It's over. 134 days after Nancy Pelosi announced the opening of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, the Senate voted today to acquit the president on both articles of impeachment. He was found not guilty on article one, abuse of power, 52 to 48 and on article two, obstruction of Congress, 53 to 47. The vote, which concluded only the third impeachment trial in the history of the United States, was not just historic for that reason: it was the first time that a president received a vote to convict from a member of his own party. That's right: even though it failed, the vote to remove the President of the United States from office was bipartisan, on one article. "Even a single vote by a single member, can change the course of history," lead House manager Adam Schiff said in his closing statements on Monday. He then asked, "is there one among you, who will say, 'Enough'?" It turns out, there was. (Source: Washington Post)
That one senator was Utah Republican and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney. "The president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust," Romney said in announcing his vote. "What he did was not 'perfect.' No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values." Romney split his vote—he voted not guilty on article two, though he didn't address his reasoning in his floor speech. One thing he did address in his speech is the inevitable attacks he will get from the president and his own party (Don Jr has already called for Romney to be "expelled" from the party). The attacks, he said, will likely "be substantial, and I have to recognize that it was one or the other. One is to say, I don't want to face the blowback. But on the other side, there is: Do you do what you know is right?” Romney concluded, "Do what is right, let the consequence follow." (Source: Politico)
Of course, while the impeachment may have ended today (and these updates along with it), the repercussions of this impeachment process are going to be felt all the way to election day in November—and well past it as well. But there are some immediate ripples from the impeachment process that have actual dates(ish) already set. In roughly chronological order:
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals is set to drop a decision any day now on the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena for former White House counsel Don McGahn. While the subpoena of McGahn predates impeachment—it dates to the Mueller investigation—the fight is around the claim by the White House that the executive branch enjoys "absolute immunity" from House oversight. That argument has failed every case leading to this appeal and factored deeply into the House's reasoning for the obstruction of Congress charge. If a decision drops in the next few days and it finds in favor of the House, the timing will be… something.
Next up will be what revelations may come from the release of former National Security Advisor John Bolton's tell-all book. Leaks from the book last week revealed that Bolton claims the president directly talked to him about the link between Ukrainian military aid and politically-motivated investigations. Those revelations almost forced the vote on witnesses and documents in the trial to pass, until the president's defense succeeded in making the out there argument that anything the president does, even if it's shady, can be considered in the public interest and thusly wasn't impeachable. Stares. Bolton's book will be released March 17, barring the possibility that it is blocked by the White House.
Hey, remember that McGahn decision from two bullet points ago? Well, that's not the only case making its way through the courts testing the president's claim of "absolute immunity." In fact, the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in three cases this spring where "absolute immunity" is at the center of the president's defense. All the cases are for subpoenas of the president's tax and financial records and were filed by both the House of Representatives and the Manhattan District Attorney. While the Supreme Court will hear arguments this spring, they won't issue a decision until the end of June. A decision in the White House's favor would potentially be devastating for the oversight role of the legislative branch of government.
Lastly (and honestly, I'm probably forgetting a few), the trial of Rudy Giuliani's weird goon associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman will start on October 5. Lev and Igor were arrested on October 10—at Dulles Airport with one-way tickets out of the country—on charges that the two "sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official—a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the US ambassador to Ukraine." Since the arrest, Parnas has cooperated with the impeachment investigation, and documents he provided were incorporated into the House's case against the president.
If you would like your brain to explode just a little bit more, keep in mind that all these dates overlay the entire presidential election season, from the primaries underway now, to the party conventions this summer, to the general election this fall. So that will be… fun? No, no that's not the word. Starts with the same letter though.
Finally, today marks the end of updates on impeachment.fyi. At least until the next impeachment and, since I heard repeatedly during the president's defense that we're living through the "era of impeachment," maybe that will be sooner rather than later. But, personally, I doubt it. I don't think there's the stomach for it, even if there's the evidence. But who knows, I also wouldn't have thought two associates of Rudy Giuliani's would have been arrested at an airport with one-way tickets out of the country back when this started so who knows: Anything is possible. But, for me, I'm tapping out for now. A sincere thank you to everyone who read these updates. Things got a lot mushier in the newsletter. Loloolololol. I did this all for tips. Jesus.
What's coming next: Election day is Tuesday, November 3 2020.