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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.
Image: Impeachment live blog
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

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

Rep. Slotkin, in pro-Trump district, says she will vote to impeach

Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin announced on Monday morning that she will vote for both articles of impeachment. She is the latest vulnerable Democrat to support impeaching the president despite the potential political ramifications.

Slotkin, a former CIA officer and Department of Defense official, said the president "illegally solicited the help of foreigners to influence the American political process."

"There are some decisions in life that have to be made based on what you know in your bones is right. And this is one of those times," Slotkin wrote in an opinion piece in the Detroit Free Press. She is holding a town hall on Monday to hear from her constituents on her decision.

Slotkin is a freshman from a district President Donald Trump won by nearly seven points in 2016.

US Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on July 23, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images file

Slotkin said Trump's obstruction of the impeachment investigation was "unprecedented."

The House of Representatives are voting on two articles of impeachment this week: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Slotkin was one of seven freshman Democrats with military and national security backgrounds who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post after the release of the whistleblower complaint that helped propel House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to support an impeachment inquiry.

"Over the past few months, I've been told more times that I can count that the vote I’ll be casting this week will mark the end of my short political career. That may be," Slotkin wrote. "But in the national security world that I come from, we are trained to make hard calls on things, even if they are unpopular, if we believe the security of the country is at stake."

House Judiciary Committee releases 658-page impeachment report

The House Judiciary Committee released its full report on the impeachment of President Donald Trump after midnight Sunday, ahead of consideration by the full House as early as Wednesday. 

The report, a 658-page document, is an explanation in four parts of the committee's process and justification for recommending two articles of impeachment against Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. 

The committee, chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., devotes part one to detailing the process by which the House Intelligence Committee investigated the case against Trump. Part two is dedicated to examining the standards of impeachment laid out in the Constitution. 

Part three delves into the details of Democrats' case that Trump abused the power of his office to pressure a foreign government, Ukraine's, to investigate his domestic political rival and interfere in the 2020 presidential election. 

"President Trump has realized the Framers' worst nightmare. He has abused his power in soliciting and pressuring a vulnerable foreign nation to corrupt the next United States Presidential election by sabotaging a political opponent and endorsing a debunked conspiracy theory promoted by our adversary, Russia," the committee wrote.

Part four makes a case that the president obstructed Congress' ability to hold the executive branch accountable by flouting House investigators' requests for documents and testimony.  

"Other Presidents have recognized their obligation to provide information to Congress under these circumstances," the report states. "President Trump's stonewall, by contrast, was categorical, indiscriminate, and without precedent in American history."

The committee concludes that Trump "has fallen into a pattern of behavior: this is not the first time he has solicited foreign interference in an election, been exposed, and attempted to obstruct the resulting investigation. He will almost certainly continue on this course."

Read the full report

Democrat opposed to impeachment likely to switch parties

A Democratic congressman from a swing district in southern New Jersey — who has been outspoken in his opposition to President Donald Trump's impeachment — is likely to leave the party, sources told NBC News on Saturday.

Two Democratic leadership sources said they expect Rep. Jeff Van Drew to change his registration to Republican in the wake of his stance against the House Democratic-led efforts to impeach Trump.

Van Drew did not immediately return a request for comment from NBC News.

An internal poll conducted earlier this month for Van Drew showed he would be unlikely to win re-election to his seat in the 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses the southern tip of Jersey and includes Atlantic City.

Only 28 percent of Democratic respondents said Van Drew "deserves to be re-nominated," while 58 percent said that "another Democrat" should represent the party in the district's 2020 election, according to the poll obtained by NBC News.

Van Drew was among a handful of Democrats to vote against going forward with the impeachment inquiry back in October.

For the full story click here

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.

For the full analysis, click here

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.

For the full story click here

How the historic vote in the House Judiciary Committee played out

 

What happens next? An impeachment trial road map

What’s next?

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.

Managers selected

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.

Senate trial

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.