President Trump lashed out Friday at Democrats and an evangelical magazine that has called for his removal from office, as the timing and scope of his impeachment trial in the Senate remained in limbo and he prepared to head to Florida for the holidays.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is refraining from transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sets rules for the trial that are accepted by Senate Democrats.
Trump continued to lash out at Democrats in the wake of the move, which could push a trial centered on his conduct toward Ukraine further into an election year and deny Trump the swift acquittal his is seeking from the Republican-led Senate.
December 20, 2019 at 10:20 AM EST
Connolly says Democrats don’t have much leverage in standoff
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (Va.), a veteran lawmaker in the Democratic caucus, said Friday that Democrats don’t have a lot of leverage in their standoff with McConnell over the scope of a Senate trial of Trump.
Appearing on CNN, Connolly was asked how long Pelosi could wait to transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate.
“She can’t do it indefinitely because frankly we don’t have the leverage,” Connolly said. “We don’t have a lot of leverage, and we know that.”
Democrats from swing districts, in particular, “want to see this come to some kind of conclusion,” Connolly said, adding that he had heard from a lot of Democrats who don’t want impeachment to compete with their messaging on other issues in an election year.
Connolly’s views are at odds with some others in the Democratic caucus, including House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.).
Clyburn said Thursday that he would be willing to see the House hold on to the articles of impeachment indefinitely if they cannot get a guarantee that the Senate would hold a “fair and impartial” trial.
“We would be crazy to walk in there knowing he’s set up a kangaroo court,” Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, said of McConnell during a CNN interview.
By John Wagner
December 20, 2019 at 9:00 AM EST
Trump to sign defense bill before heading to Mar-a-Lago
With the timing of his impeachment trial in limbo, Trump is scheduled to sign a $738 billion defense policy bill Friday night at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before flying on Air Force One to Florida, where he will stay at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach over the holidays.
Trump indicated that he would sign the defense bill after striking a deal with House Democrats that permits the creation of a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military, one of his top priorities at the Pentagon, in exchange for extending 12 weeks of paid parental leave to more than 2 million federal workers, a victory for Democratic lawmakers.
In a tweet Friday morning, Trump proclaimed the bill “BIG!”
“I will be signing our 738 Billion Dollar Defense Spending Bill today,” he said. “It will include 12 weeks Paid Parental Leave, gives our troops a raise, importantly creates the SPACE FORCE, SOUTHERN BORDER WALL FUNDING, repeals “Cadillac Tax” on Health Plans, raises smoking age to 21! BIG!”
Some of the provisions mentioned by Trump are actually included in a separate $1.4 trillion spending package approved by Congress this week.
The two bills that are part of that package include one focused on defense spending that incorporates border-wall funding, and the other focused on non-defense spending that incorporates the health-care tax provision and smoking-age provision.
Trump has no other public events on his Friday schedule.
By John Wagner and Mike DeBonis
December 20, 2019 at 8:30 AM EST
Law professor asserts Trump won’t be ‘impeached’ if House holds onto articles
Republicans have seized on a notion advanced by a law professor called by Democrats to testify during the impeachment inquiry that technically Trump would not be “impeached” if the House does not send articles of impeachment to the Senate.
“Impeachment as contemplated by the Constitution does not consist merely of the vote by the House, but of the process of sending the articles to the Senate for trial,” Harvard University law professor Noah Feldman wrote in a Bloomberg column on Thursday. “Both parts are necessary to make an impeachment under the Constitution … If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all.”
Feldman’s argument received pushback from other legal scholars, including Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard.
In a tweet on Thursday night, Tribe said Feldman is “making a clever but wholly mistaken point” about the possibility that Trump won’t be impeached.
“Under Art. I, Sec. 2, Clause 5, he was impeached on Dec 18, 2019. He will forever remain impeached. Period,” Tribe wrote.
After his tweet, Tribe and Feldman continued to argue over what Tribe characterized as an “academic dispute” through tweets directed at one another.
By John Wagner
December 20, 2019 at 7:45 AM EST
Pence seeks to contrast work of House, Senate
Vice President Pence sought Friday to contrast the Democratic-led House’s work on impeachment with the confirmation of federal judges in the Republican-led Senate.
“While Democrats in the House wasted all their time this week on a partisan impeachment, the Senate confirmed 13 new judges making that a total of 185 amazing judges picked by President @realDonaldTrump!” Pence tweeted.
In addition to impeaching Trump in recent days, the House also passed legislation on trade with Canada and Mexico sought by Trump, a $1.4 trillion spending package that staves off a looming shutdown and funds the federal government through September, and a $738 billion defense bill that Trump is scheduled to sign Friday night.
By John Wagner
December 20, 2019 at 7:30 AM EST
Ivanka Trump says her father has been ‘energized’ by impeachment
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House adviser, said in an interview broadcast Friday that her father has been “energized” by being impeached by the Democratic-led House.
“He’s energized as are 63 million plus voters who elected him to office,” Ivanka Trump said. “This is historic … in many ways including the fact that it is the first purely partisan impeachment.”
The interview was conducted for an upcoming broadcast of CBS’s “Face the Nation.” A portion aired Friday on “CBS This Morning.”
“Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan pressed Ivanka Trump on her characterization, noting that the president sounded angry in a six-page letter sent to Pelosi in advance of his impeachment.
“I don’t think the words are mutually exclusive,” Ivanka Trump said. “You can be angry at a process that is unjust. So there can be anger, anger at the opportunity costs to the Americans we’re all here serving and what could have gotten done. Angry at the waste of time. Angry at the collateral damage. Angry, but it’s still energizing, and it focuses you and really draws into relief the stark contrasts in priorities.”
By John Wagner
December 20, 2019 at 7:15 AM EST
Trump calls Christianity Today ‘a far left magazine’
Trump pushed back Friday against an editorial in an evangelical publication calling for his removal from office, dismissing Christianity Today as “a far left magazine” that has distanced itself from the family of its founder, the late Rev. Billy Graham.
“A far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ as some would call it, which has been doing poorly and hasn’t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many years, Christianity Today, knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President,” Trump tweeted. “No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET again!”
The editorial, which appeared to draw so many readers that the magazine’s website crashed briefly, was written by Mark Galli, the publication’s editor in chief, who called Trump “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”
“Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election — that is a matter of prudential judgment,” the editorial said. “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”
Prior to Trump’s tweet on Friday, evangelist Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, took to Twitter to disclose that his father had voted for Trump.
“I hadn’t shared who my father @BillyGraham voted for in 2016, but because of @CTMagazine’s article, I felt it necessary to share now,” he tweeted. “My father knew @realDonaldTrump, believed in him & voted for him. He believed Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation.”
By John Wagner and Sarah Pulliam Bailey
December 20, 2019 at 7:00 AM EST
Trump lashes out at Democrats in spate of tweets and retweets
Trump continued to lash out at Democrats in a spate of tweets and retweets Thursday night and Friday morning, claiming in one that the House had engaged in “AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA” by impeaching him.
Among the things Trump highlighted were the assertion by conservative writer Mike Cernovich that Trump “is still your President and he will be your President for another 5 years” and praise of his handling of the economy from actor Pierce Brosnan.
In a tweet Thursday night, Trump asserted that Democrats were delaying a Senate trial to protect House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) from having to testify under oath and to keep several other witnesses Trump has vowed to call from having to appear. Those include former vice president Joe Biden and the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint prompted the impeachment inquiry.
By John Wagner
December 20, 2019 at 6:00 AM EST
Christie launches group to help Senate Republicans
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is launching an issue advocacy organization, Right Direction America, in an attempt to bolster Senate Republicans who are opposed to removing Trump from office, according to a Politico report.
The group is seeking to counter the efforts of Need to Impeach, the organization founded by liberal billionaire and Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, which is targeting Republicans over impeachment.
Christie’s group plans to air television and digital ads in several states with key Senate races next year, including Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina, Politico reported.
“I really think there has been a lack of attention on the positive things the administration has done for the country and a tremendous amount of attention on the negativity, particularly from groups like Tom Steyer’s impeachment group,” Christie told the publication. “And I’ve always tried to get the other part of the story out there to the people, and I was tired of sitting around and waiting for someone else to do it.”
By John Wagner
December 20, 2019 at 5:30 AM EST
Trump campaign says Democratic debate shows why Trump has been impeached
The Trump campaign highlighted the president’s impeachment in its response to Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Los Angeles.
“After yet another drab, pessimistic Democrat debate, it’s even more clear why they felt they had to impeach President Trump. None of these characters has a chance,” Kayleigh McEnany, the campaign’s national press secretary said in a statement.
By John Wagner
December 20, 2019 at 5:00 AM EST
First question in Democratic debate was about impeachment
The sixth Democratic presidential debate kicked off Thursday night with the question of why more Americans don’t support impeachment and how the politicians could persuade more people to view it as the right decision.
Three of the candidates who answered would be jurors in a Senate trial.
“We have a president who is running the most corrupt administration in the modern history of this country,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “And we have a president who is a fraud because during his campaign, he told working people one thing and he ended up doing something else.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) made similar comments about corruption and Trump’s promises.
“The way I see this is we’ve now seen the impact of corruption. And that’s what’s clearly on the stage in 2020, is how we are going to run against the most corrupt president in living history,” Warren said. “We have to prosecute the case against him.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) compared Trump to President Richard Nixon but said at least Nixon let his officials testify.
“This is a global Watergate. In the case of Watergate, a paranoid president facing election looking for dirt on a political opponent did it by getting people to break in. This president did it by calling a foreign leader to look for dirt on a political opponent,” she said. “And I would make this case as we face his trial in the Senate.”
By Colby Itkowitz
Originally posted 2019-12-20 16:00:43.