It’s Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. Let’s start here.
1. Impeachment vote
Splitting along party lines, the House voted on Wednesday to impeach a sitting president for just the third time in U.S. history.
In the debate leading up to the vote, Democrats accused President Donald Trump of abusing his power for personal and political gain in the 2020 election, while Republicans insisted there was no evidence of a crime.
“This has become one of the most intensely partisan episodes, I think, of our history and it’s more than just a partisan divide,” ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce says on “Start Here” today. “We saw this fundamental divide over right and wrong, and that led to essentially a debate where the two parties can’t even agree on the basic facts of what happened here.”
2. Trump reacts
“While Democrats are obsessed with impeachment, we are focused on jobs, jobs, jobs.”
As voting was underway on Wednesday night, the president made his case against impeachment to supporters at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.
“My sense is that the president has been gearing up for this fight,” ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl tells the podcast. “He did not want this moment to come, clearly it upset him and angered him, but as it became clear that he was going to be impeached … he switched into all-out battle mode and he saw that in some ways he was winning.”
3. Now what?
Although the vote sets up a Senate trial in January, some Democrats are debating whether to formally send the articles of impeachment to the other chamber in order to get some concessions from Senate Republicans, who have indicated they are not inclined to allow witnesses.
“House Democrats would like something that looks more like a genuine proceeding in which, you know, minds are open, new testimony can come in, and the outcome is not a foregone conclusion,” ABC News Legal Analyst Kate Shaw tells the podcast, adding, “It seems unlikely to me, but I do think that it’s an idea that’s getting a little bit of traction.”
4. A final thought
ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran, who covered the impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton, shares his thoughts with “Start Here” about this historic moment and its differences from two decades ago.
“It does not have that gravity,” he says. “It feels like just another chapter in the outrage and the bitterness and the melodrama, the high stakes reality show that our politics have become, that even this constitutional step feels like just another week in the Trump presidency.”
“Start Here,” ABC News’ flagship podcast, offers a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or the ABC News app. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.
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‘A critical tool to protecting Americans’: Attorney General Bill Barr said Wednesday that the secretive surveillance court under heavy scrutiny following a scathing Department of Justice watchdog report released last week remains a “critical” tool for law enforcement, despite recent suggestions by some Republicans that it could be shut down.
‘Whatever we can to change that’: The U.S. is set to create a new $1 billion fund for energy projects in Europe and Eurasia to free countries like Ukraine from Russian energy dependence, which American lawmakers say Moscow uses to exert a malignant influence across the region.
From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:
FiveThirtyEight’s Perry Bacon Jr. looks at what we learned from the House’s impeachment of President Trump.
Doff your cap:
Folks who fly frequently probably don’t associate air travel with heart-warming stories. But try telling that to an 88-year-old woman who boarded the economy section of a Virgin Atlantic flight this month.
The woman, named Violet, was waiting to board the flight from New York to London when she met a man named Jack who was holding first-class seats for him and his family. She told him it was always her dream to sit in the front of the plane.
So once both Jack and Violet had boarded the plane, Jack went back to the economy section, found Violet, and swapped seats with her.
“You should have seen her face when I tucked her in her bed after supper,” said the flight attendant who looked after Violet on her dream-come-true flight. “She said her daughter won’t believe her.”
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