- The House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
- While most Democrats voted in favor of both charges, 2020 presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voted present.
- In a lengthy statement, Gabbard said that “could not in good conscience vote either yes or no” because of the partisan nature of the process, and added that her vote was “a vote for much-needed reconciliation.”
- The articles will now be sent to the Senate for trial. Speaker of the House Pelosi has said she will delay sending the articles until she can be assured that the Senate will conduct a fair trial.
House Votes to Impeach
The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday night, officially making him the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.
After a day’s worth of debate, the House held two separate votes on the two articles of impeachment levied against Trump.
The first article is for abuse of power and claims that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden by withholding nearly $400 million in military aid, as well as a meeting at the White House.
The second article alleges that Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with their impeachment inquiry.
The abuse of power article was passed with 230 yeas to 197 nays, with one member voting present. The obstruction of Congress article was passed along similar margins, with 229 yeas to 198 nays, and one present vote.
House members voted almost entirely along party lines. No Republicans voted in favor of either article, while nearly all of the Democrats voted in favor of both.
Two Democrats voted against the abuse of power article and three voted against the obstruction of Congress article.
However, one of the Democrats who voted against both articles was Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who recently announced that he plans to switch his party affiliation to Republican.
Tulsi Gabbard Votes Present
Notably, the single Democrat who voted present for both articles of impeachment was 2020 presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI).
Gabbard explained her decision in a lengthy video posted on Twitter.
“After doing my due diligence in reviewing the 658-page impeachment report, I came to the conclusion that I could not in good conscience vote either yes or no,” she said. “I am standing in the center and have decided to vote Present.”
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she continued.
“I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
Gabbard also said that she had introduced a censure resolution, which is basically a strong rebuke of the president.
She claimed that the resolution would send a message to Trump and future presidents while still leaving the question of removal to voters in 2020.
“My vote today is a vote for much-needed reconciliation and hope that together we can heal our country,” she concluded.
Gabbard’s decision still drew a lot of criticism from Democrats, and the topic trended on Twitter with hashtags that included #TulsiCoward and #TulsiIsARussianAsset.
Questions of Fairness in Senate Trial
With the Houses’ decision to impeach Trump, the process will now be passed off to the Senate, where a trial will be held.
Even before the House voted to pass the articles, the Senate was already gearing up to hold the impeachment trial.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected Democrat’s demands to call four White House officials as witnesses.
He argued there were no reasons for the Senate to agree to hear testimony from officials who could help the Democrats’ case. The move was condemned by many Democrats.
McConnell also was criticized Tuesday for telling reporters that he would not be impartial in the impeachment trial.
“I’m not an impartial juror,” he said. “This is a political process. I’m not impartial about this at all.”
McConnell’s actions have raised more questions about whether or not Senate Republicans will hold a fair trial.
Pelosi Delays Sending Impeachment Articles to Senate
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also appeared to share that concern.
After the House approved the articles, Pelosi said Wednesday night that she would delay sending them to the Senate until it is clear that the upper chamber would conduct a fair trial.
The move appears to be an effort to slow down the impeachment process and force Senate Republicans to set procedures that Democrats find more favorable.
“So far, we have not seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully, it will be fairer, and when we see what that is, we will send it over that matter,” she said.
Many Republicans reacted angrily to Pelosi’s decision, including Trump.
“Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up!” the president wrote on Twitter.
McConnell also attacked the move in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday.
“It was made even made clear last night when Speaker Pelosi suggested that House Democrats may be too afraid, too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate,” he said.
“Mr. President, looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country, and second-guessing whether they want to do to trial.”
But Pelosi doubled-down on her stance while speaking at a press conference Thursday, where she also responded to McConnell’s accusations.
“It reminded me that our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected there could be a rogue president,” she said, referring to McConnell’s speech. “I don’t think they suspected that we could have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.”
McConnell and other Republican Senate leaders had initially said they wanted to hold the trial in January and make it as fast as possible.
Now, Pelosi’s plan to hold the articles until the Senate outlines a procedure the Democrats support could complicate that timeline.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Politico) (Fox News)
Jan. 6 Rally Organizers Say They Met With Members of Congress and White House Officials Ahead of Insurrection
Two sources told Rolling Stone that they participated in “dozens” of meetings with “multiple members of Congress” and top White House aides to plan the rallies that proceeded the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Rolling Stone Report
Members of Congress and White House Staffers under former President Donald Trump allegedly helped plan the Jan. 6 protests that took place outside the U.S. Capitol ahead of the insurrection, according to two sources who spoke to Rolling Stone.
According to a report the outlet published Sunday, the two people, identified only as “a rally organizer” and “a planner,” have both “begun communicating with congressional investigators.”
The two told Rolling Stone that they participated in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of the protests and said that “multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.”
“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the person identified as a rally organizer said. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”
The two also told Rolling Stone that a number of other Congress members were either personally involved in the conversations or had staffers join, including Representatives Paul Gosar (R-Az.), Lauren Boebert (R-Co.), Mo Brooks (R-Al.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Andy Biggs (R-Az.), and Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.).
The outlet added that it “separately obtained documentary evidence that both sources were in contact with Gosar and Boebert on Jan. 6,” though it did not go into further detail.
A spokesperson for Greene has denied involvement with planning the protests, but so far, no other members have responded to the report.
Previous Allegations Against Congressmembers Named
This is not the first time allegations have surfaced concerning the involvement of some of the aforementioned congress members regarding rallies that took place ahead of the riot.
As Rolling Stone noted, Gosar, Greene, and Boebert were all listed as speakers at the “Wild Protest” at the Capitol on Jan. 6, which was arranged by “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander.
Additionally, Alexander said during a now-deleted live stream in January that he personally planned the rally with the help of Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks.
Biggs and Brooks previously denied any involvement in planning the event, though Brooks did speak at a pro-Trump protest on Jan. 6.
Gosar, for his part, has remained quiet for months but tagged Alexander in numerous tweets involving Stop the Steal events leading up to Jan. 6, including one post that appears to be taken at a rally at the Capitol hours before the insurrection.
Notably, the organizer and the planner also told Rolling Stone that Gosar “dangled the possibility of a ‘blanket pardon’ in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.”
Alleged White House Involvement
Beyond members of Congress, the outlet reported that the sources “also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.”
Both reportedly described Meadows “as someone who played a major role in the conversations surrounding the protests.”
The two additionally said Katrina Pierson, who worked for the Trump campaign in both 2016 and 2020, was a key liaison between the organizers of the demonstrations and the White House.
“Katrina was like our go-to girl,” the organizer told the outlet. “She was like our primary advocate.”
According to Rolling Stone, the sources have so far only had informal talks with the House committee investigating the insurrection but are expecting to testify publicly. Both reportedly said they would share “new details about the members’ specific roles” in planning the rallies with congressional investigators.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Business Insider) (Forbes)
Jan. 6 Committee Prepares Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon for Ignoring Subpoena
The move comes after former President Trump told several of his previous aides not to cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the insurrection.
Bannon Refuses to Comply With Subpoena
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection announced Thursday that it is seeking to hold former White House advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.
The decision marks a significant escalation in the panel’s efforts to force officials under former President Donald Trump’s administration to comply with its probe amid Trump’s growing efforts to obstruct the inquiry.
In recent weeks, the former president has launched a number of attempts to block the panel from getting key documents, testimonies, and other evidence requested by the committee that he claims are protected by executive privilege.
Notably, some of those assertions have been shut down. On Friday, President Joe Biden rejected Trump’s effort to withhold documents relating to the insurrection.
Still, Trump has also directed former officials in his administration not to comply with subpoenas or cooperate with the committee.
That demand came after the panel issued subpoenas ordering depositions from Bannon and three other former officials: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel.
After Trump issued his demand, Bannon’s lawyer announced that he would not obey the subpoena until the panel reached an agreement with Trump or a court ruled on the executive privilege matter.
Many legal experts have questioned whether Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, can claim executive privilege for something that happened when he was not working for the executive.
Panel Intensifies Compliance Efforts
The Thursday decision from the committee is significant because it will likely set up a legal battle and test how much authority the committee can and will exercise in requiring compliance.
It also sets an important precedent for those who have been subpoenaed. While Bannon is the first former official to openly defy the committee, there have been reports that others plan to do the same.
The panel previously said Patel and Meadows were “engaging” with investigators, but on Thursday, several outlets reported that the two — who were supposed to appear before the body on Thursday and Friday respectively — are now expected to be given an extension or continuance.
Sources told reporters that Scavino, who was also asked to testify Friday, has had his deposition postponed because service of his subpoena was delayed.
As far as what happens next for Bannon, the committee will vote to adopt the contempt report next week. Once that is complete, the matter will go before the House for a full vote.
Assuming the Democratic-held House approves the contempt charge, it will then get referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the matter before a grand jury.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Bloomberg)
Senate Votes To Extend Debt Ceiling Until December
The move adds another deadline to Dec. 3, which is also when the federal government is set to shut down unless Congress approves new spending.
Debt Ceiling Raised Temporarily
The Senate voted on Thursday to extend the debt ceiling until December, temporarily averting a fiscal catastrophe.
The move, which followed weeks of stalemate due to Republican objections, came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) partially backed down from his blockade and offered a short-term proposal.
After much whipping of votes, 11 Republicans joined Democrats to break the legislative filibuster and move to final approval of the measure. The bill ultimately passed in a vote of 50-48 without any Republican support.
The legislation will now head to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said members would be called back from their current recess for a vote on Tuesday.
The White House said President Joe Biden would sign the measure, but urged Congress to pass a longer extension.
“We cannot allow partisan politics to hold our economy hostage, and we can’t allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months,’’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Under the current bill, the nation’s borrowing limit will be increased by $480 billion, which the Treasury Department said will cover federal borrowing until around Dec. 3.
The agency had previously warned that it would run out of money by Oct. 18 if Congress failed to act. Such a move would have a chilling impact on the economy, forcing the U.S. to default on its debts and potentially plunging the country into a recession.
Major Hurdles Remain
While the legislation extending the ceiling will certainly offer temporary relief, it sets up another perilous deadline for the first Friday in December, when government funding is also set to expire if Congress does not approve another spending bill.
Regardless of the new deadline, many of the same hurdles lawmakers faced the first time around remain.
Democrats are still struggling to hammer out the final details of Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending agenda, which Republicans have strongly opposed.
Notably, Democratic leaders previously said they could pass the bill through budget reconciliation, which would allow them to approve the measure with 50 votes and no Republican support.
Such a move would require all 50 Senators, but intraparty disputes remain over objections brought by Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), who have been stalling the process for months.
Although disagreements over reconciliation are ongoing among Democrats, McConnell has insisted the party use the obscure procedural process to raise the debt limit. Democrats, however, have balked at the idea, arguing that tying the debt ceiling to reconciliation would set a dangerous precedent.
Despite Republican efforts to connect the limit to Biden’s economic agenda, raising the ceiling is not the same as adopting new spending. Rather, the limit is increased to pay off spending that has already been authorized by previous sessions of Congress and past administrations.
In fact, much of the current debt stems from policies passed by Republicans during the Trump administration, including the 2017 tax overhaul.
As a result, while Democrats have signaled they may make concessions to Manchin and Sinema, they strongly believe that Republicans must join them to increase the debt ceiling to fund projects their party supported.
It is currently unclear when or how the ongoing stalemate will be resolved, or how either party will overcome their fervent objections.