editorial

Crimes required? Trump’s impeachment defense could set new standard
Trump defense team seizes on the lack of an article charging the president with a crime

A clerk places a tray of pens before Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., signs the articles of impeachment during an engrossment ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 15. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s defense team is arguing that a president should not be convicted by the Senate on articles of impeachment that do not include a criminal violation, putting the very definition of an impeachable offense at the center of the Senate trial set to begin Tuesday.

And some legal experts said the outcome of that debate could set a new, higher standard for removing a president from office in future impeachments.

Former Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to just over two years in federal prison
New York Republican pleaded guilty in October to insider trading charges

Former New York Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison for insider trading. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced to two years and two months in federal prison Friday for insider trading crimes he committed, ending a legal process that evolved from the New York Republican calling the charges “meritless” shortly after he was indicted to him pleading guilty and proclaiming embarrassment for his actions.

Collins, who represented the Buffalo-area 27th District for seven years and was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, pleaded guilty on Oct. 1 to participating in a scheme to commit insider trading and lying to the FBI to conceal his illegal activity. He resigned from Congress the day before his guilty plea.

Was Hillary Clinton a terrible candidate?
Vote Above Replacement suggests she was more valuable than Trump

Hillary Clinton and campaign chairman John Podesta at a July 2016 meeting with Senate Democrats in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ethics expert: GOP ‘crosses the line’ with House hallway ambushes
DCCC complaint says NRCC violated ban on using official resources for campaigns

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., is chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Having video trackers shadow candidates to get campaign dirt has become a common tactic, but the National Republican Congressional Committee  went too far if it directed aides to ambush Democrats in House office buildings, experts on congressional ethics said.

Though a GOP spokesman called it “frivolous,” the experts said there was merit to a complaint filed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee against the chairman of the NRCC, Rep. Tom Emmer. It could lead to the Minnesota lawmaker facing an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

At the Races: Managing impeachment (and the spotlight)

By Bridget Bowman, Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

Chief Justice leaves his friendly confines for Trump impeachment trial
Will anyone in the Senate know his favorite dessert?

President Donald Trump greets Chief Justice John Roberts after addressing a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber in February 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Charles E. Grassley was one of the first senators to suggest Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. might be uncomfortable presiding over the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — in part because it will be televised.

The Iowa Republican, who will swear in Roberts for his role Thursday, has long been an advocate for adding cameras to the Supreme Court. But Roberts and the other justices haven’t budged. They still conduct oral arguments and announce opinions in a courtroom without cameras or cell phones.

Rating change: With Hunter gone, California race shifts to Solid Republican
Democrat took 48 percent against wounded incumbent in 2018

Former Rep. Darrell Issa is seeking a House comeback bid from the district recently vacated by his fellow California Republican Duncan Hunter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 2:02 p.m. | California Republican Duncan Hunter finally left the House and took any Democratic chances of winning the 50th District with him.

Hunter won reelection in 2018 by 3 points in a Southern California seat that Republicans shouldn’t have to worry about defending, considering President Donald Trump carried it by 15 points in 2016. Hunter was under indictment at the time, which shows the strength any GOP candidate should have in the district.

An agonizing dispute among terror victims
Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund splitting payouts under questionable rationale

Kenneth Feinberg, former administrator of the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, said he does not understand the rationale for paying out 9/11 victims from the fund. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four decades ago, William Daugherty, a former CIA operative, was held hostage in Iran for 444 days. His wait for the financial compensation policymakers had promised him will now be a lot longer than that.

A fund created in 2015 for the Iran hostages and other victims of state-sponsored terrorism has become a new source of cash for relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks waged by al-Qaida terrorists on New York and Washington. President Donald Trump in November signed into law a measure that divided the fund in half, splitting the revenue between two competing groups: victims of state-sponsored terrorism like Daugherty and the 9/11 families.

Courtroom experience a commodity as Trump impeachment trial begins
Senators with significant time in front of a judge are sought-after in the run-up to historic trial

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says senators who’ve tried cases can get their points across with questions that are the “pithiest” and “shortest.” (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The impending impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has boosted the profile of senators who have specific experience in their background: spending time in front of a judge.

Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine, who tried cases and pressed appeals as a civil rights lawyer before he entered politics, said Wednesday that Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York has started a dialogue with him and other Democratic senators who have courtroom experience ahead of the impeachment trial.

Impeachment managers all represent safe Democratic seats
GOP faces steep challenge to oust prosecutors of Trump

Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Wednesday news conference to announce the House impeachment managers: from left, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jerrold Nadler, Adam B. Schiff, Val B. Demings, Zoe Lofgren and Jason Crow. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call photo)

Updated Jan. 16 10:45 a.m. | Speaker Nancy Pelosi went with Democrats from politically safe districts to prosecute the impeachment case against President Donald Trump in the Senate.

All seven impeachment managers named Wednesday are in races that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Solid Democratic. Many of their Republican challengers haven’t even raised any money yet. That could change given these Democrats’ new, high-profile role, but the fundamentals of their races would have to shift significantly to make a difference in the outcome.