President Trump claimed on Friday night that Democrats had become the “Party of Hate” hours after the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment on party-line votes accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The full House is expected to vote to impeach Trump next week, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said there is “no chance” his chamber will vote to remove Trump from office.

At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

●McConnell indicates he’ll let Trump’s lawyers dictate the impeachment trial.

●Name-calling, insults and scandals dominate all-day impeachment proceeding.

●The latest guessing game is figuring out Pelosi’s picks to prosecute impeachment trial.

3:22 a.m.
Link copied

Vindman attorney responds to taunts by Trump

An attorney for Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman rebuked President Trump on Friday for caustic comments the president made about the decorated war veteran who testified before the House impeachment inquiry.

Trump referred to Vindman derisively as “another beauty” in remarks to reporters about House impeachment proceedings. Trump did not refer to Vindman by name, but repeated his rank as if to underscore his subordinate position in the White House.

David Pressman, an attorney for Vindman, responded with a statement Friday evening saying that Vindman “has enormous respect for the office of the president of the United States. My client has seen war, and has sacrificed greatly for our country. He has said nothing publicly but for statements made pursuant to a subpoena. He deserves better than to be mocked, taunted, and bullied by the Commander-in-Chief.”

Vindman was among the White House officials who raised internal concerns about Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to pursue investigations that would benefit Trump politically. Vindman testified before the impeachment inquiry that he was troubled by Trump’s conduct and reported his concerns to White House lawyers.

Vindman continues to work at the White House as the top Ukraine adviser on the National Security Council.

12:40 a.m.
Link copied

Trump says Democrats are the ‘Party of Hate’

Trump returned to Twitter on Friday night to insist he had done nothing wrong and accused Democrats of becoming “the Party of Hate.”

“It’s not fair that I’m being Impeached when I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong!” he tweeted. “The Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have become the Party of Hate. They are so bad for our Country!”

12:30 a.m.
Link copied

Pro-Trump web group sees Democrats as lawbreakers

As the House Judiciary Committee convened Friday to approve articles of impeachment against President Trump, a watch party got underway in a private Facebook group that rallies its more than 75,000 members around the banner, “THE TRUMP DEPLORABLES.”

The comments that streamed forth in the group illustrate how Trump’s most ardent supporters have fashioned alternative realities for themselves — as well as for Republican lawmakers aiming to turn the charge of corruption back on those investigating the president.

The feed — from Fox News, a major source of news for the president’s supporters — showed the same scene available to viewers tuning in on various networks all over the country. But in the online enclave where the self-described “deplorables” had gathered to watch the committee vote, Democrats are the lawbreakers who “should be impeached,” as one viewer wrote. Trump’s word is truth. And the federal employees who question his version of events are not just mistaken, they are “scum,” as Trump labeled members of the intelligence community at a rally this week in Hershey, Pa.

The decision by the committee’s Republicans to close ranks around the president, as Democrats in a party-line vote approved two articles of impeachment, may have prompted head-scratching among Americans who learned on the nightly news or read on mainstream websites or in the morning paper how Trump had turned American policy in Ukraine toward his own ends. But the defense mounted by Trump’s allies made perfect sense to those following live on social media, in groups sealed off from general scrutiny, where facts are established by volume, and confirmation comes from likes.

“They themselves should be arrested,” one viewer wrote of witnesses called by Democrats. “Agree,” another user affirmed seconds later.

The echo chambers that take hold on social media reach beyond the effects of media coverage partial to the president, which he promotes to counter fact-based reporting.

Read more here.

11:50 p.m.
Link copied

Five questions — and answers — about Trump, Ukraine and impeachment

President Trump is expected to be impeached by the House next week over claims he abused his power and obstructed Congress when it tried to investigate.

How did we get here?

The story is complicated, but the questions at the heart of the impeachment matter are simple.

Did the president dial back support for a U.S. ally as a way of extracting a political favor from the country’s leader? And was the request for a political favor inappropriate in the first place?

These are the issues confronting lawmakers as they decide whether to vote yes or no on two articles of impeachment next week.

Here are five simple questions that explain what happened, where the parties disagree and what comes next.

Read more here.

9:40 p.m.
Link copied

Supreme Court to take up Trump claim that he’s protected from investigation

The Supreme Court announced that it will take up Trump’s broad claims of protection from investigation, raising the prospect of a landmark election-year ruling on the limits of presidential power.

A New York prosecutor and three Democratic-led congressional committees have won lower-court decisions granting them access to a broad range of Trump’s financial records relating to him personally, his family and his businesses.

Unlike other modern presidents and presidential candidates, Trump has not released his tax returns. He and his lawyers have mounted a vigorous effort to keep that information private and defeat attempts to obtain the records from financial institutions and his accounting firm.

Read more here.

8:00 p.m.
Link copied

Giuliani spends morning at White House, tweeting defense of Trump

Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney who has been waging his own investigation against the Bidens in Ukraine, was spotted entering the White House shortly before the House Judiciary vote this morning.

He also tweeted several times, deriding the impeachment inquiry and repeating his claim that he has dirt on Biden.

“The American people have already made up their mind on this #ImpeachmentScam,” he tweeted. “This is a SMOKESCREEN for the Obama-Biden administration’s corruption. It will soon be proven.”

In a later tweet, he pushed the Republican line that Trump didn’t obstruct Congress by not allowing White House and administration officials to participate in the impeachment inquiry because the Democrats could have asked the courts to compel him.

“Disputes between Presidents & Congress are to be decided by the 3rd branch, the courts. NOT dictatorially by Congress,” Giuliani tweeted.

No other administration has instructed its officials to defy congressional subpoenas.

7:30 p.m.
Link copied

Buttigieg compares Trump to tiger who will eventually devour the GOP

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, in an interview with Washington Post Live Friday afternoon, said Trump’s behavior was an “affront to basic American values.”

“There were documented abuses of power, things we watched the president do in plain daylight,” Buttigieg told The Post’s Robert Costa. “It is tragic that unlike what we’ve seen for example in the run-up to the resignation of Nixon that the Republican Party decided to continue riding this tiger until it finally devours them.”

Costa asked Buttigieg about moderate Democrats who are still on the fence about next week’s vote and whether they should feel an obligation to support impeachment.

“Well, they’d certainly get my vote, and I think the broader issue right now is we have to draw the line on what kind of conduct is acceptable. And I think it’s important for the future as well as for the present that we draw that line.”

7:00 p.m.
Link copied

Moderate Democratic freshman from Nevada says she’ll vote to impeach

Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.), a moderate Democratic freshman who won last year in a district that Trump carried in 2016, announced Friday that she would vote in support of impeachment next week on the House floor.

“This is a grave decision that requires thorough and solemn deliberation,” Lee said in a statement. “After weighing all of the facts, I will be voting in support of impeachment of the president.”

Lee said that it was clear to her that Trump had abused the power of his office and “blatantly obstructed” Congress.

“This is a solemn decision,” she said. “I end with this: democracies live and die by the integrity of our elections. We have lived in relative peace on our soil for over two centuries in the strongest democracy on earth. It is my constitutional duty to ensure that it remains that way.”

6:30 p.m.
Link copied

McConnell’s vow of ‘total coordination’ with White House on Senate impeachment trial angers Democrats

Members of the House Judiciary Committee spent barely seven minutes Friday forwarding articles of impeachment for a floor vote next week. But many of the panel’s members already had their minds on the Senate trial ahead — and the man who holds immense sway over how it will proceed: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a late Thursday interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, McConnell (R-Ky.) all but guaranteed a Trump acquittal, saying there was “zero chance” the president would be removed from office, and promised “total coordination” with the White House and Trump’s defense team.

“The case is so darn weak coming over from the House,” he said. “We all know how it’s going to end.”

Those remarks infuriated House Democrats as they voted to advance the fourth-ever set of presidential impeachment articles toward a Senate trial where, they said, the fix appeared to be in.

Read more here.

6:20 p.m.
Link copied

Schumer says a fair trial is ‘paramount’

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a statement Friday noting that “[i]f articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate, every single senator will take an oath to render ‘impartial justice.’ ”

“Making sure the Senate conducts a fair and honest trial that allows all the facts to come out is paramount,” Schumer said.

His statement came a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a Fox News interview that he is in “total coordination” with Trump’s legal team ahead of an anticipated trial and that he sees “no chance” Trump will be removed from office.

5:50 p.m.
Link copied

Pence spokeswoman calls impeachment proceedings ‘complete waste of time’

A spokeswoman for Vice President Pence dismissed the impeachment proceedings against Trump as “a complete waste of time” hours after the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to impeach Trump.

“Never in our country’s history has a president been treated so unfairly by a sham investigation with one-sided testimony meant to undermine the will of the American people,” said Pence press secretary Katie Waldman. “The American people have the facts, they can read the transcript, no quid pro quo, and the aide to Ukraine was released. Democrats in Congress should heed the voice of the American people and reject this partisan impeachment that has been a complete waste of time. Democrats in Congress need to get back to work for the American people!”

5:10 p.m.
Link copied

Trump derisively refers to Vindman as ‘another beauty’

Trump derisively referred to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry, as “another beauty” as he sought to convince reporters Friday that Democrats have a weak case for impeachment.

Trump did not mention Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, by name, but he alluded to him as he argued that the rough transcript of his July call with Zelensky showed he had done nothing wrong.

Vindman, who was among those who listened in on the call, raised concerns about the call to an NSC lawyer, saying he did not think it was appropriate for Trump to have asked Zelensky to investigate a political rival.

“Now, had I not had a transcript — I’m lucky we had this transcript — which by the way has now been verified by the lieutenant colonel, lieutenant colonel — okay, he’s another beauty …” Trump said, before moving on to another thought.

Vindman, in fact, testified that he suggested several edits to the call transcript, not all of which were made.

5:00 p.m.
Link copied

Trump says Democrats are ‘trivializing impeachment’

President Trump attacked the FBI, House Democrats, Hillary Clinton and others after the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach him on Dec. 13. (The Washington Post)

Trump told reporters that Democrats are “trivializing impeachment” after the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Friday morning for two articles of impeachment against him.

“It’s a very sad thing for our country, but it seems to be very good for me politically,” Trump said as reporters looked on during an Oval Office visit by Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez. “The people are absolutely disgusted. Nobody’s ever seen anything like this.”

Trump also ticked off several now-familiar terms he’s used to describe the process, including “witch hunt,” “hoax” and “sham.”

He asserted once again that the July phone call during which he pressed Zelensky to conduct investigations that could benefit him politically was “perfect.”

“To use the power of impeachment on this nonsense is an embarrassment to this country,” Trump said.

Asked if he would prefer a long or short trial in the Senate, Trump said, “I’ll do whatever I want. Look, there is — we did nothing wrong. So I’ll do long or short.”

“I wouldn’t mind the long process, because I’d like to see the whistleblower, who’s a fraud,” he added, referring to the anonymous U.S. intelligence official whose complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry.

Much of what was in the complaint has been corroborated by other U.S. officials who testified during the inquiry.

4:35 p.m.
Link copied

Trump greets president of Paraguay

About 90 minutes after a House panel voted to impeach him, Trump welcomed Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez for a visit to the White House.

“Lovely weather,” Trump said as he greeted Abdo Benítez in light rain. The two paused for photographs before heading to the Oval Office.