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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

Republicans explain why they're not watching hearings

Dems release response to GOP strategy memo

Ahead of Wednesday's hearing, Democrats released several talking points in response to the Republican strategy memo on the impeachment proceedings. Here are some key excerpts:

GOP assertion: The July 25 call summary “shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure.”

Democratic response: President Trump’s own words in the July 25 call record are the best evidence of the president applying pressure on Ukraine to benefit his own personal political interests at the expense of the national interest. 

As one U.S. official made clear, the Ukrainian president — recently elected to lead a country that is heavily dependent on U.S. military, economic, and diplomatic support to fight of Russian aggression — could only view this as a “demand” by the American president. 

Multiple U.S. officials have testified that the call, as well as meetings and discussions before and after the call, established a clear campaign of extortion: Ukraine’s president would not receive a White House meeting or vital military assistance until and unless Ukraine opened sham investigations that President Trump wanted. 

GOP assertion: Ukrainian “President Zelensky and President Trump have both said there was no pressure on the call.”

Democratic response: Ahead of the July 25 call, Ambassador Bill Taylor warned: “President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, re-election politics.”

Text messages and testimony by multiple witnesses show that both ahead of the July 25 call and for weeks after the July 25 call, U.S. officials pressured Ukraine to announce the investigations requested by Trump. Ukrainian advisors tried to push back, to no avail.

In early September 2019, Ukraine’s president was scheduled to appear on CNN and announce the investigations sought by Trump – yet more clear evidence of Trump’s pressure.

GOP assertion: “The Ukrainian government was not aware of the hold on U.S. assistance” during the July 25 call.

Democratic response: Two U.S. officials testified that Ukraine knew of the hold on security assistance weeks before it became public.

Defense Department official Laura Cooper: “I knew from my Kurt Volker conversations and also from sort of the alarm bells that were coming from Ambassador Taylor and his team that there were Ukrainians who knew about this.”

State Department official Katherine Croft: “I remember being very surprised at the effectiveness of my Ukrainian counterparts' diplomatic tradecraft, as in to say they found out very early on or much earlier than I expected them to.” Croft also emphasized that the Ukrainian officials “had no interest in this information getting out into the public.” 

Who is George Kent? Diplomat is testifying at Trump impeachment hearing

Here's what you need to know about longtime diplomat George Kent:

  • His father was a Navy veteran who captained a nuclear submarine
  • "I have served proudly as a nonpartisan career foreign service officer for more than 27 years, under five presidents — three Republicans and two Democrats," Kent said of his career. That included a stint as the senior anti-corruption coordinator in the State Department's European Bureau.
  • He's fluent in Russian, Ukrainian and Thai.

Here's what to expect from Kent's testimony.

Who is Bill Taylor? Witness testifying at Trump impeachment hearing

Here's what you need to know about Bill Taylor:

  • He's a West Point graduate who spent six years as an Army infantry officer, including in Vietnam.
  • Worked on Senate staff, NATO and the departments of Energy and State.
  • Served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in the George W. Bush administration from 2006-2009. He left the State Department in 2013.
  • Taylor and two other former ambassadors to Ukraine wrote an article in 2014 criticizing the Obama administration for not doing more to support the country after Russia annexed Crimea.
  • In text messages former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker provided to Congress, Taylor is the diplomat included in the exchanges who voiced concern that the Trump administration was conditioning a coveted White House visit and military aid to Ukraine announcing investigations. In a text to Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Taylor wrote, "As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.

More on what to expect from Taylor's testimony.

Impeachment 101: Now that hearings are airing, what happens next?

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.