The impeachment of President Donald Trump, stemming from the president's dealings with Ukraine, moves to a full House vote next week after the Judiciary Committee voted Friday to pass two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. This comes after weeks of hearings, depositions and subpoenas of present and former top administration officials and other figures — and more than a few presidential tweets.
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'Evidence of bribery': Pelosi comments on impeachment hearing
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the testimony presented by two career U.S. diplomats at the first House impeachment hearing a day earlier had presented evidence of bribery committed by President Donald Trump.
"The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into a political rival," Pelosi told reporters.
Pelosi’s comments come amid a Democratic shift in the language used to describe Trump's actions with regard to Ukraine that lie at the heart of the current impeachment inquiry. Lawmakers had called the president's moves a "quid pro quo," but have recently appeared to shift to a focus on more widely used terms that Democrats believe may resonate more deeply with voters.
Timeline: The curious release of military aid to Ukraine
WASHINGTON — Military aid promised by the U.S. to Ukraine — and the strange circumstances under which it was held up and eventually released — is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
For Republicans, the key fact is that Ukraine received the money, regardless of any request from Trump for an investigation of Joe Biden or the 2016 U.S. elections. For Democrats, withholding the aid for investigations is an abuse of power, regardless of what happened in the end.
Here's a look at key dates involving the nearly $400 million in military assistance that had been approved for release in the early months of 2019.
ANALYSIS: Hearsay might be barred in court. A congressional hearing is entirely different.
One of the Republican themes during the impeachment hearing Wednesday was that the witnesses — top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and senior State Department official George Kent — were not credible because they were relaying, in some instances, second-, third- or even fourth-hand information.
In court, such testimony might be barred as “hearsay” — defined as an out-of-court statement that a party offers as evidence to prove the truth of the matter being asserted. Hearsay is generally inadmissible. But hearsay is a rule of evidence, applying only to court proceedings, and even then with so many exceptions that it's often admissible anyway.
First, hearsay is admissible in many government settings, including administrative proceedings, parole hearings, and preliminary hearings in a criminal case; a congressional hearing is not even a court, so it’s not governed by the rule of evidence that makes hearsay inadmissible.
Even within the context of court proceedings, the hearsay rule is riddled with exceptions, with well over 30 situations where a statement might resemble or be hearsay but is considered reliable enough to be allowed into evidence anyway.
Article II: Inside Impeachment — Public hearings kick off
On the latest episode, Article II looks at the first public hearing of the impeachment inquiry. Host Steve Kornacki talks to Geoff Bennett, NBC News White House correspondent, about the testimony of top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine Bill Taylor and State Department senior official George Kent and delve into the Democrats' and Republicans' strategies.
One White House aide called the day a "nothing-burger.” Others close to the White House said they doubted the testimony would alter anyone's opinion — even as they acknowledged that acting Ukrainian Ambassador Bill Taylor came across as a credible witness.
“Not one Senate vote was changed today,” said one person close to the White House.
Trump largely stuck to his scheduled counter-programming schedule of White House events, as the first public impeachment hearings unfolded on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. In between morning and afternoon tweetstorms quoting his favorite defenders, the president claimed he was “too busy” to watch the proceedings, spending much of the day in meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, followed by a brief news conference.
Far from the spotlight, how presidential candidates spent the impeachment hearing
Elizabeth Warren was campaigning in New Hampshire, Joe Biden was meeting with union members in Washington, and Andrew Yang appeared on a popular radio show in New York — but their candidacies were caught in the shadow of the public impeachment hearing.
Warren was in Concord on Wednesday, where she filed to officially get on the ballot in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary. "I'm officially in!" she exclaimed, before answering reporters' questions about what was happening almost 500 miles away in Washington, where diplomats Bill Taylor and George Kent were testifying in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump.
The split-screen day — 2020 candidates on the campaign trail, nationally televised impeachment proceedings back at the Capitol — gave the presidential contenders their first good look at the news tsunami they will be contending with for weeks and potentially months, even as voting in the early states draws near. And it shows how the large field of White House hopefuls will be forced to compete for attention as the effort to remove the president picks up steam.