House prepares to vote on impeachment

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12:23 p.m. ET, December 16, 2019

How tickets to the Clinton impeachment trial were distributed

An official ticket to watch the impeachment trial of US President Bill Clinton in 1999.
An official ticket to watch the impeachment trial of US President Bill Clinton in 1999. William Philpott/AFP/Getty Images

The impeachment trial of President Trump is looming: If the House votes to impeach the President — which they are expected to do this week – the Senate trial will likely begin in the new year.

The trial will be televised. But if the Senate follows the same protocols it did during the 1999 impeachment trial of President Clinton, tickets to attend in person could also be available.

There were 596 tickets to that trial, CNN reported at the time. Here's a look at how they were distributed:

  • 400 tickets: Each of the 100 senators received four tickets
  • 22 tickets: For diplomats
  • 20 tickets: For the White House
  • 20 tickets: For the House of Representatives
  • 9 tickets: For the Supreme Court
  • 50 tickets: Reserved for regular public access. People wishing to get the public access tickets had to contact their senator's office. Access granted by these tickets was limited to 15 minutes on a rotating basis.
  • 75 tickets: Some of the remaining 75 tickets were distributed to members of the news media and Senate staff members.
10:48 a.m. ET, December 16, 2019

Who will be the prosecutor at trial?

The House is preparing to vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump this week. If the House approves the articles, the Senate will hold a trial, and consider removing the President from office.

So who serves as the prosecutor in a Senate impeachment trial?

If the House impeaches President Trump, then it will appoint a team of House "managers" to present the case for impeachment in the Senate trial.

During the 1999 Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, the Republican-controlled House appointed a team of 13 representatives to serve as managers and present the case against Clinton.

The President would appoint a team of lawyers to defend him. Those lawyers can come from anywhere, including private practice. Clinton chose a team of high-powered attorneys — including White House counsel and private lawyers.

The 100 senators then serve essentially as a jury, with a two-thirds vote — 67 votes out of 100 — required to convict and remove the subject from office.

9:23 a.m. ET, December 16, 2019

Trump tweets: "The Impeachment Hoax is the greatest con job in the history of American politics!"

President Trump tweeted this morning, calling impeachment the "greatest con job in the history of American politics."

He again instructed voters to "READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!"

President Trump has repeatedly claimed the whistleblower lied and has told the American people to “read the transcript.” The White House has not released a word-for-word readout of the July call — it has only released a rough log. Additionally, the overwhelming majority of allegations in the complaint have been corroborated by official government documents, Trump’s public statements and news reporting.

8:42 a.m. ET, December 16, 2019

Schumer said he hopes "fairness will prevail." The White House called his quote "laughable."

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham just responded to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s appearance on New Day this morning.

In the interview, Schumer told CNN’s John Berman that he hopes “fairness will prevail” in the Senate trial — to which Grisham said was a “laughable quote."

Grisham also criticized the House Judiciary Committee for releasing its impeachment report early this morning. The 658-page report explains the decision to charge Trump with two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Here's Grisham's tweet:

8:35 a.m. ET, December 16, 2019

Here's what to expect this week in impeachment

The full House is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment against President Trump this week. If the articles are approved, President Trump would become the third president in US history to be impeached.

Here's what we're expecting this week:

  • Today: The White House will review Sen. Chuck Schumer's proposal for the Senate trial. He's asked for witness testimony and new documents — a direct rebuttal to top Republicans who have argued in that a shorter trial without witnesses would spare the Senate from becoming a partisan circus.
  • Tomorrow: The House Rules Committee will meet at 11a.m. ET to set the parameters for floor debate for impeachment. 
  • Wednesday: 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. A simple majority is needed to impeach Trump.
  • Beyond this week: If the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will hold a trial to determine if he should be removed form office. We're expecting it to begin next year.
8:25 a.m. ET, December 16, 2019

The magic number in the looming Senate trial is 51

The Senate impeachment trial is starting to get real. If the full House votes to impeach President Trump — which it is expected to do this week — it will then move to the Senate, where senators will decide if he should be removed from office.

There's a magic number here: 51.

With 51 votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can do most anything he wants in the looming Senate impeachment trial. But at this stage, McConnell doesn’t have the commitment of at least 51 of the 53 GOP senators. That means what happens next – and the extent of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s actual leverage right now – are still unknowns. 

There’s no official list, but in conversations with Democratic senators and aides over the last week, here’s a rough list of Republicans they are looking to at the moment. Remember: They need four from this group to be able to start moving anything in their direction. 

  • Sen. Susan Collins
  • Sen. Cory Gardner 
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander 
  • Sen. Mike Enzi 
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski 
  • Sen. Mitt Romney 
  • Sen. Pat Roberts 

Of note: Nobody in this group has said they’d be willing to join Democrats on their push for witnesses or a specific trial structure yet. But they also haven’t rejected the possibility. It’s a mix of moderates, those retiring at the end of this term and, well, Mitt Romney. 

8:14 a.m. ET, December 16, 2019

White House will review Schumer's trial proposal today

The White House will review Sen. Chuck Schumer's proposal for the Senate trial today, an official involved in the matter said. Officials discussed the broad outlines of it yesterday but are expected to do so more fully in person today. 

As reported, the White House counsel's office has been coordinating closely with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

What Schumer wants: In the letter obtained by CNN, Schumer called for at least four witnesses to testify: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, senior adviser to the acting White House chief of staff Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey.

He also laid out his preference for how long House managers and White House counsel would have to make their cases, cross-examine witnesses and give closing arguments.

8:11 a.m. ET, December 16, 2019

Here's what Democrats want in a Senate trial (and what the GOP likely won't agree to)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made it clear in a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last night that he prefers a Senate impeachment trial with witness testimony and new documents — a direct rebuttal to top Republicans who have argued in recent days that a shorter trial without witnesses would spare the Senate from becoming a partisan circus.

What Schumer wants: In the letter obtained by CNN, Schumer called for at least four witnesses to testify:

  • Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
  • Former national security adviser John Bolton
  • Senior adviser to the acting White House chief of staff Robert Blair
  • Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey

He also laid out his preference for how long House managers and White House counsel would have to make their cases, cross-examine witnesses and give closing arguments.

What Republicans will agree to: There are elements of Schumer’s three-page letter Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would likely sign onto, primarily the structure of the House manager and White House defense presentations, both of which line up with President Bill Clinton’s 1999 trial.

Even the timing roughly lines up to what McConnell has been hinting out publicly. 

What they won't agree to: But McConnell has made clear privately he’s opposed to having witnesses during the trial, preferring instead to have the manager and White House presentations, then move to a final vote on the articles themselves. 

Schumer has now made it clear that’s a non-starter for Democrats. Consider a very important marker, one that will dictate Democratic positioning for the next month, laid down.  

7:55 a.m. ET, December 16, 2019

House Judiciary Committee releases 658-page impeachment report

The House Judiciary Committee early this morning released its impeachment report to accompany the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump that will be on the House floor this week. 

The 658-page report explains the decision to charge Trump with two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It also includes the committee reports previously issued from the House Intelligence Committee laying out the evidence against the President and the Judiciary Committee explaining the constitutional grounds for impeachment.

“Taken together, the articles charge that President Trump has placed his personal, political interests above our national security, our free and fair elections and our systems of checks and balances. He has engaged in a pattern of misconduct that will continue if left unchecked,” the Judiciary Committee wrote. “Accordingly, President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.”

You can read the full report here.