House ready to impeach Trump in historic vote

Story by Al Weaver

The House is set to hold a historic vote on two articles of impeachment against President Trump over his dealings with Ukraine today, likely making him the third president in U.S. history to be indicted by the lower chamber.

Today’s vote on articles of impeachment alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress is the culmination of nearly three months of investigations by the House into the president’s actions, which Trump has repeatedly railed against without ceding any ground. It will also kick off proceedings in the Senate that will likely begin in earnest next month.

As Mike Lillis and Olivia Beavers note in their preview of the historic vote, Democratic leaders are bringing articles of impeachment to the floor after declining to do so for most of the year despite retaking the majority in January. They were spurred to action after a whistleblower alleged that the president had leveraged U.S. military aid and a White House meeting to press Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals.

Image result for pinocchio“No Member came to Congress to impeach a President. But every one of us, as our first act as a Member of Congress, stood on the House Floor, raised our hand and took a sacred oath: ‘I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to her colleagues on the eve of today’s vote. “That oath makes us Custodians of the Constitution. If we do not act, we will be derelict in our duty.”

House Democrats put a bow on their procedural effort on Tuesday as the House Rules Committee set parameters of impeachment debate after a marathon hearing that featured closing arguments from leaders of the Judiciary panel, which had drafted the articles last week (The Hill).

The Hill: Both sides make their closing arguments on Trump impeachment articles.

Peter Baker, The New York Times: What to watch ahead of the impeachment vote.

Politico: Trump impeachment clouds Pelosi’s second act.

The vote, which is expected to come down along partisan lines (save for a few members), will produce political ramifications that will last through 2020 and potentially beyond. Of the 31 House Democrats who sit in districts won by the president in 2016, 29 are expected to vote in favor of impeaching the president. At least two House Democrats expected to vote against the two articles are Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.), who is expected to jump ship and formally become a Republican in the near future, though he refused to talk about it on Tuesday (The Hill).

Only one Democrat is expected to vote for one of the articles, but not the other. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) announced on Tuesday that he would support the abuse of power charge, but not the obstruction of Congress one. Golden is among the top targets of House Democrats on the 2020 map (The Hill). As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) predicted, no GOP lawmaker is expected to support either article of impeachment later today. The final votes on impeachment are expected between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The New York Times: A majority of House members support the articles of impeachment against Trump. Here’s the full list.

The Associated Press: House nears impeachment as Trump decries “vicious crusade.”

While today’s vote is not totally unexpected given how everything has played out since House Democrats launched their formal inquiry in late September, it is nevertheless extraordinary and significant. As Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels write, while Trump has remained defiant throughout the process, refusing to cooperate and raging against what he deems an unfair, politically-motivated sham, he has occasionally acknowledged the historical weight of impeachment and lamented its toll on his presidency and his family.

Complicating matters even more, Trump will be the first president to be impeached by the House while also seeking reelection. However, despite what is expected to happen today, many in the White House remain optimistic about his reelection chances, which they believe were buoyed by a particularly strong week on the legislative front in a boost to the president’s agenda. As they have throughout his first term, they view today’s historic vote as a blip on the radar when it comes to how the issue will play with voters.

It’s worth noting: Trump has no public events on his schedule prior to his 4:25 p.m. departure for Battle Creek, Mich., where he will hold a campaign rally that will start at 7 p.m. The rally is likely going to start as the House is voting on the pair of impeachment articles.

The Hill: Trump calls for halt to impeachment in scathing letter to Pelosi on eve of vote.

READ: Trump’s letter to Pelosi.

The Hill: GOP leadership: Initial phase of impeachment trial could run two weeks.

Looking ahead to the next steps, Senate leaders are at an impasse over how to conduct an impeachment trial next month, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) taking part in a back-and-forth early in the week on the topic.

Senators are pessimistic about the pair being able to reach a compromise on rules for a trial, citing the messy relationship between the two leaders that has been strained repeatedly during the Trump presidency.

“The problem is the core of the relationship between him and Schumer,” one Republican senator close to McConnell told The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. “Their history is bad.”

After a public battle when Schumer issued his opening salvo over witnesses on Sunday, McConnell returned serve on Tuesday, blasting Schumer’s vision for the trial as “dead wrong” and ruling out the witness demands by the Democratic leader (The Hill).

The relationship is a far cry from those who took part in former President Clinton’s impeachment trial as the ties that bound then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and then-Minority Leader Senate Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) were a lot stronger than the current leadership pair.

“The fact that we’re still waiting for the first meeting on this subject between the two of them speaks for itself,” said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).

 

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