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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.
Image: Impeachment live blog
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

Download the NBC News mobile app for the latest news on the impeachment inquiry

Live Blog

OPINION: Impeachment gives Trump staffers a choice: Loyalty and maybe prison, or betrayal and derision

The emerging strategy of House Republicans to argue that White House advisers went rogue — without the authorization of President Donald Trump — to press Ukraine to provide dirt on a political opponent puts Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg, the president’s personal attorney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and others in a precarious and even life-changing dilemma.

This gives those men a stark choice: They can stand mute while Republican members of congress and television analysts accuse them of potential criminal conduct in withholding congressionally authorized military aid to Ukraine and concealing evidence of this plot; or they can defend themselves by testifying in the upcoming impeachment proceedings that they were acting at the direction of the president.

Read more here.

Trump kicks off impeachment hearing day by bashing Schiff

White House readies for rapid response

The White House has a rapid response team set up and ready to go for Wednesday's impeachment hearing. Think of it as a debate-style setup with tweets and more ready to be deployed, according to an official.

The strategy will target what the White House sees as an unfair process, and the idea that Democrats are focusing on impeachment at the expense of other legislative priorities.

The White House points to the outreach it's been doing for weeks to members of Congress (in conversations with roughly 120 House members, they say) to build out their strategy.

It's not clear where Trump will be watching the hearings from (the residence or Oval Office or elsewhere). Keep in mind that he'll be otherwise occupied starting at midday once Turkish President Erdogan arrives.

Democrats bet impeachment hearings will mark beginning of the end of Trump's reality-TV presidency

Democrats are betting the reality-TV presidency of Donald Trump will begin to short-circuit Wednesday when they start putting names and faces to the bureaucrats who collectively contend he placed his own gain above American national security interests.

Democrats are confident enough that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., upped the ante on the eve of his panel's first publicly televised hearings by teasing the possibility that Trump will face impeachment on charges of bribery as well as high crimes and misdemeanors in an interview with National Public Radio.

Read more here.

Tillerson pushes back on Haley, says he never tried to undermine Trump

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is pushing back on former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s claim in her new book that he and John Kelly tried to enlist her to resist Trump’s agenda.

In a statement given to NBC News by a Tillerson aide, he takes a swipe at Haley by saying she wasn’t in many of his meetings and “isn’t in a position to know” about his conversations with Trump. The statement was earlier reported by The New York Times. 

His statement:

"During my service to our country as the Secretary of State, at no time did I, nor to my direct knowledge did anyone else serving along with me, take any actions to undermine the President.

My conversations with the President in the privacy of the Oval Office were always candid, frank, and my recommendations straightforward. Once the President made a decision, we at the State Department undertook our best efforts to implement that decision. Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings and is not in a position to know what I may or may not have said to the President. 

I continue to be proud of my service as our country's 69th Secretary of State."

Democrats announce second week of impeachment public hearings

Schiff announced on Tuesday the schedule for next week's open impeachment hearings, which will last three days and feature testimony from eight current and former administration officials.

Tuesday, Nov. 19:

9am - Jennifer Williams and Alexander Vindman

2:30pm - Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison

Wednesday, Nov. 20:

9am - Gordon Sondland

2:30pm - Laura Cooper and David Hale

Thursday, Nov. 21:

9am - Fiona Hill

Here's his full announcement:

Washington, DC — Today, Chairman Adam Schiff announced that on Tuesday, November 19, Wednesday, November 20, and Thursday, November 21, 2019 the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold additional open hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump.

On the morning of Tuesday, November 19, 2019, the Committee will hear from Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who serves as the Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 19, 2019, the Committee will hear from Ambassador Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a White House aide with the National Security Council focusing on Europe and Russia policy.  

On the morning of Wednesday, November 20, 2019, the Committee will hear from Ambassador Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, November 20, 2019, the Committee will hear from Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs and David Hale, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

On the morning of Thursday, November 21, 2019, the Committee will hear from Dr. Fiona Hill, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia.

The Majority has accepted all of the Minority requests that are within the scope of the impeachment inquiry.

Additional details will be released in the coming days.

Graham says he won't 'bullshit' impeachment hearings

A handful of key Republican senators says they won’t be watching tomorrow’s first public impeachment hearing in the House, saying they either they have something else to do, or they have a problem with the process House Democrats have put together.

"This is bullshit, no, this is bullshit," said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. "They’re doing damage to the president right now. This is a political exercise that’s different than anything that’s ever happened when it comes trying to impeach a president."

He added, "This is a calculated effort to dirty up Trump, to do damage and then they’ll decide to impeach. This is dangerous to the presidency as an institution, I don’t like it. If you really want to impeach him do what we did with Clinton and what they did with Nixon.”

 

Democrats look to make the most of their strongest witnesses

Democrats are debating how to choreograph week two of the public hearings.

"There's talk of having him (Alexander Vindman) as a closer, closing with your best witness. They're talking about where best to position Vindman," who testified behind closed  doors in uniform and is likely to show up once again in his dress blues for a public hearing, a visual the Democrats say will be powerful.

Bill Taylor, who is testifying Wednesday, and Vindman are the strongest witnesses and would be book ends.

"A good prosecutor leads with the strongest witness, and that's Taylor," one source said.

After establishing his long record of service and  apolitical pedigree, Democrats will "get that hook in" within the first 30 minutes and "they think Taylor can do it."

  • One of the big lessons of the former special counsel Robert Mueller testimony for Democrats was their failure "to get to the meat early" and let the witness tell the story.
  • "This is a much better and easier story for us to tell than the Mueller report…This will be the opposite of that…This is going to be primetime TV,” said one aide involved in the process.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council, arrives to testify as part of the U.S. House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into President Trump led by the House Intelligence, House Foreign Affairs and House Oversight and Reform Committees on Capitol Hill ion Oct. 29, 2019.Erin Scott / Reuters

Adam Schiff on what Democrats are hoping for

Schiff released the following statement ahead of the hearings:

“We want the American people to hear the evidence for themselves in the witnesses’ own words, and our goal is to present the facts in a serious and sober manner. The three witnesses this week will begin to flesh out the details of the president’s effort to coerce a foreign nation to engage in political investigations designed to help his campaign, a corrupt undertaking that is evident from his own words on the July 25 call record.

“Bill Taylor is a decorated Vietnam war veteran who has served his country for decades in an array of diplomatic postings. George Kent and Marie Yovanovitch, also career Foreign Service Officers, have spent decades in service of our country, advancing our interests and security. They will describe their own experiences and how American policy towards Ukraine was subverted to serve the president’s personal, political interests, not the national interest.

“We want these hearings to be conducted in a fair and thorough manner, as should all Americans, given the gravity of the alleged misconduct.”

 

A combative Trump and his White House brace for first public impeachment hearings

Trump has long criticized Democrats for conducting the impeachment inquiry behind closed doors. This week, he and his advisers are bracing for impact as those doors are thrown open and the cameras roll on public impeachment hearings.

As the Wednesday launch of those hearings approaches, Trump’s mood has veered between relishing the fight and seething with anger over the impeachment effort as he focuses heavily on his television defenders, according to one person close to the White House.

How Democrats view this week's impeachment inquiry hearings

Below are some insights on the impeachment inquiry as the open hearings get underway, from a Democratic aide working on the inquiry:

"This week the American people will hear evidence for themselves. This is a sober and serious occasion for us and not something any member take pleasure in."

"The first witnesses will lay out for the American people the timeline of the President’s serious misconduct wherein he used his presidential powers to pressure a foreign government to improperly interfere in our elections by investigating his political rival. Later in the week, we will hear from the first victim of the President’s scheme – Ambassador Yovanovitch," the aide said.

The witnesses "have all committed their lives and their careers to defending this country and everything it represents so we respect and honor their courage to participate in this investigations and look forward to their testimony," the aide added. “Our goal is to lay out the facts in a fair and thorough manner. Ultimately this is a very simple story – again, the President abused his office and his presidential powers to force and pressure a foreign government to interfere with our election on his behalf."

"Even though we don’t anticipate additional information beyond that, what we have already made public, there is a real value in hearing directly from the witnesses so the American people can hear it from their mouths and firsthand.”

"Following the public hearings that the President demanded for weeks and now opposes, Republicans will need to answer one question – are they going to defend the president or are they going to defend democracy."

"From our perspective, the pressure and the onus is now on the Republicans – they have to do one of two things. They either have to provide some evidence to exonerate the president or they have to admit that what the President did was ok to pressure a foreign government to interfere and taint our election on his behalf using the office of the presidency and the power of the presidency to do so."

"The evidence and the facts all substantiate the President’s words ‘do us a favor.’  They depict a sinister picture and scheme on the part of the president to achieve his desired deliverables. The one thing we've not heard back from either the White House or the Republicans is anything, any piece of evidence, one shred of evidence that would exonerate the president."

"We think it’s going to be a phenomenal week where the public gets to again hear for themselves the evidence and the extent of the president’s abuse of power and abuse of his office. And we do believe after they hear all of it that they will agree that it’s wrong for the President of the United States to try to use his office to taint our elections."

Schiff tends to write his own opening statement.

“I think he hopes to lay out the scope of what we have been looking at for the last month and a half and I think he hopes to lay out the stakes for the American people and why this matters. I don’t want to preview anything beyond that," the aide said.