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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
House Judiciary Committee Debates Impeachment Articles Before Vote. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 12, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] RESCHENTHALER: -- 11 C.P.B. holding facilities, 13 ICE detention facilities and six state licensed privately run facilities that contract with HHS
So contrary to the assertions from the Democrats, the Trump administration has cooperated substantially in matters related to the border and elsewhere. But let's just contrast that with the Democrats' combative posture.
In letters to the State Department employees, the Committee threatened witnesses, that, and I quote, "Any failure to appear" -- any failure to appear in response to a mere letter requesting their presence for deposition, shall and I, quote, "constitute evidence of obstruction." This is just letters, not subpoenas.
In letters to State Department employees and letters to the State Department employees, the Committee threatened witnesses that if they insist on having agency counsel present to protect the Executive Branch in their confidentiality interest, or if they make any efforts to protect confidentiality interests at all, these officials will have their salaries withheld -- withholding of salaries.
The Committees -- the Committees have not afforded the President basic protections such as the right to seal evidence, the right to present evidence, the right to call witnesses, the right to have counsel present at hearings, the right to cross examine all witnesses, the right to make objections relating to the examination of witnesses, or the admissibility of testimony and evidence and they have not afforded the President the right respond to evidence and testimony presented.
Thank you. I yield the remainder of my time.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. The -- for what privilege does Mr. Swalwell seek recognition?
SWALWELL: To move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
SWALWELL: My colleagues, the urgency of this moment is the grave risk that the President will again abuse his power of the presidency to try and secure his reelection. We have reason to be concerned.
The presidency gives him great powers to cause others to interfere in our elections. And the only protection we have is to act now because the President is cheating right now.
And to any of my colleagues who ask why move on this right now? It's a crime spree in progress. And as Chairman Schiff said earlier this week, what are we supposed to do? Just let him cheat one more time? Expect him to eventually do the right thing?
And here's what my colleagues' logic amounts to if we wait. It amounts to this. Allow the building to burn, collapse, fall to the ground, and then you should call the Fire Department.
This President has set our democracy on fire and we must act to save it and there's an urgency to act. And this President is not only being impeached because of what he has done, it is because of what he continues to do.
We know what he's done, not really disputed: Abused his power. Asked a foreign government to help him cheat. Jeopardizing our national security, integrity of our elections for his own personal gain.
But this was not a one-off. We've come to learn as Ms. Demings just explained, this is what he does and this is what he will keep doing.
In 2016, as he said, Russia, if you're listening, hack my opponent's e-mails, you'll be rewarded. It turns out, Russia was listening. It turns out, Russia hacked his opponent's e-mails. That day, they sought to hack his opponent's e-mails.
In that investigation, he went to great lengths to obstruct it. So why is it so urgent that we act right now? The President's lawyer was just in Ukraine. The President's lawyer said in May, I'm not meddling in an election. We, not, I, we, Donald Trump and I are meddling in an investigation and that meddling continues today.
But the President's own words tell us about his current intent. On October 2nd, the President said and, you know, we've been investigating on a personal basis through Rudy and others corruption in the 2016 election. I think that if we're honest about it, they should start a major investigation into the Biden's. That simple.
On October 3rd, the President stood on the White House lawn and confirmed that he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. But then he added a country because that's what he does Russia, Ukraine. He said China should also investigate the Bidens.
My colleagues, we should not have to hope or pray that China wasn't listening when he said that. But fortunately, people on this Committee are listening. Americans are listening. People who know right from wrong, our children are listening. Are you listening?
And what we hear deeply concerns us about what the President will do next. And we're not helpless, and in fact, we know that the courage to act is the only thing that has stopped this President. That's not a leap of faith. You see, it was the courage of Dr. Fiona Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman to, quote, "go to the lawyers," when they heard that the President was conditioning a White House visit for investigations. It was the courage of the whistleblower to come forward. That's what got Ukraine the aid. The President got caught, then Ukraine got the aid.
If those people were not courageous and acted, Ukraine would not have the aid today. So we must follow their pattern conduct and act. We have pattern evidence that not only Donald Trump acts corruptly, but that when you show courage and act against him, you can stop him. It's actually the only way to extinguish his corrupt ways.
If unchecked, my colleagues, Donald Trump does not get better. He gets worse. He gets more corrupt. And we can't wait till the next election to hold him accountable, not when he is trying to rig the next election.
So we must act to protect our national security, the integrity of our elections and honor our oath to the Constitution. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. The question is on the amendment. Those in favor say aye.
COLLINS: Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair. Mr. Chairman, we have someone asking for time.
NADLER: I didn't see a request.
COLLINS: I see it right here. I'm right beside you. Stop. You should now recognize him. You will now recognize him.
NADLER: I recognize Mr. Gaetz.
GAETZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
GAETZ: Well, they're right, they can't wait until the next election, but it's not the reason they say it. The reason they can't wait to the next election is because they've taken look at their candidate field and they have fundamentally changed every standard that they've set for themselves for impeachment for the American people.
Whether you like President Trump or don't like President Trump, it would at least be worth acknowledging the Democrats have moved the goalposts on what it would require to bring us to this point and to harm our nation and to distract us so much from the critical needs of American people who probably wonder why we're not focused on them right now.
First, they told us this has to be bipartisan. Now, I get folks watching at home might think that I'm somebody who really likes the President, I would probably be a hard vote for him to get for impeachment. But it's not just that they can't convince the President's supporters not to abandon him. They can't even convince the President's critics to abandon him. I mean, Jeff Van Drew, Collin Peterson, two Members of Congress, two Democrats. They are not fans of the President, they are critics of the President, and yet they didn't vote with Democrats, they voted with Republicans.
We've even got some Republicans, my colleague Will Hurd from Texas. He doesn't mind being a critic of the President. And he was honest with Democrats, he told them, this is not impeachable conduct.
They told us that the process would be fair. And yet, when even members of this Committee sought the opportunity not to read a transcript or see someone's second performance of their testimony, but to see their firsthand account, how they reacted? How they were breathing? Did they fidget when they responded? We wanted to see those things and we were excluded by the Intelligence Committee.
Democrats said that to put our country through this, it would require compelling and overwhelming evidence. And each and every time, they try to cast doubt on the President's conduct, we are able to show a legitimate concern the President had in corruption. We are able to cite the transcript that demonstrates no conditionality.
And time and again, Democrats say well, there's just no factual debate about what the President did. The factual debate comes from President Zelensky. It is President Zelensky who said I wasn't pressured and they said, oh, well Zelensky might not have known, but Yermak, he knew. Sondland talked to Yermak and conveyed the shakedown.
And the very day they introduced the Articles of Impeachment, Yermak gives an interview and says, we never really perceived this as an exchange of military, for aid, for any one thing.
Time and again, they let us down in their claims. But one thing we know for certain is that this was a sad inevitability. I had someone ask me recently, do you feel some sense of history? Some sense of moment that you're about to vote on impeachment? And sadly, I knew this time was coming since the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives because they didn't lay out a plan to appropriate for the budget, work with us on critical generational issues. They set out a plan for impeachment.
How do we know that? When the Chairman himself campaigned for the lead Democratic role in the Judiciary Committee. He didn't say, pick me because I'm a great legislator around some particular issue set. He said pick me because I will be the person that can best lead our caucus through a potential impeachment.
They've had a bloodlust for impeachment. It has been their obsession and it's deeply saddening to us. We take absolutely no joy in the fact that it is -- it is so consuming.
But here we stand on the verge of it, and my expectation is that this new standard in this second Article with -- with just the you know, the notion of obstruction of Congress, is their excuse for not being able to prove obstruction of justice.
Public reporting has been had saying the Chairman went to the Democratic Caucus and sought support to bring an Article for obstruction of justice and couldn't get their support. So now here we are with obstruction of Congress sort of the low energy version of the obstruction of justice claim that they wanted.
They hope they were going to be able to convict and accuse and evidence some claim on bribery. That's what their pollsters and pundits told them would be best, as they solemnly tell us this is -- this is sad to them. They were out polling what lexicon and what word choice would help them make the case to the American public, and so they settle on bribery.
You all in the media heard it. You heard them on every show talking about, oh, this is the new standard, Speaker Pelosi speaking in this new language. And then we asked the witnesses, were you part of bribery? Did you see bribery? And the evidence wasn't there.
And so instead of bribery, instead of treason, extortion, you have abuse of power, the low energy version. I'm disappointed in my colleagues, but probably even those who don't support the President would share that disappointment in this very moment. And I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
RESCHENTHALER: Mr. Chairman, I have a unanimous consent request.
NADLER: I recognize Mr. Reschenthaler for the purpose of a unanimous consent request.
RESCHENTHALER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask unanimous consent to enter the letter I referenced which is a letter from Chairman Engel to John Sullivan in which Chairman Engel says that officials who insists on counsel will have their salary withheld.
NADLER: Without objection.
RESCHENTHALER: Thank you.
NADLER: The question now occurs on the amendment. Those in favor say aye.
Those opposed, no.
In the opinion of the Chair, the nos have it and the amendment is not agreed to.
NADLER: The roll call is requested. The clerk will call the roll.
CLERK: Mr. Nadler?
CLERK: Mr. Nadler votes no. Ms. Lofgren?
CLERK: Ms. Lofgren votes no. Ms. Jackson Lee?
JACKSON LEE: No.
CLERK: Ms. Jackson Lee votes no. Mr. Cohen?
CLERK: Mr. Cohen votes no. Mr. Johnson of Georgia?
H. JOHNSON: No.
CLERK: Mr. Johnson of Georgia votes no. Mr. Deutch?
CLERK: Mr. Deutch votes no. Ms. Bass?
CLERK: Ms. Bass votes no. Mr. Richmond?
CLERK: Mr. Richmond votes no. Mr. Jeffries?
CLERK: Mr. Jeffries votes no, Mr. Cicilline?
CLERK: Mr. Cicilline votes no. Mr. Swalwell?
CLERK: Mr. Swalwell votes no. Mr. Lieu? Mr. Raskin?
CLERK: Mr. Raskin votes no. Ms. Jayapal?
CLERK: Ms. Jayapal votes no. Ms. Demings?
CLERK: Ms. Demings votes no. Mr. Correa?
CLERK: Mr. Correa votes no. Ms. Scanlon? SCANLON: No.
CLERK: Ms. Scanlon votes no. Ms. Garcia?
CLERK: Ms. Garcia votes no. Mr. Neguse?
CLERK: Mr. Neguse votes no. Ms. McBath?
CLERK: Ms. McBath votes no. Mr. Stanton?
CLERK: Mr. Stanton votes no. Ms. Dean?
CLERK: Ms. Dean votes no. Ms. Mucarsel-Powell?
CLERK: Ms. Mucarsel-Powell votes no. Ms. Escobar?
CLERK: Ms. Escobar votes no. Mr. Collins?
CLERK: Mr. Collins votes aye. Mr. Sensenbrenner?
CLERK: Mr. Sensenbrenner votes aye. Mr. Chabot?
CLERK: Mr. Chabot votes aye. Mr. Gohmert?
GOHMERT: I'm going with aye.
CLERK: Mr. Gohmert votes aye. Mr. Jordan?
CLERK: Mr. Jordan votes yes. Mr. Buck?
CLERK: Mr. Buck votes aye. Mr. Ratcliffe?
CLERK: Mr. Ratcliffe votes yes. Ms. Roby?
CLERK: Ms. Roby votes aye. Mr. Gaetz?
CLERK: Mr. Gaetz votes aye. Mr. Johnson of Louisiana?
M. JOHNSON: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Johnson of Louisiana votes aye. Mr. Biggs?
CLERK: Mr. Biggs votes aye. Mr. McClintock?
CLERK: Mr. McClintock votes aye. Ms. Lesko?
CLERK: Ms. Lesko votes aye. Mr. Reschenthaler?
CLERK: Mr. Reschenthaler votes aye. Mr. Cline?
CLERK: Mr. Cline votes aye. Mr. Armstrong?
CLERK: Mr. Armstrong votes yes. Mr. Steube?
CLERK: Mr. Steube votes yes.
NADLER: Has every member voted who wishes to vote? The clerk will report.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, there are 17 ayes and 23 nos.
NADLER: The amendment is not agreed to.
Are there any further amendments to the amendment in the nature of a substitute?
JORDAN: Mr. Chairman? NADLER: For what purpose does Mr. Jordan seek recognition?
JORDAN: I have an amendment at the desk.
(UNKNOWN): I reserve a point of order.
NADLER: The gentlelady reserves a point of order. The clerk will report the amendment.
(UNKNOWN): Amendment to the amendment in the nature of a substitute H.Res. 755 offered by Mr. Jordan of Ohio Page 4, strike Line 23 and all that follows through Page 5, Line 5; Page 8, strike Lines 10 through 17.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized for the purpose of explaining his amendment.
(UNKNOWN): I withdraw my point of order.
NADLER: The point of order is withdrawn.
JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This simply -- this simply strikes the last eight lines in Article 1 and in then the last eight lines in Article 2.
Look, you have a rigged and rushed process when you don't have the facts on your side. We've been through these facts many times. Ukraine didn't know aid was held up at the time of the call, but the Democrats assert that President Trump was pressuring Zelensky on the call to investigate the Bidens in order to get the aid that he didn't even know was on hold. That's their argument.
And oh, by the way, down the road, President Zelensky says there was no pressure on the call. No pushing, no linkage, whatsoever. But you have a rigged and rushed process when you don't have the facts. You have a rigged and rush process when you can't accept the will of the American people.
Speaker of the House Pelosi -- Nancy Pelosi called the President an impostor just three weeks ago. The Democrats have never accepted the will of the American people and that's why they've been out to get this President since even before he was elected.
And of course, you have a rigged in rushed process when you're afraid that you can't beat the President at the ballot box. When you're nervous about next fall's election, you have this kind of process: A rigged and rushed process. This is not about the concern. This is not really about the concern Mr. Swalwell talked about earlier, the concern that somehow the President is going to do something wrong and try to influence the election.
No, no. This is about they're concerned that they can't -- they can't win next year based on what the President has accomplished in the past three years. I mean, it's an amazing record in spite of the Democrats being completely against the President, in spite of the mainstream press being against the President. Frankly, in spite of a few Republicans being against the President, it's amazing what's been accomplished.
Taxes have been. Cut regulations reduced. The economy growing at an unbelievable rate. Lowest unemployment in 50 years with 266,000 jobs added last month alone; 54,000 in the manufacturing sector.
Mr. Gorsuch and Mr. Kavanaugh on the court, a lot of other Federal judges confirmed. Out of the Iran deal. Embassy in Jerusalem. Hostages home from North Korea. A new NAFTA agreement is going to be voted on next week.
Yes, you guys -- you guys are -- it's a rigged rush process because you're nervous about next November. Mr. Greene says, we have to impeach him because he's going to win the election. We know what this is about.
Now, think about this President. Think about it. This is why the American people like him so much it is because he is doing what he said he would do and my -- in every Presidential election, I've been able to participate in, both candidates, Republican and Democratic candidate, when they campaign for the job, they tell -- they tell the country, if you elect me, I'm going to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
Republicans, Democrats, they all campaign on it, then they get elected. They come up with a million reasons why they can do what they said they were going to do, more importantly, what the American people elected him to do and they never get it done.
But this President said, nope, I'm going to do it. Even though the same people, the same interagency consensus that we've heard so much about over the last three months in this Impeachment Inquiry, even though that same interagency consensus was probably against him on that move. This President said, I'm going to do it and it's been a good thing.
And that's what the American people appreciate. That's why we got this rigged and rushed process because it's really about next November. They're all afraid. Some of their colleagues have said it straight up. They're all afraid that they can't beat him at the ballot box, so they're going to do this rigged, rushed and wrong impeachment process.
So I would urge a yes vote on the amendment. I would yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman.
GOHMERT: Well, I just wanted to ask the gentleman from Ohio a question. Based on the standards the Democrats are asserting here, if somebody is in the House or Senate running for President and they support or push impeachment of the President, would they be subject to being expelled for abusing their position? Just curious.
JORDAN: I think I'll let my colleague answer that question. But what I do know is, I think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are, as I said, nervous about their prospects next November against President Trump based on his amazing record of leadership in the last three years. With that, I would yield to -- I would yield back. Thank you.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. I will recognize myself to speak in opposition to the amendment.
I think that the facts amply demonstrate the charges in these two Articles of Impeachment, namely, that the President put his own interests in front of the interests of the country; that he sought to use the power of the presidency to withhold aid -- military aid from an ally, and to extort that ally into making an announcement of a bogus investigation of a political opponent of his for his own personal benefit, and that he obstructed Congress by refusing all cooperation and instructing the Executive Branch not to cooperate with Congress in the executive -- in the Impeachment Inquiry.
This amendment -- this amendment simply takes the last two paragraphs out of each article. It takes the paragraph that says, wherefore the President should be impeached. It renders the two Articles simply a catalogue of various bad acts by the President, but takes the force and effect of the articles entirely away.
It is silly. If you believe that the President is guilty of what the Article is charging with, you should vote for the Articles of Impeachment. If you believe he is not, you should vote against the Articles of Impeachment, but this -- but to try to have this amendment, it simply renders the Articles -- catalogues of bad acts and takes out the effective sentences is silly. So I urge a no vote on this amendment.
And then I will then urge of course, that we adapt the Articles of Impeachment. I yield back the balance of my time.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chair?
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chair?
NADLER: For what purposes does Mr. Collins seek recognition?
COLLINS: Move to strike last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
COLLINS: I think it's really interesting that -- how you just described this because you know, really, this is what we've seen this entire time. The facts here is really all that you have. You just keep throwing around these bad facts that you don't lie.
And it's interesting to me also that the catalogue -- and you finally got to it. You took -- it took a little bit to get there, but the catalogue of bad acts that you don't like. And this simply takes away the punishment if you wonder what the actual end result will be.
It should not surprise anyone here though, because this is what the Democratic Party and majority have done all year. In fact, they did it one time on the floor of the House when the Speaker of the House broke the rules of the House on the floor and instead of owning up to breaking the rules of decorum on the floor, she had everybody come back down on the majority side and vote to restore her right to speak even though she blatantly broke the rules.
So don't give me this high and mighty oh, we're taking away the rules. We're just having a list of ideas here. That's what we've been doing all year.
I told the audience just the other day, I told the group just the other day that you can always judge many things by what you spend time on and what you spend money on. Spend time on, spend money on. I've said already that this is an impeachment of clocking calendar and I believe that to be true because we're seeing it tonight. We're seeing it in this whole process: Three hearings, two hearings, I'm sorry, two hearings and a markup. That's all we're doing here.
The rubber stamp in this Committee is out. So it's a time issue because they've been told and I understand this is -- the leadership wants this to happen. This is why it's happening. They've got no choice. I feel for the Chairman in that regard, because he doesn't have a choice in this.
The Speaker and others have told him this is what's going to happen and we see how it's playing out. But he goes back even further at the first of the year. This is a time and money issue. This is a calendar and clock issue, because the Committees, the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee decided early on to spend money to bring outside help in to prepare for tonight.
They didn't know exactly it was going to be like this in January or November or in December when they did hire that extra help to come in. But they knew they were going to get to it somehow. They just didn't know how and they kept waiting and they kept waiting, so they hired extra outside counsel.
They did it on the Intelligence Committee, and they wanted it because all they were going to do is investigate the President -- and they did. The only thing I can say on that part is, congratulations, they finally made it to what they've always wanted to do. And that's what we're seeing right here.
But to describe this tonight and describe it, as it was just described is simply taking away the punishment and just listing a lot of bad acts. I could do that about this majority all year in these committees and these investigations.
We have had more hearings in which they got to basically scream at administration witnesses, but yet offer no solutions. It is mind boggling. It's dehumanizing as one of my colleagues said, and I called them about it when we're talking about immigration.
Now, today, to again come before this Committee to take all of this and never have a fact when it's -- I think it was really interesting what mister -- my friend from Florida said, it is actually, there is a purpose to see people witness even if they've testified before to see how they would actually answer questions.
And in this committee, that would have been a good thing, but we don't have that. But to say with a straight face and I appreciate this, to say, well, at the end of the day, all we're doing here is taking away the punishment because you have a list of bad actions, when the majority have done that all year, and especially the classic case of the Speaker on the floor of the House, breaking the law of the rules of the floor, and then having the majority come down and restore her rights, just simply because they didn't like the fact that she had broken the rules.
You see this is -- this is where we're at. It's a -- it's a money and time issue. It would be nice if it was high and noble. It would have been nice if it was for -- except for all of the crimes that they've talked about -- extortion, bribery, honest service fraud -- it would have been nice if they could have found actual facts enough to put that into an Article. They couldn't. They won't.
Why? Because they can't. Maybe it's because also they're having trouble explaining those because they couldn't poll test it. It wasn't good enough. And also they got members who needed to go back to their districts to say, oh, my, I was forced to do this. But really the President is a bad guy and this was an abuse of power.
Again, say it long enough, somebody might believe it. But this is where we're at. And it's really interesting, again, from obstruction of Congress to watch this Congress, this majority work is just truly, truly amazing.
And to say this with no facts put together, abuse of power, obstruction of Congress, this is all they've got. It's all they have to make this as it is. Good luck. That dog ain't hunting anymore. Nobody is. It just ain't working. With that, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
LESKO: Mr. Chair?
NADLER: Anyone else seek recognition?
LESKO: Mr. Chair?
NADLER: For what purpose does Ms. Lesko seek recognition?
LESKO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I think it's an appropriate time, or I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentlelady is recognized.
LESKO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I think it's an appropriate time to remind you again of your own words that were stated just a few months ago last year.
During an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on November 26th, 2018, Chairman Nadler outlined a three-prong test that he said would allow for a legitimate impeachment proceeding.
And now I quote Chairman Nadler's remarks, "There really are three questions, I think. First, has the President committed impeachable offenses? Second, do those offenses rise to the gravity that's worth putting the country through the drama of impeachment? And number three, because you don't want to tear the country apart, you don't want half of the country to say to the other half, for the next 30 years, we won the election. You stole it from us. You have to be able to think at the beginning of the impeachment process that the evidence is so clear of offenses so grave that once you've laid out all the evidence, a good fraction of that position, voters will reluctantly admit to themselves they had to do it. Otherwise you have a partisan impeachment, which will tear the country apart."
"If you meet these three tests that I asked, then I think you'd do the impeachment." Now, let's see, if Chairman Nadler's there's three-prong test has been met.
First, has the President committed an impeachable offense? No. There has been no witness, no Democratic witness, fact-witness that can prove that fact.
Second, do those offenses rise to the gravity that's worth putting the country through the drama of impeachment? Absolutely not.
And third, have the Democrats laid out a case so clear that even the opposition has to agree? No.
You and House Democrat leadership are tearing the country apart. You said the evidence needs to be clear. It is not. You said offenses need to be grave. They are not. You said that once the evidence is laid out that the opposition will admit they had to do it. Well, that hasn't happened.
In fact, polling and the fact that not one single Republican voted on the Impeachment Inquiry resolution or the Schiff report, and I doubt that one single Republican will vote on these Articles of Impeachment tonight or on the floor of the House of Representatives reveals that the opposite is in fact true.
In fact, what you and your Democratic colleagues have done is the opposite of what you said had to be done. This is a partisan impeachment, and it is tearing the country apart. And with that, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back. Does anyone else seek recognition?
M. JOHNSON: Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman, I seek recognition.
NADLER: For what purpose does Mr. Johnson seek recognition?
M. JOHNSON: Strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized. M. JOHNSON: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I am just rising to speak in support of this amendment for Mr. Jordan and I think it's really appropriate. I don't think we're asking for anything extraordinary here because I'm reading this resolution as it's drafted and the language just jumps off the page.
I mean, this is -- this is really personal. The lines that he is seeking to strike with this amendment should be struck. I mean, the vitriol, the hatred just drips from the pleading here.
I mean, it sounds like it came right out of the Peter Strzok-Lisa Page exchanges. The vitriol, the hatred for Donald Trump. Listen to what it says right here. This is right here on the page, the lines we want to strike it says, in part, President Trump warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor or trust or profit under the United States.
I mean, look, they don't just want to remove him from the Oval Office, OK? They want to crush him. They want to destroy Donald Trump. They want to banish him from the marketplace. I mean it just so over the top. It's so over the top.
Professor Turley is again, the only witness -- I'd remind everybody, he is the only witness that we've been allowed in the Judiciary Committee, the Committee that has appropriate jurisdiction over this issue. We got one witness in the process, and he was not a Donald Trump supporter. He came in famously and said, I don't even -- I didn't vote for him, I don't support him. But I came to give objective analysis because my allegiance is to the Constitution. That's what Professor Turley said.
You know, what he got for that objective analysis that he delivered to this committee so well, so articulately? He got death threats. He had to publish an op-ed a few days later explaining that there was this outcry call for him to be removed from his teaching position at his university's law school. Death threats because he gave an objective view of the Constitution.
The vitriol. The DEF CON level -- the political DEF CON scale is at one right now and it's so crazy and it's because of language like this in the resolution that is pushing this.
But I'll tell you what? Professor Turley said a couple of excerpts in his summary of all this, he said, quote, "As I have stressed ..." this is in his written report that he submitted to us. "As I have stressed, it is possible to establish a case for impeachment based on non- criminal allegation of abuse of power." Right. But although criminality is not required in such a case, clarity is necessary. That comes from a complete and comprehensive record that eliminates exculpatory motivations or explanations.
The problem is that this is an exceptionally narrow impeachment resting on the thinnest possible evidentiary record. Even under the most flexible English impeachment model, there remained an expectation that impeachments couldn't be used -- couldn't be based on presumption or speculation on key elements if the underlying allegation could not -- could be non-criminal.
The early English impeachments followed a format similar to a criminal trial, including calling of witnesses and all the rest. He said, the history of American Presidential impeachment shows restraint, even when there are substantive complaints against the conduct of Presidents.
Indeed, some of our greatest Presidents could have been impeached for acts in direct violation of their constitutional oath of office, but it didn't happen because cooler heads prevailed in the Congress.
This misuse, Professor Charlie continues, "This misuse of impeachment has been playing during the Trump administration. Members have called for removal based on a myriad of objections against this President. Representative Al Green of Texas filed a resolution in the House for Impeachment after Trump called for players kneeling during the National Anthem to be fired."
I mean, come on. You don't like his political positions, great. But you can't impeach a President because you don't like him. That's not how this system works. We're in a constitutional republic. There are rules here. There are standards. You don't get to make that decision. The voters in this country do and we have an election coming up in about 11 months. Let the people decide. Don't put yourselves in their place. You don't have the right to do it.
You're not following the proper procedure. You're not doing this the right way. It's a rarely used constitutional device in our history. It's supposed to be. Professor Turley ended this way and I will, too. He said, quote, "Despite my disagreement with many of President Trump's policies and statements, impeachment was never intended to be used as a midterm corrective option for a divisive or unpopular leader," unquote.
Look, we get it, you don't like him. That doesn't mean you can banish him from the marketplace. You can't send him out of his businesses and say he can't hold a position of honor or trust. You don't get the right to do that. The people of this country do. We live in a republic. I'm just sick of this. I yield back.
I don't yield back. I yield to the gentleman, Mr. Jordan, he wants time. He has got 30 seconds.
JORDAN: Thirty seconds. Thank you. Look, in 2016 the Democrats had the insurance policy. Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. That was their deal in 2016 in the F.B.I. 2020, it's impeachment. 2020 they're going to use impeachment. Insurance policy didn't work in 2016. Impeachment is not going to work in 2020 because the American people appreciate what this President is getting done on their behalf. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
NADLER: Anyone else seek recognition?
NADLER: Mister -- for what purpose does Mr. Gohmert seek recognition?
GOHMERT: Strike the last words. Strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman -- the gentleman is recognized.
GOHMERT: Thank you. It truly is amazing. We've heard over and over that this was all about the Bidens, it's all about getting information on a Presidential candidate, the Bidens, but if you look at what the President said, he is talking about, you know, we've been through this country -- our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.
I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike. It's news to me, but my Democratic friends will know better. I didn't know Biden was involved with CrowdStrike. I didn't know he was involved with the D.N.C. server being hacked.
I didn't know that was all part of his thing. But that's what the President is asking about because there had been information that there were some people in Ukraine that knew something about that and that's what he is asking about.
So I appreciate the revelation from our friends across the aisle. Biden was in the middle of all that. And then, so I guess, you have one of your wealthy people, the server, they say, Ukraine has it. Again, I didn't know Biden was all in up to eyeballs in that, but there are a lot of things that went on the whole situation.
And I'm thinking you're surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you and your people so I can get to the bottom of it. So that was the whole thing about the 2015-2016 election.
But according to our friends, Biden was in the middle of all of this mess. So, anyway, it's interesting, but my friend from Ohio has a brilliant amendment. They say it's not personal that this isn't just about an election, that this is trying to undo the unfairness of the prior election, even though it turns out, there was no Russia collusion.
And it sounds like that there was despite what the media is saying that we know the Ukrainian Ambassador came out lambasting Trump. Clearly, that would not have been done without official OK. They were all in for Hillary Clinton that's why it was reported that they were figuring after the election that Trump won, maybe we'd better try to warm up to Trump.
But there's been so much made of the fact that President Trump did not ask the former corrupt administration for help in rooting out corruption. That is just almost unfathomable that that point would continue to be made all day today. In 2019, you had the election of a man in Ukraine, Zelensky that said he was going to fight corruption and President Trump heard from our own people. We think he's sincere. We really think he's going to try to fight corruption.
So of course, this is the first time that he talks to a Ukrainian leader because he knew he couldn't trust the other ones. They were supporting Hillary Clinton, they were corrupt. Why would he talk to them about helping root out the corruption?
So to say this was all about Biden? For heaven's sake, that's ridiculous. But my friend from Ohio's amendment puts our friends to the task. Is it really about trying to correct what you say was an unfair election, which we know now from the Horowitz report, it was unfair, but it was from the Democratic side, from the Trump hater side?
So if that's really the case, then let's just strike the part that says he can't ever run for office again and be reelected again. Right? Wouldn't that help some of your vulnerable Democrats if you made it more reasonable like that? Or do you want to continue to persist in making it so personal that it is walk off the plank time for anybody that wants to try to be reasonable about what's going on here?
So we will see, but it's a good amendment. I would encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Help some of your own people out. Vote for Mr. Jordan's amendment. You'll be better off. The country would be better off because I feel sure he will be reelected, and the scary part for me though is that bar has been set so low. I am really afraid no matter what party is in the White House, if there's an opposing party in Congress, they're going to use this tactic to try to take them down.
One silver lining, though, it's been hard to know who all the Deep State people are, especially in the State Department. By our friends going through this, we now know who the people are that don't want the swamp drained. And we can deal with that. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. I now recognize myself.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: I recognize myself.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: Oh I'm sorry, I recognize -- for what purpose does Mr. Swalwell seek recognition?
SWALWELL: I yield to the Chairman.
NADLER: Thank you.
Impeachment was put into the Constitution because the framers recognized that a President might arise who posed such a threat to the country, to our democratic system, to our free elections, that we couldn't wait till the next election to cure it. That's why impeachment was put in to the Constitution.
Let's look at now -- we've heard a lot of very distracting facts about what Hunter Biden may or may not have done about all kinds of things, about what our members may have said three, four years ago. All of that is irrelevant. What's relevant is that President -- is that there are ample facts that demonstrate that President Trump put his personal interests above the interests of the country, its citizens and the Constitution.
This is the highest of constitutional crimes and abuse of power. Abuse of power is the preeminent crime which the framers even in the Federalist Papers thought about as high crimes and misdemeanors for the Constitution -- for the purpose of impeachment.
In President Trump's abuse of power, he did it in two ways. Number one, he endangered our free elections by inviting foreign powers to interfere to influence our elections twice. He invited the Russians in 2016. Remember, if the Russians, if you're listening, please, find the e-mails. That was a direct solicitation and in fact, they tried to hack into the e-mails of the Democrats that very night. And then he tried to cover it up.
And then for 2020, he invited in the Ukraine -- he asked the Ukrainians to announce a bogus investigation of the person he perceived as his major political opponent in the 2020 election and he has basically admitted, Mick Mulvaney said we did it. The President is on the transcript, it shows very clearly that he did it.
The circumstances of the withheld aid shows very clearly it was a quid pro quo. Yes, we know that eventually the aid was released and he said -- the President said there was no quid pro quo, both of those things happened after he was caught and it was public.
Obviously, the bank robber caught in the act afterwards says, I didn't mean to rob the bank, but he was in fact, caught in the act. He tried to cover it up again. He obstructed Congress by directing the entire administration, everybody in the Executive Branch, do not answer any questions. Do not testify. Do not give any documents.
Fundamentally different from what other Presidents have done on occasion, which is to oppose certain subpoenas on grounds of privilege. He didn't assert any privilege. He just said nobody should cooperate. I will decide whether it's a valid Impeachment Inquiry. I will take the function of Congress to myself, because I don't recognize Congress is right. That is a threat to the separation of powers and a threat to our liberty.
It's nowhere the members of minority speak about every other subject, but hardly bother to defend -- to dispute the facts of the case, which are clear. That's why we've heard so much today with distracting and irrelevant issues.
Even I would say other things. It is clear that is an abuse of power for the President or any Member of Congress for that matter, to condition official actions on their own personal gain. And I was startled. I was -- I was startled to hear Mr. Ratcliffe say, I was impressed by his honesty, but I was startled to hear him say that it is OK for a President to invite foreign interference in our elections. It is OK for a President to cheat and try to rig the election.
The urgency of this impeachment, the reason why we cannot wait for the next election is that the President has tried to rig the last election and this one, too, and he is repeating it. He goes out in the White House lawn and he says, China, why don't you come in and try to rig the election.
He had Mr. Giuliani in the Ukraine this past week trying to enlist assistance to rig the election. So the President must be impeached to safeguard the security of our elections and to safeguard the separation of powers, both of which are essential to safeguard our liberties.
I thank the gentleman for yielding. I yield my time back to him.
RATCLIFFE: Mr. Chairman, since I've been referenced, may I respond?
SWALWELL: I do not yield my time.
NADLER: It is Mr. Swalwell's time. It is Mr. Swalwell's time.
SWALWELL: I do not yield. And I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
RATCLIFFE: You don't want to correct the false statement?
NADLER: He yields back. Who else seeks recognition?
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman?
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: I move -- Mr. Sensenbrenner? For what purpose does Mr. Sensenbrenner seek to be recognized?
SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
SENSENBRENNER: I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
RATCLIFFE: I appreciate my colleague yielding to correct the record where the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee just made a false statement and said that I said that it was OK to solicit foreign interference in an election. I never used the word interference.
NADLER: OK. RATCLIFFE: I said foreign involvement in investigations, and I used it as an example for that, the Obama administration. Just a few hours ago, you may not remember.
I can't believe we're sitting here at the end of this, an Impeachment Inquiry in the House of Representatives and I look at how all of this started. It started with a phone call, a congratulatory phone call between two Presidents.
And the very next day someone contacted someone and a week later, someone walked into the office of Chairman Schiff, and that person walked out a week later, a whistleblower who went to the Inspector General and filed a complaint where they falsely claimed that President Trump had made a demand of President Zelensky.
They made a false statement in writing and then they made a false statement verbally in the course of what should have been an investigation. We sit here today about to vote on impeaching a President, where neither the House Judiciary Committee, the House Intelligence Committee nor any House Committee, where the Democrats are in charge has asked a single question of a single witness about how this started because you go back to that phone call.
And the two people that were on it, the only two people that know not just what they said, but what they meant when they said it. And they both said it was a great call.
So first, let me say I'm sorry. Let me say I'm sorry to the President of Ukraine. I'm sorry, that as a result of all of this, you've been labeled a pathological liar by my Democratic colleagues. And I'm sorry that they pretend to care about the Ukraine, but they've just made it incredibly hard and more difficult for your country ever to get military assistance.
I'm also sorry, to the other person that was on that call, who knew what he said when he meant it? President Trump. I'm sorry, President Trump that you've tried to keep every promise. You've given us a great economy and you did it against incredible headwinds where you were falsely accused of treason. You were accused of being a Russian agent by the folks in this room.
And when that failed, we sit here today because now they're framing you, because you said, I'd like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot.
My last apology is to the American people. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you've had to view this spectacle. I'm sorry, to the 63 million of you that are so deplorable that as a result of this, you're being told your votes don't count. I yield back.
SENSENBRENNER: I yield back as well.
NADLER: The gentlemen yields back. Does anyone else see recognition on this amendment?
[19:50:00] RESCHENTHALER: Mr. Chairman, I seek recognition?
NADLER: What purpose does Mr. Reschenthaler seek recognition?
RESCHENTHALER: Strike the last word, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
RESCHENTHALER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We've been here a while and I do want it to be noted that you have several other amendments for tonight, but speaking on this amendment. I am speaking in support of my colleague, Jim Jordan's amendment, but I think that we are getting way too caught up in the weeds in particular.
So we've got to just zoom out and think about why we're here. We're here because the Democrats, again, are terrified that the President is going to win reelection. Let's just go through a list of his accomplishments.
Donald Trump signed the largest scale criminal justice reform legislation in decades -- in decades. And I should add, if it weren't for this waste of time with impeachment, we could be working on more bipartisan criminal justice reform. Particularly, I have a criminal justice bill called Clean Slate that would expunge non-violent felony offenses for hundreds of thousands of individuals, Lisa Blunt Rochester is working with me on that. She is a Democrat, as you know. But anyhow, I digress again.
Donald Trump is also ensuring our warfighters can be warfighters. As a defense attorney in the Navy, I actually defended a Navy SEAL who was falsely accused of covering up abuse on a well-known terrorist. And I can tell you that when our war fighters are dragged into the Court Martial process, they have to constantly then second guess themselves on the battlefield.
And finally, we have a President that is recognizing that warfighters should be warfighters, and they should be focused on capturing and killing targets, not worrying about wrongful prosecutions back at home.
Additionally, the President has placed two conservative justices on the Supreme Court who will uphold the Constitution. Additionally, under this administration, we are seeing a natural gas renaissance. Just come to Western Pennsylvania and just see how the economy is roaring because we're finally taking advantage of the natural resources we have and we can use this natural gas for energy. We can use it for manufacturing. We can use it for petrochemicals. It is fantastic that we're finally taking advantage of the natural resources we have.
Additionally, this President has done a lot for manufacturing, particularly the steel industry, which is coming back and again, just come to Western Pennsylvania, where steel manufacturing is coming back.
Donald Trump is also investing and focused in our border security and building a wall. Under this President's leadership, we are enhancing our national security and going after terrorists and others who wish to do us harm.
But again, we're here because the Democrats don't want to talk about the red hot Trump economy. They don't want to talk about the lowest unemployment rates in 50 years.
We're here because Democrats don't want to talk about how President Trump has finally held China accountable for currency manipulation, for dumping steel and aluminum in American markets. Someone is finally holding China accountable for IP theft and forced IP transfers. That's President Trump who is doing that.
President Trump has also renegotiated trade deals to benefit American workers and farmers. We should have passed you USMCA months ago, months ago. But again, we haven't done it because we're dealing with impeachment.
The President has also worked on free trade agreements with Japan. He has worked on Free Trade Agreements across South America. President Trump has also reduce regulations. You know, there's only one way to -- there's only one way to increase revenue and that's to increase GDP.
There's only two ways to increase GDP. You either cut taxes or you reduce regulations. You can do both. But this President supports both. That's why you have such a strong economy.
But again, the Democrats don't want to talk about this. So instead, we're talking about impeachment because it distracts from their real agenda, which includes such ludicrous ideas as banning airplanes, giving illegal immigrant taxpayer funded health care, abolishing or defunding ICE, banning fracking, banning fossil fuels. Good luck making a cell phone without petrochemicals.
They also don't want to talk about taking private health care away from American citizens. So again, that's really why we're here. This whole process is a distraction, it is an attempt to hide a radical, far left agenda. It's also an attempt to hide the facts.
Again, the facts indicate that there was no quid pro quo and there was no obstruction of Congress. With that, I yield.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what purpose does Mr. Cicilline seek recognition?
CICILLINE: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
CICILLINE: It seems important to remind my Republican colleagues why we are here. Well, of course we have policy disagreements with the President. This is not about a policy disagreement. This is about an obligation we have to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
We all began our term of office by raising our right hand and promising to protect and defend the Constitution. And we're here because the President of the United States engaged in a scheme to drag a foreign power into our elections, to corrupt our elections for his own personal benefit and he used hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to attempt to achieve that objective.
And think about this, there is nothing more sacred than protecting the rights of free and fair elections in this country. It's the heart and soul of our democracy.
The President of the United States reached out to a foreign power and attempted to drag them into corrupting our elections to help him cheat and win in the election in 2020. And so when my Republican colleagues say people are worried about the election, we are worried. But the person who is really worried about the outcome is clearly President Trump because he is reaching out to a foreign power asking them to help him cheat in the 2020 election.
And we have a solemn responsibility to stand up and to protect our democracy and prevent this President or any President for attempting to corrupt our elections. And so if we don't do that, if we allow President Trump to get away with trying to cheat in 2020, and particularly in light of what he did in 2016, we won't have a democracy. We will have a king or a monarch.
The American people will lose their voice and their right to self- determination and to elect their own leaders. And so, you know, my Republican colleagues should remember that Trump administration officials, many of them saw this scheme and became very alarmed.
The President's own Ambassador, Mr. Bolton. Ambassador Bolton called it a drug deal. Dr. Fiona Hill and other Trump administration official called it a domestic political errand.
The investigation began by the Intelligence Committee, 17 witnesses, a hundred hours of testimony, 260 text messages examined, transcripts of the President's own words on the call, e-mails exchanged between high- level Trump officials and we know the direct evidence. The President put the three amigos: Ambassador Sondland, Perry Volker in charge of this.
The President refused to have a meeting or to release the funds that were put on hold until a public announcement of a bogus investigation against his chief political rival.
He told the Vice President, don't go to the inauguration. He spoke to Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland testified, it was a quid pro quo. The President hired his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani to lead this effort.
He smeared Ambassador Yovanovitch and then fired her because she stood in the way. She was an anti-corruption champion and she stood in the way of the President's scheme and the President and those acting on his behalf demanded that Zelensky -- President Zelensky publicly announce the investigation of his chief political rival.
And it should be remembered, the American people should know that President Zelensky -- the evidence is filled with examples of Trump administration officials who say things like President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington's domestic reelection politics.
That Ambassador Taylor has a call with Ambassador Sondland saying, during our call, Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check and that I argued to both Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Taylor that Donald Trump isn't owed anything by the Ukrainians.
And I quote, " ... and holding up security as citizens for domestic political gain is crazy." And so there's tremendous evidence in the record. The President of the United States attempted to leverage foreign military assistance to Ukraine to drag a foreign power to corrupt our elections and allow him to cheat in 2020. We can't allow this to happen.
If we don't hold this President accountable and move forward with impeaching, we can have every confidence the President will continue to do this. He is continuing to do it.
Rudy Giuliani was in Ukraine last week. This is a crime in progress. Either we're going to do something about it and protect the rights of the American people to decide their own future and elect their own President, we're going to let some foreign power. You know who has the right to let the American President? The citizens of this country and no one else. Men and women have died on the battlefield to protect our democracy. The least we could do is show the courage to stand up tonight and --