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Trump impeachment: Analysis and news on the House charges and Senate acquittal of the president

The Senate trial on the two articles of impeachment against Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, ended with acquittal on both charges.
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Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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The fast-moving impeachment of President Donald Trump, stemming from his dealings with Ukraine, moved to the Senate for trial in January after the House voted a month earlier to adopt two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Senate voted in early February to acquit the president on both charges.

Trump's impeachment followed weeks of testimony related to his efforts to press Ukraine for investigations into Democratic rivals and hours of fiery debate over the process.

Trump is only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. Read all of the breaking news and analysis on impeachment from NBC News' political reporters, as well as our teams on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

Trump impeachment highlights

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Live Blog

Republicans delay start of Pentagon official's closed-door testimony in impeachment inquiry

WASHINGTON — A group of House Republicans on Wednesday delayed the start of closed-door testimony by Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, after they stormed the secure room where the deposition was being held.

Led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the GOP members — who don’t sit on the committees who are questioning witnesses in the impeachment inquiry — entered the secure room, known as a SCIF, in the basement of the Capitol Visitor’s Center. Before entering, they protested Democrats’ handling of the probe, arguing that the process was not fair to Republicans or the president.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., told reporters that there were approximately 20 GOP members in the room who refused to leave, and said that they came into the secure room yelling that they be allowed inside. Some of these members brought their cell phones, which is not permitted.

"This is being held behind closed doors for a reason because they don’t want you to see what the witnesses are like," Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told reporters Wednesday morning before they entered the room. “This is a Soviet style impeachment process. This is closed doors, it is unfair in every way and I don’t care whether you are the president of the United States or any other citizens of this country, you should be allowed to confront your witnesses."

Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee leading the impeachment investigation, explained last week that there is precedent stemming from the Watergate era, as well as President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings, for holding the initial investigation behind closed doors. He also said that he anticipated a time when impeachment investigators will release the transcripts of the depositions, and that the House may call back some of those witnesses to testify in public.

On Wednesday, Biggs and other members appeared to post tweets from inside the room.

Read more about the stand-off here.

Republican Sen. Thune: 'Picture...is not a good one'

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, reacted on Wednesday to the closed-door testimony of top diplomat Bill Taylor, who said Ukraine aid from the U.S. was linked Trump demands for probes of the Bidens:

"The picture coming out of it based on the reporting we'e seen is, yeah, I would say is not a good one, but I would say also that, again, until we have a process that allows for everybody to see this in full transparency it's pretty hard to draw any hard fast conclusions." 

Thune added, "I think that whatever (Taylor) said in private it ought to be done in public. And I think the Republicans are right to point out that this has been very a sort of rigged process relative to previous impeachment exercises that have been undertaken in the past."

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, is highly unlikely to "friend" founder Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook.AP -- file

More than 200 former USAID officers blast Trump administration's treatment of diplomats

WASHINGTON — More than 260 former foreign service officers, political appointees at the U.S. Agency for International Development as well as civil servants, are blasting the Trump administration for its treatment of current diplomats at the State Department and for the White House decision to freeze U.S. assistance to Ukraine.

In a statement of support obtained by NBC News from one of its signatories, Desaix “Terry” Myers, the former officials wrote that they were writing in support of their colleagues “now under siege for their work as diplomats.” 

“Together, we spent our careers working to represent the policies and values of the United States.  We are angered at the treatment of dedicated, experienced, and wise public servants like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch; and we are distraught at the dangers inherent in the President’s cavalier (and quite possibly corrupt) approach to making foreign policy on impulse and personal interest rather than in response to national security concerns,” the statement says.

The statement was signed by a variety of former USAID officers, including some former ambassadors.  Myers served as USAID’s mission director for Russia and Indonesia and previously taught at the National War College.

The former officials said that they are “appalled” that taxpayer dollars set aside by Congress for military assistance to Ukraine “may have been used to leverage foreign support for partisan political objectives.”

“The way the President is conducting foreign policy raises questions about the reliability of the U.S. as a partner, its commitment to diplomatic norms, and its capacity for leadership,” they wrote. 

In addition to praising former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, they commended the other officials who have also testified so far in the House impeachment inquiry including Bill Taylor, charge d’affaires in Ukraine, Michael McKinley, who recently resigned as one of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s top advisers, and George Kent, a senior official in charge of Ukraine policy at the State Department. 

Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, is testifying behind closed doors Wednesday and is expected to face questions about the White House’s decision over the summer to withhold military assistance to Ukraine.

Rick Perry 'happy to' talk to lawmakers once they abide by 'precedent'

Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday that he would “be happy to come forward” to talk to House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry if “they follow the precedent, when they follow what has been referred to me as the precedent of an inquiry.”

“But the fact is, I’m not going to participate, the White House has advised us not to participate, my general counsel has told me not to participate in what they consider to be an unprecedented effort to try to use an inquiry in an unlawful way,” Perry said.

Perry, whom Democrats have subpoenaed for documents related to Trump and Ukraine, suggested in a Fox Business interview Wednesday that abiding by precedent included holding a vote on the impeachment inquiry — something House Republicans have demanded but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said is not required.

Perry, who announced last week that he will step down, has emerged as a central figure in Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to open an investigation into the Biden family and the 2016 election. The energy secretary was one of a cadre of officials — including now-former special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — who ran an “irregular” channel of U.S. policymaking on the country, according to acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s testimony Tuesdaybefore the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a hearing on the President's budget request for Fiscal Year 2020, Tuesday, April 2, 2019.Patrick Semansky / AP file

Poll shows growing support for impeachment

A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed that American voters' support for the House impeachment inquiry has reached its highest level, at 55 percent in the survey.

On the flip side, 43 percent of voters disapprove of the inquiry. Last week, the poll showed 51 percent approved of the inquiry, while 45 percent disapproved.

Among Democrats, 93 percent approve of the inquiry, as well as 58 percent of independents and 10 percent of Republicans. Among those who disapprove were 88 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats.

Nearly half of the respondents, 48 percent said Trump should be impeached and removed from office while 46 percent say he should not. Last week, that total was flipped.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,587 self-identified registered voters between Oct. 17 and Oct. 21. The survey had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Pentagon official to give evidence on Ukraine military aid at closed hearing

House investigators expect Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, to on Wednesday offer insight about the White House decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine, despite the Pentagon's recommendation that it proceed.

Cooper, a top Pentagon career official overseeing Ukraine policy, will appear at a closed-door hearing even though the Defense Department told Congress that it would not comply with House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

Michael Duffey, a politically appointed official in the White House budget office, who oversees the process for approving and releasing foreign aid, is not expected to appear as scheduled today after the Office of Management and Budget acting director Russ Vought said the office would not cooperate with the impeachment probe.

Six highlights from Ukraine envoy Bill Taylor's 'explosive' testimony

President Donald Trump’s top diplomat to Ukraine testified Tuesday in a closed-door deposition to members of Congress in the House's impeachment inquiry, and his remarkable 15-page statement raised serious concerns about Trump's denials of a quid pro quo.

Bill Taylor wrote in the statement delivered to Congress that "there appeared to be two channels of U.S. policy-making and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular," and that it became clear to him that a freeze in U.S. aid to Ukraine was tied to a probe into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Read six of the statement's most astonishing scenes described in Taylor's testimony here.

Sen. Lindsey Graham plans Senate resolution to condemn House impeachment inquiry

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham says that he will introduce a resolution in the Senate to condemn the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives.

"This resolution puts the Senate on record condemning the House. ... We cannot allow future presidents, and this president, to be impeached based on an inquiry in the House that's never been voted upon," Graham, R-S.C. told  Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday night's show.

House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump centered on an alleged attempt to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into a conspiracy theory about the 2016 presidential election and into a gas company which had hired former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

Critics say that amounted to an abuse of power by Trump for his own political gain in the 2020 election. Some Republicans have complained the House effort is unfair.

There is no requirement that the House conduct a vote before launching an impeachment inquiry. Graham objected to the closed-door depositions that have been held, and he said "any impeachment vote based on this process, to me is illegitimate, is unconstitutional, and should be dismissed in the Senate without a trial."

Read Bill Taylor's full opening statement