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What happens next in the impeachment inquiry

This week was a historic one for American government. Over three days, the House Intelligence Committee held public hearings with nine more witnesses as part of an inquiry into whether President Trump should be impeached. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to discuss when the Intelligence Committee might publish a report on its findings and the upcoming role of the Judiciary Committee.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It has been a week unlike any other in recent years, multiple days of marathon impeachment hearings with administration officials past and present, all in public.

    But where does the impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives go from here?

    Correspondent Lisa Desjardins sat through every hour of those hearings. And she's here now to walk us through what the next few weeks might bring.

    So, Lisa, it has been a long week, a lot of hearings. The hearings ended yesterday afternoon, but, today, President Trump weighed in.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right. Let's start there.

    The president clearly was paying very close attention to these hearings. He had a lot to say this morning on "FOX & Friends." You reported his message about Vice President Mike Pence.

    Well, he also spoke about impeachment. Let's listen to some of what he said.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Don't forget, there was no due process. You can't have lawyers. We couldn't have any witnesses.

    We want to call the whistle-blower. But you know who I want as the first witness? Because, frankly, I want a trial.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    What he's saying there is, he doesn't think the House Intelligence hearings were fair, he didn't have representation there, his lawyers couldn't ask questions. He says he wants a trial.

    Well, Judy, if the House does vote to impeach, the president, he will have no choice. We know from Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's office that he does plan to go forward with a trial. And there are not enough votes to prevent that in the Senate. Even though Republicans have a majority, they do not have enough who feel that a trial should be blocked.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So procedure would require it if the House votes on impeachment.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So now — Lisa, now that these public hearings seem to be behind us, what are the next steps?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, Congress is gone for Thanksgiving. So we do not expect any public hearings, as you're saying, for next week.

    It is possible there could be some closed-door depositions. There are a few characters involved here that Congress has not been able to speak to, including Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas. But it may be that Congress has no activity, really, in front of the scenes.

    But there is something that is going to happen next week on Monday. A federal judge has said that they plan to rule on a case involving president — the White House former counsel Don McGahn.

    Now, he was a critical witness in the Mueller report case, testifying to what the president — he said, the president asked essentially, in his view, for Robert Mueller to be fired.

    So this is important in impeachment, because Don McGahn would testify to a different impeachment allegation, obstruction of justice, if Democrats want to pursue that. If a court rules that he must testify, that could change timelines. That could change calculations.

    Of course, that could also continue to be appealed. But it's something we're going to watch closely next week.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    If there were a broadened impeachment inquiry focus.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Lisa, what about the committee that's been in the forefront for these last few weeks, the Intelligence Committee?

    They still have work to do, don't they?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Right.

    Congress is out of town, but staff is working day and night. They are getting ready. They're producing a report. That report essentially will be the evidence, as they see it, against this president. And it will be a critical piece of information.

    At the same time, we should expect House Republicans on the Intelligence Committee, led by Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes, to put together their own report, their own kind of facts and their own findings.

    What's going to happen after that? Those reports will be presented to the public. Then the House Judiciary Committee will take up the issues. And, Judy, when the House Judiciary Committee meets, they have the right to call public hearings. I'm told that we should expect some, but none of the same witnesses as we saw this week from the House Intelligence Committee.

    They say, we feel that those witnesses' testimony stands on its own.

    Instead, there is some questioning of whether we could see Mueller-related witnesses…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ah.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    … if the Judiciary Committee determines that that is also a case they want to make for articles of impeachment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Back to the point that you were making a moment ago.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, everybody is curious to know, because we are coming up on the holidays, November, December. What does the calendar look like, as far as we know?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Ah. You know I love a good calendar graphic. Our producer Jesse (ph) helped put this together too.

    Let's take a look.

    Well, first of all, they're putting the report together now. We expect the report to go to Judiciary — the Judiciary Committee that first week of December. Then we expect those hearings, very likely those first two weeks of December.

    And, listen, Judy, that's not just public hearings. That's also an important event, which will be the marking up of the articles of impeachment themselves. That will be line-for-line edits, potential amending of those articles.

    After that happens in House Judiciary, if it votes to forward the articles of impeachment to the floor, this is the timeline likely, that week of December 20 right there. So it could happen very quickly. Democrats are on track right now to have that full House floor vote by the end of December.

    Judy, also, in that same week, though, that's when the government funding bill runs out. There's a Democratic debate that we are hosting that week.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    That's right.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It is a very high-profile week. A lot is being crammed in there.

    But this is the likely schedule right now. Our viewers should be ready for a very busy and intense December.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Not your usual period running up into Christmas and New Year's and so forth.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Not at all.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa Desjardins, an incredible week. Thank you so much for all your work.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome. My honor.

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