The latest on Trump's impeachment inquiry
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began her weekly press conference today by saying that she hopes Democrats will still be able to work together with President Trump on items in the Democratic legislative agenda, including prescription drug legislation and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, despite the impeachment inquiry.
“So, when the President says he can’t do anything if he has the threat of impeachment or the consideration of impeachment, I hope he doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to work together,” Pelosi said.
Some context: Trump has repeatedly tweeted that the Democrats are solely focused on his impeachment inquiry and not legislation. Here's an example from this morning:
When asked how Democrats can work with the President amid the impeachment inquiry, Pelosi responded that “they have nothing to do with each other,” adding that Democrats while have a responsibility to uphold the Constitution, "we also have a responsibility to get the job done for the American people.”
The speaker also touched on gun legislation, saying she last heard from Trump on Tuesday last week when he called her to tell her she would be happy about progress he had made on putting together a plan. “Oh yes, you’re going to be very pleased,” she said Trump told her, before changing the subject to the Ukraine phone call.
“We’re not going away until we get legislation signed into law that protects our children,” she said of gun violence prevention efforts.
Asked about Trump's comments that he has the right to meet the whistleblower — who the President has called his "accuser" — Rep. Adam Schiff called that "a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses."
"The President wants to make this all about the whistleblower and suggest people that come forward with evidence of his wrong-doing are somehow treasonous and should be treated as traitors and spies," Schiff said. "This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses. It's an incitement of violence and I would hope and we are starting to see members of both parties speaking out against attacking this whistleblower."
Schiff reiterated the whistleblower has the right to remain anonymous and said Congress would do "everything in our power" to make sure that the person is protected.
Pelosi added that she believes that Trump "probably doesn't realize how dangerous his statements are" when he says he wants to expose the whistleblower and those who provided him or her with the information.
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff said if the White House attempts to "stonewall" the House's impeachment inquiry, it will be considered obstruction of justice.
“We are concerned that the White House will attempt to stonewall our investigation much as they have stonewalled other committees in the past," he said. "The White House needs to understand that any action like that, that forces us to litigate or have to consider litigation will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice.”
Some background: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a proposed timetable for the depositions for five State Department officials was too compressed. Democrats then warned Pompeo that any effort to prevent those officials from speaking to Congress "is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is "not anything to be joyful about" and called this a "sad time for the American people."
"We take this to be a very sad time for the American people for our country," she said at a news conference. "Impeaching a president or having the investigation to impeach a president is not anything to be joyful about. I don't know that anybody is joyful. But it is a sad time."
Pelosi added that the House had "no choice but to go forward" with the proceedings.
"We see the actions of this President being an assault on the Constitution," she said. "We had no choice but to go forward. It's hard. We want to weigh the equities. We want to be fair as we go forward."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is speaking at a news conference alongside House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff.
She has not yet brought up the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
The President today continued to defend his July 25 call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeting that it was "a very good conversation."
Trump added that he knew many people were listening in on his conversation.
Here's his tweet:
More context: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted today that he was on the call between Trump and Zelensky.
Three House committee chairmen have released a memo informing House Oversight committee members that they are drafting a subpoena compelling the White House to produce key documents as part of the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.
Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings, Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff and Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel wrote the memo. The subpoena will be issued on Friday under the Rules of the House of Representatives.
“The White House’s flagrant disregard of multiple voluntary requests for documents—combined with stark and urgent warnings from the Inspector General about the gravity of these allegations — have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena,” the memo reads.
Cummings will issue the subpoena officially, but is working in tandem with the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff will hold a news conference at 10:45 a.m. ET.
It's been just over a week since Pelosi announced the House was opening a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Congress is in recess this week and next, but the House Intelligence Committee is holding briefings and is ready for possible hearings.
Your impeachment questions, answered
If the House votes to impeach President Trump, the matter heads to the Senate, which would hold a trial.
Is it true that if the Senate delivers a "not guilty" verdict, then upon leaving office, Trump cannot be prosecuted criminally because of double jeopardy?
No, that is not true.
Impeachment and criminal prosecution are two entirely distinct processes, serving different purposes: Impeachment is a political process prescribed by the Constitution to remove the president or other federal officials from office, separate and apart from criminal charges.
A president can be impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate but then never charged criminally.
Conversely, a president can be impeached by the House, acquitted — meaning found not guilty — by the Senate, and then later indicted after leaving office.
Either way, double jeopardy would not prevent prosecution because impeachment is not a criminal process — and does not qualify as a "first" jeopardy, so to speak.