Impeachment inquiry could make for a December to remember
Posted December 2, 2019 12:00 a.m. EST
CNN — The House impeachment inquiry now enters a significant stretch that could lead to the impeachment of Trump by year's end.
Here's a look at the coming week:
Monday: The House Intelligence Committee is expected to allow its members to review the panel's impeachment report, which details the committee's findings from the impeachment inquiry into Trump and Ukraine, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Tuesday: The Intelligence Committee is expected to hold a business meeting to approve the report and transmit it to the House Judiciary Committee -- which is where the action will move next.
Wednesday: The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the "constitutional grounds for Presidential impeachment," with a panel of expert witnesses testifying. Neither President Donald Trump nor his attorneys will participate in Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, they said late Sunday. White House counsel to the President Pat Cipollone said they would respond separately to the Friday deadline about their participation in future hearings.
Thursday: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will participate in a CNN town hall, where she will take questions directly from a cross-section of voters. CNN's Jake Tapper will moderate the event, which will air live at 9 p.m. ET from Washington.
Friday: The House Judiciary Committee deadline for Trump to decide whether his attorneys will participate in the committee's impeachment proceedings against him.
Ukraine conduct 'more serious' than Watergate? -- Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the only lawmaker to have worked on three congressional impeachment probes, said Sunday that Trump's conduct involving Ukraine "is more serious" than former President Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal.
"President Nixon's misconduct related to trying to use the levers of government to hide the Watergate burglary ... his misconduct had to do with trying to throw the election but at least it didn't involve involving other foreign nations," Lofgren said.
Continued attacks on Schiff -- Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is the latest ally of Trump's to call for House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of California, who has been leading House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into the President and Ukraine, to provide testimony.
"First and foremost, the first person that needs to testify is Adam Schiff. Adam Schiff is the author of this report," Collins told Fox's Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." Collins said that if Schiff "chooses not to testify, then I really question his veracity and what he's putting in his report."
Reminder: Schiff told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" last week that he would not testify in a Senate impeachment trial if the House moves articles of impeachment against Trump to the chamber.
Time for Trump to participate? -- Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of California argued Sunday that it would benefit Trump to have his counsel participate in the Judiciary Committee's impeachment hearings.
"I think it would be to the President's advantage to have his attorneys there. That's his right," McClintock said on ABC's "This Week." "But I can also understand how he is upset at the illegitimate process that we saw unfolding in the Intelligence Committee."
Klobuchar: 'I don't see' voting to acquit Trump -- Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a presidential candidate, said Sunday that she can't see herself voting in Trump's favor should the House impeachment inquiry move to a trial in the Senate. Asked by CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" whether she would vote to acquit the President, Klobuchar said: "At this point, I don't see that."
"But I'm someone that wants to look at every single count," Klobuchar said. "I've made it clear I think this is impeachable conduct."
One big thing from last week
As House Democrats push forward with their impeachment inquiry, Ukrainian officials are discussing ways to improve their country's standing with Trump, two sources told CNN's Kylie Atwood.
The sources, who recently met with Ukrainian officials, said the Ukrainian government could still announce new investigations that could be seen as politically beneficial to the US President. However, it is unclear what exactly those potential investigations would cover or when they would be announced.
One source told CNN that Ukrainian officials recognized that any potential investigations would need to look into current issues and not just those of the past.
The surprises so far
Things have moved fast since Pelosi formally announced an impeachment inquiry on September 24.
CNN's Marshall Cohen detailed some of the surprising moments so far that captivated Washington and could shape what comes next:
Kiev call -- During the first public hearing, US diplomat Bill Taylor made an unexpected announcement: He had recently learned that his aide had overheard a phone call where Trump talked about Ukraine possibly announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden. Not only that, but the presidential phone call unfolded in public, at a crowded restaurant in Kiev.
Trump ally implicated nearly 'everyone' -- US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was initially viewed by many as a Trump-friendly witness, was forced to revise his testimony with a sworn statement saying he had told a Ukrainian official they likely wouldn't get the frozen US military assistance until Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the "investigations," a reference to the Biden probe.
Timeline -- Senior Pentagon official Laura Cooper was sworn in after Sondland's gripping appearance on Capitol Hill, which dominated the day. But Cooper provided new information that Ukrainian officials had asked her staff about the stalled military aid as early as July.
How the last chief justice handled an impeachment trial
Two decades ago, Chief Justice William Rehnquist presided over a Senate trial, a role that would fall to Chief Justice John Roberts if the US House were to impeach Trump.
Rehnquist's correspondence from 1998 and 1999, contained in his archive at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, reveals some of the dilemmas the chief justice weighed at the time and the attention he drew.
Public interest -- Before the trial of President Bill Clinton, Rehnquist was not a familiar public face, despite having been a justice since 1972 (appointed by Richard Nixon) and chief since 1986 (elevated by Ronald Reagan). But when Rehnquist began presiding at the nationally televised Senate trial, he heard from old school chums, former colleagues and regular citizens captivated by the trial.
As Rehnquist told senators back in 1999: "I underwent the sort of culture shock that naturally occurs when one moves from the very structured environment of the Supreme Court to what I shall call, for want of a better phrase, the more freeform environment of the Senate."
Balancing act -- Rehnquist also groaned that he still had to keep up with the usual run of Supreme Court cases during the impeachment trial, so, as he wrote in one letter, "the trial is in one sense an unwelcome burden. ... I have been relieved of none of my responsibilities here at the Court."
Read more from CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer Joan Biskupic.
Trust separating Trump and Nixon proceedings
Democrats are hoping the impeachment hearings that happened before Thanksgiving, some of them featuring blockbuster testimony, will help push public opinion toward impeaching Trump and removing him from office.
So far, that's not been the case.
A CNN poll released last Tuesday showed the public hearings have had no impact on public opinion to this point.
CNN's Kyle Feldscher writes: There's a reason for that -- and it speaks to a big difference between those 1974 hearings and the ones held in 2019. And that difference has nothing to do with what happened on Capitol Hill or that the Senate is unlikely to convict Trump, should he be impeached by the House. Instead, it has everything to do with the public itself: Americans no longer trust their government.
What are we doing here?
The President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election. Democrats want to impeach him for it. It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what's acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.
Keep track of congressional action with CNN's Impeachment Tracker. See a timeline of events. And get your full refresher on who's who in this drama.