House panel approves articles of impeachment against Trump

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Zoe Sottile and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 1:41 PM ET, Mon December 16, 2019
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7:46 a.m. ET, December 13, 2019

House schedule for next week starting to take shape

From CNN's Manu Raju

According to two Democratic leadership aides, Democrats are looking at a House floor schedule for next week that looks this:

  • Tuesday: Spending deal
  • Wednesday: Articles of impeachment
  • Thursday: USMCA trade deal

Reminder: The schedule is subject to change.

Democratic sources also say they expect the House Rules Committee to approve a rule that would govern floor debate of the impeachment resolution. They don’t need to do a rule — and didn’t when President Bill Clinton was impeached — but if they don’t approve a rule, they would need an unanimous consent agreement with the GOP over the parameters of the floor debate. Getting such an agreement in this environment seems unlikely.

The floor vote on the rule would occur Wednesday before the articles are approved. Each article will be voted on separately.

The House Rules Committee would have to meet to approve the rule first — and that will likely happen Tuesday.

10:23 a.m. ET, December 13, 2019

McConnell and top White House lawyer agree to close coordination, but not final strategy, on impeachment trial

From CNN's Manu Raju and Phil Mattingly 

Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images
Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump’s top lawyer sketched out a plan to coordinate closely for the Senate’s impeachment trial, but haven’t reached agreement on a final unified strategy to defend Trump against charges of high crimes and misdemeanors, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

The closed-door meeting yesterday between McConnell and White House counsel Pat Cipollone occurred as Senate Republicans and the White House have diverged on what each would like to see take place in the looming trial in the chamber.

Trump has made clear he wants witnesses to testify, in person, while senators — including McConnell in private — have warned that going down that path could lead to a politically precarious slippery slope in the GOP effort to acquit Trump.

“We are having a lot of good conversations with Senate Republicans,” Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters as he departed the meeting with Cipollone. “We will continue to do that here over the next few days and weeks as we work through all these issues and priorities the President has outlined when it comes to where we should go on these articles.”

While no final decisions have been made, both McConnell and Cipollone agreed that when a trial begins, the House Democratic impeachment managers would have an opportunity to present, followed by the Trump’s lawyers presenting the president’s defense, the sources said.

McConnell made clear this week that no decisions have been made about witnesses or final trial structure, but the path after the initial presentations will be dictated by what a majority of his conference wants to see next — witnesses or a quick vote to bring the trial to an end and then vote to acquit the President.

7:06 a.m. ET, December 13, 2019

Catch up: 4 takeaways from the committee's marathon meeting yesterday

Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images
Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee spent more than 13 hours debating the articles of impeachment against President Trump yesterday.

Here's what's happened:

  • No vote: Following hours spent debating proposed amendments to the articles of impeachment, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler decided to forego a vote to move the articles to the full House until 10 a.m. Nadler's decision was derided by Republicans on the committee, particularly Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican. "Words cannot describe how inappropriate this was," Collins said, adding that he was taken by complete surprise by the decision.
  • Republican amendments rejected: A total of five amendments to the articles of impeachment were introduced Thursday and all were voted down. One of the amendments wanted to replace the mention of former Vice President Joe Biden with his son Hunter Biden and Burisma in Article 1 while another would have added to the articles that US aid was released to Ukraine.
  • The GOP blasts the impeachment process: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said that the impeachment debate "just lacks a certain sincerity" this morning, adding that "If I'm watching at home I'm thinking, 'well, where are they in the impeachment?' That is just a Democrat drive-by, to go and list crimes that you don't allege and that you don't have evidence for."
  • About the President's middle name: House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler introduced an amendment this morning to change references of "Donald J. Trump" to "Donald John Trump" in the articles of impeachment. Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the amendment showed the "absurdity" of impeachment.