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capitol

Republicans Pressured To Select House Speaker Amidst Middle East Conflict

Republican lawmakers are currently under immense pressure to settle on a new candidate to replace Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House of Representatives, especially due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

tiktok

US House Of Representatives Banned From Using TikTok On Their Electronic Devices 

According to an internal notice sent to the staff of the House of Representatives – obtained by CNN from the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer – TikTok has been banned from any and all electronic devices used and owned by members of the House of Representatives and prospective staff.

The notice stated that the app must be uninstalled from any House mobile device if it’s already installed. This is due to the government’s view of TikTok being a “high risk to users due to a number of security risks.” 

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The US government has also been in talks to ban TikTok from all federal devices in the near future. This ban is a part of a piece of legislation included in the omnibus bill recently signed by President Joe Biden. More than a dozen states throughout the US have also already implemented their own restrictions and prohibitions on TikTok on government devices.

While TikTok hasn’t made any official comment regarding this recent ban on House devices, the company previously stated that the government’s moves to ban the app is a “political gesture that will do nothing to advance national security interests.”

One of the biggest concerns coming from lawmakers regarding TikTok involves the social media app’s parent company, ByteDance. 

US policymakers are concerned about national security and the risk of the Chinese government pressuring either TikTok or its parent company into acquiring, using, and sharing personal information specifically from its US users. 

This information is thought to be potentially used for Chinese intelligence operations or the sharing of disinformation backed by China’s government. 

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While there hasn’t been any direct instances or attempts of these security breaches occurring, the platform did confirm last week that four employees were fired for accessing user data on TikTok from two journalists. 

The battle between the US government and TikTok has been ongoing since 2020, when the app truly began rising in popularity; partially due to the pandemic and quarantine restrictions that left citizens at home yearning for entertainment. 

Both the government and the platform have been working on negotiations to resolve any potential national security risks so that the app can continue to be used by US citizens. 

“The potential agreement under review covers key concerns around corporate governance, content recommendation and moderation, and data security and access,” TikTok has stated

For now, the US government is moving forward with its plans to ban the social media platform from all government used/connected devices, with the potential for wider bans to be implemented in the future.

congress

House Passes Election Bill in Response to Jan. 6 Insurrection

The House of Representatives voted to reform the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act Wednesday. The legislative overhaul is to prevent events like the Jan. 6 insurrection from happening again.

The bill is the first legislative step taken by congress to address the assault on the Capitol in January 2020, with the House voting 229 to 203 in its favor. However, it is unlikely that the bill will pass in the Senate. House members mostly voted along party lines, with only nine Republicans supporting the bill.

The original Electoral Count Act was implemented to set deadlines for states to certify presidential election results, standardize the procedure to send electors to the Capitol, name the vice president as the overseer of the vote count, and create a process for lawmakers to challenge election results.

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Former President Donald Trump tried to use the Electoral Count Act to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.

The Senate drafted its own bipartisan bill in July, sponsored by 10 GOP senators—the number needed to overcome any potential Senate filibuster. However, it is unclear if all Democrats will vote in favor of the legislation.

Both bills are similar in changing the number of lawmakers needed to object to electoral results procedurally. In the House’s bill, one-third of each chamber needs to object. In the Senate’s bill, only one-fifth need to object. Both restrictions are significantly more stringent than the original act’s, which only required one objector in each chamber.

The House bill also states that the president of the Senate, traditionally held by the vice president of the United States, will be “ministerial.”

“Except with respect to the procedures described in this section, the presiding officer shall not have any power to determine or otherwise resolve disputes concerning the proper list of electors for a State, the validity of electors for a State, or the votes of electors of a State.”

The bill also states that the vice president “shall not order any delay in counting or preside over any period of delay in counting electoral votes.” The Senate bill similarly states that the vice president “shall have no power to solely determine, accept, reject or otherwise adjudicate or resolve disputes over the proper list of electors, the validity of electors, or the votes of electors.”

The Senate bill included provisions related to presidential transition, while the House bill did not. The House bill also addresses “when states could declare a ‘failed election’ and substitute electors approved by voters.”

Democrats believe several issues will be on the ballot for voters in November. Protecting the transition of presidential power and abortion rights may rally more voters to support their party. It is becoming easier for Democrats to associate the GOP with the violent events of Jan. 6 in public spaces, given their dissatisfaction with the bill and continued support for the last administration. The GOP is focusing more on inflation and economic policy as driving motivators to bring voters to the poll.

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By and large, Republicans still do not support election reform legislation because many party members still follow Trump’s election narrative. After the insurrection, Republicans backed his election lies and opposed the creation of the Jan. 6 select committee and bipartisan commission proposal.

Prominent Republicans, like Representative Liz Cheney, rejected their party’s support of Trump. Cheney eventually became vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee. Republicans were especially reluctant to support the bill because she co-sponsored it.

When asked about Republican lack of support for the bill, Representative Liz Cheney told reporters about the importance of this legislation.

“Protecting future elections is something that we ought to all be able to agree upon, regardless of party.”

 

The White House

Majority of Americans Believe Evidence Supports Removing Trump from Office, Poll Finds

A poll conducted by Ipsos and FiveThirtyEight, an organization that aggregates and analyzes opinion poll data, has found that 52% of Americans believe enough evidence exists with respect to Trump’s conduct with Ukraine and his refusal to cooperate with Congress to warrant his removal from office. An aggregate of polls conducted to determine whether Americans support impeaching Trump has found that roughly half of Americans have supported the impeachment inquiry since Pelosi announced it, whereas the other half oppose impeachment. Though the impeachment inquiry lasted several weeks and produced devastating evidence directly implicating the president in withholding aid money to Ukraine in exchange for campaign assistance, these revelations have not changed Americans’ minds about impeachment, as poll results have remained remarkably consistent throughout the process. However, this most recent poll suggests that some Americans are slowly beginning to realize the extent of the president’s misconduct, though Trump’s remarkably steady approval rating indicates that it is unlikely that an overwhelming majority of Americans will ever support removing the president while he remains in office.

Although a majority of Americans (57%) believe Trump engaged in impeachable conduct, just 47% of Americans favor removing him from office, apparently believing that the question of whether Trump should remain the president should be determined by American voters this November. This means that roughly 15 percent of Americans believe that Trump committed impeachable conduct that warrants his removal from office but do not support removing the president before the election. Predictably, public opinion is split along party lines; 82% of Democrats support removing Trump from office, whereas only 9.7% of Republicans hold the same opinion.

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One thing that both Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on, however, is that the upcoming Senate trial should feature witnesses who were not present during the phase of the process controlled by the House in order to expand on the evidence unearthed over the past few months. 57% of Americans want to see a Senate trial with new witnesses, whereas 39% believe the focus should be kept on the evidence presented by the House. That being said, Democrats and Republicans largely disagree on who should be called as witnesses—Democrats think that officials like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, who have direct knowledge of the conduct for which the president was impeached, should participate in the trial, whereas Republicans want senators to question people like Hunter Biden, who is the subject of Trump’s allegation of his opponent’s political corruption. 

When it comes to how lawmakers are handling the impeachment process, which is currently in a stalemate as Nancy Pelosi continues to withhold the articles of impeachment from the Senate as leverage to negotiate the terms of the trial, Americans are almost evenly split on their approval of this tactic as well. Pelosi’s tactic may end up backfiring on Democrats, depending on how long she continues to withhold the articles, as withholding them for too long could give credibility to allegations that the impeachment process was motivated by political concerns instead of by constitutional obligation as the Democrats claim. 

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The poll also found that Americans are becoming increasingly unlikely to change their mind on the question of impeachment as time goes on. In mid-November, roughly 75% of respondents who believed Trump’s conduct was impeachable felt “absolutely” or “pretty” sure that they were right, whereas now 81 percent of respondents profess this degree of certainty. However, when it comes to Americans who think Trump’s conduct was not impeachable, this degree of certainty has not seen a similar increase, as 71% of this group reported being “absolutely” or “pretty” certain of their view in mid-November and 72% of this group reported being this certain in this latest poll.

Though the holiday season is officially over, the parameters of the Senate trial remain unclear, as lawmakers have made little progress in their negotiations over the rules of the trial. As such, at this unprecedented moment in history, it’s difficult to predict what, if any, effect the trial will have on public opinion, though trends over the past several years suggest any change will be minimal. 

American Flag

President Trump Will Be Impeached Tonight

Currently, members of the House of Representatives are debating the articles of impeachment that were approved by the House Judiciary Committee last week. All Republicans are expected to vote against impeachment, and nearly all Democrats will vote to impeach. Former Republican representative Justin Amash, who changed his party to Independent after criticizing the president’s conduct with Ukraine, will also vote to impeach. Members of the House of Representatives will have the opportunity to speak today as they list their reasons for or against impeachment before they vote. The arguments they are presenting, often in a raised voice, are repetitive and predictable; Democrats stress the urgency of removing Trump from office due to the national security risk he imposes, whereas Republicans criticize the process and partisan nature of the proceedings, defend the president’s behavior, and accuse Joe Biden and others of misconduct. As Democrats control more than half of the seats in the House of Representatives, it’s virtually certain that the president will be impeached after a vote which is scheduled to take place tonight.

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Though impeachment is now a virtual certainty, the timeline for when it will occur may change. That is because Republicans have done nearly everything in their power to delay the proceedings, forcing a vote to dismiss them, which of course failed, and engaging in other tactics to delay the inevitable. Depending on how long today’s proceedings run, the vote may be rescheduled for tomorrow morning. This happened last week, when Jerry Nadler moved to wait until the following morning to vote on whether to approve articles of impeachment and send them to the full house after the proceedings ran late into the night. Nadler wanted to avoid criticism that the vote took place late at night, and thus at a time when most people would not be paying attention, so he instead called the vote at 9 AM the next day. Depending on how much time the debate before the vote takes, Democrats may choose to do so again, given the importance and level of controversy surrounding impeachment.

Pelosi reiterated her stance that she desperately wanted to avoid impeachment, fearing the damage it would do to the country, but the president’s conduct left her no choice

As usual, the president gave his opinion on today’s impeachment on Twitter, tweeting a common refrain that the investigation is a witch hunt and his behavior was perfect. In all capital letters, and using several exclamation points, Trump urged his followers to pray for him, an apparent response to Nancy Pelosi’s claim that she prays for the president “all the time.” Trump expressed offense at this remark, accusing Pelosi of lying and claiming she hates him; in response, Pelosi reiterated her claim, and when asked whether she hated the president, she angrily rebuked the charge, offended by the use of the word “hate.” When asked why she thought Trump accused her of lying about praying for him, she said that Trump constantly projects the truth about himself by accusing others of the same wrongdoing he is in fact engaged in, so because Trump does not pray for Pelosi, he believes she must be lying about  praying for him. The conflict escalated when Trump sent Pelosi an angry six-page letter, written very much in the style of his tweets, full of capital letters, exclamation points, and baseless accusations. Pelosi stated that she didn’t read the full letter as she is too busy, but that she got the gist of it, and described it as “sick.”

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In keeping with her commitment to solemnity and prayerfulness during this process, Pelosi and other female Democrats dressed in black clothing to set a somber tone for the day. In her remarks, Pelosi reiterated her stance that she desperately wanted to avoid impeachment, fearing the damage it would do to the country, but the president’s conduct left her no choice as she and other Democrats feel they would be derelict in their duties if they did not vote to impeach. Tonight’s vote will officially ensure that a trial of some sort will take place in the Senate, which is expected to happen in January, though the details of the trial are as-of-yet unknown.

Impeachment Trial

Impeachment Trial Plans Begin as Schumer Requests Witnesses

The president will be impeached this week, as the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve  two articles of impeachment for a full vote on the House floor. Because Democrats hold the majority in the House right now and this impeachment is a hyper-partisan affair, it is virtually certain that the House of Representatives will vote to send both articles to the Senate, where a trial of some sort will be held. The Senate is currently controlled by Republicans, who have 53 seats whereas the Democrats have 45. As a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate is required to remove a president from office via impeachment, this outcome is unlikely, particularly because not a single Republican senator has indicated that they’d entertain voting with the Democrats. That being said, the upcoming Senate trial is nonetheless sure to have a significant and difficult-to-predict impact on the political world, particularly in consideration of the fact that the next presidential election is less than a year away.

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Now that impeachment in the House is all but certain, Senate lawmakers have begun publicly discussing the outline and the structure of the trial. Unsurprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has all but confirmed that the outcome of the trial is a foregone conclusion, saying, “there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.” Mitch McConnell wants the trial to move quickly and with little fanfare, even suggesting that witnesses may not be called at all, in the hopes that news about the facts pertaining to the trial will fly under the radar to the greatest extent possible, whereas the president wants the trial to be a bombastic, theatrical affair, believing that such an event would bolster his poll numbers. 

Despite this difference in opinion, though, Democrats were infuriated by McConnell’s suggestion that the trial should be orchestrated in coordination with the defendant in the trial, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling it “totally out of line.” During impeachment, senators are assigned the role of juror, and as such are required to swear an oath which reads: “I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.” The Republicans’ coordination with the White House, then, would seem to be a clear and direct violation of this oath, as jurors who have already made up their minds before the trial takes place plainly impede justice.

The decisions senators will make throughout the process are hard to predict and will shed light on these their characters and indeed on the health of the republic generally.

Nevertheless, Democrats are doing everything in their power to negotiate with the Senate majority to make the trial process as fair as they can. Accordingly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today wrote a letter to McConnell outlining the witnesses he wishes to call during the trial, which will likely not be held until next year. Given the president’s love of drama and theatrics, it is likely that some witnesses will be called for the trial, though it’s unclear exactly who would be compelled to testify: Schumer specifically requested the appearance of Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former Security Advisor John Bolton, both of whom refused to cooperate with congressionally approved subpoenas during the inquiry at the direction of the White House and may simply continue to ignore further calls to testify; and Republicans likely will seek testimonies of the unnamed whistleblower and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the former of whom is protected by anonymity statutes and the latter of whom is not a fact or expert witness in this case and thus would have little legal justification for being compelled to act as a witness. 

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Though Schumer knows that he likely cannot change McConnell’s mind, or the minds of Trump’s most ardent defenders in the Senate, he believes he may convince enough Republican senators that at the very least relevant witnesses should be called to testify to secure the 51 votes necessary to pass an agreed-upon set of rules designed to enable a fair trial. When it comes to impeachment trials, there exists very little historical precedent for how they should be arranged and conducted, and impeachment has never before occurred in a political environment as hyper-partisan and polarized as today’s; as such, the decisions senators will make throughout the process are hard to predict and will shed light on these their characters and indeed on the health of the republic generally.

Impeachment 2

Vote on Presidential Impeachment Articles Getting Closer

The upcoming vote on impeachment articles against President Donald Trump are getting nearer with the house committee debating which formal charges are expected to be voted on by the full House.

With two articles of impeachment due to be approved by the House Judiciary Committee, it is expected that the Democratic-controlled House will make Republican Trump the third president to be impeached in American history.

Trump, who has been charged with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, would have to be tried at the Senate, where the chamber – which is Republican led – will be less like to declare him guilty meaning Trump will be able to remain in charge.

And it appears that in an attempt to ‘punish’ the Democrats, the Republicans are ensuring the House Judiciary Committee proceedings have been elongated with amendments being brought forward that could potentially weaken the articles of impeachment, although they knew there would be minimum chances of them being adopted.

And with the continuing debate over five amendments, the Democratic majority finally voted against them. These amendments made the proceedings last far longer than were necessary and while some lawmakers had to reiterate several points continuously, a few of their colleagues were spotted to have fallen asleep.

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At the twelfth hour of debates, Tom McClintock, a frustrated Republican Representative, was heard to complain that he had ‘not heard a new point or an original thought from either side in the last three hours’, saying:

‘If I could just offer a modest suggestion: if no one has anything new to add, that they resist the temptation to inflict what we’ve already heard over and over again.’

Several other Republicans on the panel also complained saying the Democrats were continuing to ‘overplay’ their hand as they frantically tried to cancel out the results from the presidential election in 2016.

The Republicans also claimed that their rights had been ignored in the enquiry and demanded yet another hearing, however this was denied through the panel’s Democratic majority’s vote. The Republicans also wanted to strike the first charge of abuse of power, however a party-line vote ensures that the committee had to reject it.

Republican U.S. Representative Debbie Lesko commented that ‘rules have just been thrown out the window in this process. It continues to amaze me how corrupt, how unfair this process has been from the start’.

One of the main points of focus is the accusation from the Democrats that President Trump attempted to force Ukraine into investigating his political rival Joe Biden and obstructing Congress when they attempted to investigate the issue, making this an abuse of his power. Former Vice President Biden is the Democrats’ leading nomination to challenge Trump in 2020.

However Republicans claimed ‘abuse of power’ had become the go to phrase for any Democratic complaints about the president, saying there actually were not any crimes alleged in the impeachment articles.

Matt Gaetz, Republican Representative, stated that ‘this notion of abuse of power is the lowest of low-energy impeachment theories’, while many Democrats criticized the Republicans for their continued loyalty to the accused man.

Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal commented:

‘Forget about President Trump. Will any one of my colleagues on the other side say that it is an abuse of power to condition aid on official acts? Is any one of my colleagues willing to say that it is ever ok for a president of the United States of America to invite foreign interference in our elections?’

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Trump has refuted all claims against him and slated the inquiry as a ‘hoax’ tweeting ‘No crime!’ on Twitter.

The main focus of the impeachment inquiry resides on a 25 July telephone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Donald Trump. In the call it is alleged that Zelenskiy was asked to look into both Biden and son Hunter.

Both current and former employees of the Trump administration have been briefed that they are not allowed to produce any documentation nor testify which in turn has led to some employees – including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – to disregard House subpoenas.

These are the acts that the Democrats claims are Trump’s attempts to obstruct Congress.

Trump does seem to be keeping informed of what is happening – he has been known to send some delegates in to watch the proceedings – and has been tweeting responses to arguments the Democrats have made, in real time.

Referring to the telephone call in July with Ukraine, Trump declared the Democrats were falsifying his talks, stating the whole process was a ‘phony hearing’.

Speaking to reporters, Nancy Pelosi – House Speaker – announced that once approved the full House would take up the articles of impeachment. With Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic chairman stating ‘the articles of impeachment will pass’.

It is expected that the charges will be taken to a Senate trial within the month.

Impeachment

House Panel Votes to Approve Articles of Impeachment

While President Trump has not yet officially been impeached, that historic outcome has become even more likely as the House of Representatives prepares for a full vote on both of the articles that have been presented by the House Judiciary Committee. The full votes on both articles will be held sometime next week, probably Wednesday, and are likely to pass along party lines. Republican members of Congress have shown absolutely no cracks in their resistance to impeachment, as every Republican representative has voted against the process since it began several weeks ago and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he expects no Republican senators to vote to remove President Trump from office.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Chairman Jerry Nadler, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff presented the Articles of Impeachment during a press conference on Tuesday, with formal charges including Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. Democrats opted to keep the focus of impeachment narrow in order to build the strongest possible case in a short period of time; although the Mueller Report outlined several instances of potential obstruction of justice, which has been presented as an article in previous impeachments, the articles that the House Panel just approved involved only the misconduct that become evident in connection to a whistleblower complaint from a few months ago. Considering the President’s misconduct to be a national security emergency, Democrats are undergoing the impeachment process as quickly as they possibly can, choosing not to wait for the courts to decide whether the White House is legally obligated to produce documents and witnesses in accordance with numerous congressional subpoenas.

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While the outcome in the Democrat-led House of Representatives has been highly predictable throughout the impeachment process, the upcoming trial in the Senate, which is led by Republican Mitch McConnell, is less clear. However, McConnell has shed some light on what the Senate trial will look like during a recent interview with Fox News, during which the Senate Majority Leader indicated that the Senate would follow the White House’s lead in defining the parameters of the trial. 

It’s long been predicted that, regardless of how long the Senate trial goes on and how it is defined, Republicans would vote along party lines to protect the President. Now, McConnell has reaffirmed the congressional body’s fealty to the president, as he has taken the historically unprecedented step of allowing the defendant of a high-stakes trial to define the terms of the trial that will determine whether he is found guilty of committing high crimes and misdemeanors. McConnell said that there is ‘zero chance’ Trump is removed by impeachment, and given the Republicans’ unyielding loyalty to the current Commander in Chief, there is little reason to doubt him.

While President Trump will probably not be removed from office after the Senate trial, impeachment is nonetheless likely to have a lasting political impact, as the general election that will determine the next President of the United States will be held in less than a year. Though one can make a fairly confident prediction that Trump will remain the President through 2020, virtually nobody can speak with certainty at this point about the likelihood of his winning reelection next year. Both Democrats and Republicans have said that they hope impeachment will have a positive effect on their political power; Democrats argue that the public process of impeachment helps to inform the electorate about the President’s many abuses of power and thus of the urgency of removing him from office, whereas Republicans see the outcome of impeachment as a victory for the President, who is sure to portray his acquittal in the Senate as a vindication of his position that Article II of the Constitution, which defines the parameters of the executive branch of the federal government, gives him the power to do whatever he wants.

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Perhaps the biggest takeaway of the likely outcome of impeachment will be that Trump’s claim to absolute executive power, unburdened by the Constitution’s centuries-old system of checks and balances, will be correct. At this moment in history, as Democrats have taken pains to point out time and time again, impeachment and the upcoming general election are the only two remaining constitutional checks preventing the President from consolidating his power and transforming the country’s government into a monarchy or dictatorship. 

If Trump is acquitted by the Senate, as he probably will be, Congress will establish a precedent that it is OK for the President to cheat in American elections by coordinating with foreign powers to interfere in the democratic process around which the country’s entire government is built. Though the upcoming presidential election is likely to be compromised as a result of efforts by the President and Republicans to undermine democracy, it will determine whether or not the United States will remain a republic or descend into an authoritarian state, as the president’s last three years of attacks against the institutions of democratic governance have been remarkably effective and are certain to continue to their completion if he is given another term in office.

Impeachment Trial

Speaker Pelosi Directs Congress to Draft Articles of Impeachment

During a brief formal address conducted yesterday morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi publicly announced that she had asked members of Congress to begin drafting articles of impeachment, removing virtually all doubt that President Trump will become the third president in American history to be impeached. As such, yesterday was an important day in American history, as presidential impeachment is a constitutional provision meant to be employed only in the most dire of circumstances. 

Accordingly, Pelosi took the occasion to urge members of Congress and the American public to treat the proceedings soberly, somberly, and prayerfully, emphasizing that she considers the impeachment of an American president to be a sad and serious thing. Pelosi considers this impeachment as having nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the Constitution, saying that members of Congress have an obligation to proceed with it even if it might hurt Democrats’ chances of reelection next year. According to Pelosi, impeachment is now a necessary step for members of Congress to honor their oath of office to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

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Later that day, Pelosi held a press conference during which she fielded questions about impeachment as well as questions about legislation, including a bill designed to lower the cost of prescription drugs. While most of the conference was relatively standard, involving questions that Pelosi had already answered in other contexts, a notable interaction transpired just as Pelosi was preparing to end the event. As she left the podium, a reporter asked Pelosi whether she hates the President, prompting an angry rebuke from the Speaker. “I don’t hate anybody,” she said, returning to the podium. “This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president’s violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word ‘hate’ in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone… So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

The moment, involving an unusual display of strong emotion from the Speaker, highlighted the atmosphere of tension surrounding congressional proceedings during a time when the ideological and partisan divide that characterizes American politics has perhaps never been so wide. Shortly afterwards, the hashtag #DontMessWithNancy trended on Twitter, and while some commentators on the right criticized the Speaker for her passionate answer, others praised Pelosi for her response to a question that was characterized as accusatory and unfair.

While Pelosi may not wish to be remembered for impeachment, given the import of the present moment, it is likely that historians will consider the reluctant choice to impeach the most important decision of her career and indeed among the most important decisions made in American history.

Last night, Pelosi participated in a town hall event hosted by CNN during which she answered questions from the audience and from CNN reporter Jake Tapper. Predictably, most of the questions concerned impeachment, though at one point Pelosi requested that the audience ask about other topics. In response to a question about how she wanted to be remembered for her role in the impeachment process, Pelosi replied that she did not want to be remembered for impeachment but instead for her role in passing legislation like the Affordable Care Act which had a positive effect on people’s lives. That being said, Pelosi explained that she hoped people would understand that she is not happy about impeaching Trump, but that his actions left her with no choice, as she believes that the president had directly violated his oath of office and that American democracy is in jeopardy as a result. Forebodingly, she warned that “civilization as we know it is at stake” in the 2020 election.

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Pelosi had long resisted the idea of impeaching Trump, despite immense pressure from within her own party to hold the president accountable for obstruction of justice offenses as outlined in the Mueller Report. She considers impeachment to be a constitutional remedy to be employed only in the most dire of circumstances, and had nine months ago expressed that President Trump was “just not worth it.” Indeed, Pelosi is no stranger to pressure from Democrats to impeach a president, as calls for impeachment were made during the Bush administration in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq despite the lack of good evidence that weapons of mass destruction existed in the country. During this episode, while Pelosi understood clearly that insufficient intelligence existed to justify invading Iraq, she did not consider impeaching Bush for it, as she thought that this was not a matter that involved violations of the Constitution.

Pelosi, however, articulated the circumstances that led her to change her mind by quoting Thomas Paine, who during the American Revolution opined that “the times have found us.” While Pelosi may not wish to be remembered for impeachment, given the import of the present moment, it is likely that historians will consider the reluctant choice to impeach the most important decision of her career and indeed among the most important decisions made in American history.

Impeachment Trial

President Trump Will Not Participate in Impeachment Hearings

The first phase of the impeachment inquiry, wherein the House Intelligence Committee questioned fact witnesses about a phone call made on July 25th in which President Trump asked President Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate Burisma, a company connected to Joe Biden, has concluded. Now, the inquiry moves to the second phase in the House of Representatives, and the evidence that has been collected so far will be presented to the House Judiciary Committee, during which members of Congress will deliberate over whether to draft articles of impeachment to deliver to the Senate. 

The hearings will be chaired by Representative Jerrold Nadler, who recently penned a letter inviting Trump and his legal counsel to participate in the proceedings. Yesterday, the president declined to participate in the hearings in any capacity, accusing the Democrats of conducting an unfair and biased process, and even going so far as to accuse them of deliberately scheduling the hearings while Trump is out of the country, as he is heading to London this week to participate in a NATO summit.

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The White House’s refusal to participate in the impeachment process in the House marks a reversal from previous comments made by the president. During an interview on Fox News, Trump claimed that he’d be willing to submit a written testimony to the House of Representatives, and said that he wanted a trial and that he’s looking forward to it. Trump and many Republicans believe that impeachment is bound to backfire on the Democrats, as the president is likely to be acquitted by the Senate and then use the Democrats’ failed impeachment inquiry as evidence to bolster his argument that he is being unfairly prosecuted. 

Though Trump will not be in the United States during Wednesday’s hearing, he could have chosen to send legal counsel and suggest witnesses for questioning. That being said, the president’s lack of cooperation with the Democrats comes as no surprise, as since the inquiry began Trump has sharply rebuked allegations of wrongdoing and attacked the process of impeachment, ordering some key witnesses to defy subpoenas in a possible violation of law. Republicans in both the House and the Senate have essentially fallen in line under Trump, as every Republican in the House of Representatives voted against opening an impeachment inquiry and Senate Republicans have spoken out forcefully against the proceedings.

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Undeterred, Democrats are not changing their plans to accommodate the president’s requests. The Judiciary Committee’s first hearing will be held on Wednesday, and instead of speaking with fact witnesses, lawmakers will question academics and other legal experts to determine whether the president’s actions justify impeachment. Notably, both Democrats and Republicans had expressed hope that Trump would decide to participate in the inquiry, but they are surely not surprised by his refusal to do so given his past behavior. The fact that the president had an opportunity to participate in the hearings but chose not to undercuts arguments from Trump and his defenders that the White House was not given the chance to help define and shape the process. In fact, this refusal may become part of Democrats’ argument that the president has been actively obstructing justice since learning about the whistleblower’s complaint.

While members of both parties surely would have appreciated Trump’s participation in his own impeachment inquiry, his lack of participation is unlikely to change the outcome in the House of Representatives. Democrats such as Adam Schiff have stated that they were unwilling to be subject to a game of “rope-a-dope” in the courts, proceeding rapidly despite various attempts to stonewall the investigation. Democrats have said that they hope to conclude the first part of impeachment, which takes place in the House of Representatives, by Christmas, and so far show no signs of missing that self-imposed deadline.