President Trump has been impeached

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5:31 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

White House considers adding three Republican congressmen to Trump's Senate defense team

Reps. Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe and Mike Johnson
Reps. Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe and Mike Johnson Getty Images

Reps. Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe and Mike Johnson, all of whom are Republicans, met yesterday with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, a person familiar with the meeting said.

The White House is weighing whether to include the three allies of President Trump on the defense team during the Senate trial.

No decisions have been made and things are fluid, but the move would give a platform to a trio of conservatives who have fiercely defended Trump throughout the House proceedings, the person said.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows is also being considered to join the team but was not present at the White House meeting. The President speaks to these lawmakers frequently, the person added.

One option under consideration is having the conservative members present a minority response to the House managers’ report – meaning their role in defending Trump would be separate from the legal team, according to a source familiar with the discussions. 

5:40 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

GOP congressman: "It is about power — Donald Trump has it and House Democrats want it"

House TV
House TV

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, railed against Democrats during his floor speech, saying they "would rather trip the President just to see him stumble than see America succeed."

He criticized Democrats for going after President Trump instead of working "together for the common good of our country and our citizens."

"This is not about the Ukraine. It is about power — Donald Trump has it and House Democrats want it. And so with no crime, no victim, no evidence, no proof, no agenda for America, this impeachment charade marches on, following no rules and adhering to no sense of honor. The American people aren't fooled by dirty tricks. Voters will never forget that Democrats have been triggered into impeaching the President because they don't like him and they don't like us. Those who vote yes on today's articles of impeachment must carry the heavy burden of shame and guilt for as long as they serve in Congress which won't be long because the American people will remember in November," Gaetz said.

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5:15 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

Rep. Al Green: "It would be the epitome of inanity to conclude a president can only be impeached once"

House TV via AP
House TV via AP

Rep. Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, who was an early advocate of impeachment, said he believes President Trump can be impeached again. 

“The President says if he walks out and shoots someone, he will maintain his base of support. If he does that with malice and forethought, he can be impeached. It would be the epitome of inanity to conclude a president can only be impeached once,” he said.

Green added: “That would mean that he has all the rest of his term ... to do whatever he chooses. Because we are the only means by which the President can be brought to justice.”

5:08 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

There's about two hours left of debate

House Democrats and Republicans each have about an hour of time left in today's debate on the articles of impeachment.

5:27 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

Democratic congresswoman credits her son with helping her "do the right thing today"

House TV
House TV

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, credited her son Ian with influencing her to vote to impeach President Trump 

"He said, 'Mom, this is not about politics, this is not about party,'" Schakowsky said. "And pushing back against my arguments, he said, 'This has nothing to do with the final outcome. It is about doing the right thing even if others don't.'"

She continued: "I want to thank you, my son, for helping me do the right thing today, to vote to impeach the President of the United States, Donald Trump, because no American is above the law."

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5:24 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

Rep. John Lewis: "We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history"

House TV
House TV

Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, justified the impeachment of President Trump not for his generation but for future generations.

"But today, this day, we didn't ask for this. This is a sad day. It is not a day of joy," Lewis said.

He continued:

"Our nation is founded on the principle that we do not have kings. We have presidents. And the Constitution is our compass. When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something. Our children and their children will ask us, 'What did you do? What did you say?' For some, this vote may be hard. We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history."

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4:43 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

Some Democrats are pushing Pelosi to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate

 Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
 Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told CNN today that he has not spoken with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about delaying the transmittal of the articles of impeachment.

Asked if he believes they could withhold the articles as leverage, Nadler said, “I really don’t know.” 

But Rep. Earl Blumenauer said he spoke with Pelosi a few days ago to delay the articles until the “appropriate time.” Democrats who support this approach argue they should be withheld until Senate Republicans agree to witness testimony.

“She said she’s thinking about it — she’s made no determination,” Blumenauer said of Pelosi.

Blumenauer said he has spoken with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries about this tactic — along with over three dozen other members.

“Everybody is interested,” Blumenauer said.

Pelosi's office has declined to say when the articles will be transmitted.

5:12 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

Fact check: Rep. Louie Gohmert falsely claims Ukraine meddled in 2016 election

House TV
House TV

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, said Democrats were trying to use the impeachment process to “stop the investigation by the US Department of Justice and Ukraine into the corruption of Ukraine interference into US election in 2016.”

Immediately after Gohmert finished speaking, Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “I am deeply concerned that any member of the House would spout Russian propaganda on the floor of the House.”

This criticism triggered a heated response from Gohmert, who returned to the podium, shouting, but the microphone had been turned off.  

Facts First: By raising the specter of “Ukraine interference” in the 2016 election, Gohmert was spreading Russian propaganda. Russia, not Ukraine, meddled in the 2016 election. The US intelligence community believes this conspiracy was concocted by Russia to blame Ukraine for its actions in 2016. Republicans have also embraced this counter-narrative, but it just isn’t supported by the facts. 

Here are the facts: The Russian government and military, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, launched an unprecedented attack on the 2016 presidential election. They spent millions of rubles on hackers and trolls who systematically tried to weaken Hillary Clinton and boost President Trump. It's impossible to know if their efforts tipped the scales, but Trump won by a razor-thin margin.

But Trump has questioned, dismissed and contradicted these findings from the US intelligence community. Instead, Trump has promoted an alternate reality that it was the Ukrainian government who meddled in the 2016 election, and they tried to help Clinton win. In this telling, Ukraine framed Russia for the hacks and coordinated with Democratic operatives in the US to smear Trump. 

There is no evidence to support Trump’s conspiracy theories of a Ukrainian government operation against him. At worst, it appears that Ukrainian leaders may have hoped Trump would lose, especially after he publicly embraced Russia-friendly policy positions. 

In fact, CNN reported that US intelligence officials briefed senators this fall that Russia has engaged in a years-long campaign to push these conspiracy theories, which would shift the blame away from Moscow and onto Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 election. 

Even with this information in the public ledger, supposed “Ukrainian interference” became a primary talking point for Republicans throughout the impeachment inquiry. GOP lawmakers pointed to op-eds published by Ukrainian officials, and news articles describing alleged contacts between Ukrainians and Democratic operatives, as proof of what they claimed was a wide-ranging conspiracy.

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5:39 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019

Kellyanne Conway says Trump doesn’t see impeachment as a "stain" on his legacy

Steve Helber/AP
Steve Helber/AP

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway spoke for more than 40 minutes in the briefing room on impeachment, telling reporters that President Trump was monitoring the impeachment debates but that he has a “lot on his schedule.”

Conway said that Trump doesn’t see impeachment as a “stain” on his legacy.

“We’re not fine with the impeachment. We think it’s ridiculous… but it’s a preordained. It’s a conclusion in search of evidence," she added.

Conway was asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins whether Trump agrees with the characterization made by Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Republican, that Jesus was afforded more due process than him. Conway said that while she doesn’t believe the President has been treated fairly, she also doesn’t “like many Jesus comparisons because he is my Lord and Savior and the Messiah to me and many Christians around the world.”

CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Conway whether Trump wishes he could do anything differently regarding Ukraine. Conway replied no, adding, “He was always going to be impeached and you know that.”

“You want him to do something differently because you must be very disappointed you were talking about treason, bribery, extortion, quid pro quo, collusion, Ukraine, Emoluments. And I like all this better," Conway said.

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