• Watch Veronica Escobar Make the Case for Impeaching Trump

    Tom Williams/Zuma

    While the House Judiciary Committee debated the articles of impeachment drawn up against President Donald Trump, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) used a simple analogy to make the case that the president had committed a crime.

    “If a community suffers a natural disaster, and the governor of the state has aid that will help that community, but calls the mayor of your community and says, ‘I want you to do me a favor, though,’ and conditions giving the aid to the community on the police chief smearing his political opponent, has there been a crime?” Escobar said this morning. “The answer is yes. And that governor would go to jail.”

    The governor would go to jail, Escobar said, even if he released the aid after he got caught. Escobar also pointed out that this hypothetical governor also would have committed a crime if he defied subpoenas and tried to cover up his wrongdoing.

    “Our Republican colleagues are working overtime to try to convince us that we didn’t see what we saw with our own eyes and we didn’t hear what we heard with our own ears,” she said. “Facts matter.”

    Watch Escobar’s full statement below:

  • House Democrats Announce Two Articles of Impeachment Against Trump

    J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled two articles of impeachment—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—against President Donald Trump.

    “Our president holds the ultimate public trust,” House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler said at a press conference alongside House Democratic leadership. “When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security.”

    The historic announcement comes nearly three months after Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally launched impeachment proceedings amid revelations that Trump coerced the Ukrainian president to open an investigation into his political rivals. Weeks of public hearings in the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, which featured testimony from key witnesses and legal experts, soon followed.

    You can read the text of the articles of impeachment below:

    This is a breaking news post. We’ll update as more information becomes available.

  • Trump Goes After FBI Director for Backing IG Report’s Findings

    Stefani Reynolds/ZUMA

    President Donald Trump lashed out at Christopher Wray on Tuesday after the FBI director backed key findings in the Justice Department’s inspector general report into the origins of the bureau’s Russia investigation. The much-anticipated report, which was released Monday, effectively dismantled Trump’s longstanding conspiracy theories that the probe had been improperly opened and that it was politically motivated against him.

    In an interview with ABC News on Monday, Wray described it as “important” that the inspector general concluded that “the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization” while pledging to correct the “serious performance failures” by the FBI that had been listed in the watchdog report. Wray also shot down Trump’s accusation that the FBI was being controlled by the “Deep State” conspirators.

    “I think that’s the kind of label that’s a disservice to the men and women who work at the FBI who I think tackle their jobs with professionalism, with rigor, with objectivity, with courage,” Wray told ABC News. “So that’s not a term I would ever use to describe our workforce and I think it’s an affront to them.”

    In a furious tweet Tuesday morning, Trump went after Wray over his response to the report and appeared to question Wray’s ability to lead the bureau. Many interpreted the attack as a signal that the president wanted to fire his second FBI director in just three years. His decision to dismiss James Comey in 2017 after the former FBI director refused to pledge his loyalty to the president was widely condemned as an abuse of power and potentially a move that constituted obstruction of justice. 

    Trump’s attack against Wray came shortly before House Democrats are scheduled to announce articles of impeachment against the president. One of the articles is expected to accuse Trump of abuse of power for attempting to pressure Ukraine to launch self-serving investigations.

  • The Republican Impeachment Counsel Just Made a Blatantly False Claim

    Steve Castor

    Republican counsel Steve Castor with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Rep Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)Susan Walsh/AP

    In his presentation during Monday’s House impeachment hearing, Republican counsel Steve Castor deployed a thoroughly debunked talking point to argue that President Donald Trump did nothing wrong when he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s political enemies. Several weeks before the two leaders’ infamous phone call, Trump had put a hold on vital military aid to Ukraine. But according to Castor, Trump’s requests for investigations did not constitute a quid pro quo because top Ukrainian officials were completely unaware that the aid had been stopped.

    “At the time of the July 25 call, senior officials in Kyiv did not know that the security assistance was paused,” Castor claimed. “They did not learn it was paused until the pause was reported publicly in the US media on August 28.” This matters, according to Castor, because if the Ukrainians didn’t know that the aid was in jeopardy, then Trump could not have coerced them into announcing politically motivated investigations.

    To support his claim, Castor cited Kurt Volker—Trump’s former emissary for peace talks in Ukraine—who told Congress last month, “I believe that the Ukrainians became aware of the hold on August 29, not before. That date is the first time any of them asked me about the hold.” Republicans, including Trump, have been making this argument since the scandal burst into public view. But as we now know, Trump, Volker, and Castor are simply wrong.

    One day after Volker made that statement, Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified that on July 25—the same day as the Trump-Zelensky call—her staff was informed by the State Department that the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC, was aware of the “situation” surrounding the aid.

    Congressional Republicans have since sought to downplay that revelation. In a report issued last week, they cited a November interview that Bloomberg conducted with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelenksy. According to Bloomberg, Yermak and another source claimed that officials at the Ukrainian Embassy “did not inform Zelenskiy right away that the aid was threatened” and that “the Ukrainian president and his key advisers learned of it only in a Politico report in late August.”

    But Yermak’s claims have been flatly contradicted by another Ukrainian official. Olena Zerkal, who until recently was Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, told the New York Times that she and other key officials in Kyiv were informed of the aid freeze within days of the July 25 call:

    Ms. Zerkal says she became aware of the hold by July 30, a few days after Mr. Trump’s phone call with Mr. Zelensky.

    She said she read a diplomatic cable from Ukrainian officials in Washington about the hold and asked for a meeting with a senior aide to Mr. Zelensky to discuss it on July 30. The cable had been sent the previous week, she said, but she could not confirm the precise date it had been transmitted.

    The Ukrainian presidential administration was copied as a recipient of the cable from the embassy in Washington, she said, adding: “We received it simultaneously.”

    Whether senior Ukrainian officials knew of the aid freeze before the July 25 phone call or not, the accounts of Ms. Zerkal and Ms. Cooper show that the Ukrainian government was aware of the hold on aid through several critical weeks in August as United States diplomats pressed Mr. Zelensky to make a public statement on the investigations.

    Zerkal recently left Zelensky’s administration, telling the Times that she had resigned in protest. She alleged that Zelensky’s team had tried to prevent her from disclosing facts that might further involve Ukraine in the impeachment controversy.

  • Impeachment Doesn’t Feed Americans, Says a White House Official. Thanks to Trump, Neither Do Food Stamps.

    Nikita Khrebtov/Shutterstock

    On Friday, President Donald Trump’s Principal Deputy Press Secretary appeared on Fox News to complain that impeachment proceedings don’t put food on Americans’ tables.

    The timing of this statement is…interesting, given that two days ago, the Trump administration announced that it would make it harder for low-income individuals to receive food stamps, quite literally taking food off the tables of nearly 700,000 people. The new rule would require able-bodied adults without children to work at least 20 hours a week to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, which could leave those struggling to find work hungry.

    “As you head into Christmas and you head into the holiday season, people are gonna want results from Congress,” Hogan Gidley said on Fox. “And right now all they’re getting is hatred, vitriol, and a sham impeachment hearing that doesn’t do anything to put food on the tables of the American people.”

     

  • “Don’t Mess With Me”: Nancy Pelosi Fires Back at Reporter’s Question After Impeachment Announcement

    Bill Clark/Congressional Quarterly/Zuma

    Don’t say Nancy Pelosi hates the president.

    After the Speaker of the House announced the go-ahead for the House to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Thursday morning, a reporter shouted a question that caught her attention, just as she was about to leave the weekly news conference:

    “Do you hate the president?”

    She turned around… and fired back. “I don’t hate anybody,” she said, wagging a finger at the reporter. “I was raised in a Catholic house. We don’t hate anybody. Not anybody in the world. So don’t accuse me—.”

    The reporter, Sinclair Broadcast Group reporter James Rosen, said that he was following up on Rep. Doug Collins’ (R-Ga.) accusations that the Democrats are pursuing impeachment simply out of contempt for the president. Pelosi rebuffed that notion.

    “I think the president is a coward when it comes to helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence,” she said, having strode back to the podium. “I think he is cruel when he doesn’t deal with helping our Dreamers, of which we are very proud. I think he’s in denial about the climate crisis.”

    But that, she said, is for the election to decide. “This is about the Constitution of the United States, and the facts that lead to the President’s violation of his oath of office,” she said. “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone.”

    “I pray for the president all the time,” she concluded. “So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

    President Trump, predictably enough, was quick to tweet:

    Watch the mic drop below:

  • House Democrats to Draft Articles of Impeachment Against Trump

    J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    House Democrats are moving forward with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a press conference on Thursday.

    “The facts are uncontested: the president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security,” Pelosi said from the Speaker’s Balcony Hallway. 

    “Today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.”

    Shortly before the announcement, Trump appeared to taunt Democrats over the investigation. “If you are going to impeach me, do it now, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate,” the president tweeted. “We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify.”

    This is a breaking news story. We will update as more information becomes available.

  • Impassioned Law Experts Testify: If the Ukraine Scandal Isn’t Impeachable, “Nothing Is”

    Jacquelyn Martin/AP

    Constitutional law expert Michael Gerhardt warned Congress Wednesday that failure to impeach President Donald Trump could set a dangerous precedent for future commanders in chief.

    “If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, nothing is impeachable,” the professor at University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill said during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing. “This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a Constitution including impeachment to protect against.”

    “If Congress concludes they’re gonna give a pass to the president,” he continued, “every other president will say, ‘OK, then I can do the same thing,’ and the boundaries will just evaporate.”

    An erosion of those boundaries, he concluded, would be “a danger to all of us.”

    Gerhardt’s remarks came during the first day of a new phase of the Democrats’ impeachment proceedings, in which Gerhardt—along with Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman, Stanford Law professor Pamela Karlan, and George Washington Law professor Jonathan Turley—provided the legal and historical basis by which the president may be found guilty of impeachable “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    Watch Gerhardt’s remarks below:

  • “President Trump Has Committed Impeachable High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” Expert Testifies

    Jacquelyn/Martin

    Based on the evidence presented so far, President Donald Trump committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors, Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman—Democrats’ first witness at the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing—testified Wednesday.

    “High crimes and misdemeanors are abuses of power and of public trust connected to the office of the presidency,” Feldman said. “On the basis of the testimony and the evidence before the House, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency. Specifically, President Trump has abused his office by corruptly soliciting President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals in order to gain personal advantage, including in the 2020 presidential election.”

    After explaining the Framers’ reasoning for including a provision for impeachment in the Constitution, Feldman said that Trump’s solicitation of the president of Ukraine to investigate his political rivals “embodies the framers’ central worry that a sitting president would ‘spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself reelected.'”

    “By freezing aid to Ukraine and by dangling the promise of a White House visit, the president was corruptly using the powers of the presidency for personal political gain,” Feldman said. “Here, too, the president’s conduct described by the testimony embodies the framers’ concern that a sitting president would corruptly abuse the powers of office to distort the outcome of a presidential election in his favor.”

    Watch Feldman’s full opening statement below: