A video of President Trump is shown on a television screen during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on December 4.

It’s Wednesday, December 4th, 2019, 71 days since House Democrats began impeachment proceedings. Every morning, the Impeachment Today podcast helps you separate what’s real and groundbreaking from what’s just, well, bullshit.

You can listen to today’s episode below, or check it out on on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

It’s Wednesday, December 4th, 2019, 71 days into the impeachment saga and this is Impeachment Today. Good morning. I’m Hayes Brown, reporter and editor at BuzzFeed News. There’s a hearing in the house judiciary committee today where legal scholars will discuss the hows and whys of impeachment. I, your faithful nerd, will be watching every minute and will have all the riveting, I guess, details for you tomorrow. Today we’re talking once again to friend of the show and BuzzFeed News congressional reporter, Addy Baird, about the looming task ahead of the House Judiciary Committee, articles of impeachment. We’ll be covering what they even are and just what Trump might soon be facing in the Senate. Before we get to all of that, let’s catch up on what happened yesterday.

Okay. After a few slow news days, Tuesday was pretty damn big. The House Intelligence Committee dropped their report, summing up the impeachment inquiry in the early afternoon, and it contained a pretty big bombshell. We’ll get to that in a second. At 300 pages, the report is a beast, but I highly encourage you all to read it. Avid listeners won’t be surprised by what the bulk of the report says though. The first part deals with the alleged scheme to get Ukraine to deliver investigations that would hurt the President’s political rival and undermine the Russia investigations results, in exchange for a White House visit for the president of Ukraine and nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine.

The second part spends nearly 100 pages detailing the efforts the President put into blocking the House’s investigation. I recommend before anything, skipping to page 34. There you’ll find nine key findings of fact. Among them are that the president solicited the interference of a foreign government in the 2020, U.S. presidential election, compromised national security to advance his personal political interests, and ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate and obstruct the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.

Lest you think there was nothing new in its pages, the report revealed that House investigators subpoenaed AT&T for phone records from Rudy Giuliani and at least one of his associates. Those records include who they were calling or texting, on what date, at what time, and for how long they spoke. They show that Rudy was not a rogue operator like some of Trump’s defenders have suggested. Instead, we can see that Rudy was calling the White House at key moments during the spring and summer. That includes several calls the very same day that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the target of a smear campaign Giuliani ran, was recalled from her post.

Also making an appearance in the records, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes. Nunes was a megaphone for conspiracies about Ukraine during the impeachment hearings. According to the phone records, he didn’t just speak with Rudy during the former mayor’s adventures this spring, though he definitely did that. He also spoke quite a bit with left Parness. Parness you may remember was arrested on alleged campaign finance violations in September, and his lawyer says he’s willing to work with Congress on the inquiry. Parness helped connect Rudy with Ukrainian officials during his search for dirt on the Bidens and his mission to discredit the Mueller investigation.

We learned from Parnas’ lawyer last month that he had done the same for Nunes late last year. Now we have a clear picture of how deep into 2019, they kept talking. That includes an eight minute call between the two of them in April. I don’t call my friends for eight minutes. While Nunes was sitting on the dais during the hearings, he knew that he’d communicated with key witnesses about the very thing under investigation and committee chair Adam Schiff knew too. Here’s what he said about Nunes during a press conference after the report was released.

Adam Schiff:

It is I think deeply concerning that at a time when the President of United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival, that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity. Now, there is a lot more to learn about that and I don’t want to state that that is an unequivocal fact, but the allegations are deeply concerning. Our focus is on the President’s conduct first and foremost.

Hayes Brown:

The intelligence committee voted to approve the report by a party line vote of 13 to nine. The Republicans in the minority now have two days to add their views to the report before it gets sent to the House Judiciary Committee. Now to tie a nice festive bow on this news, we have today’s reading from our Nixometer.

On our scale from zero, normal day, normal White House, 10. President Richard Nixon resigning, flying away in a helicopter. This morning we’re at a 7.4. After a bit of a lull, Tuesday really shook that off. Even for someone who’s been following along closely like yours truly, it’s still jaw-dropping to read through the narrative that has been woven together through witness testimonies and the documents that have been provided. It’s going to be a rough road to shake all this off for the White House, but damned if they won’t try. All right, after the break, we talk to Addy about articles of impeachment and what the charges against Trump may look like. BRB.

All right, it’s time for this fucking thing. Today we’re taking a look at something that we’ve mentioned a ton so far, articles of impeachment. As we get closer to actually drawing some up for the President, we figure it’s time to break down what that actually means. Joining us by phone direct from Capitol Hill is one of our favorites, BuzzFeed congressional reporter, Addy Baird. Welcome back Addy.

AB:

Hi, Hayes. I’m so honored to be a favorite. You’re my favorite.

HB:

Oh. Pretend I am a child, a very precocious child who is weirdly interested in the Constitution and political processes. What are articles of impeachment?

AB:

The articles of impeachment are charges that are drawn up and then voted on by the House of Representatives. The charges basically outline what the House has found or believes is impeachable, impeachable conduct that the President has done. They’ll write them up and there will be an article that will say obstruction of Congress or an article that will say abuse of power. Then they’ll go to the House floor and they’ll vote on them.

HB:

Okay. We’ve had a bunch of impeachments when it comes to like the judiciary, like a bunch of judges over history have been removed from their seats, but we’ve only had a few presidential impeachments in history to draw from, three presidents total. Which of those do you think the members of Congress might be looking to as a set of guidelines as they move forward?

AB:

The one that we’re really talking about a lot on the Hill is the Clinton impeachment, because it most recent and it has a lot of sort of political parallels. Clinton was impeached by the House but not actually removed from office after a Senate trial. If I were a betting woman, what I would bet it will happen to President Trump as well. It was also the control of the branches was similar and just a more modern impeachment. That’s the one that members of Congress are really kind of looking to, thinking about. Like you said, there are a lot of judges that have been impeached, but this is not a big sample size. In a lot of ways this is kind of going to be a new path that they’re forging.

HB:

Right, and Clinton only had two articles against him if I’m remembering correctly. He had obstruction of justice and perjury, and those were the ones that the House passed on to the Senate, which is a very small number in comparison to how many were drawn up for Nixon and Johnson in particular. That’s going to be really interesting to see how many in total we wind up looking at. Based on the current buzz on the Hill with the impeachment inquiries, final report getting set to drop while we’re recording this, what do you think the actual articles of impeachment against Trump will wind up looking like?

AB:

There is going to be a fight in this caucus about what goes in those articles. There are a lot of members of Congress who believe that there are impeachable offenses beyond Ukraine, that have to do with the Mueller report. Some members of Congress, including Rashida Tlaib and Al Green, have argued that there should be something about Trump’s history of racism and bigotry as an impeachable offense. That is extremely unlikely. Nancy Pelosi really believes that focusing the inquiry on Ukraine was the best path forward. It gives the opportunity to focus on national security, which is a very clear argument that they can make. I think it is very, very unlikely that the cause of impeachment go beyond the scope of the inquiry, which again has focused on Ukraine.

HB:

We’ve heard a lot about what potential articles could look like so far, especially obstruction of justice, what with the way the executive branch had denied documents and witnesses to Congress during this investigation. Democrats have also focused a lot on bribery over the last few weeks, which is in the Constitution as an impeachable offense. What’s your take? Do you think that bribery will wind up with its own article of impeachment?

AB:

I would guess it actually is probably going to be like an abuse of power article and that they would go into that something about bribery or a quid pro quo. Abuse of power is a little bit broader and some members have said, “An abuse of power article could also then kind of to appease judiciary members, appease members who have been calling for impeachment, long before this Ukraine saga even happened.” You could get some other pieces of earlier conduct in that article.

HB:

I for one, like I’ve said many times on this show, I’m a huge nerd, so it’ll be really interesting to me personally to see whether they do take that broad approach and just say, abuse of power, fill in the blanks under it, or if they go in very narrow and super targeted with their articles of impeachment. Like we’ve said though, we’re going into the phase where the judiciary committee has the reins. What’s that process going to look like?

AB:

We don’t know what time. Today judiciary is having a hearing with a number of constitutional lawyers who, from what we understand, will basically help them understand based on the Intelligence Committee report, what exactly is impeachable conduct and how to move forward from this point. There will, I suspect, be additional judiciary hearings, but basically I think that there’s going to be some behind closed doors debates. I’m sure that there will be some drama. Matt Gaetz, noted-

HB:

Gadfly.

AB:

-provocateur,-

HB:

Yes.

AB:

-from North Florida is on judiciary.

HB:

Oh, wait. He is? Oh wow. That’s going to be a shit show. Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz are in the minority on judiciary and they get to take part in the debate over the articles of impeachment?

AB:

Yeah, welcome to the Matt Gaetz Show.

HB:

Question actually. I know that they’re considering in judiciary having a bunch of like hearing markups where they basically debate over what the articles look like. Do you know if those are going to be open or closed door at this point?

AB:

I’m not sure. I would suspect that there will be at least one open hearing. Democrats are very, very passionate, let’s say, about making sure that the American people are on their side. I think that we will see some of this happening in public, but I do think at least a little bit of this will happen behind closed doors. It’s going to be a lot of sausage making basically. Writing articles of impeachment is like writing a bill and that is highfalutin and there’s a lot of layers there. I think a lot of these kinds of less sexy stuff will happen behind closed doors.

HB:

One more question. When President Clinton was impeached, judiciary passed four articles of impeachment, but only two made it through the full House onto the Senate. Do you see a world where something similar happens where more articles of impeachment come out of judiciary than get voted on in the full House?

AB:

There is a possibility. I will say that, no, I can’t really see a world where that happens because the world that we live in of the House of Representatives is run by Nancy Pelosi who I think would not like that.

HB:

Fair enough. Okay. Before we let you go, Addy, what have you brought for the kicker?

AB:

I brought a Tweet from Fox reporter Chad Pergram that says, “Intel committee meets in a closed door session Tuesday, at 6:00 PM Eastern, to vote on releasing impeachment report. We could get the full report after 7:00 PM or later.” One member of the committee told Fox they would not review the report today so they could deny they were responsible for leaking the report.

HB:

Oh, that’s so perfect. Just the fact that their minds at this point, like I don’t want this information so I can’t be blamed for it spreading.

AB:

Exactly.

HB:

Congress. All right, Addy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. As always, a huge pleasure.

AB:

Thank you, Hayes. It was great.

HB:

Okay. It is time to testify and today we are back at it again with the hearings. Testifying will be four legal scholars in front of the judiciary committee, so very much must see TV. Here’s who you’ll get to see give a free con law lecture to members of Congress, who may or may not be paying less attention than your average freshman. We have from Harvard Law, Noah Feldman, Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law, Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, and Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University.

Now, you can go and Google all of them and check out what they’ve written so far about impeachment, but do you want to know what article one, section two, of the Constitution says about impeachment in the House? Are you dying to know why Federalist 69, nice, Hamilton’s argument for the impeachment clause didn’t make it into the hit musical? Well, then this is the hearing for you, my friend. Flip on CSPAN and we’ll have a chit chat about it tomorrow.

That is it for today, friends, but our hardworking team of researchers, AKA me, I am the team, stands at the ready to help you answer more questions about impeachment if you have them. Open the voice memo app on your phone, record your question and email it to [email protected], or just send me a direct message on Twitter. I’m at HB and my DMs are always open. Be sure to subscribe to Impeachment Today on the the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows – and maybe leave a rating and review. Please. Thank you. Also, tell your friends about the show as we all figure this out together.

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