House of Representatives will vote to impeach President Donald Trump after six hours of debate. It’s expected to happen around 7 PM EST.
The impeachment vote comes less than five months after the president got on the phone with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and pushed him to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden – a top contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination – while $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was being held up.
The vote was scheduled one day shy of the 21st anniversary of the last time the House took such a step – impeaching Democratic President Bill Clinton for lying under oath on December 19, 1998 after he failed to come clean about an affair he was having with a former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.
Trump will be only the third president to be impeached.
President Trump will be the third president to be impeached by the House of Representatives with a vote scheduled for Wednesday
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will close out her first year as speaker by holding an impeachment vote Wednesday in the House of Representatives
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence committee, was in charge of the closed-door hearings with witnesses and the first batch of public hearings too
Rep. Doug Collins has complained about the process throughout – as the top Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Jamie Raskin (left), a Maryland Democrat and Constitutional law professor sat in for Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler during Tuesday’s Rules Committee hearing. He was partnered with the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Doug Collins
Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler missed the final day of impeachment hearings, as the articles of impeachment went through the Rules Committee, due to a family medical emergency
It will mark the end of an eleven and a half month journey for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was resistant to go down the impeachment path when she got the gavel back on January 3, 2019.
With Democrats freshly in power she preached patience to her new squad of liberal lawmakers, knowing a rush to impeach could cost her seats in the districts that won her party the House – swing districts that voted for Trump in 2016,and a Democrat two years later.
To appease the progressives, Pelosi charged her top committee chairs to open investigations. By spring seven separate committees were looking into Trump’s finances, businesses and the content of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which was released publicly in April, and detailed Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The second half of the Mueller Report detailed potential instances of the president’s obstruction of justice, though wouldn’t say whether they counted because of a Department of Justice rule that says a sitting president couldn’t be indicted.
While calls for impeachment continued to crescendo, they hadn’t reached their loudest pitch yet.
On July 24,, the now former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, in hearings that were largely considered a dud.
The next day, Trump got on the phone with Zelensky and made his ask.
He wanted the new Ukrainian president to work with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Hunter Biden had sat on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which Republicans claimed smelled of corruption. Trump also wanted Zelensky to help him firm up a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election.
Around August 12, a still-unnamed whistleblower filed a complaint about the president’s conduct on the call.
‘In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the president of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election,’ the complaint said.
While both Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, and House Intelligence Chair Richard Schiff, a California Democrat, are listed as recipients for the complaint, it took another month to reach them.
On August 26 – one month and one day after the president’s call – the inspector general of the intelligence community Michael Atkinson sent a letter to Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. The inspector general told Maguire that he received a complaint addressed to Congress that is of ‘urgent concern’ and is about a telephone call between the president and Zelensky.
Trump is also informed of the whistleblower complaint in late August.
At first, the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel is resistant to releasing the complaint to Congress, Atkinson pushes for it, telling Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member Devin Nunes, a California Republican, that he’s working with Maguire to get it released. Atkinson also talked to committee members about the complaint behind closed doors on September 19.
Meanwhile, Trump had let the military aid flow to Ukraine on Sept. 11. He had placed a hold on it on July 18.
The president also started to publicly defend his actions.
‘Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially “heavily populated” call,’ Trump tweeted on September 19. ‘I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!’ Trump was referring to how there were officials on the line when he talked to Zelensky, which is how the whistleblower caught wind of its contents.
Trump’s admission of the broad strokes of the call was enough for Pelosi to announce that Democrats were opening an official impeachment inquiry on September 24.
‘The president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of betrayal of his oath of office and betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,’ Pelosi said in a brief speech on Capitol Hill after meeting with her Democratic members. ‘Therefore, today, I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry and directing our six committees to proceed with their investigation under that umbrellas of impeachment inquiry.’
‘No one is above the law,’ she said.
During the next two days, Democrats get two key pieces of evidence.
First, the White House released a rough transcript of the July 25 call, which confirmed that Zelensky asked the president for the military aid, and the president responded, ‘I would like you to do us a favor though.’ The president then asked about the two investigations.
The next day a redacted version of the whistleblower complaint was released. The whistleblower wrote that at least half a dozen officials had doled out details about the call. ‘The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,’ the whistleblower said.
In October, lawmakers from the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committee started taking depositions in a SCIF – a sensitive compartmented information facility – in the basement of the Capitol Building.
Republicans, who have utilized a closed door format in past investigations, objected to the secret nature of proceedings, and caused a ruckus on October 23 when 41 GOP lawmakers, led by rabble-rouser Rep. Matt Gaetz, rushed into the SCIF in protest.
GOP grumbling was met five days later with Pelosi’s announcement that she would hold a full House vote on impeachment, which would outline the official proceedings.
A group of Republicans, led by Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (center), stormed the SCIF in October, objecting to the secretive nature of the impeachment proceedings
A group of Republican House members are followed by reporters as they enter the hallway surrounding the SCIF, where depositions were being taken by members belonging to certain committees tasked with initial impeachment proceedings
Impeachment would go through the House Intelligence Committee – led by Schiff – with public hearings planned. It would then be turned over to the House Judiciary Committee, where articles would be debated, moved to the Rules Committee and voted on by the full House.
The Halloween vote showed that impeachment was going to be a partisan affair.
No Republicans sided with the Democrats, though Rep Justin Amash, a GOP lawmaker-turned-independent, and top Trump critic, did vote with the majority party.
Two Democrats – Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota – voted alongside Republicans. Van Drew announced this week that he planned to leave the Democratic Party.
On November 13 the public impeachment hearings began. Democrats called 12 witnesses over a nine day time period. Testimony from the witnesses largely matched up.
Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch spoke of a plan hatched by Rudy Giuliani and his now-indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to remove her from her job. Yovanovitch characterized their actions as setting the table for the pressure campaign that would come several months later.
Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified that it was the ‘express direction of the president’ that he, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker work with Giuliani on Ukraine issues, even though they were uncomfortable with Trump’s personal attorney’s role.
Sondland also linked Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to the plot, telling lawmakers that ‘everyone was in the loop.’
Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch described to members of the House Intelligence Committee a plan hatched by Rudy Giuliani and his associates to oust her from her role
U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland testified that he believed there was a ‘quid pro quo’ – meaning President Trump was using a meeting, and possibly the military aid, to pressure the Ukrainian president into announcing certain investigations
Sondland testified that it was Trump, via Giuliani, who wanted Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian firm tied to Hunter Biden. He also tied that as a condition for a White House visit.
‘Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes,’ Sondland said, using language that Trump had used to deny such a plan.
Sondland also testified it was his ‘personal guess’ that the aid was also being withheld to achieve this purpose.
Using both the public and the closed door testimony, the Intelligence Committee issued a draft report of their findings, and then voted it out of committee – turning the contents over to the House Judiciary Committee to take things over from that point on.
While invited, the White House refused to cooperate.
The first Judiciary Committee hearing consisted of testimony from legal experts, including one witness, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who said the Democrats weren’t there yet.
The next day Pelosi instructed the committees to draft articles of impeachment anyway.
Next, lawyers representing both parties went over the material gathered by the Intelligence Committee. This format drove Intelligence Committee ranking member Doug Collins bonkers, as he pushed continuously for ‘fact’ witnesses instead of staffers playing a game of telephone.
The next morning, top Democrats gathered at the Capitol Building announcing they would pursue just two articles of impeachment against Trump: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The narrow focus all but assured the bulk of House Democrats would vote in favor of impeachment, and a majority of Democrats who represent Trump-winning districts said they planned to vote yes in advance of Wednesday’s vote.
The articles of impeachment had two more hurdles. They had to be voted out of the House Judiciary Committee. That happened Friday morning after a 14-plus hour amendment-focused hearing Thursday ended with Nadler postponing the vote until the next morning.
Repubilcan committee members were steamed. Democrats argued that such an important vote shouldn’t take place in the middle of the night.
After Friday’s party-line vote, the House Rules Committee took up the articles of impeachment all-day Tuesday, finally deciding around 9:30 PM – after more than 12 hours – that the full House debate would be limited to six hours – and no more Republican amendments would be allowed to be proposed.
Republicans have spent days howling over the process Democrats used to get to Wednesday’s vote. Democrats could have continued to pursue outstanding subpoenas of White House officials, but concluded they had enough evidence to wrap things up.
On December 10, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House Democrats would pursue just two articles of impeachment