The debate on articles of impeachment against Trump

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8:45 a.m. ET, December 12, 2019

A White House ball could affect today’s hearing

President Trump and Melania Trump attend the 2018 Congressional Ball at the White House.
President Trump and Melania Trump attend the 2018 Congressional Ball at the White House. Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee is meeting today to consider amendments to the articles of impeachment against President Trump. After they finish the amendment process, the committee is expected to approve the articles.

For each amendment, every member has the right to speak for up to five minutes each, which means that Republicans can make the committee meeting go as long as they want.

But there is one thing that could end the session by 7 p.m. ET. That's when the congressional ball at the White House is scheduled to begin.

According to multiple sources, a number of members — particularly Republicans — are expected to attend, which means the session could wrap up by then.

8:38 a.m. ET, December 12, 2019

How today's Judiciary Committee session on the articles of impeachment could play out

The House Judiciary Committee meets Wednesday.
The House Judiciary Committee meets Wednesday. Shawn Thew/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee will meet starting at 9 a.m. ET today to consider amendments to the articles of impeachment.

Here's what the process will look like:

  • Who can offer amendments: Any member can offer any amendment he or she wants, and the committee has little choice but to consider it. A member can decide to offer an amendment on the spot: All they have to do is take the text to the clerk, and the chairman will have to recognize the amendment.
  • How many will there be? Democrats may not offer any. Republicans, on the other hand, are expected to flood the markup with numerous amendments.
  • Voting on amendments: For each amendment, every member has the right to speak for up to five minutes each. Democrats hold a 24-17 majority on the committee, meaning they can vote down any GOP attempt to change the impeachment articles.
  • After that: The Judiciary Committee is expected to vote to approve those articles of impeachment. This will send the articles of impeachment to the full House.
  • Today's timetable: The committee members can go as long as they want today. But there's one thing end the session by 7 p.m. ET Thursday: the congressional ball at the White House, according to multiple sources, since a number of members — particularly Republicans — are expected to attend.
8:35 a.m. ET, December 12, 2019

What it's like on Capitol Hill this morning

This morning, CNN is on Capitol Hill, where the House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote today to advance articles of impeachment against President Trump.

CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux shows us what the scene is like ahead of today's hearing.

8:17 a.m. ET, December 12, 2019

It's a big day for impeachment. Here's what we're watching.

The House Judiciary Committee is meeting today to consider amendments to the articles of impeachment against President Trump.

The committee is expected to approve the articles later today — which will send them to the full House for a vote next week.

Here's what we're watching today:

  • 9 a.m. ET: The Judiciary Committee convenes. The members, who gave opening statements last night, will consider amendments today.
  • 11 a.m. ET: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi holds her weekly news conference, where she'll likely take questions about articles of impeachment.
  • 11:30 a.m. ET: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will hold his weekly news conference. Questions about impeachment will likely come up.
  • 7 p.m. ET: There's no time table today's committee session has to end, and members can go as long as they want. But the congressional ball at the White House is at 7 p.m. ET tonight, and according to multiple sources, a number of members — particularly Republicans — are expected to attend, meaning we could have a vote by then.
12:52 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Some Democrats from swing districts may not vote for impeachment

Two Democratic leadership sources say it’s possible they could lose more than two votes on the two articles of impeachment. The full House is expected to vote on the articles next week.

We already know they’re going to lose...

  • Jeff Van Drew
  • Collin Peterson

And they are going to likely pick up independent Justin Amash.

But Democrats could lose a handful more from swing districts on either or both articles.  Many vulnerable members are not saying what they’ll do yet, as they had back to their districts this weekend and get feedback from voters.

Remember: They are not expecting mass defections and they expect to have more than enough votes for final passage.

7:27 a.m. ET, December 12, 2019

McConnell will move to acquit Trump if he's impeached, not merely dismiss charges, 2 Republican senators say

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to hold a final vote to acquit President Donald Trump, should he be impeached, when a majority of senators believe his trial has run its course instead of holding a vote on dismissing the articles of impeachment, two Republican senators told CNN on Wednesday.

Republicans want to have a vote on acquittal -- to clear the President of the charges against him -- not simply rely on a 51-vote threshold procedural motion to dismiss the hotly disputed case.

President Donald Trump appears with Mitch McConnell at a campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky on November 4, 2019.
President Donald Trump appears with Mitch McConnell at a campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky on November 4, 2019.

The Constitution mandates 67 votes are required to convict the President and remove him from office, a barrier widely considered too high to be reached in this case.

One vote McConnell can't rely on is that of Vice President Mike Pence, who has "no role in impeachment," according to a GOP leadership aide, despite being president of the Senate with the mandate to break ties.

Pence's power, which applies to legislation and nominations, isn't in effect when the Senate is weighing removing his boss, an obvious conflict of interest since he would replace Trump if he were removed. Instead, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would preside at the trial and any tie motions would fail.

7:02 a.m. ET, December 12, 2019

What to expect today in the impeachment inquiry

The House is quickly moving forward on articles of impeachment against President Trump.

But first, lawmakers have to wade through the murky and messy world of legislating inside a congressional committee.

On Wednesday night, the House Judiciary Committee kicked off a two-day marathon of debates and voting on the articles of impeachment.

Here's what we expect to happen today:

  • House Judiciary Committee holds a meeting at 9 a.m. ET: Any member can offer any amendment he or she wants, and the committee has little choice but to consider it. Democrats may not offer any. Republicans, on the other hand, are expected to flood the markup with numerous amendments. A member can decide to offer an amendment on the spot. All they have to do is take the text to the clerk, and the chairman will have to recognize the amendment.
  • Each members has 5 minutes to speak: For each amendment, every member has the right to speak for up to 5 minutes each, which means that Republicans can make the committee meeting — referred to around Capitol Hill as a markup — go as long as they want to today.
  • What could end the session by 7 p.m. ET: The congressional ball at the White House, according to multiple sources, since a number of members — particularly Republicans — are expected to attend.
  • Vote timing: Once the amendments have all been considered, the committee will vote to approve the articles of impeachment, sending them to the House floor, where they will likely get a vote next week.