Impeachment briefing: House prepares to vote

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Learn more about The Trump and Pence explosion

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  • The House is set to pass a resolution late tonight formally calling on Vice President Mike Pence to strip President Trump of office by invoking the 25th Amendment, a complicated and difficult process. The measure calls on the vice president to declare Mr. Trump “incapable of performing the duties of his office and immediately exercising the powers of interim president.”

  • Mr Pence is unlikely to do so, and Democrats plan to start a debate on their impeachment resolution tomorrow morning, marching towards a vote late in the day unless Mr Pence intervenes.

  • Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, told his associates that he believed Mr. Trump had committed uneasy offenses. He also said he was happy Democrats were moving to impeach him, believing it would facilitate his purge of the party, according to people close to his thinking.

  • At least three Republicans in the House have already announced they will vote to impeach Mr. Trump. “The President of the United States called this crowd, gathered the crowd and lit the flame of this attack,” said one Republicans, Representative Liz Cheney. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

  • Mr McConnell’s advisers have privately speculated that a dozen Republican senators – and possibly more – could ultimately vote to convict the president in a Senate trial. To find Mr. Trump guilty, 17 Republicans would have to join Democrats in voting against him.

  • Far from being contrite, Mr Trump said on Tuesday that his remarks at a rally before the Capitol riot last week were “entirely appropriate.” Mr Trump also suggested that the “danger” could follow Democrats’ decision to impeach him a second time.

  • In a lengthy report accompanying their impeachment article, House Democrats wrote: “The president’s remaining tenure is limited – but a president capable of stirring up a violent insurgency on Capitol Hill is still capable of greater dangers. He must be removed from office as quickly as the Constitution allows.

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The relationship between the president and the vice president has become increasingly strained. My colleague Peter Baker, who covers the White House, wrote today about a dramatic streak of clashes last week in which Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Pence for refusing to join his attempts to cancel the elections.

I asked Peter how their relationship fell apart in the last few days.

Lawmakers seem to cling to the idea that Mr. Trump has indeed unleashed a mob on his own vice president. Is that how you see it?

This is the view of Penceworld. Trump pushed the crowd on him. He might not have imagined that Trump supporters would march through Capitol Hill chanting “Hang on Mike Pence.” But it was a predictable result of the inflammatory language he used not only against his political opponents, but also against his own vice president. It’s amazing.

What kind of drama does the 25th Amendment resolution bring to this?

It puts Trump on his hind legs a bit. Yes, he’s mad at Pence, but he has to realize that Pence has his fate in his hands. Pence has a vehicle, an instrument, to respond if Trump pushes him all the way to the side.

Unlike his ceremonial role of certifying the election, the 25th Amendment for Pence is a subjective choice. What he told people is that the mechanism is unwieldy and might not work the way people want it to. You would have a situation where two people could claim to be president at the same time. There are factors here that go beyond personal loyalty.

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What did last Wednesday represent in a typically loyal Trump-Pence relationship?

Pence finally encountered a situation that he couldn’t finesse. He eventually encountered a potential breaking point with Trump that he couldn’t get out of. For three years and 11 months, he had managed to sidestep every possible explosion by saying things to make Trump just happy enough to handle Trump’s red line. It was ultimately the one he couldn’t do this with.

What do we say about Trump’s presidency that ends with an impeachment so convulsive it will carry over to the next president’s term?

It is completely unthinkable and completely predictable.


Mr. Trump’s refusal to condemn his own words was part of a decades-long Trump playbook, my colleague Maggie Haberman, who also covers the White House, told me today. She referred to a video Mr. Trump recorded last week acknowledging that there would be a power transition – closer to a formal concession.

“That’s always what he does. It was inevitable, ”she said of Mr. Trump’s comments today. “When he gives some sort of concession, like he did in this video last week, he doesn’t get the praise he thought he would do for it and worries about not looking weak. .

Maggie explained to me two other unusual dynamics to help explain how Mr. Trump and the White House are preparing for this cycle of impeachment.

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1. The legal team will not be the same.

For the latest indictment, Mr. Trump was represented by Pat Cipollone, the White House lawyer, and two other top White House lawyers. Outside lawyers – Jay Sekulow and Marty and Jane Raskin, who defended him in the Mueller investigation – have also joined the effort. This time, Mr. Trump will have no help from this group.

“I feel like people don’t want to do that,” Maggie said. “There is just widespread anger against him because of what has happened, internally.

On the last arraignment, added Maggie, “a majority of them sincerely believed there was overbreadth even though they weren’t comfortable with the language of the appeal,” referring to Mr. Trump’s conversation with the President of Ukraine. “Enough of them didn’t think it was an impenetrable offense.”

2. Rudy Giuliani, implicated in the riot, could be Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer in a lawsuit.

Rudy Giuliani, who has spent months stoking baseless election fraud charges, arguably helped lead Mr. Trump to his first arraignment. He also played a role in the events leading up to last Wednesday’s riot, telling the rally of Trump supporters that it was time for a “trial by fight.” This would place him in the unusual position of defending his client against charges that he arguably influenced by his own actions.

The fact that Mr. Giuliani is always at Mr. Trump’s side is an indication of their long history, Maggie said.

“There are a few people who will have this big pass with Donald Trump,” she said, “and he’s one of them.


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