- A member of the intelligence community in mid-August filed a whistleblower complaint that sparked a scandal that rapidly escalated and led to President Donald Trump’s impeachment in December and his Senate trial in January.
- The complaint zeroed in on a July 25 phone in which Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch investigations into the family of Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.
- The investigation painted a picture of a complex campaign to pressure Ukraine that went well beyond the July 25 call. The Trump administration froze roughly $US400 million in military aid as Trump, his personal attorney, and top aides simultaneously urged Zelensky to launch investigations.
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President Donald Trump became the third commander-in-chief in US history to be impeached on December 18.
The impeachment saga is linked to a complicated effort to urge Ukraine to launch investigations into Trump’s political rivals as he seeks reelection, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
But, in many ways, the pivotal moment was the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Here’s a timeline of the Trump impeachment saga:
July 25: Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was elected in May, in a July 25 phone call.
- During the call, he urged Zelensky to launch investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as well as a bogus conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election.
- Trump wanted Zelensky to launch an investigation into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company that Hunter served on the board of. There’s no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity on the part of either Biden with regard to Ukraine.
- Trump during the call also mentioned former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, referring to her as “bad news.” Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from her diplomatic post in May 2019 after the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, orchestrated what she and other officials have described as a smear campaign against her.
- Roughly 90 minutes after the phone call, the Office of Management and Budget officially froze about $US400 million in military aid to Ukraine.
- August 12: an intelligence official lodged a whistleblower complaint against Trump that centered around communications between him and a foreign leader. It was eventually revealed the complaint focused on the July 25 call.
August 26: The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), Michael Atkinson, submitted the complaint to acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire. After a preliminary review, Atkinson had determined the whistleblower’s complaint was credible and of “urgent concern.”
- Federal law requires the DNI to communicate or transmit complaints of “urgent concern” to Congress within seven days, but Maguire did not do this.
- September 1: Vice President Mike Pence met with Zelensky in Warsaw, Poland. The Ukrainian president asked Pence about the hold on the military assistance.
September 9: Atkinson reported the whistleblower complaint to the Senate and House intelligence committees in a letter on September 9, but did not offer specific details or the substance of the complaint.
- That day, three House committees also launched investigations into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
September 10: Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, requested a full, unredacted copy of the complaint, the ICIG’s findings related to the matter, and all records connected to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) involvement, “including any and all correspondence with other Executive Branch actors including the White House.”
- That same day, John Bolton was dismissed as national security adviser. Trump claimed Bolton was fired, while Bolton claimed he resigned.
- September 11: Trump released the military aid package to Ukraine.
September 13: The ODNI officially declined the committee’s request and said Maguire was withholding the complaint in part because it “involves confidentially and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community.”
- Schiff then subpoenaed the acting DNI to turn over the complaint. He said the acting DNI was required by law to turn over the complaint to congressional intelligence committees but refused to do so. Schiff also said Maguire had consulted the Justice Department about the complaint, which is a major departure from the norm.
- Schiff raised concerns as to whether the ODNI “together with the Department of Justice and possibly the White House, are engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the President and conceal from the Committee information related to his possible ‘serious or flagrant’ misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of law.”
- September 15: Schiff told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that the acting DNI told the House Intelligence Committee that he was instructed not to turn over the whistleblower’s complaint by a “higher authority.”
September 17: In a letter to Schiff, ODNI general counsel Jason Klitenic said the agency overruled the ICIG and determined the complaint didn’t meet the definition of “urgent concern” under the law.
- “This complaint, however, concerned conduct by someone outside the Intelligence Community and did not relate to any ‘intelligence activity’ under the DNI’s supervision,” Klitenic added. For that reason, after consulting with the Justice Department, the agency concluded it was not required to forward the complaint to the intelligence committees.
- Atkinson wrote a letter to the intelligence committees that said he and Maguire were at “at an impasse,” and added that the whistleblower complaint “not only falls within the DNI’s jurisdiction but relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”
September 19: Schiff had requested that Maguire appear before the committee, “absent compliance with the subpoena,” to explain why he wouldn’t turn over the complaint, but Klitenic in his letter said the acting DNI “is not available on such short notice.”
- The ICIG, in a closed-door briefing on that day, told the House Intelligence Committee that the complaint was concerned with “multiple actions,” CNN reported, citing sources familiar with the briefing.
- CNN also reported it had learned from three sources familiar with the matter that the White House has been involved in advising the acting DNI against sharing the whistleblower complaint. Schiff, however, has signalled he does not know if the White House is involved.
- “We do know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress,” Schiff said on September 19. “We do not know – because we cannot get an answer to the question – about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.”
- Giuliani got into a shouting match with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on September 19 over the whistleblower complaint and related topics, in which he offered contradictory remarks on whether he asked Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
- After the interview, Giuliani tweeted: “A President telling a Pres-elect of a well known corrupt country he better investigate corruption that affects US is doing his job. Maybe if Obama did that the Biden Family wouldn’t have bilked millions from Ukraine and billions from China; being covered up by a Corrupt Media.”
- September 20: The Wall Street Journal published a story that said “President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son, according to people familiar with the matter.” This was the first time the public learned about the nature of the July 25 phone call, with many details emerging later either via reporting on the impeachment inquiry.
- September 22: Trump acknowledged he spoke to Zelensky about Biden and his son in the July phone call. “We had a great conversation,” Trump told reporters. “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption – all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”
September 24: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress was launching a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over his dealings with Ukraine.
- That same day, Trump took to Twitter and said he planned on releasing the transcript of his call with Zelensky the next day.
- Trump tweeted: “I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorised the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine. You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!”
September 25: The White House released a summary of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky on September 25. The notes from the call appear to confirm reports that Trump repeatedly pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden after discussing military aid to Ukraine.
- The whistleblower complaint was delivered to members of Congress on the intelligence committees on the afternoon of September 25.
September 26: The full, declassified whistleblower complaint was publicly released. The complaint, which focused on the Ukraine call, alleges “Trump has used the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election.”
- The complaint focused heavily on Trump’s efforts to pressure Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son and said that White House officials were “deeply disturbed” by the July 25 call and were worried they’d witnessed the president “abuse his office for personal gain.”
- The complaint also says that senior White House officials tried to “lock down” all records the call, especially the transcript, and that officials told the whistleblower that they were “directed” by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system they’re usually stored in.
October 3: Kurt Volker, the former US special envoy to Ukraine, testified to House investigators behind closed doors.
- Later in the day, the US House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs Committees released text messages between Volker, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, and Bill Taylor, who was the top diplomat to Ukraine at the time.
- Volker provided the text messages.
- “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor said in one exchange.
- Volker’s testimony shattered Trump’s central line of attack against Biden and his son Hunter.
- Trump has alleged that Biden, as vice president, urged Ukraine to fire a prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because he was supposedly investigating a Ukrainian natural-gas company Hunter worked for. But the newly released testimony makes clear that Shokin was not investigating Burisma or even corruption cases generally.
- Volker testified that Joe Biden was executing US policy in pushing for Shokin to be ousted, adding that many countries wanted the prosecutor gone because he was not doing his job and not pursuing corruption cases.
October 8: After blocking Sondland from testifying, the White House sent a letter to House Democratic leaders that signalled it would not cooperate in the impeachment inquiry.
- “Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it,” White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, said.
- Witnesses who testified and participated in the impeachment proceedings after this did so in defiance of Trump.
October 10: Two associates of Giuliani who would become central players in the impeachment proceedings, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested at Washington Dulles Airport and indicted on federal charges of violating campaign finance laws.
- That same day, Michael McKinley, a career diplomat and senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, abruptly resigned. McKinley later told House investigators he resigned because of the president’s attacks on Yovanovitch and the State Department’s “failure” to stand up for her and other diplomats.
October 11: Yovanovitch testified to House investigators behind closed doors.
- Yovanovitch testified that she felt threatened by Trump’s comments about her during a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president.
- She also said Ukrainian officials told her that a top Ukrainian ally of Rudy Giuliani was looking to “hurt” her “in the US.”
- Ukraine’s minister of the interior, Arsen Avakov, told Yovanovitch he was “very concerned” about Giuliani and she needed to watch her back.
October 14: Fiona Hill, the senior director for Europe and Russia in the National Security Council, testified to House investigators behind closed doors.
- Hill recalled a dramatic meeting that Bolton cut short after US ambassador Gordon Sondland said Ukraine had to commit to investigations favourable to Trump in exchange for a meeting at the White House.
- After recounting the conversation with Sondland to Bolton, Hill says Bolton told her to report it to NSC counsel John Eisenberg immediately.
- Bolton said: “You go and tell Eisenberg that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this,” according to Hill’s testimony.
October 16: McKinley testified to House investigators behind closed doors.
- Explaining his resignation, McKinley said: “I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents. I was convinced that this would also have a serious impact on Foreign Service morale and the integrity of our work overseas.”
October 17: White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed there was a quid pro quo involving military aid to Ukraine and requests for investigations in a news conference (but later walked back on it).
- Mulvaney said Trump held up a military-aid package to Ukraine in part because he wanted the Ukrainian government to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories related to the 2016 election.
- Mulvaney said three factors drove the decision to withhold aid, including Trump’s belief that Ukraine is a “corrupt place” and that other European countries don’t contribute enough to its defence.
- Mulvaney also said: “Did he also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that’s it. And that’s why we held up the money.”
- “I have news for everybody: get over it,” Mulvaney said. “There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy. That is going to happen. Elections have consequences, and the foreign policy is going to change from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.”
- Mulvaney’s statement was the first public acknowledgment from an administration official that Trump held up Ukraine’s security assistance in part for political gain.
- Sondland also testified to House investigators behind closed doors on October 17.
- Sondland confirmed to Congress that the administration leveraged military aid to Ukraine for investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
- A transcript of Sondland’s testimony said he described the pressure to investigate the Bidens as “insidious” and “improper.” When asked whether he thought it was illegal, he said, “I’m not a lawyer, but I assume so.”
- In an addendum he submitted to the committees (on November 4) after his testimony, Sondland said the testimony of other witnesses, including Volker and Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, refreshed his memory that foreign aid was withheld.
October 22: Taylor testified to House impeachment investigators behind closed doors.
- Taylor, a Vietnam War veteran and career diplomat with a distinguished record of service, provided one of the most damning testimonies against Trump.
- The US diplomat testified that it was made clear to him there was an explicit quid pro quo involving about $US400 million in military aid to Ukraine and a request from Trump for certain investigations.
- “That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation,” Taylor said.
- The career diplomat testified that freezing the aid was harmful to US national security, adding it was Giuliani’s idea to have Ukraine’s president publicly commit to an investigation into the Bidens.
October 29: Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified to House investigators behind closed doors.
- Vindman, a military veteran and Purple Heart recipient, is one of the most significant witnesses against Trump.
- Vindman has direct knowledge of the phone call at the centre of the impeachment probe, and he confirmed that Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine’s president.
- “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where the gain would be for the president in investigating the son of a political opponent,” he testified.
October 31: The House voted to formalise the impeachment inquiry into Trump.
- The resolution set the rules for the inquiry and was a sign the process would soon become more public.
- It’s not required for the House to hold a vote on an impeachment inquiry, as one has already been underway since late September, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved to do so under weeks of complaints from Republicans.
- The resolution passed 232 to 196 in a vote that was mostly along party lines.
November 4 – November 8: The House released transcripts from the depositions of a number of witnesses, including McKinley, Yovanovitch, Sondland, Volker, Taylor, Vindman, and Hill.
- Also on November 8, Bolton’s lawyer sends a letter to Congress that says his client was “personally involved in many of the events, meetings and conversations” relevant to the impeachment inquiry, while stating that Bolton would only be able to testify under a court order.
November 13: Taylor, the US’s chief envoy in Ukraine, and George Kent, a top State Department official overseeing Ukraine policy, testified in an open hearing to House investigators.
- Taylor directly confirmed a quid pro quo in which Trump withheld security assistance and a White House meeting while demanding Zelensky publicly commit to investigating the Bidens and baseless allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.
- Kent testified on Giuliani’s efforts on Trump’s behalf to get dirt on Biden from Ukraine. Kent told lawmakers Giuliani’s campaign was not part of official US foreign policy but instead a personal mission to get the president damaging information on a political rival ahead of an election.
November 15: Yovanovitch testified in an open hearing to House investigators.
- Yovanovitch served as the US ambassador to Ukraine until she was abruptly recalled in May following what she has characterised as a smear campaign against her based on “false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
- Yovanovitch’s testimony threw the spotlight on Giuliani.
- Yovanovitch said she was “shocked, absolutely shocked, and devastated, frankly,” by what Trump said about her in the phone call with Zelensky.
- Daniel Goldman, a veteran former federal prosecutor who led Democrats’ questioning in the impeachment hearings, asked Yovanovitch if she felt threatened by Trump’s words. “I did,” she replied.
- Taylor’s aide, David Holmes, was deposed behind closed doors on the same day.
November 19: Vindman and several other officials testified to House investigators in open hearings.
- Volker, the former US envoy in Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former NSC official, also testified.
- Jennifer Williams, a foreign service aide detailed to Vice President Mike Pence, also testified.
- Vindman gave an emotional opening statement highlighting his sense of duty and love of country while fielding Republican attacks on his patriotism.
- Williams and Vindman – both of whom listened in to the July 25 call in which Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to deliver politically motivated investigations – testified that they believed the call was “inappropriate” and “unusual.”
- Volker dramatically altered his public testimony from what he said behind closed doors.
- When he first testified, Volker categorically denied that any investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, Burisma Holdings, or the 2016 election were raised during a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials.
- During his public testimony, Volker acknowledged Sondland brought up the investigations and that he found it “inappropriate.”
- In a Freudian slip, GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, referred to Volker and Morrison as “your witnesses,” addressing Democrats. But both men were on the GOP witness list.
November 20: Sondland testified in an open hearing to House investigators.
- Two other officials also testified: Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Defence; and David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs at the State Department.
- Sondland’s hearing was the day’s main event. He threw everyone under the bus and produced texts and emails that he said show top brass at the White House and State Department were involved in Trump’s pressure campaign.
- “We followed the president’s orders,” Sondland said.
- He testified to the existence of an explicit quid pro quo linking frozen military aid to Ukraine and a desired White House meeting to investigations into Trump’s political rivals.
- “Was there a ‘quid pro quo’?” Sondland said, adding, “The answer is yes.”
- The Oregon hotelier, who donated $US1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee, also said the Ukraine efforts he was involved in, and the president’s intentions, were broadly understood at the highest levels of the administration.
- “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret,” Sondland said.
- Hale testified that Yovanovitch “should have been able to stay at post and continue to do the outstanding work.”
- Hale said that when he and other State Department officials learned that Trump had ordered the Office of Management and Budget to withhold aid, they vigorously pushed back.
- “The State Department advocated, as I did in that meeting, for proceeding with all of the assistance, consistent with our policies and interests in Ukraine,” Hale testified. He was referring to an interagency meeting that took place at the end of July.
- Cooper said Ukrainian officials asked about a freeze the aid the same day as the Zelensky call.
- The career Pentagon official told lawmakers that her staff had recently informed her of unclassified emails they’d received from the State Department on July 25 – the same day of the Trump-Zelensky call – that indicated Ukraine was aware of the hold on the military aid.
- One of the emails said the Ukrainian embassy in Washington and the House Foreign Affairs Committee were “asking about security assistance.” A second email said, “The Hill knows about the FMF (foreign military financing) situation to an extent and so does the Ukrainian embassy.”
- Cooper also said: “On July 25th a member of my staff got a question from a Ukraine embassy contact asking what was going on with Ukraine security assistance.”
November 21: Hill and Holmes testified in an open hearing to House investigators.
- Hill and Holmes were the last witnesses to testify in Congress’ public impeachment hearings.
- Holmes and Hill gave riveting testimony about what they witnessed in Trump’s pressure campaign to strong-arm Ukraine into delivering political dirt while withholding military aid and a White House meeting.
- They forcefully defended former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from the “shameful” smear campaign carried out against her by the president and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
- The witnesses described how “shocked,” “saddened,” and “deeply disappointed” they were with Trump’s July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
- Hill described a stunning conversation with another US ambassador in which she told him things were going to “blow up” with Trump’s Ukraine policy.
- Throughout her public testimony, Hill did not take sides. She disagreed with both Democrats and Republicans at various points.
- But she was unequivocal on the subject of election interference and forcefully rebuked GOP lawmakers who pushed a bogus conspiracy theory that Ukraine – not Russia – interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. Hill emphasised that this is Russian propaganda, and that perpetuating it bolsters the Kremlin’s efforts to contaminate US politics and divide Americans.
- Hill also testified that she believed the smear campaign against Yovanovitch was also motivated, in part, by sexist attitudes.
December 3: The House Intelligence Committee released a draft report on Tuesday of key findings in the impeachment inquiry.
- The report’s main conclusion was that the president “conditioned a White House meeting and military aid to Ukraine on a public announcement of investigations beneficial to his reelection campaign.”
- The Democratic-led committee also found that Trump “obstructed the impeachment inquiry by instructing witnesses and agencies to ignore subpoenas for documents and testimony.”
- The report revealed that GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the intelligence committee, was in contact with several key figures implicated in the impeachment inquiry so far.
December 5: Pelosi announced she had directed the House Judiciary Committee to draw up articles of impeachment against the president.
- “The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit,” Pelosi said at the time.
December 10: House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against Trump.
- The first charged him with abuse of power, and the second accused him of obstructing Congress.
- Both articles related to Trump’s efforts to strongarm Ukraine into caving to his political demands while withholding vital military aid and a White House meeting.
December 13: The House Judiciary Committee voted to pass two articles of impeachment against Trump.
- The committee voted 23-17, along party lines, to pass both articles. The first article of impeachment charged Trump with abuse of power, and the second with obstruction of Congress.
December 14: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said he will do “everything” he can to make a Senate impeachment trial from Trump “die quickly.”
- The South Carolina senator’s comments echoed remarks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who several days before told Fox News host Sean Hannity that there was “zero chance” Trump would be removed from office at the cessation of a Senate trial.
- McConnell also said he’d be working in “total coordination” with the White House and Trump’s legal team.
December 17: McConnell said he would not be an impartial juror in Trump’s impeachment trial.
- “I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process,” McConnell said.
- Responding to the Republican leader’s comments, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday said: “I am utterly amazed what Mitch McConnell said.”
December 18: The House of Representatives impeached Trump.
- The House passed the two articles of impeachment largely along party lines, making Trump the third president in US history to be impeached.
- The historic vote came after about 10 hours of debate.
- Meanwhile, Pelosi signalled an openness to withholding the articles of impeachment against Trump from the Senate until they get assurances from the Republican-led chamber that Trump’s trial will be impartial and fair.
- “So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,” Pelosi said.
- Pelosi indicated she wouldn’t name impeachment managers until there’s more clarity on the guidelines.
December 19: Pelosi reiterated that she would withhold the articles until she could confirm the terms of the process would be “fair.“
- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also announced there would be no more votes in the chamber until the winter recess was over on January 7. That effectively meant the House would not vote on a resolution naming impeachment managers and to transmit the articles over to the Senate until the new year.
January 6: Bolton announced that he would testify in Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate if called to the stand.
- “Since my testimony is once again at issue, I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study,” Bolton said. “I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify.”
January 14: The House Intelligence Committee released a slew of explosive documents that were related to Giuliani associate Parnas’ role in Trump’s pressure campaign in Ukraine.
- One document, a handwritten note from Parnas, reads, “get [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky to announce that the Biden case will be investigated.”
- Parnas’ text messages with associates also indicate a shocking level of surveillance on former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
- One particularly damning document was a letter from Giuliani to Zelensky dated May 10, 2019. In it, the former New York mayor told Zelensky, then Ukraine’s president-elect, that he wanted to meet in person on May 13 and May 14.
- “Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States,” Giuliani wrote. “This is quite common under American law because the duties and privileges of a President and a private citizen are not the same.”
- The president has said that his request for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens was linked to an interest in rooting out corruption, which is in the US’s national interest.
- But Giuliani’s letter directly undercuts that as it specifies that he was acting in his capacity as Trump’s private attorney; in other words, he was representing the president’s personal political interests, and not the country’s interests.
January 15: Pelosi on Wednesday announced the impeachment managers designated to lead the prosecution against Trump in his Senate trial.
- These lawmakers were named as impeachment managers: Rep. Adam Schiff of California, Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, Rep. Val Demings of Florida, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas.
- The House of Representatives passed a resolution the same day to transmit the two articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate.
- That night, in an interview with Rachel Maddow, Parnas said Trump “knew exactly what was going on” when Parnas was carrying out his orders in a pressure campaign against Ukraine’s new president.
- January 16: Trump’s Senate impeachment trial formally began when the House impeachment prosecutors presented the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
January 17: Trump announced his defence team for the Senate impeachment trial.
- Trump announced his defence would include the attorneys Alan Dershowitz, Ken Starr, and Robert Ray. Starr and Ray both investigated President Bill Clinton during his impeachment in the 1990s.
- The team was set to be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal defence attorney, Jay Sekulow. It also included former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.
January 22: The Senate voted to approve rules for the impeachment trial and House impeachment managers began opening arguments.
- Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts took the rare step of verbally admonishing both sides for their language as deliberations over rules for Trump’s impeachment trial dragged late into the night.
- In a heated exchange at about 12:30 a.m., Nadler accused Republicans of voting for a “cover-up,” calling their vote against a resolution to subpoena documents and call for witness testimony “treacherous.”
- Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, made an opening statement that laid out, in explicit detail, Trump’s months-long campaign to force Ukraine to accede to his personal, political demands, and leveraging US foreign policy while doing so.
- Schiff concluded the first portion of the prosecution’s opening argument reiterating how the president abused his power and engaged in an extensive, unprecedented effort to stonewall Congress from doing its constitutional duty in the impeachment inquiry.
January 23: House impeachment managers laid out the constitutional groundwork for impeachment.
- Among other things, they discussed legal precedent supporting Trump’s removal from office, what constitutes abuse of power, and why the president’s conduct rises to the level of an impeachable offence.
January 24: House impeachment managers gave a broad overview of the charges against Trump and the timeline of his alleged misconduct.
- Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, a skilled orator and former prosecutor, made a heartfelt appeal as he closed out Democrats’ opening arguments for the Senate to allow for a fair trial that includes witness testimony and documents.
- He invoked famous Republicans from US history like former President Abraham Lincoln and former congressman Tom Railsback, who died on Monday. Railsback led a group of four Republicans who were instrumental in initiating the impeachment process against Richard Nixon in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
- “And so I ask you, I implore you, give America a fair trial. She’s worth it. Thank you,” Schiff said.
January 25: Trump’s lawyers took centre stage as they began opening arguments in his historic impeachment trial.
- Over the course of roughly two hours, they made more than a dozen false or misleading claims, stated that the president did nothing wrong, and promoted conspiracy theories started by Russia.
January 26: The New York Times reported that Bolton had implicated Trump in an explicit quid pro quo related to Ukrainian military aid.
- The Times cited an unpublished manuscript of Bolton’s coming book as indicating that Trump told Bolton in August that Trump would withhold military aid from Ukraine until it acceded to Trump’s demands for politically motivated investigations.
January 27: The Senate headed into the second day of opening arguments from Trump’s defence team.
- The defence’s arguments mainly focused on attacking Hunter’s credibility with false and misleading claims that he engaged in corrupt activity in Ukraine, which formed the basis of Trump’s request.
January 28: Trump’s defence team capped off their opening arguments.
- Trump’s defence team disputed the need for the Senate to call former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify in the trial after The New York Times reported on the unpublished manuscript of his memoir, in which Bolton wrote that Trump personally told him he would withhold Ukraine’s military aid until Zelensky agreed to deliver politically motivated investigations targeting the Bidens.
- January 29: The Senate began a 16-hour period of submitting written questions in the impeachment trial.
January 30: The Senate voted against calling witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial.
- The motion for witnesses failed, with 51 senators voting against the measure and 49 voting in favour of it.
- Fifty-one senators need to vote in favour of calling witnesses for the motion to pass. There are currently 45 Democrats, two independents who caucus with Democrats, and 53 Republicans in the Senate.
- In the Republican caucus, only Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine voted for additional witnesses. Democrats needed at least four Republicans to support the motion for it to pass.
- The Senate called witnesses in all 15 previous impeachment trials in US history, including those of Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
- The vote came after the New York Times offered more revelations from Bolton, once again citing his unpublished book.
- Bolton wrote that Trump personally asked him to ensure Ukraine would cater to his political demands, according to the report.
- Bolton wrote that Trump asked him in May to call Zelensky and ask him to meet with Giuliani.
- At the time, Giuliani was planning to travel to Ukraine to push for politically motivated investigations into Trump’s rival and the Democratic Party.
- Giuliani, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone were at the May meeting, according to Bolton.
- Cipollone is also spearheading Trump’s impeachment defence team, raising the possibility that the president’s lawyer could now be a witness to his alleged misconduct.
February 3: The House impeachment managers and Trump’s defence team made their closing arguments.
- Lead House manager Adam Schiff closed his remarks with a plea for Republicans to stand up to Trump: “If you find the courage to stand up to him…your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath.”
- “History will not be kind to Donald Trump. If you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel and for all of history. But if you find the courage to stand up to him … your place will be among the Davids who took on Goliath,” Schiff said.
- Meanwhile, Trump’s lead attorney, Cipollone, contended that Trump’s impeachment was an “effort to overturn” the results of the 2016 impeachment and to “interfere” in the 2020 election.
- Cipollone and Trump’s other defence attorneys have repeatedly equated impeachment with an attempt to overthrow a legitimately elected president. But the Constitution confers upon the House of Representatives the “sole power to impeach” the president for treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanours.
- It’s also remarkable that Cipollone and Trump’s lawyers portrayed the impeachment inquiry as a Democratic attempt to intervene in the upcoming election, given that Trump’s own efforts to solicit foreign interference in the race for his own political benefit were at the centre of his impeachment.
February 5: Trump was acquitted on both articles of impeachment in the Senate.
- Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah emerged as the only Republican to vote to convict Trump for abuse of power, though he voted to acquit the president on obstruction of Congress.
- The Senate’s decision to acquit Trump fell largely along party lines. The vote to clear him of the abuse of power was 52-48. The vote to clear him of obstruction of Congress was 53-47.
- Every Democrat and the only two independents in the Senate voted to convict Trump on both articles of impeachment.
- Trump is the third president in US history to be impeached by the House but acquitted in a Senate trial.
Grace Panetta, Eliza Relman, Lauren Frias, and Sarah Grey contributed reporting.
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