Panel Moves Toward Impeachment Vote 12/12 06:27
The House Judiciary Committee has taken the first steps toward voting on
articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, beginning a marathon
two-day session to consider the historic charges with a lively prime-time
hearing at the Capitol.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House Judiciary Committee has taken the first steps
toward voting on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump,
beginning a marathon two-day session to consider the historic charges with a
lively prime-time hearing at the Capitol.
Democrats and Republicans used the otherwise procedural meeting Wednesday
evening to deliver sharp, poignant and, at times, personal arguments for and
against impeachment. Both sides appealed to Americans' sense of history ---
Democrats describing a strong sense of duty to stop what one called the
president's "constitutional crime spree" and Republicans decrying the "hot
garbage'' impeachment and what it means for the future of the country.
Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island asked Republicans standing by Trump to
"wake up" and honor their oath of office. Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of
Louisiana responded with his own request to "put your country over party." Rep.
Lou Correa, D-Calif., shared his views in English and Spanish.
One Democrat, Rep. Val Demings of Florida, told the panel that, as a
descendant of slaves and now a member of Congress, she has faith in America
because it is "government of the people" and in this country "nobody is above
the law." Freshman Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia emotionally talked
about losing her son to gun violence and said that while impeachment was not
why she came to Washington, she wants to "fight for an America that my son
Jordan would be proud of."
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio said Democrats are impeaching because
"they don't like us" and read out a long list of Trump's accomplishments.
"It's not just because they don't like the president, they don't like us,"
Jordan added. "They don't like the 63 million people who voted for this
president, all of us in flyover country, all of us common folk in Ohio,
Wisconsin, Tennessee and Texas."
The committee is considering two articles of impeachment introduced by
Democrats. They charge Trump with abuse of power for asking Ukraine to
investigate Joe Biden while withholding aid as leverage and with obstruction of
Congress for stonewalling the House's investigation.
On Thursday, the committee will likely vote to send the articles to the full
House, which is expected to vote next week. That could come after hours of
debate over Republican amendments, though the articles aren't likely to be
changed. Democrats are unlikely to accept any amendments proposed by
Republicans unified against Trump's impeachment.
Democrats are also unified. They have agreed to the language, which spans
only nine pages and says that Trump acted "corruptly" and "betrayed the nation"
when he asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 U.S. election.
Hamstrung in the minority, Republicans wouldn't have the votes to make changes
without support from at least some Democrats.
The Wednesday evening session of the 41-member panel lasted more than three
hours, with opening statements from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler opened the hearing by
making a final argument for impeachment and urging his Republican colleagues to
reconsider. He said the committee should consider whether the evidence shows
that Trump committed these acts, if they rise to the level of impeachable high
crimes and misdemeanors and what the consequences are if they fail to act.
"When his time has passed, when his grip on our politics is gone, when our
country returns, as surely it will, to calmer times and stronger leadership,
history will look back on our actions here today," Nadler said. "How would you
Republicans are also messaging to the American people --- and to Trump
himself --- as they argue that the articles show Democrats are out to get the
president. Most Republicans contend, as Trump does, that he has done nothing
wrong, and all of them are expected to vote against the articles.
The top Republican on the panel, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, argued that
Democrats are impeaching the president because they think they can't beat him
in the 2020 election.
Democrats think the only thing they need is a "32-second commercial saying
we impeached him," Collins said.
"That's the wrong reason to impeach somebody, and the American people are
seeing through this," Collins said. "But at the end of the day, my heart breaks
for a committee that has trashed this institution."
Republicans are expected to offer an array of amendments and make procedural
motions on Thursday, even if they know none of them will pass. The Judiciary
panel is made up of some of the most partisan members on both sides, and
Republicans will launch animated arguments in Trump's defense.
Earlier Wednesday, Collins said the GOP would offer amendments but said
they'd mainly be about allowing more time to debate.
"Remember, you can't fix bad," Collins said. "These are bad, you're not
going to fix it."
In the formal articles announced Tuesday, the Democrats said Trump enlisted
a foreign power in "corrupting" the U.S. election process and endangered
national security by asking Ukraine to investigate his political rivals,
including Biden, while withholding U.S. military aid as leverage. That
benefited Russia over the U.S. as America's ally fought Russian aggression, the
Trump then obstructed Congress by ordering current and former officials to
defy House subpoenas for testimony and by blocking access to documents, the
Trump tweeted that to impeach a president "who has done NOTHING wrong, is
sheer Political Madness."
The House is expected to vote on the articles next week, in the days before
Christmas. That would send them to the Senate for a 2020 trial.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he would be
"totally surprised'' if there were the necessary 67 votes in the chamber to
convict Trump, and signaled options for a swift trial. He said no decision had
been made about whether to call witnesses.