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Impeachment news roundup: Dec. 11

Judiciary Committee to take up articles tonight, vote expected Thursday

Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes her way to a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday to announce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump with committee chairs who helped draft them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes her way to a news conference in the Capitol on Tuesday to announce articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump with committee chairs who helped draft them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Judiciary Committee began marking up articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening and is expected to vote on them Thursday.

In his opening statement, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler addressed why impeaching Trump was warranted when a presidential election is less than a year away. 

“We cannot rely on an election to solve our problems when the President threatens the very integrity of that election,” the New York Democrat said. “Nor can we sit on our hands while the President undermines our national security — and while he allows his personal interests and the interests of our adversary Russia to advance.”

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Republicans are unlikely to offer substantive amendments, ranking member Rep. Doug Collins said earlier this week.

“There’s no way you can fix bad [articles],” the Georgia Republican said, adding that GOP members will offer “amendments that will allow for further debate and further comment.”

Instead they are continuing to object to Democrats not holding an impeachment hearing with minority witnesses Judiciary Committee Republicans have repeatedly requested.

“We will avail ourselves of every parliamentary tool available to us in committees and the House floor in order to highlight your inaction,” they wrote in a letter Tuesday.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries said he doesn’t anticipate his party offering any amendments during the markup. The Judiciary Committee member said that amendments have not been raised in any of the discussions among Democratic committee members so far.

Here is the latest on the impeachment inquiry:

Senate trial?: Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso signaled Wednesday that he thought there could be an appetite for moving to final votes in an impeachment trial after the House managers and President Donald Trump’s lawyers present arguments.

“I would like to see the House managers, the Democrats make their case, the president’s team make its defense, and at that point if a majority of the senators said I’d heard enough, I’d be ready to vote on the Final Jeopardy question immediately,” Barrasso said.

“Right now, this minute? There’s not 51 votes for anything. People want to hear the evidence,” the Wyoming Republican said Wednesday. “There’s not 51 votes today.”

“It depends how long it takes for the Democrats to make their case and the president — the president’s team to respond,” Barrasso said.

Diverse managers: Rep. Al Green weighed in Wednesday on what he’d like to see in impeachment managers if the case moves to a Senate trial.

“I’d like to see diversity,” Green said. “There’s little reason why we should have an all-white group of managers.”

He said that the legal witnesses called before the Judiciary Committee were a disappointment to him for their lack of diversity and he hopes that doesn’t happen again with impeachment managers.

“The experts who testified, I thought it was an insult to the many people of color in this country because the message that may have been received … may very well have been that there are no persons of color with expertise in this area of law, which of course we know is not true,” he said.

Lieu on the mend: Judiciary member Ted Lieu will miss the panel’s markup of articles of impeachment Wednesday and Thursday. The California Democrat had stent surgery Tuesday and will be missing work the rest of this week as he recovers. His chief of staff Marc Cevasco said Lieu is in good spirits and plans to return to work next week.

Lieu’s stent surgery came after he was admitted to George Washington University Hospital for chest pain on Monday.

“An electrocardiogram, ultrasound and two blood tests confirmed there was no heart attack and no heart damage,” Cevasco said. “A CT scan showed partial blockage of an artery that was the likely cause of the symptoms. Yesterday, he underwent stent surgery. It was successful. He is now recovering and will likely be discharged from the hospital later today.”

While Lieu will be missing the Judiciary markup, he is likely to follow along from home.

“He does plan to watch a lot of TV as he recovers,” Cevasco said.

Latest on Trump’s financials: The House cited 2020 election security concerns Wednesday when it urged the Supreme Court not to delay the enforcement of congressional subpoenas for financial records of President Donald Trump and his business from Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial Corporation.

Any harm to Trump for allowing the enforcement of the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees would be less severe than Congress not getting information it needs to protect the elections from foreign influence, House attorneys argued in a Supreme Court filing.

All of that: The two articles of impeachment Democrats filed stayed away from detailing where Trump might have broken the law with his dealings with Ukraine or interactions with the special counsel probe into Russian interference with the 2016 election.

The strategy to focus on constitutional violations rather than the criminal violations they had discussed highlights how Democrats contend that a president does not have to commit a crime to be impeached.

“We didn’t need to name specific crimes in the articles because what we did encompasses all of that,” Pennsylvania Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon said.

“We don’t prosecute crimes in Congress, we protect the Constitution,” California Rep. Eric Swalwell added.

[House Democrats abandon crimes in Trump impeachment articles]

Botched: Judiciary Democrats spent roughly seven months investigating a litany of allegations that Trump abused his power, but the charges laid out in the articles of impeachment unveiled Tuesday don’t reflect any of that work.

The result is the latest sign that the panel with sole jurisdiction over drafting articles of impeachment has been marginalized as its probe became overshadowed by allegations that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his domestic political rivals, withholding a White House meeting and congressionally appropriated security assistance as leverage.

Multiple Democratic sources suggested Pelosi intentionally sidelined the panel after moderate caucus members complained Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler botched hearings on former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s obstruction of that investigation.

[On impeachment, Pelosi prevailed over Judiciary panel to narrow focus]

Thumbing his nose: Amid the impeachment drama and Democrats’ allegations Trump’s interest in Ukraine is linked to a perceived affinity for Russia, the president tweeted a picture of that country’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

President Trump, who spoke as he left the White House for a Pennsylvania rally, called House Democrats’ impeachment articles “very weak.” He described the opposition party the same way, saying a deal on a new trade agreement is the “silver lining of impeachment.”

“I can’t imagine” House Democrats would vote in favor of the impeachment articles, Trump said because “they have analyzed” his call with Ukraine’s President and said there was nothing inappropriate.

[Trump thumbs nose at impeachment, Dems by hosting Putin’s top diplomat]

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