👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for abusing his power and obstructing congressional investigations, labeling him a threat to national security, recommending his removal from office, and marking him as only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. After six hours of debate, the chamber passed both articles of impeachment against Trump. Article I, Abuse of Power, was adopted 230-197, with one member voting present and three not voting. Article II, Obstruction of Congress, was adopted 229-198, with one member voting present and three not voting. The Constitution requires the Senate to now hold a trial, where a two-thirds vote would remove Trump from office. The House alleges that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, as well as a probe of a debunked theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened debate on the articles of impeachment against Trump, declaring that lawmakers are “custodians of the Constitution” and “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty.” She added that Trump’s “reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN / ABC News)
ANALYSIS: The case for and against impeachment. (Washington Post)
Adam Schiff accused Mike Pence of refusing to declassify testimony that is “directly relevant” to the impeachment debate. Schiff sent a letter to Pence arguing that classified witness testimony from Jennifer Williams, Pence’s Russia adviser, “raises profound questions about your knowledge of the President’s scheme to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.” Williams’ testimony was provided to the Intelligence Committee on Nov. 26 and Schiff asked Pence to declassify it ten days later, but Pence’s office refused. (Washington Post)
2/ Trump sent 45 tweets before noon – hours before the House formally voted to impeach him – calling impeachment “a terrible Thing” and telling his 67 million Twitter followers “Can you believe that I will be impeached today […] I DID NOTHING WRONG!” At one point Trump urged his followers to “Say a PRAYER!” Meanwhile, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters that Trump “will be working all day” and that he “could catch some of the proceedings between meetings.” Less than 10 minutes later, Trump tweeted: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!” Trump ignored reporters’ questions about impeachment as he left the White House for a campaign rally in Michigan. (NBC News / Associated Press / Politico / The Guardian)
3/ The White House is exploring a way to feature Trump’s top House allies in the Senate impeachment trial. During the trial, only Trump’s defense team and the House Democrats’ impeachment managers will be allowed to debate on the floor. One idea being explored is to have House Republicans present a report on the Ukraine affair. Reps. Jim Jordan, John Ratcliffe, and Mike Johnson met with White House counsel Pat Cipollone yesterday to discuss joining Trump’s Senate defense team. Mark Meadows is also being considered to join the team, but wasn’t present for the meeting. (Politico / CNN)
4/ A group of House Democrats want to hold the articles of impeachment and delay sending them to the Senate to prevent the case against Trump from being discarded. Some legal scholars have suggested that Pelosi could delay sending impeachment articles to the Senate until Mitch McConnell agrees to a fairer process. The trial would effectively be delayed indefinitely and deny Trump his expected acquittal. McConnell has announced that he is coordinating the Senate trial with the White House. (Politico / Washington Post)
5/ The Trump administration is fighting a new package of sanctions on Russia, which is designed to punish Russian individuals and companies over the Kremlin’s targeting of Ukraine, 2016 election interference, its activities in Syria, and its attacks on dissidents. A State Department official sent a 22-page letter to a top Senate chairman, saying the administration “strongly opposes” the bill, because the legislation is unnecessary, would harm America’s European allies, and “risks crippling the global energy, commodities, financial, and other markets.” Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced the bill earlier this year, which passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week. (Daily Beast)
6/ A New York judge dismissed state mortgage fraud charges against Paul Manafort, ruling that the criminal case amounted to a double-jeopardy violation. Manafort was previously convicted in a pair of federal cases related to Robert Mueller’s investigation of election interference in 2016. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office brought its case in an effort to ensure that Manafort would remain in custody should Trump pardon him for the federal convictions. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNBC / NBC News)
7/ A federal appeals court ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, but did not invalidate the entire law. The court ordered a lower court judge to evaluate whether other provisions of the law can survive without the mandate. (Politico / Axios / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)
poll/ 50% of active duty military personnel have an unfavorable or very unfavorable view of Trump. 41% said they have a favorable or very favorable view of Trump. Nearly 48% of the troops surveyed said they held an unfavorable view of the way Trump has handled military issues. (Military Times)
poll/ 45% approve of Trump’s job performance – up six percentage points since the impeachment inquiry was launched. (Gallup)
poll/ 47% of Americans say they support impeachment and 47% are opposed. 57% of Americans now think Trump committed an impeachable offense, compared with 56% in mid-November. (FiveThirtyEight / Politico)
poll/ 48% of Americans support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, while 48% disagree. (NBC News)
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