White House Taps Cipollone as Senate Lawyer: Impeachment Update
(Bloomberg) -- The House Judiciary Committee has been debating two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump all day Thursday. The impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755.
Here are the latest developments:
White House Taps Cipollone as Senate Trial Lawyer (12:40 a.m.)
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone will argue on behalf of Trump during a Senate impeachment trial, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity since the decision had not yet been made public, said the choice was made Thursday.
It’s not clear if Cipollone will act as sole counsel or as part of a group of lawyers.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Panel Delays Vote on Articles to Friday (11:18 p.m.)
The House Judiciary Committee delayed voting on articles of impeachment until Friday morning. Chairman Jerrold Nadler scheduled the panel to return at 10 a.m.
House Vote Tentatively Planned on Wednesday (6:01 p.m.)
An impeachment vote by the full House is tentatively planned for next Wednesday, according to a Democratic leadership aide.
Trump is scheduled to attend a rally that evening in Battle Creek, Michigan.
The impeachment vote would come a day after the House votes on bipartisan spending bills, while the House tentatively would vote next Thursday on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, the aide said.
Trump Aides Meet McConnell to Discuss Trial (3:54 p.m.)
White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said little as he left a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and White House Counsel Pat Cipillone in McConnell’s office to discuss impeachment.
“We’re having good close communication, conversation with Senate Republicans in the event the House goes ahead and actually produces articles of impeachment,” Ueland said. “We’re going to continue to work closely with Senate Republicans as well as other members of Congress on the questions.”
He said Trump “did nothing wrong” and that “the process is fatally flawed.”
Ueland declined repeatedly to say whether the White House wants to call witnesses during a Senate trial.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Tuesday on Fox News that the White House would like to have “a lot of witnesses.”
But a number of Senate Republicans say an early consensus is building for a short impeachment trial that could see the GOP-led chamber vote on a likely acquittal of Trump without hearing from any witnesses.
“It’s a part of good, robust, collaborative communications that we’re having,” Ueland said.
Amendment on Hunter Biden, Burisma Rejected (3:40 p.m.)
The Judiciary Committee rejected an amendment by Republican Matt Gaetz that would rewrite the abuse of power article to target Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his board membership on Burisma Holdings energy company.
Gaetz wanted to replace language that said Trump asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 election. The amendment was defeated on a 17-23 party-line vote.
Trump Aides Meet GOP to Discuss Senate Trial (2:56 p.m.)
Trump aides Eric Ueland and Pat Cipollone visited Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s office at the Capitol to discuss strategy for the Senate trial. Republicans must decide how many defense witnesses the president should present, if any.
“This is an iterative conversation with our leadership and all members of the Senate Republican Conference,” Ueland, White House director of legislative affairs, said with Cipollone, the White House counsel, at his side. “We’ll keep having good conversations.” -- Billy House
Democrats to Have Enough Votes, Leader Says (2:26 p.m.)
House Democrats will have enough votes to impeach Trump, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, chairman of the House Democratic caucus and a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters during a break in the hearing.
“The articles of impeachment will pass,” Jeffries said. He said he doesn’t know how many Democrats will vote no.
Earlier Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House Democratic leaders aren’t pushing moderate Democrats to support impeachment of the president but will allow them to vote their consciences. -- Erik Wasson
GOP Amendment Targets Hunter Biden, Burisma (12:45 p.m.)
Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida proposed amending the abuse of power article to revise the description of Trump’s request for investigations by Ukraine.
Instead of saying the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, “a political opponent,” and a “discredited theory” that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, Gaetz’s amendment would state that Trump sought investigations of Hunter Biden and Burisma Holdings, a Ukraine energy company on whose board Hunter Biden served.
Republicans contend Hunter Biden was overpaid and unqualified to serve on the board of Burisma, a company that had been widely known to be corrupt.
“We have the ability to show that Burisma is corrupt,” Gaetz said. “We have the ability to show that Hunter Biden is corrupt. That totally exculpates the president because there is no way in the United States of America that honestly pursuing actual corruption is an impeachable offense.“
Republican Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin added, “the real malefactor is Hunter Biden.”
Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee said, “this is about distraction, distraction, distraction” from the allegations against Trump. -- Billy House
GOP Amendment Rejected by Democrats (12:02 p.m.)
The Judiciary Committee rejected, on a 17-23 party-line vote, Republican Jim Jordan’s amendment that would have eliminated the first article, which accuses Trump of abusing his power.
It was the first vote on an amendment after about three hours of debate. -- Billy House
Pelosi Not Pushing for Democrats’ Support (11:11 a.m.)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s not pushing moderate Democrats to support impeachment of the president but is allowing them to vote their consciences.
She said she has “no message to them” and told reporters “we’re not whipping this legislation.”
“People have to come to their own decisions,” Pelosi said. “I don’t say anything to them.” -- Daniel Flatley
Trump Tweets That Democrats ‘LIE’ in Debate (10:48 a.m.)
Trump appears to be keeping track of the Judiciary Committee debate, as he made clear in a Twitter posting Thursday morning.
“Dems Veronica Escobar and Jackson Lee purposely misquoted my call” with Ukraine‘s president, Trump wrote on Twitter minutes after Escobar and Sheila Jackson Lee, both of Texas, spoke during the committee debate.
“I said I want you to do us (our Country!) a favor, not me a favor. They know that but decided to LIE in order to make a fraudulent point! Very sad,” the president wrote.
A rough transcript of the call released by the White House showed that Trump asked the Ukrainian president for a favor and mentioned investigations that weren’t part of official U.S. foreign policy.
Judiciary Committee Debates Abuse of Power (10:22 a.m.)
Republican Jim Jordan proposed an amendment that would eliminate the first article, which accuses Trump of abusing his power.
“The call transcript shows no quid pro quo” between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during their July 25 call, said Jordan of Ohio. He said there was “no pressure, no pushing, no linkage whatsoever between assistance money and any kind of investigation.”
The proposed amendment set off a debate over the allegations against Trump and whether they’re serious enough to warrant impeachment.
Top Judiciary Committee Republican Doug Collins of Georgia said there are “no factual underpinnings for impeachment.” GOP member Debbie Lesko of Arizona called the inquiry a “one-sided sham.”
“This president isn’t even accused of a crime,” said Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican, unlike former President Bill Clinton, who was accused of perjury for lying to a grand jury about his affair with a White House intern.
Democrat Eric Swalwell of California responded that the Constitution doesn’t require allegations of a crime to support impeachment charges. In addition, he said, Trump’s conduct overlaps with two statutory crimes: bribery and honest services fraud.
“The president was caught red-handed trying to pressure a foreign government to target an American citizen, said Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York. -- Billy House
Judiciary Committee Nearing Historic Vote (9:03 a.m.)
The Judiciary Committee opened its meeting Thursday to debate and vote on amendments to the two articles of impeachment.
At the end of the day’s hearing, lawmakers will be asked to vote on sending the articles to the House floor for debate and vote next week on whether to impeach the president for only the third time in U.S. history. -- Billy House
Committee to Debate Amendments to Articles (7 a.m.)
The Judiciary Committee plans to resume considering the impeachment resolution at 9 a.m. Thursday with members being allowed to offer amendments to the two articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by the president.
Most, if not all, of the proposed amendments are likely to come from Republicans, and the vote -- probably later in the day -- is almost guaranteed to be strictly along party lines.
Each committee member gave an opening statement Wednesday night, most of which echoed the partisan positions that have taken hold since the Ukraine investigation began. At the end of the hearing on Thursday they will be asked to vote separately on each count. House leaders haven’t yet said what day next week the full House will be asked to vote. -- Billy House
Catch Up on Impeachment Coverage
GOP Senators Leaning Toward Quick Impeachment Trial for Trump
Democrats Map Trump Impeachment Path on Power Abuse, Obstruction
Trump, Pelosi Both See Benefits in Swift House Impeachment
Pelosi Puts House on Quick Timetable for Impeaching Trump
- The House impeachment resolution is here. The Intelligence Committee Democrats’ impeachment report is here.
- House Democrats proposed an impeachment resolution that accuses Trump of abusing the power of his office and keeping Congress from exercising its duty as a check on the executive branch. Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said his panel will prepare the resolution for a vote by the full House, probably next week.
- 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 Holmes, a Foreign Service officer 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.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.