House Gears Up For Impeachment Vote This Week

Dec 16, 2019
Originally published on December 17, 2019 1:26 am
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We've said it a lot these days, but this week promises to be another momentous one on Capitol Hill. For the third time in history, the House of Representatives will vote on articles of impeachment for the president of the United States. And senators are already sparring about how an impeachment trial might be conducted in January.

To talk about this, we're joined by NPR's Tim Mak. Welcome to the studio.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey, there.

CORNISH: How is the House expected to address the two articles of impeachment advanced by its Judiciary Committee? What is this vote going to be on?

MAK: Well - so a number of steps will take place. Late Sunday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler filed the panel's 658-page report outlining why that panel had advanced two articles of impeachment, one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress. On Tuesday, the Rules Committee is expected to hold a meeting to set the parameters of the debate - for example, how many hours lawmakers will get to discuss impeachment. Members of the House will get to debate the topic on Wednesday. And we expect that they could vote on the articles as soon as the same day, although there might be some spillover into Thursday.

CORNISH: Over the weekend, news broke that a moderate New Jersey Democrat, Congressman Jeff Van Drew, was switching parties. Now, he represents a district that President Trump won in 2016. There is a lot of chatter now about other moderate Democrats and where they stand on impeachment. Right?

MAK: Right. Well, there are no votes in the House today, so many Democrats used the day to make their views on impeachment known to local audiences. Congressman Joe Cunningham of South Carolina announced his support in an interview with Charleston's Post and Courier newspaper. Congressman Ben McAdams from Utah made this public statement in his district.

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BEN MCADAMS: I will vote yes, knowing full well the Senate will likely acquit the president in a display of partisan theater that Republicans and Democrats in Washington perform disturbingly well. Because of that, I know my vote will not remove the president from office. In 11 months, the people will ultimately decide President Trump's fate, not me or politicians in Washington.

MAK: So with the exception of Congressman Van Drew, who Democrats say was facing a tough primary challenge if he opposed impeachment, most Democrats in competitive districts that have made their position public have said they're going to vote yes on impeachment. It's expected there will be only a handful of defections among Democrats as the votes are taken this week.

CORNISH: Over on the Senate side, they're beginning to negotiate a framework for the expected trial, essentially how it would work. I know the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, has come out with a proposal. Tell us what you've learned.

MAK: Well, the proposal outlines how much time the senators will have for opening statements, questioning, as well as what documents and individuals to subpoena. Schumer said that he wanted key witnesses who didn't testify before the House to testify at the trial, including individuals like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.

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CHUCK SCHUMER: To conduct a trial without the facts is saying we're afraid, we have something to hide. To conduct a trial without relevant witnesses who haven't been heard from to just rehash the evidence presented in the House just doesn't make any sense.

MAK: McConnell, on the other hand, has says that - has said that he is coordinating closely with the White House counsel and wants a short trial, suggesting that witnesses - he's suggesting this - he's suggesting that witnesses wouldn't be needed. The two are expected to sit down and discuss the trial framework this week.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Tim Mak.

Thanks for your reporting.

MAK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.