Former White House aide testifies of Ukraine call concerns, possible quid pro quo
WASHINGTON — Former Trump administration official Tim Morrison told congressional investigators Thursday that he had been concerned the July 25 phone conversation between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy would have a negative impact on both politics and policy if it were to become public, according to two sources familiar with his testimony.
The former top National Security Council adviser on Russia and Europe — who was on that call, and told investigators Thursday he thought there was “nothing illegal” about the conversation, including the president’s request that Ukraine open an investigation into former vice president and 2020 rival Joe Biden — said that he was aware that the discussion, if it were ever widely known, could spark political controversy in Washington and have an adverse effect on U.S.-Ukrainian relations, according to a review of his opening statement.
And he said his own conversation several weeks after the president’s July 25 call with Sondland, a Trump backer, had given him reason to believe that the release of security assistance to Ukraine might be conditioned on a public statement from Ukraine that it was reopening the Burisma probe.
Rep. who missed vote voices his support
Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., who missed Thursday’s vote on the impeachment procedures resolution while recuperating from surgery, said in a statement Thursday that he “strongly supports” the measure as a “necessary step” that will ensure transparency and due process.
“Our constituents deserve to hear the many ways the president has betrayed our country and put our national security at risk for his own gain,” McEachin said in the statement. “With this vote, we are ensuring transparency, effective public hearings, and due process protections for the president or his counsel.
“While I deeply regret we have come to this, I stand with my colleagues in support of today’s resolution,” he continued. “We must hold the president accountable for his misconduct — it is our Constitutional obligation. No one is above the law.”
Analysis: Nasty House floor fight sets baseline for Trump impeachment
WASHINGTON — For only the fourth time in its history, the House voted Thursday to initiate impeachment against a president of the United States.
As a technical matter, the resolution was a dry set of rules for the public phase of the investigation. But on a political level, the floor fight over it was nasty, brutish and relatively short — just over an hour — ending in a nearly perfectly party-line vote.
The contours of Thursday’s debate, and the vote totals on each side, set a baseline from which the two parties will battle over the coming weeks. Democrats now know they still have work to do to force Republicans to cross the aisle by applying public pressure. Republicans, meanwhile, know that most politically vulnerable Democrats are unafraid of the consequences of pursuing impeachment.
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2 Democratic defectors join GOP in voting against Trump impeachment resolution
Two Democratic congressmen on Thursday broke with their party to vote against the House resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, a move that ushers in a new and public phase of the investigation.
Here are the two Democrats who defected:
Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey
Van Drew, a freshman member who is up for reelection next year, has consistently opposed impeachment. “Let the people choose,” he told NBC News Thursday ahead of his “no” vote. Afterward, he released a statement detailing why.
“Without bipartisan support I believe this inquiry will further divide the country tearing it apart at the seams and will ultimately fail in the Senate. However, now that the vote has taken place and we are moving forward I will be making a judgment call based on all the evidence presented by these investigations,” he said. “My hope is that we are still able to get some work done to help the American people like infrastructure, veteran’s benefits, environmental protections, immigration reform, reducing prescription drug cost, and strengthening Social Security.”
Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota
Peterson, described as a centrist, represents a rural district that Trump won in 2016 by 30 points — the most Trump-friendly district in the country that also elected a Democratic congressman.
After his “no” vote, Peterson said in a statement that the process “continues to be hopelessly partisan.”
“I have some serious concerns with the way the closed-door depositions were run, and am skeptical that we will have a process that is open, transparent and fair. Without support from Senate Republicans, going down this path is a mistake,” Peterson said. “Today’s vote is both unnecessary, and widely misrepresented in the media and by Republicans as a vote on impeachment. I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented.”
House Republicans make it clear they feel Trump has done nothing wrong
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talking to reporters at the GOP House leadership press conference, was asked by a reporter if he would say Trump has done nothing wrong.
“A very clear yes,” he responded. The cadre of House GOP leaders standing behind him yelled in affirmation as McCarthy responded.
Responding to a subsequent question, McCarthy claimed Republicans in Congress will vote on impeachment — if and when articles are formally introduced — “based on the facts.”
“Show us the truth. We always vote based on the facts,” he said.
Schiff: ‘The Founders provided the remedy’ for when a president abuses power
Speaking at a House Democrats press conference Thursday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the founding fathers “provided the remedy” for a president who “refuses to defend the Constitution” and pursues his or her own personal or political agenda.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Democrats are going to zero in on the substance of the allegations facing Trump regarding his conduct toward Ukraine.
Rep. Jim Jordan: Americans ‘will not tolerate this’
Republican House leaders, speaking at their post-vote press conference, continued their criticism of House Democrats, accusing their rival party’s leaders of going against the wishes of the American people
“The American people see this for what it is,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said. “They will not tolerate this.”
Rep. Michael McCaul, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, claimed the Democrats’ procedural approach to the impeachment inquiry “defies historic precedent.”
GOP House leaders rip Pelosi, Democrats over vote
House GOP leaders lambasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in their post-vote press conference.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., ripped Pelosi for being “infatuated with impeachment,” while Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the chair of the House Republican Conference, accused her of prioritizing the impeachment inquiry over working on other items.
There is a “long list” of “things not getting done here” because of the “Democrats obsessions with impeachment,” she said.