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Lawmakers clash over next steps on Trump impeachment

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  • The House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to approve two articles of impeachment against President Trump, who is just the third president in history to be impeached.
  • In a speech Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced the "purely partisan impeachment" that he said could "unsettle the foundations of our republic."
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she won't send the articles to the Senate until the upper chamber finalizes its plans for a trial.
  • Download the free CBS News app to stream live impeachment coverage.

Washington — House and Senate leaders traded heated accusations the day after the vote to impeach President Trump, setting the stage for a Senate impeachment trial in the new year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats won't name impeachment managers or transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate until the upper chamber finalizes the procedures for the trial. 

"When we see the process that's set forth in the Senate, then we'll know the number of managers we'll have to move forward, and who we would choose," the California Democrat said. The House is set to adjourn for the rest of the year after votes on Thursday.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized House Democrats for the decision to impeach the president, saying a "slapdash" process had resulted in the "first full partisan impeachment" since Reconstruction.

"The House's conduct risks deeply damaging the institutions of American government," McConnell said, calling impeachment "the predetermined end of a partisan crusade that began before President Trump was even sworn in."

McConnell said Pelosi's decision to withhold the articles from the Senate shows Democrats "may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate." House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy echoed those comments: "She's admitting defeat by not sending them. By refusing to send impeachment over, she knows its outcome is not good."

The House voted to impeach Mr. Trump on two counts of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in votes Wednesday night, making him just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

Lawmakers voted nearly along party lines to approve the articles after lengthy and contentious debate on the House floor that stretched into the night. Just two Democratic members joined all Republicans in voting against the first article, with another Democrat joining the two dissenters on the second. One Democrat voted present on both counts.


Ukrainians' thoughts on Trump's impeachment? Many don't care, or know.

Kiev, Ukraine — When the House voted to impeach President Trump on Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., the early-morning streets of the Ukrainian capital were nearly empty of people or traffic.

While the president's dealings with Ukraine have engulfed D.C. in heated divisiveness, they have barely caused a stir in Ukraine's capital city 5,000 miles away.

"I think people in general, and especially young people, care about their personal interests, and the impeachment of Donald Trump just simply doesn't affect them directly," said Marina Davydova, who worked two jobs in the beach town of Ocean City, Maryland, last summer on a temporary worker visa before returning back to her native Kiev.

"I don't know anything about [American] politics. I don't want to," Ruslan Orlov, a university student studying tourism told CBS News. "I'm too busy."

In conversations with Ukrainians, including political experts and journalists, there's an overall disinterest in the U.S. impeachment scandal even though its origin story involves a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, $400 million of halted military aid from the United States to Ukraine, and a request for the Ukrainians to investigate Mr. Trump's political rival, Joe Biden.

Zelensky and Ukraine seemed to be brought up in almost every House members' remarks during the televised impeachment debate, which aired on CNNI and BBC on international satellite TV in Kiev.

Still, "ordinary Ukrainians, most of them, have no idea what is going [on] with this," said Dmytro Potekhin, a Ukrainian political observer and former human rights activist, while sitting in a noisy cafe in the heart of Kiev. "They don't know that there are impeachment hearings in the states, and they don't know that Ukraine is regularly mentioned in them."

Matthew Kupfer, news editor at The Kyiv Post, said some people find it "hard to understand the controversy surrounding Trump."

"Watching impeachment for Ukrainians is like when a coworker sends me 'Game of Thrones' memes. I don't watch 'Game of Thrones' because it is extremely complicated and don't understand the references because I lack the context. And I think this is similar to the impeachment scandal," said Kupfer. "Ukrainians, really, they don't have the political context to help them make sense of it."

But it's not really a lack of interest, says Potekhin, who also runs a website that fact checks news stories. He said the impeachment story is "underreported" inside their country. He said some Ukrainian-based print and digital news organizations reported on the historic vote, but most local television outlets barely mentioned it, and the majority of people get their news from local TV.

Read more.

By Fin Gómez

Justice Department asks court to dismiss Don McGahn subpoena case

The Justice Department asked a federal court on Thursday to dismiss the congressional subpoena lawsuit filed against him by House Democrats. 

The House Judiciary Committee sued McGahn after he ignored a congressional subpoena to testify in the impeachment inquiry. The White House had ordered him and all current and former Trump officials not to testify, claiming that they had "absolute immunity." This action, which the House deemed an obstruction of Congress, is among the reasons cited for Mr. Trump's impeachment.

A judge rejected the immunity claim and ordered McGahn to testify, but the Justice Department is appealing the case. It argues the court has no place in a political argument over McGahn's testimony and hinted it could take the case to the Supreme Court.

"A court should refrain from embroiling itself in an interbranch dispute," the department wrote. "If the Court were to disagree, it should at least leave the stay in place for a reasonable period to allow the Solicitor General to seek appropriate relief from the Supreme Court, especially given the serious question whether McGahn's testimony is even relevant to the now-passed articles of impeachment."

McGahn was a key player in the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, which revealed instances when Mr. Trump might have obstructed justice.

By Robert Legare

Anti-impeachment Democrat Van Drew appears with Trump to switch to GOP

President Trump shakes hands as he meets with Representative Jeff Van Drew in the Oval Office at the White House on December 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump formally announced Congressman Jeff Van Drew's decision to leave the Democratic Party and become a Republican. 

Van Drew, who flipped a Republican seat in New Jersey in 2018, voted against the impeachment articles as a Democrat on Wednesday. He joined Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Thursday afternoon.

Van Drew told reporters that he felt that the Republican Party was a "better fit" for him. Before impeachment, Van Drew voted in line with Mr. Trump's positions just 10% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

By Grace Segers

McConnell and Schumer to meet Thursday to discuss Senate trial

McConnell confirmed he will meet with Schumer this afternoon to discuss the plans for the upcoming Senate trial.

"It's beyond me. How the speaker and the Democratic leader in the Senate think withholding the articles of impeachment and not sending them over gives them leverage is beyond me. Frankly, I'm not anxious to have the trial," McConnell told reporters Thursday morning. "If she thinks her case is so weak she doesn't want to send it over, throw me into that briar patch."

By Grace Segers

McCarthy: Pelosi "admitting defeat" by not sending articles to the Senate

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy began his weekly press conference by condemning Pelosi for not immediately sending the articles to the Senate and declining to answer follow-up questions about impeachment in her earlier press conference.

"She's admitting defeat by not sending them. By refusing to send impeachment over, she knows its outcome is not good," McCarthy said.

McCarthy also said the vote on impeachment would lead to Pelosi losing her majority in the House and that he's "embarrassed" by the House for the impeachment votes.

By Grace Segers

House won't name impeachment managers until Senate finalizes trial plans, Pelosi says

Pelosi says House will wait to send impeachment articles to Senate 15:30

In her weekly press conference, Pelosi said Democrats seemed to have "a spring in their step" on the day after voting to impeach the president.

She reiterated that the House would not immediately name impeachment managers and deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate, saying Democrats will wait until the Senate finalizes its procedures for the trial.

"The next thing for us will be when we see the process that's set forth in the Senate, then we'll know the number of managers we'll have to move forward, and who we would choose," Pelosi said, explaining that she did not yet know how many impeachment managers would need to be sent to the Senate. "When we see what they have, we'll know who and how many will be sent over."

When asked by CBS News if she was concerned Republicans would accuse her of playing games by withholding the articles from the Senate, Pelosi said the ball is in the Senate's court. 

"I was not prepared to put the managers in that bill yet because we don't know the arena that we are in," Pelosi said. "Frankly, I don't care what the Republicans say." — Grace Segers and Nancy Cordes


Schumer responds to McConnell's criticism of impeachment

Schumer rebukes McConnell for stance on Senate impeachment trial 15:57

Senate Minority Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, rebuffed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's criticisms of the House Democrats over impeachment, calling his speech lambasting the process a "30-minute partisan stemwinder" that lacked any defense of Mr. Trump's conduct.

"It is true, as the leader has said, that the framers built the Senate to provide stability and to keep partisan passions from boiling over," Schumer said during remarks on the Senate floor. "However, their vision of the Senate is a far cry from the partisan body Senator McConnell has created."

McConnell spoke on the floor earlier Thursday and decried the House votes to impeach Mr. Trump. Schumer questioned why McConnell rebuffed his call for four top White House aides to testify during the Senate trial.

"Is the president's case so weak that none of the president's men can defend him under oath?" the New York Democrat asked.

Schumer said he intends to meet with McConnell to discuss the rules for an impeachment trial in the Senate, though he accused the majority leader of "plotting the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment trial in modern history."

He emboldened Republican senators to decide whether they "want a fair trial" or give Mr. Trump "free rein."

"Now that the House of Representatives has impeached President Trump, the nation turns its eyes to the Senate. What will the nation see?" he said.

By Melissa Quinn

McConnell condemns House for impeachment in speech from Senate floor

McConnell denounces House Democrats for "purely partisan impeachment" 30:35

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned the vote impeaching Mr. Trump in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, saying a "slapdash" process had resulted in "the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history."

"The House's conduct risks deeply damaging the institutions of American government," McConnell said, saying that House Democrats had created a "toxic new precedent" for presidents in the future.

"If the Senate blesses this historically low bar, we will invite the impeachment of every future president," he said.

McConnell scoffed at the Democratic argument that impeachment was a constitutional necessity, instead calling it "the predetermined end of a partisan crusade that began before President Trump was even sworn in."

He said Schumer was trying to "fix House Democrats' failures for them" by requesting that the Senate call witnesses who refused to appear before the House, some in defiance of subpoenas.

McConnell also responded to suggestions that House Democrats may withhold the articles from the Senate until Republicans agree to certain terms for the Senate trial, a strategy which has been promoted by some Democrats. McConnell said House Democrats "may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate."

Pelosi suggested Wednesday that she would wait until seeing the rules of the trial negotiated by the Senate before delivering the articles.

"The framers built the Senate to provide stability, to take the long view of our republic. To safeguard institutions from the momentary hysteria that sometimes consumes our politics. To keep partisan passions from boiling over," McConnell concluded. "The Senate exists for moments like this."

By Grace Segers

White House press secretary: Impeachment "concerning for future presidents"

White House responds to Trump impeachment: "It really is about the American people" 06:21

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told "CBS This Morning" that the decision to impeach Mr. Trump sets a dangerous precedent for future presidents of both parties. 

"This impeachment in particular is going to go down in history as one that was done on partisan political lines, and it's concerning for future presidents, whether they'll be Republicans or Democrats, because if this is the standard that we're going to have, presidents can be impeached by just having a policy dispute, and that's not good for the country,"  Grisham said.

She said it "has been incredible to see the Republicans unify behind this president."

"I think this is actually better for our party and I think that that's going to show in 2020," Grisham added. "I think this is truly backfiring on the Democrats."

Read more here.


Graham to meet with Trump Thursday afternoon

Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill he'll meet with Mr. Trump Thursday afternoon.

Graham has already said he is not impartial in the eventual Senate trial process, and blasted House Democrats for stalling on sending the articles of impeachment over to the Senate.

"If House Dems refuse to send Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for trial it would be a breathtaking violation of the Constitution, an act of political cowardice, and fundamentally unfair to President @realDonaldTrump," Graham wrote in a tweet that was retweeted by the president. — Alan He


Nadler says articles should be sent to Senate in "due course"

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said he doubts the articles of impeachment will be held up in the House indefinitely and should be sent over in "due course."

The chairman criticized McConnell, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that he is not a "fair juror."

"I don't understand how he can possibly take the oath that he's required to take," Nadler said, referring to the pledge senators must make before a trial to be impartial and uphold the Constitution. 

McConnell himself has explicitly said he's "not an impartial juror," echoing comments by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.

It's still unclear when House Democrats will decide to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate side, where they must be addressed immediately once transmitted. — Kimberly Brown and Kathryn Watson


Schumer says McConnell is "hiding the truth" by rejecting witnesses

Schumer on impeachment: “McConnell is hiding the truth” 04:55

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said McConnell is "hiding the truth" by rejecting his request for witnesses at the upcoming impeachment trial. The New York senator told "CBS This Morning" the Republican leader has given "no good answer" for why there shouldn't be witnesses.

"We must get the truth, and Leader McConnell is hiding the truth. You know what the American people are asking ... What is the president hiding? What is Leader McConnell hiding? If they don't want these witnesses who are directly dispositive on the case to come before us," Schumer said.

McConnell has accused Schumer of not meeting with him and negotiating through the press, but Schumer said he "has twisted the truth."

"Two weeks ago, I went to him and I said, I'm ready to meet whenever you are. He hasn't asked," he said. 

Read more here.

By Nicole Brown Chau

Trump knocks "Do Nothing Dems" for holding articles of impeachment

The morning after House Democrats impeached Mr. Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the president took aim at the "Do Nothing Party," for possibly holding off on sending the articles to the Senate.

"I got Impeached last might [sic] without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history," Mr. Trump tweeted. "Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it's Senate's call!"

"'The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.' If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!" he said in a second tweet.

During a press conference following the House's historic vote on the two articles, Pelosi suggested she would hold off on transmitting the articles to the Senate and selecting impeachment managers due to concerns over whether the upper chamber would conduct a fair trial.

By Melissa Quinn

Trump ally Mark Meadows won't seek reelection

U.S. House Of Representatives Votes On Impeachment Of President Donald Trump
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Representative Mark Meadows shake hands as the House of Representatives votes on the second article of impeachment of President Trump at the Capitol on December 18, 2019. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Republican Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, one of Mr. Trump's closest allies in Congress, will not seek reelection, he announced Thursday.

"For everything there is a season," Meadows said in a statement. "After prayerful consideration and discussion with family, today I'm announcing that my time serving Western North Carolina in Congress will come to a close at the end of this term."

A founding member and former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Meadows is one of the president's chief defenders in Congress.

Meadows, 60, did not specify what he would be doing after leaving Congress, but said his work with the president and his administration "is only beginning."

Read more here.

By Melissa Quinn

Putin calls impeachment "far-fetched"

In remarks similar to President Trump's own derision of the impeachment proceedings against him, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the case against the American leader as "far-fetched" on Thursday.

Putin even echoed the sentiments of Mr. Trump and other Republicans who claim the impeachment is based on an effort by Democrats to overturn the 2016 election that Putin's government deliberately meddled in to help Mr. Trump. Both Mr. Trump and his Russian counterpart reject the findings of the U.S. intelligence community — backed by the Senate Intelligence Committee — that Moscow did intervene in Mr. Trump's favor.

"The party that lost the (2016) election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results by other means," Putin said during his annual, all-day news conference in Moscow.

Putin pointed out that the Republican-led Senate was almost certain to exonerate Mr. Trump of the charges the House accused him of with its Wednesday vote to impeach.

The Senate Republicans "will be unlikely to remove a representative of their own party from office on what seems to me an absolutely far-fetched reason," Putin said.

By Tucker Reals

What comes next after Trump's impeachment?

The House must now agree on who will be the impeachment managers who will prosecute the impeachment trial in the Senate. 

Pelosi can now name the managers at any point and present a resolution for debate and a vote in the full House. Some names have already been floated by Democrats, including Representative Justin Amash, an independent from Michigan who left the Republican Party earlier this year. 

The House adjourned Wednesday evening a little before 9 p.m. without settling the matter. 

After the managers are selected, the House will then formally deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate, which must immediately act on them.

Read more about what comes next here.

By Grace Segers

Pelosi unclear on timing for transmitting articles to Senate

The speaker said she would not select impeachment managers for the Senate trial until she sees a "fair" Senate trial process.

"So far, we have not seen anything that looks fair to us," Pelosi told reporters in a news conference at the Capitol after the vote. 

Pelosi sidestepped the question when a reporter asked if she might decline to send the articles to the Senate altogether. The speaker will have the final say on which members are selected as impeachment managers to present the House's case to senators.

By Kathryn Watson
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