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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Live Blog

Texas GOP Rep. shouts at Taylor

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, spent much of his five minutes of questioning yelling at Taylor.

During a particularly fraught exchange during his questioning, Ratcliffe repeatedly asked Taylor whether he had any evidence that Zelenskiy was "lying" when he told reporters that he was not aware of a military aid hold or of any conditions being placed on the military aid to his country when he had held the July 25 call with Trump.

"Yes or no," Ratcliffe demanded to know. 

"If I can respond," Taylor said, before being interrupted by Ratcliffe, who yelled, "My time is short, yes or no?"

"I have no reason to doubt what the president said,” Taylor said.

Ratcliffe, with sweat on his brow, then replied, “where is the impeachable offense in that call?”

"Shout it out! Anyone?" he continued. Ratcliffe then attempted to withdraw his question and have the clock suspended for his five-minute allotment.

"I have one minute left," he said. "I withdraw the question," he said. 

Kent knocks down the equivalence between Biden and Trump

Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., pressed Kent on the difference between Biden acting on Obama administration orders and getting rid of a corrupt prosecutor in Ukraine and Trump pressing the country to open an investigation into the Bidens. 

Kent testified that the former Ukrainian prosecutor undermined a U.S.-backed assistance program and it was a part of American foreign policy to lobby for his removal. He also said that he did not see in the transcript of the July 25 call a genuine interest from Trump to end corruption in Ukraine. 

"I don’t think he was trying to end corruption in Ukraine, I think he was trying to aim corruption in Ukraine — at Joe Biden," Himes said. 

What was Joe Biden's role in Ukraine?

Moments ago, the Republican counsel questioned Kent and Taylor about former Vice President Joe Biden's role in Ukraine. 

Here's a quick primer: Beginning in 2014, Biden led diplomatic efforts in Ukraine to bolster the country’s fledgling democracy and root out corruption after mass protests ousted a Russian-backed president. He specifically called for the removal of Viktor Shokin, the Ukraine prosecutor general who was widely believed to be corrupt. 

“I said: ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in’ — I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’ ” Biden said at a 2018 event, recounting his actions. “Well, son of a b---- , he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

The removal of the prosecutor was U.S. government policy at the time, and widely agreed to among the international community as the right move. In his closed-door testimony, Kent testified last month that the International Monetary Fund, the European Union countries and the U.S. agreed that Shokin should be removed as prosecutor general.

Schiff tried to get at the heart of Trump’s demand

Schiff’s exchange with Kent and Taylor is important because he’s trying to pull out of them a confirmation that Trump’s interest in corruption was a cover to manufacture an investigation into the Bidens. Schiff noted that Trump didn't mention corruption during the July 25 call. He didn't mention corrupt oligarchs, but mentioned the Bidens and CrowdStrike. 

“He was interested in the Bidens?” Schiff said. 

“Yes, sir,” Kent replied. 

Schiff argued that Trump wanted to put Zelenskiy in a box. Kent testified that Zelenskiy, however, expressed trepidation about getting involved in foreign elections. 

Members begin questions

The staff questioning round has now ended.

The committee has moved to the five-minute member round for the 22 members alternating between Democrats and Republicans.

As a reminder, in this round members can give their five minutes time to another member.

The member questions should last roughly two hours barring any breaks or procedural delays. At this point, we don’t know if/when another break will occur. 

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.”