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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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Pelosi says Democrats are not whipping members to support impeachment articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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