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.

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OPINION: Devin Nunes' impeachment defense of Trump — and possible Ukraine collusion — redefines partisan hackery

At last Thursday’s impeachment hearing, Fiona Hill, President Donald Trump's former top adviser on Russia and Europe, had a very direct message for Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

“Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country — and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did,” Hill said. “This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”

Her comments came the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin had boasted at an event in Moscow: “Thank God no one is accusing us of interfering in the U.S. elections anymore. Now they’re accusing Ukraine.”

In effect that was also a shout-out to Nunes. As Trump’s loyal attack ferret on the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes has continually pushed the same debunked conspiracy theories about Ukraine, the Democratic National Committee and CrowdStrike that the Russians have apparently worked so diligently to spread. Indeed, Nunes has become the de facto face of the GOP defense of Trump, in all of its bizarre contempt for facts, its willingness to ignore and defame witnesses and its zeal to defend the president at all costs — including actively colluding with efforts to dig up dirt on his political opponents.

Read the full opinion piece.

Sen. Coons rips Lindsey Graham over investigation of Bidens

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., blasted Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham's launching of an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, saying the South Carolina Republican is doing Trump's "dirty work."

"I know that he's under enormous pressure from the Trump White House," Coons said of Graham in an interview Sunday on MSNBC's "Kasie DC." "He's up for reelection. He's facing a primary. But that doesn't justify abandoning a decades-old friendship and a commitment to the truth."

Last week Graham requested Secretary of State Mike Pompeo release documents related to contacts between the former vice president, his son, other Obama administration officials and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The request is related to an alleged conflict of interest of the then-vice president over his calls in 2016 for Ukraine to crack down on corruption, including removing the country's prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who was seen as ineffective. Shokin had investigated an energy company Burisma Holdings, where Biden's son Hunter Biden was a board member.

When asked about the move, Biden said Saturday that the Judiciary Committee "can have all the documents. There's not a single person, not a single solitary person in Ukraine, or in Europe or in the IMF, International Monetary Fund, or our allies that said anything other than I carried out the policy without one single moment of hesitation of the United States government in dealing with corruption in Ukraine. ... But it does disappoint me.

Graham on Monday defended his actions, saying, “My conscious is clear, I love Joe Biden as a person,  he is a really decent man. He's had a lot of tragedy in his life. But I have a conscious very clear right now, and I have a duty. If the House is going to shut it down, the Senate is going to pick it up.”

"My friendship with Joe Biden, if it can't withstand me doing my job, then it's not the friendship I thought we had," Graham added. "I admire him as a person. I think he's always tried to do right as a person."

Coons, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said the allegations against the former vice president have been found to be "groundless, calling Graham's investigation a "red herring" and "a bad attempt to distract from the reality of the impeachment inquiry that’s going forward in  the House."  

Graham's "latest decision, this choice to betray a decades-old friendship and a clear-eyed view of the truth, I think is a really disappointing demonstration of just how  much Senator Graham's close relationship with President Trump has affected the core of who he is and his judgment," Coons added.  

Nunes dodges questions about allegations he sought dirt on Biden from Ukraine

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., on Sunday dodged questions about reports he met with Ukraine's former top prosecutor in an effort to investigate the Bidens, citing his threats to sue the media outlets that uncovered the allegations.

"I really want to answer all these questions, and I promise you I absolutely will come back on the show and answer these questions," Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures." "But, because there is criminal activity here, we’re working with the appropriate law enforcement agencies; we’re going to file this, and everyone’s going to know the truth, everybody’s going to know all the facts."

"But, I think you can understand that I can’t compete by trying to debate this out with the public media when 90% of the media are totally corrupt," he added. "And, because this is criminal in nature, and because it’s so bad, it’s so slanderous — we’ve got all the facts on our side, and we’re going to file in federal court, because I'm not going to sit here and try to compete against the media that I have no chance of winning. I will win in court, and they’ll have a chance to cooperate, and they’ll have to show how they work with somebody who has been indicted, which is likely conspiring to obstruct justice."

The allegations arose when the attorney for an indicted associate of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he was willing to tell Congress that Nunes met with that ex-Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, about investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had business dealings in Ukraine.

Read the full story.

OPINION: Democrats' 'bribery' impeachment strategy is an unforced error with sobering consequences

You don’t have to be closely following the inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump to understand the case against the president. This past week, nine current or former administration officials testified before congressional investigators. All of them, to one degree or another, have told the same story.

In the words of former national security council official Fiona Hill, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, was “involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security, foreign policy.” That errand involved the strong-arming of a strategic U.S. partner and the likely leveraging of congressionally authorized assistance to tar one of the president’s domestic political rivals. As Sondland himself confessed during his testimony, he was explicitly directed by the president to compel the new Ukrainian president to create the appearance of a scandal around Joe Biden. “He had to announce the investigations,” Sondland said of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. “He didn't actually have to do them, as I understood it.”

There is a lot we do not yet know about the events leading up to the release of the whistleblower complaint to Congress on Sept. 9, at which point the president began conspicuously denying the existence of a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine. We do not, for example, know why the president issued an explicit order to the Office of Management and Budget to waylay military aid, and we probably never will if chief of staff Mick Mulvaney manages to avoid a deposition. But that would not change the facts of the case as we know them, or the unavoidable conclusion that the president did exactly what he is alleged to have done, which was to abuse his executive power for personal gain.

But if Democrats have such an airtight case against the president, that is not evident in polling or the demeanor of even persuadable Republicans. In fact, after a week of damning testimony, the Democratic position appears to be deteriorating. For that, Democrats only have themselves to blame. 

Read the rest of the article here.

GOP senator: 'I don't know' if Ukraine or Russia hacked 2016 election

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., on Sunday defended Trump by floating the same debunked 2016 conspiracy theory that the president asked Ukraine to investigate, a key component of the House impeachment inquiry.

Trump's former top Russia analyst Fiona Hill said during Thursday's impeachment hearings that the idea that Ukraine, and not Russia, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election was "a fictional narrative being propagated by the Russian security services themselves." Trump first asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinskiy to look into the CrowdStrike conspiracy during their July call, a theory he repeated on Friday during an interview with "Fox and Friends."

"Fox News" host Chris Wallace asked Kennedy if he believed Russia or Ukraine was responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee server and the Clinton campaign's emails.

"I don’t know, nor do you, nor do any of us," Kennedy said. "Ms. Hill is entitled to her opinion."

Wallace responded that the "entire" intelligence community points to Russia's culpability.

"Right, but it could also be Ukraine," Kennedy said. "I’m not saying that I know one way or the other."

Read the story.

Schiff says House will move forward with impeachment inquiry after 'overwhelming' evidence from hearings

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday that the two weeks of public hearings produced “overwhelming evidence” that President Donald Trump conditioned official acts for favors from Ukraine that would benefit his re-election bid, arguing that it's "urgent" for the House to move forward with its impeachment inquiry.

In an interview on "Meet the Press," Schiff, the California Democrat overseeing the hearings, said that while his committee has no more public testimony scheduled, he doesn’t “foreclose the possibility of others” being added.

Still, Schiff said he felt confident that the five days of open hearings with 12 witnesses produced clear evidence against the president even without hearing from some central Trump administration officials. And he said that he didn't want to delay the House's progress with protracted legal battles aimed at compelling those officials, like former national security adviser John Bolton and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, to testify.

Read the full story.

Catch up on Article II: Where things stand and what comes next

In a new episode of "Article II: Inside Impeachment," NBC News politics reporters Steve Kornacki and Jonathan Allen discuss where lawmakers stand after two weeks of public hearings.

The two discuss what House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s closing statement on Thursday reveals about the Democrats’ path forward on impeachment and the next steps of the inquiry. 

Listen to the episode here.