The House impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and the Senate trial is underway. Watch the trial, get caught up on the facts, and tell Sen. Collins you expect her to put her oath as an impartial Senate juror ahead of her partisan re-election campaign.
President Trump was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress because an investigation sparked by a whistleblower complaint revealed that he orchestrated a shadow diplomatic effort to leverage congressionally-approved taxpayer funds and official state meetings in order to coerce a foreign government into facilitating an attack against his political rival, and then worked to cover up the evidence and obstruct the ensuing investigation. Rep. Pingree voted in favor of both articles of impeachment. Rep. Golden voted yes on Article I and no on Article II. On Jan. 15, the House selected impeachment managers and sent the articles to the Senate for trial. The day before the trial was set to begin, McConnell released his proposed rules, which were notably different from those that governed the Clinton impeachment trial, including a shorter time period for opening arguments, no guarantee of admission of evidence from the House investigation, and no guarantee that the witnesses and evidence blocked by Trump would be subpoenaed. After public pressure, McConnell offered last-minute, hand-written changes to provide 3 days for opening arguments instead of 2 and to allow inclusion of House impeachment inquiry evidence in the official record unless a vote determines that items should NOT be included. Republicans rejected 11 amendments offered by Democrats to subpoena witnesses and evidence. Sen. King voted in favor of all amendments; Sen. Collins voted against 10 of them. Opening arguments began Wednesday and will continue through Tuesday. Watch the trial live on C-SPAN 2 or stream it on PBS NewsHour’s YouTube channel.
Meanwhile, new evidence continues to emerge:
- Newly released, unredacted emails show that President Trump was directly involved in withholding military aid to Ukraine while seeking investigations to benefit his reelection.
- The House released documents obtained from Lev Parnas, a Russian businessman and key player in the pressure campaign to get Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political rivals. The documents, which were turned over to the House following a court order issued Jan. 3, implicate Trump directly and suggest possible involvement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr, Vice President Mike Pence, and others.
- Ukraine has opened investigations into allegations of illegal surveillance of Yovanovitch and the recently discovered Russian hacking of the natural gas company Burisma.
- The Government Accountability Office has ruled that the Trump administration broke the law when it withheld security assistance from Ukraine.
- Audio recordings given to the House Intelligence Committee of conversations between Trump and associates, including indicted businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, about Yovanovitch have been released and contradict statements by Trump.
TELL COLLINS TO DEMAND WITNESSES AND EVIDENCE
While Sen. Angus King has said that he thinks the Senate should hear witnesses and evidence that Trump has blocked, Sen. Susan Collins will only say she is “open” to hearing from witnesses, but only after opening arguments have been made. That’s in stark contrast to her position in the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, when she argued strongly in favor of witness testimony.
Contact Senator Collins and let her know that you want her to demand that witnesses and evidence be permitted in the trial, just as she demanded during Clinton’s impeachment. We especially need those in CD2 to write letters to the editor!
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Opening Arguments. House managers and Trump’s attorneys each have 24 hours over 3 days for opening arguments.
Questioning. Senators will then have 16 hours to ask questions of the defense and prosecution, submitted in writing to Chief Justice Roberts.
Arguments. Defense and prosecution are given another 4 hours of argument.
Debate. Any debate and voting about witnesses and evidence would happen at this time, in closed session. If witnesses are called, they will be deposed in closed session first.
Voting. At the end, the Senate will vote to convict or acquit on each article of impeachment. If two thirds of the Senate (that’s 67 senators, including 20 Republicans) vote to convict on either of the articles, the President is removed from office.
GET CAUGHT UP ON THE FACTS
The House Intelligence Committee published transcripts of its closed-door depositions, as well as key excerpts, “who’s who” info, and “big picture” take-aways HERE. The Washington Post also created a great timeline of all the events at the heart of the impeachment inquiry as well as a succinct overview of where impeachment stands now. If you only have time to read one or two very short things, we recommend this open letter, penned by more than 500 legal scholars, asserting that Trump committed impeachable offenses. We also recommend reading the key excerpts from the Judiciary Committee’s report. There are also many excellent impeachment explainers and analysis available. We’re particularly fond of an explainer created by Vox.
CATCH UP ON THE SENATE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL
Day 8: Final day of Trump’s defense opening arguments.
Day 7: Second day of Trump’s defense opening arguments.
Day 1: Swearing in. WATCH IT
SENATE IMPEACHMENT TRIAL DOCUMENTS
CATCH UP ON HOUSE PUBLIC HEARINGS
[Note: We have included links to the full public hearings, below. You can also find select video clips HERE.]
HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARINGS
The House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment hearing featured four constitutional scholars who answered questions about what constitutes an impeachable offense: Noah Feldman of Harvard University, Pamela Karlan of Stanford University, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University. WATCH IT | KEY TAKE-AWAYS