McConnell, Schumer start the year deadlocked over Senate impeachment trial
The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate made clear Friday that they remain deadlocked over the parameters of a Senate trial weighing whether President Donald Trump, impeached by the House in December, should be removed from office.
Opening the 2020 congressional session, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor that the upper chamber could not hold a trial without the two articles of impeachment adopted by the House that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has not yet transmitted to the Senate.
"We can't hold the trial without the articles. The Senate’s old rules don’t provide for that. So, for now, we're content to continue the ordinary business of the Senate while House Democrats continue to flounder,” McConnell said.
Speaking on the floor after McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that his GOP counterpart had engaged in a lot of “finger-pointing” and “name-calling” without weighing on the question he said was holding up the Senate trial: “Whether there will be witnesses and documents.”
“He has no good argument against having witnesses and documents, so he resorts to these subterfuges,” Schumer said. “Instead of trying to find the truth, he is still using the same feeble talking points that he was using last December.”
Read the full story.
Judge allows indicted Giuliani associate to turn over documents to Congress
A Rudy Giuliani associate awaiting trial on campaign finance charges can turn over evidence requested by House impeachment investigators, a federal court judge in New York ruled Friday.
The House had asked Lev Parnas back in September to turn over all documents he had involving Giuliani and other key players in the administration's effort to press the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Parnas, 47, initially refused to comply — but had a change of heart after he was arrested for in October for violating campaign finance laws.
Parnas' lawyer, Joseph Bondy, said the documents were in prosecutors' hands after his client's arrest, and asked the judge for permission to turn the relevant documents over to the House Intelligence committee.
"These materials fall within the scope of the September 30, 2019 letter request and October 10, 2019 subpoena of the United States House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), in connection with the presidential impeachment inquiry," Bondy wrote. "Review of these materials is essential to the committee’s ability to corroborate the strength of Mr. Parnas’s potential testimony."
Bondy added that the Department of Justice "does not object" to Parnas handing the materials over.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken granted the request in a two-sentence order on Friday. It's unclear when the materials will be turned over or what exactly the documents are.
Senate Democrats held NYE impeachment call
The entire Senate Democratic Caucus, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, held a conference call on Dec. 31 where they discussed next steps on impeachment, five Senate dem sources tell NBC News.
Four sources told NBC News that the call happened, and the fifth, a Dem aide familiar with the call, also confirmed the call and gave us this readout:
Schumer convened a conference call with Democratic Senators on New Year’s Eve to discuss impeachment.
The purpose of the call was for Schumer to give everyone an update on the state of play.
Schumer emphasized how the new revelations that came out during the holidays about emails related to the hold on Ukraine military aid further bolstered their case for witnesses and documents.
Schumer encouraged the caucus to continue to demand the requested witnesses and documents and use the new revelations to make the case.
Schumer told his caucus that he would be coming to Washington, D.C. on Friday to deliver a rebuttal to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s expected floor speech on impeachment and continue to press for a fair trial.
A number of Senators also spoke about their support for the request for witnesses and documents.
Feinstein seeks fellow senators' support on request for witnesses and docs in impeachment trial
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called on her Senate colleagues to support Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's request for witnesses and documents in President Donald Trump's upcoming Senate impeachment trial.
In a letter to her fellow senators on Thursday, Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee's ranking member, emphasized that the White House had prevented several key witnesses from testifying in the House impeachment inquiry who would provide the Senate with firsthand information on the delay in military aid to Ukraine. Those witnesses include acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, senior budget official Michael Duffey and White House aide Robert Blair.
Feinstein also noted that the administration refused to release relevant emails about Trump's request that Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy announce political investigations into the Bidens and other Democrats and about the withholding of the military aid and a White House meeting for Zelenskiy.
During President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, the Senate heard "exhaustive testimony from key witnesses and relevant documents from the start of the trial," Feinstein wrote, contrasting that situation with the current scenario in which lawmakers still haven't heard from key witnesses or seen critical documents.
It would take only a simple Senate majority to agree to Schumer's requests for the witnesses and documents, Feinstein noted, adding, "This should be easy to achieve as all senators should want this information from the outset to ensure a full and fair trial."
Feinstein's letter comes as Schumer, D-N.Y., said newly revealed unredacted emails published in a report by the national security website Just Security underscored the need to subpoena the witnesses and documents.
'Devastating blow': Schumer says newly revealed emails show why Senate GOP needs to allow impeachment witnesses
WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday that documents exposed in a newly released report justify the argument by Democrats to hold a full-fledged trial in the Senate to weigh whether President Donald Trump should be removed from office.
In a statement Thursday, Schumer pointed to a new report from the website Just Security that details documents relating to the president’s campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens as his administration froze nearly $400 in military aid to Ukraine.
The documents, according to the report, reveal that on August 30, after meeting with Trump, Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget, told Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, in an email that there was "Clear direction from [Trump] to hold" the aid and he let her know that he’d soon be sending new paperwork extending the hold.
Read more here.
ANALYSIS: Democrats' 2020 split risks handing Trump a big advantage
Democrats have been obsessed with the year 2020 — for its promise of redemption, revenge and a return of power — ever since Donald Trump won the presidency in November 2016.
Now the election year has arrived. But after a midterm rebuke of Trump at the polls, the House's impeachment of him last month and a year of campaigning by the contenders for the party's nod to take him on, his opponents find themselves no closer to their goal of ousting him than they were when he was inaugurated a little less than three years ago.
And they're spotting him a big messaging advantage, because to the extent he can stay on topic, he can make the case for himself and against them while they are still trying to figure out what they're going to sell to voters.
Read the full story.