Trump Impeached

Dec 19, 2019
Originally published on December 19, 2019 7:01 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The months-long march towards impeachment in the U.S. House ended last night. Donald Trump is now the third U.S. president in history to be impeached.

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NANCY PELOSI: Those in favor, say aye.

AYE VOTERS: Aye.

PELOSI: Those opposed, nay.

NAY VOTERS: No.

PELOSI: The ayes have it.

GREENE: The House approved two articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi then threw a curve. She said the House will not immediately send these articles to the Senate for a trial. As for the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened up that chamber today like this.

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MITCH MCCONNELL: Over the last 12 weeks, House Democrats have conducted the most rushed, least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history. Now their slapdash process has concluded in the first purely partisan presidential impeachment since the wake of the Civil War.

GREENE: Let's bring in NPR political reporter Tim Mak, who's with us. Hi, Tim.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey, there.

GREENE: OK. It did not take long for McConnell to start talking about his own views of what happened in the House yesterday. What did you hear from the Senate majority leader here?

MAK: Well, Senator McConnell really wanted to highlight just how brief the House impeachment inquiry has taken to reach this point compared to previous impeachment processes. He compared the process to the Nixon impeachment and the Clinton impeachment. And he said that there was a low bar with the House's process. He said that, in fact, if the Senate were to bless this process by voting to remove the president, it would lead to an endless parade of impeachable - impeachments against future presidents. Take a listen to what he said.

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MCCONNELL: Speaker Pelosi's House just gave in to a temptation that every other House in our history has managed to resist. They impeach a president whom they do not even allege has committed an actual crime known to our laws. They've impeached simply because they disagree with a presidential act and question the motive behind it.

MAK: So as you can hear there, he's calling this process sloppy and partisan.

GREENE: It sounds like he went beyond just talking about the process, though. I mean, he actually got into trying, substantively, to defend President Trump's actions.

MAK: Right. And this is something that Republicans have been mixed on. Many Republicans have focused only on the flaws that they view in the impeachment process. But Senator McConnell said that on both the issue of abuse of power and on the issue of obstruction of Congress, the president was in the right. Take a listen to what he said.

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MCCONNELL: The first article concerns the core events which House Democrats claim are impeachable - the timing of aid to Ukraine. But it does not even purport to allege any actual crime. Instead, they deploy the vague phrase abuse of power - abuse of power - to impugn the president's action in a general, indeterminate way.

MAK: Recall that Senator McConnell has said that he would be coordinating closely with the White House defense during the trial as it goes forward.

GREENE: As for that trial, now that Pelosi is suggesting she's not going to send these articles on immediately, any sense for the timing of when that could happen?

MAK: Well, that's the big question. And Senator McConnell almost was taunting Democrats, saying that perhaps they had cold feet and could not decide whether or not or when to send these articles over. He says that when they do, it would be the Senate's duty to have that trial and that the Senate would fulfill that duty. We just don't have an arrangement yet. And Republicans and Democrats will have to come to some sort of negotiated outcome.

GREENE: NPR's Tim Mak. Thanks so much, Tim.

MAK: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.