Congress

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 15

House approves impeachment managers

Flanked by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, left, and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the seven House members who will serve as managers in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially signed the articles of impeachment Wednesday evening, ahead of their delivery to the Senate from her chamber. 

“Today we make history when the managers walk down the hall will cross a threshold in history,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi reiterated that Democrats were upholding the Constitution and sending a message that “no future president should ever entertain the idea that Article 2 says he can do what he wants.”

The House voted 228-193 earlier Wednesday to adopt the resolution that officially appoints the seven House impeachment managers, and authorizes a message to the Senate naming the managers, who Pelosi announced earlier in the day.

As is customary when Pelosi signs bills, she used multiple pens so she can give one to various members involved in the effort.

“It makes a funny signature,” she said.

Pelosi handed a pen to every manager and committee chair, then said, “I’ll keep one for myself.”

After the signing, managers processed over to the Senate to deliver the articles and their message.

 

Before the House vote, Pelosi spoke on the House floor warning against an outright dismissal of the case and said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is afraid that more evidence will emerge if witnesses are heard.

“Dismissal is coverup,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi cited Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem “Paul Revere's Ride” and the pledge of allegiance in her argument for the resolution, providing her own impeachment-themed version.

“Listen my children and you will hear about an assault on the Constitution of the United States, undermining the republic for which our flag stands, by the president of the United States,” she said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that Pelosi’s seven chosen impeachment managers show that the speaker isn’t interested in “winning the minds” of skeptical members of the public.

During Wednesday's floor debate, McCarthy quoted Pelosi — who was walking to her seat across the House chamber — saying, "the president is impeached forever." After McCarthy read the quote, Pelosi pumped her fist and sat down.

The resolution also includes language to allow the seven House Democrats to employ legal and clerical assistants for the trial and spend Judiciary Committee and other House funds for the preparation for and duration of the trial.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he expects the trial to begin in earnest Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

Trump responded to the announcement minutes later, calling the effort a “con job.”

Here is the latest on impeachment:

Work to be done: Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who sits on the Judiciary panel, indicated that even though the articles of impeachment have been transmitted to the Senate, the House still has investigative work to do.

“There’s a significant amount of oversight that is underway and that will continue,” the Rhode Island Democrat said.

Cicilline’s committee released a second batch of evidence on Tuesday of communications that appear to tie Trump to his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s scheme to enlist Ukraine’s help promoting the president’s political interests. The documents — which include texts and voicemails — were provided to the investigating House committees by Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Giuliani.

“It’s evidence which corroborates the evidence that we collected during the course of the investigation that shows the president abused the power of his office,” Cicilline said of the Parnas documents.

New managers: Pelosi earlier Wednesday announced the seven House managers for the Senate impeachment trial.

  • Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D. Calif., lead manager.
  • Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., a Judiciary member and chairman the House Democratic Caucus.
  • Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary. committees and a former chief of the Orlando Police Department.
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a senior member of the Judiciary Committee.
  • Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Texas, a Judiciary member who served as a city and county judge before being elected to Congress.
  • Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., a former Army Ranger who serves on the Armed Services Committee.

“The emphasis is on litigation, the emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom,” Pelosi said of the selections.

Pelosi, Schiff, Nadler and others emphasized that they still urge the Senate to hear from witnesses and allow the introduction of documents.

“Witnesses tell the truth and witnesses don’t tell the truth. Documents don’t lie,” Schiff said.

During Clinton’s impeachment trial, 13 House Republicans were chosen as impeachment managers. In 1999, specific managers were assigned to open the case, give closing statements and they split up the articles between themselves, touting their merits.

Prior experience: Lofgren is the only House Democrat who was on Capitol Hill during the impeachment efforts against former presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon — as a Judiciary staffer during Nixon’s impeachment hearings and as a member during Clinton’s trial.

Three of the Republican impeachment managers for the Clinton case are still in Congress: Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Clampdown: The Senate sergeant-at-arms and Capitol Police are launching an unprecedented crackdown on the Capitol press corps for the trial that intends to protect senators and the chamber, but also suggests that credentialed reporters and photographers whom senators interact with on a daily basis are considered a threat.

Additional security screening and limited movement within the Capitol for reporters are two issues that are drawing criticism from Capitol Hill media.

During the trial, a single press pen will be set up on the second floor of the Senate, where lawmakers enter and exit the chamber. Reporters will be confined to the pen, unable to move with senators. No movement will be allowed outside the corrals, and reporters and photographers will need to be escorted to and from the pen.

In the course of a day on Capitol Hill, many senators stop and talk or walk and talk as reporters gather around to catch the latest comment. Others employ age-old avoidance tactics, including fake phone calls or staffers by their side firmly stating, “We’re late, she can’t talk,” or a similar excuse.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, ranking member on the Rules Committee, was critical of the measures.

“They claim it is security. I really don’t think that’s true. We’ve had very high profile votes and high profile subjects at hearings, and we have not restricted access in that way,” Klobuchar told CBS News. “I have my own theories, of course, and they’re not good ones. It’s because they don’t want people to interview senators and be able to have them talk.”

Delaying tactics: Republican Sen. Roy Blunt told reporters it’s pretty certain the impeachment trial could still be going by the time Trump delivers his Feb. 4 State of the Union address and put the blame on House Democrats for that.

The House voted to impeach Trump on Dec. 18 but Pelosi delayed transmitting the articles against him — abuse of power and obstructing Congress — in the House trying to get assurances from McConnell that the trial would be what House Democrats considered a fair one, with the ability to call more witnesses and introduce other evidence.

“If we would have gotten started at the proper time, we might have,” Blunt said of finishing the trial by the time of Trump’s address. “It’s hard to imagine” the proceeding would be concluded by Feb. 4.

President Bill Clinton gave his 1999 State of the Union speech during his impeachment trial.

Making her picks: Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a Judiciary Committee member and constitutional law professor, wouldn’t comment on whether he has been asked to serve as a manager.

“It’s the speaker’s call,” he said, but he was among Democrats who expected Schiff and Nadler to be among the “very capable individuals named.”

Pelosi and Schiff remained in the room for more than an hour after most members broke from their Tuesday morning caucus meeting. They left through a back door away from most of the gathered media and did not stop for comments in front of a handful of cameras. The two appeared to be continuing the conversation Tuesday afternoon as they walked to votes together.

Asked about possible impeachment managers as he was leaving votes, Schiff responded, “I don’t have anything to tell you at this point.” Nadler declined to say whether he would be a manager as he left the caucus meeting or any details on the selection, including whether he was involved in deliberations or whether a list had been finalized.

New evidence: House committees investigating Trump released a trove of documents Tuesday night related to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukraine to open an investigations into Trump’s political rivals, which is at the center of the president’s impeachment.

The evidence, including phone records, documents and other materials, showed Giuliani associate Lev Parnas was a key figure, as other witnesses testified, in working with Giuliani to try to get Ukraine to open the investigations Trump wanted.

Parnas communicated with several associates of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, including his top aides and longtime friends Ivan Bakanov and Serhiy Shefir, and Ukraine’s interior minister Arsen Avakov to try to set up a meeting between Giuliani and Zelenskiy, according to electronic messages the committee released.

Handwritten notes from Parnas the committees released seem to offer some insight about the objectives, but the documents were released without the context in which they were written other than that they were scribbled on stationary from the Ritz-Carlton in Vienna.

The notes, which Parnas seems to be taking as reminders for himself, have two starred items, one to “get Zalensky (sic) to announce that the Biden case will be investigated” and one saying he should start communication with Zelenskiy. Those are followed with a note that appears to be numbered list of action items, including plans to put together a package to take to D.C. and “do my ‘magic’ and cut a deal.” The notes mention counsel that had been retained to assist in the matter and suggest thoughts of hiring lobbyists and PR firms as well.

The electronic communications Parnas shared with the Ukranian aides include a May 10 letter Giuliani wrote to Zelenskiy, passed through Avakov, in which he requested a meeting with the Ukranian president, saying he was acting in his capacity as Trump’s personal attorney “with his knowledge and consent.”

The committee also released communications Parnas exchanged with former Ukranian Prosecutor General Lutsenko in which the latter in early 2019 shared negative views about then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Parnas tells Lutsenko, who various State Department officials testified was corrupt and was not trusted by the U.S., that in America people were talking about him as a “true Ukranian hero.”

The documents also contained a series of text messages exchanged while Giuliani was trying to push Yovanovitch from her post, between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut, that appeared to discuss the ambassador’s movements in Ukraine.

In a March 22 text, Hyde tells Parnas “Wow. Can’t believe Trump hasn’t fired this bitch. I’ll get right in that.”

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