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Democrats Kicked Off Impeachment Week By Accusing Trump of a Crime

Democrats just accused President Donald Trump of criminal bribery in a new report from the House Judiciary committee as they get ready to impeach the president.

Central to the accusation is, of course, that Trump used a meeting and foreign aid to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The behemoth of a report — a door-stopper at 658 pages — was published Monday morning and elaborates on the two articles of impeachment. The articles don’t make a criminal accusation; this report does.

“President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit,” the report reads. “He has also betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.”

The report dropped as the Democrat-controlled House is expected to vote on the two articles of impeachment on Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know ahead of that historic moment:

Freshman Dems want Amash to help them make their impeachment case

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, an independent as of last year, is both one of the House’s most conservative members and a Trump critic who left the Republican Party last year. And some Dems think looping him in on impeachment would help bolster the case as a nonpartisan impeachment.

A group of some 30 Dems are pushing for Amash to lead a small group that would argue their impeachment case before the Senate, according to the Washington Post.

“To the extent that this can be bipartisan, it should, and I think including Representative Amash amongst the impeachment managers is a smart move for the country, for the substance, and for the optics,” Rep. Dean Phillips, who’s leading the push to draft Amash, told the Post.

A Democrat against impeachment is expected to switch parties

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the contrarian Democrat from New Jersey who’s been a vocal opponent of impeachment, reportedly met with Trump privately last week and is now going to become a Republican.

He’s one of two Democrats who voted against opening an impeachment inquiry in October, and he has said he’ll likely vote against it this week. He represents a swing district in southern New Jersey that went for Trump in 2016.

His staffers aren’t pleased, and there’s been a mass exodus from his office since he floated the idea of switching parties, according to the New York Times.

The day he’s expected to be impeached, Trump’s holding a rally

The president’s planning to head to Michigan, a state he narrowly won in 2016, on the same day the House is almost certain to impeach him.

Trump’s consistently slammed the impeachment process as a partisan hit job on his presidency. And he’s been tweeting his way through the whole thing.

“The Impeachment Hoax is the greatest con job in the history of American politics!” Trump tweeted on Monday.

Schumer wants top Trump officials to serve as witnesses

The Democratic leader in the Senate wants to subpoena White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, along with a number of his top deputies and former national security adviser John Bolton, to make them testify.

Mulvaney had already been subpoenaed by House committees and defied the summons. Bolton hasn’t yet been subpoenaed, but has said that he would refuse to comply fight it in court. Trump tried to keep officials from complying with requests to testify — but several, including EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, have bucked the president and testified anyway.

“The trial must be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a letter to Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican and Trump backer.

Trump’s camp, of course, slammed the notion that Democrats could lead a fair impeachment trial. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the notion “laughable” in a tweet on Monday.

Cover: President Donald Trump watches the first half of an NCAA college football game between Army and Navy, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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