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An Impeachment, A Prelude To A Messy Senate Hearing, And The Lie Of The Year

Here's everything you need to know about impeachment news this week

You may have heard the news: President Donald Trump is the third president in history to be impeached. That’s big! But that’s not all that went down this week.

To catch you up:

Nearly six months ago, President Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate 2016 election interference based on a 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 about the call, and a whole lot of mess after that, including 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 making appearances; some very weird turkey pardons; some deadline promises that weren’t kept; and a House Judiciary Committee vote.

So what happened this week?

Monday (December 16)

On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlining how he’d like the impeachment inquiry to go if it makes it to the Senate. And on Monday, he furthered that proposal by asking for four White House officials to testify about their involvement with the Ukraine scandal, according to CNN. Reminder: Trump previously blocked multiple officials from testifying, including White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. House Democrats could have pursued them earlier this year; CNN reported they decided against it.

After the vote last week in which the House Judiciary Committee passed the impeachment proceedings to the full House, the committee published a 658-page report outlining its case for impeachment. You can read the whole report here.

Representative Jeff Van Drew — a Democrat from New Jersey who does not support impeachment — formally announced that he’s going to switch his party affiliation to Republican. Nearly all of his Washington staff resigned in the wake of his decision, according to the New York Times.

Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney and a key official in this whole mess, told the New Yorker that firing U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was tied to other investigations at the time, further confirming other diplomats’ testimonies, CNN reported.

“I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way,” Giuliani told the New Yorker. “She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.”

Tuesday (December 17)

The day after Sen. Schumer asked Sen. McConnell if the Senate could hear from White House officials, Sen. McConnell said no. “If House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it here in the Senate,” he said.

Then Trump sent some kind of letter to Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi. In six pages, he denounced the entire inquiry, called Pelosi “spiteful” and told her: “No intelligent person believes what you are saying.” You can read it here. In response, Pelosi told CNN that the letter was “really sick.”

Sources tell CNN that Bill Taylor – one of the top Ukranian diplomats who testified during the hearings — will be leaving his Kiev post in January.

In related news, Politifact named its Lie of the Year for 2019. The winner? Donald Trump’s claim that the whistleblower got Ukraine call “almost completely wrong.” Because, again: They didn’t.

Wednesday (December 18)

The day arrived: After over six hours of debate, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump. On the first article, for abuse of power, the vote was 230 to 197; the second vote on obstruction of Congress, was 229 to 198. (Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) voted “no” on obstruction of Congress and “yes” on abuse of power, thereby shifting a near-perfect mirror ever so slightly.)

There are only a few other representatives who voted against the majority of their party: Two Democrats, Reps. Collin Peterson (MN) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ) voted “no” on impeachment; Independent Justin Amash (MI) voted “yes” on impeachment; and Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI) voted “present” which is not a vote at all.

Thursday (December 19)

So, the House of Representative voted to impeach Trump. Now, it’s supposed to go to the Senate — but that might not happen immediately. Speaker Pelosi said she wanted to see how the Senate would handle the inquiry before she sends the two articles to the chamber, according to the New York Times. This comes after Sen. McConnell rejected Sen. Schumer’s proposed gameplan, so there’s a chance Pelosi is looking to give Democrats some kind of leverage.

“If [Pelosi] thinks her case is so weak she doesn’t want to send it over, throw me into that briar patch,” McConnell told reporters, according to the Washington Post.

Yet perhaps holding things over other people’s heads shouldn’t be such a surprise to McConnell; he has happily turned his Senate into what Sen. Schumer called a “legislative graveyard,” given that hundreds of bills that have passed the House of Representatives have yet to be called in the Senate for a vote. Among them are the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the Raise the Wage Act, and the Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019.

Friday (December 20)

We won’t have an impeachment roundup next week for two reasons: The House and Senate are both on break, and I’ll be on break, too. Happy holidays, y’all! We’ll catch up in January.