WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump became the third president in history to be impeached Wednesday after a bitterly divided House formally charged him with “high crimes and misdemeanors” over his request to Ukraine to investigate a political rival.
After a daylong debate marked by fiery recriminations, lawmakers voted largely along party lines in favor of impeachment, reshuffling American politics at a time when voters were already profoundly divided over the nation’s leadership and direction.
Democrats and Republicans disagreed sharply over the president’s actions, the ramifications of the historic vote, and each other’s motives in either defending Trump or prosecuting the case against him. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., stepped to the dais at one point to chide Republicans for what he described as choosing party over country.
“Many of my colleagues appear to have made their choice to protect the president, to enable him to be above the law, to empower this president to cheat again as long as it is in the service of their party and their power,” the House Intelligence Committee chairman said. “They have made their choice and I believe they will rue the day that they did.”
Republicans claimed Democrats were grasping for any excuse to undermine an unconventional president who unexpectedly and narrowly won election in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. They repeatedly described the process used in the run up to the vote as unfair, sidestepping the fact that the White House rebuffed invitations to take part.
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“One week before Christmas, I want you to keep this in mind,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., told his colleagues during the debate. “Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats have afforded this president.”
Will the Senate remove Trump?
The Democratic-led House approved 230-197 the first article of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power by asking Ukrainian officials to announce investigations that would benefit his reelection. Minutes later, the House approved a second article, voting 229-198 to charge Trump with obstructing the congressional investigation into that request.
Though the historic votes ended a hurried effort by Democrats to advance impeachment articles before the end of the year – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the inquiry into Trump’s actions less than three months ago – it will kick off an exceptionally rare trial in the Senate to determine whether the president will be removed from office.
Republican leaders expect that trial to begin next month, though Pelosi was noncommittal during a press conference after the vote about when the House would send the articles to the Senate for their review.
In an emotional moment during that press conference, Pelosi raised the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and former chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who died in October.
“We did all we could, Elijah, we passed the two articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said. “The president is impeached.”
Speaking earlier on the House floor, Pelosi said the vision of the nation conceived by the Founding Fathers was “under threat” from the White House.
“He gave us no choice,” Pelosi said.
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Impeachment, which Pelosi and other Democratic leaders initially resisted, could also have consequences for the 2020 election, where a field of candidates angling to unseat Trump have sought to focus the nation’s attention on health care, immigration and education while tiptoeing around the constitutional dramas unfolding in Washington. Trump is betting impeachment will sour swing voters on Democrats for years to come.
Trump’s response: Defiance
As if to underline that point, Trump remained defiant throughout the day, accusing Democrats of “atrocious lies” and an “assault on America” in a series of tweets. The president, who did not take questions from reporters throughout the day, left the White House before the impeachment votes, departing Washington for a campaign rally in the presidential battleground state of Michigan.
Trump took the stage in Battle Creek just as the House began voting, setting up an extraordinary split screen image for cable news networks.
“It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached,” Trump said as the votes were being tallied during the first article of impeachment. “We did nothing wrong and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party.”
After initially sticking to rally talking points, Trump abruptly relayed one of the votes to the crowd and embarked on an extended criticism of Democrats.
“This lawless partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat party,” he said. “Have you seen my polls in the last four weeks?”
Within the West Wing, aides went about their regular duties in a mood of grim defiance, holding meetings and calls while occasionally glancing at banks of television screens where the debate played. They had anticipated this day for weeks, some said, and have felt under siege since Trump moved into the White House in early 2017.
Others said they wanted the House to get it over with and send the impeachment case to the Republican-led Senate, where Trump is expected to be acquitted.
Senior White House aide Kellyanne Conway attended a Republican Senate luncheon to discuss impeachment and the latest polls before appearing for a pair of media interviews and an impromptu news conference with reporters, during which she criticized the impeachment articles as “spare” and “specious.”
Underscoring the discord among voters, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released hours before the House vote found the nation evenly split, with 48% of Americans saying Trump’s actions demanded impeachment and removal from office and an equal 48% saying they disagree.
At the center of the impeachment is a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked his counterpart to look into a conspiracy about Democratic misdeeds in the 2016 election and, separately, the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Defying Trump’s orders not to testify, a handful of State Department and White House officials detailed for lawmakers in televised hearings how the administration held up nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine as leverage to pressure Zelensky to announce those investigations.
Voters get final say
Trump and his allies said the “perfect call” was an attempt to address corruption in Kyiv, not swing an election.
In that sense, the divisions on display recalled the atmosphere from 1998, when a Republican-led House impeached President Bill Clinton for lying under oath to hide an affair with a White House intern. President Richard Nixon, by contrast, resigned in 1974 to avoid almost certain impeachment after he lost support from Republican defenders.
Past is prologue: The political ‘fire extinguisher’ of impeachment is more common
Throughout the day, Republicans argued the Founding Fathers would have condemned an impeachment playing out along partisan lines. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., vowed Republicans would take that argument to voters in next year’s election.
“It is a matter for the voters, not this House. Not in this way,” Collins said. “The people of America see through this.”
John Fritze covers the White House. Follow him @jfritze.
Contributing: Courtney Subramanian, David Jackson, Michael Collins, Ledyard King, Maureen Groppe.
No politics in election map revision, co-chairs say – CBC.ca
Two former politicians co-chairing a commission redrawing New Brunswick’s provincial election map say there’ll be no politics involved in their work.
Former Liberal premier Camille Thériault and former Progressive Conservative MP Roger Clinch say they will stick to the letter of the law that requires them to come up with 49 new ridings roughly equal in population.
“Our mandate is very, very clear. It had absolutely nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with gerrymandering,” Thériault said Wednesday as the commission launched its website. “We’re there to follow the piece of legislation that has been put in place.
“We will continue to look straight forward and not think or talk politics, but do what’s best for New Brunswickers within the legislation that we are under.”
Provincial law requires that an independent commission be appointed every 10 years to redraw the 49 electoral districts in the province to reflect changing population numbers.
The new map will take effect for the provincial election scheduled for Oct. 21, 2024, and will have to shift some districts to account for rapid urban growth in the province.
In June, Green MLA Kevin Arseneau alleged the process would involve political trade-offs between the co-chairs to craft ridings beneficial to their former parties.
The three parties in the legislature were asked to suggest names for the commission, but the Green nominees were not chosen because the party refused to have their choices vetted by Premier Blaine Higgs’s office, as the PC and Liberal names were.
“The people on the commission are all very well-respected people, I think, and I don’t think there’s any bias on anyone’s part toward any particular party,” Clinch said.
The six-member commission will hold 12 in-person public meetings and two virtual sessions to sound out New Brunswickers about the new map starting Aug. 23 and continuing to Sept. 15.
“People will dictate to us what they think it should be,” Clinch said. “We have rules and regulations to follow.”
After the first round of meetings, they’ll draft a proposed map that they’ll then take out to a second round of consultations before coming up with a final version within 90 days.
The law requires the commission to calculate the average number of voters in each riding, known as the “electoral quotient.” Thériault said the figure they’ll use is 11,714.
In the new map, each riding’s number of voters must be “as close as reasonably possible” to the quotient, though the commission can deviate by up to 15 per cent to accommodate what are called “communities of interest” and other factors.
In “extraordinary circumstances” such as the need to ensure fair linguistic representation, the commission can deviate from the quotient by up to 25 per cent.
The last redrawing included the creation of Memramcook-Tantramar, which prompted complaints from francophones in the new riding that they were losing their majority-francophone constituency.
At the time, the law allowed only a five-per cent deviation from the average, so the new commission now has more leeway to put the village in a mostly francophone riding.
“We will probably hear from the people in Memramcook,” Thériault said. “But I’m not prejudging how they feel 10 years later.”
Thériault said ideally he’d like to “tighten” some of the sprawling rural ridings in the province, such as Southwest Miramichi–Bay du Vin, which can take more than two hours to drive from end to end.
He also mentioned the expanded footprint of St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton, divided between two provincial ridings, as an example of the “housekeeping” the commission may do when it considers “communities of interest.”
But he said the commission isn’t going in with any fixed assumptions and will be guided by the goal of getting as close as possible to the quotient.
“What we’re saying is that we will take into consideration what New Brunswickers have to say,” he said.
“We will be very transparent. And the ultimate goal here is to try and achieve the 11,714 electors for a riding, which we know probably is impossible to do.”
Last weekend newly elected Liberal Leader Susan Holt said she would wait to see the new map before deciding where she’ll run in the next provincial election. In 2018 Holt was defeated as a candidate in Fredericton South by Green Leader David Coon.
Thériault said those considerations won’t matter to the commission.
“The redrawing of the electoral map will not be done to provide seats to anyone or any party,” he said. “It will be done in the best interests of New Brunswick.”
U.S. politics engulfed in threats following police search at Trump's home – CBC News
A Republican former U.S. attorney general is pleading with his fellow Americans: cool down the ill-informed speculation threatening to engulf the country’s politics.
The police search at Donald Trump’s Florida residence has prompted a surge in inflammatory rhetoric reminiscent of the volatile weeks after the last election.
It’s included violent threats against officials, vows of political retaliation against the FBI, comparisons to Nazi rule and social-media musings about civil war.
Alberto Gonzales is urging people to withhold judgment until we learn more about what actually prompted Tuesday’s hours-long search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
The attorney general under George W. Bush told CBC News he feels sympathy for his former department: the Justice Department avoids, as a general rule, discussing investigations, in part to protect the reputation of its target.
Since there is no guarantee charges will be laid following a search, Gonzales said, it’s unfair to a suspect to rush out and describe what you were investigating.
This, he concedes, puts his former department at a disadvantage by creating an information vacuum that in this case is being quickly filled with speculation.
“There’s a lot here we don’t know yet.… People need to wait. People need to be patient. I have a great deal of confidence and faith in the department. I’m not saying it doesn’t make mistakes from time to time. It does, it may. Nonetheless, I would give the benefit of the doubt to the department. Let the department move forward and do its job.”
Such calls for patience are falling flat.
Heated rhetoric, threats increase
The nation is awash in furious speculation from every strata of American society, from anonymous accounts to high-ranking members of Congress.
Why did FBI agents scour the former president’s home for classified documents? How sensitive were they? Did Trump show them to anyone? Did any non-Americans see them? Is it connected to a broader investigation? Is it a smear job to stop Trump from running for president again?
Is this all about mishandled documents? Authorities aren’t talking and Trump has refused to release the search warrant, which could offer clues.
Republican politicians have largely closed ranks around the former president and threatened everything from defunding the FBI to grilling law enforcement at committee hearings.
They channeled the rage of the grassroots supporters who idolize Trump, like one protester outside Mar-a-Lago who told Reuters on Tuesday: “You feel like you might be in Venezuela or China or Russia or even in Hitler’s Germany.”
Researchers of online chatter say the intensity of anger has spiked to levels resembling the environment before the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol.
It includes talk of murdering the judge who reportedly authorized the search warrant, along with the heads of the FBI and the attorney general.
Online calls for civil war
Alex Friedfeld, an investigative researcher at the Anti-Defamation League, said regular citizens are hearing from conservative opinion-makers that America is slipping into tyranny and they’ll be targeted next.
And the response, he said, has been an instant surge in violent rhetoric across multiple online platforms, especially smaller websites without teams of content moderators.
“It’s large amounts of people openly fantasizing about using violence to target their perceived enemies,” Friedfeld said in an interview.
“People are saying they’re fed up, that it’s time for a civil war, that they have to fight back now, otherwise they’ll live in tyranny.”
One difference from Jan. 6, he said, is there’s no physical rallying point, no place for a mob to gather right now.
That will change if Trump ever gets charged.
A police lieutenant in one U.S. city told CBC News that colleagues are already having informal discussions about how to secure the courthouse if there’s a Trump-related case there.
‘Lock and load’
Friedfeld said it’s an obvious risk. He predicted that prosecutors would have their personal information leaked on the internet and would face a deluge of threats.
“Everyone on the prosecution will need to be protected,” he said. “Physical security is going to be paramount.… There will be people advocating for violence against the people trying to prosecute Trump.”
Another researcher, Daniel Jones, said the inflammatory rhetoric comes from three groups.
One he describes as entertainers — media personalities who crave attention. In that category he includes Fox News prime-time shows excoriating “Biden’s FBI.”
“We’re seeing things like, ‘Lock and load.’ … ‘This is a civil war,'” said Jones, the lead investigator in the U.S. Senate’s report on torture in the CIA, and a researcher with the non-profit, non-partisan group Advance Democracy.
“[We’re seeing] direct threats against that judge [who reportedly signed the warrant]… [And stuff like], ‘Attorney General Merrick Garland should be executed and assassinated.'”
Republican calls for defunding FBI
The third and final group he identifies, the one he calls most disappointing, comprises mainstream politicians who should know better.
Some Republicans have been repeating Trump’s line that perhaps police planted evidence at his home.
That includes the Georgia Q-Anon peddling firebrand, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who told One America News Network she’s thrilled by how many of her lawmaker colleagues are siding with her.
“I usually fight with my Republican colleagues, because I don’t think they’re strong enough,” she said.
“But I am hearing things that I am so happy to finally hear come out of their mouths. Because when we take back the majority and we are in control in the House of Representatives, we are going after the Department of Justice; we’re going after the FBI. We’ll control the budget that funds everybody’s program and everybody’s paycheques.”
‘A federal judge authorized this search’
Republicans on Capitol Hill say the outrage is not merely performative, as a public declaration of fealty to Trump in order to placate their grassroots.
They say they truly believe authorities, and the media, aggressively target conservatives while ignoring transgressions from Hunter Biden and Hillary Clinton.
The most senior Republican in the House of Representatives had a message about what his party will do if it wins a majority in this year’s midterm elections and gains power over congressional committees.
Party leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy said in a statement that he would call Garland to committee hearings and demand he preserve all documents about the case.
Another Republican lawmaker, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, told Fox News that his party will scrutinize the actions of law enforcement.
“You better have explanations ready,” he said. “Because you cannot weaponize our institutions for political gain. That is the destruction of democracy.”
The eruption of outrage underscored the extent to which the Republicans are truly, deeply Donald Trump’s party now.
Meanwhile, George W. Bush’s attorney general offered his faint plea for people to trust law enforcement.
“A federal judge authorized this search,” Gonzales told CBC. “That means something, as far as I’m concerned.”
Politics Briefing: Nishnawbe Aski Nation opposes possible location for nuclear waste storage site – The Globe and Mail
Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution on Wednesday “vehemently” opposing the possibility of an underground storage site for nuclear waste, which could be built between Ignace and Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation in northern Ontario.
Chiefs expressed deep concern over the possibility of such a site during discussions at NAN’s annual Keewaywin Conference, which is being held in Timmins. Ignace, as well as Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, would hold the approval power for the project if their region is ultimately selected. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is also still considering South Bruce in Ontario as a possible location for its deep geological repository, which would see spent nuclear fuel stored roughly 500-metres underground.
“Northern Ontario is not a garbage can,” said Chief Ramona Sutherland of Constance Lake First Nation. “We work for seven generations of our people – I don’t want to pass this down to my son, my grandson, and then his sons.”
Chief Wayne Moonias, of Neskantaga First Nation, called the proposal disturbing, and said “the thought of having a nuclear waste site in our area, it’s just not something that we can live with … Our homelands are at stake with this proposal.”
A potential spill, Mr. Moonias cautioned, would not just affect the site itself. “It’s going to impact our river system. It’s going to impact our sturgeon. Our sturgeon is so important in our community,” he said.
The resolution called for Nishnawbe Aski Nation to take action to prevent the NWMO from placing any nuclear waste in NAN traditional territories, including forming a committee, engaging in civil protests and considering legal action.
Jennifer Guerrieri, a NAN staffer, said in a presentation Wednesday that a choice between the two potential sites is expected roughly within the next six months.
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
NO NATIONAL TRACKING – Canada does not have a national system for tracking or preventing shortages of nurses and other medical workers, which health leaders say has contributed to hospitals across the country temporarily shuttering emergency rooms and intensive-care units this summer. Story here.
ALBERTA EASES REGULATIONS – The Alberta government has eased some restrictions on the province’s four major universities that prevented them from forming new partnerships with entities or individuals linked to the Chinese government. Story here.
TRUMP HITS BACK WITH VIDEO – Former U.S. president Donald Trump has unveiled a new video to present himself as the best person to lead the country, following an FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago estate. Story here.
ANALYSIS OF TRUMP RAID – The Justice Department has never before requested, or received, a search warrant to go through the home of a former American leader. Story here.
ALBERTA AWARDS PRIZE – Alberta’s legislature awarded a prize to an essay that equated immigration to “cultural suicide” and argued women are “not exactly equal” to men. Story here.
DENTAL DEAL MAY FACE BUMPS – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Liberal government is working to meet its end-of-year deadline to deliver dental care coverage to children, but that providing new services is complicated. Story by the Canadian Press here.
THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.
MINISTER FOR WOMEN IN WINNIPEG – Marci Ien, the federal minister for women and gender equality and youth, announced $30-million to support crisis hotlines across Canada on Wednesday.
SUPPORT FOR ACADIAN GATHERING – Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the federal minister of official languages, announced $4.6-million to help organize the next Congrès mondial acadien (Acadian World Congress), which will be held in August, 2024 in southwestern Nova Scotia.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.
No schedules provided for party leaders.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s possible “rendezvous with reality:” “When the smoke clears, then, we are probably going to find that Mr. Trump is in a world of trouble. That it came to this, after all, was only because he refuses, more than 18 months after leaving the White House, to give up the documents voluntarily. Which suggests he is every bit as conscious as the DoJ of how explosive they are. And these aren’t the only legal perils he faces … One way or another, the odds are increasing that Mr. Trump will soon face his own Alex Jones moment, a rendezvous with reality.”
Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on limited support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “Can Mr. Trudeau rise from the stupor in which he currently finds himself? It’s possible. He has a fairly long runway ahead of him thanks to the NDP. But a lot of the damage that has been done to the Trudeau brand is likely irreversible. The Prime Minister is many things, but stupid he is not. He can see what’s going on. The question is – what will he do about it?”
Elaine Craig (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on compensating women victimized by players: “Until we successfully press antiquated organizations such as Hockey Canada to change, we need to accept the inevitable. So why shouldn’t hockey parents pay a small amount each year into a fund to help compensate the women who will be sexually victimized by some of the kids currently being steeped in the sport’s toxic environment? Ultimately, here’s why we should be most angry: It doesn’t have to be this way.”
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