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.”

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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

Kudlow: U.S. exports to China will double under ‘phase one’ deal, agreement to be signed in early January

White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow talks with reporters outside the White House, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 1:52 PM PT — Monday, December 16, 2019

According to National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, the ‘phase one’ trade deal with China is complete. While speaking to reporters at the White House Monday, he said U.S. exports to China will double under the deal. The White House economic adviser also said China will increase imports of all goods and services, and emphasized the positive effects this will have on economic growth in the U.S.

“It covers IP and it covers tech transfers, and it covers financial services and it covers currencies and so forth,” he explained. “But one of the things it covers…not just agriculture, but the deal includes a Chinese purchase of America goods and services across the board.”

Kudlow pointed out that currency manipulation is a key part of the agreement, and it addresses other major issues like IP theft and foreign access to the Chinese market. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer will sign the deal with the Chinese vice premier in Washington in early January.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during an event to sign an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, at the national palace in Mexico City, Tuesday, Dec. 10. 2019. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

During that same press briefing, Kudlow also commented on the USMCA. He said a separate agreement on labor inspections with Mexico will not derail the trade deal and will boost the sides’ compliance with the accord. On Monday, Mexico said it opposed U.S. inspectors monitoring labor conditions at Mexican plants, but the U.S. economic chief stressed that all USMCA members must have the same labor standards.

“We want all the countries that we trade with to have the same worker rights as we do here, to the extent that we will work through with Mexico and Canada on workers rights and union rules,” he stated. “I don’t think that’s going to be difficult, and I know it’s not going to stop the successful passage of USMCA.”

Kudlow went on to say the White House will work on a trade deal with the Britain soon soon as possible, noting impeachment will not slow anything down.

RELATED: Mnuchin Says Trade Deal With China To Boost Global Economy

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.

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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

Reporter’s Notebook: Congress rings in holidays with one of its most stressful Decembers ever

closeHouse Judiciary begins markup session on articles of impeachmentVideo

House Judiciary begins markup session on articles of impeachment

Fox News contributor Karl Rove and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams weigh in.

CAPITOL HILL – Seth MacFarlane nailed it in the Christmastime episode of “Family Guy” nine years ago.

Stevie and Brian the dog headed to the North Pole during the holiday season on a nefarious quest to knock off ol’ St. Nick himself. The duo arrived, only to discover that Santa’s workshop was a dystopic tableau, populated with an exhausted team of overworked, crackhead elves and a bone-tired, cynical Santa Claus.

Christmas was exhausting everyone at the North Pole. Santa and his elves launched into song.

“Each bell would peal with a silvery zeal…

As the holiday was filling us…

But now instead, all we’re feeling is dread…

Because Christmastime is killing us!”

But, such wretched holiday dioramas aren’t confined to “Family Guy” or the North Pole.

Anyone who’s spent any time during the month of December on Capitol Hill knows exactly what we’re driving at here. The sheer, exponential volume of work and stress often in Congress each December saps away holiday cheer as lawmakers, staff and journalists toil around the clock.

December is the worst month on the Congressional calendar. The 12 days of Christmas are more like a month of pain in Congress.

Maxine Waters called Clinton impeachment 'Republican coup,' backs impeachment against TrumpVideo

“O Christmas tree. O Christmas tree. How faithful are thy branches?”

When it comes to December, you can bet that the legislative branch of government will be “faithful,” meeting in session right up until Christmas – if not toiling all the way through the holidays.

We’ve had some hall deckers around Congress at the holidays before. A Christmas Eve pre-dawn vote in the Senate to pass the first version of ObamaCare in 2009. Congress labored through the holidays in 2012 as the nation faced the “fiscal cliff” in 2012 and 2013. Vice President Biden came to the Capitol around 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 2012 for negotiations. The Senate began voting just around 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2013, on the fiscal cliff measure, and the House voted that night. Last year, the government shut down just before Christmas and remained closed through the holidays. The sides were stymied in efforts to reach an accord to fund the government.

The House even impeached President Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998 – the Saturday before Christmas. And, perhaps appropriately, the first impeachment trial in U.S. history began in the Senate on Christmas Eve in 1797.

In other words, Congress has Christmas traditions to uphold when it comes to impeachment.

So, here we are with perhaps the most overwhelming slate of work facing Congress at the holidays in decades. The House began a “markup” session to prepare articles of impeachment at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The full House may debate the articles and vote to impeach President Trump sometime before the holiday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., even announced a deal on the new trade pact between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, known as USCMA – one hour after the House unveiled articles of impeachment.

The sheer juxtaposition of House Democrats announcing they would impeach the president – within an hour of announcing they were on the precipice of granting Trump the biggest, bipartisan policy victory of his presidency, was simply bizarre.

A somber Pelosi appeared at a 9 a.m. news conference to release the impeachment articles on Tuesday. By 10, Pelosi was all smiles as she strode to the lectern for a second news conference on USMCA.

“It’s like we’re dealing with whiplash here this morning,” said yours truly to the speaker. “Impeachment at 9. USMCA at 10.”

“The day is young!” exclaimed Pelosi, triggering a peal of laughter in the press gallery.

Finally, the sides still must work out an agreement to avoid a government shutdown by 11:59:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 20. Failure to do so could trigger yet another holiday season government shutdown.

2018 Rep. Nunes memo cast in new light after IG reportVideo

“Sleigh bells ring! Are you listening?”
Frankly, no. Everyone has spent hours sequestered in various impeachment hearings and markups starting at dawn and running until nightfall – and some even beginning after nightfall. We’ve heard testimony about alleged quid pro quos, Gordon Sondland, the whistleblower and Jonathan Turley’s angry goldendoodle. And, the only thing Christmas-like in the hearing room is the temperature. It feels like the North Pole.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose.”

The House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees conducted their hearings in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building. It’s a cavernous facility, home to the House Ways and Means Committee. The room is historically the coldest room on Capitol Hill. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, referenced the extreme chill in the hearing room last week and complained to Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.

“This is the coldest hearing room in the world,” Collins exhorted during one hearing, also grousing about the lack of comfort of the chair.

Some reporters covering impeachment resembled “folks dressed up like Eskimos,” wrapped in wool blankets for the marathon hearings.

The House used 1100 Longworth as the actual chamber in the 1940s while workers renovated the real one across the street in the Capitol. 1100 Longworth has retained its status as a backup chamber to this day. The House has kept the room at a very cold temperature in case of a chemical or biological attack. Colder temperatures would restrict the aerosolization of particles in a terrorist attack.

House Judiciary Committee to formalize impeachment charges against President TrumpVideo

So, here we are again on Capitol Hill, and Christmastime is killing us. And, the deadline to fund the government looms.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., noted there was “no progress” on funding the government as she headed to a meeting with Pelosi and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The same issue that triggered a government shutdown still hasn’t been resolved this year: funding for a border wall and the treatment of people in U.S. detention.

“We want to get as much dignity and protections for migrants as possible,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said as she headed into the conclave with Pelosi and Lowey.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., published the Senate calendar for 2020 last week. Anticipating a prospective impeachment trial, McConnell released an 11-month calendar. No, he didn’t leave January blank. He simply ripped January off the calendar as if it didn’t exist.

McConnell couldn’t predict what was ahead in the early days of 2020. So, McConnell didn’t even make a guess.

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McConnell may harbor serious reservations about January. But, everyone knows that December is the real black hole. Everyone faces prodigiously lengthy days ahead. Christmastime is killing us.

Perhaps McConnell is onto something with the 11-month calendar. An easy way to cure the December ills in Congress? Just delete the entire month from the calendar.

Original Article

Reporter’s Notebook: House votes on impeachment articles would be monumental decisions

closePelosi requests House Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment against TrumpVideo

Pelosi requests House Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment against Trump

Democrats in House Judiciary Committee work through the weekend ahead of impeachment hearing; David Spunt reports.

CAPITOL HILL – There are important roll call votes on Capitol Hill — but votes on articles of impeachment against President Trump would be monumental.

Think about votes cast in 2009 and and 2010 for or against ObamaCare. A failed effort to undo ObamaCare in 2017. Votes in 2008 to salvage the economy with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Votes last Congress on tax reform. Various votes to fund the government and hike the debt ceiling. And, in the Senate, votes to confirm Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

News organizations and political firms have traved major votes on the floors of the House and Senate each year. Some of those votes may define a career. Look at the nay vote cast by the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to end Republican efforts to unwind ObamaCare. Separately, voters in Maine and Colorado respectively took note of the votes by Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Cory Gardner to confirm Kavanaugh last fall. That vote is sure to resonate in the reelection bids for Collins and Gardner next year.

All of those votes have been major, reverberating throughout a given Congress – and even for decades to come. Despite multiple efforts to gut ObamaCare, it has remained the law of the land. Still, “aye” ballots for ObamaCare proved to help end the congressional careers of many House and Senate Democrats. Republicans weaponized that vote against those Democrats. Some paid with their political lives in 2010 and beyond. Lots of House Republicans lost the House for the same reason last year because of their votes for the tax bill and for trying to repeal ObamaCare.

We won’t know if the votes by Collins and Gardner for Kavanaugh will sway the outcomes of their Senate contests next year. But, barring illness, the 54-year-old Kavanaugh could serve on the high court for decades. The decisions by Collins and Gardner to confirm Kavanaugh are likely to echo in American jurisprudence for years.

Eric Shawn: President Trump's pending impeachment trialVideo

These are all high-profile roll call votes, as weighty as can be. But, there is yet one more, hyper-elite classification of House and Senate votes, more consequential than the rest. These are votes to go to war and to impeach a president.

These momentous votes have filtered through the decades. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., is still known as the only House member to oppose the war resolution following Sept. 11, 2001. The late Rep. Jeannette Rankin, R-Mont., was the first woman ever elected to Congress, but in addition to her trailblazing for women, historians have recalled her votes opposing U.S. involvement in World War I and World War II.

“I cannot vote for war,” said Rankin when she opposed the U.S. declaring war against Germany in World War I. Rankin’s words about war were emblazoned on the base of her statue in the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center. It’s one of two statues from Montana in the official congressional collection.

Other lawmakers voted against the U.S. entering World War I. But, Rankin was the only member of either body to vote “nay” after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Many prominent members, including future Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., then a congressman, tried to persuade Rankin to vote “aye” so the tally would be unanimous. But, Rankin resisted. Her position was so unpopular that she abstained from voting on future war declarations against Germany and Italy. Her political career ended soon afterwards.

This brings us to present day.

New questions over phone records in House Democrats' impeachment reportVideo

NUNES BLASTS SCHIFF FOR 'BLATANT DISREGARD' OF IMPEACHMENT RULES

The House Judiciary Committee is likely to entertain three to five articles of impeachment for Trump. The House would not simply throw a broad resolution on the floor with members voting up or down to impeach. These articles would be honed and massaged, narrow and concrete. Members would focus on what they accused the president of doing, such as an indictment. It’s then up to the Judiciary Committee to actually approve the articles and send them to the House floor. The House must then vote to adopt or reject those articles.

Without question, these votes on articles of impeachment would be the most critical ballots cast in the 116th Congress. They could be the cardinal votes many lawmakers would make during their congressional tenures. That said, 55 House members who voted on the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton in 1998 have remained in the House.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment and approved three for then-President Richard Nixon. Nixon resigned before the articles went to the House floor. In 1998, the Judiciary Committee prepared four articles of impeachment but the full House okayed only two of them.

Details of the articles would paramount, so members of Congress from both parties would want to evaluate the articles — study them, ponder them, and then, with a deep sigh, decide how to vote.

We always hear an array of TV commercials from upstarts and political neophytes just before each congressional election, boasting about how if you elect them, they’ll head to Washington and have the courage “to take the tough votes.”

Well, congratulations, members of the 116th Congress. You won the lottery.

Pelosi only seems to invoke religion when she attacks Trump -- is that being a good Catholic?Video

Americans are likely to remember how all current 431 members of the House voted, yea or nay, on each article of impeachment.

Think of the vulnerable, freshmen Democrats who helped propel their party to the majority in 2018, representing districts Trump won in 2016. There are 31 such Democrats. Look closely at how freshmen Democrats like Reps. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Anthony Brindisi of New York and Joe Cunningham of South Carolina vote.

Republicans wouldn’t be out of the woods yet, either. Consider the challenges of an impeachment vote for swing-district Republicans including Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, John Katko of New York and Don Bacon of Nebraska.

Potential articles of impeachment have centered on “bribery” — specifically mentioned in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution — abuse of power, contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice. All such potential articles would be fissionable enough to incinerate many a political career if a lawmaker were to vote the wrong way.

But, one potential article of impeachment would be practically thermonuclear: treason.

Again, Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution mentions “treason” as a defined transgression worthy of impeachment. One could see how House Democrats might try to make a case for treason with President Trump.

The House essentially accused Sen. William Blount of Tennessee of treason in the republic’s first impeachment in 1797. The House argued Blount covertly worked with Britain to acquire territory in the south. The House impeached Federal Judge West Hughes Humphreys in 1862 for supporting the Confederacy. No other House impeachments have ever wandered into treason as possible grounds for impeachment.

This speaks to why the House may impeach President Trump on some articles and not others. That’s why members are so curious to learn what the articles may be and decide how to vote on each individual.

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It’s just a simple question, right? Binary. Yea or nay? Members do this all day long.

But, votes on the impeachment of Trump are likely to be the most momentous of a lawmaker’s career. And, the decisions lawmakers make will pulsate through the American experience like no other ballot they cast before.

Original Article