House Votes On Public Phase Of Impeachment Inquiry

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Ukraine, Trump & Administration, Trump ImpeachmentLeave a Comment


The vote is on a resolution that would set rules for the public phase of an impeachment inquiry that has so far been conducted exclusively behind closed doors. It would authorize the House Intelligence Committee — the panel that has been leading the investigation and conducting private depositions — to convene public hearings and produce a report that will guide the Judiciary Committee as it considers whether to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.

The measure would also give the president rights in the Judiciary Committee, allowing his lawyers to participate in hearings and giving Republicans the chance to request subpoenas for witnesses and documents. But the White House says it still does not provide “basic due process rights,” and Republicans complain that their ability to issue subpoenas is limited. They would need the consent of Democrats, or a vote of a majority of members. That has been standard in previous modern impeachments. The majority has the final say over how the proceedings unfold.

The vote will be the first time the full House has gone on the record on the impeachment inquiry since Democrats announced last month that they were starting their investigation into Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. And while it is not a formal vote to open impeachment proceedings, it is all but certain to be seen as a measure of approval or disapproval for the process.

Republicans have been demanding a formal vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry, as was done in the case of President Bill Clinton, who was impeached in the House but acquitted by the Senate, and President Richard M. Nixon, who resigned rather than face impeachment. The Constitution does not require an authorization vote, nor do House rules require it, and Democrats have repeatedly said an authorization vote is not necessary.

Here’s Trump… 6 minutes ago:

As for the investigation itself, today’s star witness is Timothy Morrison, the former top Russia expert for the National Security Council. He will appeared under subpoena despite a White House directive not to, according to an official involved in the inquiry. He is the second current white House official to testify before the inquiry this week, following Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman.

Little was known about what Mr. Morrison intends to say. Other witnesses have said he informed them about efforts by Mr. Trump and his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon D. Sondland, made clear to the Ukrainians that they expected a public pledge for certain politically advantageous investigations before the security assistance would be released.

Mr. Morrison resigned his post at the National Security Council on Thursday ahead of the testimony, though he had been weighing leaving for some time, according to another official familiar with the matter.

CNN reported that Morrison will back up the testimony of Taylor and others who have reported his involvement in the debate over Ukraine policy inside the administration. But the network also reported conflicting sources — two who claimed that he won’t contradict the White House, and another who suggested that his testimony will contain “nuance.”

In other words, he likely won’t give the Democrats the thing they want most, a full-throated endorsement of their characterization of the Ukraine scheme as a quid pro quo. Morrison will likely try to stick to the facts, be honest and not burn his bosses or the president in the process. That won’t be easy.

UPDATE: As expected, the Resolution is adopted:

It is a very partisan vote, as expected.

Ex-Republican, now Independent, Justin Amash voted for the resolution as did presidential candidate and potential third party spoiler Tulsi Gabbard.

Trump responds:

The vote was completely along partisan lines. In 1974, basically the entire House voted in favor of starting the impeachment process against President Richard Nixon. Literally. It was a 410-4 vote. The vote to start an inquiry against President Bill Clinton in 1998 wasn’t quite as bipartisan, but Clinton still saw 31 Democrats break with him and support an impeachment investigation.


Politico reports:

President Donald Trump is rewarding senators who have his back on impeachment — and sending a message to those who don’t to get on board.

Trump is tapping his vast fundraising network for a handful of loyal senators facing tough reelection bids in 2020. Each of them has signed onto a Republican-backed resolution condemning the inquiry as “unprecedented and undemocratic.”

Conspicuously absent from the group is Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a politically vulnerable Republican who’s refused to support the resolution and avoided taking a stance on impeachment. With his new push, Trump is exerting leverage over a group he badly needs in his corner with an impeachment trial likely coming soon to the Senate — but that also needs him.

Republican senators on the ballot next year are lagging in fundraising, stoking uncertainty about the GOP’s hold on the chamber, and could use the fundraising might of the president. Trump’s political operation has raked in over $300 million this year.

On Wednesday, the Trump reelection campaign sent a fundraising appeal to its massive email list urging donors to provide a contribution that would be divided between the president and Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis. Each of the senators are supporting the anti-impeachment resolution despite being endangered in 2020.

“If we don’t post strong fundraising numbers,” the message warned, “we won’t be able to defend the President from this baseless Impeachment WITCH HUNT.”

RELATED: Normally, this would be a big thing, but the whistleblower has been (supposedly) outed in right wing media. They are going to go after this poor guy (I won’t use his name) whether he is the real whistleblower or not. Don’t make a mistake — this is about PUNISHMENT for blowing the whistle, not about damaging his credibility as a witness. His account was indeed secondhand, and has been corroborated by firsthand accounts. If a guy calls 911 to report a bank robbery, and the police arrive to see the bank robbers, and they interview eyewitnesses, and they get the footage from the security camera, it doesn’t matter if the 911 called had an extramarital affair.

UPDATE: It looks like we have a conflict. Morrison saw nothing wrong with Trump’s phone call. From the Daily Beast:

“I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” he said in a prepared statement to Congress obtained by The Daily Beast. 

After the call between Zelensky and Trump took place, Morrison directed that the transcript of it be put on a secret White House server. He said that the memo the White House released about the call is, to the best of his memory, complete and thorough. Another witness, NSC official Alex Vindman, suggested that noteworthy parts of the conversation were missing from the White House’s memo.

Those dual statements from Morrison may prove to be a setback for Democrats who have argued that the call amounted to an impeachable offense since it involved the president demanding an exchange of a political favor for military aid. 

Morrison, who served as the senior director for European affairs on the National Security Council until his resignation on Wednesday, says he had a different recollection of events than what Ambassador Bill Taylor described in his Oct. 22 testimony—including an episode that appeared to indicate the lofty expectations that Trump and his team had for Zelensky’s commitment to investigating the Bidens. 

In his testimony, Taylor recounted a conversation in which Morrison briefed him on another conversation between Ambassador Gordon Sondland and a top adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor said Morrison informed him that Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, told Zelensky-aide Andriy Yermak that U.S. security aid wouldn’t come until Zelensky publicly committed to an investigation into Burisma, the company on whose board Hunter Biden served.

That is not how Morrison remembers it. “My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland’s proposal to Yermak was that it could be sufficient if the new Ukrainian prosecutor general, not President Zelensky, would commit to pursue the Burisma investigation,” Morrison told impeachment investigators. 

Morrison concluded his opening remarks with something that GOP lawmakers have noted frequently: that the hold on Ukraine’s security aid ultimately was released. “I am pleased our process gave the president the confidence he needed to approve the release of the security sector assistance,” said Morrison. “My regret is that Ukraine ever learned of the review and that, with this impeachment inquiry, Ukraine has become subsumed in the U.S. political process.”

On Thursday morning, Republicans hinted that Morrison’s testimony might undermine aspects of the narrative Democrats have constructed on impeachment so far. They noted that his opening statement had not yet surfaced, as it frequently had with other witnesses in the inquiry. 

Okay then. Two conflicting versions of whether the transcript summary is accurate. Is there a better source for what was actually said?