House Democrats Zero In On ‘abuse Of Power’ Narrative
WASHINGTON House Democrats are zeroing in on a framework for their impeachment case against President Donald Trump that will center on a simple abuse of power narrative involving the president’s actions regarding Ukraine, according to multiple people familiar with the deliberations.
As Democrats continue closed-door depositions with critical witnesses and prepare to move to the next phase of public hearings, they are wrestling over which elements and evidence to bring in, which to leave out. The goal is to explain to the public the reasoning and relevance of any eventual impeachment charges…
Process For Impeachment And Conviction
The following two charts show the process for impeachment, which begins in the U.S. House with the introduction of an impeachment resolution and a committee inquiry conducted by the United States House Committee on the Judiciary. If the committee adopts articles of impeachment against the official, the articles will go to a full floor vote in the U.S. House.
When articles of impeachment are adopted by the U.S. House, the process moves to the U.S. Senate where senators will either acquit or convict the official following a trial.
Deputy National Security Adviser’s Testimony To Bring Inquiry Within Bolton’s Orbit
Geoff Bennett and Alex Moe
As NBC News has reported, House investigators would like to interview former national security adviser John Bolton as part of their impeachment inquiry. Next weeks scheduled interview with former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman, brings the inquiry closer into Boltons orbit.
Scheduled testimony from Tim Morrison, senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, provides House investigators with direct insight from someone who typically would have listened in on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy a central focus of the whistleblower complaint that led to the inquiry.
Multiple lawmakers tell NBC News that House investigators thought it necessary to interview Morrison after top diplomat to Ukraine Bill Taylor referenced him multiple times during his closed-door session last week.
Here’s the updated depositions schedule:
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Sondland To Testify Trump Directed Giuliani To Push Ukraine Scheme
WASHINGTON U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland will tell Congress on Thursday that Rudy Giuliani told him President Donald Trump wanted Ukraines new government to investigate both the 2016 election and a natural gas firm tied to Hunter Biden, according to prepared testimony obtained by NBC News.
Sondland will testify that Giuliani, Trumps personal lawyer, even mentioned getting the Ukrainians to investigate “the DNC server” a reference to a Democratic National Committee computer that plays prominently in a debunked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian interference in 2016.
The ambassador is expected to tell House investigators that he ultimately learned that Giuliani, far from freelancing, was advancing Trumps goals when he pushed for Ukraine to investigate the presidents political opponents.
Opinionthe Unfortunate Reason Republicans Like Rand Paul Are Already Attacking Biden
The callousness of lawmakers like Hawley is now a distressing image that stands beside the shouts of rioters calling for the lynching of then-Vice President Mike Pence as testaments to how far the GOP has fallen.
Republicans like Hawley may flee to the gallery when our nation needs leadership, but they wont be able to outrun their complicity in supporting the far-right radicals who raided their workplace. If they arent held accountable by voters at the ballot box, the impeachment trial will forever serve as a testament to their dark role in American history.
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Heres How Little Republicans Were Allowed To Participate In The Closed
When a group of Republican legislators barged into a secure facility on Capitol Hill last month to register their opposition to impeachment inquiry depositions taking place behind closed doors, we couldnt help but register an unusual aspect of the stunt.
Of the 197 Republicans in the House, 48 had authorization to attend the hearings, either by virtue of their positions or their membership on relevant committees. Of the 41 who signed on to the protest, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, nearly a third could have just gone in and observed the hearing itself.
Part of the point of the camera-friendly effort was to raise broader questions about the extent to which Republicans were given a role in the deposition hearings. The impeachment inquiry was a function of Democrats holding a majority in the House, and Republicans argued that they were not being given a chance to interview witnesses or generally guide the outcome.
Fox Newss Sean Hannity summarized the line of argument on his Oct. 29 show.
Another day of secret meetings, secret hearings, secret transcripts, a secret whistleblower, non-whistleblower, hearsay whistleblower, all because of a phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, he said. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff was calling in witness after witness but only behind closed doors, without real Republican due process at all to speculate on the presidents intentions.
The result looked like this.
Bolton Wanted White House Lawyers Alerted To Ukrainian Efforts Called It ‘drug Deal’ Witness Tells Congress
Josh Lederman and Phil Helsel
Former national security adviser John Bolton was so disturbed by the efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate President Donald Trumps political opponents that he called it a drug deal, former White House official Fiona Hill reportedly told Congress on Monday.
Hill, the former top Europe expert in Trumps White House, testified that Bolton told her over the summer that he wanted no part of the effort, which he said involved acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, a person in the room for Hills testimony told NBC News.
Bolton also was said to have referred to Rudy Giuliani as a “hand grenade.”
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Rudy Giuliani Will Not Comply With Congressional Subpoena
Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Peter Alexander
Rudy Giuliani won’t comply with a congressional subpoena as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, an attorney for Giuliani told House investigators in a letter on Tuesday.
Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, had been subpoenaed for documents related to his work in Ukraine, which has come under intense scrutiny after Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Last week, two of Giuliani’s business associates who had been assisting him in his Ukrainian venture were arrested on campaign-finance charges.
Jon Sale, Giuliani’s attorney for purposes of handling the subpoena, wrote that the former New York City mayor “will not participate because this appears to be an unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate ‘impeachment inquiry.'” Sale called the subpoena “overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry.”
Is Due Process Required During The Senate Trial
Defendants in impeachment trials do not receive the same protections as those in criminal trials. Because the consequence is removal from office rather than imprisonment, and because the Constitution provides that the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all impeachments, courts would not have the authority to review or overturn an impeachment conviction. Senate rules do provide impeachment defendants with certain rights, including the right to be represented by counsel, to call witnesses, and to cross examine prosecution witnesses.
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A Quarter Of Republicans Who Stormed Impeachment Hearing Were Already Members Of The Committees Allowed Inside
On Wednesday, a group of Republican members of Congress stormed into a secure room where three committees were holding an impeachment inquiry hearing, demanding to be allowed inside and claiming that Republicans have been shut out from the process.
But a rundown of the Republicans involved in the incident showed that one-quarter of those taking part in the protest were actually on the committees inside the room and were allowed to be inside and take part — all while they were claiming that they were shut out. The Washington Post noted that the incident was an attempt to paint Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry as one-sided and unfair, saying that it is all taking place behind closed doors and that Republicans are not allowed to take part.
The report noted that none of these claims are true, as Republicans members of the three investigative committees are given equal time to question potential witnesses, and that Trump himself will have the chance to defend himself if the House ends up voting to impeach him. It went on to note that there are 48 Republicans between the three committees, all of whom are allowed to take part.
Deadline Looms For White House Chief Of Staff To Hand Over Documents
Friday marks the deadline for Mick Mulvaney, the White House acting chief of staff, to hand over documents relating to the between President Donald Trump and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other documents sought by the impeachment inquiry.
The White House has said it won’t comply with the investigation and Mulvaney is not expected to comply with the subpoena.
Friday is also the deadline for Energy Secretary Rick Perry to hand over documents. Perry said Thursday he would resign by the end of the year.
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In Battleground Wisconsin Support For Impeachment Lags Behind National Polls
WASHINGTON A new Marquette Law School poll of Wisconsin, arguably the most important state for the 2020 presidential race, is a reminder that the national poll results were seeing are a bit different than in the attitudes in top battleground states for 2020.
In the poll, 46 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin say there is enough cause for Congress to hold impeachment hearings on Trump, versus 49 percent who disagree. That 46 percent is lower than the majorities weve seen in most national polls supporting the impeachment inquiry.
New Marquette Law School Poll finds 46% of WI registered voters say there is enough cause for Congress to hold Trump impeachment hearings, 49% say no. #mulawpoll
The poll also finds 44 percent of Wisconsin supporting Trumps impeachment/removal from office, versus 51 percent who oppose it.
Trumps job rating in Wisconsin is 46 percent in the poll slightly higher than his national average in the low 40s.
In hypothetical general-election matchups, Biden leads Trump by 6 points in the state, 50 percent to 44 percent. Thats compared with Bernie Sanders 2-point lead , Elizabeth Warrens 1-point lead , and Pete Buttigiegs 2-point deficit .
Most national polling shows all of these Democrats ahead of Trump by double digits or high-single digits.
The poll was conducted Oct. 13-17 of 799 registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.
Lawmakers Outraged Over Trump’s ‘lynching’ Remark
Lawmakers reacted with outrage Tuesday after Trump compared the impeachment inquiry to “a lynching,” calling the remark offensive and saying the president should retract it.
“You think this impeachment is a LYNCHING?” Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., tweeted. “What the hell is wrong with you? Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet.”
“Using this term draws up some of Americas darkest history Trump is yet again a disgrace and massively offensive,” Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., tweeted. “Nobody is above the law, including him. He has abused his power and hes been caught. Do not get caught up in his latest distraction tactic.”
Asked about the president’s tweet, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., told reporters, “I resent it tremendously. I think that what we see here, once again, is this president attempting to change the narrative using what I consider to be real, caustic terms, in order to change the conversation. To compare the constitutional process to something like lynching is far beneath the office of the president of the United States.”
Read the full story here.
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More Than 200 Former Usaid Officers Blast Trump Administration’s Treatment Of Diplomats
WASHINGTON More than 260 former foreign service officers, political appointees at the U.S. Agency for International Development as well as civil servants, are blasting the Trump administration for its treatment of current diplomats at the State Department and for the White House decision to freeze U.S. assistance to Ukraine.
In a statement of support obtained by NBC News from one of its signatories, Desaix Terry Myers, the former officials wrote that they were writing in support of their colleagues now under siege for their work as diplomats.
Together, we spent our careers working to represent the policies and values of the United States. We are angered at the treatment of dedicated, experienced, and wise public servants like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and we are distraught at the dangers inherent in the Presidents cavalier approach to making foreign policy on impulse and personal interest rather than in response to national security concerns, the statement says.
The statement was signed by a variety of former USAID officers, including some former ambassadors. Myers served as USAIDs mission director for Russia and Indonesia and previously taught at the National War College.
The former officials said that they are appalled that taxpayer dollars set aside by Congress for military assistance to Ukraine may have been used to leverage foreign support for partisan political objectives.
John Bolton’s Lawyers Have Been In Contact With House Committees Leading Inquiry
Carol E. Lee
Former national security adviser John Bolton’s lawyers have been in contact with officials on the committees leading the impeachment inquiry, a person close to Bolton has confirmed to NBC News.
Investigators in the inquiry have negotiated with a Bolton lawyer about a date for a closed-door deposition, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing two people briefed on the matter.
Bolton wanted no part of the President Donald Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate what has been described as a conspiracy theory about interference in the 2016 election, as well as into former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, NBC News has reported.
Bolton told top White House official Fiona Hill to report the situation to the top lawyer at the National Security Council, John Eisenberg, according to the person in the room for Hills closed-door testimony last week.
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Republicans Delay Start Of Pentagon Official’s Closed
Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe
WASHINGTON A group of House Republicans on Wednesday delayed the start of closed-door testimony by Laura Cooper, the top Pentagon official overseeing U.S. policy regarding Ukraine, after they stormed the secure room where the deposition was being held.
Led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the GOP members who dont sit on the committees who are questioning witnesses in the impeachment inquiry entered the secure room, known as a SCIF, in the basement of the Capitol Visitors Center. Before entering, they protested Democrats handling of the probe, arguing that the process was not fair to Republicans or the president.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., told reporters that there were approximately 20 GOP members in the room who refused to leave, and said that they came into the secure room yelling that they be allowed inside. Some of these members brought their cell phones, which is not permitted.
“This is being held behind closed doors for a reason because they dont want you to see what the witnesses are like,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told reporters Wednesday morning before they entered the room. This is a Soviet style impeachment process. This is closed doors, it is unfair in every way and I dont care whether you are the president of the United States or any other citizens of this country, you should be allowed to confront your witnesses.”
On Wednesday, Biggs and other members appeared to post tweets from inside the room.
How Will The Senate Respond
Frank Thorp V
WASHINGTON The Senate is back in session Tuesday after a two-week break, and a lot has happened in that time, including President Trump asking China to investigate the Bidens. Were watching whether enough Republicans support a trial to stop articles of impeachment from being quickly dismissed.
The 53 members of the party would need only three of their number to vote against a dismissal motion to keep a trial going , and with senators speaking out about Trumps requests of Ukraine and China, that’s a realistic possibility.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who is retiring and has at times been critical of the President, gave a bit of a preview of how centrist Republicans could land on the question of impeachment. He released a statement last week saying, Its inappropriate for the president to be talking with foreign governments about investigating his political opponents, but impeachment would be a mistake. An election, which is just around the corner, is the right way to decide who should be president.”
It will be interesting to see if this becomes the way Senate Republicans who are critical of the presidents actions navigate these waters. With statements like that, its hard to see how Democrats would ever get 20 Republicans to join them to convict.
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What Are The Rules For This Impeachment Trial
This is the subject of much debate.
The Senate will likely vote on a resolution setting forth supplemental procedures specific to this trial, as it did for Clintons impeachment trial in 1999. The initial resolution for the Clinton impeachment trial postponed the question of whether to hear witness testimony until after the House managers and the presidents attorneys made their opening presentation. The Senate eventually voted to hear testimony from three witnesses during Clintons trial, via recorded depositions.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he intends to follow the 1999 resolution in deferring votes on witness testimony. But the 1999 resolution was negotiated by both parties, and passed unanimously. McConnell has made public statements that he is coordinating with the White House counsel to ensure no difference between the presidents position and our position as to how to handle this. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is seeking to negotiate an agreement on witness testimony from the outset.