What happens after impeachment? Confusion reigns

Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Indian Country Today

The Latest: Pelosi throws impeachment into confusion

WASHINGTON (AP) — A sample of the sights and sounds across Washington and beyond on a momentous day in Washington on Wednesday as the House passed two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

Minutes after the House impeached President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw the process into confusion by refusing to say when or whether she would send the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial. 

At a news conference held immediately after the vote, Pelosi said "we'll see what happens" when asked if she would send the articles to the Senate. She said that House Democrats could not name impeachment managers — House prosecutors who make the case in a Senate trial — until they know more about how the Senate will conduct a trial. 

Pelosi made the comments after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a proposal earlier this week from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to call several witnesses. The GOP-led Senate is expected to acquit Trump. 

Asked if she could guarantee she would send the articles, she said "that would have been our intention" but that they will see what the Senate decides.

She said: "We are not having that discussion, we have done what we set out to do."

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9:30 p.m.

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew has voted against impeaching President Donald Trump and spent much of the day sitting on the Republican side of the aisle. 

The freshman lawmaker is still technically a Democrat, but his aides say he informed them over the weekend that he'll switch to the GOP. He told reporters Wednesday that he'll announce his decision within the next couple of days. 

During the day's impeachment debate, Van Drew joined a GOP standing ovation for Republican leader Kevin McCarthy when McCarthy said Trump was still president and will remain president. The GOP-led Senate seems certain to acquit Trump in a trial and keep him in office.

Van Drew faced a difficult reelection as a Democrat in his increasingly conservative southern New Jersey district. Trump is expected to support him as a Republican but his prospects in next November's election remain uncertain.

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9:15 p.m.

Hillary Clinton. 

Election night 2016. 

Oh, and that thing called impeachment. 

President Donald Trump's campaign rally speech in Michigan on Wednesday night zigged and zagged through a variety of seemingly unrelated topics before he would veer back to address the topic at hand: the historic vote in the House of Representatives to impeach him. 

As the first votes were cast, Trump complained about "the crap" he's had to go through. 

Just after the House passed two articles of impeachment against him, Trump said the vote showed the "'deep hatred and disdain" Democrats have for voters. 

Later in the rally, Trump read off the vote and noted that three Democrats crossed over to join Republicans in voting against impeachment.

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8:55 p.m.

No Republicans voted to impeach President Donald Trump.

As the House voted Wednesday evening, the tally fell largely along party lines, with the few defections all on the Democratic side.

The House voted 230-197-1 on the first article, abuse of power. Two Democrats voted against: Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is considering switching parties to become a Republican, and Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota. 

Those two lawmakers and freshman Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine also voted against the second article, obstruction of Congress.

Conservative Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP to become an independent, voted to impeach Trump on both charges.

Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a presidential candidate, voted present on both.

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8:20 p.m.

"It doesn't really feel like we're being impeached."

 Those were the words spoken by President Donald Trump as he opened a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, on Wednesday night. 

Back in Washington, the House of Representatives was nearing a historic vote to impeach him. 

 Trump appeared on a stage flanked by two Christmas trees after he walked through a makeshift brick fireplace. He pumped his fists for the audience standing behind him on stage. 

 After a few words about Christmas, Trump said to thousands packed into the Kellogg Arena: "By the way, it doesn't really feel like we're being impeached." 

 The president cited "tremendous support" for him in the Republican Party and said the country is "doing better than ever before."

 Aides had said Trump would wait to see the vote in the House before coming out to address the rally, but he came out early and promised "the best speech you've ever heard."

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8 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence has stepped in to be the warm-up act for President Donald Trump at a "Merry Christmas" campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan. He's telling the crowd that Democrats are trying to impeach Trump because they can't beat him in 2020.

 Pence tells rally-goers in Michigan, "They're trying to run down this president because they can't run against our record." He adds: "They know they can't stop you from giving President Donald Trump four more years in the White House."

 Before Pence took the stage, the crowd was growing restless for Trump, whose appearance at the rally was delayed as all sides awaited the House of Representatives' impeachment vote.

 Audience members chanted "We want Trump." 

 A faux fireplace is set up around the catwalk in the Kellogg Arena from which Trump is to emerge to speak to thousands of supporters.

 Two decorated Christmas Trees flank the stage, topped with the Trump campaign's signature red hats bearing the "Keep America Great" slogan.

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7:50 p.m.

The crowd is growing restless in Michigan for President Donald Trump as his appearance at a campaign rally is delayed by the House of Representatives' impeachment vote. 

Audience members chanted "We want Trump" as Trump was more than 45 minutes late to taking the stage. Trump is set to make quite the entrance Wednesday evening at the "Merry Christmas" rally.

 A faux fireplace is set up around the catwalk in the Kellogg Arena from which Trump is set to emerge to speak to the thousands of supporters. Two decorated Christmas Trees flank the stage, topped with the Trump campaign's signature red hats bearing the "Keep America Great" slogan.

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5:55 p.m.

The top Senate Republican during Bill Clinton's impeachment isn't too worried by all the infighting on how to run the upcoming Senate trial.

Former Majority Leader Trent Lott reminded a swelling band of reporters that he didn't talk at all with Democratic counterpart Tom Daschle of South Dakota until after the House impeached Clinton.

Lott recalls the good relationship he had with Daschle: "He was fair. He was honest. We worked very closely through the whole process."

Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are feuding about Schumer's demand to summon witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton to testify.

Lott wasn't a big fan of witnesses in the 1999 trial. "I didn't want Monica Lewinsky in the well of the Senate testifying about the stain on a blue dress. I was not going to let that happen," Lott said.

"It was a different time. Different media and different people," Lott said. And the Senate is much more polarized. Still, Lott is not worried that McConnell and Schumer will work it out.

"Important moments — I won't call them great moments in history — bring people together, sometimes whether they want to be or not," Lott told reporters. "They're going to have to talk about how to proceed."

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4:40 p.m.

The House debate over President Trump's impeachment has taken a strange turn.

Republicans held a moment of silence for the 2016 election.

An Ohio congressman accused Democrats of trying to overturn the results of the last election by impeaching Trump. Bill Johnson asked for a moment of silence to remember the "63 million Americans" who voted for Trump and have been forgotten. 

All the Republicans in the House chamber stood up. Democrats stayed glued to their seats. 

No Republicans are expected to support Trump's impeachment when votes are held later Wednesday.

Democrats say Trump betrayed his oath of office by pushing Ukraine for an investigation of Joe Biden.

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4:10 p.m.

There's one line coming from Democrats during the impeachment debate that Republicans were happy to hear. It's that Hillary Clinton wouldn't become president if Donald Trump is impeached and removed from office.

A Republican congressman from Utah, Chris Stewart, said during a speech that Democrats want to impeach Trump because they hate him and, in Stewart's words, "they think Hillary Clinton should be president and they want to fix that."

Stewart then said that if the House voted to impeach Trump, then ``the next president, I promise you, is going to be impeached — and the next president after that."

That's when Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the committee that passed the two articles of impeachment, used part of his speech to remind Stewart of the constitutional line of presidential succession.

The New York Democrat explained that it's Vice President Mike Pence who'd become president if the House voted to impeach Trump and the Senate voted to remove him from office. And Nadler made clear that Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, isn't in line to move into the White House.

After Nadler spoke, a group of Republicans in the chamber clapped and whooped. 

The first impeachment article charges Trump with abuse of power. The second charges him with obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him if there's a trial next year.

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3:45 p.m.

Republican lawmakers have compared the looming impeachment of President Donald Trump to infamous moments in history, including the attack on Pearl Harbor and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

A Georgia congressman, Barry Loudermilk, said in a speech on the House floor that Republicans haven't been able to question the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint about Trump 's action on Ukraine triggered impeachment. 

Loudermilk said "Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus" when he was "falsely accused of treason." Pontius Pilate was the Roman ruler who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus.

In separate remarks, a Pennsylvania congressman, Mike Kelly, recalled the "horrific act" of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Kelly said that this Wednesday — Dec. 18, 2019 — the day when the House is expected to impeach Trump, "is another date that will live in infamy."

Trump himself has compared the drive to impeach him to the Salem Witch trials. During those infamous 17th century trials, 20 people suspected of witchcraft were killed in Massachusetts. Trump said those people were afforded "more due process" than he has been,

Democrats repeatedly noted during their speeches in the House on Wednesday that they invited Trump to testify before the House Judiciary Committee but he declined.

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2:10 p.m.

First in English and then in Spanish, a California congressman used his allotted time on the House floor to urge colleagues to vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

Democrat Lou Correa called it a "very sad day" in American history as the House moved toward expected votes Wednesday evening.

No Republican is expected to support impeachment. 

The first impeachment article charges the Republican president with abuse of power. The second charges him with obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

Correa said Trump's actions to invite foreign intervention in an American election has given Congress no choice but to fulfill its constitutional duty and approve articles of impeachments.

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12:50 p.m.

Queen's "We Are the Champions" was one of the songs on the playlist before a Michigan rally where Vice President Mike Pence told supporters of President Donald Trump that the upcoming House impeachment votes were a "disgrace."

Pence spoke to more than 200 people at a "Workers for Trump" event in Saginaw. He criticized Democrats in the important swing state and predicted that Trump will once again carry the state, in part because of impeachment.

The Democratic-run House has begun debate on two articles of impeachment against the Republican president. The first charges Trump with abuse of power. The second charges him with obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

Pence is accusing Democrats of ``trying to impeach this president because they can't defeat this president."

Pence is in Michigan for a daylong bus tour before joining Trump at a rally Wednesday evening in Battle Creek.

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12:45 p.m.

The House has approved rules that allow six hours of floor debate on historic votes to impeach President Donald Trump. 

The vote in the Democratic-controlled House was 228-197. The rules should allow for dozens of lawmakers to speak on the floor, with a vote expected Wednesday night.

Two Democrats sided with Republicans to oppose the rule. They are Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

Independent Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican, voted with Democrats. 

Lawmakers have been arguing about the charges Trump faces and the legitimacy of the investigation that brought Congress to the brink of impeachment.

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12:35 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump's actions have left the House with "no choice" but to act on impeachment.

The Democratic-run House has begun debate on two articles of impeachment against the Republican president. The first charges Trump with abuse of power. The second charges him with obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

Pelosi held her hand over her heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the House. She observed that lawmakers are the "custodians of the Constitution."

The California Democrat spent much of the morning in the dimly-lit third row from the back, all to herself. There, she sat in black with her mace pin on her jacket and a green folder on her lap. She flipped through sheaf of papers, appearing to read them one by one. Periodically, she looked up to hear the debate on the rules.

At 12:08 p.m., Pelosi descended to the well of the chamber to the podium and to open the debate on the abuse and obstruction articles. 

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12:15 p.m.

Joe Kennedy III took to the House floor with impeachment — and his children — on his mind.

The House was opening six hours of debate Wednesday on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, with evening votes scheduled. And Robert Kennedy's grandson wanted to have his say.

The Massachusetts Democrat read from a letter to his own young children. It said, "This is a moment you will read about in your history books.'" 

With the House moving closer to impeaching a president for only the third time in U.S. history, Kennedy wanted to explain to his kids why he felt it necessary to act. Kennedy said Trump abused the ``most sacred office in our land.'' He said that by day's end, the record will show that "justice won. ... We did not let you down."

But a Republican congresswoman from Arizona accused Democrats of "tearing this country apart." Debbi Lesko said the impeachment process was unfair and rigged.

The House will vote on two charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

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9:25 a.m.

Utter disbelief. 

That's the sense expressed by President Donald Trump as arose he Wednesday morning and faced the prospect that by day's end, he'd likely to be just the third U.S. president to be impeached.

Trump has a relatively light schedule during the day. He's indicated he won't be watching the six hours of impeachment debate on the House floor. And in the evening he's scheduled to be in Battle Creek, Michigan, for a rally. 

His remarks at Kellogg Arena could come around the same time as House is voting on the two charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump's press secretary says the president will have plenty to say at the rally about the voting back in Washington.

Trump started his day as he often does: by airing his grievances on Twitter. 

Here's what he said: "Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing."

The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.