Reaction and analysis from Trump 2020 campaign adviser Jenna Ellis.
Republicans ratcheted up their accusations that Democrats are overplaying their impeachment hand after court filings from the House Judiciary Committee indicated the two articles of impeachment adopted last week may only be the beginning.
GOP lawmakers already were fuming at Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her surprise decision to delay transmitting the articles to the Senate in a bid to extract favorable terms for President Trump's trial. But in the latest twist, the Democrat-led Judiciary panel referenced the possibility of yet additional impeachment articles in briefs filed Monday related to their quest for testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGahn and secret grand jury material from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
If the court allows them to obtain the information they seek, their attorney wrote, "new articles of impeachment" could be considered based on the evidence. GOP lawmakers reacted with stunned disbelief.
"Democrats are treating impeachment as an open bar tab," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted Monday afternoon. "Time to cut them off, take their car keys away (put GOP in control of the House), and end this insanity."
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who sits on the House Judiciary Committee that filed the briefs, reacted by saying, "You've got to be kidding."
He added: "It’s gone from the Kangaroo Court Impeachment… …to the Keystone Cops Impeachment(s).. Will Pelosi send the Articles from the last Impeachment before drafting the next ones?!"
The notion of new articles of impeachment was floated as the committee justified their need to have McGahn testify and acquire Mueller's secret grand jury information. Previously, they had argued that their ongoing impeachment investigation presented an urgent need for both — but with the House already voting to impeach Trump, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals gave them until Monday afternoon to explain why the case was still relevant and should not be dismissed as moot.
"If this material reveals new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles adopted by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly–including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment," committee attorney Douglas Letter wrote in the grand jury material case.
Letter used nearly identical language pertaining to McGahn's testimony in his brief in that case.
Trump last week was impeached on accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, related to his efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch politically beneficial investigations, all while withholding military aid (though Trump has maintained there was no "quid pro quo").
The latest filings did not detail what potential additional articles could be considered. Regardless, the briefs stated that even if McGahn’s testimony or the grand jury material do not lead to new articles of impeachment, they could be used in an upcoming Senate trial in relation to the obstruction of Congress allegations that Trump is currently facing.
Christianity Today calls for Trump's removal following impeachment; reaction from Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for President Trump's re-election campaign, and Scott Bolden, former chair of the D.C. Democratic Party.
The lawyer for House Judiciary Committee Democrats revealed in a Monday court filing that there is a possibility lawmakers could pursue even more articles of impeachment against President Trump — despite having already adopted two of them last week following a grueling, historic and bitterly partisan debate.
The prospect of additional articles — while perhaps unlikely — was floated as part of a court battle over Democrats' bid to compel testimony from former White House Counsel Don McGahn.
Shortly before a 4 p.m. deadline imposed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the committee counsel filed a brief making their case for why they still want to hear from McGahn, despite having already voted for impeachment.
Democrats originally sought McGahn's testimony in connection with his claims to then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team that Trump wanted him to have Mueller fired. Trump’s critics claimed this request constituted obstruction of justice.
While the Mueller probe never factored into the impeachment articles that were adopted, House Democrats' counsel Douglas Letter argued that McGahn's testimony is still vital — and could even be relevant to "consideration of whether to recommend additional articles of impeachment" against Trump.
“If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly—including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” the brief stated, noting that they still have “ongoing impeachment investigations.”
The filing did not detail what potential additional articles could be considered, beyond the already-adopted articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Regardless, the brief stated that even if McGahn’s testimony does not lead to new articles of impeachment, it could be used in an upcoming Senate trial — which is on hold pending Speaker Nancy Pelosi transmitting the articles to the chamber — in relation to the obstruction of Congress allegations that Trump is currently facing.
The White House has asserted longstanding executive privilege to bar McGahn from supplying documents and testimony to House investigators back when they were probing the Russia issue, saying internal White House deliberations must remain protected. The case was later tied into impeachment as the House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., refocused on that inquiry.
In an opposing court filing, the Justice Department claimed Monday that the McGahn case should be dismissed precisely because of its connection to the impeachment process.
"[T]he article of impeachment addressing purported obstruction of Congress relies in part on the judicial proceedings in this very case," the DOJ said in a brief submitted earlier Monday morning.
"Indeed, if this Court now were to resolve the merits question in this case, it would appear to be weighing in on a contested issue in any impeachment trial," the DOJ argued, before concluding that the court "should decline the Committee's request that it enter the fray and instead should dismiss this fraught suit between the political branches for lack of jurisdiction."
Alternatively, the DOJ argued that impeachment eliminates the committee's need for expedited consideration. The committee had previously claimed that "speedy judicial action is needed to avoid hampering the House's impeachment investigation," but the DOJ says this "justification no longer applies," so there is no need for anything to take place prior to the already scheduled Jan. 3 oral arguments.
The committee disagreed, citing the upcoming Senate trial and “ongoing impeachment investigations,” as well as the public’s “significant interest ‘in immediately removing a sitting president whose continuation in office poses a threat to the Nation’s welfare.’”
Both sides also faced late-afternoon deadlines in a separate case where the House Judiciary Committee is seeking the secret grand jury material from Mueller’s investigation. Such material is generally secret, according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which specify certain exceptions including judicial proceedings.
In that case, DOJ lawyers told the court Monday that the House committee request for Mueller grand jury materials is no longer relevant, as the impeachment articles did not involve the Russia probe.
“Neither article of impeachment adopted by the House, however, alleges high crimes or misdemeanors stemming from the events described in the Mueller Report. Accordingly, nothing appears to remain of the Committee’s alleged need for the grand-jury materials in the Mueller Report,” their filing said.
Fox News' Bill Mears and Gregg Re contributed to this report.
GOP strategist Holly Turner and Democratic strategist Kevin Chavous react to Democratic debate.
President Trump lauded Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for voting “present” on the two articles of impeachment approved last week in the Democratic-controlled House.
“I give her respect. She didn’t vote the other day. I give her a lot of respect. Because she knew it was wrong. She took a pass,” Trump said during a speech Saturday to the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Gabbard, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said she voted against impeachment because it did not have bipartisan support.
“Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” the Hawaii Democrat said in a statement after the vote. “I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting President must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer calls on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to give an explanation for why he rejects witnesses in a potential impeachment trial.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is making a renewed push for the Senate to issue subpoenas demanding testimony and documents as part of President Trump's expected impeachment trial, citing new emails related to the withholding of Ukraine military aid — even as Republicans reject the demands as premature.
In a "Dear Colleague" letter sent Monday to fellow senators, the Senate minority leader cited records including a newly revealed email that Office of Management and Budget Associate Director Michael Duffey sent to Defense Department officials roughly an hour-and-a-half after Trump's famous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The email showed a push to place aid on hold, after Trump made his request for Ukraine's help in political investigations.
"Based on guidance I have received and in light of the Administration's plan to review assistance to Ukraine, including the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, please hold off on any additional DoD obligations of these funds, pending direction from that process," Duffey said in the email, obtained by The Center for Public Integrity via a Freedom of Information Act request. Duffey concluded by stating, "Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute the direction."
With the email fueling allegations of a quid pro quo, which Trump denies, Schumer claimed that the known existence of this message shows a need to obtain other records.
"The December 21st release of partially-redacted versions of these communications in response to the FOIA lawsuit further underscores why the Senate must review all of these records in unredacted form," Schumer wrote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., meanwhile, has objected to Schumer's demands for subpoenas, claiming it is not the Senate's job to collect facts going into an impeachment trial — maintaining that was the role of the House impeachment inquiry.
While Democrats note that the White House instructed current and former officials not to comply with House requests, the House opted not to challenge the Trump administration's assertion of privilege in court.
On Monday morning, McConnell told "Fox & Friends" that he has spoken to Schumer, but so far no progress has been made.
At the same time, he is waiting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver the articles of impeachment to the Senate, claiming he has no authority to move forward until that happens. Pelosi has stated that she will not appoint impeachment managers to represent the House until the Senate determines the trial's process. McConnell has argued the Senate should follow the Clinton impeachment model, proceeding with a trial while working out the details of potential witnesses and other matters later.
“We’re at an impasse, we can’t do anything until the speaker sends the papers over," McConnell said. "So everybody, enjoy the holidays.”
But Schumer countered in his letter that during the Clinton trial, the Senate "had the benefit of thousands of pages of documents from the Department of Justice investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr."
He added: "There simply is no good reason why evidence that is directly relevant to the conduct at issue in the Articles of Impeachment should be withheld from the Senate and the American people. Relevant documentary evidence currently in the possession of the Administration will augment the existing evidentiary record and will allow Senators to reach judgments informed by all of the available facts."
For his part, Trump slammed Pelosi on Monday for making demands of the Senate regarding his pending trial.
"Pelosi gives us the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress, and now she is crying for fairness in the Senate, and breaking all rules while doing so," Trump tweeted Monday morning. "She lost Congress once, she will do it again!"
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts would fill the unique role of presiding over a Senate impeachment trial of President Trump; David Spunt reports.
Just hours after House Democrats began their impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to anticipate the partisan storm headed his way.
"When you live in a polarized political environment, people tend to see everything in those terms," Roberts said in September. "That’s not how we at the court function and the results in our cases do not suggest otherwise."
Now, with a Senate trial of the president possibly set to launch next month – depending on if and when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi transmits the articles – the man at the center of the highest court, both ideologically and figuratively, is poised to preside over proceedings.
The unique assignment is dictated by the Constitution. With Roberts at the helm, it would mark one of the few times the highest levels of the three branches collide in a political fight – one that may last only weeks, but whose effects can ripple for decades.
And given simmering tensions between Trump and Roberts, the chief justice's conduct in this role would be closely watched by both parties.
Sources say Roberts will be ready, having quietly reached out to associates in recent weeks over the role he would play in managing the trial. He may rely on the Rehnquist Model: how former Chief Justice William Rehnquist deftly handled the 1999 impeachment trial of President Clinton.
"Chief Justice Rehnquist did bring a sort of solemnity to the occasion or a seriousness that tried to sort of tamp down maybe on politics and really focus on the facts of the case," said Robert Schaffer, who was a Rehnquist law clerk during that momentous court term.
Despite voting as a member of the high court a year earlier to allow a sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton to proceed — which set the subsequent impeachment process in motion — there was no real objection to having Rehnquist preside. The Paula Jones case led to Clinton being tried over perjury and obstruction of justice, for his later statements made under oath where he denied an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
But like the Clinton proceedings, the script of the Trump trial may already be set before Roberts ever gavels the spectacle to order.
Senate leaders — both Republicans and Democrats — are working to finalize the trial length, testimony and exact role of the president's counsel. And it will be lawmakers — the "jury," in effect — who would establish the exact rules of trial, not the judge.
"[Rehnquist] was content to allow the Senate to control its own procedures," said Schaffer. "And really, he viewed himself as a guest of the Senate during the impeachment trial."
But that does not mean Roberts would be marginalized. Rehnquist issued important rulings guiding senators on impeachment procedures.
And he spoke from experience, writing a 1992 history book on the 1868 impeachment of Andrew Johnson, "Grand Inquests."
"The importance of the acquittal [of President Andrew Johnson] can hardly be overstated," Rehnquist wrote, something Trump today might approve. "With respect to the Chief Executive, it has meant that as to the policies he sought to pursue, he would be answerable only to the country as a whole in the quadrennial Presidential elections, and not to Congress through the process of impeachment.”
When it was done, Rehnquist described his role, by using a line from a favorite Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, "I did nothing in particular, and I did it very well."
Now Roberts, who was once a law clerk to Rehnquist, gets his turn at history.
A hybrid between a courtroom trial and a legislative debate, Senate impeachment trials mix ceremony and substance.
The chief justice of the United States would be sworn in first, then the senators. He would wear his judicial robes at every public session, from the seat normally reserved for the presiding officer. And he would be tasked with maintaining order with the chamber's traditional handle-less ivory gavel.
Roberts' main role would be to make any rulings on procedure raised by senators, the House impeachment managers or the president's counsel. But while he could decide on evidentiary questions or objections, the chief could choose to have senators instead vote on those matters. Or the lawmakers could override any Roberts rulings with a majority vote.
And since the senators are not allowed to speak, any questions they submit in writing would be read aloud by the judge.
The chief's main power may be in breaking any tie votes. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase made two such votes during the Johnson trial.
Roberts would also be multi-tasking, conducting a trial at the same time maintaining his regular caseload. The court's counselor Jeffrey Minear would likely be by the chief's side the entire time, along with a rotating pair of law clerks.
When in the Capitol, they will all likely work from the ceremonial President's Room, located just off the Senate floor.
"We continued to do all the work of the court," said Schaffer of his experiences. "So there were times when we would bring opinions over to the to the Senate for the chief justice to read, to review and to vote on."
Face of Justice
As the "face" of the third branch, Roberts has been a stout defender of the 870 active federal judges, knowing that many of the public views them as "politicians in robes."
The "chief," as he is informally known around the court, has publicly stated his long-term efforts to forge consensus with his colleagues whenever possible, show respect for precedent and preserve the court's reputation.
"If we uphold a particular political decision, that remains the decision of the political branches, and the fact that it may lead to criticism of us is often a mistake," he said in 2016. "We do have to be above or apart from the criticism because we, of course, make unpopular decisions — very unpopular decisions."
But Trump has been more blunt, taking a results-oriented consistency when judging the judges.
In particular, Roberts' dramatic 2012 deciding vote upholding the key funding provision of the Affordable Care Act triggered conservative criticism that it was a calculated act of betrayal, a narrative Trump was all too eager to exploit on the campaign trail.
"Justice Roberts really let us down," Trump said at a campaign rally in December 2015. "What he did with ObamaCare was disgraceful, and I think he did that because he wanted to be popular inside the Beltway."
In a rare public rebuke, Roberts responded a year ago when Trump criticized a legal setback over his immigration policy as the work of an "Obama judge."
The chief justice responded, "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them."
Roberts has voted with his more liberal colleagues to put some of the president's policies on hold. And just weeks after any Senate trial, he would preside over oral arguments concerning Trump's refusal to turn over his banking and financial records, in the face of subpoenas from House committees and a state grand jury.
It comes as the public still holds the Supreme Court in high regard. A Fox News Poll from early October found 68 percent of those surveyed have confidence in the institution, far greater than the president or Congress. But just two years ago, confidence in the Supreme Court was 83 percent.
The chief justice, for the most part, has maintained his steady, low-key leadership under both Republican and Democratic presidents, and the 64-year-old Roberts is unlikely to care much what is said about him personally. Life tenure on the bench gives him such security.
Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew speaks exclusively to 'Sunday Morning Futures' after leaving the Democrat Party.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., defended on Sunday his exit from the Democratic Party after he voted against both articles of impeachment – calling the Democrats' arguments for impeaching President Trump “weak” and "thin.”
Van Drew, who last week met with Trump following the congressman's announcement that he was joining the Republican Party, said during an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that he has been mulling over a switch to the GOP for a while, but impeachment was the tipping point for the former Democrat.
"There has always been something in my career that let me know it’s time for a change,” Van Drew said. “I feel good…I feel I did the honorable thing.”
Rumblings of a possible party switch in the midst of Democrat-led impeachment proceedings against Trump caused members of Van Drew's caucus to accuse him of clamoring to cross the aisle in an attempt to save his bid for reelection and led to the resignations of five aides from his office.
A recent internal poll conducted for the Democrats found that 58 percent of primary voters in Van Drew's 2nd Congressional District wanted to nominate another candidate, while only 28 percent said he should be renominated.
"The final sign for me was, oddly enough, when one of the county chairmen said ‘you have to vote for impeachment,’” Van Drew said. “And that ‘If you don’t, you won’t be able to run in my county.’ It’s not his county, it’s everybody’s county.”
Van Drew went on to call charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress that were leveled against Trump “weak” and “thin” and lambasted his former fellow Democrats for bringing them against the president.
“This impeachment is a weak, thin impeachment,” he said. “It’s been a long, dark shadow on our country.”
“We are supposed to be there for the American people and not for political bickering,” Van Drew said. “It harms our country and it fractures us more.”
It remains to be seen how Van Drew will vote on legislation now that he is officially a Republican. Out of 659 votes in the 116th Congress, Van Drew and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have agreed only 300 times.
As a Democrat, Van Drew voted to override Trump's veto of a bill that overturned his emergency declaration for border wall funding and voted to block Trump from withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Accord.
He has also voted to block the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and disapproved of the Trump administration's plan to lift sanctions on three Russian companies.
In addition, Van Drew has condemned comments Trump made about four congresswomen that the president dubbed "The Squad," calling the remarks racist and has pushed back on Trump's attempts to direct courts to invalidate the Affordable Care Act.
“I want to bring people together,” Van Drew said. “I always push for what I believe is right and what is best.”
Fox News Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Pence, joins Chris Wallace on 'Fox News Sunday.'
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Pence, showed confidence in the face of the current impeachment strategy being employed by House Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stating that, ultimately, he believes they will be the first ones to budge and move what he called a "political exercise" closer to its conclusion.
Pelosi and most of the other Democrats in the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump last week for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, yet they have sat on those articles instead of delivering them to the Senate for a trial. Pelosi has claimed that she is waiting for the Republican-controlled Senate to set the process for the trial before she appoints impeachment managers. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pushes for the ability to issue subpoenas for additional witnesses and documents.
Later in the program, Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., addressed the delay in the delivery of the articles of impeachment, claiming that while she does not know what the House's time frame will be, the present timeline is nothing out of the ordinary.
She pointed out that President Bill Clinton was impeached on Dec. 19, and the House did not appoint their managers until Jan. 6, after Congress returned from the holiday break. She does not believe the current Senate would move any faster, regardless of how quickly the House moved.
"Did you really think the United States Senate was going to start this trial before January 6?" she asked.
Host Chris Wallace pointed out that Pelosi is hoping to use her delay to give Shumer leverage in his discussions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has accused Pelosi of having "cold feet."
Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 21 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com
President Trump mocked House Democrats on Saturday during a Turning Point USA event in West Palm Beach, Fla., for voting to impeach him without providing any evidence of a crime.
“They had nothing. There’s no crime. There’s no nothing," Trump said. "How do you impeach? You had no crime. Even their people said there was no crime. In fact, there’s no impeachment. Their own lawyer said there’s no impeachment. What are we doing here?”
Trump then briefly turned his focus to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and called her "crazy Nancy" before criticizing her for delaying the process by withholding the articles of impeachment from the GOP-controlled Senate.
"The world is watching," Trump said. "Crazy Nancy. She’s crazy. So now she says she has no case. She has no case, so let’s not submit it. That’s good, right? That’s good, but you know what? So unfair. It’s so unfair. She has no case."
"When all else fails, they pursue an illegal, unconstitutional and hyperpartisan impeachment," he said. "They go with the impeachment thing. Some of these extremists may call themselves Democrats, but they really don't believe in democracy. They can't. They can't believe in democracy."
He added, "Generations of patriots before us did not work, fight and sacrifice so that we could surrender our country to a raging, left-wing mob. And that's what's happening. While they want to punish America, we will fight to preserve America… Together we will stand up to socialists, we will defend our nation — the greatest and most glorious republic in the history of this world."
"And you know what? The best is yet to come," he added.
Pelosi thanks Democrats for 'moral courage.' Fox News correspondent Todd Piro reports.
It’s the other 2020 horse race — who will make it on House Democrats' star legal team to prosecute the case against President Trump, presuming the newly adopted articles of impeachment go to a Senate trial?
The timetable for all of this remains up in the air, with Congress on recess and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting on the two articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a controversial bid to extract favorable terms from the Senate.
But bipartisan sources told Fox News this week that several names have been floated to be Democrats' impeachment "managers" if and when the two chambers can resolve what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now calls an impasse.
Likely candidates include House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led much of the impeachment inquiry out of his committee with dramatic hearings to develop the case against the president; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., whose panel drafted the articles of impeachment; House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional lawyer.
Other possible candidates include Democrats who were more outspoken during the impeachment hearings like Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. Sources told Fox News that other names being floated include Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Val Demings, D-Fla., who served as the first female police chief in Orlando; and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who was involved in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton and was a staffer during the congressional investigation into former President Richard Nixon.
During Clinton’s impeachment in 1999, there were 13 House impeachment managers. A source familiar with the planning told Fox News that Pelosi is expected to appoint fewer than that.
Meanwhile, it is unclear who could serve on President Trump’s defense team. According to a White House official familiar with impeachment planning, there has not yet been a decision on whether White House Counsel Pat Cipollone would run the defense of the president. Congressional sources have also suggested that top House Republicans could aid in the president’s defense.
But Pelosi, D-Calif., has not yet transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate, indicating she wants reassurances that the Senate would hold a fair trial, likely involving certain Democrat-sought witnesses, before sending over the charges.
McConnell, R-Ky., speaking on the floor Thursday, seemed baffled at Pelosi’s move to withhold the articles, arguing that the House speaker doesn’t have the leverage she thinks she does.
“Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of leverage,” McConnell said. “I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. Alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain.”
He added: “Following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of the situation, urgent situation, the prosecutors appear to have developed cold feet. Democrat prosecution seems to have gotten cold feet and be unsure about whether they want to proceed to the trial. Like I said, a very unusual spectacle, and in my view, certainly not one that reflects well on the House.”
Despite McConnell saying the Senate doesn’t actually “want” to receive the articles, President Trump has called for an immediate trial and is evidently looking for his day in court to be acquitted for the alleged crimes surrounding his efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch politically advantageous investigations. The request came after the administration had withheld millions in military aid to Ukraine, though Trump has denied any quid pro quo was at play.
“I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s the Senate’s call!”
Fox News' John Roberts contributed to this report.
Just a day after the House voted to impeach the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Yang was critical of the focus that his competitors in the Democratic field have placed on impeachment and the looming Senate trial.
"We need to stop being obsessed over impeachment," Yang said during the opening moments of the debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Make no mistake, he’ll be there at the ballot box for us to defeat.”
Yang, who has been a surprising dark horse candidate in the 2020 presidential primary race, said that candidates have focused too much on the allegations that Trump was elected with the help of Russia and not enough on the discontent of voters across the country who feel abandoned by Washington lawmakers.
He said that instead of focusing on impeachment, Democrats need to “start actually digging in and solving the problems that got Donald Trump elected in the first place.”
Yang’s attempt to draw the national focus away from impeachment was not echoed by other candidates, who slammed Trump for blocking a number of his staffers from participating in the House investigation that led to his impeachment.
“This is a global Watergate,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said in reference to the scandal that eventually drove President Richard Nixon from the White House. “As we face this trial in the Senate — if the president claims he is so innocent — then why doesn’t he have all his president’s men testify?”
Klobuchar added: “If the president thinks he should not be impeached, he should not be scared to put forth his own witnesses.”
Klobuchar is one of three senators on stage during Thursday’s debate — along with Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — who will have a vote in the Senate trial. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Michael Bennett of Colorado are two Democratic presidential candidates who will also have a chance to vote in the Senate trial, but they did not meet the Democratic National Committee’s qualification standards for the debate.
As it stands, the Senate proceedings are expected to begin early in January, leaving candidates a week or two to hit the trail in earnest before the Iowa caucuses, scheduled for the first Monday in February.
While the candidates are in D.C., their staffs are looking for creative ways to keep up enthusiasm for their campaigns in the states — including surrogate events, tele-town halls and even campaign events held via Skype.
Joe Biden uses impeachment to ask supporters for money; Peter Doocy reports from Los Angeles.
With less than seven weeks to go until Iowa’s caucuses kick off and just a day after House Democrats voted to impeach President Trump, a winnowed field of Democratic presidential contenders took the debate stage for a sixth and final time in 2019.
Thursday night's televised contest ahead of Christmas has brought seven rivals to heavily Democratic California, the biggest prize in the primary season and home to 1 in 8 Americans.
The debate in Los Angeles could turn out to be the least-watched so far, as the holidays approach and impeachment drama dominates the news. Viewership has declined in each round though five debates, and even campaigns have grumbled that the candidates would rather be on the ground in early voting states than again taking the debate stage.
Republicans have slammed House Democrats' plan to delay a Senate trial. Hours before the debate, Noah Feldman, the Harvard Law School professor who testified for Democrats at the impeachment inquiry earlier this month, wrote an explosive op-ed asserting that if Democrats do not forward the impeachment articles to the Senate as dictated by the Constitution, then Trump was never even impeached at all. The Constitution dictates that after impeachment by a majority in the House, a two-thirds vote is needed in the Senate to remove a president from office.
Asked why polls show that many Americans oppose impeaching and removing Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden called impeachment a "constitutional necessity," regardless of what the numbers show.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for her part, accused Trump of corruption, without addressing the popularity of impeachment.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a town hall meeting, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in Keokuk, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar called Trump's actions a "global Watergate," saying if he is really innocent, he should be encouraging his top lieutenants to testify — an argument that has rankled Republicans, who assert the importance of the presumption of innocence.
The lack of a clear front-runner in the Democratic field comes as Democrats complain that there will be a notable lack of diversity onstage compared to earlier debates. For the first time this cycle, the debate won't feature a black or Latino candidate.
The race in California has largely mirrored national trends, with former Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Warren clustered at the top of the field, followed by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Klobuchar, businessman Andrew Yang and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer.
Conspicuously missing from the lineup at Loyola Marymount University on Thursday will be former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who is unable to qualify for the contests because he is not accepting campaign donations. But even if he's not on the podium, Bloomberg has been felt in the state: He's running a deluge of TV advertising in California to introduce himself to voters who probably know little, if anything, about him.
Bloomberg's late entry into the contest last month highlighted the overriding issue in the contest, electability, a sign of the unease within the Democratic Party about its crop of candidates and whether any is strong enough to unseat an incumbent president. The eventual nominee will be tasked with splicing together the party's disparate factions — a job Hillary Clinton struggled with after defeating Sanders in a long and bitter primary fight in 2016.
Biden adviser Symone Sanders said to expect another robust exchange on health care. “This is an issue that is not going away and for good reason, because it is an issue that in 2018 Democrats ran on and won," she said.
Jess O'Connell with Buttigieg's campaign said the candidate will “be fully prepared to have an open and honest conversation about where there are contrasts between us and the other candidates. This is a really important time to start to do that. Voters need time to understand the distinctions between these candidates.” The key issues: health care and higher education.
The unsettled race has seen surges at various points by Biden, Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg, though it's become defined by that cluster of shifting leaders, with others struggling for momentum. California Sen. Kamala Harris, once seen as among the top tier of candidates, shelved her campaign this month, citing a lack of money. And Warren has become more aggressive, especially toward Buttigieg, as she tries to recover from shifting explanations of how she’d pay for “Medicare for All” without raising taxes.
In a replay of 2016, the shifting race for the Democratic nomination has showcased the rift between the party's liberal wing, represented in Sanders and Warren, and candidates parked in or near the political center, including Biden, Buttigieg and Bloomberg.
Two candidates who didn’t make the stage will still make their presence felt for debate watchers with ads reminding viewers they’re still in the race.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former Housing Secretary Julián Castro are airing television ads targeted to primary voters during the debate. Booker’s is his first television ad, and in it he says even though he’s not on the debate stage, “I’m going to win this election anyway.” It’s airing as part of a $500,000 campaign, running in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, as well as New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
A pro-Booker super PAC is also going up with an ad in Iowa highlighting positive reviews of Booker’s past debate performances.
Meanwhile, Castro is running an ad, in Iowa, in which he argues the state should no longer go first in Democrats’ nominating process because it doesn’t reflect the diversity of the Democratic Party.
Both candidates failed to hit the polling threshold to qualify for the debates and have in recent weeks become outspoken critics of what they say is a debate qualification process that favors white candidates over minorities.
Fox News' Paul Steinhauser and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
"It’s beyond me how the Speaker and Democratic Leader in the Senate think withholding the articles of impeachment and not sending them over gives them leverage," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Thursday. "Frankly, I’m not anxious to have the trial… If she [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] thinks her case is so weak she doesn’t want to send it over, throw me into that briar patch."
“Sen. Schumer asked Sen. McConnell to consider Sen. Schumer’s proposal over the holidays because Sen. Schumer and his caucus believe the witnesses and documents are essential to a fair Senate trial,” Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer, said in a statement.
McConnell, in a statement, called the conversation between him and Schumer "cordial" but said that the two parties remain at an "impasse," accusing Schumer of continuing to "demand a new and different set of rules" for the trial.
Pelosi sent a letter to House Democrats late Thursday calling the previous days' vote "an important day for the Constitution of the United States and a somber day for America."
She also thanked her caucus “for the outstanding moral courage that has been demonstrated, not only yesterday but every day of this prayerful process.”
“We have defended democracy for the people: honoring the vision of our founders for a Republic, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform to defend it, and the aspirations of our children to live freely within it,” she said.
McConnell, speaking after a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the top Democrat had insisted on "departing from the unanimous bipartisan precedent that 100 senators approved before the beginning of President [Bill] Clinton's trial" concerning logistics.
The back-and-forth rhetoric comes as Noah Feldman, the Harvard Law School professor who testified for Democrats at the impeachment inquiry earlier this month, wrote an op-ed asserting that if Democrats do not forward the impeachment articles to the Senate as dictated by the Constitution, then Trump was never even impeached at all.
Schumer had requested a "special pre-trial guarantee of certain witnesses whom the House Democrats, themselves, did not bother to pursue as they assemble their case," McConnell said. He noted that in 1999, "all 100 senators endorsed a common-sense solution" to divide the process into two stages: one laying the groundwork for rules on matters such as opening statements, with another handling "mid-trial questions such as witnesses."
"Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the [impeachment] articles for some kind of leverage," McConnell said. "I admit, I'm not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. Alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain."
He continued: "Following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of the situation, urgent situation, the prosecutors appear to have developed cold feet. Democrat prosecution seems to gotten cold feet, and to be unsure about whether they want to proceed to the trial, like I said, a very unusual spectacle. And in my view, certainly not one that reflects well on the House.
"So we'll see we'll see whether House Democrats ever want to work up the courage to actually take their accusation to trial," McConnell concluded, after slamming Democrats for advancing a "muddled" message on the topic. "Let me close with this, Mr. President. I am proud the Senate came together today to confirm more well-qualified nominees and pass major legislation for the American people."
"Is the president’s case so weak that none of the president’s men can defend him under oath?" Schumer asked. "If the House’s case is so weak, why is Leader McConnell so afraid of witnesses and documents?"
Feldman, in his op-ed, cautioned that impeachment "means the House sending its approved articles of impeachment to the Senate, with House managers standing up in the Senate and saying the president is impeached."
Therefore, "if the House does not communicate its impeachment to the Senate, it hasn’t actually impeached the president," Feldman said." If the articles are not transmitted, Trump could legitimately say that he wasn’t truly impeached at all."
Late Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., floated the possibility that the House would not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, where McConnell likely would oversee a strong defense of the president that could prove politically damaging for vulnerable Democrats.
"We’ll make a decision… as we go along." Pelosi told reporters, adding that "we'll see what the process will be on the Senate side."
In 1998, after the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, the House sent the charges off to the Senate within minutes. This time around, the House may want to hold onto the articles as leverage to extract concessions from Senate Republicans — or to bury impeachment, as it proves increasingly unpopular among moderates in key battleground states.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley weighs in on what's next for impeachment and the backlash over the president's comments on late Michigan Rep. John Dingell on 'Outnumbered Overtime.'
Within minutes of the vote to impeach President Trump Wednesday night, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals demanded that House Democrats explain whether the development undercut their legal demands for testimony from White House Counsel Don McGahn and for documents related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe.
The case could have broad implications for Democrats' efforts to obtain access to Trump administration officials and their files, as the impeachment proceedings afforded Congress greater legal authority to go to court and demand access.
In a pair of orders directed at both House Judiciary Committee Democrats and the Department of Justice, the appellate court sought arguments by Monday as to "whether the articles of impeachment render this case moot and whether expedited consideration remains necessary."
As they barrelled towards an impeachment vote, Democrats had argued that the case needed to be heard in January. Earlier this month, House Democrats had argued to the D.C. Circuit that the materials were needed primarily for impeachment purposes.
"The Department of Justice (DOJ) takes extraordinary positions in this case,” the House Judiciary Committee said in a filing. “It does so to avoid disclosing grand-jury material needed for the House’s impeachment of President Trump and the Senate’s trial to remove him from office.”
Now that the impeachment proceedings have concluded in the House, the Democrats should explain whether they still seek to compel McGahn's testimony and, if so, whether it would be "in furtherance" of an impeachment inquiry or as a matter of "legislative oversight," the first D.C. Circuit order stated. It was signed by George H.W. Bush appointee Karen Henderson, George W. Bush appointee Thomas Griffith, and Clinton appointee Judith Rogers.
The White House has asserted longstanding executive privileges to bar McGahn from supplying documents and testimony to House investigators, saying internal White House deliberations must remain protected. McGahn’s interview with special counsel investigators factored prominently into the section probing whether the president obstructed justice, including a claim that McGahn disobeyed Trump’s call to have him seek Mueller’s removal.
White House counsel Don McGahn has been blocked by the White House from providing documents. The White House has cited privilege. (Associated Press)
“On June 17, 2017, the president called [White House Counsel Don] McGahn at home and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” the report stated, referencing the Watergate scandal.
The report also revealed that when the media reported on the president’s request for McGahn to have Mueller removed, the president directed White House officials “to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the special counsel removed.”
Concerning the Mueller grand jury materials, House Democrats similarly would need to explain whether they were needed as part of an impeachment probe, the appellate court said. That order was signed by Trump appointee Neomi Rao, as well as Rogers and Griffith.
Justice Department lawyers have argued that House Democrats already had sufficient evidence from Mueller's investigation, including copies of summaries of FBI witness interviews. A small amount of information was redacted from the report available to Congress in order to protect ongoing grand jury proceedings, as required by law.
In response, Democrats could argue that they intend to launch a new impeachment inquiry — risking significant political backlash — or they could attempt to justify their subpoenas based on more limited existing legislative authority.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, has suggested that she might hold the articles of impeachment in the House, without sending them to the GOP-controlled Senate.
That arrangement might be unconstitutional and wind up in its own court battle, former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz argued in a column Thursday.
"It is difficult to imagine anything more unconstitutional, more violative of the intention of the Framers, more of a denial of basic due process and civil liberties, more unfair to the president and more likely to increase the current divisiveness among the American people," Dershowitz wrote. "Put bluntly, it is hard to imagine a worse idea put forward by good people."
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
The House voted 230 to 197 to impeach Trump for abuse of power, and 229 to 198 for obstruction of Congress. Votes fell mostly along party lines but Gabbard, a 2020 presidential hopeful, cast the only “present” vote on each article of impeachment.
Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii speaks to Democrats gathered at the Spratt Issues Conference in Greenville, S.C., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
After the vote, the Hawaii congresswoman issued a lengthy statement saying Trump “violated public trust,” but that voters would be able to hold him accountable in the 2020 election.
“I could not in good conscience vote against impeachment because I believe President Trump is guilty of wrongdoing,” she explained. “I also could not in good conscience vote for impeachment because removal of a sitting president must not be the culmination of a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities that have so gravely divided our country.”
Her decision was widely criticized as being non-committal. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said that “to not take a stand one way or another, on a day of such great consequence to this country, I think is quite difficult.”
Gabbard took to Twitter to elaborate on her “present” vote as an “active protest” against the “zero-sum” game that Democrats and Republicans "have trapped America in."
“Politics should not be a zero-sum game but tragically, that’s exactly what it’s become, and it’s polluted the whole nature of our politics,” she said in a video. “The point of politics should be about doing maximum damage to your opponents just to win.”
She went on to say that her vote was “opting out of this zero-sum game mindset and back into one of negotiation and compromise.”
Gabbard has risen to prominence as an outsider in her party. A military veteran still serving as an Army National Guard officer, she has blasted U.S. foreign policy while also sporadically defending Trump. She has used the Democratic presidential debate stage to attack California Sen. Kamala Harris, who has since dropped out of the race.
She also got into a caustic public back-and-forth with Hillary Clinton, after the 2016 nominee suggested — without evidence — that Russia is using Gabbard in the 2020 campaign.
The president attacks Democrats online after Speaker Pelosi hints a delay in sending the impeachment articles to the Senate; Mike Emanuel reports from Capitol Hill.
**Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.** On the roster: Impeachment circus a useful distraction – Trump says beloved Michigan legislator may be in hell – I’ll Tell You What: Waxy and disappointing – Fight night in California – Paw Patrol to the rescue IMPEACHMENT CIRCUS A USEFUL DISTRACTION Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed a not-unfounded concern this morning that impeachment could become the norm for future American presidents rather than a “once in a generation” affair. Maybe he’s right. Maybe, like Star Wars movies, pre-marital sex and open collars at the office, impeachment will be just another thing that was exciting in the 70s but is now quotidian. Maybe he’s wrong. Maybe President Trump is a special case. Like Andrew Johnson before him, Trump almost seemed to want to be impeached. He made his fateful call to squeeze his Ukrainian counterpart the day after then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller had said grace over his two-year probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. Trump had just cleared the last hurdle and immediately turned back to the racecourse of Slavic shenanigans. Maybe we found a president whose contempt for Congress exceeds even that knock-kneed institution’s desperate desire to avoid relevance. But whether McConnell is right that we have entered into an era of serial, partisan impeachments or whether Trump is a one-off doesn’t concern us just now. That’s up to future presidents and future congresses. The question at hand is how this little melodrama plays into our current political moment. Here’s the first obvious consequence: This orgy of negative partisanship is providing great coverage for the bi-partisan establishment to do other things. Were we not having an impeachment we would be talking so much more about the 2020 Democratic race. Joe Biden may get madder than a wet hen when people ask him about his son’s foreign influence pedaling — the subject matter of Trump’s offense — but the former vice president has been walking away with the Democratic nomination in no small part because the race is happening in a relative vacuum. It’s hard for an underdog to make a move when the race is the seventh biggest story of the day. Barack Obama could never have beaten Hillary Clinton under these circumstances. But the real marvel is what impeachment is allowing for in Congress and at the White House. The president and Congress are sending each other hate mail and the demi-demagogues of both parties are auditioning to see who can show the greatest contempt for each other. No camera in a 30-mile radius is safe from the spittle-flecked exhortations of brain-dead partisans. It’s a civil war! It’s the end of the republic! It’s a constitutional crisis! Bah humbug. What we are really watching is a remarkably productive season for the federal government. Given the cover that the impeachment process provides both parties with their respective political bases, they are free to as they please. And what always pleases politicians is rewarding their patrons and expanding their power. Take, for example, the new entitlement just created for our nation’s 2 million federal civilian employees. While workers in the private sector mostly make do with a few months of unpaid leave after the birth of a child, federal employees will now get 12 weeks of paid leave. That’s a multi-billion dollar obligation for generations to come. Maybe you think that’s a good idea. Maybe you think that’s a bad idea. But it most certainly would’ve gotten a great deal more attention were we not going through the motions of this impeachment. Certainly Republican incumbents would be worried about showing such generosity to one of the most resented classes of American citizens. Or how about the news that a federal increase in the minimum age to purchase tobacco products was pinned on the backside of a gargantuan spending bill slated for passage just before the lights go out for Christmas. Again, like it or dislike it, such a measure would generate huge controversy if all the partisan ducks weren’t all quacking impeachment all day. And remember “the wall” and how Democrats would never, ever, ever fund one penny of the president’s demand? Remember how we had a government shutdown over what was essentially a $3 billion disagreement over border security funding? Now? JK! LOLZ! The federal government is passing big trade deals, spending huge sums of cash, expanding its authority, doubling down on massive military commitments around the globe and nobody has time to care because they must rush to the cameras to repeat the same partisan pap about an impeachment and acquittal that have been foregone conclusions for months. So maybe McConnell really is right that impeachment will be the new norm. If it works this well at distracting the tyrannical bases of both parties, impeachment may end up being a bigger bipartisan enthusiasm than trillion-dollar deficits. TRUMP SAYS BELOVED MICHIGAN LEGISLATOR MAY BE IN HELL Fox News: “Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., said President Trump’s ‘hurtful’ words at a rally in her state Wednesday implying her late husband former Rep. John Dingell might be in hell made her ‘healing much harder.’ Trump attacked Dingell and her husband at a ‘Merry Christmas’ rally in Battle Creek, Mich., about two hours away from her district as the House voted to impeach him. ‘Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,’ Trump said to a rapt crowd that booed the mention of Dingell's name. The president said he gave Dingell the ‘A+ treatment’ after his death last February and Debbie had called him to say ‘it’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened, thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He’s looking down.’ ‘I said, ‘That's OK. Don't worry about it.’ Maybe he's looking up. I don't know,’ he quipped to mixed reactions from the audience. ‘Maybe, but let’s assume he’s looking down.’ Dingell, who voted to impeach the president Wednesday, responded on Twitter…” Putin defends Trump –AP: “Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump was impeached for ‘far-fetched’ reasons, calling the move by Democrats a continuation of their fight against the Republican leader. ‘The party that lost the (2016) election, the Democratic Party, is trying to achieve results by other means,’ Putin said at his annual news conference in Moscow. He likened Trump’s impeachment to the earlier U.S. probe into collusion with Russia, which Putin played down as groundless. Former special counsel Robert Mueller concluded earlier this year that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in a ‘sweeping and systematic fashion.’” Pergram: Senate trial could be biggest reality TV show of all time – Fox News: “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. … 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.” The Judge’s Ruling: Impeachment needed? – This week Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses the historical and legal aspects of impeachment:“The rule of law is a cornerstone of American democracy and is integral to the Constitution. It stands for the principles that no person is beneath the laws' protections. No person is above the laws' requirements. And the laws apply equally to all people. That is the theory of the rule of law. In practice, as the power of the federal government has grown almost exponentially since 1789 and the power of the presidency has grown with it, presidents have claimed immunity from the need to comply with the law while in office. They have also claimed immunity from the consequences of the failure to comply with the law.” More here. THE RULEBOOK: IT’S IN THE DETAILS “In order to ascertain the real character of the government, it may be considered in relation to the foundation on which it is to be established; to the sources from which its ordinary powers are to be drawn; to the operation of those powers; to the extent of them; and to the authority by which future changes in the government are to be introduced.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 39 TIME OUT: UNDER THE SEA Atlantic: “Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes. These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. … For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up. Today, many of the largest mineral corporations in the world have launched underwater mining programs.” Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions. SCOREBOARD DEMOCRATIC 2020 POWER RANKING Biden: 26.2 points (↓ 1.4 points from last wk.) Sanders: 18.6 points (↑ 0.4 points from last wk.) Warren: 16.2 points (↓ 2.2 points from last wk.) Buttigieg: 9.4 points (↑ 0.8 points from last wk.) Bloomberg: 5.2 points (first listing) [Averages include: NBC News/WSJ, CNN, Quinnipiac University, USA Today/Suffolk University and NPR/PBS/Marist.] TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE Average approval: 43.8 percent Average disapproval: 51.4 percent Net Score: -7.6 percent Change from one week ago: ↑ 2 points [Average includes: NBC/WSJ: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; CNBC: 40% approve – 49% disapprove; CNN: 44% approve – 52% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 43% approve – 52% disapprove; USA Today/Suffolk University: 48% approve – 50% disapprove.] WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT? You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. Go behind-the-scenes of your favorite political note as they go through the must-read headlines of the day right from their office – with plenty of personality. Click here to sign up and watch! I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: WAXY AND DISAPPOINTING This week DanaPerino and ChrisStirewalt discuss obstacles Democrats are facing while moving forward with impeachment, Chris gives his take on the most recent Fox News Poll and Dana shares a story about a special delivery. Plus, impeachment trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE FIGHT NIGHT IN CALIFORNIA AP: “A winnowed field of Democratic presidential contenders takes the debate stage Thursday for a sixth and final time in 2019, as candidates seek to convince anxious voters that they are the party’s best hope to deny President Donald Trump a second term. The televised contest ahead of Christmas will bring seven rivals to heavily Democratic California, the biggest prize in the primary season and home to 1 in 8 Americans. And, coming a day after a politically divided U.S. House voted to impeach the Republican president, the debate will underscore the paramount concern for Democratic voters: Who can beat Trump in November? With voters distracted by the holidays and the impeachment proceedings in Washington, the debate in Los Angeles could turn out to be the least watched so far. … The race in California has largely mirrored national trends, with former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren clustered at the top of the field, followed by South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, businessman Andrew Yang and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer.” Warren continues to lag – NBC News: “Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination, while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has returned to the level of support that preceded her autumn surge, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows. Biden gets the support of 28 percent of Democratic primary voters, statistically unchanged from his standing in the NBC/WSJ October poll, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stands at 21 percent and Warren has 18 percent. Warren’s 18 percent share is a 5-point drop from her level of support in October and a 7 point fall from her peak in September. The trio of top candidates is trailed by South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9 percent, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 5 percent, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg at 4 percent, and businessman Andrew Yang at 3 percent. Both Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker have the support of 2 percent of Democratic primary voters, while the remainder of the candidates … receive 1 percent support or less.” Sanders, Bloomy take different approaches to California – AP: “No two Democratic presidential candidates are putting as many resources into the fight for California as Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and former New York mayor, and Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator. Sanders is marshaling his passionate volunteers to win the biggest prize of the presidential primary season, while Bloomberg arrives with a virtually unlimited checkbook after a late entry in the race. For now, they’re deploying different strategies. Bloomberg is focused on television advertising, long viewed as the best way to reach voters in the state that is home to 40 million people, while Sanders is focused on door-to-door campaigning on the ground. But they each have the resources and plans to do both, and earlier than most of their rivals.” Warren to meet with tribal leaders – WaPo: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will meet privately with tribal leaders this weekend during her first trip to her home state of Oklahoma as a presidential candidate, the latest outreach in a nearly three-year effort to atone to Native Americans for her former claims that she was ‘American Indian.’ Representatives from all of the roughly 40 federally recognized tribes in the state were invited to a round table meeting with Warren in Tulsa on Sunday morning, ahead of a town hall meeting she is hosting that evening in Oklahoma City. … The previously unreported meeting will focus on Warren’s agenda for Native Americans and is part of a broader effort to highlight issues important to them. Warren is also trying to blunt the criticism she has faced over the years for appropriating Native American culture by identifying as such, according to three people familiar with the meeting…” Booker to run first TV ad during debate –Fox News: “He didn’t make the stage, but many TV viewers watching Thursday night’s Democratic presidential primary debate will likely – and briefly – still see Sen. Cory Booker. The senator from New Jersey will run the first television commercial of his Democratic campaign during the debate, which will be broadcast nationally on PBS and simulcast on cable TV by CNN. Booker’s campaign announced early Thursday that their ad is specifically targeting viewers tuning into the debate and will be seen in 22 TV markets across the country, including the four early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, as well as in New York City, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. In the 30-second spot titled ‘Together,’ Booker jokes ‘how long are these things? 30 seconds? Are you sure we can afford this?’” The brains behind the Biden campaign –Politico: “While most presidential campaigns produce strategists and operatives who become high-profile political characters in a years long drama, you’ve probably never heard of the Joe Biden brain trust. … But Biden’s team, a group of people who arguably navigated him through 2019 better than any of his opponents, keeping the candidate at the top of national polls for the entire year, has been largely invisible. Since the start of Biden’s campaign, he’s relied on a core group of half a dozen people. … But when the upper echelons of the Biden operation assemble at campaign headquarters in Philadelphia’s Center City, the group looks a lot like Biden: old and white and with long experience in Democratic party battles of a bygone era. The average age of those six—Steve Ricchetti, Mike Donilon, Ron Klain, Valerie Biden Owens, Bruce Reed and Anita Dunn—is 62.” MEADOWS ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM CONGRESS WaPo: “Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of President Trump’s closest allies and staunchest defenders in Congress, announced Thursday that he would not seek reelection next year but would instead stay ‘in the fight’ with Trump in an unspecified role. ‘For everything there is a season,’ Meadows said in a statement. ‘After prayerful consideration and discussion with family, today I’m announcing that my time serving Western North Carolina in Congress will come to a close at the end of this term.’ Meadows, a former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who has served in Congress since 2013, is the 25th House Republican to announce he will not seek reelection next year, according to a tally by the House Press Gallery. Meadows, 60, was considered for the position of Trump’s chief of staff last year, but Trump ultimately told him that he would like him to remain on Capitol Hill.” PLAY-BY-PLAY Federal appeals court strikes down ObamaCare rule, setting up Supreme Court showdown – Fox News AUDIBLE: TAKING THE HEAT “There’s backlash with every vote we take. It’s kind of what we signed up for.” – Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., after taking his first procedural vote on impeachment per Politico. Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown. PAW PATROL TO THE RESCUE BBC: “A three-year-old boy whose father suffered a seizure took to a main road on his toy truck to raise the alarm. Stefan Snowden, from Twenty, Lincolnshire, [England] covered a quarter of a mile on his Paw Patrol truck after his father, Marc, fell ill at home. He was then spotted by two women on the A151 main road as passing traffic beeped and drove round the youngster. Stefan later told police his ‘daddy was poorly.’ His mother, Carla Neve, 25, said Stefan had set off from the family's home after Mr. Snowden, 28, suffered a seizure on the sofa at home. ‘He loses consciousness when he has a seizure,’ she said, as she praised her son for his bravery. ‘Stefan knows how to get out of the front door and must have gone to get his truck,’ the couple said. Insp Rachel Blackwell, from Lincolnshire Police, also praised the women who stepped in to help… Insp Blackwell added Mr. Snowden was now ‘doing fine’ and the family were ‘so thankful to these two amazing people’ who helped their son.” AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES… “Spring will be left to the happier sound of ball meeting bat. That sound — what the president calls the American sound — makes the final, fatal case against football. If baseball exists, why football?” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Jan. 25, 1985. Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
"The question you probably wanted to ask was to the speaker. Unfortunately, she would not take any questions when it came to impeachment," he said.
Pelosi, D-Calif., did briefly address impeachment during her session with reporters, in a bid to tamp down speculation over why she is holding off on transmitting the two articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial.
But as reporters continued to pepper her with questions on the subject, the speaker responded, "I said what I was going to say." She later asked if anyone had questions about other issues such as the "SALT tax," stating, "I'm not going to answer any more questions on this."
McCarthy minutes later torched Pelosi for shutting down impeachment-related questions.
"I would think if Nancy Pelosi thought impeachment was so important that she had to put this before the American public … the press conference the day after impeachment — that she has weekly — I thought she would have welcomed questions about impeachment," McCarthy said. "Unfortunately, she told you they were Republican talking points and she would not take your questions. I never thought a speaker would act that way."
McCarthy hypothesized why Pelosi did not want to address the issue.
"I guess, the only thing I could take from that is she’s embarrassed of it, she understands how weak it is, she understands her own criteria was not met, constitutionally it was not met, she probably failed on all parts," he said.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham also slammed Pelosi for her press conference.
Pelosi, though, did respond to speculation and criticism from Republicans that Democrats are playing games with the impeachment process.
"Frankly, I don't care what the Republicans say," she said.
Regarding the delay, Pelosi signaled the House will wait to learn more about the Senate trial process before naming so-called impeachment managers — who essentially serve as prosecutors in a trial. If that moves forward, Trump would be expected to win acquittal in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Trump was impeached on two articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, related to his efforts over the summer to press Ukraine into investigating Democrats — all while U.S. aid money was withheld.
Paula White-Cain, Trump's personal pastor and special adviser to the Faith and Opportunity Initiative in the White House, posted a midnight prayer for the newly impeached president, who overwhelmingly won the evangelical vote in the 2016 election.
"Tonight we lift up President Trump in prayer against all wickedness and demonic schemes against him and his purpose in the name of Jesus," White-Cain wrote. "Surround him with your angels and let them encamp around about him. Let all demonic stirrings and manipulations be overturned!"
Revs. Samuel Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Johnnie Moore, president of the Congress of Christian Leaders, said Democrats impeached Trump for "the policies and people that he represents."
"The Democrats in the House impeached millions of God-fearing, family-loving and patriotic Americans from the Democrat and Republican parties," the two leaders said.
"Our relentless prayers especially rest with the President of the United States and upon all of those who led us into this utterly partisan disregard of the most powerful tool our Founders gave us to undo a presidential election – which is exactly what this is an attempt to do," they added.
Pastors Paula White-Cain, Jentezen Franklin, and others join in prayer for President Trump amid House Democrats' impeachment push. (Official White House Photos by Joyce Boghosian)
Evangelist Franklin Graham said, "Dems have been trying to destroy Trump since day one."
The president of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association added, "We need to pray for President Trump and this nation."
Jentezen Franklin, pastor of Free Chapel, listed Trump accomplishments as president, saying he feels the need to pray for him again.
"The people's voice will be heard like never before when we vote again," Franklin said. "Pray, fast, and vote your faith 20/20!"
The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Trump, adopting two articles of impeachment alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He is the third president in American history to be impeached.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump gave them "no choice," following his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden while withholding security assistance and a White House meeting.
"If we do not act now we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president's reckless actions make impeachment necessary," Pelosi said ahead of the vote. "He gave us no choice."
"His conduct continues to undermine our Constitution and threaten our next election. His actions warrant his impeachment and demand his removal from office," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., added.
The case is expected to head to the Senate for trial, though Pelosi has stirred speculation by not yet transmitting the articles to the chamber.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday defended her decision to hold off on sending impeachment articles to the Senate, calling Mitch McConnell a "rogue leader" in an unusual press conference where she repeatedly tried to shut down questions about the impeachment process.
Pelosi spoke to reporters after Democrats passed two articles of impeachment against President Trump in a Wednesday evening vote. She indicated the House would eventually send the articles over to the upper chamber, but insisted it is up to the Senate to determine how the process develops going forward.
“The next thing for us will be when we see the process that is set forth in the Senate, then we’ll know the number of managers that we may have to go forward, and who we would choose,” Pelosi said during a Thursday morning press conference.
After an impeachment in the House, the articles are normally sent over to the upper chamber for an impeachment trial, but Pelosi signaled earlier that the House is waiting for the Senate to set out how Trump's trial will be conducted before they determine their next steps, such as designating impeachment managers who will represent them.
Earlier Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Democrats may be “too afraid” to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate after the House speaker abruptly held off on transmitting them.
"Looks like the prosecutors are getting cold feet," the Senate GOP leader mused.
McConnell also criticized the impeachment in remarks on the Senate floor, calling it “a rushed and rigged inquiry.”
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had requested that the Senate issue subpoenas for documents and witnesses who had not testified during the House's impeachment inquiry. McConnell responded by stating that the House should have been more thorough, and it was not the Senate's role to do the House's "homework" for them.
Speaking on impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says House Democrats are conducting "most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set the stage Thursday for a potentially bruising fight between the leadership of the two chambers over impeachment, as he tore into Nancy Pelosi for “shoddy work” and said Democrats may be “too afraid” to send the articles to the Senate after the House speaker abruptly held off on transmitting them.
“This particular House of Representatives has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future,” McConnell said on the floor, accusing Democrats of giving into "temptation" with their impeachment vote while challenging their handling of the articles in the aftermath.
McConnell’s remarks came the morning after House Democrats voted to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in relation to his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
McConnell decried the effort, for which no Republicans voted, as “the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.” It taps into long-standing complaints by Republicans that the impeachment has trampled over minority rights in the House, and that Democrats were pursuing an outcome they have preordained before Trump was even sworn into office.
After an impeachment in the House, the articles are normally sent over to the upper chamber for an impeachment trial. Yet in the latest twist, Pelosi has indicated that she may not send over articles of impeachment yet — until she gets reassurances about the Senate process.
"We’ll make a decision… as we go along." Pelosi told reporters, adding that "we'll see what the process will be on the Senate side."
"We have acted," Pelosi continued, repeatedly refusing to commit to sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. "Now, they'll understand what their responsibilities are, and we'll see what that is.”
Pelosi insisted that Republicans would need to run a fair trial if the matter made its way to the Senate, without explaining what exactly she was seeking.
While the move could be a way of trying to draw some concessions from McConnell, it may also be a play stop a potentially damaging Senate trial altogether, in which the Republican-dominated chamber could call witnesses such as former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
It would also leave Trump with an awkward status quo in which he is impeached, but cannot claim exoneration in a Senate trial — in which he would be widely expected to win acquittal. However, it also risks dragging impeachment out deep into 2020, just as some polls indicate the public is souring on the process.
McConnell accused Pelosi of suggesting “that House Democrats may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate.”
McConnell is expected to meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., but any delay in the House could lead to McConnell refusing to meet with Schumer, giving the excuse that there are no articles for them yet to discuss since they have not been transmitted.
Trump, meanwhile, attacked the “do nothing Democrats” for wanting to “do nothing” with the impeachment articles.
“I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” he tweeted. “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s Senate’s call!”
“The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.” If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!” he added.