House panel approves articles of impeachment against Trump
For just the fourth time in American history, a president will face articles of impeachment.
But as Republicans continue to move in lockstep with President Trump, will Democrats stay unified? And what role will the courts play in the impeachment proceedings?
In today's episode of "The Daily DC: Impeachment Watch" podcast, CNN political director David Chalian examines the road ahead with CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking in Frankfort, Kentucky, today, said it was appropriate to coordinate with the White House ahead of a likely Senate impeachment trial of President Trump.
McConnell said similar coordination happened during President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial.
"It was done during the Clinton impeachment as well. Not surprisingly, President Clinton and the Democrats in the Senate were coordinating their strategy. We're all on the same side," he said.
Some background: Some Democrats are raising concerns about McConnell's statement that he will coordinate closely with the White House on the looming Senate impeachment trial, with one House Democrat saying the Kentucky Republican should recuse himself entirely.
McConnell told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday night that there will "be no difference between the President's position and our position as to how to handle this."
"Everything I do during this, I will be coordinating with White House counsel," McConnell said.
McConnell and Trump's top lawyer sketched out a plan Thursday, prior to the Fox News interview, to coordinate closely for an impeachment trial. Still, no agreement was reached on an issue where Trump and McConnell diverge. Trump has repeatedly said he wants witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial. McConnell has privately indicated he wants to avoid witnesses out of concern for the political and institutional fallout they might bring.
Tom Daschle, who was the Senate Democratic Leader during President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, tells CNN that while he did not personally talk to Clinton in preparing for the impeachment trial, his staff was in constant coordination with senior White House officials about it.
“There are so many moving parts,” Daschle said, referring to coordinating House managers, the White House counsel’s office and 100 senators.
Daschle said he does not fault the current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for remarks on Fox News Thursday night about his coordination with President Trump and the White House.
“That’s the way it is now,” Daschle said, “it’s different.”
He added that in retrospect, his decision to not speak to Clinton “was probably a little myopic,” but added there was more to it for him than just being a juror in the President’s trial.
Clinton's impeachment trial was from Dec. 19, 1998, through Feb.12., 1999.
Nevada Rep. Susie Lee, a vulnerable Democrat from a swing district, announced today that she would vote for the two articles of impeachment against President Trump.
Lee said she came to her decision after she "carefully deliberated and comprehensively reviewed the facts."
"This is a grave decision that requires thorough and solemn deliberation," she said in a statement. "After weighing all of the facts, I will be voting in support of impeachment of the President."
“The facts are clear: the President abused the power of his office and blatantly obstructed Congress. I took an oath of office to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This is a solemn decision. I end with this: democracies live and die by the integrity of our elections. We have lived in relative peace on our soil for over two centuries in the strongest democracy on earth. It is my constitutional duty to ensure that it remains that way.”
Rep. Max Rose, a freshman Democrat from a swing district in New York, just announced his support for both articles of impeachment against President Trump.
"Party and politics will never come before the country I bled to protect — and would unquestionably do so again," said Rose, a veteran who served in Afghanistan.
He criticized the President for "coercing a foreign government into targeting American citizens," calling it an "invitation to the enemies of the United States to come after any citizen."
Rose's district includes Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn.
Why this matters: The House Judiciary committee approved both articles of impeachment against President Trump this morning. The articles will move to a formal vote on the House floor next week.
Read Rose's full statement below:
“Party and politics will never come before the country I bled to protect—and would unquestionably do so again. A President coercing a foreign government into targeting American citizens is not just another example of scorched earth politics, it serves as an invitation to the enemies of the United States to come after any citizen, so long as they disagree with the President. Embarking on an unprecedented effort to obstruct this inquiry doesn’t make the facts any less true. Therefore I will vote in support of the two Articles of Impeachment.
I came to Washington to take on both parties and get things done. In the past year alone we passed legislation to finally build the East Shore Seawall, permanently fund the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, and enact sanctions on Chinese pharmaceutical companies for pumping fentanyl into our communities. We’ve also beat FEMA, the Port Authority, and secured much needed funding for transportation projects. Whether the Senate votes to remove the President or not, I will continue to focus on getting results for the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn.”
It was another big day in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump as the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment.
Here's where things stand today:
- What happened: After a lengthy day of debating the two articles of impeachment against Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of congress, the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve both articles. The vote fell on partisan lines: Democrats voted yes and Republicans voted no, with the exception of Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat who was absent because of illness.
- Yesterday: The vote was supposed to be held yesterday but was unexpectedly delayed by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a decision that underscored the partisan tensions throughout the impeachment inquiry.
- What's in the articles: The first article of impeachment accuses Trump of abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and withholding US security aid and a White House meeting. The second accuses him of obstructing the investigation into his misconduct by blocking witnesses and disobeying subpoenas.
- What's next: The two articles of impeachment will now go to the House floor for a vote. If a simple majority of the House votes to approve either article, Trump will become the third president ever formally impeached — President Nixon resigned after the votes passed the House Judiciary Committee but before they could make it to the full House. The House has yet to set a specific date for the full impeachment vote, but two Democratic leadership aides said it could happen on Wednesday.
- Possible trial: Then the Republican-led Senate will hold a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The White House is still planning its trial strategy and considering whether or not it will call witnesses, which may lengthen the trial. Trump said earlier today that "I wouldn't mind the long process because I'd like to see the whistleblower — who is a fraud."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement following this morning’s vote in the House Judiciary Committee on the articles of impeachment:
“If articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate, every single senator will take an oath to render ‘impartial justice.’ Making sure the Senate conducts a fair and honest trial that allows all the facts to come out is paramount.”
President Trump was just asked if he prefers a long or short trial in the Senate.
"I'll do whatever I want. Look — we did nothing wrong, so I'll do long or short," Trump said.
If the House approves the articles of impeachment against Trump as they are expected to do next week, the Senate will then hold a trial to decide if he should be removed from office. It's not clear how long the Senate trial might last.
The President added he "wouldn't mind" a longer trial if it meant more witnesses.
"I wouldn't mind the long process because I'd like to see the whistleblower — who is a fraud," he said.
Some context: Throughout the House impeachment inquiry, Republicans have demanded to hear from the whistleblower whose complaint against Trump was at the heart of the inquiry.
The legal team for the whistleblower is preparing for the possibility that lawmakers will call their client to testify in the Senate, two people familiar told CNN.
Rep. Jamie Raskin called Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s comments that he will coordinate with closely with the White House on the looming Senate impeachment trial “a complete surrender of the constitutional duties and prerogatives of the Senate, essentially turning them over to the White House.”
“Well, let's hope that there's sufficient clamor within the Senate and within the country to make him rethink this idea of coordinating strategy with the defendant in the case. The President is essentially a constitutional defendant, and he's a defendant because we have voted to send an indictment, articles of Impeachment, to the Senate, because of the high crimes and misdemeanors he’s committed,” Raskin said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, spoke about the possibility of House Democrats voting against the articles of impeachment on the floor.
“I think that you should always put your oath first, but you also have to consider your district," he said.