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Impeachment inquiry is ‘only just beginning’ after testimony

As Congress takes a Thanksgiving break, Democratic and Republican staff members are drafting reports on the impeachment inquiry that will determine the next phases of the process. Jami Floyd, a host and legal editor at WNYC New York Public Radio, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    With more on what to expect in the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, I'm joined here by Jami Floyd, host and legal editor at WNYC New York Public Radio. This was an exhausting week and it's not over. It's not even close to over. What does the House do now?

  • Jami Floyd:

    It's only just beginning. Here's what's happening now, and here's where we go next. They are in a break for the Thanksgiving holiday, but hardly a break behind the scenes. So, the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are preparing their report. Republicans are also preparing their report. Those reports go to the Judiciary Committee where articles of impeachment will be prepared. Now, that doesn't mean that we're finished in the Intelligence Committee. It's been reported by some that the hearings have closed, but they really haven't. Conversations are being held with Nancy Pelosi about whether to move from the Intelligence Committee without calling additional witnesses. They may still call additional witnesses. I think not likely given the fast track in light of the election, but possible. They have not yet fully gaveled it closed despite that dramatic ending on Thursday. And then when we get to the Judiciary Committee, the Judiciary Committee, as it prepares its articles, also can call additional witness.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Now, we're not going to likely to see the same witnesses again.

  • Jami Floyd:

    No, we're not.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    They can call different witness.

  • Jami Floyd:

    I mean, we could [see the same witnesses]. They can do that. But we would be more likely to see additional witnesses, including some of those that have been subpoenaed and have refused to come or have been invited and have consulted with attorneys. Or who have been named, as we saw with with Ambassador Holmes, who came as an unexpected witness. So, they have thousands of pages upon which to draw when writing these reports. They're going through that. That's the evidentiary basis for the Democrats' report that it will file for the Judiciary Committee. And in there, they will see. Do we have enough to move forward with the articles of impeachment or do we need more witnesses, more evidence? And some of that can be documentary evidence. And you heard Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi, say to the President, do you have exculpatory evidence you want to give us? Now is the time.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So the Democrats will make their reports and make their suggestions to the Judiciary Committee, comes up with a specific clauses of impeachment. They go ahead and take that to the Senate for trial,.

  • Jami Floyd:

    For articles of impeachment, and we've not done this very many times before. As you know, this will be only the fourth time we've had articles of impeachment, and it would be only the second time we've arrived at the Senate because, of course, President Nixon resigned before it ever went to the Senate, knowing, or most analysts say he would have, likely been convicted had it gone to the Senate. He was never even impeached.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    What about John Roberts and how he's likely to, well, judge, this. I mean, if this is the trial and he's the person at the Senate, I mean, the article said, well, he was a conservative juror, etc. But he's also he has a tremendous amount of respect for the court itself.

  • Jami Floyd:

    It is true we talk about the Supreme Court as liberals and conservatives. But he understands not only the importance of the institution of the court, but the institutions of our democracy. He will sit there understanding this critically important moment and how important it is to put aside politics and sit there as a representative of our democracy. But the important thing also is that the Constitution, while it references impeachment several times, does not lay out any rules of court. You know, we have rules of court when you go into federal court. How are we going to run? What are the rules of evidence? How does this play out? The Senate decides what the rules of court are in this case. And so it's a political process with some legal underpinnings, with very little precedential jurisprudence. So it's going to be fascinating.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    So does that mean that Mitch McConnell has a lot to do?

  • Jami Floyd:

    Yes!

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    With how that plays out in January.

  • Jami Floyd:

    That's exactly what it means. That's exactly what it means. And Mitch McConnell has said several times that he will hold the trial if the articles of impeachment are delivered. He's not going to hold up the process as he held up the Merrick Garland process. So at least we know that much. But once it gets into the Senate chamber, it will become a very different kind of process than the one you see, for example, in the U.S. Supreme Court. Even if John Roberts is sitting there as the judge, and the senators are essentially the jurors.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Jami Floyd, thanks so much for joining us.

  • Jami Floyd:

    Thank you, Hari.

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