It’s the first full workweek of 2020 for the U.S. Congress, and if you are wondering what has taken place during the holiday season in regards to impeaching President Donald Trump, here’s your answer:
You didn’t miss a thing.
Trump was impeached on two articles – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – by the House on Dec. 18. Instead of transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate and naming the people who will present the case, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, announced that she would refrain from sending the articles to the Senate, as the Constitution requires for the process to continue until she was convinced that a “fair” hearing would be held in the Senate.
She also said she would not name House “managers,” or those who will be chosen to present the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
That is how it ended as Congress broke to go home for the holidays.
Where are we Monday as the House and Senate go back into session for the first full week of the year? Here’s a look at where the process of impeachment stands.
What has happened since the impeachment vote?
Soon after the vote, Pelosi spoke to reporters and indicated she would not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate right away as she had concerns over the fairness of the Senate trial.
She pointed to Senate House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s claims on Fox News that he would work with the White House on how the trial would go.
Pelosi was slammed by House and Senate Republicans who said the impeachment in the House was conducted with breakneck speed only to be stalled by Pelosi who is demanding something she has no power to control.
What is happening Monday?
Negotiations on how the trial will be conducted are expected to be discussed behind closed doors today.
- McConnell, R-Kentucky, has indicated that there is no room for the House to demand anything of the Senate when it comes to the impeachment trial.
- McConnell said the negotiations deal with how the case will be presented and if witnesses will be called. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, has called on McConnell to allow witnesses to be called during the Senate trial. McConnell has said that the trial should follow the precedent established during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial – where the determination on whether witnesses should be called is made after the trial begins. McConnell called Pelosi and Schumer out in a speech Friday saying Democrats should have called witnesses in the House impeachment inquiry if they wanted them to be heard. “As House Democrats continue their political delay, they’re searching desperately for some new talking points to help them deflect blame for what they’ve done,” McConnell said.
- Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, said he will introduce a measure Monday to dismiss the impeachment charges because of the “lack of prosecution.” The resolution would change the rules of impeachment, allowing the Senate to dismiss “any articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives has delayed transmitting for 25 calendar days or more” due to lack of prosecution. The rule would be voted on by the full Senate. Any senator would be allowed to call for the dismissal of charges after the 25-day period. Hawley needs 51 votes for the resolution to pass.
When will the Senate get the articles of impeachment?
That is up to Pelosi. The House must pass a resolution directing House managers to be appointed. Also, the articles of impeachment must be sent to the Senate for consideration and a trial.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, said on CNN's "State of the Union," "I don't think it's going to be indefinite, no.”
“I don't think that's at all the desire, motivation here. The desire is to get a commitment from the Senate that they're going to have a fair trial, fair to the president, yes, but fair to the American people."
When will the trial start?
Schumer said Friday that neither side seemed closer to reaching an agreement on how a Senate trial would proceed or when a trial would start.
Will Democrats be able to call witnesses during the trial?
The Senate establishes the parameters of an impeachment trial. Democrats will get to call witnesses only if a handful of Republicans decide to vote with Democrats to change the rules. It would take 51 votes for a rule change that would allow Democrats to be able to call witnesses.
Who do the Democrats want to call?
Senate Democrats have suggested that four of Trump’s inner circle be called to testify.
The four are Mick Mulvaney, White House chief of staff; John Bolton, former White House chief of staff; Michael Duffey, an official at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and Robert Blair, assistant to the president and senior adviser to Mulvaney.
Democrats point to a press conference where Mulvaney appeared to confirm that there was a condition on Ukraine getting aid from the U.S. and testimony that Bolton knew of the request for information on Biden and the withholding of military aid.
As for Duffey, according to emails obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, he informed the Pentagon to freeze military aid to Ukraine an hour and a half after Trump’s call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.
Blair was listening to the phone call with Zelensky. He was asked to testify in the House impeachment trial but refused to appear. Blair was subpoenaed to testify.
Will Trump be found guilty and removed from office?
That is highly unlikely as the president’s support in the Senate has remained strong. No Republicans voted to impeach him in the House.
What would it take for him to be removed?
The Senate would have to vote to have him removed and it would take two-thirds of all senators, or 67 senators, to vote for that to happen.
There are 47 Democrats in the Senate, two Independents who generally vote with Democrats, and 51 Republican senators. That means that Democrats would have to pick up 20 votes for Trump to be impeached if all the Democrats vote to convict.
What led to the impeachment?
President Trump is accused of pressuring Ukraine's leader to dig up damaging information on a political rival.
The two articles of impeachment accuse Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress during the investigation of the abuse of power.
The abuse of power charge claims Trump withheld a White House meeting and $391 million in military aid until Zelensky announced investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
In addition, the articles of impeachment claim, Trump wanted Ukrainian officials to acknowledge that Ukraine had meddled in the 2016 election. U.S. intelligence sources said it was Russia, not Ukraine, that meddled in the election.
The obstruction of Congress claim stems from Democrats saying Trump ordered those in the White House not to testify before Congress.
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