Trump complains 'It's not fair' he's being impeached
Analysis: Trump faces fight or flight moment in Senate impeachment trial
WASHINGTON — The closer Republicans get to a Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the more it looks like an improvised political explosive.
The White House and the Senate Republican Conference are united in their desire to dispose of it, but divided over how to do that in the way that inflicts the most damage on Democrats and the least harm on them — a show that gives Trump the chance to turn the tables on his accusers, or a quick dismissal that amounts to an exercise in self-preservation for him and GOP senators.
In other words, it's fight or flight time for Trump.
With his legacy, his re-election and his movement on the line — at a time when congressional Republicans are in lockstep defense of his actions — it would be quite a silent retreat for the chest-thumping, trash-talking Trump to slip away from the chance to have a made-for-TV trial befitting his reality-era presidency.
He sounds like he doesn't want to.
"I wouldn’t mind the long process, because I’d like to see the whistleblower, who’s a fraud, having the whistleblower called to testify in the Senate trial," he said Friday, referring to the anonymous intelligence community official who first accused him of wrongdoing in a complaint filed with the intelligence community inspector general.
He also noted that he believes that the House's impeachment process — the Judiciary Committee there approved two articles against him on Friday morning and the full House is expected to approve them next week — has benefited him.
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Article II: Inside Impeachment - The 7-Minute Vote
The House Judiciary Committee passed two articles of impeachment against President Trump Friday morning. The panel met for just seven minutes to cast their votes, after debating late into the evening on Thursday.
Garrett Haake, MSNBC Washington Correspondent, explains how this committee vote propels the two articles of impeachment to a vote before the entire House of Representatives next week.
Click here to listen to the episode
One House Democrat goes on record opposing Trump impeachment
House Democrats hailing from conservative swing districts are all lining up to vote in favor of two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump next week — except for one congressman from New Jersey.
An NBC News survey of more than 40 vulnerable House Democrats found only Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who represents the southern tip of the state, plans to vote against the articles of impeachment.
"My district is red — a good chunk of it — and they're definitely anti-impeachment. And then I have the part that is purple, and they are more pro-impeachment. So whatever you do," he told NBC News, "you're going to aggravate people."
The outspoken Van Drew — who was profiled recently by NBCNews.com focusing on his opposition to impeachment — was only one of two Democrats to vote against the House resolution in October that formalized the rules and procedure for the impeachment inquiry.
The other was Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who represents a rural district Trump won by 30 points in 2016. A spokesperson for Peterson told NBC News on Friday that he's undecided on how he'll vote on the articles on the House floor, likely on Wednesday.
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How the historic vote in the House Judiciary Committee played out
What happens next? An impeachment trial road map
Well, it’s not entirely clear, as it pertains to specifics, but there is a road map in place, as NBC News' Pete Williams, Alex Moe and Frank Thorp have pointed out.
Full House vote
First, the full House must vote on the impeachment resolution. This is likely to occur Wednesday.
Next, the House will appoint members to serve as "managers," or prosecutors, for the Senate trial. Pelosi has sole discretion to appoint House managers, and, as Jon Allen reported on Thursday, House members have already started campaigning and jockeying for what will be a career-defining appointment.
The Constitution lays out only three requirements for a Senate impeachment: The chief justice presides over the Senate trial of a president (but not the trial of any other official); each senator must be sworn (similar to the way jurors take an oath), and a two-thirds vote is required to convict on any article of impeachment. Once the preliminaries are out of the way, the trial takes place under procedures similar to courtrooms. The House managers make an opening statement, followed by a statement from lawyers for the president. The Senate has yet to decide whether, if Trump is impeached, witnesses will be allowed to testify to the full Senate. There's no requirement for the president to appear, and he cannot be compelled to testify. Like jurors in a trial, senators sit and listen. The rules say if they have questions, they can submit them in writing to be asked by the chief justice.
After both sides make their closing arguments, the Senate begins deliberations, traditionally in closed session. The Senate then votes separately on each article of impeachment, which must take place in open session.
Can the president pardon himself if he's impeached?
No. The same constitutional provision that gives the president the power "to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States" adds this phrase: "except in cases of impeachment."
What happens if the Senate convicts Trump?
He would be immediately removed from office, triggering the 25th Amendment. Vice President Mike Pence would become president.
'Witch hunt,' 'sham,' 'hoax': Trump shreds impeachment process in first comments since vote
Trump, talking to reporters alongside his Paraguayan counterpart, shredded the impeachment process, calling it a "witch hunt," a "sham," and a "hoax."
"To be using this for a perfect phone call," he said, referring to the July 25 phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that was partly the basis for the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, is a "scam," he said.
He added that it was "a horrible thing to be using the tool of impeachment," which, Trump said, "is supposed to be used in an emergency."
Trump said Democrats were "trivializing impeachment."
"It's a very bad thing for our country," he added.
Trump predicted that the saga will eventually backfire on Democrats.
"Someday there will be a Democrat president and a Republican House, and I suspect they’re going to, they’ll remember it," Trump said.
"The people are disgusted," he continued. "No one has ever seen anything like this."
Asked about whether he would prefer a brief Senate trial or one that is more drawn out, Trump responded, "I'll do long or short."
"I wouldn't mind a long process," he said. "I'd like to see the whistleblower."
Rules committee to mark up impeachment Tuesday; full House vote likely Wednesday
The House Rules Committee on Friday said it would hold a meeting Tuesday to consider a resolution impeaching Trump.
Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass., said his panel will mark up the resolution Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. This meeting will dictate rules like length of floor debate for the full House vote that would follow.
The mark-up meeting sets up a likely Wednesday vote by the full House on impeachment.
Gohmert: This is 'a day that will live in infamy'
Echoing President Franklin Roosevelt, Gohmert said Thursday will be "a day that will live in infamy" in the Judiciary Committee, slamming Democrats over the articles of impeachment because he said they contain no allegation of a crime.
Roosevelt famously made that remark when discussing the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
House Judiciary Committee to debate and vote on articles of impeachment
The House Judiciary Committee will continue debating the articles of impeachment from Thursday 9 a.m. ET, ahead of an vote to approve them. That would then tee up a vote by the full House next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also holds her weekly press conference Thursday.