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 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
- Trump is acquitted by the Senate on both articles of impeachment, with one GOP defector.
- Senate moves to impeachment trial endgame.
- Senators ask final questions before critical vote on witnesses.
- Senators probe prosecution, defense.
- The president's defense delivers closing arguments.
- Trump's legal team digs in.
- The president's defense begins.
- Democrats make case for obstruction.
- Trump impeached by the House on both articles of impeachment.
- Impeachment inquiry witnesses testify: Marie Yovanovitch, Alexander Vindman, Kurt Volker, Gordon Sondland, Fiona Hill and others.
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What's going on in the hearing room?
Only press, members of Congress and their staff currently are allowed in the room.
Directly behind the witness table are press tables. Directly behind those are three rows of seats for Congress, totaling between 68 and 70 seats for members.
About half a dozen members are already in, including Democratic Reps. Karen Bass and Dean Phillips and GOP Rep. Mark Meadows.
On the Republican side of the Dias are signs reading:
- “I’m concerned if we don’t Impeach this president, he will get re-elected,” Rep. Al Green
- “93 days since Adam Schiff learned the identity of the whistleblower.”
- A tweet from WB attorney Mark Zaid from Jan 30, 2017 that reads “#coup has started. First of many steps. #rebellion. #impeachment will follow ultimately. #lawyers
Trump campaign says Pelosi 'lost control'
The impeachment hearings could turn out to be more unpredictable than you think
WASHINGTON — Most in Washington are already convinced how the public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, which begin this morning, will play out. House Republicans will sabotage the proceedings and muddy the waters. Democrats will struggle to win the message war, as they often do. And everything — as it almost always does — will break along partisan lines.
Maybe they’re right; it’s probably the smart bet. But they also could be wrong, given how unpredictable President Trump can be; how unpredictable the witness answers could be; how these public hearings could play with the persuadable public; and how damning much of the available evidence already is.
Maybe the best news for Democrats entering today’s public hearing is how low the expectations are. There’s a good reason to have these low expectations. But it also creates a pretty low bar that becomes easier to clear.
While it’s obvious to focus on the politics and theatrics of the televised public hearings, don’t forget about the actual substance that’s on the line here. ...
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.
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.
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.
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.