wednesday night. "I’m told that my name is on the list [for consideration], but I have not actively sought to be one of the floor managers. ... If the speaker would like for me to do that, I would be happy to do it."

The allure of being named to a select group for a historic mission — no matter the cautionary tale provided by the last Senate trial of a president — is as self-evident as most lawmakers' desire to carve out a personal legacy, get more airtime on television and raise more campaign money.

At the same time, it's a complicated task for the politically ambitious because the picks will be made solely at the discretion of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and many House members presume that it could be disqualifying to lobby too hard — especially publicly — for posts that require the utmost solemnity.

Read the full article here

‘I move to strike the last word!’ made simple

If you’ve been watching closely, you’ve heard these words a lot. According to the Congressional Research Service, in this context, it just means I’d like to talk now.

Read more about it here.

There's talks about adding Dershowitz to Trump's legal team, sources say

Hallie Jackson

There are preliminary discussions happening now about bringing Alan Dershowitz on to the president's legal team, according to a source familiar with the conversations, but the source cautions no final decision has been made and so far nothing appears imminent.

Dershowitz, who was at the White House yesterday for a Hanukkah reception, has often defended the president re: the Mueller investigation on cable news. But he also has described himself as a "loyal liberal who has supported every Democratic candidate for president since I campaigned for Adlai Stevenson in 1952," and has said he didn't agree with some of the president's policies — like on the travel ban and DREAMers.

He'd likely be a controversial pick: cases he has defended or advised on include those of O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein, and Harvey Weinstein. He's a professor emeritus at Harvard Law and a graduate of Yale Law. 

Trump is watching (and inaccurately tweeting)

It appears the president has tuned in.

He's right that he asked President Zelenskiy to "do us a favor," but he's misstating Democrats' statements here.

Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, was posing a hypothetical about a governor asking for a favor when she said "do me a favor," and according to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's retelling, Trump said, "I would like you to do a favor, though." She didn't use an "us" or "me."

Bannon predicts impeachment will backfire for Democrats and an 'Ali-Frazier' Trump-Clinton rematch

Dartunorro Clark

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told CNBC on Thursday that he thinks the impeachment process has ensured Trump’s re-election in 2020 and that Democrats will lose their House majority to Republicans. He also predicted Hillary Clinton is going to jump into the Democratic primary for an “Ali-Frazier” rematch with Trump.  

"What the Democrats, I think, may have done is to lock in control of the Senate, reinforce President Trump's re-election in 2020, and also concede the House so we could be back to the beginning of the Trump administration when we had all aspects of government," Bannon said.

"What they're going to turn to is who can save the Democratic Party ... I think you're going to see a rematch, Ali-Frazier — it's going to be Clinton-Trump in 2020."

Gaetz says there's 'no evidence' Ukraine was aware of hold on military aid, but evidence suggests otherwise

Gaetz asserted there is "no evidence" that Ukrainian officials were even aware of a hold on nearly $400 million of military aid.

The evidence suggests otherwise.

Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified before impeachment investigators that her staff received emails from Ukrainian officials asking what was going on with the aid as early as July 25 — the same day as the Trump/Zelenskiy call. 

"What is going on with Ukrainian security assistance?" one Ukrainian contact emailed a member of Cooper's staff, she testified.

Though she could not be certain the check-in was a result of the recently placed hold on aid or just a regular inquiry, she said, "It's my experience with the Ukrainians they would call about specific things, not just generally checking in on the assistance package."

Hillary Clinton weighs in

NBC News

White House suggests Trump is 'ready for anything in the Senate'

Hallie Jackson

The White House is publicly suggesting the president is open to whatever kind of process the Senate decides on.

“The president has done nothing wrong, and the House should stop this ridiculous illegitimate impeachment sham, but he is absolutely ready for anything in the Senate,” Deputy Press. Sec. Hogan Gidley says.

Privately, a source familiar with the strategy cautions the president wants two things: to ensure the process in the Senate is fair, and that a trial gives the president the due process rights the White House feels he was deprived of in the House.

As some of the Republicans — like Sen. Braun below — have indicated, there’s still uncertainty on what that concretely translates to as far as whether he will insist witnesses will be called, etc. So far, the tone from the White House officials has been one of deference to Sen. McConnell.

Chabot dismisses abuse of power as a legitimate charge for impeachment

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said that the Constitution says that impeachment is for someone who has committed treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. 

“No president should abuse the power of his or her office. That doesn’t make alleged abuse of power a high crime or misdemeanor,” he said. 

Chabot said that the House has never adopted alleged abuse of power as a charge in a president’s impeachment, saying that it’s a “vague, ambiguous term” and “lacks a concise legal definition.” 

The congressman, who sat on the Judiciary Committee during President Clinton’s impeachment, said that the significant difference between the impeachment process for Presidents Nixon and Clinton and Trump’s is that for the former two, “abuse was a tacked-on charge, far less important in those cases than the actual high crimes against both of them.” 

“The entire argument for impeachment, in this case, is based on a charge that is not a crime,” he said. 

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., responded, “There are no crimes here? That is the defense my colleagues across the aisles are putting forward?”

“The president committed the highest crime against the Constitution by abusing his office,” he said, by cheating in the election and inviting foreign interference while jeopardizing U.S. national security.

The posters behind Republicans' seats

Leigh Ann Caldwell

The posters behind republicans today include:

  •  A return of the photo of Pelosi, CA, and the committee chairs Nadler, NY, Maloney, NY), Waters, CA, Schiff, CA, Engel, NY, and Neal, MA, announcing the impeachment articles with the heading “Coastal Impeachment Squad” and “this is why we have the electoral college” below.
  • “If the Senate doesn’t convict that doesn’t mean it’s over,” Rep. Al Green
  • “The president’s accusers must go beyond heresy and innuendo and beyond demands that the president prove his innocence of vague and changing charges,” Chairman Schiff
Image: House Judiciary Committee's markup of House Resolution 755
From left, Republican Representatives Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan and Ken Buck attend the House Judiciary Committee's markup of House Resolution 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 12, 2019.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

 

Nadler makes a style change to Trump's name, Collins gives a monologue

Chairman Nadler offered an amendment to spell out the president’s middle name, John, in the articles of impeachment. Ranking Member Collins used the opportunity to loudly complain about the Democratic-controlled process.

This must be the Congressional bickering and parliamentary process that endears this body to the American people.

Responding to GOP complaints, Deutch argues Democrats gave Trump opportunities to present his case

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Responding to complaints by Collins about Democrats not treating Republicans fairly, Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said that Republicans had GOP counsel Steve Castor present evidence on their behalf on Monday in the Judiciary Committee’s second impeachment hearing.

“Before telling us the sky is falling and there’s great disrespect for the rules, it’s important to actually look at the rules,” Deutch said.

Democrats, Deutch said, gave Trump the opportunity to appear himself at the Dec. 4 committee hearing “to advocate for himself” and had the opportunity to call his own witnesses but he chose not to. 

“Let’s be careful to suggest that rules are being violated,” Deutch said. 

Jordan wants to strike 'abuse of power' from the articles of impeachment

Jordan offered an amendment to strike the entire first article of impeachment, which charges Trump with abuse of power.

"This amendment strikes articles one because article one ignores the truth!" Jordan said.

Democrats then began describing how Trump allegedly abused his power, listing off multiple instances of Trump's conduct toward Ukraine and testimony from current and former Trump administration officials.

Cicilline said there was "overwhelming evidence" of Trump's abuse of power.

And the procedural bickering begins...

After the articles of impeachment were read at the onset of Thursday's hearing, Ranking Member Collins made a point of order to highlight that Democrats did not provide Republicans with a minority hearing day that they have been pressing for. 

Nadler said he was still willing to consider such a hearing, but not as a way to delay the consideration of the articles of impeachment.

Collins pushed back, and was then gaveled by Nadler. The two men started speaking over each other and Collins sought to appeal Nadler's ruling.

Members voted on whether to table Collins' motion. It was tabled along party lines.