House to Debate Six Hours Before Trump Vote: Impeachment Update

Billy House and Daniel Flatley

(Bloomberg) -- The House is preparing for an expected vote Wednesday on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Adoption of the measures would make him the third president in U.S. history to be impeached and would set up a Senate trial in January.

Here are the latest developments:

House to Debate Six Hours Before Trump Vote (9:09 p.m.)

The House Rules Committee scheduled six hours of House floor debate before members will vote Wednesday on the two articles to impeach Trump. House members will vote on each article separately.

Before that debate, House members will use an hour to consider and will then vote on the rule that sets parameters for the debate.

“I do not want this to turn into a circus,” Rules Chairman Jim McGovern said before the vote.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and the committee’s top Republican, Doug Collins, will lead the debate.

Maine Democrat to Split His Vote on Trump (5:50 p.m.)

Freshman Democrat Jared Golden of Maine says he’s going to vote for the article charging abuse of power but will oppose the other one alleging obstruction of Congress, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Golden said the House investigation “clearly” found evidence that Trump abused his power in an effort to damage a political opponent, the Maine newspaper quoted him as saying. “This action crossed a clear red line,” he said.

The lawmaker said he’s opposing the obstruction article because he doesn’t believe it meets the constitutional threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the newspaper said.

McConnell Says He’s Not an Impartial Juror (2:45 p.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s “not an impartial juror” in the Senate trial that’s expected after the House votes on impeaching Trump.

“This is a political process,” McConnell said. “I’m not impartial about this at all.”

McConnell also said he’s optimistic that he and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer can agree on the first phase of the Senate trial, although he added that they will differ on the second phase that could include additional witnesses.

He said the procedures for the Senate trial will be decided by 51 votes. Republicans control the Senate 53-47.

“It’s pretty safe to say” that with partisan differences so strong, people will “sign up with their own side,” McConnell said. -- Laura Litvan

Trump Accuses Pelosi of Violating Oath (2:23 p.m.)

Trump accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of violating her oath of office Tuesday in a blistering six-page letter that said the proposed articles of impeachment “include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever.”

Writing to Pelosi a day before the House plans to vote on impeaching him, Trump said the speaker’s “spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America’s founding.”

He also accused her of “offending Americans of faith by continually saying ‘I pray for the president,’ when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense.”

He said the abuse of power article is a “completely disingenuous, meritless, and baseless invention of your imagination.” The obstruction of Congress article “is preposterous and dangerous,” he wrote.

”You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!” Trump wrote. “It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!”

House Vote on Trump Is Set for Wednesday (1:19 p.m.)

The House officially scheduled votes for Wednesday on the impeachment of Trump. Adoption of the measures would make him only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

Second-ranking House Democrat Steny Hoyer said the two articles will be voted on separately. Democratic leaders aren’t urging their members to vote for the measures, he said, adding, “Each member will have to make their own decision.”

Hoyer said he expects the debate to go on for “hours.” -- Emily Wilkins

House Vote Plans Readied by Rules Panel (12:17 p.m.)

The House Rules Committee is holding what’s expected to be a daylong meeting to set the terms of Wednesday’s floor debate and vote on impeachment of the president.

“I hope everyone searches their conscience,” said Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, as the meeting began. “What shocks me, quite frankly, about so many of my Republican friends is their inability to acknowledge that President Trump acted improperly.”

The committee’s top Republican, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said, “The majority is seeking to remove the president over something that did not happen,” referring to the alleged trade of an investigation by Ukraine into Joe Biden in exchange for U.S. aid and a White House visit.

“Why put the country through all of this” knowing that at the end of the trial the president will remain in office, Cole said. “We didn’t need to go this route.”

Top Judiciary Committee Republican Doug Collins of Georgia likened the impeachment effort to “last-minute Christmas shopping, grabbing anything” at the last second, even if it does not include an actual crime.

Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin, a Judiciary Committee member, said, “The conduct we set before you today is not some kind of surprising aberration or deviation from the president’s behavior for which he is remorseful.”

Raskin called Trump’s actions a “constitutional crime in progress,” referring to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine this month. -- Billy House

Envoy to Ukraine Taylor Leaving in January (11:36 a.m.)

William Taylor, the temporary U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who testified in the impeachment inquiry against Trump, will leave his post on Jan. 2, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The person, who asked not to be identified because the State Department hasn’t announced Taylor’s departure, declined to say why he was leaving. A former career foreign service officer, Taylor came out of retirement in June to fill the post after Trump recalled Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

NBC News first reported Taylor’s plan and attributed the move to rules governing how long State Department positions can be temporarily filled. Taylor had also raised concerns about involvement by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine policy and what he saw as Trump’s push to withhold military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into Joe Biden’s son.

Trump singled out Taylor on the day he testified in the impeachment inquiry last month, calling him a “Never Trumper Diplomat.” The State Department declined to comment on Tuesday and Taylor didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment. -- Nick Wadhams

McConnell Rebuffs Schumer Proposal for Trial (10:46 a.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s proposal that the Senate agree to hear testimony during the impeachment trial from acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, former National Security Advisor John Bolton and two other White House officials.

“He is simply trying to lock in live witnesses,” McConnell said.

McConnell said that would conflict with the procedure used during President Bill Clinton’s trial in 1999, when the Senate heard opening arguments and a motion to dismiss the charges before deciding mid-trial whether to hear witnesses. It will be the House prosecutors’ job to ask for the witnesses they want to make their case, the Republican leader said.

“It’s not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to guilty,” the majority leader said. “That would hardly be impartial justice.”

McConnell also criticized Schumer for making his proposal in a letter he released to the media on Sunday, instead of during a meeting between the two leaders.

“Might he, just might he, be coordinating these questions with people outside the Senate?” McConnell said.

The majority leader’s comments came days after he appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show last Thursday and said he would coordinate the trial with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

“Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel,” McConnell said on Fox. “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.”

Schumer responded Tuesday that his letter “was intended as a good-faith way to kick-start” talks on trial procedures. He said McConnell hasn’t given any arguments on why witnesses shouldn’t testify.

“President Trump, are you worried about what these witnesses would say?” Schumer said. “If you’re not worried, let them come forward.”

”Senators who oppose this plan will have to explain why less evidence is better than more evidence,” Schumer said. “And they’re going to have to explain that decision to a public that is understandably skeptical” after seeing the administration block witnesses. -- Laura Litvan

Nadler Won’t Attend Rules Panel Hearing (9:04 a.m.)

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler won’t be on hand Tuesday to present the Democrats’ impeachment case to the Rules Committee, a House official familiar with the congressman’s plans said.

The Rules panel is set Tuesday morning to begin what could be an all-day meeting to write the procedures for the floor debate and vote on impeachment.

The official said a family concern will keep the New York lawmaker away. Another Judiciary member, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, will act in Nadler’s stead.

The official said Nadler is expected to be on hand for Wednesday’s floor vote. -- Billy House

Majorities in Both Parties See Fair Senate Trial (7:12 a.m.)

A majority of Americans, regardless of party identification, predict Trump will receive a fair impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Tuesday.

The survey found that 62% of adults are at least somewhat confident that Trump’s trial in the Republican-controlled Senate will be fair. That number stayed fairly constant among Democrats -- 62% -- and independents -- 64% -- as well as Republicans -- 61%.

Those findings are very different than the same group’s view of how Trump was treated during impeachment hearings in the Democratically-controlled House and may help explain why Senate Republican leaders are increasingly leaning toward a quick trial in January.

While 55% of respondents overall said Trump was treated fairly in House hearings, that result includes 87% of Democrats surveyed and just 17% of Republicans.

The U.S. House is expected to vote Wednesday on two articles against Trump, after the chamber’s Judiciary Committee voted along party lines last week to recommend impeaching the president.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,003 adults was conducted Dec. 10-15 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points. -- Kathleen Miller

House Panel to Set Rules for Debate, Vote (7 a.m.)

The House Rules Committee at 11 a.m. Tuesday plans to begin what could be an all-day meeting to write the procedures for an impeachment debate and vote by the full House.

Among other matters to be resolved are how long the debate will last, and whether House members will use the usual electronic system to record their votes or be asked to respond individually to a roll call.

The Rules Committee will allow rank and file members to speak during its meeting on the impeachment process or on the articles. -- Billy House

Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage

Key Events

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday approved the two articles of impeachment on 23-17 party-line votes.The House impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755. The Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here.Gordon Sondland’s transcript is here and here; Kurt Volker’s transcript is here and here. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s transcript is here and here; the transcript of Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to the secretary of State, is here. The transcript of David Holmes, a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, is here.The transcript of William Taylor, the top U.S. envoy to Ukraine, is here and here. State Department official George Kent’s testimony is here and here. Testimony by Alexander Vindman can be found here, and the Fiona Hill transcript is here. Laura Cooper’s transcript is here; Christopher Anderson’s is here and Catherine Croft’s is here. Jennifer Williams’ transcript is here and Timothy Morrison’s is here. The Philip Reeker transcript is here. Mark Sandy’s is here.

--With assistance from Kathleen Miller, Nick Wadhams, Laura Litvan and Emily Wilkins.

To contact the reporters on this story: Billy House in Washington at bhouse5@bloomberg.net;Daniel Flatley in Washington at dflatley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Laurie Asséo

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