House Judiciary holds high-stakes impeachment hearing

By Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 2350 GMT (0750 HKT) December 9, 2019
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9:08 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

New Republican counsel will be asking questions today

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

Republicans have a new staffer asking questions today, according to Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

Ashley Hurt Callen is asking questions for the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Mike Conaway said he worked with Callen at the House Agriculture Committee.

"Her dedication to her work is only matched by her devotion to her family. Ashley has a deep understanding of the law, and her commitment to oversight makes her a terrific asset to the judiciary committee," he said.

8:58 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

How today's impeachment inquiry hearing will work

The House Judiciary Committee is holding another hearing, during which congressional investigators will lay out their case for impeaching the President. 

The hearing will follow a similar format to pervious impeachment inquiry hearings in both the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees.

Here's how we're expecting today to play out:

  • Chair Jerry Nadler and ranking member Doug Collins will each give an opening statement.
  • Lawyers for the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees will make opening arguments and present the evidence before facing questions from the Judiciary panel. The judiciary committee will get 30 minutes, and the intelligence committee will get 45 minutes.
  • Nadler will get 45 minutes to ask questions. He can yield to the Democrats' lawyer, if he wants to.
  • Collins — or the GOP lawyer — will get 45 minutes for questioning.
  • Each member will get five minutes to ask questions. There are 41 members on the committee.
8:56 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

Democrats on House Judiciary Committee haven’t been told what’s in the articles of impeachment

From CNN's Manu Raju

Democratic members on the House Judiciary Committee still haven’t been told about what is in the articles of impeachment, despite a weekend of marathon meetings prepping for today’s hearing.

They talked about articles more generally in their meetings but have not been told when the committee vote will occur or what’s in the articles — a sign of how closely held this discussion has been between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler and House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff.

8:41 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

The GOP’s signs are already up in the hearing room

From CNN's Manu Raju

House Judiciary Republicans have already put up their signs ahead of today's impeachment inquiry hearing.

One is a quote from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: "We cannot accept a second term for Donald Trump."

The other is a quote from Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond: "My sole focus right now is to make sure that he's not the President next term."

Throughout the impeachment inquiry hearings, Republicans have displayed quotes and talking points on posters in the hearing room.

8:03 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

Here's what happens next in the impeachment inquiry

It's going to be another busy day on Capitol Hill as the House presses forward with the impeachment inquiry.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold its next impeachment hearing at 9 a.m. ET. Member are expected to hear evidence from the staff counsels of both the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

After that timing, it gets a little unclear, but here's a general sense of how the impeachment process will work:

  • Now: The House Judiciary Committee — which has authority to write articles of impeachment — will begin drafting them.
  • Committee vote: After articles are complete, the committee will vote on whether to refer them to the full House. We're not sure when this will happen, but it could happen sometime this week.
  • House vote: If they're approved, the articles will go to the House floor, where a simple majority is needed to formally impeach Trump. This vote could happen the week of Dec. 16.

7:27 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

4 key developments in the impeachment inquiry you need to know

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill continue to work on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Here what's happened recently:

  • New report: On Saturday, the House Judiciary Committee released a report ahead of Monday’s impeachment hearing laying out the arguments for impeachment. The report does not accuse President Trump of committing impeachable offenses, but it lays the groundwork for Monday's hearing, where evidence against Trump will be presented by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, as well as the possible introduction of articles of impeachment next week.
  • Witnesses requested: The ranking Republican on the committee wants House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Hunter Biden and the anonymous whistleblower to testify, among others. Rep. Doug Collins wrote that the committee should call “each of the witnesses listed above to testify before this Committee to ensure a full evaluation of the facts and to cure the procedural and fairness defects injected into these proceedings by Chairman Schiff.”
  • Mueller report: Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment inquiry along with House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, would not say Sunday whether he supports including information from the Mueller report in articles of impeachment, but seemed to indicate he does not. 
  • White House responds: The White House slammed the impeachment inquiry as "completely baseless" and a "reckless abuse of power" while declining to participate in the probe. In a letter sent by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, he claimed the inquiry "has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness." While the letter did not specifically say the White House would not participate in the inquiry, a White House official told CNN, "The letter communicates that we will not participate in this process."

7:27 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

What happened in the first House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing last week

From CNN's Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

A trio of legal scholars argued at the first House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing Wednesday that President Trump's unprecedented conduct was evidence of impeachable offenses, amid vocal protests and procedural roadblocks thrown up by Republicans to challenge the impeachment proceedings.

The opening impeachment hearing held by the panel tasked with drafting articles of impeachment was contentious from the moment Chairman Jerry Nadler gaveled it into session until he banged the hearing to a close more than eight hours later. Republicans repeatedly forced procedural votes and peppered Nadler with questions about what the committee was doing as they dismissed the entire proceeding as a sham.

Three professors, Harvard University's Noah Feldman, Stanford University's Pamela Karlan and the University of North Carolina's Michael Gerhardt, were all asked, based on the House Intelligence Committee evidence, "Did President Trump commit the impeachable high crime and misdemeanor of abuse of power?" All said that he did.

"If what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable," Gerhardt said. "This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a Constitution, including impeachment, to protect against."

While the three Democratic-invited law professors backed impeachment, the law professor called by Republicans to testify, George Washington University's Jonathan Turley, argued that Democrats were making a mistake by pursuing a "slipshod" impeachment that would have long-lasting consequences.

"I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. I believe this impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments," Turley said.

Putting the hearing in context: The hearing marked an important step for Democrats in the impeachment proceedings, which have shifted from the House Intelligence Committee-led investigation to the Judiciary panel. Democrats are on track for an impeachment vote on the House floor by the end of the year, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a closed-door, members-only meeting Wednesday morning where Democrats agreed to continue moving forward with the inquiry, asking her members: "Are you ready?"

The hearing was only the latest sign that all sides of the Capitol are preparing for an impeachment vote -- and a subsequent trial in the Senate.

6:52 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

House Judiciary Committee releases witness list for today's hearing

From CNN's Kevin Bohn

Chairman Jerry Nadler has released the names of the counsels to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee who will present in the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

The witnesses are:

House Committee on the Judiciary

  • Barry Berke, majority counsel
  • Stephen Castor, minority counsel

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

  • Daniel Goldman, majority counsel
  • Stephen Castor, minority counsel

Today's hearing will begin at 9 a.m. ET and will proceed in two phases. First, majority and minority counsel for the Judiciary Committee will present opening statements for up to one hour, equally divided. 

Second, majority and minority counsel for the Intelligence Committee will present for up to 90 minutes, equally divided. Majority and minority counsel for the Intelligence Committee will then take questions from the committee.

6:50 a.m. ET, December 9, 2019

House Judiciary Committee releases report ahead of today's hearing, laying out historical arguments for impeachment

The House Judiciary Committee on Saturday released a report ahead of Monday’s impeachment hearing laying out historical arguments for impeachment. 

The report does not accuse President Trump of committing impeachable offenses, but it lays the groundwork for Monday's hearing, where evidence against Trump will be presented by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, as well as the possible introduction of articles of impeachment next week. 

“The Framers' worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment. The safety and security of our nation, our democracy, and future generations hang in the balance if we do not address this misconduct. In America, no one is above the law, not even the President.”

The report is an update to the Judiciary Committee reports that were issued in 1974 and 1998 during the impeachment proceedings of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

“The earlier reports remain useful points of reference, but no longer reflect the best available learning on questions relating to presidential impeachment,” Nadler wrote in a forward introducing the report. “Further, they do not address several issues of constitutional law with particular relevance to the ongoing impeachment inquiry respecting President Donald J. Trump.”