A majority of House lawmakers have said they plan to support at least one article of impeachment against President Trump, as the president railed against the process in an extraordinary letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

No Republicans have said they will break ranks in the full House vote, which is expected Wednesday.

In his six-page letter to Pelosi, Trump accused Democrats of “declaring open war on American Democracy.” Pelosi later sent a letter to House Democrats urging them to join her in voting to impeach Trump.

The developments came as the House Rules Committee was meeting to set the parameters for the historic debate expected Wednesday over whether the president’s conduct toward Ukraine violated his oath of 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.

●Senate leaders battle over impeachment trial after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejects Democrats’ calls for witnesses.

●Americans locked in partisan stalemate on removing Trump from office, Post-ABC poll finds.

●Russian disinformation network said to have helped spread smear of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

December 17, 2019 at 9:20 PM EST
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Schumer says he will force votes on witness testimony

By Felicia Sonmez

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday night that he plans to force votes on the testimony of four key current and former Trump administration figures.

Schumer has in recent days requested subpoenas for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; Mulvaney senior adviser Robert Blair; former national security adviser John Bolton; and top Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey.

“Even though 51 votes governs, I’m allowed to ask for votes,” Schumer said during an interview on MSNBC. “I will ask during the impeachment proceeding for a vote on whether Mulvaney should testify, and whether Bolton should testify, and whether Casey should testify and whether Griffin should testify. And many of my Republican colleagues will be in a real dilemma.”

Schumer appeared to be referring to Blair and Duffey when he said the names Casey and Griffin.

December 17, 2019 at 9:10 PM EST
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House panel sets parameters for debate and vote Wednesday on articles of impeachment against Trump

By Felicia Sonmez

The House Rules Committee voted along party lines for six hours of debate on Wednesday on the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

In his closing statement, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Jim McGovern, took aim at the letter Trump sent to Pelosi earlier Tuesday.

“It essentially amounts to one long Twitter rant,” McGovern said.

The Massachusetts Democrat also denounced Trump’s comparison of his impeachment to the Salem witch trials.

“I mean, are you kidding me?” McGovern said. “Innocent people were tortured and hung. … For the president to say that he is being treated worse than the Salem witch trials is unhinged.”

December 17, 2019 at 8:50 PM EST
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Rules Committee returns, with Democrats seeking six hours of debate Wednesday

By Felicia Sonmez

The House Rules Committee reconvened to vote on the parameters for Wednesday’s impeachment vote.

McGovern announced that Democrats are seeking six hours of floor debate on Wednesday.

As the meeting got underway, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) offered an amendment that would have increased the time for debate to 12 hours.

The amendment was rejected, and the committee proceeded to consider another amendment by Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) that would allow a vote on a point of order on lack of a minority hearing day.

That amendment was rejected as well.

December 17, 2019 at 7:30 PM EST
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Rules Committee in recess, will vote later Tuesday night

By Felicia Sonmez

The House Rules Committee is in recess after concluding the part of its meeting devoted to debating the articles of impeachment under consideration.

The panel will reconvene later Tuesday night to vote on proposals for the rules that will govern Wednesday’s floor debate and vote.

December 17, 2019 at 7:20 PM EST
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Trump claims Democrats who vote to impeach him will face tough election in 2020

By Felicia Sonmez

Trump again took aim at Democrats on Tuesday night, arguing that party leaders are pressuring members to vote for impeachment and warning that such lawmakers will face a tough path to reelection.

“Democrat ‘leadership,’ despite their denials, are putting tremendous pressure on their members to vote yes on this ridiculous Impeachment,” Trump said in a tweet. “If they vote yes, it will be much easier for Republicans to win in 2020!”

December 17, 2019 at 6:30 PM EST
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Blue Dog Coalition votes to oust Rep. Van Drew

By Paul Kane

Members of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition on Tuesday voted to remove Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), who has suggested in recent days that he plans to leave the Democratic Party.

“Per our by laws, which require all members to be a member of the Democratic Party, Congressman Van Drew is no longer a member of the Blue Dog Coalition,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), who leads the group, said in a statement.

December 17, 2019 at 6:00 PM EST
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Pelosi urges Democratic lawmakers to join her in voting to impeach Trump

By Felicia Sonmez

Pelosi sent a letter to Democratic lawmakers Tuesday night urging them to back the articles of impeachment against Trump.

“When the House convenes to take the impeachment vote tomorrow morning, I urge each of you to join me on the Floor,” Pelosi wrote in the letter. “Our constituents look to us to be respectful of the Constitution and Defenders of our Democracy, and to proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

In his letter to Pelosi earlier Tuesday, Trump had declared that the speaker’s “false display of solemnity” is “perhaps most insulting of all.”

Pelosi appeared to dismiss Trump’s attack, praising the House committee chairs in her letter “for the great seriousness and solemnity with which they have proceeded down this path.”

In an exchange with reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday night, Pelosi called Trump’s letter “really sick,” although she said she had not read it in its entirety.

“I don’t have a reaction. It’s ridiculous,” she said, according to CNN.

December 17, 2019 at 5:35 PM EST
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House Democrats have enough votes to impeach Trump, according to a Post analysis

By Felicia Sonmez

A majority of House lawmakers have said they plan to support both articles of impeachment against Trump.

No Republicans have said they will break ranks in the full House vote, which is expected Wednesday.

December 17, 2019 at 5:00 PM EST
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Rep. Golden says he will vote for one article of impeachment

By Felicia Sonmez

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) announced he will vote for one of the two articles of impeachment, in the first split decision among Democratic lawmakers.

According to the Bangor Daily News, Golden will vote to impeach Trump for abuse of power but not for obstruction of Congress.

In a four-page statement, Golden said Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens “crossed a clear red line, and in my view, there is no doubt this is an impeachable act,” the newspaper reported.

But Golden argued that on the issue of obstruction of Congress, Democrats had not presented evidence that Trump’s actions rose to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Golden represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, a swing district that Barack Obama won by nine percentage points in 2012 but that Trump won by 10 points in 2016.

December 17, 2019 at 4:15 PM EST
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More Democratic lawmakers back impeachment

By Felicia Sonmez

A half-dozen more House Democrats announced one by one that they will back Trump’s impeachment, bringing the total so far to 214 — just short of the 216 necessary for the articles to be approved.

Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), one of the members who announced their support for impeachment, said in a statement that he takes “no joy” in his decision.

“This is a sad, painful, and divisive situation for our nation,” he said. “But impeachment is the direct result of the President’s own words and actions. And we have a duty to our Oath of Office and the Constitution to not stand silent.”

Other Democrats who announced their support include Reps. Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Cheri Bustos (Ill.), Haley Stevens (Mich.), Lauren Underwood (Ill.) and Cindy Axne (Iowa).

December 17, 2019 at 4:00 PM EST
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Trump legal team eyes Dershowitz as possible impeachment lawyer

By Carol D. Leonnig

Trump’s legal team is working to line up as many as three lawyers to defend the president in the upcoming Senate trial, and has contacted Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz as a possible attorney to join the slate. The talks are in a tentative stage and it’s not clear Dershowitz, a seasoned defense lawyer and expert in constitutional law, will participate in Trump’s defense, according to a person familiar with the legal strategy.

Dershowitz declined to comment.

Trump’s advisers are expecting White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to give the opening statement in Trump’s defense at the trial, and are considering adding as many as two other personal lawyers who could summarize the evidence and defenses in a closing argument.

Trump’s longtime lawyer Jay Sekulow, who represented him throughout the more than two-year-long special counsel investigation, is a top contender for that “closing” role, but may have to defer to others. Sekulow has pressing work on several active legal disputes over the president’s finances and records which will be heard before the Supreme Court, the person briefed on the planning said.

December 17, 2019 at 3:40 PM EST
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Trump slams Pelosi for saying she prays for him

By Elise Viebeck

Trump criticized Pelosi for saying that she prays for him in a letter that compared the impeachment inquiry unfavorably to the Salem witch trials.

“You are offending Americans of faith by continually saying ‘I pray for the President,’ when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense,” Trump wrote in the letter.

Trump also said Pelosi’s “false display of solemnity” is “perhaps most insulting of all.”

“No intelligent person believes what you are saying,” Trump wrote. He added: “You are making a mockery of impeachment and you are scarcely concealing your hatred of me, of the Republican Party, and tens of millions of patriotic Americans.”

Pelosi, a devout Catholic, has said on several occasions that she prays for the president.

The subject came up on Dec. 5 when a Sinclair Broadcasting Group reporter asked Pelosi whether she hates Trump.

“As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I pray for the president all the time. So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that,” she told the reporter.

Trump responded by questioning Pelosi’s sincerity, tweeting: “I don’t believe her, not even close.”

December 17, 2019 at 3:30 PM EST
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Van Drew hints at a decision on leaving Democratic Party, promises announcement soon

By Karoun Demirjian

Van Drew hinted to reporters Tuesday that he has made a decision about whether to leave the Democratic Party, but is not ready to announce his intentions.

“I have not made a decision that I’m willing to share with anybody for a short period of time,” Van Drew said, calling his comments last week that he would stay a Democrat “a hope and a wish.”

But Van Drew took a few shots at the Democratic Party — and not just over impeachment, a move he warned would “fracture the country apart even more.”

When asked where he agreed with the GOP, Van Drew offered “American exceptionalism” — adding that many Democrats “do not believe the idea that America is any better than any other country in the world.”

When asked why many members of his Washington D.C. staff were quitting, he said “they were told to … they had to or else they wouldn’t work again.” But he declined to say who had asked them to quit, saying only that “if there was a switch and they stayed, I think it would be very hard for them to work. But that was up to them.”

Van Drew also confirmed Tuesday that he is running for reelection.

December 17, 2019 at 3:00 PM EST
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Schumer says GOP should have to explain why less evidence is better than more

By John Wagner

Schumer said Tuesday afternoon that Republicans should “have to explain why less evidence is better for the president than more evidence.”

Schumer’s comments came as he and McConnell continued a public dispute over whether new witnesses should appear at a Senate trial of Trump. Schumer has proposed issuing subpoenas to Mulvaney and Bolton, among others, who declined to participate in the House inquiry.

Schumer challenged McConnell to come to the microphone and give “an explicit reason” why those witnesses shouldn’t testify. McConnell has said the Senate should vote on witnesses after both House Democrats and lawyers for Trump make opening arguments.

“Why is the president, why is the Republican leader so afraid to have these witnesses come testify?” Schumer asked.

Schumer also chided McConnell for his comments made just minutes before that he does not consider himself an “impartial juror” in the upcoming trial.

“He seemed to proudly say no,” Schumer said, expressing disbelief and urging reporters to ask other Republicans what they think about that.