Democrats release Trump impeachment report
A lot happened today on Capitol Hill as lawmakers move forward with their impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
In case you missed it, here's what you need to know about today:
- The House Intelligence Committee released its report on Ukraine: House Democrats said the evidence of Trump's misconduct and obstruction of Congress is "overwhelming." The report will form the backbone of the impeachment proceedings against the President and charges that Trump's conduct toward Ukraine compromised national security.
- The report was approved: The intelligence committee voted tonight along party lines to approve the report. The Democratic report now goes to the House Judiciary Committee, which will use it as a guide to consider articles of impeachment. The judiciary committee will hear testimony from four constitutional law experts at its first impeachment inquiry hearing tomorrow.
- What phone records show: Armed with never-before-seen phone records, Democrats accused Trump’s allies of coordinating with conservative journalist John Solomon to peddle “false narratives” about Trump’s opponents as part of his multi-pronged pressure campaign. The report said Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, was linked to the effort.
- No decision on impeachment: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN she has not made a decision yet on impeachment, saying she’s waiting to see the hearings in the House Judiciary Committee.
- Republicans criticized the report: Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, speaking at a news conference today, blasted the report and said Democrats "fundamentally failed to prove their case." Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee also sent a letter to Chair Jerry Nadler ahead of tomorrow’s hearing, criticizing the Democrats’ "obsession with impeaching the President and undoing the 2016 election."
Two Trump campaign sources said people close to President Trump and on his campaign believe Rudy Giuliani has become a “liability” for the President.
A Trump campaign source reacted to the findings from House Intelligence Committee with a finger pointed squarely at Giuliani, who is mentioned repeatedly in the report as having had phone calls with officials at the White House and Office of Management and Budget.
“Rudy should be worried,” a Trump campaign source said.
A separate Trump campaign adviser described Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, as a growing concern for the President.
“Rudy has become a liability,” the adviser said.
However, Trump has not publicly wavered in his support for Giuliani, and despite the lingering questions, he is still part of the President’s legal team.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN she has not made a decision yet on impeachment, saying she’s waiting to see the hearings in the House Judiciary Committee starting tomorrow.
The California Democrat also said she would look at the House Intelligence Committee's report more closely since she just arrived back in the US after a congressional delegation.
“No, we haven’t made it,” Pelosi told CNN when asked if they had made a decision yet.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, walking into Pelosi’s office, declined to comment on if he wants any possible articles of impeachment to include special counsel Robert Mueller's findings.
“I can’t get into that now," Nadler said.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said he had “no concerns” about the emergence of call records in the House Democratic impeachment report between Rep. Devin Nunes and several key players in the impeachment investigation.
“I don’t have a problem with Devin talking to individuals,” McCarthy told reporters. “I have no concerns.”
Asked again if Nunes, a Republican from California, needed to explain why he was holding those phone calls, McCarthy said it’s “a question for Devin, but Devin has the right to talk to people. There’s nothing wrong that Devin has done.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not say in private if she backs impeaching President Trump, telling her colleagues that a decision hasn’t been made and she's not committing to a timeline for impeachment, according to multiple sources familiar with her comments.
Pelosi told Democrats tonight that she would confer with the chairs of her relevant committees before next steps are decided.
She would not commit to any timeline even as Democrats expect the President to be impeached by Christmas.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also made a similar comment, saying the decision hasn’t been made.
Asked if he supports impeachment, Hoyer said: “Not at this point. I want to hear what the judiciary committee has to say”
He added he wants to keep an open mind and would let the committees decide.
“The judge urges the jury not to come to any conclusion until you’ve heard all the evidence, and I think that’s what our members are doing. And I think that’s certainly what I’m going to do," Hoyer said.
The House Intelligence Committee has voted to approve the Democratic impeachment report on President Trump and Ukraine, according to Rep. Mike Quigley.
It was a party line vote.
Lawmakers say all of the Republican amendments were defeated on party line votes, too.
What happens next: The report will now be sent to the House Judiciary Committee, which is starting its impeachment hearings tomorrow and will use the report as a guide to consider articles of impeachment.
In the report, which was released earlier today, Democrats alleged that Trump abused his office and comprised national security for his personal political gain by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and withholding US security aid.
Christianné Allen, Rudy Giuliani’s assistant, issued a statement today regarding a series of phone records detailed in the House Intelligence Committee's report on the impeachment inquiry.
“As the personal attorney to the President, Mr. Giuliani's conversations with the White House are privileged; he was involved in gathering evidence to defend the President against false Democrat-manufactured claims of Russian collusion. Including corruption that Democrats are covering up in Ukraine. The media has supported their propaganda, but their biased coverup will soon be exposed in light of new evidence and testimony soon to be unveiled," she said.
More on this: The phone records, which are labeled in the report's endnotes as coming from AT&T, show a web of communications between conservative journalist John Solomon, Giuliani, Ukrainian American businessman Lev Parnas, Rep. Devin Nunes of California and the White House's budget office. CNN is owned by AT&T.
Many of these calls occurred in April, according to the Democratic report, the same time Solomon pumped out columns in The Hill. The stories were filled with discredited conspiracy theories about then-US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former Vice President Joe Biden, whose son was on the board of a prominent Ukrainian energy company.
The Democratic report identifies at least four phone calls or attempted calls between Parnas and Nunes, including one call on April 12 that lasted longer than eight minutes. Within an hour of that call, Parnas also spoke with Giuliani, who later connected with Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow and a "White House phone number," according to the phone records.
The call logs show the extent the Democratic investigators went to get hands on any evidence it could get, even as the administration blocked access to records. The records were not discussed publicly before the release of the report.
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, speaking at a news conference today, said Democrats "fundamentally failed to prove their case."
Cheney called the impeachment inquiry "fundamentally unfair" and said the Democrats have tilted the process in their direction from the start of the inquiry.
"Democrats were able to act as judge and prosecutor. They were able to select every single witness. The Democrats were able to prevent and did prevent witnesses from answering Republican questions. They decided what the American people would see and when. They decided the timing on release of important pieces of transcripts," she said.
Cheney continued: "They still have not released the transcript of the IC inspector general. The Democrats stack staged the deck in their favor and despite the fact they did this and even with every unfair advantage and unprecedented advantage they gave themselves, including preventing the President from having any access to the proceedings, preventing his counsel from having any participation in the proceedings, they have now come out this and fundamentally failed to prove their case."
There’s “overwhelming” evidence of President Trump’s misconduct, according to the impeachment report released today by the House Intelligence Committee.
While the report paints a damning portrait of the President, none of the facts are new.
Are Democrats making a mistake by failing to force testimony from additional witnesses like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney? Plus, are Democrats pursuing a moral victory at the expense of their political fortunes?
In today's episode of "The Daily DC: Impeachment Watch" podcast, CNN political director David Chalian dives into the impeachment news of the day with CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd and the host of ‘SE Cupp Unfiltered,’ S.E. Cupp.