Ben Smith Impeachment Today Podcast: Is Anyone Still Undecided?

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It’s Monday, December 2, 2019, 69 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.

In today’s episode: after a nice long weekend, House Democrats are putting the final touches on their report that will lay out the case for impeaching President Trump. Expect leaks about what’s in it, coming as soon as Monday night. And we chat with BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Ben Smith about who, if anyone, is still undecided about whether Trump should be thrown out of office.

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

It’s Monday, December 2nd, 2019. 69 days into the impeachment saga, and this is Impeachment Today. Good morning. I’m Hayes Brown, reporter and editor at Buzzfeed News. I hope you all had a restful break. I for one, managed to gain back all the weight I lost from stress during the impeachment hearings. I’m going to go ahead and call that a win, I think. Okay. Today we’re talking to Buzzfeed News editor-in-chief Ben Smith about the politics of impeachment two months in. But before we get to all of that, let’s catch up on what happened since you last heard from me.

Things are moving fast these days. House Democrats are putting the final touches on their report into everything that the impeachment inquiry has learned during the last two and a half months. The still secret report is also due to lay out the case for whatever impeachable offenses trump committed when pressuring Ukraine to do a series of political favors in exchange for a White House meeting and allegedly millions of dollars in military aid. Members of the intelligence committee will get their first look at this report on Monday evening. So I guess be on the lookout for push alerts about what’s in the report over the next few hours. The committee is expected to vote on the report and its recommendations this Tuesday. Once that passes, it goes on to the judiciary committee. They’ll be holding their first impeachment hearing on Wednesday, convening constitutional scholars to talk about impeachment broadly. Judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler offered to let the president’s lawyers take part in this hearing, but in a letter sent Sunday evening, the White House counsel said, eh, pass.

If this schedule seems busy, that’s because we’re in the home stretch until the House goes on recess for the holidays. As far as we have been told, Democrats still want the full House to vote on articles of impeachment before Christmas. Meanwhile, over the break, we learned that while Rudy Giuliani was in Ukraine, digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, he also apparently had a little side hustle going on. Giuliani was reportedly in talks with a Ukrainian official to represent him for cool $200,000. That official, Yuriy Lutsenko, was Ukraine’s then prosecutor general and the source of a lot of Giuliani’s conspiracy theories, about Biden and the work his son Hunter did for Ukrainian gas company. Though the deal didn’t go through, it got far enough along that a draft contract was drawn up earlier this year for Giuliani’s company to work with Lutsenko., Giuliani who was never registered as a lobbyist, is reportedly under investigation in New York over his alleged business dealings in Ukraine.

Finally, a key piece of testimony in the impeachment hearings is now being called into doubt. The US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, told investigators in a call with the president on September 9th the president was testy and shouted, “I want nothing. There’s no quid pro quo.” Or something to that effect, But that doesn’t track with what others said or White House records. Other witnesses said the ambassador and Trump actually had their call a few days earlier, and rather than being a straight denial, there was a crucial second clause that the ambassador recounted to them.

There’s no quid pro quo, but Ukraine’s president himself has to be the one to announce the investigations that Trump wanted into the Bidens and Ukraine’s non-existent interference in the US 2016 election. Apparently, the White House hasn’t found any phone records of any pre-dawn call with Trump on the date the ambassador described, and his other testimony has made clear that the ambassador didn’t have Trump’s cell phone number, so the call almost definitely didn’t happen as described. That is one less defense for the president. Also, a brief mia culpa. In our most recent episode, we said that the ambassador claimed the call he described was on September 1st. That was an error. We regret the mistake. Sorry to pull a Sondland. Okay, and now as we rouse ourselves from the lethargy of Thanksgiving, we turn to today’s reading from our Nixometer.

On our scale, a zero is a normal day in a normal White House. 10, President Richard Nixon resigns, flies away in Marin

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