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.
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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
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.
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.
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'
'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.
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.
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
How the historic vote in the House Judiciary Committee played out
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.”