They plan to lay out their case and unveil at least two articles of impeachment Tuesday morning, one on abuse of power and the other on obstruction of Congress, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
The Department of Justice Inspector General issued a massive report about whether the FBI spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign, as he has repeatedly alleged.
After reviewing a million documents and conducting more than 100 interviews, the watchdog concluded the 2016 investigation into Trump campaign aides who were in contact with Russians was justified and properly begun.
The Ivanka Trump/Christopher Steele connection
Criticism of the FBI
There was plenty of meat there for FBI critics, but the most important takeaway is that the President is wrong when he says the FBI spied on his campaign.
Barr said, “The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions, that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”
Another fired former FBI official, Andrew McCabe, told CNN’s Erin Burnett Monday night: “I expected this result.”
“I was there. I know that we didn’t do anything wrong,” McCabe said on “Erin Burnett OutFront.” “Rather than do something wrong, rather than, you know, plot the coup that the President and the Republicans have been talking about for two years, what we did was our jobs.”
John Durham, Barr’s appointee to lead the separate review of the Russia investigation, flat out said he didn’t agree with some of the conclusions of the IG report. So we’ll have plenty more debate about this.
Meanwhile, FBI Director Christopher Wray said he’s ordered “more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations.”
‘Brazen’ scheme vs. ‘baloney’ investigation
Democrats on Monday recapped weeks of testimony from before Thanksgiving, summarizing their investigation as they move toward impeaching Trump this month. But the moment, devoid of the fresh revelations and searing witness accounts that characterized November’s hearings, felt anticlimactic as Democratic lawyers for the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees made the case that many Americans might be able to recite by heart.
Republicans, meanwhile, attacked the process. They veered from accusing Democrats of plotting to impeach Trump since the first day of his presidency and to quoting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this year arguing the case for impeachment should be overwhelming and bipartisan.
“Brazen” and a “big deal”
Trump’s scheme to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens “was so brazen, so clear, supported by documents, actions, sworn testimony, un-contradicted contemporaneous records that it’s hard to imagine that anybody could dispute those acts, let alone argue that conduct does not constitute an impeachable offense or offenses,” said Barry Berke, the counsel who presented for the House Judiciary Committee. “This is a big deal.”
Compare the slam dunk described by Berke with this quote from Steve Castor, the Republican attorney representing the minority on the Intelligence Committee.
This hearing was more notable for its frustrations. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz had an outburst and interrupted Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and his own ranking member to attack the process. Ranking member Rep. Doug Collins and others repeatedly complained that Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff did not attend the hearing; they wanted to ask him questions and not staff attorneys.
Impeachment next steps
CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb report that Pelosi will have to give approval to articles of impeachment that Nadler and his staff are drafting. What those articles look like are a closely guarded secret in the Capitol. And the exact timing is uncertain. Only a handful of people know, and no one outside of Nadler-Pelosi-Schiff.
When can the committee vote? Under the rules, Nadler has to give just 24 hours notice before the committee votes. That committee session — known as a markup — could take more than one day, per committee sources.
Will Democrats need to meet and discuss all of this? At the moment, there are no special Democratic caucus meetings dedicated to talking about the articles. That could change. However, there are plenty of opportunities for members to discuss next steps.
Pelosi will conduct a series of normal meetings with her leadership team and a larger group of her steering committee. Pelosi meets Monday night with her leadership team and a larger group of members in the steering committee, as she does weekly. She’ll meet with the full caucus of Democrats at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. And she meets with the whip team — the people in charge of counting votes — at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
Special guest at the White House Tuesday
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.