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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Schiff lays out thrust of inquiry case, denies knowing the whistleblower
Schiff, in his closing remarks, reiterated the allegation that Trump abused his office and leveraged a high-profile meeting and military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and, in effect, invite foreign interference in U.S. elections to help his re-election.
“You described a situation in which those in the service of the president made it clear to the Ukrainians they need to publicly announce these investigations or they weren't going to get that meeting and they weren't going to get that military assistance,” Schiff said, referring to the testimony of Taylor and Kent.
Schiff noted that this hearing is just one of several scheduled for the coming days and weeks to bolster the Democrats’ case. Democrats on Tuesday announced a second week of open hearings in the House impeachment inquiry, including with E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker, and top Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
Before wrapping up, Schiff again denied knowing the identity of the whistleblower before the complaint was filed.
Nunes, meanwhile, ended the hearing where he began, by decrying the process and demanding Democrats call the whistleblower and other Democratic operatives to testify.
"You are not allowing those witnesses to appear before the committee, which i think is a problem," he said.
The California Republican said the hearings should stop until lawmakers get answers to the extent of alleged "prior coordination" with the whistleblower; the extent of what Nunes claimed was Ukraine election meddling against the Trump campaign, a reference to the conspiracy theory that Trump and Giuliani have been chasing; and the reason Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma hired Hunter Biden to its board and whether his position affected any Obama administration actions.
Schumer says senators should 'keep their ears and minds open' on impeachment
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday's impeachment hearing shows why the investigation must "continue unimpeded."
"The new revelations show exactly why the investigation must continue unimpeded so all the facts come out and why every senator should not prejudge until all the facts are out," he said. "We heard some new facts today, and that's all the more reason senators should keep their ears and minds open."
Republicans argue witnesses don't have 'firsthand' knowledge of events. Is that right?
Republicans repeatedly argued — on Twitter and in the hearing room — that Wednesday's witnesses lacked firsthand knowledge of a pressure campaign on Ukrainian officials, and placed emphasis on the fact that Kent and Taylor never spoke directly to Trump.
This argument is in part misleading. Kent and Taylor had direct knowledge of the Trump administration's diplomatic mission in Ukraine, and testified to those facts. Republicans are correct in noting that these two particular officials do not have firsthand knowledge of Trump's conversations, or those of his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.
In their sworn depositions and in the open hearing, Taylor, the current acting ambassador to Ukraine, and Kent, a top State Department official, referred to conversations, emails and meetings they participated in or were told about involving high-level diplomats, senior Ukrainian officials and the Ukrainian president. They refer to contemporaneous notes and official documents.
Taylor, answering questions from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, confirmed that he was not on Trump's July call with Ukraine's president that triggered a whistleblower complaint, nor had he spoken directly with Mulvaney, who Taylor said was part of a secondary, "irregular" diplomatic channel that worked to pressure Ukraine to conduct investigations, and that he had never met the president.
"This is what I can’t believe, and you're their star witness," Jordan said.
Impeachment investigators have interviewed 15 witnesses in closed-door questioning and subpoenaed more. At least one, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, was on the call at the heart of the impeachment inquiry and is scheduled to testify publicly next Tuesday. Meanwhile, Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, who multiple witnesses testified spoke directly with Trump and claimed to act accordingly, is scheduled to testify publicly next Wednesday.
Notably, more than a dozen White House staffers and Cabinet officials with firsthand knowledge have not complied with congressional subpoenas, including Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and a slew of other government staffers. The White House has sought to limit what witnesses can say. Kent and Taylor testified that they had been directed by the State Department not to testify when invited by congressional investigators, only doing so once they were subpoenaed.
Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., pointed this out during the hearing on Wednesday.
"You'd have a lot more direct testimony and direct evidence if you weren't blocking that ability," he said.
Kent says plainly that Giuliani was looking for ‘political dirt’
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., pressed both Kent and Taylor on Giuliani’s shadow foreign policy efforts, and they both agreed it was not in the interest of U.S. national security.
“Was Mr. Giuliani promoting official U.S. interests?” she asked.
Kent: "I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt."
Taylor: "I agree"
Fun fact: Demings also questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller in July and got him to say that Trump was not entirely truthful in his written answers in the Russia probe.
Taylor notes that Pompeo cable was a career first
During an exchange with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., Taylor said that the first time he sent a first-person cable to the secretary of state in his 30-year career in the foreign service was in August to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Taylor emphasized that sending a cable to America’s top diplomat was a rare move.
Asked whether Taylor heard back from Pompeo, Taylor said, "Not directly."
Kent said that he was on vacation when the cable came in, "but my understanding is that it made it to his intended recipient."
Kent, however, said he’s unsure if anything was done, saying, "I can’t honestly say what happened with the cable at the highest level."
In August, then-White House national security adviser John Bolton recommended that Taylor send a first-person cable to Pompeo directly relaying his concerns about the U.S. security assistance to Ukraine that was held up by the Office of Management and Budget more than a month earlier, on July 18.
"I wrote and transmitted such a cable on Aug. 29, describing the 'folly' I saw in withholding military aid to Ukraine at a time when hostilities were still active in the east and when Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian government,” Taylor said about the cable in his opening statement Wednesday.
Warren says 2020 campaign won't keep her from a potential Senate impeachment trial
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, told reporters on Wednesday that her campaign wouldn't keep her from attending a potential Senate impeachment trial.
"I have constitutional responsibilities," she said. "I took an oath of office as did everyone in Congress. Part of that oath of office is the basic principle that no one is above the law, that includes the president of the United States, and if the House goes forward and sends an impeachment over to the Senate then I will be there for the trial."
Warren also said she had not been able to catch up on the first day of the impeachment hearings in the House today.
McConnell criticizes government business 'put aside' for impeachment hearing
Hearing room bursts out laughing after Democrat snaps back at Jordan
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., got a round of laughs in the hearing room for a joke he made in response to a lengthy rant from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, about how impeachment investigators need to have “the person who started” the impeachment probe, meaning the first whistleblower, come testify.
Welch retorted, "I'd like to see the person who started it come testify. President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there."
Ratcliffe seeks to find out about Democrats’ interactions with the whistleblower
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, sought to engage in a "colloquy" with Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., during his round of questioning to find out details about what Schiff knows about the whistleblower and any interactions with the person.
Schiff then said that Ratcliffe should direct his questions to the witnesses.
"I’m not trying to find out the identity," Ratcliffe said. "I’m just trying to find out the date that this happened."
Republicans have been focused on the whistleblower approaching a member of the majority staff before filing their official complaint about what they knew about the Trump-Zelensky phone call. Republicans claimed both before and throughout the hearing that Schiff knows the identity of the whistleblower, but Schiff made clear Wednesday that he doesn’t know who the person is. Democrats have said that during the closed-door depositions that Republicans have sought to out the whistleblower.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., chimed in and read from the rules of the public hearings that what Ratcliffe was seeking to do regarding the whistleblower was not in accordance with the resolution passed by the House that outlined procedures for the hearings.
Ratcliffe pushed further asking Schiff, "Are we ever going to find out the details?"
"Mr. Ratcliffe, your time is dwindling. I suggest you use it," Schiff responded.