The Hill's Morning Report - In historic vote, House impeaches Trump




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The House of Representatives voted Wednesday evening to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE, making him the third president in U.S. history to be formally charged by the lower chamber as the process is set to shift to the Senate for a trial next year.


The vote on a pair of impeachment articles was an extraordinary move by House Democrats, who held off moving on impeachment for most of their first year in the majority, setting off a seismic rumble throughout Capitol Hill that will undoubtedly reverberate across the country in an election year. 


The two articles, which charge Trump with abusing power over his dealings with Ukraine and obstruction of Congress, passed almost exclusively along party lines, making Trump the first president to be impeached amid a bid for reelection (The Hill). 


Lawmakers voted 230-197 on the resolution accusing Trump of abusing his power, and 229-198 on the obstruction of Congress charge. Every Republican opposed the impeachment charges, while two Democrats — Reps. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonA louder voice for women everywhere Former Minnesota Democratic leader quits party GOP sees path to House majority in 2022 MORE (Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.) — joined them. Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSix people whose election wins made history Next Congress expected to have record diversity Native Americans elected to Congress in record numbers this year MORE (D-Hawaii) voted present on both counts. 


Only one Democrat — Rep. Jared Golden (Maine) — split his vote on the charges.


The vote on the pair of articles capped nearly three months of investigations by the House into the president’s actions concerning Ukraine. The House inquiry centered on a whistleblower’s complaint alleging that Trump threatened to withhold military aid and a White House meeting until Ukraine investigated his political rivals. 


The Hill: A solemn impeachment day on Capitol Hill. 


The Associated Press: Among public, a great divide at moment of Trump impeachment.


The Washington Post: Inside the decision to impeach Trump: How both parties wrestled with a constitutional crisis.


The politics of the issue were front and center for all to see Wednesday as Trump held a campaign event in Battle Creek, Mich., which Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant detail


Trump held off his missives against the votes until they concluded, having rattled off a list of accomplishments before striking at the heart of the Democratic impeachment effort, labeling it a “perversion.” 


“With today’s illegal, unconstitutional and partisan impeachment, the do-nothing Democrats … are declaring their deep hatred and disdain for the American voter,” he told a sellout crowd. “This lawless, partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat Party.”


“The Republican Party has never been so affronted, but they have never been so united as they are now,” Trump said during the rally in his first on-camera remarks following the vote. 


While the effect of the vote on Trump’s reelection chances will be profound, it also will be for vulnerable Democrats, almost all of whom voted to impeach Trump. Of the 31 House Democrats who hail from districts Trump won in 2016, 29 voted to impeach Trump, with House Republicans eager to amplify their votes throughout their districts (The Hill).


More immediately, though, the process will now shift to the Senate, though the timing remains up in the air. During a press conference after the vote, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) refused to say when — or even if — the House will deliver the articles to the Senate amid speculation that it may attempt to hold onto them as leverage so the Senate will hold what it deems to be a fair trial, which is expected to start next month. Most of the pressure to hold onto the articles is coming from progressive members and activists. 


"We'll make that decision as a group, as we always have, as we go along," Pelosi said despite repeated attempts by the Capitol Hill press corps to pin her down on timing. 


The comment puts impeachment matters in limbo for the time being as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight MORE (R-Ky.) waits. While Democrats believe they would be putting pressure on the GOP leader, McConnell seemed nonplussed when asked if he cares when the House sends the two articles of impeachment his way. 


Senate Republicans slammed the Wednesday vote, arguing that it was Pelosi’s way of appeasing her left flank and labeling it a “tragedy.”


"The mob took over the House. If she did not move to impeach this president, she would not be speaker," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Spokesperson says Tennessee Democrat made 'poor analogy' in saying South Carolina voters have extra chromosome MORE (R-S.C.) (The Hill).


The Hill: Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.) to meet as Democrats debate tactics.


Politico: Senate Republicans pray Trump won't tweet during trial.


The Hill: Schumer aims to drive wedge between Republicans on impeachment.





POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: While all the attention has been centered on Trump’s impeachment, the 2020 Democratic field will plow along in its push for the party’s nomination and take part in the sixth Democratic primary debate tonight in Los Angeles.


Seven presidential hopefuls — the smallest number at any debate this year — will take the stage at Loyola Marymount University for the final debate of 2019 as they look to bookend the calendar year with a bang with roughly a month and a half until the Iowa caucuses.


While the party has a clear top tier of candidates — former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach No, the government cannot seize, break or 'bypass' pharmaceutical patents — even for COVID-19 MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Prepare for buyers' remorse when Biden/Harris nationalize health care Biden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members MORE (I-Vt.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete Buttigieg'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' Biden's win is not a policy mandate — he should govern accordingly MORE — none of the front-runners have broken free and established themselves as the person to beat, with no candidate potentially garnering that position until after Iowa as the race remains extremely fluid. 


In his preview of tonight’s affair, Max Greenwood lays out five things to watch, including the looming on-stage battle between Warren and Buttigieg as the two have been at loggerheads for weeks, whether Biden will stumble or thrive, and what Sanders’s role will be tonight as he continues to sit in the top tier of Democratic contenders.


The Hill: Yang thrives as Democratic outsider.


Politico: Inside Biden’s brain trust.





> Retirement: Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship MORE (R-N.C.), a top ally of the president’s and a leading figure within the House Freedom Caucus, surprisingly announced this morning that he is retiring from Congress at the end of his term. 


Meadows, a four-term lawmaker who represents part of western North Carolina, said in a statement that he “struggled” with leaving what he has long considered a “temporary job.”


“For everything there is a season. 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,” Meadows said. “This was a decision I struggled with greatly.”


“My work with President Trump and his administration is only beginning,” Meadows said. “This President has accomplished incredible results for the country in just 3 years, and I’m fully committed to staying in the fight with him and his team to build on those successes and deliver on his promises for the years to come. I’ve always said Congress is a temporary job, but the fight to return Washington, DC to its rightful owner, We The People, has only just begun.”


Meadows has been an influential conservative for much of his eight years in Congress, having served as a thorn in the side of every GOP leader during his tenure. Most recently, though, he has become among the most preeminent allies of Trump in the Congress.


The announcement came a day before the North Carolina filing deadline, forcing him to make the decision now. Unlike some in the North Carolina congressional delegation, Meadows was not affected much by the newly-released congressional map. His district is expected to remain solidly in the GOP ranks. 


Speculation has run rampant that Meadows could join the Trump administration in some capacity, including as an eventual chief of staff, which he has expressed interest in previously. 


One thing, however, that is not in his plans is a potential Senate bid in 2022 when Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNorth Carolina — still purple but up for grabs North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid Lara Trump mulling 2022 Senate run in North Carolina: report MORE (R-N.C.) plans to retire. Meadows shot down any chatter of a bid at the upper chamber while talking to reporters early on Wednesday before news of his retirement emerged (The Hill). 


FLASHBACK from July 2017: Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows takes a seat at the top table.


> Trump reelection?: Despite Trump earning the ignominious distinction of being the third president to be impeached in U.S. history, Democrats believe he could nevertheless win a second term in the White House as worries continue to filter throughout the party that they it isn’t prepared to win. 


As Amie Parnes writes, Democrats acknowledge that Trump is boosted by a robust economy and a strong base of support from voters in swing states such Wisconsin and Michigan, both of which were crucial to his 2016 win and are similarly important to his 2020 chances. 


"Yes, he can win," said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis. "And presuming otherwise is a recipe for repeating the mistakes of 2016. This isn't a national election. He is going to lose the popular vote by 2 to 3 million votes, but the battlegrounds are still competitive and he won the Electoral College." 


Putting a fine point on it, Kofinis said Trump could be reelected “because if you look at past elections, no incumbent president has lost an election with a growing economy and peacetime conditions,” and economic models in recent months bolster these views. 


"The election is Trump's to lose," Mark Zandi, a chief economist at Moody's Analytics told Bloomberg last month.


Democrats wonder if they will have the right candidate to defeat the president. Some worry that Biden is a weak frontrunner, with others nervous that candidates such as Warren and Sanders are too progressive to appeal to more moderate voters in the Rust Belt states and elsewhere. 


"I could be completely wrong but I don't see a candidate yet who can deliver," said one Democratic strategist. "They all have their problems."


The Associated Press: Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (R-Maine) launches reelection bid for 2020.


CONGRESS/ADMINISTRATION: In some non-impeachment news, the House is expected to bring the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to the floor for a vote today as lawmakers take one of their final actions before leaving town for the Christmas recess. 


The trade pact came to the House floor following months of negotiations between Pelosi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE and after the president used the North American Free Trade Agreement as a political piñata, arguing it harmed the U.S. and killed jobs for years.


For Democrats, the main win in the USMCA is labor enforcement as the trade deal would create independent panels to ensure Mexican factories are in compliance and allow the U.S. to impose tariffs on firms that violate the deal’s labor standards.


GOP concessions of this kind were what earned the backing of the AFL-CIO and Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE (D-Ohio), who has been a top critic of trade deals in recent years. 


Along with the USMCA, House Democrats pulled off a cadre of legislative feats to close out 2019, including $25 million for federal agencies to study gun violence; spending increases for climate research, election security and the 2020 census; the addition of 12 weeks of paid family leave for federal workers that was added to the National Defense Authorization Act to ensure its passage (The Hill).


Politico: Moderate Democrats call out McConnell on USMCA vote delay.


The Associated Press: U.S., India pledge cooperation as domestic crises play out.





> ObamaCare: The Affordable Care Act was thrust back into the 2020 spotlight on Wednesday after a federal appeals court ruling added new uncertainty over the law's future. In a 2-1 ruling, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found the individual mandate unconstitutional, but avoided ruling on the entire law, instead sending the case back down to the district court level.  


The lawsuit, which is supported by the Trump administration and was filed last year by GOP attorneys general, seeks to dismantle ObamaCare, which has grown in popularity after Congress failed to repeal it two years ago (The Hill).

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!


How in the world did we get here? By former Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory Nervous Democrats don't see 2016 nightmare repeating itself Biden's debate strategy is to let Trump be Trump MORE (D-N.Y.), opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/34wFGvn   


Hidden lessons from the UK election for the US, by David Super, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Et8M4m 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Jamal Simmons, who is appearing live from the Democratic debate to preview this evening’s affairs; and Xochitl Hinojosa, communications director at the Democratic National Committee. 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 vote on the USMCA before leaving town for the Christmas break. 


The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m. and will consider the fiscal 2020 appropriations bills. 


The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony MORE will deliver remarks at White House Christmas receptions at 4:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. 


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Israeli military instructed to prepare for Trump strike on Iran: report Biden's State Department picks are a diplomatic slam dunk MORE will deliver a speech on “Human Rights and the Iranian Regime” at 10:30 a.m. before meeting with the Ecuadorian foreign minister and the Colombian foreign minister at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. 


Associate Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgMcConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report COVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process MORE will be inducted into the Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia at 5:30 p.m.


Social media: Instagram and Facebook announced Wednesday that promotion of vaping, tobacco products or weapons by “influencers” will no longer be allowed on the two platforms, according to an announcement by the social media giants on Wednesday. Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a blog post it will no longer allow “branded content” that promotes the items. While Facebook has not allowed direct advertisement of tobacco or weapons, it did not control what top influencers would post as advertisements — a loophole Juul Labs had taken advantage of recently. Facebook said enforcement of the new rule would start “in the coming weeks” (The Hill).





Health care: Wendell Potter used to spend his days as an executive at Cigna selling Americans on the private health insurance industry. Today, he’s trying to get rid of it in his role as the president of Business for Medicare for All. “I was perpetuating a system that was increasingly expensive and dysfunctional and unfair and rationed care on your ability to pay,” said Potter, who left his job as the health giant's vice president of corporate communications after experiencing an “awakening” in 2008 (The Hill).


In The Know: “Empire” is considering bringing back actor Jussie Smollett for the final episodes of the Fox series, which is in the midst of its final season. Brett Mahoney, the showrunner for the Fox show, told TVLine in an interview that it would “be weird in my mind to end this family show ... without seeing him,” adding that bringing back Smollett before the show concludes is possible. Smollett was cut from the last two episodes of the show’s fifth season in February after he allegedly faked a hate crime against him in Chicago (The Hill).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the holiday season, we’re eager for some smart guesses about Christmas movies past and present.  


Email your responses to aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


In the 2003 classic “Elf,” what does Buddy repeatedly pour on his spaghetti (hint: it’s part of his four main food groups)? 


  1. Chocolate sauce
  2. Syrup
  3. Ketchup
  4. Whipped cream


In “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” which part of the turkey does Cousin Eddie ask Clark Griswold to save for him?


  1. Leg
  2. Breast
  3. Neck
  4. Gizzard


In his pre-White House life, which Christmas movie did Donald Trump make an appearance in?


  1. “Miracle on 34th Street”
  2. “Bad Santa”
  3. “The Santa Clause”
  4. “Home Alone 2”


Which comedy star played the title role in the 2000 movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” based off the famed Dr. Seuss book?  


  1. Robin Williams
  2. Jim Carrey
  3. Vince Vaughn
  4. Adam Sandler