Looming decision on McGahn testimony could trigger new impeachment fight in House

FILE – In this Feb. 22, 2018, file photo former White House counsel Don McGahn speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 3:25 PM PT — Friday, February 7, 2020

Democrats appear to be gearing up for a series of new legal battles against the White House. House lawmakers are waiting for guidance, which could be released as early as Friday, on the House Judiciary Committee’s ability to compel testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Democrats said McGahn has information related to the Mueller report, which could result in new articles of impeachment against the president. If McGahn is allowed to testify, House Intel Chair Jerry Nadler may be able to subpoena John Bolton to testify as well.

President Trump reacted to the new impeachment push by saying he will fight again if he must.

“We will probably have to do it again because these people have gone stone-cold crazy, but I have beaten them all my life and I will beat them again if I have to,” said the president. “What they are doing is very unfair.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., announces the passage of the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, against President Donald Trump by the House of Representatives at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (House Television via AP)

Meanwhile, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said these “people need to be held accountable” for trying to take the president down. On Thursday, Scalise said those who abused their power ought to go to jail.

He added there are “some very crooked people, including some dirty cops, who are still out there.”

Scalise went on to discuss the ongoing DOJ investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation. He said he hopes the lead prosecutor on the case, John Durham, “names names.”

Original Article

Investigators claim FAA overruled safety system that ‘could have helped’ in Bryant helicopter crash

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 11:19 AM PT — Thursday, January 30, 2020

New details have emerged surrounding the fatal California helicopter crash that killed nine people, including NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. One America’s Tali Letoi explains why the FAA could be partly to blame for the incident.

RELATED: NTSB gives details on pilot’s communications before helicopter crash, which killed Kobe Bryant & 8 others

Original Article

President Trump’s legal team could opt for shorter defense

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow speaks to the media during a break in the impeachment trial of President Donald, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:31 PM PT — Friday, January 24, 2020

The president’s legal team is preparing to start its opening arguments on Saturday. The defense is pushing ahead with the plan, despite the potential for further declining viewership, and may opt for a much shorter defense strategy.

On Thursday, attorney Jay Sekulow told reporters the president’s legal team will present a vigorous defense of the facts and a rebuttal of the Democrats’ claims. He also said the defense team isn’t planning on running out the clock.

“We’re going to use a sufficient amount of time to defend our case and point out the inconsistencies of their case. We’re not going to try to run the clock out. We’re going to do what our legal team thinks is appropriate to present our case.” – Jay Sekulow, Counsel for President Trump

He went on to say the president’s defense will make a decision on the time frame and depth of their arguments after the Democrats finish theirs.

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow, left, walks with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, right, as they arrive at the Capitol in Washington during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Earlier this week, Sekulow said Democrats are failing to present a coherent impeachment case. While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the attorney said Democrats have tried to deny the president his constitutional rights by dismissing executive privilege.

He stressed executive privilege is protected by Supreme Court decisions and added any attack against it amounts to an attack on the U.S. Constitution.

RELATED: House Prosecutors Rehash Old Arguments On Second Day Of Senate Trial, Cry Corruption

Original Article

Reporter’s Notebook: Senate impeachment trial could be biggest reality TV show of all time

closeFitton on impeachment: Trump being abused, Constitution being attackedVideo

Fitton on impeachment: Trump being abused, Constitution being attacked

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton reacts to House vote on impeachment articles.

The Senate has a specific set of 25 rules which dictate operations for a Senate impeachment trial. But the Senate’s only conducted 17 impeachment trials in history. No one knows how President Trump’s prospective Senate trial may look. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have wrestled for days about the possibilities of a Senate trial. So far, neither side is giving any quarter.

Senate impeachment trial rules are vague. They only say the Senate holds the trial six days a week, starting at 1 in the afternoon, Saturdays included.

There are only a few things the Senate has to do with the trial. One of them is present the House’s impeachment articles to the Senate out loud. Former Senate Sergeant at Arms James Ziglar announced that the House was “exhibiting to the Senate of the United States, articles of impeachment against William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States” on January 7, 1999. On January 14, 1999, the late House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., laid out the House’s case to the Senate.

“We the managers of the House are here to set forth the evidence in support of two articles of impeachment against President William Jefferson Clinton,” said Hyde.

And after the managers speak to the Senate, pretty much anything can happen.

Clinton’s Senate trial ran about five weeks in January and February 1999 before the Senate voted to acquit. But no one is quite sure how long Trump’s trial could run. After the Senate verbally announces the charges and receives the House managers, anything can happen.

“Impeachment trials of the president of the United States are extremely rare. We really do not have a great deal of precedent on which to rely,” said former Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin, the body’s head referee. “The potential playing field is as yet defined. The lines are not on the field yet. I don't know if it's going to be 100 yards or 200 yards field and whether you can get a first down or a series of first downs and keep going.”

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over any Senate trial. But no one will have more influence over a Senate trial than McConnell.

“We don’t create impeachments. We judge them,” said McConnell.

But the Kentucky Republican says he’s coordinated with the White House about what the administration wants in a Senate trial.

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

Nancy Pelosi speaks after House votes to impeach President TrumpVideo

Trump says he’s open to either a short or long trial. There’s been talk of the president appearing himself in a trial. Maybe calling the Bidens, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as witnesses.

Schumer tried to preempt GOP messaging on a Senate trial by making requests for when a trial should start, how much debate the Senate should allocate for closing arguments which witnesses the Democrats would like to see testify.

Schumer is executing an interesting gambit. Schumer and Democrats have long portrayed McConnell as keeper of the legislative “graveyard,” capitalizing on his self-assigned nickname as the “Grim Reaper.” Schumer essentially dared McConnell to say no to Democratic demands. The New York Democrat suspects McConnell would:

  1. Fail to implement any of the Democrats requests.
  2. Rush the Senate trial to the point that Democrats think senators never gave the House charges a fair hearing and abused the impeachment process.
  3. Conducts a trial which favors the president, since McConnell says he’s working with the administration to implement about what Trump wants from the GOP-controlled Senate.

Schumer then will attempt to add to the narrative that McConnell is indeed “the Grim Reaper.” Moreover, Democrats will weaponize such the Senate’s handling of a trial (and perhaps actual roll call votes in a Senate trial) against vulnerable Republicans facing challenging reelection bids in 2020: Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.

Schumer wants Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton to testify – among others.

McConnell is cool to the idea.

“If the Senate volunteers ourselves to do House Democrats’ homework for them, we will only incentivize an endless stream of dubious partisan impeachments in the future,” said the majority leader.

A Senate trial with witnesses could produce one of the most surreal spectacles in American history.

That’s why even some key Republicans are leery of an unorthodox scene, and what it could mean for the integrity of the Senate.

Graham: Pelosi would lose her job if she didn't move toward impeachmentVideo

“I'm getting a lot of pushback from the right on this,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “You know everybody's dying to hear from Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and prove that there was corruption on their part, and to get Schiff. Shifty Schiff and all that good stuff. I'm really worried about where this could take the country.”

Like Graham, senators who served more than two decades ago also fretted about Clinton’s impeachment trial. Then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. says there were concerns about publicly airing salacious details about Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

“There were some that wanted to have witnesses on the floor of the Senate in the well. Bill Clinton. Monica Lewinsky. And I said, no. We're not going to demean this institution to that degree,” said Lott.

That’s why Lott and then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., forged a pact. The leaders convened a conclave of all 100 senators in the Old Senate chamber. Lott and Daschle forged a pact on how to conduct Clinton’s trial. It’s unclear if senators can form a bipartisan accord for Trump’s trial in today’s toxic political climate.

“If they don’t do this in the right way and they have witnesses on the floor, I think it takes on a context that could be harmful,” observed Lott. “It's bad enough and if this turns into an absolutely mudslinging process, it'll make things even worse.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

A Senate trial isn’t expected to begin until January. And, Lott and Daschle didn’t reach their agreement until just before Clinton’s trial started two decades ago. And if there’s no pact on a Senate trial, Trump could find himself in a familiar spot: the star in a Senate trial.

Perhaps the biggest political reality TV show of all time.

Original Article

Could Dems defect in Trump impeachment trial? McConnell sees opening

closeVideo

<br>

Speaking on impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says House Democrats are conducting

The Democratic senators who hail from states won by President Trump in 2016 are being eyed as possible acquittal votes in a Senate impeachment trial, as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he believes at least a Democrat or two could defect.

It comes as the House barrels toward a floor vote on impeachment planned for Wednesday. If articles of impeachment are approved as expected, the Senate would follow with a trial in early 2020 where senators act as jurors.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we got one or two Democrats,” McConnell, R-Ky., said during a recent appearance on Fox News' “Hannity."

HANNITY EXCLUSIVE: MCCONNELL SAYS 'ZERO CHANCE' TRUMP IS REMOVED, 'ONE OR TWO DEMOCRATS' COULD VOTE TO ACQUIT

The most popular parlor game right now in Washington focuses on the House side — specifically, on which Democrats from Trump-won districts would vote to impeach, or defect, even though impeachment is widely seen as inevitable. On the Senate side, where Republicans hold the majority and the threshold for conviction is a steep two-thirds majority, Trump is expected to easily be acquitted. But Republicans nevertheless would like to peel off a Democrat or more in the upper chamber, which could make the vote bipartisan.

A source familiar with Senate impeachment trial plans told Fox News that Republicans believe the Democrats most likely to vote to acquit are Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., both of whom represent red states that went for Trump in 2016.

Manchin is still undecided, according to a source familiar with his thinking. In a recent appearance on CNN, Manchin said, "I'm very much torn on it. I think it weighs on everybody."

Another source said they believe Jones — who is up for re-election next year in the pro-Trump state and is often considered the most vulnerable incumbent — is likely to be the first Democrat defection.

Jones told a local interviewer this week that “I’m concerned that the impeachment inquiry is going to hurt the country," lamenting how it has become such "a partisan issue now."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., are believed to be possible votes to acquit the president in an impeachment trial. (AP/Reuters)

Other Democratic senators believed to be in play are Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. Trump carried both states in 2016.

Sinema is the first Democrat elected to represent the typically red-leaning state in the Senate since 1995. Sinema has not signaled publicly which way she would vote on impeachment.

Peters recently told local journalists that, "It’s important to collect all of the facts regarding the situation, and certainly what facts are out there are very troublesome."

“Those four Democrats are damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” a senior GOP aide told Fox News, referring to Manchin, Jones, Peters and Sinema. “They will have to resist the Trump derangement syndrome that is consuming their Democrat colleagues.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are making the case that Republicans could join them in a vote to convict Trump. Those most often mentioned as possibilities are Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has not shied from criticizing Trump; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who sometimes crosses party lines in votes.

But Republican sources told Fox News that none of those lawmakers have signaled any movement on the final Senate vote on whether to remove the president from office, and McConnell has said it has been his goal from the beginning to keep Republicans together on the issue.

The source also told Fox News that a recent letter penned by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., laying out his proposed parameters for what a Senate impeachment trial would look like and which witnesses should be included did not move the needle one way or the other for Republicans whose votes could be wavering.

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE GOP COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

<br>Video

“My hope is that there won’t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles in the House,” McConnell told “Hannity,” while also saying that the impeachment case is “so darn weak” and that the outcome is easy to predict.

“There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office,” McConnell said last week, noting that he has “no choice but to take it up” but the trial would be “in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office and the people who are representing the president.”

At the center of the impeachment inquiry is Trump’s efforts to press Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically related investigations—regarding former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine, as well as issues related to the 2016 presidential election. The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats have argued shows a “quid pro quo” arrangement. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against Trump, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, on a party-line vote of 23-17. A final roll call in the full House is expected Wednesday.

A massive impeachment report issued this past weekend by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., stated: "This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election, as well as President Trump’s other actions, present a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain."

Original Article

Reporter’s Notebook: Congress, on overdrive, could see its busiest week ever

closeThe spinning of impeachmentVideo

The spinning of impeachment

Support slips despite saturation coverage.

CAPITOL HILL – This could be the week that broke Congress.

The ambition of the schedule reflects what usually goes down in December. The 12th month is almost always the most hectic on the calendar on Capitol Hill as lawmakers race to finish things before the end of the year. The crush is often a byproduct of a lack of focus and procrastination by lawmakers. This week’s docket certainly reflects that on some fronts.

However, the most significant factor this week is impeachment. That would be enough to tackle in any one week, but the complexity of the coming week takes things to a new level.

In chronological order:

Avoiding a government shutdown

Fox News expects the text of spending packages to avoid a government shutdown to be filed midday Monday. The plan would be to break the 12 annual spending bills into two “mini-buses” – as opposed to an omnibus, in which they rope all of the bills into one stash. President Trump has opposed an omnibus, so lawmakers would tether a batch of appropriations bills together as one minibus. The rest of the bills would be in the other pile. It’s unclear which of the 12 bills will fall where.

The House Rules Committee likely will meet late Monday to prepare these spending bills and send them to the floor for debate Tuesday.

It’s key for the House to get a jump on appropriations. The Senate requires time to process the spending bills later in the week.

Also, check the holiday spirit of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. Paul and other senators may try to require that the bills clear various procedural traps. If everyone agrees, the Senate can move fast, but all it takes is one senator to slow things down. The deadline to fund the government is 11:59 p.m. ET Dec. 20. These bills would fund the government for the rest of Fiscal Year 2020 – ending Sept. 30, 2020.

Impeachment

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee is set to meet at 11 a.m. to prepare the parameters of debate for the articles of impeachment. The Rules Committee is the gateway to the House floor for many bills, and, in this case, articles of impeachment.

The “rule” authored by the Rules Committee would establish how much time the House would devote to the articles and if any amendments would be in order for debate.

Eric Shawn: President Trump's impeachment edgeVideo

The House did not go to the Rules Committee for the articles of impeachment written for then-President Clinton in 1998. The Judiciary Committee summoned the articles to the floor in that instance through a parliamentary phenomenon known as “privilege.” The House then forged a unanimous consent agreement, in which all 435 members agreed to debate the articles over a two-day period. In all, 283 House members participated in the impeachment debate.

It would be nearly impossible to secure a similar unanimous consent agreement in today’s hyper-toxic climate. Receiving a “rule” from the Rules Committee would establish the structure for the debate and give Democrats more control over the process on the floor.

Going to the Rules Committee on Tuesday generally would mean the issue hitting the floor Wednesday. However, a senior House Democratic source would not rule out debate on the articles – and thus, a final vote, drifting into Thursday.

The House is expected to vote on two distinct articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Expect separate periods of debate and votes on both articles of impeachment.

If the House, in fact, votes on the articles Thursday, Dec. 19, that would come 21 years to the day that the House impeached Clinton.

Once the House adopts articles of impeachment, a couple of things must happen. The House must approve a separate resolution that dispatches the articles to the Senate – and names the “impeachment managers.” Impeachment managers are seen as “prosecutors” whom the House sends to the Senate to present the case. Historically, impeachment managers have been House members, but the rules are silent on whether the managers are required to be House members.

The Democrats' case for impeachment

The Democrats' case for impeachment

Rep. Madeline Dean on casting her vote to impeach President Trump.

The selection of impeachment managers would be a big deal, and it’s likely their identities will be revealed later this week. The impeachment managers usually come from the Judiciary Committee, but it’s possible others could score this plum assignment – like Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Keep an eye on Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and even Justin Amash, I-Mich., who left the Republican Party earlier this year.

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE COVERAGE OF THE TRUMP IMPEACHMENT PROBE

The House still has two impeachment managers left over from Clinton’s impeachment trial: Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and Steve Chabot, R-Ohio. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was an impeachment manager for the Clinton trial when he served in the House.

Schiff came to Congress in 2001 after defeating another Clinton impeachment manager, former Rep. James Rogan, R-Calif. Democrats specifically targeted Rogan for defeat after he helped prosecute Clinton in the Senate.

The House does not have to send the separate resolution to the Senate right away. It could hold the resolution if it wanted to do so. That could be weird — but anything can happen in this environment. The resolution is “privileged.” That means other members could try to force a vote to advance the measure to the Senate, but one wonders if the House may hold the paper to see if there’s an agreement on the structure of a Senate trial between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

In 1998, the House approved the secondary resolution moments after adopting the articles of impeachment against Clinton. Consequently, the Senate must also approve a separate resolution, indicating it’s ready to receive the House materials. It is unclear if the Senate action could happen immediately or after the first of the year when a Senate trial is expected to begin in earnest.

Regardless, it’s doubtful anything significant will happen in the Senate until after the first of the year, or, as McConnell said the other day, when the “bowl games end.”

USCMA

The House Ways and Means Committee – which has had jurisdiction over trade – scheduled a “markup” session to prepare the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement for the House floor on Thursday. The USCMA has enjoyed wide bipartisan support. The markup is set to take place in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building, the same spot where the House held impeachment hearings and markups for weeks.

America's dairy farmers hopeful on new USMCA trade dealVideo

After the markup, the USMCA package likely will go to the Rules Committee for a “rule” and then to the floor for adoption late in the week, maybe Thursday or Friday. The USMCA could be the exclamation point for the House at the end of a challenging week.

McConnell has indicated he won’t consider the USMCA until a Senate trial is complete.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

He’s kind of playing 3-D chess with the USCMA. On one hand, McConnell is challenging Trump about the length of a Senate trial. By holding out passage of the USCMA, McConnell is subtly pushing for a shorter trial so the Senate can advance the package as quickly as possible in early 2020. By the same token, McConnell is also trying to score points against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. McConnell is simultaneously suggesting that the Senate could take up the USCMA expeditiously – if it weren’t bogged down in an impeachment trial foisted on the Senate by House liberals.

This is likely the week that broke Congress – perhaps in more ways than one. And, if the workload doesn’t break Congress this week, it can always break on Christmas week, too, if lawmakers don’t wrap by by Friday.

Original Article

Biden blames staff, says nobody ‘warned’ him son’s Ukraine job could raise conflict

closeBiden says he won't appear as impeachment witness in potential Senate trialVideo

Biden says he won't appear as impeachment witness in potential Senate trial

2020 Democrat hopeful Joe Biden tells Fox News' Peter Doocy he will not voluntarily appear if called to testify in a Senate impeachment trial for President Trump.

Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed in a new interview that when his son Hunter was a board member of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings while he was in office, no one informed him that it could pose a problem.

Biden insisted again that Hunter did nothing wrong, but this time appeared to fault his staff for not cluing him in that there could be concerns about his son's involvement with the foreign company that had been under investigation while Biden was in office and dealing with Ukraine policy.

FORMER VP BIDEN DISMISSES CLAIMS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS TURNING HARD LEFT

"Nobody warned me about a potential conflict of interest. Nobody warned me about that," Biden told NPR in a story posted Monday.

State Department official George Kent addressed this during his testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, acknowledging that he told staff members there was concern over the appearance of a conflict of interest, but that no one told the vice president because his older son Beau was suffering from what was ultimately a fatal battle with brain cancer.

"They should have told me," Biden says now. Hunter's dealings and the elder Biden's role ousting a prosecutor looking into Burisma are being used by Trump and his supporters against the now-2020 presidential candidate, even as Trump's effort to press for an investigation into that conduct has spurred the impeachment inquiry.

"The appearance looked bad and it gave folks like Rudy Giuliani an excuse to come up with a Trumpian kind of defense, while they were violating the Constitution," Biden said.

Trump's impeachment inquiry has focused primarily on his request for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, as well as Democratic activities during the 2016 election. Democrats have accused Trump of using a White House visit for Zelensky and the delay of military aid to Ukraine as leverage.

JOE BIDEN GETS JOHN KERRY 2020 ENDORSEMENT

Trump insists he did nothing wrong and that he never called for any quid pro quo with the investigations. His administration claims that Trump was simply concerned about corruption within the Ukrainian government, asserting that is part of why he delayed the aid. Trump has also hammered the Bidens for alleged impropriety, blasting the former vice president for pressuring Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.

In the past, Biden has bragged publicly about threatening to withhold money from Ukraine in order to force the prosecutor's termination, but he claims it was due to suspicions of corruption, not because of his son's role with Burisma.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently endorsed Biden for president, also claimed following a Biden campaign event Sunday that he "had no knowledge" of Hunter's involvement with Burisma while he was secretary.

This, despite Kerry's stepson Christopher Heinz reportedly notifying two of Kerry's aides after Hunter Biden became a Burisma board member. Heinz and Hunter Biden had been business partners, co-owning the private equity firm Rosemont Seneca. According to the Washington Examiner, an email from Heinz to Kerry's aides distanced Heinz from Burisma, saying "there was no investment by our firm in their company," and claiming ignorance as to why Hunter became involved in the Ukrainian firm.

Fox News' Rob DiRienzo contributed to this report.

Original Article

Could House impeachment proceedings drag on into 2020? The timing’s unclear

closeConstitutional experts clash in House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachmentVideo

Constitutional experts clash in House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment

Professor Jonathan Turley rebuts bribery, obstruction claims against President Trump; reaction and analysis from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel.

CAPITOL HILL – Is there enough time for lawmakers to deposit articles of impeachment on the House floor this calendar year? Or, could this wait? Finally, do Democrats have the votes to impeach?

If a House impeachment vote drifts into 2020, analysts likely will crow that it would be extraordinary for the House to attempt to impeach President Trump in “an election year.” But, it’s tough to calibrate the political advantages or disadvantages of doing impeachment in December or when the calendar flips.

It’s doubtful that in the future, the public would recall precisely when the House voted to impeach. Republicans would assert that Democrats were so brazen that they “impeached the president in an election year.” Putting impeachment on the floor in, say, October, just before a November general election, may be a real no-no. However, nobody on the Hill has suggested that scenario would be in play.

Heretofore, few actions on impeachment by either side have altered the public’s perception of impeachment. So, if the “needle” never moves, then it might not matter when the House considers articles of impeachment on the floor.

Democrats may prefer to complete the impeachment process expeditiously and push it to the Senate.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., presented his panel’s impeachment report to the caucus of Democrats on Wednesday morning – receiving a standing ovation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked rank-and-file Democrats to give one another time and space to reach their own conclusions about impeachment. Democrats who spoke in the meeting indicated they wanted the inquiry to continue on what was described as a “deliberate path.”

Doug Collins spars with Jerry Nadler after Louie Gohmert tries to speakVideo

The Intelligence Committee concluded its probe this week. During Wednesday’s inaugural Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said the panel will “reconvene and hear from the committees that worked to uncover the facts before us.” Fox News is told the committee will invite the majority and minority sides to present their cases in a public forum.

Intelligence Committee Democrats released their report Tuesday. Republicans published a “pre-buttal” response ahead of time, on Monday.

It’s impossible to judge if the panel may hold additional hearings with witnesses. Nadler said if members determined there were “impeachable offenses, then we must move swiftly to do our duty and charge him accordingly.”

Hearings and other public sessions may not be required in the impeachment process, but if Democrats intend to impeach the president on the floor, they first must craft actual articles of impeachment.

The Judiciary Committee would write articles of impeachment in what’s called a “markup” session. Markups aren’t hearings. There are no witnesses. It’s just all of the members of the committee, sitting on the dais, offering articles of impeachment, amendments to those proposals and debating the merits or demerits of various plans. For instance, the Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment for then-President Richard Nixon in 1974, but the panel ultimately approved only three.

So, if the full House were to impeach the president this year, the time crunch is real.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced earlier this week the body will stay in session until almost Christmas. Democrats emerging from their caucus meeting Wednesday morning told reporters they were advised to stick around Washington through Dec. 21 or 22. It should be noted that the House impeached then-President Bill Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998, in a rare Saturday session, just before Christmas. So, a Christmastime impeachment would be plausible.

Doug Collins presses Jerry Nadler over demand for Republican day of witnessesVideo

But, would Democrats have the votes for impeachment? Pelosi has been a master at reading her caucus. If Pelosi has the votes, she’ll likely give the green light to impeach on the floor. If Pelosi doesn’t have the votes, impeachment could wait – conceivably until the new year. Voting to impeach – or not impeach – could hinge on precisely what articles the Judiciary Committee were to draft.

The key would be having the votes. There are currently 431 members of the House. It takes 216 to impeach. There are presently 233 Democrats. That means Democrats can afford to lose only 17 of their own and still impeach. Democrats could lose 18 if Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., voted to impeach. Such parliamentary algebra also would mean a swath of the 31 Democrats representing districts that Trump carried in 2016 would have to vote to impeach.

LEGAL SCHOLARS CLASH OVER WHETHER TRUMP COMMITTED IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES

In addition to the math, Democrats are facing another conundrum.

Impeachment would consume an enormous amount of time on the House floor. The legislative freight demanded by impeachment is one of the most significant responsibilities facing the House. An impeachment debate can’t run for just an hour or two on the floor.

Here’s what else the House may have to tackle in the coming days:

Democrats have been trying to approve the annual defense bill, consuming floor time. The House and Senate have to figure out a way to fund the government before 11:59:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 20. Otherwise, there would be another holiday shutdown like last year.

It’s possible the House and Senate could approve a handful of the annual 12 spending bills and then do an interim spending bill for the remainders. Or, lawmakers could weave together a clump of outstanding appropriations bills and fund the government that way. No matter the path, funding the government takes time.

Bret Baier says impeachment hearing becomes a ping-pong match between Democrats and RepublicansVideo

And, here’s the big issue: Analysts point out congressional Democrats simply cannot allow a government shutdown this time and impeach the president. Otherwise, Trump and Republicans would proclaim that Democrats were too busy impeaching the president and not on conducting the most basic of congressional tasks: funding the government. Democrats have been aware of this quandary. So, in some ways, the impeachment of Trump in 2019 could hinge on whether there’s an agreement on government spending.

Also gravitating in the congressional ether: the new trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, known as the USMCA. If Democrats sprint ahead with the USMCA this month, which isn’t likely, there’s almost no way the House could tangle with impeachment on the floor.

Democrats could face a messaging problem heading into the holidays. The floor traffic is vexing. That’s why some senior Democratic sources have suggested impeachment could wait until the new year — although it’s not a sure thing.

One source close to Pelosi was skeptical of moving impeachment this month.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“I just don’t see it,” the Democratic source said about advancing impeachment before Christmas. “It’s too big.”

Ultimately, a 2019 impeachment of the president could depend on bandwidth.

Original Article

Dems’ doomsday scenario: Could anxious moderates scuttle impeachment push?

closeKarl Rove: Democrats 'overplayed their hand' with impeachment pushVideo

Karl Rove: Democrats 'overplayed their hand' with impeachment push

Fox News contributor and former deputy chief of staff during President George W. Bush's administration Karl Rove discusses why support for impeachment is weaker in battleground states, which points to the Democrats' inability to prove an impeachable case.

With impeachment proceedings moving swiftly after a spree of dramatic hearings, the expectation that the House will vote to impeach President Trump and trigger a Senate trial has been treated as a fait accompli — but the president's allies still see a scenario, however remote, wherein congressional Democrats could fall short.

As with so many debates in Washington, it could all come down to the moderates.

A senior administration official claimed Friday, after the apparent conclusion of House Intelligence Committee hearings, that it's "not clear the House is going to impeach."

DEM REVERSES COURSE ON IMPEACHMENT AGAIN, NOW SUPPORTS AFTER SAYING IT HAD NO VALUE

This, despite House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., declaring the "evidence of Trump's misconduct is already overwhelming" — and many Democrats playing up testimony that linked top officials to a pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and asserted an Oval Office meeting, and possibly aid, were used as leverage.

Yet as with the Russia investigation, while the hearings have been covered extensively — featuring analysis replete with phrases such as “game over” and “the walls are closing in” — the polling suggests the needle isn’t moving much in the court of public opinion.

Among critical independents, there are troubling signs for impeachment backers. Fifty percent of independents questioned in an NPR/PBS/Marist poll conducted Nov. 11-15 did not support impeaching and removing Trump from office, with just 42 percent backing such a move. That’s a slight dip in support compared with the previous NPR/PBS/Marist poll – conducted the first week in October – when support stood at 45 percent.

While that poll was conducted before last week’s high-profile testimony, it raises the possibility that the hearings in Washington are not resonating so much outside the Beltway.

Report: Vulnerable Democrats alarmed by GOP's barrage of anti-impeachment adsVideo

Under pressure from aggressive GOP ads, it remains unclear whether vulnerable Democrats in districts Trump won would have the stomach to go through with impeachment in the end even if the party appears united against Trump now.

A window into the pressure campaign to keep Democrats in line came over a 48-hour period this week when Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., changed her tune twice on impeachment.

On Sunday, Lawrence said she no longer saw any value in the process and called on Democrats to back a symbolic censure resolution instead.

"We are so close to an election," Lawrence said Sunday on a Michigan radio program, noting that Trump stands little chance of being convicted by the GOP-controlled Senate. "I will tell you, sitting here knowing how divided this country is, I don't see the value of taking him out of office. But I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable."

While Lawrence presented a censure as a “marker,” it would also mark a climbdown for Democrats, whose impeachment push has sidelined almost every other political issue since the summer.

AS IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY BREAKS FOR THANKSGIVING, CONVERSATIONS OVER TURKEY COULD DICTATE NEXT STEPS

But on Tuesday Lawrence issued a new statement, saying she continues to support impeachment.

"I was an early supporter for impeachment in 2017," Lawrence said in a statement. "The House Intelligence Committee followed a very thorough process in holding hearings these past two weeks. The information they revealed confirmed that this President has abused the power of his office, therefore I continue to support impeachment."

Asked by Fox News whether Democratic leadership pushed for the latest statement, an aide said: "Not that I know of." But the aide suggested the congresswoman still likes the idea of a censure, saying, "What she was trying to say is that because she doesn't think the Senate will convict, that maybe censure would be a viable option."

The Republican National Committee promptly sent out an email blast crowing that Democrats are getting "cold feet" and "vulnerable" members "should listen to their constituents and be the next group to abandon ship."

Other Democrats have expressed some uncertainty without tipping their hands. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., told The Washington Examiner that she doesn’t know if the impeachment hearings will change voters' minds.

“I’ll have to see,” she said. “Whether it will shift their minds one way or the other, I don’t know that.”

The next few weeks are key.

Lawmakers are likely to keep a close eye on how public opinion shifts or doesn’t over the Thanksgiving break. Democrats in pro-Trump districts could face difficult decisions — and while the math is in the pro-impeachment favor, it isn’t a slam dunk.

A simple majority — 216 of 431 members — is needed to impeach. There are 233 Democrats, meaning that presuming anti-Trump independent Rep. Justin Amash backs impeachment, Democrats can lose 18 of their own and still impeach the president.

Thirty-one of those Democrats represent districts carried by Trump in 2016. Those members will be watched closely as the House Judiciary Committee takes up the case and considers articles of impeachment as soon as next month.

As for Republicans, it seems extremely unlikely that any will break off. Republicans such as Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, who was eyed as a possible break-off from the GOP, recently indicated he will vote against impeachment.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Democrats also face the prospect of a Republican-controlled Senate trial, in which Republicans could use the proceedings to go on offense and call their own witnesses to make their case that there was Ukrainian interference in 2016, or that former Vice President Joe Biden or his son's conduct in the country was inappropriate.

Sensing a possible opening, the Republican National Committee is ramping up the pressure on Democrats in pro-Trump districts. As reported by The Daily Caller, the RNC is running ads urging voters to pick a lawmaker who “won’t waste taxpayer $$$ on partisan impeachment.”

“[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi herself said impeachment must be ‘compelling,’ ‘overwhelming,’ and ‘bipartisan,’" RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted.

“After 2 weeks of sham hearings, the Democrats’ case against @realDonaldTrump is dead — and the only thing that’s 'bipartisan' is the opposition to their entire charade,” she said.

Fox News' Gregg Re and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

Original Article

FISA report drop could scramble Trump impeachment effort

closeHorowitz report on FISA abuses to have limited redactionsVideo

Horowitz report on FISA abuses to have limited redactions

Horowitz's report nearing completion.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz plans to drop his long-awaited report on FBI surveillance during the 2016 campaign just as House Democrats are moving toward likely articles of impeachment.

For allies of President Trump, the timing could be perfect.

No matter how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act review judges the actions of law enforcement with regard to Trump campaign associate surveillance, the report will give Trump the opportunity to shift focus once more to the Russia "witch hunt" — and, as he has before, attempt to link that to Democrats' escalating impeachment inquiry over his dealings with Ukraine.

HOROWITZ REPORTEDLY FINDS FBI LAWYER FALSIFIED FISA DOC

“What they have coming out is historic,” Trump himself teased last week, in an interview with "Fox & Friends."

Previewing his rhetorical line of attack, he said: “This was spying on my campaign. … This was an overthrow attempt at the presidency.”

As he's already telegraphing, Trump is poised to argue anew that he has been the victim of unfair investigations since he was a candidate for president — and allies say he'll be able to hammer home those claims, at a time when he'll need to keep any wavering Republicans by his side should impeachment head to the Senate for trial.

Horowitz has been investigating alleged FISA abuses related to the Justice Department and FBI's surveillance of Trump associates during the 2016 campaign for more than a year and a half. The report, which is said to have few redactions, is expected to be made public on Dec. 9.

'This was spying on my campaign. … This was an overthrow attempt at the presidency.'

— President Trump

One House Republican source involved in impeachment proceedings told Fox News on Monday that the president is likely to seize on the findings to argue to lawmakers and the public that he has been unfairly targeted.

“It will be damning evidence that government officials really were trying to sabotage Trump, which is what he’s been saying all along, including during the impeachment debate,” the source told Fox News.

The individual added: “It’ll make it easy for Trump to portray impeachment as yet another political hit job by the Resistance meant to undermine him and oust him—which of course it is.”

Last week, multiple news reports said that Horowitz had found evidence that an FBI lawyer manipulated a key investigative document related to the FBI’s secretive surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. In its initial 2016 FISA warrant application, the FBI described Page as an “agent of a foreign power.”

Horowitz, in the course of his review, found that the FBI employee who allegedly manipulated the document falsely stated that he had “documentation to back up a claim he had made in discussions with the Justice Department about the factual basis” for the FISA warrant application, according to a report by The Washington Post. Then, the FBI employee allegedly “altered an email” to substantiate his inaccurate version of events. The employee has since been forced out of the bureau.

At the same time, the Post reported that the alleged conduct did not affect an underlying finding that the surveillance application for Page "had a proper legal and factual basis."

The details suggest the report could present a mixed picture — a document members of both parties will likely mine for information favorable to their argument.

Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos — who believes he, separately, was surveilled during the 2016 election through human sources while doing work overseas — said the leaks surrounding the report were meant to reflect favorably upon law enforcement but warned there is likely damaging information forthcoming.

Papadopoulos: IG report won’t be pleasant for FBIVideo

“I think these leaks were incredibly timed,” Papadopoulos said on “Fox & Friends” Monday. “I think the report is not going to be as pleasant as many think it’s going to be for the FBI. And it’s actually probably going to lead into criminal prosecutions that [prosecutor John] Durham is going to end up taking over for.”

Horowitz is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11, another event that will keep the FISA matter in the headlines. Horowitz has said that his final report would be released publicly, with few redactions, and noted that he did not anticipate a need to prepare or issue “separate classified and public versions of the report.”

Horowitz's report could even spark new congressional investigations while offering information to other federal reviews probing allegations of abuse by the Justice Department and the FBI, giving Republicans yet another chance to turn the tables on Democrats amid the impeachment probe — something they've already sought to do by focusing on allegations against the Bidens, as opposed to the allegations Trump wrongly pressured Ukraine to investigate the same issue.

The Justice Department and the FBI obtained warrants in 2016 to monitor Page. Page told Fox News earlier this month he was "frustrated" he had not been interviewed in Horowitz's probe.

According to a House GOP memo released in 2018, the unverified anti-Trump dossier “formed an essential part” of the approval of the warrant. The dossier was authored and compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, and was created on behalf of Fusion GPS—the firm that was hired to conduct opposition research funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie.

Additionally, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller was unable to substantiate key claims in the dossier, including that the Trump campaign employed hackers in the United States, that there was a compromising recording of the president in a hotel room, and that ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen flew to Prague to build a conspiracy with hackers. Cohen has denied ever heading to Prague, and no public evidence has contradicted that claim.

Meanwhile, sources told Fox News last month that U.S. Attorney John Durham’s separate, ongoing probe into potential FBI and Justice Department misconduct in the run-up to the 2016 election through the spring of 2017 has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation—and that Horowitz’s report will shed light on why Durham’s probe has become a criminal inquiry.

IN IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE REPUBLICANS COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

Durham has reportedly taken up Horowitz’s findings concerning the falsified FISA document, meaning the ex-FBI lawyer who made the changes is now under criminal investigation.

The FISA report comes after a packed spree of impeachment hearings led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. He announced a report is now being prepared for the Judiciary Committee, signaling that his panel is wrapping up its work. That committee could eventually draft articles of impeachment for a floor vote; if approved, the debate would shift to the Senate.

There, Trump’s allies, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are already indicating they will look more closely at allegations involving Democrats.

Graham penned a letter last week to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between former Vice President Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and to a meeting between son Hunter Biden’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

This pertains to questions surrounding the elder Biden’s role in pressing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating the natural gas firm Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board. Biden denies any wrongdoing, but Republicans have pressed for details throughout the impeachment process, in a bid to show that even though Trump’s pressure campaign on Kiev triggered the impeachment inquiry, his concern was legitimate.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Kiev. That call prompted a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a "quid pro quo" arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Fox News' Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Original Article

As impeachment inquiry breaks for Thanksgiving, conversations over turkey could dictate next steps

closeDo Democrats have any actual articles of impeachment?Video

Do Democrats have any actual articles of impeachment?

Reaction and analysis with former Whitewater independent counsel Robert Ray and Trump 2020 campaign adviser Harmeet Dhillon.

“Ambassador Sondland,” warned Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., from the dais on day four of the open impeachment hearings. “You are here to be smeared.”

Nunes is the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. But it wasn’t clear at that moment to U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, that Republicans may be doing the smearing.

IN TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, SENATE REPUBLICANS COULD TURN TABLES ON DEMS

Sondland told lawmakers that there was indeed a quid pro quo. He testified that Rudolph Giuliani said requests for a quid pro quo were linked to possible White House meetings for Ukrainian leaders and to prompt investigations of the Bidens. Sondland announced that U.S. aid would not flow to Kiev unless there were probes. Sondland even testified he told Vice President Mike Pence in early September of harboring concerns about connecting the aid to investigations.

But then Mark Short, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, unloaded on Sondland.

“The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about investigating the Bidens, Burisma, or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine based upon potential investigations,” said Short. “Ambassador Gordon Sondland was never alone with Vice President Pence on the September 1 trip to Poland. This alleged discussion recalled by Ambassador Sondland never happened.”

Sondland testified that he pieced together what was going on: a linkage between aid to Ukraine and an investigation of the Bidens.

“It was a presumption,” said Sondland. “Two plus two equals four in my mind.”

Nunes seized on Sondland, divining President Trump’s approach toward Ukraine – without really grasping the policy.

Nunes said it would be “great” if Sondland actually knew the status of the foreign aid “rather than doing funny little math problems here. Two plus two equals four.”

The Republican attorney for the impeachment inquest, counsel Steve Castor, called into question the veracity of Sondland’s interpretations – since the ambassador conceded he rarely took notes.

“You don’t have records. You don’t have your notes because you didn’t take notes. You don’t have a lot of recollections. I mean, this is like the trifecta of unreliability. Isn’t that true?” hectored Castor. “It’s a lot of speculation. A lot of it is your guessing. And we’re talking about impeachment of the President of the United States. So the evidence should be pretty darn good.”

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, challenged precisely what Sondland thought he may have known about the status of military assistance to Ukraine – and what factors were in play about its release.

Trump says 'it's all over' for impeachment inquiry after Sondland testimonyVideo

“No one on this planet told you that President Trump was tying aid to investigations. Yes or no?” asked Turner.

WHITE HOUSE WANTS ITS LAWYERS TO CROSS-EXAMINE, CALL WITNESES IF IMPEACHMENT GOES TO HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

“Yes,” replied Sondland.

“So you really have no testimony today that ties President Trump to a scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine in exchange for these investigations?” continued Turner.

“Other than my own presumptions,” answered Sondland.

It wasn’t long after Sondland concluded that more Republicans off Capitol Hill began to muddy the ambassador’s testimony.

“Gordon Sondland never told Secretary Pompeo that he believed the President was linking aid to investigations of political opponents. Any suggestion to the contrary is flat out false,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.

Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry emerged in the Ukraine affair as one of the “three amigos” who were crafting U.S. policy with Ukraine – potentially beyond the bounds of regular diplomatic channels. The other two “amigos” were Sondland and former envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker. But Perry’s team pushed back on Sondland as well.

“Ambassador Sondland’s testimony today misrepresented both Secretary Perry’s interaction with Rudy Giuliani and direction the Secretary received from President Trump,” said Perry spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes. “As previously stated, Secretary Perry spoke to Rudy Giuliani only once at the President’s request. No one else was on that call. At no point before, during or after that phone call did the words ‘Biden’ or ‘Burisma’ ever come up in the presence of Secretary Perry.”

Secretary Rick Perry on Gordon Sondland's impeachment testimony: He's surmisingVideo

There are problems with Sondland’s testimony. Much of it is predicated on interpretations and perceptions. And, to be fair, Republicans may not really be “smearing” Sondland here. Both sides are fighting to frame their arguments. Like in a court case, GOPers are naturally trying to undercut the credibility of witnesses. Any good counsel would poke holes in testimony, question credibility of the witness and cast doubt.

Before Messrs. Sondland, Perry and Volker rode as the “three amigos,” children of the ‘80s recall a critically-panned, but now cult classic comedy movie titled the “Three Amigos.” The film starred comedy legends Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase. Martin, balladeer Randy Newman and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels wrote the script. But the passing reference to the ‘80s comedy was far from the only pop cultural reference in the impeachment hearings.

Sondland may have lacked concrete information about U.S. Ukraine policy. But what Sondland seemed to remember most from his phone call with President Trump on July 26 from a Kiev restaurant, was discussion of rapper A$AP Rocky. Sondland testified he didn’t initially mention the phone call when House investigators first deposed him in October. But discussion by others about A$AP Rocky jogged his memory.

“That’s the way memory works,” observed Intelligence Committee Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman.

In fact, Sondland testified that much of his conversation with President Trump centered on the legal status of A$AP Rocky, held by Swedish authorities after an alleged assault.

A$AP Rocky emerged as a fringe figure in the impeachment inquiry after U.S. diplomat to Ukraine David Holmes, lunching that day with Sondland in Kiev, testified that A$AP Rocky’s detention appeared prominently in President Trump’s phone call with the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.

Holmes told the Intelligence Committee that Sondland said to Mr. Trump “the President of Sweden ‘should have released (A$AP Rocky) on your word,’ but that ‘you can tell the Kardashians you tried.’”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

And you thought all President Trump cared about was an investigation of the Bidens.

But, these discussions may have created a special moment in American history. Neither the Kardashians nor A$AP Rocky came up during the impeachment investigations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. However, the historical record is a little unclear as to whether the Kardashians played a side role in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.

Congress is out until early December for the Thanksgiving recess. Perhaps the biggest thing to watch now is where public opinion goes over the Thanksgiving recess. Expect lots of debate – and maybe actual arguments about impeachment – at dinner tables over turkey, gravy, stuffing, cornbread and pumpkin pie.

Those Thanksgiving conversations could dictate where impeachment is headed.

And there may even be chatter about A$AP Rocky, too.

Original Article

In Trump impeachment trial, Senate Republicans could turn tables on Dems

closeTrump, supporters in Congress may be coming to terms with Senate impeachment trialVideo

Trump, supporters in Congress may be coming to terms with Senate impeachment trial

With impeachment all but a certainty in the House, leading Republicans agree with White House officials that there should be a full trial and not a motion to dismiss; Kevin Corke reports from the White House.

House Democrats are entering what may be the final phase of their impeachment inquiry, after wrapping up a spree of hearings where witnesses tied top officials — including President Trump — to efforts to pressure Ukraine on political investigations while military aid was being withheld.

But the tables could turn, should the House approve impeachment articles and trigger a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate. There, Trump’s allies are already indicating they will look more closely at allegations involving Democrats.

"Frankly, I want a trial," Trump declared Friday on “Fox & Friends.”

TRUMP CALLS FOR SENATE TRIAL, SEEKS WHISTLEBLOWER AND SCHIFF AS IMPEACHMENT WITNESSES

There’s a reason for that.

Democrats have controlled everything during marathon proceedings in the House, frustrating GOP attempts to call witnesses pertaining to the matters Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate — specifically, the Bidens’ business dealings in that country and Kiev’s alleged interference in the 2016 election.

But that changes on the Senate side, where Republicans have the majority and Trump allies chair key committees. Already, they’ve signaled their interest in exploring issues that House Democrats glossed over during their hearings.

On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between former Vice President Joe Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and to a meeting between son Hunter Biden’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Public opinion shifts further from favoring impeachment amid public hearingsVideo

This pertains to questions surrounding the elder Biden’s role in pressing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating the natural gas firm Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board. Biden denies any wrongdoing, but Republicans have pressed for details throughout the impeachment process, in a bid to show that even though Trump’s pressure campaign on Kiev triggered the impeachment inquiry, his concern was legitimate.

On the House side, Republicans likewise encountered challenges digging into allegations of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election. While Trump has sought to press an unsupported theory that Ukraine was tied to Democratic National Committee hacking, GOP lawmakers have sought details on other issues that are more grounded in published reports — like whether former DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa was improperly digging up dirt on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others with Ukraine’s help at the time.

Democrats did not grant GOP requests to call Biden's son Hunter, Chalupa and others on the House side.

But while it’s unclear if Senate Republicans will at least attempt to call these and other witnesses, high-ranking members are showing their early interest in exploring the issues.

Aside from the Graham letter, Senate Oversight Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., and Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have penned a letter to the head of the National Archives and Records Administration to request records of multiple White House meetings that took place in 2016 involving Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives and Democratic National Committee officials.

GRAHAM DEMANDS DOCUMENTS ON UKRAINE, BIDENS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FROM 2016

Johnson and Grassley wrote that during a meeting in 2016, officials “brought up investigations relating to Burisma Holdings.” The senators added that a Ukrainian political officer working in the Ukraine Embassy in Washington said U.S. officials in that meeting asked that "Kiev drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over.”

They added that White House records revealed that Chalupa had attended “numerous meetings at the White House, including one event with President Obama.”

The new requests from Senate Republicans come as the House ended its series of scheduled hearings on Thursday. The Intelligence Committee could announce additional hearings and depositions, but at this time, nothing has been scheduled.

The committee may now write and transmit its report to the House Judiciary Committee, which could begin writing articles of impeachment ahead of a floor vote.

“What the House ends up passing will drive a lot of what we end up doing over here,” a senior Republican aide familiar with the ongoing discussions told Fox News Friday.

The aide told Fox News that the White House made a “positive” and “significant” development this week, as officials indicated “what they want” for the trial.

In the Senate trial, three separate parties have input to how it will play out: Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House.

“It is impossible for us to come up with contours for impeachment without input from the White House,” the aide said. “Their input is a very positive step so we can try to control this as much as possible.”

The White House, on Thursday, signaled that they would like a Senate trial to last no longer than two weeks. The impeachment of former President Bill Clinton lasted for six weeks.

President Trump wants Rep. Adam Schiff, Ukraine whistleblower to testify in Senate impeachment trialVideo

“We all want speedy,” the aide said. “This is the first indication the White House has given and that’s a positive — before it was radio silence from them, and now they’re starting to indicate what they want this thing to look like.”

The aide explained that the Senate, once they receive articles of impeachment, will begin working on two resolutions — one that governs the timeline of the trial, and the other that sets up witnesses for closed-door depositions, as well as which witness will be required to testify on the stand.

The aide explained that the resolutions are “significant,” noting that they will “be the main avenue that evidence is admitted.”

The aide suggested that Republican senators like Graham, Grassley and Johnson could be attempting to help “shape” the witness list and the trial.

Graham: I will insist Senate calls on whistleblower to testifyVideo

A senior administration official, though, claimed Friday there’s “ample reasons” for the Senate to simply dismiss the case – though GOP senators have indicated that’s unlikely to happen.

Yet the official still maintained it’s “100 percent to our advantage to have [a] full trial” in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said sending articles of impeachment to the Senate was "good news."

“Everyone knows what they’re going to do next. They’re going to impeach the president and send it onto the Senate, but that is the good news. That’s good news,” Stewart said. “In the U.S. Senate, there won’t be any secret testimony or dishonest leadership … or to deny a defense.”

He added: “So we’ll finally be able to get to the truth.”

Stewart went on to list several witnesses he hoped the Senate would call to testify, including the whistleblower, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Hunter Biden, Burisma board member Devon Archer, Chalupa, and Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr.

And the president, himself, seems to be welcoming the trial as well.

“There’s nothing there,” Trump said Friday during an interview with “Fox & Friends,” saying “there should never be an impeachment,” and echoing GOP requests for the whistleblower, Schiff and Hunter Biden to appear as witnesses.

At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Kiev. That call prompted the whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.

The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a "quid pro quo" arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.

Original Article

Dems could draft 4 articles of impeachment, GOP plans for full Senate trial, sources say

closeChris Wallace: Censure instead of impeachment seems like 'reasonable compromise'Video

Chris Wallace: Censure instead of impeachment seems like 'reasonable compromise'

'Fox News Sunday' anchor Chris Wallace says Democrats standing down on impeachment in favor of a censure might be a more favorable option for lawmakers.

Abuse of power. Bribery. Contempt of Congress. Obstruction of justice.

Those the four potential articles of impeachment that House Judiciary Committee Democrats could draw up against President Trump as soon as next month, Fox News is told, after all scheduled public hearings before the House Intelligence Committee wrapped up on a testy note Thursday.

At a meeting with top GOP senators and Trump administration officials at the White House on Thursday afternoon, Fox News is told there was a consensus that should Trump be impeached by the House, the GOP-controlled Senate should hold a trial rather than tabling the issue.

Reports have surfaced that Republicans were considering even holding a long trial to disrupt the 2020 presidential primaries. Several Democrats seeking to unseat Trump — including Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — are senators who would need to divert at least some of their campaigning time toward a potential trial.

"I think most everybody agreed there's not 51 votes to dismiss it before the managers get to call their case," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News after huddling with other top Republican senators and White House officials. "The idea you would dismiss the trial before they presented the cases is a non-starter. You're not going to get a motion to dismiss."

Adam Schiff calls out attacks, smears on impeachment witnessesVideo

It remained possible the House Intelligence Committee could schedule more hearings, although no additional hearings are expected during Thanksgiving week. Or, the committee could prepare a report on its findings for the House Judiciary Committee — which would have the option of holding its own hearings or simply drafting articles of impeachment outright.

Under a resolution passed by House Democrats on the Rules Committee this past October, Trump and the White House potentially would have more rights to defend themselves in Judiciary Committee hearings. For example, attorneys for the president could participate in such hearings. But, in a bid for leverage, Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., would be allowed under the rules to deny "specific requests" by Trump representatives if the White House continued refusing to provide documents or witnesses sought by Democratic investigators.

A possible timetable for impeachment has been unclear. It’s generally thought the Judiciary Committee may hold a "markup" in which it writes articles of impeachment in mid-December. If that were to happen, it's possible the full House could vote on articles of impeachment sometime close to Christmas. That would be a similar timeframe to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton: The House impeached Clinton just before Christmas in 1998. The Senate trial then began in January 1999.

KEY WITNESSES UNDERCUT CLAIMS OF 'QUID PRO QUO' …. DIPLOMAT THEN CLAIMS 'QUID PRO QUO,' BUT ADMITS IT'S BASED ENTIRELY ON HIS PRESUMPTIONS

However, the House theoretically could pass articles of impeachment, but delay a vote to send them to the Senate for consideration — perhaps to delay handing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., control over the proceedings.

Graham, coming out of the White House discussion, added that "we didn't talk about" how to mount a case to "defend the president."

Instead, Graham said, the discussion centered around "how would the trial start — you know, they'll make a request for witnesses, but that would have to be granted by the Senate, I guess that's the way we did it before."

Graham continued, "My preference was to try to follow the Clinton model as much as possible."

Clinton was acquitted on both perjury and obstruction counts in February 1999, with each vote falling fall short of the two-thirds majority required for removal.

In the Senate, impeachment procedures would allow witnesses to be called by the president's defense lawyers, GOP senators and a team of House Democrats who essentially would serve as prosecutors. The big catch: Republicans would need enough votes from the 53 GOP senators to muster a majority and prevent Democrats from blocking them.

Assuming Republican senators would stay united — not a guarantee — Trump's defenders could try refocusing the inquiry by seeking testimony from people like Hunter Biden, the son of 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Rep. Hurd: 'I’ve not heard evidence the president committed bribery or extortion'

Rep. Hurd: 'I’ve not heard evidence the president committed bribery or extortion'

Rep. Turner tells Holmes he 'embarrassed' Zelensky by disclosing the 'Zelensky loves your ass' remark

Rep. Turner tells Holmes he 'embarrassed' Zelensky by disclosing the 'Zelensky loves your ass' remark

Devin Nunes presses Fiona Hill over the Steele dossier and its origins

Devin Nunes presses Fiona Hill over the Steele dossier and its origins

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes questions Dr. Fiona Hill, former National Security Council aide, during her public testimony in the House impeachment inquiry.

During his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to a whistleblower complaint touching off the impeachment inquiry, Trump suggested Zelensky investigate Joe Biden's dealings in Ukraine, including the former vice president's successful push to have Ukraine's top prosecutor fired by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid while the prosecutor was investigating Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden served on the board.

Hunter Biden held that lucrative role despite limited expertise while his father oversaw Ukraine policy as vice president. If Senate Republicans could put forward evidence showing the president's concerns about the Bidens' potential corruption were legitimate, they could undercut Democrats' central argument for impeachment.

On Thursday, Graham strongly signaled that Hunter Biden would be a key GOP focus. He sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting documents "related to contacts between Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden, other Obama administration officials and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified behind closed doors last month that he and other officials had qualms about Hunter Biden's lucrative role on the board of Burisma at the time.

STATE DEPT OFFICIAL SAYS BIDEN, BURISMA NOT MENTIONED REGARDING AID HOLDUP

"What Republicans want to do is broaden the story," said David Hoppe, who was chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., during Clinton's impeachment trial.

And, Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said Thursday he'd like Senate testimony from the still-anonymous whistleblower, whose House appearance Democrats have blocked. Cramer said he might also like to hear from both Bidens and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

The White House has signaled it will mount an aggressive defense. "When this goes over to the Senate, you know, the people that actually started this thing, they are going to be put on the stand," Eric Trump, the president's son, told reporters Thursday. He said that would include "heads of the Democratic Party."

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

For his part, Trump has argued that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland's testimony before the Intelligence Committee was a total exoneration."I just noticed one thing and that would mean it’s all over," Trump said on the White House lawn before reading from handwritten notes taken during Sondland’s testimony. Sondland testified about a conversation with Trump during which he asked the president what he wanted from Ukraine.

"It was a very short, abrupt conversation," the ambassador said. "He was not in a good mood, and he just said, 'I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.' Something to that effect."

Fox News' Jason Donner, Andrew O'Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Article