with help from Sarah Ferris and Marianne LeVine
JERRY GO ROUND — The impeachment inquiry is returning to the place where it all started: the House Judiciary Committee. The panel will hold its first impeachment hearing this morning featuring a panel of constitutional experts, write Kyle and Andrew, as Democrats attempt to turn a mountain of evidence into articles of impeachment.
And House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler — who has been sidelined for the past few months as the House Intelligence Committee handled the first phase of the impeachment inquiry — is ready for his return to a starring role. “I’m not going to take any shit,” Nadler declared to his colleagues at the start of a six-hour prep session on Tuesday. And it couldn’t come with any higher stakes for Democrats — or for Nadler, who’s been caught in the middle of his caucus on impeachment since the Mueller report.
Nadler’s toughest task? Keeping his panel in line in the face of GOP antics. Democrats are eager to avoid a repeat of the now-infamous Corey Lewandowski hearing in September. But he’ll also have to wrestle with some of the lingering concerns from his caucus over the summer, including fears that he was steering his caucus toward impeachment too soon. The scoop from Heather and Sarah: https://politi.co/2DOBmwt.
FLASHBACK … the last time Nadler and the Judiciary Committee were in the spotlight, it looked a little something like this (h/t to Bloomberg’s Erik Wasson.)
Related reads: “Top House Democrat wants Mueller findings in impeachment articles against Trump,” by McClatchy’s Emma Dumain: http://bit.ly/2raifdC; and “Court deals blow to Trump’s bid to keep financial records from Congress,” via Victoria Guida: https://politi.co/2RnXIgF.
READY, SET, GOHMERT — House Republicans are also gearing up for the next act in the impeachment saga — and there is a whole new cast of colorful GOP characters ready to take center stage in Trump’s defense. The Judiciary Committee is home to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), the conservative firebrand who orchestrated the SCIF raid and frequently appears on Fox News; Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who is known for his fiery exchanges, conspiracy theories and long floor speeches; and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the new ringleader of the hard-line Freedom Caucus.
And these GOP members are ready to brawl. They are preparing to disrupt the hearings with procedural tactics and promising to hold nothing back as they protect Trump from the greatest threat to his presidency to date. “It is our duty to raise every parliamentary and procedural maneuver that we can that’s legitimate,” Biggs said in an interview. “Let me put it this way: it will be better TV than the Schiff hearing.” The dispatch from your Huddle host: https://politi.co/2ONlxN0.
Related reads: “Folksy John Kennedy gets serious pushback on Ukraine mess,” from Marianne and Burgess: https://politi.co/2DG6CxO; and “GOP embraces a debunked Ukraine conspiracy to defend Trump from impeachment,” via WaPo’s Robert Costa and Karoun Demirjian: https://wapo.st/2RiWQd6.
NUNES MADE A RUDY CALL — The House Intelligence Committee approved its Ukraine report last night in a party-line vote, sending the document to the Judiciary Committee and formally passing the impeachment torch. The report, which asserts that Trump abused his office for political gain, is essentially a roadmap for impeachment articles and is broken down into two main categories: abuse of power and obstruction.
Democrats also unveiled new evidence in the report: a cache of call records that show Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani communicated with the White House and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the top Republican on House Intel. “[T]he president placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security,” the report concludes. Much more from Kyle and Andrew: https://politi.co/2r2f3Ry.
WATCH … Nunes responds to the revelations on Fox News last night: http://bit.ly/2ONt6n5.
Related: “A Mysterious ‘-1’ and Other Call Records Show How Giuliani Pressured Ukraine,” by NYT’s Sharon LaFraniere and Julian E. Barnes: https://nyti.ms/383wf9W; and “McCarthy says he has no problem with Nunes’ calls with Giuliani, Parnas,” from Roll Call’s Lindsey McPherson: http://bit.ly/33NK6xD.
HAPPY WEDNESDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this December 4, where your host feels like a fly on the wall watching this clip of world leaders gossip about Trump’s press conference.
TUESDAY’S MOST CLICKED: The big winner was the analysis from the Cook Political Report on why Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-Calif.) seat is now safer for Republicans.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE — Georgia’s newest senator is about to step directly into a GOP firestorm. Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) this morning will appoint financial services executive Kelly Loeffler — not Rep. Doug Collins — to a soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. But the process has created a nasty riff inside the party, with Trump and his allies pushing aggressively for Collins while Kemp and others in the state wanted an appointee that could help improve the party’s standing in the suburbs.
Now, Loeffler is under pressure to prove her conservative bona fides and position herself as a Trump ally when she gets to the Senate, where there will likely be an impeachment trial as soon as she starts. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear he backs Kemp’s choice. But Loeffler is already facing criticism from anti-abortion leaders, conservative media figures and other Trump allies. The story from James Arkin and Alex Isendstadt: https://politi.co/3847YQX.
In other Senate news … Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told your Huddle host she plans to make an announcement in the New Year about whether she will run for an open Wyoming Senate seat. “I’m going to be talking to my family about it over Christmas time, and then I’ll make a decision sometime early next year,” she said. And Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), who has until Dec. 20 to decide whether he will launch a primary against Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), told your Huddle host he is “looking at all options.”
Related: “Trump says he’d discuss Senate run with Pompeo if GOP-held seat was at risk,” by Quint Forgey: https://politi.co/2LnKfBD; and “Hog hunts and jorts: Gaetz, Kemp trade barbs over Trump loyalties,” from Matt Dixon and Gary Fineout: https://politi.co/2LmUKoA.
IT’S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE — Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) delivered his farewell speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, calling for more bipartisanship in U.S. politics. His colleagues also honored him during a rare bipartisan lunch in the Capitol. “There has been something missing in this place,” Isakson said. “If you’re one of the people who says my way or the highway, then we’re all in real trouble.”
The Georgia Republican, who will leave the Senate at the end of the month, praised his fellow Georgian, Democratic Rep. John Lewis, in his speech. “John and I together represent that things can change, if people want to change and they are willing to do the things that let them change,” Isakson said.
Isakson also called for further unity. “I’ve heard some people I know say some things that terrify me,” he said. “We’re better than the hate and vial statements that some people make.” Isakson’s speech drew long sustained applause and senators spent Tuesday praising him. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the retiring senator as the “most popular member of the Senate.”
Related: “Johnny Isakson farewell highlights challenges in Georgia Senate race,” per Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski: http://bit.ly/2Yg1GZQ.
GUILTY AS CHARGED — Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds and is expected to face one year in prison, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I made mistakes and that’s what today was all about,” Hunter told reporters after the hearing. The lawmaker has yet to step down from Congress — and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said yesterday he had yet to speak with Hunter — but he is expected to resign, even though it was not part of his plea deal. Sarah D. Wire and Seema Mehta with the latest: https://lat.ms/2rfx0ff.
Related: “How a local newspaper reporter helped expose Rep. Duncan Hunter’s corruption,” via Brian Stelter of CNN: https://cnn.it/2LlQNAC.
YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US — The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution yesterday opposing including Russia in G-7 summits, after Trump mused this summer that the country should be readmitted to the annual gathering. The measure also voices support for Ukraine and denounces Russia’s annexation of Crimea, saying Russia should be left out of the G-7 until it “respects the territorial integrity of its neighbors and adheres to the standards of democratic societies.” The top three House GOP leaders all backed the resolution. The AP with the deets: http://bit.ly/34YYGnz.
Related: “China sanctions: US House passes bill over treatment of Uighurs,” via BBC News: https://bbc.in/2PepE3E.
IT’S LIT — Need a break from impeachment? Well, maybe some Christmas cheer will lift your spirits! Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the New Mexico Congressional Delegation will host the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony this evening on the west front lawn, followed by “Carols in the Capitol” in the Rayburn Room. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the gingerbread replica of the Capitol building.
Sydney Fincher has been named manager of federal government affairs at Anheuser-Busch. She previously was a professional staff member for Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), where she handled immigration, border security, visa and counselor affairs, and DOJ grant programs.
The House gavels in at 10 a.m., with first and last votes expected between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Today’s agenda: http://bit.ly/2Ycfh4q.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of Richard Ernest Myers’ nomination to be U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. At 11:30 a.m., senators will vote on the motion to invoke cloture on Myers’ nomination, along with the nominations of Sherri Lydon to be a U.S. district judge and and Robert Duncan to be Governor of the U.S. Postal Service.
The Democratic Caucus holds a closed-door meeting at 9 a.m. in HC-5.
The House GOP Conference holds a closed-door meeting at 9 a.m. in HVC-215.
The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment” at 10 a.m. in 1100 Longworth.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) holds his pen and pad briefing with reporters at 11 a.m. in H-107.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and the Connecticut Congressional Delegation hold a briefing on “Connecticut’s new Responsible Gun Policy” at 1:30 p.m. in HC-8.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) hold a news conference to discuss the introduction of a bipartisan bill “supporting parents by allowing families to advance Child Tax Credits to offset leave, childcare, or other expenses” at 2 p.m. in the Senate studio.
The Democratic Women’s Caucus holds an end-of-year briefing on House efforts to support women and families at 3 p.m. in Rayburn 2168.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the New Mexico Congressional Delegation host the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 p.m. on the West Front of the Capitol.v
TUESDAY’S WINNER: Everyone was stumped by yesterday’s question. The top five 2020 Dem candidates who have tweeted the most are Cory Booker, Marianne Williamson, Bernie Sanders, Andrew Yang and Kamala Harris.
TODAY’S QUESTION: From yours truly: During the House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing in the Clinton impeachment, how many witnesses were on the panel? First person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your best guess my way: firstname.lastname@example.org
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