House panel sets rules for impeachment debate

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 2:37 AM ET, Wed December 18, 2019
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4:42 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Top US diplomat in Ukraine who testified in impeachment hearing set to leave post in January

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, will depart from his temporary post on Jan. 2, two sources familiar with his plans tell CNN. 

The former ambassador was brought out of retirement to take on duties in the embassy after former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled to Washington at the direction of President Trump. 

Taylor was a key witness in the public impeachment hearings. He provided a damning account of how Trump told his appointees to establish a quid pro quo, trading much-needed US military aid and an Oval Office meeting for political favors from Ukraine. 

Taylor’s temporary appointment expires in early January, the sources said. There are ways that the State Department could have attempted to extend his stay as the top diplomat in Ukraine, such as by giving him a different title, but there was no effort to do so. 

The State Department did not reply to a request for comment on Taylor’s tenure, or who would follow him in assuming the responsibility as top US diplomat in Ukraine.  

3:59 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Democrat tells panel: Thank you for "using your indoor voice" today

Rep. Norma Torres, a Democrat from California, just thanked the other members of the House Rules Committee for speaking calmly and following congressional etiquette during today's hearing.

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you to both of your for being here," she said, referring to the two House Judiciary members, Reps. Jamie Raskin and Doug Collins, who are answering questions today.

She continued:

"I also want to thank my colleagues that have spoken before me today for using your indoor voice and for exercising the decorum. We are on the third floor of the US Capitol and I think it’s important for us to be respectful with each other.”

The Rules Committee has been meeting today to decide the parameters for tomorrow's House debate on impeachment. At the start of the hearing, Rep. Tom Cole, the ranking member on the House Rules Committee, said "This is a day that we're going to disagree — and disagree very strongly."

While the Democrats and the Republicans on the committee have differed in opinion on the articles of impeachment, there hasn't been raised voices or many interruptions. Many of the members have also thanked their colleagues for their time before and after they began speaking.

2:53 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Trump says he won't watch impeachment vote

From CNN's Betsy Klein

One day before the House of Representatives is set to vote on impeachment, President Trump said he didn’t plan to watch the House proceedings but is looking ahead to a Senate trial.

“I’m not watching. I have not seen it. Look it’s a hoax, the whole impeachment thing is a hoax. We look forward to getting onto the Senate. We’re not entitled to lawyers, we’re not entitled to witnesses, we’re not entitled to anything in the House,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with the President of Guatemala, minutes after he sent a six-page, scathing letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denouncing the articles of impeachment.

The President went on to rail against House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff. Speaking about Schiff’s enactment of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump pointed to his Guatemalan counterpart, who is visiting the White House today.

“He (Schiff) totally made it up. In Guatemala, they handle things much more different — much tougher than that. And because of immunity, he can’t be prosecuted. He took a statement and totally made it up. It was a lie, it was a fraud,” he said. 

Trump repeated that he has “never seen the Republican Party so united,” specifically noting, “I believe the Senate is equally as well united. I watched Mitch McConnell this morning, I watched numerous people last night, senators, and I think we’re equally well united. They know it’s a hoax, it’s a witch hunt.”

Asked whether he would let McConnell, the Senate majority leader, decide on witnesses, Trump said yes.

 “Yeah I think so and we’ll also have to decide on when we’re taking the vote for the USMCA, very important deal,” he said, adding that McConnell is going to have to decide on whether to hold a USMCA vote “first or second,” meaning before or after a Senate impeachment trial.

When asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta if he takes accountability for getting impeached, Trump said, “No. I don’t take any, zero, to put it mildly. They took a perfect phone call that I had with the President of Ukraine, an absolutely perfect call, you know it, they all know it, nothing was said wrong in that call. To impeach the President of the United States for that is a disgrace and it’s a mark on our country.”

2:49 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

McConnell: "I'm not an impartial juror"

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking after policy lunches today, admitted he's not impartial juror.

"I’m not impartial juror," he said. "This is a political process."

The Kentucky Republican continued: “I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate."

“I’m not impartial about this at all," he added.

2:45 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Trump writes letter to Pelosi to express "most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Trump has written a lengthy letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to "express my strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade," saying that by “proceeding with your invalid impeachment you are violating your oaths office.”

Here's how the letter starts:

Read the full letter here.

2:30 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Here's where Democrats from Trump districts stand on impeachment

From CNN's Haley Byrd 

House Democrats who won their seats in districts that President Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election will likely face a tough decision on how to vote on the articles of impeachment later this week.

Here's a look at who's a yes on impeachment, who's a no and who's still undecided:

  • Rep. Angie Craig — yes
  • Rep. Kendra Horn —yes 
  • Rep. Matt Cartwright — yes
  • Rep. Ben McAdams— yes 
  • Rep. Anthony Brindisi — yes
  • Rep. Tom O'Halleran – yes
  • Rep. Lucy McBath — yes
  • Rep. Lauren Underwood — undecided
  • Rep. Cheri Bustos — undecided
  • Rep. Abby Finkenauer—yes 
  • Rep. Dave Loebsack — likely yes
  • Rep. Cindy Axne – yes
  • Rep. Jared Golden — undecided
  • Rep. Elissa Slotkin — yes
  • Rep. Haley Stevens — undecided
  • Rep. Collin Peterson — likely no
  • Rep. Susie Lee — yes
  • Rep. Chris Pappas — yes
  • Rep. Jeff Van Drew — no
  • Rep. Andy Kim — yes
  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer— yes
  • Rep. Mikie Sherrill — yes
  • Rep. Xochitl Torres Small — yes
  • Rep. Max Rose — yes
  • Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney — yes
  • Rep. Antonio Delgado — yes
  • Rep. Conor Lamb — yes 
  • Rep. Joe Cunningham — yes
  • Rep. Elaine Luria — yes
  • Rep. Abigail Spanberger — yes
  • Rep. Ron Kind — undecided
2:24 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

House approves $1.4 trillion spending deal to avert shutdown during impeachment process

From CNN's Clare Foran and Phil Mattingly

The House of Representatives voted on today to approve a nearly $1.4 trillion, sweeping spending deal that would fund the government through fiscal year 2020 and avert the looming threat of a shutdown amid a historic impeachment push.

Lawmakers passed two legislative packages that together make up the 12 regular annual bills needed to keep the government running as the clock ticks down to an expiration of federal funding on Friday.

The first package passed by a vote of 297-120. The second package passed by a vote of 280-138.

What happens next: Now that the spending deal has cleared the House, it will need to be approved by the Senate before it can go to President Trump for his expected signature.

2:08 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

During the break, the House is voting on a deal to avert a government shutdown

From CNN's Clare Foran 

The House Rules Committee is currently on break from their hearing, where they're setting parameters for tomorrow's House floor debate on impeachment.

The House is voting during this break. Lawmakers are now voting on the first of two legislative packages that make up the sweeping $1.4 trillion spending deal to avert a government shutdown.

This first package focuses on domestic priorities and is made up of eight annual appropriations bills, including the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education bill, the legislative branch and Interior-Environment bills. 

After this vote is over, the House will vote on the second legislative package that makes up the spending deal, which focuses on national security spending and is made up of four bills, including Defense and Homeland Security.

It's not clear when the Rules Committee will resume.

1:34 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

The committee is taking a break

The House Rules Committee is now in recess. The members are meeting to set the parameters for a floor debate on the articles of impeachment.