House Democrats began their historic Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday by having a clerk read through two articles of impeachment word-for-word – allowing gathered members and TV viewers to hear each charge they are leveling against Donald Trump.
Republicans on the panel immediately began their day’s mission – savaging the Democratic impeachment effort on technical and substantive grounds – by introducing an amendment striking Article 1 of the impeachment articles, the one accusing Trump of abuse of power in his dealings with Ukraine.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio introduced an amendment striking down the first of two impeachment articles – the one charging Trump with abuse of power through his interactions with Ukraine.
Chairman Jerry Nadler (3rd L) and Ranking Member Doug Collins (2nd R) begin the second day of the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of House Resolution 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald Trump. Republicans immediately sought to delay proceedings and rip out the heart of the Demorats’ impeachment articles
The amendment ‘strikes article one because article one ignores the truth,’ Jordan said in a brief speech.
‘It ignores the facts, it ignores what happened and what has been laid out for the American people over the last three weeks. So I hope this committee will come to its senses, it’ll adopt the amendment and strike article one from the resolution,’ inveighed Jordan, who also brought his pugnacious brand of politics to the House Intelligence Committee during its impeachment inquiry.
Republicans also managed to stall proceedings while seeking to derail the focus on the president’s conduct with procedural complaints. ‘It continues to amaze me how corrupt, how unfair this process has been from the start,’ fumed Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona. I believe the president of the United States is right. This is a sham impeachment,’ she said.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, who was also a leading voice in the Clinton impeachment, complained that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff conducted his inquiry in the ‘basement of the Capitol hearing room’ where not every lawmaker could take part.
He contrasted that inquiry to former Independent Counsel Ken Starr. ‘Both sides were allowed to present whatever witnesses they wanted to. Kenneth Starr did all the grunt work in terms of putting together the facts … That’s not happened here,’ said Sensenbrenner.
The retiring member also defended Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine, where the impeachment articles accuse him of a pressure campaign to get probes of political rival Joe Biden.
‘There was no quid pro quo offered. There was no pressure that was put on the Ukrainians. I don’t know how many times President Zelenksy has had to say that,’ said Sensenbrenner. ‘There was no impeachable offense here,’ he said.
Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas followed with her own comments about distinctions with the Clinton impeachment. ‘The president abuses power and is a continuing threat not only to democracy but to our national security,’ she said.
‘It is not frivolous and without facts that we proceed. We proceed with facts, and we take this in a very somber manner,’ she added.
‘While this aid was being held, people died,’ added Lofgren, pointing to $391 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine that was being held up while Trump interacted with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Rep. Steve Chabot of Indiana, yet another veteran of the Clinton impeachment, contrasted the current matter to impeachments of Clinton and Richard Nixon.
‘President Clinton committed a crime – perjury. This president isn’t even accused of committing a crime,’ said Chabot.
He said in both those prior impeachments, the ‘abuse of power’ charge was ‘tacked on’ to other charges.
‘Here, it’s the main thrust of the House Democrats’ entire case. The entire argument for impeachment in this case is based on a charge that is not a crime, much less a high crime.’
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a former prosecutor, responded to the characterization. ‘How about the highest crime that one who holds public office could commit? A crime against our Constitution,’ he said.
‘Every other law… derives from the Constitution. Not the other way around. The president committed the highest crime against the constitution by abusing his office. Cheating in an election, inviting foeign interference, purley for personal gain”
Lofgren took a leading role in the hearing, even as Nadler spent considerable time int he background. She also managed to introduce a controversy that did not draw a Democratic charge – the $130,000 payoff to porn start Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump. Longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is currently in jail on charges including a campaign finance violation related to the payoff.
Lofgren contrasted the Bill Clinton impeachment, which she boiled down to lying about sex, to Trump’s.
‘Somehow lying about a sexual affair is an abuse of presidential power, but the misuse of presidential power you get a benefit somehow. If it’s lying about sex, we could put Stormy Daniels case ahead of us,’ she said. ‘We don’t believe it’s a high crime and misdemeanor. Because it’s not before us and it should not be before us –because it’s not an abuse of presidential power,’ she said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a Trump loyalist, called the matter ‘a sincere policy disagreement about how to make the Ukraine Great Again.’
‘They’re alleging a shakedown,’ he mocked. ‘You cannot have a shake down if the person allegedly being shook down doesn’t’ know about the shake down.’
After the hearing’s solemn beginning, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York introduced a surprise ‘substitute’ amendment, making a technical change that may matter for parliamentary reasons, or at least for the history books.
Nadler introduced new legislation impeaching ‘Donald John Trump’ rather than Donald J. Trump. That fits with the formal charges brought against William Jefferson Clinton in 1998.
The change ‘just simply shows the frankly absurdity of where we’re at’ barked ranking Republican Rep. Doug Collins, who immediately sought to derail the proceedings by launching a procedural objection.
The articles say the president ‘abused the power of his office’ and obstructed Congress in its inquiry.
House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington.
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., listens as the articles of impeachment are read during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment. Democrats objected to an effort to waive the reading
The proceedings were carried live on cable television
As the clerk began reading the articles at the top of the hearing, a Republican objected – seeking to waive the reading. That routinely happens on less consequential matters.
But Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who participated during the Clinton impeachment, objected.
The angry exchanges were carried live on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and C-SPAN as the hearing began – but not on broadcast networks.
‘Resolved, That Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate,’ the clerk read.
‘Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency,’ according to the text of the 12-page articles.
Ranking Republican Doug Collins of Georgia raised an immediate objection, saying the minority had not yet had the chance to hold hearing it had requested.
House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Washington.
In an open impeachment hearing Wednesday night, a Republican member of Congress spoke the name of a man widely thought to be the whistle-blower whose complaint about Donald Trump‘s famous phone call with Ukraine‘s president sparked this fall’s impeachment saga.
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert was complaining during a hearing about two articles of impeachment that Democrats have blocked attempts to call fact witnesses who didn’t support their arguments.
Gohmert called ‘abuse of power [and] obstruction of Congress the very things the majority has done in preventing us from having the witnesses that could shed light on this.’
‘We needed to hear from those witnesses, people like Sean Misko, Abigail Grace, [name redacted], Devin Archer, Joe Biden, Nellie Ohr, Alexandra Chalupa and so many others,’ he said.
DailyMail.com has not published the name of the man, who is a Russia and Eurasia expert for the CIA, tasked to the National Intelligence Council and reporting to the director of national intelligence.
Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert vented about witnesses Democrats blocked them from calling, including a man whose identity as the whistle-blower one GOP aide says is ‘the worst-kept secret in town’
After a Politico reporter tweeted that Gohmert had outed the whistle-blower, Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer called the move ‘incredible and outrageous’
Virginia Democratic congressman Don Beyer reacted with fury on Twitter.
‘House Republicans just committed an incredible and outrageous breach,’ Rep. Beyer wrote.
‘The President threatened the whistleblower with violence, and whether the person just named is the whistleblower or not they were just put in real danger. This is unacceptable and there should be consequences.’
Beyer was responding to one of several reporters who tweeted that Gohmert had named the person thought to be the whistle-blower.
Gohmert didn’t describe the person in any way, other than saying he thought the man should testify before lawmakers made up their mind about impeaching Trump.
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert was complaining during a hearing about two articles of impeachment against President Trump
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, told DailyMail.com after the hearing that he didn’t know the whistle-blower’s identity, but called Gohmert’s pivotal moment ‘an irrelevant distraction from the real evidence in the case.’
‘It’s sort of like Richard Nixon blaming his own criminal conduct in Watergate on Deep Throat. It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s incoherent,’ said Raskin.
The CIA analyst’s name has floated around Washington, D.C. for months. A federal whistle-blower protection law forbids the Justice Department inspector general from revealing his name, but doesn’t bar elected officials or private citizens from doing so.
Gohmert never said the man whose name he spoke was the whistle-blower; he named seven people who he thought should be impeachment hearing witnesses, but didn’t explain why
Democrats are steamrolling toward impeaching Donald Trump for abuse of power and contempt of Congress; Trump is pictured Wednesday night showing an executive order combating anti-semitism during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul did it in November during a radio interview in Washington, a few weeks after urging reporters during a Trump rally to ‘do your job and print his name!’
Asked on WMAL radio about that moment, he mentioned the man by name as a ‘person of interest’ and said he ‘needs to be pulled in for testimony,’
The alleged whistle-blower’s name does appear in a transcript of a closed-door interview of a diplomat that the House Intelligence Committee’s Democratic chairman Adam Schiff released last month.
A House Republican aide said Wednesday night that the whistle-blower’s name is ‘the worst-kept secret in town,’ and added that ‘we should all start putting on our big boy pants, name the guy, and tell him to back up his allegations against Trump.’
The whistle- blower’s account of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was undercut by a summary transcript of the call the White House released later.
Democrats contend it has been largely confirmed.
Pizza boxes are piled up outside the House Ways and Means office as the House Judiciary Committee begins its markup of articles of impeachment
Wednesday’s impeachment hearing saw Democrats and Republicans trading blows during opening statements of the House Judiciary Committee.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said President Trump could become a ‘dictator’ if his powers were left unchecked, while his GOP counterpart, Rep. Doug Collins, called impeachment ‘the Big Lie.’
‘If the president can first abuse his power and then stonewall all Congressional requests for information, Congress cannot fulfill its duty to act as a check and balance against the executive. And the president becomes a dictator,’ Nadler warned in the opening moments of his committee’s first prime-time impeachment hearing.
Following the pattern that would continue all night, Collins followed Nadler with a frenzied pushback against impeachment, labeling it ‘The Big Lie.’
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (left) and Republican ranking member Doug Collins (right) delivered remarks at the beginning of Wednesday night’s impeachment hearing
Members of the House Judiciary Committee gathered at the Longworth House Office Building Wednesday night. The Republicans in the room again brought props
‘What’s the Big Lie? It’s the one Democrats have told the American people for the last three years,’ Collins said. ‘The Big Lie is that the ends justify the means. The Big Lie is that a sham impeachment is OK because the threat is so great. The Big Lie is that political expedience is honorable and justifiable.’
On Tuesday, House Democrats announced they planned to pursue two articles of impeachment against Trump, with a full House vote likely happening in a little over a week.
The Wednesday night hearing was scheduled to give Judiciary Committee members the opportunity to deliver five-minute opening statements – with the floor flip-flopping between the two parties.
Nadler opened up the proceeding with an ask: that Republicans might join Democrats in impeachment.
‘I hope every member of this Committee will withstand the political pressures of the moment,’ Nadler begged. ‘I hope that we are able to work together to hold this President – or any President – accountable for breaking his most basic obligations to the country and to its citizens.’
Nadler said he hoped that members wouldn’t try to ‘justify behavior that we know in our heart is wrong.’
‘And while you think about that choice, please keep in mind that – one way or the other – President Trump will not be president forever,’ Nadler continued. ‘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.’
‘How would you be remembered?’ Nadler asked.
Several supporters of President Trump showed up to the Judiciary Committee hearing and wore their MAGA hats throughout the night
The New York Democrat said that with a ‘heavy heart’ he supported the president’s impeachment.
Collins answered that by calling bull.
‘We have spent all year in this committee trying to impeach this president,’ Collins said.
He said it was as much of a surprise as the holiday season.
‘It doesn’t jump up and sneak up on you when you’ve been expecting it the whole time!’ Collins said.
Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican, also argued that Democrats have long been after Trump – pointing to several pop culture references.
‘Then the genre of assassination and personal harm began with Kathy Griffin posing with a model of Trump’s severed head, and actor Robert De Niro using his Tony Awards speech to say, “F— Trump! I’d like to punch him in the face!”‘ Buck said.
During an impeachment hearing, a Republican congressman spoke aloud the name of a man thought to be the famed Ukraine whistle-blower
And Rep. Matt Gaetz put on his best movie-trailer-announcer voice during his turn.
‘This is nothing more than the sloppy, straight-to-DVD Ukrainian sequel to the failed Russia hoax,’ the Florida Republican said, sounding like a voice actor. ‘If it seems like you’ve seen this movie before, it’s because you have.’
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, characterized the Democrats’ case as weak.
Rep. Matt Gaetz put on his best movie trailer announcer voice and said the Ukraine-focused impeachment proceedings were a ‘straight-to-DVD Ukrainian sequel to the failed Russia hoax’
‘This bar is so low that what is happening is that a future president can be impeached for any disagreement when the presidency and the House of Representatives are controlled by different parties,’ he argued during his term.
There are 41 Judiciary Committee members, but Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrats, is absent due to illness.
On Wednesday night, the Republicans brought new signs – including one that labeled the Democratic committee chairs the ‘Coastal Impeachment Squad’ since they’re from either California or New York.
Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, made his anti-impeachment argument along the same lines.
‘They’re never going to stop and it’s not because they don’t like the president … they don’t like us,’ he said, speaking into the cameras to the Republican base. ‘They don’t like the 63 million people who voted for this president. All of us in flyover country. All of us common folk Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Texas.’
‘They don’t like us,’ Jordan claimed.
Rep. David Cicciline, a Rhode Island Democrat, turned that argument on its head, suggesting Republicans were treating their constituents as if they were too dumb to understand what was going on.
‘Wake up,’ Cicciline told Republicans. ‘Stop thinking about running for re-election, stop worrying about being primaried, stop deflecting and distracting and treating those you represent … like they’re not smart enough to realize that you are willfully ignoring the facts to protect a corrupt and dangerous president.’
Cicciline tried to lay out Democrats’ case plainly.
‘President Donald J. Trump wielded the enormous powers of the presidency to cheat in the 2020 election,’ he said. ‘If the president can cheat to win re-election the people lose their voice and he’s no longer the president, he’s a king.’
Cicciline then referenced how his home state of Rhode Island was first in pushing for independence from the British king.
Rep. Val Demmings, a Florida Democrat, also pointed to the era of the founding when she pushed for impeachment.
‘George Washington was particularly concerned about unprincipled men finding their way into the White House,’ she said. ‘Well, those times have found us and we only have one option.’
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, one of the most progressive Democratic voices on the House Judiciary Committee, listens as colleagues deliver their opening statements at an impeachment hearing Wednesday night
Republicans have argued Democrats are trying to overturn the 2016 election while Democrats allege that the president with held nearly $400 million in aid to the Ukraine in order to pressure that country to investigate the Bidens and an unproven conspiracy theory that it was the Ukraine – and not Russia – that interfered in the 2016 election.
Lawmakers on the committee will return Thursday morning for the business at hand – offering amendments to the two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Any member of the committee can offer amendments.
And there are many ways to drag the process out – lawmakers can demand their amendments be read aloud (a process typically waved by a motion known as unanimous consent) and any lawmaker can object to any amendment.
Such moves would also have to be voted upon and any lawmaker can demand a roll call vote – another time consuming process.
Then the amendments themselves will be debated and given a final vote of approval or disapproval.
Given the partisan nature of impeachment the markup is expected to go long.
The markup of Bill Clinton’s articles of impeachment took three days.
After lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee finish their work, the articles of impeachment go to the Rules Committee, which sets the rules governing the debate on the House floor about the measure.
Then the articles go to the full House.
Democrats are on track to hold a vote in the full House next week – before they depart for the year – and then the approved articles will go to the Senate for trial.
Source: Daily Mail