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What to expect from the next phase of impeachment

Illustration of someone being sworn in with Capitol in background
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't hold your breath for the White House to show at this week's impeachment hearings — and it's possible they won't participate at all until the Senate trial.

What we're hearing: House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has given the White House until 5 pm ET on Friday to decide whether President Trump will have his counsel participate.

  • White House lawyers are skeptical about cooperating, instead focusing their energy on how to prepare for the eventual Senate battle.
  • "It seems stupid for the president to show up and dignify this thing. It makes the stakes seem higher than they are," a Trump administration official said.

What's next: The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing at 10 am ET on Wednesday examining whether Trump's actions toward Ukraine qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.

  • The hearing will be "academic," featuring legal scholars who will lay out the constitutional framework for what warrants impeachment, a Democratic leadership aide said.

A more pivotal moment may be the presentation of the House Intelligence Committee's report, outlining the evidence Democrats have gathered so far and their recommendations for articles of impeachment, according to officials working on the inquiry.

  • Details: Members of the Intelligence Committee will have an opportunity to review a draft of the report tomorrow night in classified spaces. Then Tuesday at 6 pm ET the panel will meet behind closed doors to adopt the report and add Republicans' views. The report will then be forwarded to the Judiciary Committee.
  • At some point after the Tuesday night meeting, there will be a public presentation of the report.
  • Republicans, who have been drafting their own report, are expected to release their version shortly after.

Behind the scenes: A Democratic Judiciary aide said the committee expects Republicans to fight them "at every step of the way" on fairness, so Nadler has made a point to lay out the rules and give them an opportunity to cooperate before they have a chance to undercut them.

  • The aide added that, unlike the Intelligence committee (which is "not geared for public hearings"), Judiciary attracts "the most ambitious members" who are used to battling it out over controversial issues.

The bottom line: "The Judiciary Committee is a very different environment. We are no longer in fact-finding mode, but a consideration of possible impeachable violations," the aide said.

  • Why it matters: It's the Judiciary Committee's ultimate responsibility to draft articles of impeachment.

Timing: Democrats are still planning to wrap up the House's investigation by the end of the year, with an expected vote on articles of impeachment as soon as mid-December.

  • "This next phase is going to happen really fast," an official working on impeachment told Axios.

Update: The White House sent a letter later Sunday confirming that it would not attend this week's impeachment hearings.

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