Donald Trump Impeachment Inquiry/hearings 2019

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Frank Bruni: ’Twas the Eve of Impeachment
Finding verse in this curse

The 45th President of the U.S. Chapters I, II, III & IV
What’s in the House Resolution on Impeachment?
The Impeachment Process Explained: What Happens to Trump Now?
The House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry report

20 December
U.S. lawmakers head home amid impasse over Trump impeachment trial
(Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers who control the fate of President Donald Trump left Washington for a holiday break on Friday with no agreement over how they will handle the Senate trial to consider his impeachment charges in January.
Harvard Law Professor Explains Why Pelosi’s Plan To Delay Impeachment Trial Is Brilliant
Laurence Tribe broke down the House speaker’s strategy of not yet sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
(HuffPost) In an op-ed for The Washington Post published Monday, Tribe suggested the House vote to impeach Trump over the Ukraine scandal, but then hold off on transmitting the articles. … He predicted it would strengthen Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) hand “in bargaining over trial rules” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ― amid concerns of potential bias in a trial by Republicans ― because McConnell and Trump want “to get this whole business behind them.” McConnell has vowed to continue working with Trump’s defense team for the trial.

19 December
Nancy Pelosi won’t commit to sending articles of impeachment to Senate
(CNN) There are procedural concerns behind not sending the articles to the Senate on Wednesday night immediately after the vote. Among them: Democrats can’t send the articles Wednesday night because the Senate would have to take it up Thursday, blocking votes on two spending packages that must pass before week’s end to avoid a government shutdown.
In the coming days, the House must also name impeachment managers for the Senate’s trial, another step Pelosi was not ready to make Wednesday night.
“We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side, and we hope that will be soon,” Pelosi said. “So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully it will be fair.”
Mitch McConnell: ‘I’m not an impartial juror’ ahead of Senate impeachment trial (17 December)

17 December
Trump Diatribe Belittles Impeachment as ‘Attempted Coup’ on Eve of Votes
(NYT) The letter ignored the extensive evidence uncovered during a two-month inquiry by the House Intelligence Committee, based in part on the testimony by members of his own administration. It found that Mr. Trump sought to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals while holding back nearly $400 million in military assistance the country badly needed and a White House meeting for its president.
The charges accuse Mr. Trump of engaging in a corrupt scheme to enlist a foreign power for his own political benefit in the 2020 election, followed by an effort to conceal his actions by blocking congressional investigations. On Wednesday, the House is all but certain to approve them on nearly party-line votes, making him the third president ever to be impeached.
Jennifer Rubin: It is hard to capture how bizarre and frightening Trump’s letter to Pelosi is
On the eve of his impeachment, a stain that obviously torments him more than his enablers have let on, President Trump issued a rambling, unhinged and lie-filled letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). It is difficult to capture how bizarre and frightening the letter is simply by counting the utter falsehoods (e.g., repeating the debunked accusation that Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin was fired for investigating Burisma; claiming Congress is obstructing justice; arguing he was afforded no rights in the process), or by quoting from the invective dripping from his pen.
Letter from President Trump to House Speaker Pelosi
President Trump sent a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on the eve of the House impeachment vote.

16 December
Here’s One Surprising Way Congress Could Avoid an Impeachment Disaster
With a little creativity, the House could impeach Donald Trump, while allowing the Senate to avoid a trial. This is how it would work.
By Edward B. Foley, who directs the Election Law program at the Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, where he also holds the Ebersold Chair in constitutional law.
(Politico) If the process plays out as everyone believes it will, impeachment will end with an acquittal in the Senate, and the House’s efforts to protect the integrity of the 2020 election will have proved counterproductive: President Donald Trump, claiming a “full exoneration,” could be emboldened to engage in misconduct similar to or even worse than his interactions with Ukraine.
But there is a way out of this mess that would let the House impeach him—while allowing the Senate only to censure Trump, rather than having to vote to convict or acquit him. The House could express its disapproval of Trump through an impeachment vote, and the Senate, through censure rather than a trial, could embrace, even enhance, the House’s message. Yes, Trump would stay in office. But because both chambers of Congress would be on the record in officially condemning his conduct, there is a decent chance this approach might deter Trump from similar elections abuse.
… The idea of “conditional impeachment” is not in the Constitution, but the Constitution clearly allows it. There is no constitutional obligation for the House to deliver articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial—only that if there is to be an impeachment trial, then the authority to conduct that trial is exclusively lodged in the Senate. If the House wants to adopt its articles of impeachment but never send them to the Senate for trial, that is within the House’s “sole power of impeachment,” as granted in the Constitution (Article I, Section 2). That “sole power” also means the House has the authority to predicate its withholding of the articles of impeachment on a specific condition. 
Don’t let Mitch McConnell conduct a Potemkin impeachment trial
By Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard and the co-author, most recently, of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment.”
(WaPo) Now that President Trump’s impeachment is inevitable, and now that failing to formally impeach him would invite foreign intervention in the 2020 election and set a dangerous precedent, another option seems vital to consider: voting for articles of impeachment but holding off for the time being on transmitting them to the Senate.
This option needs to be taken seriously now that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced his intention to conduct not a real trial but a whitewash, letting the president and his legal team call the shots

15 December
The Impeachment Process Is Barely Functioning
Hyperpartisan politics and an implacable president may break Congress’s ability to check him.
(NYT) What, then, are we learning about Congress’s ability to check a wayward president? One can conclude that in our highly polarized world, a strong-willed president like Mr. Trump can limit impeachment — and possibly wreck it.
Had a whistle-blower not raised concerns, and had those brave State Department witnesses not testified before Congress despite the president’s admonitions not to, the House Democrats would have had too little validation for their effort to bring charges. And then, because Mr. Trump’s hold over Senate Republicans seems almost cultlike, he is all but certain to be acquitted at the trial early next year.
By Elizabeth Drew
Senate GOP defends Trump, despite oath to be impartial impeachment jurors
(WaPo) House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler accused Senate Republicans of violating their oath to be impartial jurors in an impeachment trial, as GOP senators defended their right to work for President Trump’s acquittal.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that he was working in “total coordination” with the White House — something Nadler (D-N.Y.) characterized Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” as akin to “the foreman of the jury saying he’s going to work hand in glove with the defense attorney.”

13 December
House Democrat calls on McConnell to recuse himself from impeachment trial
(The Hill) Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) on Friday called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to recuse himself from the Senate impeachment trial, citing the GOP leader’s remarks the previous night about coordinating with the White House.
McConnell said during an interview on Fox News on Thursday night that “everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.”

10 – 12 December
Impeachment Briefing: Democrats Announce Articles of Impeachment
They accused President Trump of having abused his power and “betrayed the nation”.
– In nine short pages, House Democrats spelled out two articles of impeachment they plan to vote on in the coming weeks, accusing President Trump of having abused his power and “betrayed the nation” by attempting to enlist Ukraine in “corrupting democratic elections.”
– The first article accused Mr. Trump of having “corruptly solicited” election assistance from the government of Ukraine in the form of investigations that would smear his political rivals. The second one charged him with obstructing the impeachment inquiry by blocking witnesses and documents that House Democrats requested.
– House Democrats opted not to charge Mr. Trump with “bribery” or “extortion,” as they had contemplated in recent weeks. Those terms, as my colleague Peter Baker wrote, are criminal charges, meaning they would have invited complicated debate about judicial precedents. Because an impeachable offense does not have to be a specific crime, Peter wrote, the Democrats decided to use the more comprehensive accusation of “abuse of power.”

Senate Republicans Push Back Against Trump’s Impeachment Show Trial
(New York) When the prospect of a Senate impeachment trial first came under serious discussion, its subject and object, President Trump, was strongly in favor of an immediate motion to dismiss articles of impeachment, short-circuiting any actual trial. Senate Republicans gently insisted they had a constitutional function to discharge, and would need to go through some formalities even though acquittal of Trump was certain.
Eventually in November, White House representatives and Senate Republican leaders agreed more-or-less to a compromise: a short trial (two weeks was the most common timeline discussed) with few if any witnesses that would respect the solemn trappings of an impeachment proceeding without dragging things out or risking Republican unity. But then, as the House hearings proceeded and impeachment grew nigh, Trump reportedly changed his mind and began warming to the idea of a longer Senate trial that would not only allow a full defense of his conduct in the Ukraine case but would enable his attorneys and Republican senators to drag in Joe and Hunter Biden and his House Democratic enemies and turn the whole process in the opposite direction. This idea appears to have congealed in Trump’s mind while watching the House Judiciary Committee hearings on his trip back from Europe last week, according to CNN:
Now horrified Senate Republicans are having to push back on the possibility that their dignified plans for acquitting Trump will be displaced by some sort of crude and extended show trial for the MAGA folk. According to the Washington Examiner, senior Senate Republicans are having none of it:

House Democrats unveil Trump impeachment charges; White House sets sights on Senate trial
(Reuters) – Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives announced formal impeachment charges against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, a historic move that set the stage for a divisive trial in the Republican-led Senate ahead of the 2020 elections.
The two formal charges, or articles of impeachment, accuse Trump of “betraying” the country by abusing power in an effort to pressure Ukraine to probe a political rival and then obstructing Congress’ investigation into the scandal.
The Democratic-controlled House is almost certain to vote to impeach the president. It could take up the matter next week. A trial would then be held in the Senate, likely in January. No Republican in either the House or Senate has come out in favor of Trump’s removal from office.

6 December
White House Signals Trump Won’t Mount House Impeachment Defense
In a sharply worded letter, the White House counsel denounced the impeachment inquiry and called on Democrats to end it, or get it over with quickly so it could proceed to a Senate trial.
The White House position clears the way for House committees to debate and approve impeachment articles as soon as next week, allowing a vote by the full House by Dec. 20, the final legislative day of the year.
How to Fix Impeachment
Nine experts on what’s gone so wrong with the Trump proceedings—and what America should do about it.
(Politico) The proposals include a rule to prevent conflicts of interest among committee members, dusting off century-old tools to hold uncooperative witnesses in jail, an impeachment shot clock and letting the Department of Justice have a bigger role in presidential oversight in general. And one expert thinks that, with so much else that has failed, maybe process fixes can’t save us anymore—that the removal of a president should be left up to elections alone.

5 December
Three legal experts told U.S. lawmakers that President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival amounted to impeachable offenses, in a hearing that laid the groundwork for formal charges to be filed against the president. The framers of the 232-year-old U.S. Constitution played a central role in Wednesday’s impeachment hearing as constitutional law professors outlined the case for, and against, ousting Trump. (Reuters)

3 December
House Intelligence Committee sends report on Trump and Ukraine to judiciary panel, paving way for possible articles of impeachment
(WaPo) The report, which states that the president “sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security,” was approved on a party-line vote.
The report also hints strongly at charges of obstruction of justice, among other crimes, but does not recommend specific articles of impeachment.
 Democrats are seeking to build a case that Trump leveraged military assistance and an Oval Office meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in exchange for investigations of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, and a debunked theory alleging Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
Democrats quietly debate expanding impeachment articles beyond Ukraine.
Nunes’ role exposed and 8 more takeaways from the Intel report
[Politico] compiled the top revelations in the 300-page Intel panel report.
Republican bomb-throwers prep impeachment spectacle
Some of the most colorful GOP lawmakers in Congress serve on the House Judiciary Committee, and they’re ready to aggressively defend Trump.
(Politico) The Intelligence Committee is a tight panel of 22 lawmakers who have been hand-selected by their leadership to oversee the agencies involved with the nation’s deepest secrets. The JUDICIARY COMMITTEE is nearly twice as big — 41 lawmakers — and is chockablock with some of both parties’ most colorful and partisan figures.
It’s Decision Time on Trump’s Impeachment: Narrow or Broad?
(New York) At present public support for and opposition to the impeachment and removal of Trump seems to have stabilized and pretty closely tracks partisan affiliations and Trump’s meh job approval ratings. It’s unclear whether any additional high-profile hearings in the Judiciary or Intelligence Committee would make much if any difference, even if time could be find for them. That might argue for sticking to a narrow impeachment approach. But on the other hand, the original idea that a singular focus on the simple matter of Trump’s abuse of power in trying to make Ukraine an adjunct to his reelection campaign might move some Republicans members of Congress toward impeachment now seems naïve. Inside and beyond Washington, the GOP is Trump’s fortress. How impeachment plays into an overall assessment of Trump by the small number of 2020 swing voters could be all-important, but impossible to determine at this early date.

26 November
The First Round of Impeachment Hearings Are Over. Now What?
The effort to impeach President Trump is just getting started
(Rolling Stone) After a month of closed-door depositions, Democrats in the House of Representatives last Thursday wrapped up two furious weeks of public impeachment inquiry hearings, featuring 12 witnesses who delivered a wealth of revelations. Yes, there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Yes, President Trump was involved. Yes, it’s all damning as hell.
After the Intelligence Committee — along with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, who have also been conducting investigations relevant to the inquiry — submits its report, the Judiciary Committee will conduct its own investigation, hold its own hearings, and decide whether to draft and recommend articles of impeachment, the equivalent of filing charges against the president. Democrats are still deciding how to delineate potential articles of impeachment. Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine would be their basis, but Democrats could choose to expand them to include the president’s efforts to obstruct justice detailed in the Mueller report.
Democrats hope the Judiciary Committee will complete its work in the first few weeks of December, and that a House-wide vote will be held before the year’s end.
Independent support for impeachment inquiry rises following public hearings: poll
(The Hill)The Politico/Morning Consult poll showed 44 percent of independent voters surveyed backed the impeachment inquiry, a 4-point jump from last week’s poll. Independent opposition to the inquiry also dropped 8 points to 39 percent.

24 November
Trump’s impeachment shows US officials at their best and his allies at their worst
By Robert Reich
Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch and more stand against the rot in the White House. They must be saluted
(The Guardian) The contrast could not be starker. On one side are dedicated public servants seeking to protect America. On the other side are Trump and his thugs, seeking to protect Trump.
Those who put loyalty to Trump above their duty to the United States are contemptible. Even if they don’t end up in prison like other Trump toadies, they have dishonored themselves and the nation.
But those who have devoted their lives to this country and are now risking everything by telling the truth [Lt Col Alexander Vindman ; National Security Council officer Fiona Hill ; Former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch] are among America’s best. They deserve our deepest gratitude.

22 November
Why Impeachment Is Failing—and Trump May Win in 2020
(Foreign Policy) The evidence that Trump abused his office in Ukraine is overwhelming. But a flailing Democratic Party shows he is lucky in his adversaries. (subscribers only)
Democrats Know Trump Won’t Be Removed. They’re Still Amped About Impeachment.
They see the process as good for American democracy—and for their party’s chances in 2020.
(The Atlantic) Some Democrats have long worried that impeachment is a waste of time: The Republican-controlled Senate will never vote to convict Trump, they argue, and an impeachment process with no real consequences for the president might only serve to dishearten Democratic voters ahead of the 2020 election. The many voters I met outside the hearing room seemed to acknowledge the likelihood that, when all this is done, Donald Trump will still be president. But they weren’t exactly disappointed about that prospect, either: They still see impeachment—the whole process—as good for American democracy and, more important, good for the Democratic Party heading into an election year.

21 November
John Cassidy: The Extraordinary Impeachment Testimony of Fiona Hill
(The New Yorker) …Her testimony will also be remembered for her manifest smarts, her directness—a trait of the region where she grew up—her steely self-confidence, and the moral earnestness she displayed.
Read Fiona Hill’s Opening Statement
(NYT) I take great pride in the fact that I am a nonpartisan foreign policy expert, who has served under three different Republican and Democratic presidents. I have no interest in advancing the outcome of your inquiry in any particular direction, except toward the truth.
… I respect the work that this Congress does in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities, including in this inquiry, and I am here to help you to the best of my ability. If the President, or anyone else, impedes or subverts the national security of the United States in order to further domestic political or personal interests, that is more than worthy of your attention. But we must not let domestic politics stop us from defending ourselves against the foreign powers who truly wish us harm.
I am ready to answer your questions.

16 November
Conservative Groups Are Teaming Up to Defend Trump, and Raise Money
A coalition of conservative groups is harnessing the outrage and money of its grass-roots networks to defend President Trump against a fast-moving impeachment inquiry.
Some of the nation’s leading conservative groups — the Club For Growth, FreedomWorks, Citizens United, and Tea Party Patriots — have locked arms to serve as an unofficial war room for the president during the impeachment inquiry, the third such proceeding in modern history, but the first of the social media age.
The coalition of more than 100 organizations, including traditional conservative fund-raisers and public relations firms, is banking on a coordinated divide-and-conquer strategy that seeks to harness its grass-roots networks’ outrage — and raise money crucial to its own survival.

13 November
Trump to face limits of his power in impeachment hearings
(AP) — For three years, Donald Trump has unapologetically defied the conventions of the American presidency. On Wednesday, he comes face to face with the limits of his power, confronting an impeachment process enshrined in the Constitution that will play out in public and help shape how the president will be viewed by voters next year and in the history books for generations.
Trump accepted the Republican nomination, declaring that “I alone can fix” the nation’s problems. Once elected, he set about reshaping the presidency, bending and dismantling institutions surrounding the 230-year-old office.
Now a parade of career public servants will raise their hands and swear an oath to the truth, not the presidency, representing an integral part of the system of checks and balances envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
“Trump can do away with the traditions and niceties of the office, but he can’t get away from the Constitution,” said Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University. “During Watergate, many people feared that if a president collapsed, America is broken. But the lesson of Nixon is that the Constitution is durable and the country can handle it.”

12 November
On eve of open hearings, GOP, Democrats lay out competing cases on impeachment
At the heart of the impeachment probe is one chief piece of evidence: the rough transcript of the July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky, which the White House released in late September.
(WaPo) Democrats argue that the evidence will spell out how Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “initiate investigations to benefit the president’s personal political interests in the United States . . . leveraging an Oval Office meeting desired by the president of Ukraine or by withholding U.S. military assistance to Ukraine,” and tried later to “obstruct, suppress or cover up information to conceal” evidence of those actions from Congress and the public.
… Republicans are adamant that the evidence to date does not support the allegations that “Trump pressured Ukraine to conduct investigations into the president’s political rivals” and does not support the allegations that “Trump covered up misconduct or obstructed justice,” the GOP wrote in its memo.
Career federal employees are the protagonists in the impeachment drama — at risk to themselves
Rank-and-file bureaucrats who work in the federal agencies that handle national security will defy the directive of the White House to stay quiet, instead describing what they saw as they went about, in their view, just doing their jobs.
Their role in recounting to the public how President Trump and his allies attempted to enlist Ukraine to investigate his political rivals will not come without risk. All but one of the 11 career Foreign Service staff, military officers and Pentagon officials who first testified in closed-door depositions in the Capitol basement are still in government.

7 November
Pence aide testifies in Trump impeachment inquiry, Bolton a no-show
(Reuters) A U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee official said that Bolton has threatened to take the committee to court if it subpoenas him. A congressional source said the inquiry is unlikely to go down that route.
The Washington Post, citing people familiar with Bolton’s views, said although he is willing, he wants to see how a court battle between Congress and the White House over the constitutionality of the subpoenas shakes out first.
The battle is likely to go to the Supreme Court and could spill into next year.

5 November
‘Talk to Rudy’: Impeachment transcripts detail Giuliani’s outsized influence in Ukraine policy
(NBC) Rudy Giuliani was mentioned more than 430 times during House impeachment investigators’ interviews with two key U.S. diplomats, transcripts released on Tuesday show, underscoring the former New York mayor’s outsized role in U.S.-Ukraine policy.
More than anyone else, Giuliani shaped Trump’s view of Ukraine and caused headaches for top State Department officials, as Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union and Kurt Volker, then the U.S. special representative for Ukraine, detailed in their testimonies last month.

4 November
White House Officials Decline To Appear For Closed-Door Trump Impeachment Inquiry
(NPR) The House inquiry had lined up a long list of high-ranking Trump administration officials who they want to talk to before moving into the next phase of the probe, which will involve public hearings and the release of transcripts from closed-door depositions.
Trump Reportedly Obsessed With Impeachment Coverage: ‘We’re Getting Killed’
By Matt Stieb
(New York) Not only is Trump frustrated by the fact that White House officials are providing testimony to the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry, he’s upset that the hearings “have to be covered at all,” preferring that the speed and depth of the reporting on the process resemble something closer to that of President Andrew Johnson than that of President Clinton. Trump has reportedly told aides that he thinks that details on impeachment-inquiry depositions are unnecessary because he released the transcript of the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky — despite testimony from the process revealing that the transcript was substantially edited.
As Trump struggles to control the narrative around the impeachment inquiry, he has done his best to keep Republican lawmakers happy.
“The entire White House is on a charm offensive with the members,” a White House official told Politico, citing invitations to representatives to have lunch with Trump or visit camp David so that the president can “hear from them and what they think, what they hear, and what they expect, and give them an opportunity to ask questions.” The strategy also includes printing out friendly reports and having aides deliver them to the hill, and retweeting important GOP members. If that carrot isn’t all that appetizing, the stick provides a stronger incentive for Republican lawmakers to hold the Party line: Trump, after attacking decorated veterans in his administration, appears prepared to deride lawmakers who aren’t defending him to his liking.

2 November
Trump’s defenders need to stop pretending impeachment is a criminal trial
Their argument rests on the idea that Democrats have failed to follow the rules of criminal proceedings in conducting their inquiry. But there’s an issue with that premise: Impeachment proceedings were not designed to follow the same rules as criminal ones. Claiming otherwise — as so many Republicans already have — perpetuates two fundamental misunderstandings of the Constitution.
… asking a foreign power to do him a “favor” of opening an investigation into his political opponent in exchange for a White House meeting and foreign aid — is illegal. Specifically, it violates Section 201(b)(2) of the criminal code, which clearly prohibits public officials from seeking, receiving, accepting or offering anything of “value.” (And for a political campaign, there’s just about nothing of more “value” than an investigation into your opponent.)
But the real answer is that it doesn’t matter. Because our Constitution has never based “high crimes and misdemeanors” on criminal law. In fact, criminal activity is neither sufficient nor necessary for impeachment.
Democrats pivot from private inquiry of Trump to public case for impeachment
(WaPo) As House Democrats embark on a new stage of their impeachment investigation of President Trump, they are pivoting from fact-finding to a campaign of persuasion — privately sketching out how they plan to use a series of blockbuster hearings with these witnesses to make the public case for Trump’s removal from office.
Key details remain unresolved and additional closed-door testimony might still be gathered, but according to interviews with more than a dozen lawmakers and aides, Democrats believe they have largely confirmed the core allegation at the heart of their inquiry — that Trump used the powers of his office, including the threat of withholding military aid, to try to force Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

31 October
A divided House backs impeachment probe of Trump.
The House approved a resolution, 232 to 196, that formalized the inquiry, clearing the way for nationally televised hearings in mid-November and ensuring Trump’s right to participate in the latter stage of the proceedings unless he tries to block witnesses from testifying.
The near party-line vote came as Tim Morrison, a top official on Trump’s National Security Council, testified in a closed-door deposition.

30 October
What’s in the House Resolution on Impeachment?
(Lawfare) On Oct. 29, Chairman of the House Rules Committee James McGovern introduced House resolution H.Res.660, along with a fact sheet, outlining procedures going forward for the impeachment inquiry into the president. The resolution sets the stage for the next phase of the impeachment investigation—which will have a decidedly more public face than the proceedings thus far. On Oct. 30, after robust discussion and the rejection of 18 amendments offered by Republicans, the Rules Committee reported the resolution favorably with a 9-4 party-line vote. It will be taken up by the full House on Thursday.
First, the resolution directs all six committees instructed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to participate in the inquiry—Intelligence, Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means—to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry.” This posture—directing a continuation of work rather than authorizing the inquiry—reflects House Democrats’ long-standing assertion that the impeachment inquiry need not be specifically authorized by the full House to be valid. In addition, it would seem the scope of the inquiry, at least for now, is not strictly limited to issues related to President Trump’s conduct with respect to Ukraine. It is hard to say whether issues being investigated in other committees will eventually find their way into articles of impeachment, but this resolution certainly leaves that possibility open.
The resolution clearly puts the Intelligence Committee—and its chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff—in the driver’s seat for an initial set of public hearings. Schiff gets to call open hearings for purposes of the impeachment investigation, write a report including findings and recommendations for the Judiciary Committee, and make the report publicly available. He is firmly in the lead, though there is also a nod to the accompanying role played thus far by the committees on Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform, with which Schiff must consult in preparing the report.

29 October
The 5 public confirmations of a quid pro quo between Trump and Ukraine
White House official Alexander Vindman on Tuesday becomes the latest high-ranking government official to give an account of an incident that confirms a quid pro quo between the Trump team and Ukraine — something the White House previously dismissed entirely.
Testimony from career diplomats outlines Trump’s dark view of Ukraine
Two career diplomats testified to House impeachment investigators Wednesday that President Trump displayed a deeply pessimistic view of Ukraine that was out of step with officials at the White House and State Department who saw support for the European country as critical in its battle with Russian-backed separatists.

28 October
Nina L. Khrushcheva: The Silence of the Republican Lambs
Even as Donald Trump’s presidency fast approaches the abyss, leading members of the Republican Party have stayed largely silent. As the Soviet dissident poet Alexander Galich wrote in the 1960s, “Keep silent, you will be on top.”
(Project Syndicate) Now, finally, some of the resisters are speaking out. Anonymous, who might even be one of those generals, has written A Warning, touted by its publisher prior to its release in November as an “explosive” book that “offers a shocking, first-hand account of President Trump and his record.” And McMaster is writing a book scheduled for 2020 about the “gravest geopolitical challenges” of our time, in which Trump is likely to feature.The latest Republican resister is John Bolton, the third of Trump’s national security advisers, who left the administration in September and is also allegedly working on a tell-all book.
… Better late than never, some might say. Still, the recent flurry of “resistance” is more than a little late. These silent “resisters” want us to believe that they put their country first, when in fact Trump’s presidency was further dividing both the US and the world. … Before we rush to embrace Bolton, McMaster, and others because they are now anti-Trump, let’s see if they have the courage to blame themselves for their earlier complicity.

26 October
Waiting for Bolton: A Capital Speculates on What He Will Say
As the House impeachment inquiry enters its second month, there may be no witness investigators want to question more than John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser.
(NYT) His name has come up repeatedly in testimony that has depicted him resisting Mr. Trump’s Ukraine pressure campaign and warning that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, was a “hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”
But even as he has been at the center of the discussion during the impeachment inquiry, the outspoken former Fox News commentator has remained uncharacteristically silent. To Democrats who vilified him for years as an ultraconservative warmonger, suddenly Mr. Bolton has emerged as a much-sought witness who in the narrative they are assembling may have made a principled stand against Mr. Trump’s abuse of power to advance domestic political goals.

25 October
Frank Rich: Republican Impeachment Panic Sets In
…over the past week there have been repeated signs that [Trump] and his party are more panicked than ever. The first indication of desperation was the White House trashing of Taylor, a Vietnam combat veteran with a bipartisan 30-year-plus career in public service, as a “radical unelected bureaucrat” and “human scum” despite the fact that it was Trump’s own secretary of State and Ukraine shakedown co-conspirator, Mike Pompeo, who put Taylor in his current diplomatic post. Then came the farcical and failed effort of a congressional flash mob, approved by the president, to physically disrupt the impeachment inquiry on the spurious grounds that Republicans are being shut out of the proceedings. (Forty-eight GOP representatives are permitted to attend the hearings on impeachment.) These protesting clowns, among them the racist Iowa congressman Steve King, not only violated national security by bringing cell phones into the room but thought it was a hilarious idea to order in pizza to further dramatize their ostensibly serious act of civil disobedience.
Another sign of Trump panic was his reversal of his decision to host the G7 at his own Miami hotel — a very rare about-face, prompted by complaining GOP congressmen fearful of 2020 blowback in their own reelection campaigns. You’ll notice, too, that Trump seems to be retreating from his claim to be a “lynching” victim. This may have something to do with an unexpected editorial that ran Wednesday in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal — a newspaper that, unlike the Times and the Washington Post, has not been subjected to the White House’s new “fake news” ban. In stark contrast to Trump lackey Lindsey Graham’s defense, the paper’s editorial page condemned Trump for using “self-indulgent” and “reckless” and “indefensible” language that exacerbates the “political trouble” he’s in.

23-24 October
The impeachment ‘witch hunt’ is turning up cauldrons of Trump’s witchcraft
By Virginia Heffernan
(LATimes) On Tuesday, the testimony of William B. Taylor Jr., the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, conjured an especially haunting picture of the president in the act of ravaging American interests, security and even coffers in favor of his own.
Taylor testified behind closed doors, but news media obtained his devastating 15-page opening statement and quickly made it public.
Not only did Trump allegedly ask Ukraine to play an illegal role in a U.S. election, his strategy of persuasion looked an awful lot like extortion.
Trump’s daily quid pro quos — with foreign leaders, the Republican Party, his own Cabinet — have long been in line with a master quid pro quo, with Russia’s interests.
But the do-everything Democrats in the House have been onto that quid pro quo for a long time. And with each witness who testifies in the impeachment hearings, and now with Taylor’s devastating testimony, they’re filing receipts

18-19 October
All roads lead to Putin: This week in impeachment
(Brookings) There is no question that the president himself is directly involved in all four of the likely articles of impeachment. He did fire Comey and tell people it was to stop the Russia investigation—which will be central to an article built around obstruction of justice. He did order
military aid to Ukraine held up and ask the Ukranian president to investigate a political rival. This is not only a violation of federal election law; it probably counts as a constitutional abuse of power. His many directives to defy Congressional requests for documents and witnesses is clearly an obstruction of Congress. And finally, the existence of a continued financial stake in his businesses such as the Trump hotel blocks from the White House, and his shameful insistence that the next G7 meeting be held at his resort in Florida, constitute a clear violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
In other words, unlike so many troubled politicians before him, Trump cannot defend himself on the grounds that there were rogue operators in his circle. In this case, the president is the rogue operator.
Nonetheless, public opinion has yet to catch up to the storm of action in Congress. …
Democrats now have to decide how to tell this story if they want to have any chance of chipping enough Republicans away from Trump to convict him. Their track record on storytelling is simply not very good. …
After a disastrous White House meeting that led to a walkout of Congressional Democrats, a picture of Pelosi lecturing the president went viral. She is standing across the table from him in the Cabinet room making a point. At a press conference the next day she explained that she was saying to him:
“The Russians were the beneficiaries of any withholding of assistance or encouragement to the Ukraine. Again, Putin benefits. The Russians benefited, Putin did, when the president placed some doubt about our commitment to NATO, right from the start of his administration. All roads lead to Putin. Then, the president said, ‘Well, the reason I’m taking the troops out of Syria is because I promised in the campaign to bring the troops home.’ My question to him is, is Saudi Arabia home? Is Saudi Arabia home? […] He said ‘Well, the Saudi Arabians are paying for it.’ Really, we’re putting our troops in harm’s way for Saudi Arabia because they’re paying for it? […] What it did do was cause a meltdown on the part of the president because he was unhappy with those questions.”
So perhaps we have the beginning of a compelling narrative into which all else fits?
Impeachment takeaways: Damning testimony and a surprise confession
(Politico) The House collected more damning testimony this week detailing President Donald Trump’s attempts to get Ukrainian help investigating his political foes. A surprise confession came from the White House lectern. And Senate Republican leaders urged their rank-and-file to prepare for a trial before Christmas.
As Inquiry Widens, McConnell Is Said to See Impeachment Trial as Inevitable
(NYT) According to people who were there, he came equipped with a PowerPoint presentation, complete with quotes from the Constitution, as he schooled fellow senators on the intricacies of a process he portrayed as all but inevitable.
Few Republicans are inclined to convict Mr. Trump on charges that he abused his power to enlist Ukraine in an effort to smear his political rivals. Instead, Mr. McConnell sees the proceedings as necessary to protect a half a dozen moderates in states like Maine, Colorado and North Carolina who face re-election next year and must show voters they are giving the House impeachment charges a serious review.

17 October
Mr. Sondland said in his testimony to House impeachment investigators that he was disappointed the president involved his personal lawyer in diplomacy with Kiev.
Mr. Sondland spent more than nine hours on Capitol Hill taking his turn in the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, as the latest top foreign policy official to appear before impeachment investigators who are digging into a whistle-blower complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. His testimony, which the Trump administration initially sought to block, was a matter of intense interest for the investigators as they tried to fill out a picture of what transpired this summer as Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani ratcheted up the pressure on the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. Gordon Sondland, E.U. Envoy, Testifies Trump Delegated Ukraine Policy to Giuliani
Poll: Only a Minority of Republicans Are Sure Trump Is Innocent
(New York) It is well understood by now that support for impeachment — and for that matter removal — of Donald Trump has risen significantly since proceedings were officially announced by Nancy Pelosi last month. That’s mostly because impeachment fever has spread among Democrats and among independents.
But it’s a separate question whether the evidence that Trump has committed impeachable acts will or won’t grow during impeachment hearings and/or a Senate trial, given the current atmosphere of partisan polarization. There is some new research from Pew suggesting that Republicans may be more open to persuasion than Democrats as the process moves along. Modest Changes in Views of Impeachment Proceedings Since Early September54% approve of House decision to conduct inquiry

15 October
Thomas L. Friedman: It’s Not Trump vs. the Dems. It’s Trump vs. the Country’s True Defenders.
Public servants who swore to protect the Constitution also set the impeachment process in motion.
Last Thursday and Friday, two important Americans bore witness to the state of our nation. One was President Trump, addressing political rallies. The other was Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine until suddenly told to get “on the next plane” — because Trump wanted her removed — without explanation.
John Bolton’s eruption shows that Trump’s defenses are collapsing
By Greg Sargent
(WaPo) Donald Trump’s explicitly declared position in the scandal consuming his presidency is that pressuring a foreign power to “investigate” a leading domestic political opponent absolutely falls within his rightfully exercised authority. Trump has said this, and so has his White House counsel, making this the White House’s official political, substantive and legal position.
But this defense is cracking up. That’s because we’re now learning, one after another, that all of the people around him knew that it was grievously wrong — that is, all except for those who were carrying out Trump’s corrupt scheme.

12 October
Three Cheers for Masha: A brief tribute to our Foreign Service
By John R. Allen, President, The Brookings Institution
All Americans … and much of the rest of the world … should be deeply grateful for America’s Foreign Service and for the likes of Ambassadors Yovanovitch and Taylor, and thousands of others just like them who’ve served quietly, oftentimes thanklessly, sometime fatally … but always honorably … at the outer edge of American influence.
As these officers come forward now to speak, they are indeed doing their duty and honoring their loyalty to their oaths and to the precious principles of the American Constitution. Yet some in the Foreign Service, and others who’ve served, are remaining silent during this threat to our Democracy even when they fully grasp the corruption before us, and the naked threat to the sanctity of our system of government. History will be the final arbiter of their actions, and it will not be kind to the silent.

11 October
New revelations about Trump test Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy
(WaPo) Recent revelations about President Trump’s conduct are testing the limits of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s narrow impeachment strategy, leading some Democrats to wonder whether the probe should be expanded beyond the Ukraine scandal.
Since House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry just over two weeks ago, Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants have coalesced around a plan to focus on Trump’s pressure on the Ukrainian president to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential candidate, and his son Hunter.
The episode, Democrats argue, is clear-cut, easy for Americans to understand and doesn’t require  further proof, as the White House has released a rough transcript of the call. In a conference call with Democrats on Friday, Pelosi emphasized that the focus should be Ukraine.
But a spate of allegations about other possible abuses has led some Democrats to rethink the strategy.
Within a one-day span, The Washington Post reported that  Trump sought to enlist then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the fall of 2017 to stop the prosecution of a Turkish Iranian gold trader represented by Rudolph W. Giuliani.
In solely focusing on Ukraine, Democrats could miss the opportunity to build a stronger case against the president — one that has the potential to sway Senate Republicans who will decide whether to convict Trump if the House votes to impeach.
“We’re basically getting like three new impeachable offenses a day, so it suggests that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg on what’s happening,” said Daniel Pfeiffer, a former Obama strategist who hosts “Pod Save America” and who has been pushing Democrats to expand their probes.

4 October
Adam Schiff Is the Right Man for the Moment
A clinical and focused approach is called for in the face of Trump’s theatrics and distraction.
Mr. Schiff is a stickler for process. When the whistle-blower approached him and his staff, they did precisely the right thing: They directed the whistle-blower to obtain legal counsel and file the complaint through the appropriate channels laid out in the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act.
Mr. Schiff went public only after receiving a letter from the intelligence community inspector general indicating the acting director of national intelligence had not followed process requirements outlined in the law. The president can concoct all the conspiracy theories he wants, and Lindsey Graham and others may pick up the tune, but Mr. Schiff played it by the book.
Mr. Schiff is quarterbacking speedy efforts of his own staff and also two other committees, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform, that Ms. Pelosi has directed to assist in the effort.
Mr. Schiff is setting the tone and strategy of the inquiry, quickly setting up depositions of key witnesses and warning the administration that obstruction and delay could form the basis for a distinct article of impeachment similar to one approved by the Judiciary Committee against Richard Nixon in 1974.

2 October
John Hudak and Adrianna Pita: What are the politics of impeachment?
(Brookings) As the House impeachment inquiry pushes forward, John Hudak examines the political calculations that drove the decision to launch the inquiry and will shape it going forward, how much (or little) we can learn from past impeachments, and how Republican members of Congress are reacting to the current state of affairs surrounding the president.
“There’s a couple of reasons why this rose to that level. First, this is very easy for the American public to understand and digest. The Mueller probe was much more complicated and more harder for people to understand fully what was going on.Second, it is such a clear abuse of power that it is, other than some of the president’s most ardent supporters in Congress, very difficult to excuse or explain it in a way that is positive for the president. So that moved the speaker to come away from believing that there was political damage to be done by having an impeachment inquiry to going full-throttle and saying that this is something we need to do for the sake of democracy.”

1 October
Ed Kilgore: Behind the ‘Civil War’ Quote: Trump May Fear the Christian Right Wants Pence
…in going nuts over the impeachment proceedings, the president may have implicitly signaled that he needs a fresh bending of the knee from the constituency that was so critical to his election and reelection — but that also has the most to gain from Trump’s removal from office. That’s what Jeffress supplied.
In their hearts, there’s not much doubt that conservative Evangelical leaders would be happy and relieved if Trump could be removed from office without the Republican Party losing control of the White House — particularly if the new inhabitant of said house was their lil’ darling.
Frank Bruni: If Trump Goes Down, He’s Taking Everyone With Him
The impeachment inquiry is laying him bare. It’s not a pretty sight.
Already, there has been a swell of support for impeachment, according to new polls released by CNN and Monmouth University, and I bet that trend continues as revelations of his wrongdoing cascade and as he wildly overreacts.
That probably wouldn’t be enough to get Republican senators to convict him and remove him from office, should the House follow through with impeachment and a Senate trial ensue. But it would affect November 2020.
He’s in a bind, because his burn-down-the-house defense against impeachment makes the best case that he must be impeached — that a leader with no bounds and no bottom can’t be allowed to rage on unimpeded.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blistered Democrats in a new statement, accusing them of trying “to intimidate” and “bully” by issuing a subpoena for witness testimony and documents relating to an impeachment inquiry over President Trump’s call with Ukraine, and said his officials will not appear for scheduled depositions

30 September
Rudy Giuliani subpoenaed as Trump slams impeachment probe
House intelligence committee chair should be arrested for ‘treason,’ president tweets
Giuliani said in a tweet the subpoena raised legal issues including attorney-client privilege. “It will be given appropriate consideration,” he added.
The subpoena notes Giuliani recently said he has “evidence — in the form of text messages, phone records, and other communications” indicating he was not acting alone and that other Trump administration officials “may have been involved.
Harvard law professor: Trump civil war tweet impeachable on its own
” ‘If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,’ ” Trump had tweeted Sunday, quoting Pastor Robert Jeffress on Fox News.
Barr personally asked foreign officials to aid inquiry into CIA, FBI activities in 2016
(WaPo) Barr’s personal involvement is likely to stoke further criticism from Democrats pursuing impeachment that he is helping the Trump administration use executive branch powers to augment investigations aimed primarily at the president’s adversaries.
But the high-level Justice Department focus on intelligence operatives’ conduct is likely to cheer Trump and other conservatives for whom “investigate the investigators” has become a rallying cry. Barr has voiced his own concerns, telling lawmakers in April that he believed “spying did occur” when it came to the U.S. investigation of the Trump campaign.

29 September
The Dangerous Position of William Barr
(The New Yorker) Among the many Trump Administration officials who are likely to be targets of the Democrats’ formal impeachment inquiry, one of the most central is the Attorney General, William Barr. According to Justice Department officials and the whistle-blower complaint about President Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian President, Barr knew of Trump’s effort to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election by investigating a possible rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden, and of the Department’s subsequent suppression of the whistle-blower complaint. On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Barr of being part of a “coverup of the coverup,” and signalled that the Attorney General will be a focus of the investigation. “I do think the Attorney General has gone rogue—he has for a long time now,” Pelosi told CNN. “And, since he was mentioned in all of this, it’s curious that he would be making decisions about how the complaint would be handled.”

28 September
Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions
(WaPo) In the five days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opened an impeachment inquiry following revelations about President Trump’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart, Trump has been determined to cast himself as a singular victim in a warped reality — a portrayal that seems part political survival strategy, part virtual therapy session.
As Trump tells it, he is a hard-working and honorable president whose conduct has been ‘perfect’ but who is being harassed and tormented by “Do Nothing Democrat Savages” and a corrupt intelligence community resolved to perpetuate a hoax, defraud the public and, ultimately, undo the 2016 election.

26 September
Pelosi Says Impeachment Inquiry Is All About Ukraine – for Now
(New York) In a press conference held while the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clearer than before that the impeachment inquiry she announced yesterday would — for now, at least — focus exclusively on the president’s dealings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Indeed, she indicated that the House Intelligence Committee would have the primary responsibility for uncovering the facts that might or might not justify actual articles of impeachment (she was adamant that no decision had been made on the ultimate outcome of the “inquiry”).
So for the time being, Jerrold Nadler’s Judiciary Committee (normally the focal point of impeachment proceedings) will be on hold, except for its ongoing investigations of the president and his administration.

25 September
Seven days: Inside Trump’s frenetic response to the whistleblower complaint and the battle over impeachment
(WaPo) The helter-skelter way the administration handled the aftermath of the whistleblower complaint could be a harbinger of the coming impeachment fight, with the White House scrambling to respond to a mercurial and frustrated president, who is increasingly sidelining his aides and making decisions based on gut instinct.
Even some allies of the president worry that his team may not fully understand the potential upheaval that an impeachment fight could wreak on Trump and his administration, especially as he heads into the 2020 election.

Transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian president shows him offering U.S. assistance for Biden investigation
President Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an inquiry, according to a newly-released transcript of the call.
Those statements and others in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were so concerning that the intelligence community inspector general thought them a possible violation of campaign finance law.

24 September

Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump

Faced with new allegations against President Trump and administration stonewalling, Democrats have ended months of caution
(NYT) Ms. Pelosi’s declaration, after months of reticence by Democrats who had feared the political consequences of impeaching a president many of them long ago concluded was unfit for office, was a stunning turn that set the stage for a history-making and exceedingly bitter confrontation between the Democrat-led House and a defiant president who has thumbed his nose at institutional norms.
Ms. Pelosi’s decision to push forward with the most severe action that Congress can take against a sitting president could usher in a remarkable new chapter in American life, touching off a constitutional and political showdown with the potential to cleave an already divided nation, reshape Mr. Trump’s presidency and the country’s politics, and carry heavy risks both for him and for the Democrats who have decided to weigh his removal.
… Mr. Trump, who for months has dared Democrats to impeach him, issued a defiant response on Twitter while in New York for several days of international diplomacy at the United Nations, with a series of fuming posts that culminated with a simple phrase: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” Meanwhile, his re-election campaign and House Republican leaders launched a vociferous defense, accusing Democrats of a partisan rush to judgment.

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