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Congress braces for historic vote on impeachment

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Senate Dems plan ahead for impeachment trial
Democrats planning ahead for Senate impeachment trial 03:14
  • The House Judiciary Committee submitted a report on impeachment to the Rules Committee early Sunday morning, summarizing the case against the president.
  • Multiple Democrats from vulnerable districts announced they would vote to approve articles of impeachment.
  • Senate Democrats demanded multiple witnesses for a potential Senate trial, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.
  • Download the free CBS News app to stream live coverage of the impeachment proceedings.

Washington — With the House poised to vote to impeach the president as soon as Wednesday, multiple vulnerable freshman Democrats in the House announced they would vote in favor of the impeachment articles, a politically risky move that could cost them their seats.

The House Judiciary Committee submitted a report to the House Rules Committee summarizing the articles of impeachment and the investigation into the president's dealings with Ukraine early Sunday morning. The 685-page report claims the president violated numerous federal laws and is meant to supplement to the two articles of impeachment the Judiciary Committee approved on Friday: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Rules Committee will meet Tuesday morning to determine the length of floor debate over the articles, setting up a vote for Wednesday. Senators have already begun looking ahead to a trial in the upper chamber, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer writing a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Sunday night demanding several witnesses be called.

Schumer called for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify at a potential Senate trial, accusing the president of having "something to hide." McConnell and other Republicans indicated over the weekend that they would prefer a quick trial with potentially no witnesses called.


Democrat on House Rules Committee says Republicans will try to "muck up" process

Representative Norma Torres, a Democrat from California who sits on the House Rules Committee, told CBS News in a phone interview she doesn't foresee any successful amendments to the current articles of impeachment. 

"It's a very short read, there's no confusion, there's no clarifying, it is what it is," she said. 

But that doesn't mean Republicans won't resort to procedural moves to stall the process, as they have over the last three months, she said. 

"I think we have seen that play out, not only in the SCIF with the intel committee, but also on judiciary, so I think that we can assume that they will probably behave in the same way," Torres said, adding she thinks Republicans will try to "muck up" the process.

Torres expects the articles to move out of the House Rules Committee Tuesday for a floor vote later this week. 

As more and more of her Democratic colleagues in districts Mr. Trump won in 2016 came out in favor of impeachment Monday, Torres said she has "great admiration" for them. 

"You have to admire, I think, their high ethical standards when they are willing to sacrifice their own political future to stand up for our Constitution, for our rule of law, and for our democracy," she said.

By Kathryn Watson

House Democrats want Mueller grand jury material for Senate trial

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee filed a brief in the ongoing battle over grand jury material collected in the Mueller probe, telling the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that the evidence is needed in the impeachment drive.

In October, District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell ruled that the Justice Department must turn over some of the grand jury material underlying the Mueller investigation to the House Judiciary Committee. The department appealed the decision and the ruling was put on hold by the appeals court.

In Monday's brief, House counsel Douglas Letter wrote that "the withheld material bears specifically on whether the President engaged in serious misconduct; will help to establish whether witnesses perjured themselves before the Committee; and is vital to ensuring that Congress performs what is perhaps its most solemn function — impeachment and removal of a sitting President — in a manner that can claim the public's confidence."

Letter argued the grand jury material could be utilized during an expected Senate impeachment trial: "If the House approves Articles of Impeachment, relevant grand-jury material that the Committee obtains in this litigation could be used during the subsequent Senate proceedings."

"The need for the withheld material grows more urgent by the day," Letter wrote, characterizing the department's appeal of the decision as an effort to "insulate" the president from impeachment.

By Robert Legare

Vulnerable South Carolina Democrat backs impeachment

Democratic Presidential Candidates Attend The South Carolina Convention
Representative Joe Cunningham addresses the crowd at the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019, in Columbia, South Carolina. Sean Rayford / Getty Images

Congressman Joe Cunningham, whose South Carolina district voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, is the latest vulnerable freshman Democrat to announce his support for two articles of impeachment against the president.

"I've waited and waited and I have not found any evidence they submitted compelling at all," Cunningham, a freshman, told The Post and Courier in an interview. "At the end of the day, this is simply about the rule of law, whether we're a country with laws or not and what type of precedent we want to set for future presidents."

The decision to vote to impeach Mr. Trump was not an easy one to make politically, he added, but is "about doing what's right for our country."

Cunningham is the first Democrat to represent South Carolina's 1st Congressional District in nearly 40 years. He scored a major upset against Republican Katie Arrington last year. Mr. Trump won the district by nearly 13 points in 2016.

By Stefan Becket

Schumer suggests Republicans are trying to withhold evidence

Fielding reporters' questions at a press conference on Capitol Hill, Schumer suggested the president and Republicans are trying to withhold evidence by avoiding a robust trial with testimony from key witnesses like Mulvaney and Bolton. 

"I haven't seen a single good argument about why these witnesses shouldn't testify, or these documents be produced — unless the president has something to hide," Schumer said. 

The top Senate Democrat said current circumstances differ from the Clinton impeachment two decades ago. In 1999, Schumer argued against calling witnesses in the Senate trial who had already testified before the grand jury. That, Schumer explained, is not the case today, when Congress has yet to hear from witnesses like Mulvaney and Bolton, who have firsthand knowledge of the events in question. 

"The witnesses in '99 had already been given, had already given grand jury testimony. We knew what they were to say," Schumer said. "The four witnesses we've called have not been heard from. That is the difference, and it's a difference that is totally overwhelming."

By Kathryn Watson

Utah's only Democrat in Congress comes out in favor of impeachment

Representative Ben McAdams, a vulnerable freshman Democrat who represents a district in Utah that Mr. Trump won by 7 points in 2016, announced he'll vote for impeachment. 

"The evidence, to me, is clear," McAdams said in a statement in Murray, Utah, on Monday. 

"I know my vote will not remove the president from office," he said. "In 11 months, the people will ultimately decide the president's fate ... I trust the people to decide President Trump's consequences."

McAdams won election in 2018 to represent a district south of Salt Lake City and is Utah's only Democratic member of Congress. Mr. Trump's popularity has sagged in the state, which typically elects Republicans. 

McAdams joins other vulnerable freshman Democrats, like Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, in voting for impeachment.

By Kathryn Watson

What comes next in impeachment

House bracing for full impeachment vote this week 03:23

With the submission of the Judiciary Committee's impeachment report, the stage is set for a vote on the two articles of impeachment later this week. Here's what comes next:

Rules Committee hearing 
The House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday at 11 a.m. to formulate a rule determining how long lawmakers will have to debate the articles of impeachment on the House floor.

House vote on articles of impeachment
Depending on what the Rules Committee decides, a period of debate and full votes on the articles of impeachment are expected on Wednesday. The timing of the vote won't be determined until the Rules Committee finalizes the outline for debate. Members will vote on each article separately, with a simple majority needed to impeach the president.

Selection of House managers
Assuming the articles of impeachment are adopted, the House will then need to appoint "managers" who will present the case before the Senate at trial. In modern impeachment cases, including the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, these managers have been selected through House resolutions. 

Since Democrats control the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will ultimately decide who represents the House at trial. Several dozen freshman Democrats have been pushing for independent Representative Justin Amash, a former Republican, to be included as a manager.

Holiday recess
Congress is scheduled to go on a two-week break at the end of this week, returning after the Christmas and New Year holidays. 

Senate trial
The official 2020 Senate calendar blocked off the month of January for a potential trial. Several Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, have indicated their intention to resolve the trial quickly, possibly without the appearance of witnesses. 

While the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over impeachment trials, a simple majority of 51 senators can rule on motions to introduce evidence or call witnesses. There are 53 Republicans in the upper chamber.

In his letter to McConnell on Sunday, Schumer, the Democratic leader, proposed a timeline for the trial:

  • Monday, January 6: The adoption of "pretrial housekeeping measures." 
  • Tuesday, January 7: Swearing in of the chief justice and senators, followed by "a period for preparation and submission of trial briefs"
  • Thursday, January 9: Recognition of the House managers for 24 hours to present the case against the president, followed by 24 hours for the president's counsel to present the defense.

Senate rules adopted in 1986 govern the proceedings at modern impeachment trials. Under these procedures, the Senate meets everyday after the House managers are introduced, with the exception of Sunday, until a final verdict is reached.  

Schumer noted his proposed timeline is "modeled directly on the language of the two resolutions that set forth the 1999 trial rules" in the Clinton impeachment, which were adopted unanimously by the Senate.

By Stefan Becket

CBS News poll: Democrats get mixed ratings on impeachment, but fare better than GOP

Democrats are "nervous" to campaign on impeachment, CBS News elections and surveys director says 03:14

Congressional Democrats get mixed — and heavily partisan — ratings on their handling of the impeachment inquiry, with 50% of Americans saying they have done a good job. Forty-eight percent said so in November. Just 19% say they've done a very good job. Congressional Democrats have an edge over Republicans and Mr. Trump on their handling of impeachment, in the newest national CBS News poll.


Read the full results here.


Schumer questions why Trump wouldn't welcome testimony from Mulvaney and Bolton

Schumer questioned why Mr. Trump would want to stop four key White House officials from testifying before Congress as part of its impeachment investigation.

"No one has given a reason why these [witnesses] shouldn't testify," Schumer said in an interview on CNN's "New Day." "If President Trump is so certain that he did nothing wrong, what is he afraid of? What is he hiding when he says Mulvaney or Bolton or the other two witnesses shouldn't testify? He hasn't given a single answer other than to tweet 'show trial' and all this."

Schumer also rebuffed the suggestion that Hunter Biden, son of former vice president Joe Biden, should appear as a witness in the Senate trial.

Republicans, he said, "have not shown a single bit of evidence that Hunter Biden" can answer questions about the facts of the case presented by the House.

"He's a distraction," Schumer said.

Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company. U.S. officials urged Ukraine to announce an investigation into the company as well as events in the 2016 campaign in exchange for a White House meeting with the president.

Schumer said the Senate should "focus on having a fair trial," and asserted Hunter Biden "doesn't add to that." But the four witnesses Schumer wants to appear "have direct knowledge of the facts," and specifically with regard to the delay in military assistance to Ukraine.

"We don't need any fishing expeditions. We're not trying to be dilatory," Schumer said. "We're trying to have the kind of justice America is known for, which is swift but fair justice."

By Melissa Quinn

Freshman Democrat explains why she'll vote to impeach

House Democratic Reps. Slotkin, Phillips, Houlahan And Allred Introduce The  "Shutdown to End All Shutdowns (SEAS) Act"
Representative Elissa Slotkin speaks during a news conference on January 29, 2019, in Washington. Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Representative Elissa Slotkin, a freshman Democrat from Michigan, said she will vote to approve both articles of impeachment against the president, explaining her decision in an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press on Monday.

"On abuse of power: I believe that the President illegally solicited the help of foreigners to influence the American political process," Slotkin wrote. "On obstruction of Congress: As I went back and did my research on the previous impeachment processes, it became clear that, in contrast to the proceedings against Andrew Johnson, Nixon and Clinton, President Trump sent out unprecedented guidance to refuse and ignore the requests and subpoenas of the inquiry."

Slotkin was among the first-term members who were reluctant to embrace impeachment until the whistleblower complaint about Mr. Trump's July 25 call with the president of Ukraine. In September, she announced she supported the opening of the impeachment inquiry to investigate the president.

"Since coming out in support of an inquiry, I have held four town halls across the congressional district I represent, and I am holding a fifth one today in Rochester," she wrote Monday. "Since then, my offices have received more than 1,500 phone calls and more than 6,500 emails and letters on the subject. In response, I committed to remaining objective as the inquiry took place, and being transparent about my vote."

A former CIA analyst, Slotkin said she had spent the past several days examining the evidence: "I took a step back, looked at the full body of available information, and tried to make an objective decision on my vote."

By Stefan Becket

House Judiciary Committee releases impeachment report ahead of House vote

The House Judiciary Committee released a report after midnight Monday laying out the case for charging President Trump with two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The 658-page report was filed to the House Rules Committee ahead of a vote by the full House expected to take place Wednesday, when lawmakers will vote on the articles.

The report from the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee arguing President Trump should be impeached and removed from office is divided into four parts: the first describing its impeachment inquiry, the second explaining the standard for impeachment, the third detailing the facts behind the abuse of power charge, and the fourth examining the obstruction of Congress charge.

In describing why Mr. Trump abused his power when he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 phone call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his political rival, the Judiciary panel argued the president's "abuse of power encompassed both the constitutional offense of 'bribery' and multiple federal crimes."

"While there is no need for a crime to be proven in order for impeachment to be warranted, here, President Trump's scheme or course of conduct also encompassed other offenses, both constitutional and criminal in character," the Democrats wrote.

Also included in the report is dissenting views from Republicans who argue the record presented by Democrats is "based on interferences built upon presumptions and hearsay" and claim the allegations in the two articles do not establish impeachable offenses.

"The majority has failed to prove a case for impeachment. In fact, the paltry record on which the majority relies is an affront to the constitutional process of impeachment and will have grave consequences for future presidents," Republicans wrote. 

By Melissa Quinn

Schumer sends letter to McConnell to set framework for Senate impeachment trial

Schumer sent a letter to McConnell on Sunday that details the witnesses and timeline Senate Democrats would like to see in an impeachment trial in January.

"In the trial of President Clinton, the House Managers were permitted to call witnesses, and it is clear that the Senate should hear testimony of witnesses in this trial as well," Schumer writes.

Schumer proposes that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the Senate trial, issue subpoenas to four administration officials who were asked to testify in the House impeachment inquiry but did not appear: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, senior adviser to the Acting White House chief of staff Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, associate director for National Security, Office of Management and Budget.

Read more here.

By Nancy Cordes
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