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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

Whistleblower Protections Caucus co-chairs denounce effort to unmask whistleblower

After Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called on the media and fellow members of Congress to reveal the whistleblower’s name at Monday night's Trump rally, NBC News reached out to the co-chairs of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus for their reaction.

Sen. Wyden (D-Ore.) told NBC News on Tuesday, "I’m co-chair of the Whistleblower Caucus and I believe publicly outing a whistleblower will forever keep others from speaking truth to power. If you are serious about protecting whistleblowers you must do it regardless of who is president."

A spokesman for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says the senator "didn’t watch the rally," adding that Grassley’s comments yesterday before the rally "pretty much covered it."

Grassley had told reporters earlier on Monday that it’s "strictly up to the whistleblower" to decide whether or not to come forward. 

Raskin: Yovanovitch was 'set up for a comprehensive smear campaign'

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the Judiciary and Oversight committees, alleged in a CNN interview Tuesday that former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch "was basically set up for a comprehensive smear campaign by Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen" and "she was told by lots of people this was happening to her."

Discussing his takeaways from the depositions of Yovanovitch and former Pompeo aide Michael McKinley, Raskin added that McKinley "tried to get Secretary of State Pompeo to speak out on behalf of Ambassador Yovanovitch, and he refused to do it." McKinley "testified that he could not believe that there was this, you know, campaign of smears and lies against her, and the State Department would not stand up for her. And he said basically he ended up resigning in protest, saying that he had never seen anything like this in 37 years in his service in the State Department."

Yovanovitch's ouster "sets the stage for is all of the financial and political  schemes that the president was executing along with Giuliani and his henchmen," Raskin alleged.

"So the president has tried to say, 'Well, this is just about one phone call, and it was a perfect phone call,' Raskin said. 'It was a perfectly unlawful phone call, but it's not just about a phone call. It's about a whole campaign to run a — not a parallel shadow foreign policy, but a perpendicular foreign policy, was working across purposes with Ambassador Yovanovitch, who was leading a campaign against corruption in Ukraine. And in fact, it was the president's deputies who were reviving corruption and trying to exploit the traditional corruption that took place in that country."

Asked about Sen. Rand Paul's demand that the identity of the whistleblower be revealed, Raskin said attempts "to demonize and vilify the whistleblower is a scapegoating tactic that, again, is a distraction from the merits of the case."

"And you'll notice the president's defenders are doing everything they can to distract people from what actually happened there because there's almost complete agreement on it," he said. "Nobody is telling any story other than the president organized this shakedown against the Ukrainian government and then tried to cover it up afterwards."

OPINION: Trump and Giuliani's impeachment defense pushes America closer to a 'mafia state'

Neither President Donald Trump nor his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani deny the underlying facts of the allegations at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. This seems like a relatively crazy thing to do, given that Democrats are out for blood — but they really have no choice given how much is already public. So instead of denying the facts, Trump’s defense appears to be: Yes, we did it, but there was nothing wrong with it.

The “there was nothing wrong with it” defense does triple duty: It gives Trump’s surrogates something to argue, it muddies the water and confuses people with its sheer audacity, and — most important — it pushes the United States one step closer to becoming what the Hungarian scholar Bálint Magyar calls a “mafia state” to describe the kind of autocracies we see springing up in the former Soviet Union.

We’ve been talking about Trump and Giuliani running a “shadow” foreign policy alongside (and often in conflict with) the official State Department foreign policy. But Masha Gessen, relying on Magyar's work, explains that we are “using the wrong language” to describe what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine. A president, who is the chief foreign policy official in the nation, cannot, by definition, run a shadow foreign policy. What the president can do, however, is destroy the institutions that traditionally conduct foreign policy, in this case, the State Department, staffed by career diplomats.

Read the full opinion piece here.

OPINION: Why White House lawyers might not be covering for Trump after all

Four witnesses who were scheduled to testify Monday in closed-door depositions before the House Intelligence Committee didn't show up, a move which has intensified claims from Democrats that the White House is trying to cover up the truth relating to President Donald Trump’s now-infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president.

One of those four is a deputy White House counsel named John Eisenberg who currently serves as the legal adviser to the National Security Council. John and I overlapped briefly at the Justice Department and I know him slightly — enough to have a favorable opinion of him, for what it is worth.

When Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — a member of the National Security Council staff who overheard a troubling phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine — properly reported his concerns to Eisenberg, Eisenberg reportedly told Vindman not to discuss that phone call with anyone else. 

Now, I think there are at least two plausible explanations for Eisenberg’s advice to Vindman to remain silent. One plausible explanation — and it seems to be where some of the commentary has drifted — is nefarious. By telling Vindman not to speak further about a troubling conversation that he overheard, Eisenberg could be attempting to cover up the president’s misconduct.

But there is a second explanation for Eisenberg’s advice to Vindman that is also plausible, and that also makes sense to me — and that is not nefarious. When a good lawyer learns of potential misconduct (and Eisenberg is, by all accounts, a good lawyer), that lawyer has an obligation to gather the facts and recommend a course of action to his boss (here, the White House counsel) and to his client (here, the Office of the President). Eisenberg, unlike Rudy Giuliani, does not serve Trump personally in his capacity as counsel — an important distinction.

Read the full opinion piece here.

How worried should a Trump-district Democrat be about impeachment?

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — All politics is local. It’s a maxim that first-term Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., is betting on as he simultaneously gears up for one of the most competitive congressional races in the country — and braces for the House impeachment inquiry to take center stage in Washington.

Cunningham, 37, a former ocean engineer and Charleston-based lawyer who won his seat in 2018 by emphasizing local issues, is one of the dwindling number of House Democrats who have remained openly skeptical about impeaching President Donald Trump.

Although he voted in favor of a House resolution last week that laid out the ground rules for proceeding with the impeachment inquiry, Cunningham cautioned that no one should conflate his vote with support for removing Trump from office. But national Republicans are wagering that the House inquiry, which is likely to force Cunningham to cast a public “yes” or “no” vote on whether to impeach Trump, could cost him his re-election.

Read the full story here.

Volker and Sondland deposition transcripts to be released

The investigative committees are expected to release the deposition transcripts of former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland on Tuesday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said.

The move comes a day after House Democrats released the testimony of ousted Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley, a former aid to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as the probe moves to a more public phase.

Also on Tuesday, two more officials — National Security Council adviser Wells Griffith and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey — are scheduled to give depositions, although at least one of them — Duffey — is not expected to appear.

Read the full story here.