Mitch McConnell looking especially turtle-like in a close-up.

Wow, There Is a LOT of Impeachment News Rolling in Today

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It’s been relatively quiet on the impeachment front the last few days as the U.S. House of Representatives prepares for a full vote (scheduled for Wednesday), but there was a flood of news to wake up to Tuesday morning.

First: The House Judiciary panel released a very lengthy report just after midnight, detailing its case against Donald Trump. The 650-page document describes the process the committee took in forming the two articles of impeachment, the historical framework for impeachment, and the underlying facts supporting each article. It’s a dry but necessary document, and I expect approximately zero House Republicans to actually read it.

Next up, a group of more than 750 historians have signed a statement supporting impeachment.

“President Trump’s numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the Framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president,” the statement reads. It offers support for both articles laid out by House Democrats.

On his abuse of power:

Among those most hurtful to the Constitution have been his attempts to coerce the country of Ukraine, under attack from Russia, an adversary power to the United States, by withholding essential military assistance in exchange for the fabrication and legitimization of false information in order to advance his own re-election.

And on obstruction of Congress:

President Trump’s lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives, which is rightly seeking documents and witness testimony in pursuit of its constitutionally-mandated oversight role, has demonstrated brazen contempt for representative government. So have his attempts to justify that obstruction on the grounds that the executive enjoys absolute immunity, a fictitious doctrine that, if tolerated, would turn the president into an elected monarch above the law.

“It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does,” the historians write.

Another group has also come out, not really in defense of impeachment, but against Trump. A group of conservative commentators and strategists have founded the Lincoln Project, “an effort to highlight our country’s story and values, and its people’s sacrifices and obligations.”

In an op-ed in the New York Times, the group explains they aim to transcend partisanship and preserve American principles, starting with getting Trump—who “has neither the moral compass nor the temperament to serve”—out of office. In addition to storytelling, the group is also looking to raise millions as a PAC to launch ads aimed at dissuading Republicans from reelecting Trump.

Again, this isn’t directly tied to impeachment, but the group, which includes Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway, is also addressing Trump’s enablers in Congress. “Congressional Republicans have embraced and copied Mr. Trump’s cruelty and defended and even adopted his corruption. Mr. Trump and his enablers have abandoned conservatism and longstanding Republican principles and replaced it with Trumpism, an empty faith led by a bogus prophet,” they write.

There are lots of people—especially media figures—who are praising the group as “patriots.” Others, though, aren’t super convinced, mainly because Trump’s election wasn’t an anomalous outlier. It was the logical end result of the path the Republican Party has been on for decades.

Still, if they want to pour money into anti-Trump ads to run on Fox News, I’m all for that.

Finally, over in the Senate, Mitch McConnell continues to be the actual worst. Late Sunday night, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to McConnell laying out the Democrats’ “provisions” for the eventual Senate impeachment trial, including calling witnesses. During the Clinton impeachment in the ’90s, McConnell was totally in favor of calling witnesses, but wouldn’t you know it, he’s changed his mind.

Speaking from the Senate floor today, McConnell rejected Schumer’s request for witnesses, saying the House Democrats should have taken care of that.

“It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to guilty,” McConnell said. “If House Democrats’ case is this deficient, this thin, the answer is not for the judge and jury to cure it here in the Senate.”

To be fair, Schumer has also been called out for his contradictory stance in 1999. “I wonder if the House managers aren’t a little more interested in political theatre than in actually getting to the bottom of the facts,” Schumer said back then. “My view is we have heard from most of these witnesses over and over again. We’ve heard the same story.”

When asked about those comments during a press conference, Schumer said “the difference is totally overwhelming,” because in ’99, the Republicans’ witnesses had already given grand jury testimony. “We knew what they were [going] to say.” The witnesses the Democrats want to call now—acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, former national security adviser John Bolton, Mulvaney’s senior advisor Robert Blair, and Office of Management of Budget official Michael Duffey—have not given their testimony, and that’s not because the House didn’t try. Mulvaney and others ignored Congressional subpoenas, refusing to show up or hand over requested documents.

The Senate trial is expected to start sometime in January, although it’s not clear yet how long that will last. Andrew Johnson’s trial lasted more than two months. Bill Clinton’s lasted five weeks. McConnell and other Republicans clearly want to just speed through to a vote, but really, nothing is set or certain yet.

(image: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.