House panel sets rules for impeachment debate

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0737 GMT (1537 HKT) December 18, 2019
9 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
1:21 p.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Trump's calls to stop impeachment: "The President is not a lawyer"

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked about the impeachment process last night at an event in New York City.

She said the Senate’s role is to be the triers. 

“We have a process to select jurors. If a juror reveals a bias they will be disqualified,” Ginsburg said when asked if they should be impartial.

Her comments come as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces backlash for coordinating with the White House on the looming impeachment trial.

She was also asked for her thoughts on President Trump’s assertion that the impeachment process should stop.

“The President is not a lawyer, he's not law-trained," she said. "But the truth is the judiciary is a reactive institution. We don't have a program or an agenda.”  

Ginsburg made the remarks at The New York Public Library while receiving the Berggruen Institute Prize for Philosophy and Culture. 

CORRECTION: CNN originally quoted Ginsberg as saying the President is not "well trained." Ginsberg said "he's not law-trained."

9:13 a.m. ET, December 17, 2019

What to expect this week and beyond in impeachment

Photo by Drew Angerer/GettyImages
Photo by Drew Angerer/GettyImages

The US House of Representatives is expected to approve articles of impeachment against President Trump this week, officially making him the third President in US history to be impeached.

Here's what to watch this week — and beyond:

  • Today: The House Rules Committee will meet at 11 a.m. ET to set the parameters for a floor debate on the articles of impeachment. Remember: They're voting on the rules surrounding debate on the articles — not on impeachment itself.
  • Tomorrow: The full House is expected to debate and vote on the articles of impeachment. A simple majority of members need to vote to approve the articles in order to impeach President Trump.
  • The next steps: If the articles pass in the House as expected, the Republican-led Senate will hold a trial to decide if President Trump should be removed from office. We're not exactly sure when this will begin, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said it will be in the new year. Republicans and Democrats are negotiating how the proceedings would work (but keep in mind that the GOP holds a majority).
8:39 a.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Meanwhile, the House will vote today on a spending deal to avert a government shutdown

From CNN's Clare Foran and Phil Mattingly

The House of Representatives will vote on today on a nearly $1.4 trillion spending deal that would fund the government through fiscal year 2020 and avert the looming threat of a shutdown amid a historic impeachment push.

The sweeping package includes...

  • A military and civilian federal worker pay raise
  • Federal funding for election security grants and gun research
  • A repeal of three health care taxes designed to help pay for the Affordable Care Act, alongside a wide variety of other provisions

Once the spending deal clears the House, it will need to be approved by the Senate before it can go to Trump for his expected signature.

The spending deal vote comes one day before the House is expected to vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump. The House Rules Committee is meeting today to decide the parameters for tomorrow's floor debate on the articles.

8:15 a.m. ET, December 17, 2019

How today's Rules Committee meeting will play out

From CNN's Manu Raju

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The House Rules Committee is meeting today to approve the parameters for tomorrow's floor debate on the articles of impeachment. 

Remember: They're voting on the rules for the debate about impeachment — not impeachment itself.

Here's what we know about today's session:

  • The committee — which is made up of made up of 9 Democrats and 4 Republicans— will meet at 11 a.m. ET.
  • Committee Chair Jim McGovern will make an opening statement, followed by one from Tom Cole, the ranking Republican.
  • After that, Judiciary Committee representatives are expected to deliver opening remarks. 
  • The members of the Rules Committee will then be able to question the Judiciary Committee members. The committee typically does not enforce time limits for members to speak in hearings, so this is likely to be a long and contentious hearing. 
  • At the end of the session, the committee will vote to approve the rules, which will set the parameters for tomorrow's floor debate.
8:04 a.m. ET, December 17, 2019

The House Judiciary chair won't be at today's meeting

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler will not be appearing at the House Rules Committee meeting today, according to a committee aide. He had a family emergency and will be unable to attend.

Nadler was supposed to introduce the impeachment resolution for the committee today. In his place today will be Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, according to the aide.

Nadler is expected to be back for floor debate on impeachment tomorrow, the aide said.

7:38 a.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Rudy Giuliani said he needed US ambassador to Ukraine "out of the way"

From CNN's Michael Warren

Rudy Giuliani pictured in May 30, 2018.
Rudy Giuliani pictured in May 30, 2018. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani said removing the US ambassador to Ukraine was a key part of his effort to dig up dirt on Democrats on behalf of his client, President Donald Trump, according to a new interview with the President's personal lawyer in The New Yorker.

Marie Yovanovitch, the career diplomat who was removed from her post in Kiev earlier this year, was frustrating his attempts to learn information about Joe Biden from Ukrainian sources, Giuliani said.

"I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way," Giuliani told reporter Adam Entous. "She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody."

Giuliani's admission appears to be the first time someone has directly linked Yovanovitch's removal to the desired investigations into Democrats.

This past summer, Trump began to lean on Ukraine to initiate two criminal investigations that Giuliani had been both publicly and privately pressing: one into Biden's son's involvement with a Ukrainian gas company and another into alleged Democratic collusion with Ukrainians in the 2016 election. No evidence of any criminal wrongdoing in either case has been discovered.

Trump's interest in those investigations culminated on the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump mentioned both issues, asked Zelensky for a "favor" regarding them, and recommended the Ukrainian president speak to either Giuliani or Attorney General William Barr about those investigations.

A report on that call from a whistleblower in the intelligence community prompted the impeachment inquiry by the House of Representatives. After months of investigation, the House is moving forward with a vote on impeaching Trump this week.

Read the full story here.

7:03 a.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Democrats try to make Republicans pay the price in Trump trial

Analysis by CNN's Stephen Collinson

US President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One on December 14.
US President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One on December 14. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

It may be a no-brainer for Senate Republicans to keep President Donald Trump in office -- but it's becoming clear that Democrats mean to make them pay a heavy price for saving the President in his impeachment trial early next year.

In a sign of the high-stakes politics to come, minority Democrats are not waiting for the House to impeach Trump -- a move expected on Wednesday -- before they open the political battle in the Senate.

In an ironic touch, they are echoing the process complaints that House Republicans used to complicate Speaker Nancy Pelosi's strategy. And they complain that GOP plans for a swift Senate trial would subvert justice and fall short of the constitutional duty expected of senators.

In the House, Democrats used their majority power to force through a swift and focused impeachment strategy but opened themselves up to Republican charges that they were rushing the most grave undertaking faced by Congress. Now the situation is reversed.

Democrats lack the power to send Trump packing -- they would need 20 GOP senators to turn against their own party leader to amass a two-thirds majority to make him the first President ever ousted by Congress.

But the more Democrats can make a case that Trump's unchecked power grabs are being enabled by congressional Republicans, the better they can build a case to voters that it would be dangerous to reelect him next year.

Read Collinson's full analysis here:

7:08 a.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Here's what to expect in impeachment this week

The full House is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment against President Trump this week. If the articles are approved, Trump would become the third president in US history to be impeached.

Here's what we're expecting this week:

  • Today: The House Rules Committee will meet at 11 a.m. ET to set the parameters for floor debate for impeachment. 
  • Wednesday: The House has yet to set a specific date for the full impeachment vote, but two Democratic leadership aides said it could happen on Wednesday. A simple majority is needed to impeach Trump.
  • Looking ahead: If the House impeaches Trump, the Senate will hold a trial to determine if he should be removed form office. We would expecting that to begin next year.

7:08 a.m. ET, December 17, 2019

Catch up: 4 developments from yesterday in the Trump impeachment

Here are the latest developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump:

  • Report released: On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee released its 658-page impeachment report to accompany the articles of impeachment against Trump. The report explains the decision to charge Trump with two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It also includes the committee reports previously issued from the House Intelligence Committee laying out the evidence against the President and the Judiciary Committee explaining the constitutional grounds for impeachment.
  • A call for witnesses: In a letter obtained by CNN, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for at least four witnesses to testify in the Senate impeachment trial. The witnesses include: acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, senior adviser to the acting White House chief of staff Robert Blair, and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey.
  • White House responds to Schumer's proposal: After reviewing Schumer's demands, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: “House Democrats violated their own rules and any historical precedent of fairness while conducting their illegitimate impeachment sham. Senator Schumer’s letter is just more proof that the only evidence the House produced, actually proves President Trump did nothing wrong.” 
  • Former lawmakers speak out: On Monday, several Republican former members of Congress and notable lawyers signed a brief encouraging an appellate court to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify under a House subpoena.