I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from Wake Up To Politics world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, January 16, 2020. 18 days until the Iowa caucuses. 292 days until Election Day. Have any comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
House transmits impeachment articles, Senate trial to begin
After weeks of delaying, the House voted on Wednesday to send the two articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate, relinquishing control of the process and setting off the third impeachment trial of an American president since the nation's founding.
"We are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared in a floor speech just before the chamber voted, 228 to 193, to send the articles to the Senate. Following the vote, the six impeachment managers — the House members, named by Pelosi on Wednesday, who will prosecute the case against Trump in the forthcoming trial — led a ceremonial procession across the Capitol, formally delivering the articles to the Senate.
"This is a difficult time for our country, but this precisely the kind of time for which the Framers created the Senate. I'm confident this body can rise above short-termism and factional fever and serve the long-term best interest of our nation," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday. "We can do this, and we must."
After the Senate votes to approve President Trump's revised North American trade deal, the chamber will invite the House managers to read the impeachment articles — which charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — aloud. Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the Senate trial, will then be sworn in and in turn swear in all 100 senators as the jurors. The Senate will also formally notify the White House, which will designate a legal team to serve as the president's defense during the trial.
The House managers will be led by Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and also include Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-NY), Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Val Dennings (D-FL), and freshman Reps. Jason Crow (D-CO) and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). Trump's defense team is expected to be led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone; other attorneys representing the president will include his personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, and Cipollone's deputies Patrick Philbin and Michael Purpura.
Arguments in the Senate trial will begin on Tuesday. It remains unclear whether the upper chamber will request witness testimony as part of the proceedings; Democrats have called for former national security adviser John Bolton and others to be called, although Republican leaders have resisted their demands.
New revelations: Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, broke his silence on Wednesday with an interview on MSNBC that revealed new details about the Ukraine pressure campaign at the center of the president's impeachment.
"President Trump knew exactly what was going on," Parnas said of his attempts to urge the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's potential 2020 rival, and his son Hunter. "He was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president."
Parnas also told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in the interview that Giuliani's push for an investigation into the Bidens was intended to hurt the Democratic candidate's political prospects, not to combat corruption, as Giuliani has claimed. "It was all about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden," Parnas said. "It was never about corruption."
In Parnas' telling, a number of Trump allies — including Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, and House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-CA) — were also involved with the scheme.
The House Intelligence panel on Wednesday also released a cache of additional documents obtained from Parnas, showing his involvement in the pressure campaign. Among the documents are a series of text messages from Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde suggesting that Hyde was monitoring the movements of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Parnas told Maddow on Wednesday that the "only motivation" for Yovanovitch's eventual ouster was to make it easier to push for Ukraine to open an investigation into the Bidens.
The newly released materials include months of messages between Parnas and then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsekno in which the Ukrainian official promised the Giuliani associate damaging information related to Joe Biden in exchange for Yovanovitch's removal.
Warren accused Sanders of calling her a "liar" in post-debate exchange
After a full day of questions over what Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren said to each other in a seemingly tense exchange just after the Democratic debate in Iowa on Tuesday, CNN found audio of the moment and aired it Wednesday evening.
"I think you called me a liar on national TV," Warren said to Sanders as she rebuffed his offer of a handshake, referring to his denial of her claim that he told her a woman could not be elected president in a 2018 private meeting.
"You know, let's not do it right now. If you want to have that discussion, we'll have that discussion," Sanders said, to which Warren replied, "Anytime."
"You called me a liar," Sanders added. "You told me — all right, let's not do this now."
Billionaire Tom Steyer, who was standing behind the senators, then approached Sanders to say, "I don't want to get in the middle, I just want to say hi Bernie," as Warren walked off.
The audio of the exchange makes clear what both senators have denied: tensions are running hot between the two ideological allies, after clinging to an unspoken nonaggression pact for the entire 2020 campaign. According to Politico, the "burgeoning feud" between the senators has "alarmed" progressive groups who are worried that the sparring only elevates moderate candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden.
Polling shows that Biden, Sanders, Warren, and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are currently locked in a virtual four-way tie in Iowa, ahead of the state's crucial first-in-the-nation caucuses on February 3.
--- From the Wake Up To Politics in-the-room report on the activities in the Spin Room following Tuesday's Democratic debate: "One looming question hung over the Spin Room all night: what did Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren say to each other in a seemingly tense conversation just after the debate ended, in which Warren appeared to rebuff her competitor's offer of a handshake. Although the two left-leaning senators skipped the Spin Room, Tom Steyer — who did make an appearance — was chased by reporters, beseeching him to divulge the contents of the brief exchange. (He was seen on camera standing right next to the pair for most of the encounter.)"
President Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 11:45 a.m. He will participate in an announcement of new guidance on prayer in public schools at 2 p.m.
The Senate will vote on the passage of H.R. 5430, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act at 11 a.m. The chamber will receive the House impeachment managers to "present and exhibit the articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump" at 12 p.m. The Senate will then proceed to the consideration of the articles; senators will be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts at 2 p.m.
The House will vote on H.J.Res. 76, which provides for congressional disapproval of the Education Department rule relating to "Borrower Defense Institutional Accountability."
Joe Biden will attend fundraisers in Texas. Pete Buttigieg will hold town halls in Iowa. Tulsi Gabbard will hold a town hall in New Hampshire. Deval Patrick will visit a non-profit and a middle school in California.