EARLIER: WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted Wednesday to send two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate and approve House prosecutors for only the third impeachment trial in American history.
The nearly party-line vote moved Trump’s impeachment from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic-run House to the Republican-majority Senate, where Trump expects acquittal, even as new evidence is raising fresh questions about his Ukraine dealings.
McConnell says he has enough Republican votes to begin Trump's trial without witnesses
The process cannot get started until Nancy Pelosi sends the House-passed articles to the Senate."We have the votes once the impeachment trial has begun to pass a resolution — essentially the same as, very similar to, the 100-to-nothing vote in the Clinton trial," McConnell told reporters.
The vote was 228-193, coming at the start of a presidential election year and one month after the House impeached Trump. The president is charged with abuse of power over his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid to the country as leverage. Trump was also charged with obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe.
“We are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history,” Pelosi said, addressing the House before the vote. Earlier, she declared: “This is what an impeachment is about. The president violated his oath of office, undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections.”
Trump, during an event at the White House, rejected the charges as a “hoax.”
Graham circulating resolution urging Pelosi to send over impeachment articles
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is circulating a resolution urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to send over the articles of impeachment. Graham said that he passed out his resolution during Senate Republicans' closed-door caucus lunch on Tuesday, and hoped that most of the caucus would support it. "I've got a resolution urging her to send over the articles, and what she's doing is out of step with past precedent and an affront to the Senate," Graham told reporters after the lunch. "It's not her job to set the trial."He added that urging her to send over the articles would "get a lot of Republican support. Hopefully we don't have to do it.
The seven-member prosecution team will be led by the chairmen of the House impeachment proceedings, Reps. Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee and Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, two of Pelosi’s top lieutenants for only the third presidential impeachment in the nation’s history.
Ahead of Wednesday’s session, Schiff released new records from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, about the Ukraine strategy. including an exchange with another man about surveilling later-fired Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch.
“If McConnell makes this the first trial in history without witnesses, it will be exposed for what it is and that is an effort to cover up for the president,” Schiff said.
Later Wednesday, the House managers are to walk the articles across the Capitol to the Senate in a dramatic procession. The Senate trial is set to start Thursday.
McConnell opened the Senate dismissing what he called a rushed impeachment that is more about the politics of Democrats who don’t like Trump than the charges against him.
“This isn’t really about Ukraine policy or military money,” McConnell said. “This has been naked partisanship all along.”
During Pelosi’s press conference announcing managers, Trump tweeted that impeachment was “another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats. All of this work was supposed to be done by the House, not the Senate!”
Trump’s trial will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and it comes against the backdrop of a politically divided nation in an election year.
The Senate is expected to transform into an impeachment court as early as Thursday, although significant proceedings wouldn’t begin until next Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The Constitution calls for the chief justice to preside over senators, who serve as jurors and swear an oath to deliver “impartial justice.″
McConnell tells Republicans he expects impeachment trial next week
He said he expects impeachment articles delivered as early as Friday.While senators and aides cautioned that McConnell does not have inside intelligence, the remarks serve as key scheduling advice for senators. Most Republicans are now gearing up for the relentless pace of the impeachment trial to start on Monday or Tuesday.
The managers are a diverse group with legal, law enforcement and military courtroom experience, including Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Sylvia Garcia of Texas, Val Demings of Florida, Jason Crow of Colorado and Zoe Lofgren of California.
McConnell, who is negotiating rules for the trial proceedings, is under competing pressure from his party for more witnesses, from centrists who are siding with Democrats on the need to hear full testimony and conservatives mounting Trump’s defense.
Senate Republicans signaled they would reject the idea of simply voting to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Trump, as Trump himself has suggested. McConnell agreed he does not have the votes to do that.
McConnell said Tuesday. ’’Our members feel we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.”
A mounting number of senators say they want to ensure the ground rules include the possibility of calling new witnesses.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is leading an effort among some Republicans, including Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for votes on witnesses.
Romney said he wants to hear from John Bolton, the former national security adviser at the White House, who others have said raised alarms about the alternative foreign policy toward Ukraine being run by Giuliani.
McConnell signs on to bill to start Trump trial over Pelosi's objections
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference to announce impeachment managers, at the Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 15. With Pelosi from left are Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. and Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.. The U.S. House is set to vote Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate for a landmark trial on whether the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are grounds for removal.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arrives to meet with the Democratic Caucus at the Capitol in Washington, on Jan. 14. Pelosi, who has not yet relayed the articles of impeachment to the Senate for the trial of President Donald Trump, has said she will discuss her next steps in that delayed process during her meeting today with fellow Democrats.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) talks to journalists as he arrives for the weekly House Democratic Caucus meeting in the basement of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 14 in Washington, DC. Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), are expected to discuss and possibly decide who will be named as managers for the impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.
Activists of the group Remove Trump stand in-line during a “Swarm the Senate” protest at Senate Hart Office Building on Jan. 13 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The group held the event to call on the removal of U.S. President Donald Trump from office.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters after attending the weekly Senate Republicans policy luncheon at the Capitol on Jan. 7 in Washington, DC. McConnell, R-Ky., said on Jan. 7 that he has enough Republican votes to start the impeachment trial without the support of Democrats, who have been demanding witness testimony.
U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a "no vote" from the impeachment vote in the House given to him from U.S. Rep Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) as he delivers remarks at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, Dec. 21.
President Donald J. Trump meets with Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, , Vice President Mike Pence, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., in the Oval Office at the White House on Dec 19, in Washington, DC. Rep. Jeff Van Drew emerged in recent weeks as an anti-impeachment Democrat, switched parties to join the GOP, one day after he opposed both articles of impeachment against President Trump and following weeks of courting by the president, allies of the president and administration officials.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA) holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Dec. 19, in Washington, DC. McCarthy said that he believed that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was 'embarrassed' about the House's vote to impeach President Donald Trump and that passage of a federal budget and the vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement were not examples of bipartisanship.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Democrats meets with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, on Dec. 19, on the day after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Pelosi was calling attention to her "For The People" legislative agenda. On right is Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, F-Fla.
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wields following the House of Representatives voting on the first of two articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump, accusing the president of abusing his power and obstructing Congress, inside the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Dec. 18, after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two charges, abuse of power and obstructing Congress. With her are from left are, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal and Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., accompanied by clockwise from right, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks in a private room just off the House floor after the House votes to impeach President Donald Trump, on Dec. 18, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Votes of Representatives are pictured on a screen as US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presides over Resolution 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump as the House votes at the US Capitol on Dec. 18.
President Donald Trump leaves the White House for a campaign trip to Battle Creek, Mich., on Dec. 18, in Washington. Trump is on the cusp of being impeached by the House, with a historic debate set Wednesday on charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress ahead of votes that will leave a defining mark on his tenure at the White House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., points to a poster as she speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol on Dec. 18 in Washington.
Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., left, and Bryan Steil, R-Wis., are seen in Cannon tunnel en route to the Capitol before procedural votes related to the articles of impeachment against President Trump on Dec. 18.
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., makes a motion for the House to adjourn as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment on Dec. 18. At left is Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., and at right is Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, holds a press conference at the US Capitol on Dec. 17 in Washington. Democrats and Republicans closed ranks Tuesday a day ahead of the expected impeachment of US President Donald Trump, underscoring the country's deep political divide over charges that the US leader abused his power.
House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., right, and ranking member Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., during a House Rules Committee hearing on the impeachment against President Trump on Dec. 17 in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., left, and House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., speak during a House Rules Committee hearing on the impeachment against President Trump on Dec. 17 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Don Woodward and his wife, Carole Zak, wait to listen to Rep. Elissa Slotkin at a town hall in Rochester, Mich.
Slideshow by photo services
Republicans control the chamber, 53-47, and are all but certain to acquit Trump. But it takes just 51 votes during the trial to approve rules or call witnesses. Just four GOP senators could form a majority with Democrats to insist on new testimony. It also would take only 51 senators to vote to dismiss the charges against Trump.
At Tuesday’s private GOP lunch, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky warned that if witnesses are allowed, defense witnesses could also be called. He and other Republicans want to subpoena Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine, Burisma, while his father was vice president.
McConnell prefers to model Trump’s trial partly on the process used for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. It, too, contained motions for dismissal or calling new witnesses.
McConnell is hesitant to call new witnesses who would prolong the trial and put vulnerable senators who are up for reelection in 2020 in a bind with tough choices. At the same time, he wants to give those same senators ample room to show voters they are listening.
— Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Andrew Taylor and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.
Schumer on Senate impeachment trial: 'We will force votes' on witnesses and documents .
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday night he is prepared to "force votes for witnesses and documents" in the Senate impeachment trial if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not call for it in his proposal. "We have the right to do it, We are going to do it and we are going to do it at the beginning on Tuesday if leader McConnell doesn't call for these witnesses in his proposal," Schumer said at a press conference in New York. "We're allowed to amend it, and ask for them.
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