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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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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Castor presses Taylor on 'irregular' Ukraine channel

Castor, after a series of confusing questions that even longtime Republicans took issue with, eventually arrived on a line of questioning that seemed to strike a chord.

Pointing out Taylor’s criticism in his opening statement and prior testimony of the "irregular" diplomatic channel between the U.S. and Ukraine, Castor asked Taylor "did you try to wrest control of the irregular channel?"

"I did not try to," Taylor replied.

Responding to questions about why, Taylor said it was because "both channels were interested in having a meeting between President Zelenskiy and President Trump."

"There’s no reason to kind of wrest control if we were going in the same direction," he added.

Castor then asked again, why, if Taylor held growing concerns about that channel, he didn’t make that attempt but later expressed his worries so sharply.

"I was concerned when the irregular channel was going against the overall direction and purpose of the regular channel," Taylor said.

GOP counsel asks if Hunter Biden speaks Ukrainian

GOP counsel Steve Castor, as part of an apparent attempt to cast Hunter Biden’s joining of the Burisma board as suspect, peppered Kent and Taylor with questions about the son of the former vice president.

Castor asked Kent whether he knew if Biden was an "expert" in "corporate governance."

"I have heard nothing about prior experience," Kent said.

"Do you know if he speaks Ukrainian?" Castor asked a moment later.

"I do not," Kent said.

"Do you know if he possesses any other elements other than that he is the son of a sitting vice president?" Castor asked.

"I do not," Kent replied. 

Schiff, GOP argue over arguing

Schiff and Republican members of the Intelligence Committee argued at the onset of Republican questioning about, well, their ability to argue.

Schiff had interrupted a question from the Republican side pertaining to "facts not in evidence," telling Taylor he did not have to answer it, but that the chairman was not objecting to the question.

That led to an argument over whether rules of a courtroom are in play, and Republicans countered that they would have objected to many Democratic questions under the standard Schiff had expressed to Taylor.

Early reviews on GOP counsel are in

White House official responds to Taylor testimony on Trump-Sondland call

Taylor testified earlier Wednesday that one of his staffers had informed him about overhearing a July 26 call between Sondland and Trump in which Trump asked Sondland about “the investigations,” 

A White House official responded to Taylor's testimony, saying, “This alleged new phone call makes no mention whatsoever of any alleged quid pro quo. Even if this hearsay account is accurate, no one was very concerned about it since they have just now reported it. Not only was Taylor not on the call with the alleged call between President and Sondland, but the person who relayed the account to Taylor wasn’t even on the call either. House Democrats are relying on a game of telephone.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told NBC News later Wednesday, “The latest 'evidence' is an anonymous staffer who told someone he overheard someone else talking to POTUS on the phone. All the 'evidence' in this case is second- and thirdhand hearsay.”

Two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News that the staffer who overheard the call is David Holmes, a State Department official just added to the calendar to testify in closed session Friday.

Trump allies on impeachment hearing: Boring!

Trump’s allies think Wednesday’s initial impeachment hearing is a snoozer.

"This is horribly boring... #Snoozefest," Trump’s son Eric tweeted, adding in another tweet, "For as much time as the Democrats have spent trying to orchestrate ‘political theater’ they have done a terrible job. This clown show is horribly boring."

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted, “This sham hearing is not only boring, it is a colossal waste of taxpayer time & money.”

And Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a close ally of the president, told reporters, “I don’t know about you but it’s hard for me to stay awake and listen to all of this.”

Trump: I'm 'too busy' to watch impeachment hearings

President Donald Trump said Wednesday afternoon he hadn't had time to watch the first public impeachment hearings.

"I'm too busy to watch it," he told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, less than three hours after the session began on Capitol Hill. "It's a witch hunt, it's a hoax. I'm too busy to watch it, so I'm sure I'll get a report."

Despite his claim that he hadn't been able to watch the proceedings, the president did take a jab at the Democratic staffer questioning witnesses.

"I see that they are using lawyers that are television lawyers ...they took some guys off television," said Trump. "You know, I'm not surprised to see it, because Schiff can't do his own questions."

Who is Steve Castor? GOP questioner in Trump impeachment inquiry

The man doing the questioning for the GOP minority is Steve Castor, the House Intelligence Committee counsel for Republicans.

He was reportedly brought over to the Intelligence Committee from the Oversight Committee by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a new addition to the panel himself.

Castor has served as counsel for Oversight for 14 years, and helped question witnesses during its probes of the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi and into allegations the IRS was focusing on political targets during the Obama administration.

He earned his law degree from George Washington University, and previously worked doing commercial litigation in Philadelphia and Washington, according to a biography on the Federalist Society website. Castor is listed as a contributor to the conservative group.   

Steve Castor, center, Republican staff attorney for the House Oversight Committee, on Wednesday. Susan Walsh / AP

Transcripts from the closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry to date show Castor repeatedly trying to get witnesses to give identifying information about the whistleblower who raised a red flag about President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart. That's led to some tense exchanges, including during the testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on National Security Council.   

At one point, Castor asked Vindman to whom he had expressed his concerns about the July 25 call, a question Vindman’s lawyer objected to, believing it was an effort to get Vindman to name the whistleblower.

"If you want to keep going down this road, we're going to just keep objecting, OK?" Vindman's lawyer said.

"There's a little bit of a disconnect, because in your statement you say you don't know who the whistleblower is," Castor replied.

State Dept. official testifying Friday is staffer who overheard Trump-Sondland call

Two sources familiar with the matter tells NBC News that David Holmes, the State Department official just added to the calendar to testify in closed session next week, is the staffer for Bill Taylor who overheard E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s phone call in which President Trump asked about "the investigations."

Holmes is a new character in the Ukraine saga. He is the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. As today’s hearing was getting underway, two officials working on the impeachment inquiry told NBC News that Holmes is expected to testify in closed session next Friday, Nov. 15.

At the same time, Taylor was revealing that one of his own staffers had informed him just last Friday about a phone call on July 26, in which the staffer was with Sondland and overheard a call between Sondland and Trump.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Kent: 'No factual basis' behind CrowdStrike conspiracy theory

Kent, responding to questions from Goldman, said he "had not heard of CrowdStrike until l read the transcript" of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy.

Goldman then asked if the theory behind CrowdStrike — the name of the cybersecurity company that’s been at the center of a far-right conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election — had “any factual basis.”

“To my knowledge, there is no factual basis,” Kent said. Trump mentioned “CrowdStrike” in the July 25 call, according to the transcript of it.

Goldman then asked Kent who he did believe interfered in the 2016 election.

"It’s amply clear that Russian interference was at the heart of the interference in the 2016 election cycle," Kent said.

Asked in the same exchange by Goldman if there was any basis to the accusation that Joe Biden did anything wrong in Ukraine, Kent replied, "None whatsoever."