There were plenty of revelations and declarations — and even a T-shirt — Friday related to the impeachment inquiry. Here’s the latest news:
Schiff promises public hearings, transparency — House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, who is helping to coordinate the investigation, promised that transcripts of depositions will be released and there will be public hearings. He’s seeking to quiet frustration about the fast and closed-door process.
How long is this going to take?
It’s been 24 days since Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that House Democrats would be conducting their investigations as an impeachment inquiry.
How much more of this are we in for? A lot more.
Take a look at the most recent presidential impeachment efforts.
- Oct. 8, 1998 — Inquiry authorized by House vote
- Dec. 11, 12, 1998 — House Judiciary Committee completes voting on articles of impeachment
- Dec. 19, 1998 — House votes for impeachment
- Jan. 7-Feb. 12, 1999 — Senate trial, acquittal
Impeachment phase: 72 days
Grand total: 127 days
- Feb. 6, 1974 — Inquiry authorized by House vote
- July 27-30, 1974 — House Judiciary Committee completes voting on articles of impeachment
- Aug. 8, 1974 – Nixon resigns
Grand total: 183 days
Of course, it’s important to remember that investigations had been ongoing for years before the impeachment inquiries began in both of those cases — each of which was conducted during the president’s second term, rather than heading into a reelection campaign. That’s one reason Democrats are moving at breakneck speed against Trump.
The work ahead for impeachment investigators includes more depositions, releasing transcripts, conducting public hearings, writing a report of their findings and finally drawing up articles of impeachment.
Pelosi has been being very careful not to put a time frame on it.
There’s general hope in the halls of the Capitol that the inquiry will be done by Thanksgiving. After a House vote, the Senate would take up the matter, either with a trial or a vote to dismiss.
CNN’s Manu Raju is as plugged in on Capitol Hill as any reporter and we asked for his prediction:
“It’s only a guess, but my guess is they impeach in December sometime,” he said.
But if there is a Senate trial, it’s not hard to imagine that spilling over into January.
For the calendar: The Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020.
Flashback Friday, McConnell edition
How a Senate trial proceeds will largely be up to one man — Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. A little more than 20 years ago, he gave an incredible speech in support of removing Bill Clinton from office.
“So what will we do this day?” McConnell asked his fellow senators. “Will we rise above or will we sink below? Will we condone this President’s conduct or will we condemn it? Will we change our standards or will we change our President?”
Quotes like that won’t wear well if McConnell tries to squash impeachment without a full trial, as some have suggested he might.
Trump says the whistleblower has been discredited, but the facts tell a different story.
No crime necessary
CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin gave lectures on impeachment at Harvard this week and kindly shared his notes.
He told the Harvard students that a president doesn’t have to commit a crime to be guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Zeldin: The Nixon and Clinton articles of impeachment charged crimes. But there is no direct evidence that anything in the notes of the Constitutional Convention or the State ratification debates defines “other high crimes and misdemeanors” as requiring the commission of a crime.
Indeed, reference is made to impeachment being a political process thereby undermining the argument that a crime is a required predicate.
But there is a debate among Constitutional scholars on this point • My view: Impeachment requires a betrayal of the national interest or the exercise of power for self-interest regardless of whether the conduct is criminal.
There will be a test later and this will be one of the questions. Save your notes.
What are we doing here?
The President has invited foreign powers to interfere in the US presidential election.
Democrats want to impeach him for it.
It is a crossroads for the American system of government as the President tries to change what’s acceptable for US politicians. This newsletter will focus on this consequential moment in US history.