The House Judiciary Committee is formally considering articles of impeachment against President Trump.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Here’s what you need to know:
Republicans sought to kill the charges.
Republicans preparing before the markup. Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee moved quickly to try to kill the articles of impeachment against President Trump as the markup got underway, condemning the process as unfair to the president.
Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, offered the first amendment of the day, seeking to strike Article I, which accuses the president of abuse of power. Mr. Jordan said his amendment “strikes Article I, because Article I ignores the truth.”
Lawmakers engaged in heated debate, which Republicans used as a chance to denounce the process and to try to undermine the Democratic case against the president.
Mr. Jordan’s amendment, and others that Republicans plan to offer, are all but certain to be rejected on party-line votes by the committee, which is heavily skewed in favor of Democrats. But such changes are intended to show Mr. Trump — who has watched hours of the impeachment hearings — and Republican voters that they are fighting back against attempts to impeach the president next week.
Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the panel, pushed to end consideration of the articles entirely, arguing that Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the committee, and other Democrats had violated the committee’s rules by refusing to allow a public hearing for witnesses requested by the minority. But the chairman ruled against his motion, quickly gaveling it down.
Democrats made a small change to the impeachment articles, allowing them to control the markup process.
Mr. Nadler officially began consideration of the articles of impeachment against Mr. Trump by having the panel’s clerk read them into the record. He then offered up a new and slightly different draft, a parliamentary tactic that will allow him to control the markup process throughout the day.
Committees usually skip the reading of legislative text, and one Republican on the panel asked to dispense with the step. But Mr. Nadler dismissed the request, saying that the importance of the historic moment at hand called for the nine-page resolution to be read out loud.
“In his conduct of the office of president of the United States — and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the presidency,” the clerk read.
By offering up a new draft of the article with a minor change — instead of referring to the president as “Donald J. Trump,” as the original articles of impeachment did, it uses his full middle name, John — Mr. Nadler ensured that he will have maximum control over any further changes that may be proposed.
The debate underscored partisan divisions in the country about whether to impeach the president.
For only the third time in modern history, lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee are formally considering articles of impeachment against a sitting president in a debate that underscores the deep divisions in the country.
The process began on Wednesday night, with lawmakers delivering impassioned statements for or against impeaching the president.
On Thursday, Democrats are putting the last touches on articles accusing Mr. Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, finalizing charges stemming from their two-and-a-half-month inquiry into what they say was a scheme by the president to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals.
For Republicans, Thursday’s meeting — called a “markup” because it gives members the opportunity to offer amendments and edits to the articles — is their last chance to try to derail the impeachment before the articles are expected to come to the House floor early next week.
That is unlikely to happen in the committee, which is firmly under the control of Democrats and led by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. Both sides expect the committee to vote along party lines by Thursday afternoon to send the articles to the full House.
But the committee debate is certain to be intense as Democrats make their case that Mr. Trump “ignored and injured the interests of the nation” and Republicans angrily accuse the president’s adversaries of waging an unfair assault on the presidency based on insufficient evidence.
The markup was a test of party unity under Pelosi as she seeks to prevent defections by nervous moderates.
The Judiciary Committee’s debate on Thursday is an important test of the party discipline that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sought to maintain since late September, when she announced that the House would begin an impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump related to the Ukraine matter.
Only two House Democrats voted against formalizing Ms. Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry in a House vote about a month later. It was a demonstration of remarkable unity within the caucus about using one of the gravest remedies in the Constitution to hold the president accountable for his actions.
But some moderate Democrats whose conservative-leaning districts voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 have in the past expressed concerns about impeaching the president.
There is no indication that any of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee intend to break with Ms. Pelosi by voting against sending the articles to the full House. While the markup process allows them to offer amendments, few if any are expected to do anything to substantively change the charges.
Trump lawyers consider adding Alan Dershowitz, the high-profile lawyer, to the president’s legal team.
As impeachment marches forward, Mr. Trump’s lawyers are discussing hiring Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and high-profile lawyer who has frequently defended the president on television, to help with his defense during a trial in the Senate, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Several advisers to the president support making Mr. Dershowitz part of the team of outside lawyers to advise the White House on constitutional issues, they said. But no formal offer has been made to Mr. Dershowitz. Mr. Dershowitz declined to comment.
Catch up on some important background on the impeachment inquiry.
Mr. Trump and his advisers repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate people and issues of political concern to Mr. Trump, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Here’s a timeline of events since January.
A C.I.A. officer who was once detailed to the White House filed a whistle-blower complaint on Mr. Trump’s interactions with Mr. Zelensky. Read the complaint.
Who Are the Main Characters in the Whistle-Blower’s Complaint?
President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.
Congressman: “Sir, let me repeat my question: Did you ever speak to the president about this complaint?” Congress is investigating allegations that President Trump pushed a foreign government to dig up dirt on his Democratic rivals. “It’s just a Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again.” At the heart of an impeachment inquiry is a nine-page whistle-blower complaint that names over two dozen people. Not counting the president himself, these are the people that appear the most: First, Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. According to documents and interviews, Giuliani has been involved in shadowy diplomacy on behalf of the president’s interests. He encouraged Ukrainian officials to investigate the Biden family’s activities in the country, plus other avenues that could benefit Trump like whether the Ukrainians intentionally helped the Democrats during the 2016 election. It was an agenda he also pushed on TV. “So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.” “Of course I did!” A person Giuliani worked with, Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general. He pushed for investigations that would also benefit Giuliani and Trump. Lutsenko also discussed conspiracy theories about the Bidens in the U.S. media. But he later walked back his allegations, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. This is where Hunter Biden comes in, the former vice president’s son. He served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company run by this guy, who’s had some issues with the law. While Biden was in office, he along with others, called for the dismissal of Lutsenko’s predecessor, a prosecutor named Viktor Shokin, whose office was overseeing investigations into the company that Hunter Biden was involved with. Shokin was later voted out by the Ukrainian government. Lutsenko replaced him, but was widely criticized for corruption himself. When a new president took office in May, Volodymyr Zelensky, Zelensky said that he’d replace Lutsenko. Giuliani and Trump? Not happy. They viewed Lutsenko as their ally. During a July 25 call between Trump and the new Ukrainian president, Trump defended him, saying, “I heard you had a prosecutor who is very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.” In that phone call, Trump also allegedly asked his counterpart to continue the investigation into Joe Biden, who is his main rival in the 2020 election. Zelensky has publicly denied feeling pressured by Trump. “In other words, no pressure.” And then finally, Attorney General William Barr, who also came up in the July 25 call. In the reconstructed transcript, Trump repeatedly suggested that Zelensky’s administration could work with Barr and Giuliani to investigate the Bidens and other matters of political interest to Trump. Since the whistle-blower complaint was made public, Democrats have criticized Barr for dismissing allegations that Trump had violated campaign finance laws during his call with Zelensky and not passing along the complaint to Congress. House Democrats have now subpoenaed several people mentioned in the complaint, as an impeachment inquiry into the president’s conduct continues.
President Trump’s personal lawyer. The prosecutor general of Ukraine. Joe Biden’s son. These are just some of the names mentioned in the whistle-blower’s complaint. What were their roles? We break it down.CreditCredit…Illustration by The New York Times
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