The Hill's Morning Report - Trump set to be impeached in historic vote




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The House is set to hold a historic vote on two articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE over his dealings with Ukraine today, likely making him the third president in U.S. history to be indicted by the lower chamber.


Today’s vote on articles of impeachment alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress is the culmination of nearly three months of investigations by the House into the president’s actions, which Trump has repeatedly railed against without ceding any ground. It will also kick off proceedings in the Senate that will likely begin in earnest next month. 


As Mike Lillis and Olivia Beavers note in their preview of the historic vote, Democratic leaders are bringing articles of impeachment to the floor after declining to do so for most of the year despite retaking the majority in January. They were spurred to action after a whistleblower alleged that the president had leveraged U.S. military aid and a White House meeting to press Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals. 


“No Member came to Congress to impeach a President. But every one of us, as our first act as a Member of Congress, stood on the House Floor, raised our hand and took a sacred oath: ‘I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,’” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Battle heats up for House Foreign Affairs gavel Nearly one-third of US adults expect to lose employment income: Census Bureau MORE (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to her colleagues on the eve of today’s vote. “That oath makes us Custodians of the Constitution. If we do not act, we will be derelict in our duty.”


House Democrats put a bow on their procedural effort on Tuesday as the House Rules Committee set parameters of impeachment debate after a marathon hearing that featured closing arguments from leaders of the Judiciary panel, which had drafted the articles last week (The Hill).


The Hill: Both sides make their closing arguments on Trump impeachment articles.


Peter Baker, The New York Times: What to watch ahead of the impeachment vote.


Politico: Trump impeachment clouds Pelosi's second act.


The vote, which is expected to come down along partisan lines (save for a few members), will produce political ramifications that will last through 2020 and potentially beyond. Of the 31 House Democrats who sit in districts won by the president in 2016, 29 are expected to vote in favor of impeaching the president. At least two House Democrats are expected to vote against the two articles: Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonGrassley suggests moderate Democrats for next Agriculture secretary DeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.), who is expected to jump ship and formally become a Republican in the near future, though he refused to talk about it on Tuesday (The Hill).  


Only one Democrat is expected to vote for one of the articles, but not the other. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) announced on Tuesday that he would support the abuse of power charge, but not the obstruction of Congress one. Golden is among the top targets of House Democrats on the 2020 map (The Hill). As House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Hoyer releases 2021 House calendar Ronna McDaniel launches bid for third term as GOP chair MORE (R-Calif.) predicted, no GOP lawmaker is expected to support either article of impeachment later today. The final votes on impeachment are expected between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 


The New York Times: A majority of House members support the articles of impeachment against Trump. Here’s the full list.


The Associated Press: House nears impeachment as Trump decries “vicious crusade.”


While today’s vote is not totally unexpected given how everything has played out since House Democrats launched their formal inquiry in late September, it is nevertheless extraordinary and significant. As Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels write, while Trump has remained defiant throughout the process, refusing to cooperate and raging against what he deems an unfair, politically-motivated sham, he has occasionally acknowledged the historical weight of impeachment and lamented its toll on his presidency and his family. 


Complicating matters even more, Trump will be the first president to be impeached by the House while also seeking reelection. However, despite what is expected to happen today, many in the White House remain optimistic about his reelection chances, which they believe were buoyed by a particularly strong week on the legislative front in a boost to the president’s agenda. As they have throughout his first term, they view today’s historic vote as a blip on the radar when it comes to how the issue will play with voters.


It’s worth noting: Trump has no public events on his schedule prior to his 4:25 p.m. departure for Battle Creek, Mich., where he will hold a campaign rally that will start at 7 p.m. The rally is likely going to start as the House is voting on the pair of impeachment articles.


The Hill: Trump calls for halt to impeachment in scathing letter to Pelosi on eve of vote.


READ: Trump’s letter to Pelosi.


The Hill: GOP leadership: Initial phase of impeachment trial could run two weeks.


Looking ahead to the next steps, Senate leaders are at an impasse over how to conduct an impeachment trial next month, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' On The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Nearly one-third of US adults expect to lose employment income: Census Bureau MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Trump supporters could hand Senate control to Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.) taking part in a back-and-forth early in the week on the topic.


Senators are pessimistic about the pair being able to reach a compromise on rules for a trial, citing the messy relationship between the two leaders that has been strained repeatedly during the Trump presidency. 


“The problem is the core of the relationship between him and Schumer,” one Republican senator close to McConnell told The Hill’s Alexander Bolton. “Their history is bad.”  


After a public battle when Schumer issued his opening salvo over witnesses on Sunday, McConnell returned serve on Tuesday, blasting Schumer’s vision for the trial as “dead wrong” and ruling out the witness demands by the Democratic leader (The Hill).


The relationship is a far cry from those who took part in former President Clinton’s impeachment trial as the ties that bound then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and then-Minority Leader Senate Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) were a lot stronger than the current leadership pair. 


“The fact that we’re still waiting for the first meeting on this subject between the two of them speaks for itself,” said Sen. Richard DurbinDick DurbinCongress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms Criminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot MORE (D-Ill.).  





CONGRESS/ADMINISTRATION: Lawmakers advanced a pair of must-pass bills on Tuesday as they look to clean up the legislative calendar before they break for Christmas 


In the House, lawmakers passed a massive $1.4 trillion spending package to fund the government through September and ensure, unlike last year, that there will be no government shutdown over the holidays. 


The package was split between two bills, both of which were passed with overwhelming support. The first, focused on spending for domestic agencies and priorities, passed on a 297-120 vote. The second, focused on national security, passed 280-138. The two measures will head to the Senate and are expected to be approved by the end of the week before garnering the president’s signature. Funding for the government expires on Friday night. 


Among the items included in the package was the removal of three taxes instituted in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act. While many Democrats continue to support the law overall, the taxes that were included in the spending bill were opposed by many in the party (The Washington Post). 


The Associated Press: House passes $1.4 trillion federal spending bill. 


The Washington Post: Federal agencies will be closed Christmas Eve, Trump says in executive order.


Across the Capitol, senators passed the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which was paired with legislation to give federal employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave. The bipartisan package was passed on an 86-8 vote, with Trump having indicated that he will vote the bill into law. 


Also included in the package is a 3.1 percent pay raise for Pentagon personnel, the largest increase in more than a decade (The Associated Press).


Lastly, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and advanced it to the full House for a vote on the floor Thursday. The update to the North American Free Trade Agreement was passed by voice vote after the president and Democratic lawmakers reached a deal last week to pass the landmark trade deal after months of intense negotiations.


As Sylvan Lane writes, Democrats agreed to take up the deal after securing provisions to tighten labor and environmental law enforcement, and scrap patent protections for high-cost pharmaceuticals.





> FBI: Throughout his presidency, Trump has become increasingly vehement in his condemnation of the FBI and law enforcement, including on Monday morning when he quote-tweeted someone who described the FBI as "tyrants" and "criminal,” approving it by saying, "Wow." 


In tandem with Trump's attacks, however, Democrats and liberals have generally given staunch support to the FBI. As Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo, this is an approach that sits uneasily with the tradition of skepticism about the security services on the left that dates at least as far back as J. Edgar Hoover's shadowy use of the bureau. Taken together, it's evidence of just how much the view of the intelligence community, and the FBI in particular. has been scrambled by the Trump era.


Politico: Rick GatesRick GatesIvanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds How to combat Putin's financial aggression Sunday shows preview: Trump COVID-19 diagnosis rocks Washington, 2020 election MORE gets 45 days of weekend jail, 3 years of probation.


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: With impeachment expected to rollick Washington through most of January, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJuan Williams: Clyburn is my choice as politician of the year 'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' MORE may be the chief beneficiary among those in the 2020 Democratic primary.


Of those in the top tier of the Democratic field, Buttigieg, who has taken the lead in Iowa in recent polls, could be set to have the best January, according to The Hill’s Julia Manchester. Unlike Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDespite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill Overnight Defense: Defense bill moving forward despite Trump veto threat over tech fight | Government funding bill hits snag | Top general talks Afghanistan, Pentagon budget Katie Porter in heated exchange with Mnuchin: 'You're play-acting to be a lawyer' MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Sanders press secretary: 'Principal concern' of Biden appointments should be policy DeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump MORE (I-Vt.), the college town mayor won't be pulled off the campaign trail for an impeachment trial of a to-be-determined length. 


While former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list GOP lawmaker blasts incoming freshman over allegations of presidential voter fraud Haaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  MORE also will not have to be in Washington to serve as a juror, he will likely have to answer questions about his role in the controversy surrounding impeachment while on the campaign trail, an unenviable likelihood. 


This leaves the floor to Buttigieg to focus on whatever he pleases on the campaign trail, especially kitchen table issues that voters say they care most about, such as health care and the economy


NPR: Joe Biden is “healthy” and “vigorous” according to doctor's report.


Politico: How Harvard made Pete Buttigieg the moderate that progressives love to hate.




The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Will the federal government's nonstop spending binge continue? By Maya MacGuineas, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2SdwGZR   


Why Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? The Hill's Campaign Newsletter: Election Day – Part 4 Van Drew fends off challenge from Kennedy after party switch MORE talked of switching parties too soon, by B.J. Rudell, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/34wmb6f 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Rep. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherReestablishing American prosperity by investing in the 'Badger Belt' Actors union blasts Democrat for criticizing GOP lawmaker's wife Federal commission issues recommendations for securing critical tech against Chinese threats MORE (R-Wis.) to discuss legislation that would bar the U.S. from doing business with Chinese companies deemed a national security threat; Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive and president of Medicare for All Now, to examine Andrew YangAndrew YangGroups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Media and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk Andrew Yang: Democrats need to adopt message that government is 'working for them' MORE's healthcare plan; and Jimmy Dore, host of “The Jimmy Dore Show,” to talk about how Sanders should have handled Cenk Uygur. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House meets at 9 a.m. and will debate impeachment throughout the day, culminating in votes on the two articles in the early evening. 


The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m. and resume consideration of Matthew McFarland to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio


The president will receive his intelligence briefing at 11:45 a.m. At 4:25 p.m., Trump will depart the White House for Battle Creek, Mich., where he will deliver remarks at a “Keep American Great” rally at 7 p.m.


Vatican: Pope FrancisPope FrancisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Barr splits with Trump on election; pardon controversy Pope warns new cardinals against 'slumber of mediocrity' Pope Francis pays visit to predecessor with elevated cardinals MORE abolished the use of “pontifical secrecy,” the Vatican’s highest level of secrecy in clergy sexual abuse cases, on Tuesday as he responded to criticism that the Catholic Church used the rule to protect priests and silence victims. “The carnival of obscurity is over,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean survivor of clergy abuse and advocate for victims, of the move (The Associated Press).





Cybersecurity: A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Edward Snowden, the CIA employee-turned-whistleblower who revealed classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA), is unable to profit off of his recent memoir, “Permanent Record,” because he did not submit the book for clearance from U.S. security agencies. U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady ruled that Snowden violated a series of employment contracts he signed by not submitting the book prior to publication to the CIA and NSA for review (Bloomberg News).


Legal troubles: Michael Avenatti, best known as the ex-lawyer for Stormy Daniels, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to accusations that he attempted to extort as much as $25 million from Nike when he tried to blackmail the shoe giant with claims that it made improper payments to athletes. The trial for Avenatti, who was considered a possible 2020 Democratic candidate, is scheduled to start on Jan. 21. Nike has denied any wrongdoing in the case (Reuters).


And finally … Some welcome news involving early Christmas giving.


A group of people surprised an IHOP waitress in Paterson, N.J., with a cash tip of $1,200 over the weekend. Zellie Thomas and a group of his nearly dozen friends left the tip with the waitress on Saturday, with each bringing $100 to the chain. According to NJ.com, the waitress was so stunned by the act of kindness that she tried to give the money back and shed tears of joy. 


“I really hope this shows people that there’s power in community and all it takes is a group of friends to come together and change someone else’s life," Thomas said. "You’d be really surprised, if you put that call out to your friends, how many people would be supportive of that idea.”