This week was a busy one on a global scale: From elections in the U.K. to Finland electing the world’s youngest prime minister to Harry Styles zip-lining across Los Angeles, it seems we can’t catch a break from the news. And the impeachment inquiry appears to be sticking to that rule.
To catch you up:
In July, President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for two “favors”: to investigate 2016 election interference based on a debunked conspiracy theory and to dig up dirt on his potential political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden. This led to a whistleblower complaint; multiple White House staffers resigning; a Democratic attempt at impeachment; private and public hearings from everyone from Ambassador Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, to Fiona Hill, Trump’s top Russia advisor. We saw dogs; drag queens attended; Kim Kardashian and A$AP Rocky’s names made appearances; we got some very weird turkey pardons; and we had some deadline promises last week that may or may not have been kept.
So what happened this week?
Monday (December 9)
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing in which the staff lawyers from the Intelligence Committee presented their reports on the impeachment investigation. You might remember two of these figures — they were the ones asking witnesses questions during the Intelligence Committee hearings. Unsurprisingly, the Democratic committee lawyers said their findings showed that Trump had made impeachable offenses; the Republican lawyers said that Democrats were simply making a political move without any clear evidence of impeachable offenses.
Democrats again refused to allow the Republicans witnesses — this time, they wanted to hear from House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and the anonymous whistleblower, according to the New York Times. Reminder that if we hear a public testimony from the anonymous whistleblower, they will no longer be anonymous which could put them in danger.
Tuesday (December 10)
Every week there’s at least one event that shocks me, and at least one event that I think will surely go down in history. Tuesday was the latter.
House Democrats released two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstructing congress. The articles argue that Trump tried to convince the government in Ukraine — by asking Zelensky directly and by directing others to ask Zelensky – to announce investigations that would “benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage.” The articles also function on a belief that Trump dangled military aid and a White House meeting in return for Zelensky announcing these investigations, and that once Congress started an investigation of their own, Trump thwarted their inquiry by directing agencies, offices, and officials to not comply with subpoenas.
“Wherefore, President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law,” the article states. “President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”
At a press conference, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said, “We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law,” per the Washington Post.
We also learned that activists are looking at three Republican senators who might potentially be willing to vote to convict Trump if the impeachment goes to the Senate. Some 20 Republicans would need to flip in order to convict the president and remove him from office, but folks are looking at Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT).
“It's way too early for me to make that assessment,” Romney told CNN. “There will be a trial in the Senate — we will hear the arguments from both sides. Upon those arguments, and whatever evidence they present, I'll make a decision.”
Wednesday (December 11)
The House Judiciary Committee started meeting late at night, in order to work through the articles they introduced on Tuesday, make any necessary amendments, and vote on them before sending the articles to the full House of Representatives for an impeachment vote. So, at 7 p.m. Eastern, the 41 members met to debate the articles, according to the New York Times.
CNN also reported that the whistleblower’s attorneys are preparing for what might happen if their client is called to testify — a possibility that Trump and many other Republicans are hoping for.
Thursday (December 12)
The Judiciary Committee met up bright and early on Thursday to continue debating the articles — and it got messy. Real messy. A 14-hour Housewives marathon levels of mess.
At one point, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) brought up Hunter Biden, and attempted to smear the former Vice President’s son by reminding everyone of his past substance use. What this has to do with Biden’s role as a board member for a Ukrainian company is unclear, but he went there anyway.
“I don’t want to make light of anybody’s substance abuse issues,” Gaetz said. “But it’s a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car.”
Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA) shot him down pretty quickly, saying, “the pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do,” ostensibly alluding to Gaetz’s 2008 DUI. “I don't know what members, if any, have had any problem with substance abuse — been busted in DUI. I don’t know. But if I did, I wouldn't raise it.”
There was expected to be a vote in the Judiciary Committee on impeachable offenses that day, but after many hours of deliberation in which Republicans asked for amendments and Democrats voted them down, the Committee postponed the vote and planned to reconvene at 10 a.m. Friday, the New York Times reported.
Friday (December 13)
After postponing the vote, the Judiciary Committee met up again on Friday morning, where they ultimately voted to send the articles of impeachment to the House of Representatives for a full vote.
Along party lines and with a final vote of 23 to 17, they approved the articles of impeachment against President Trump. According to NBC News, the measures will likely be voted on by the full House of Representatives on Wednesday next week.
“The president looks forward to receiving in the Senate the fair treatment and due process which continues to be disgracefully denied to him by the House,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement after the Judiciary Committee’s vote. Such a statement basically assumes a partisan vote is a foregone conclusion, but it might not be that simple: At publish time, over 140 members of the House have not yet indicated where they stand on the matter.
For his part, Trump still calls the damning phone call that got him into this mess “perfect.”