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THE SITUATION ROOM
The House Proceeds with Articles of Impeachment. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 12, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Is there anybody here who believes that this president has faithfully executed the law and faithfully executed the duties, the sacred trust that has been put in his hands and on his shoulder? He's supposed to faithfully execute the law, not ignore it, not abuse it and not forget it.
President is supposed to be motivated by public interest, public interest, the interest of the people. But rather then remembering that or caring about that, I'm not really sure he ever really did, the president chose to try to coerce a foreign power, a newly-elected young president that we all were excited about, an anticorruption president. President tried to coerce him into interfering in the 2020 elections.
The things that I have heard today about vice president's child, things I've heard about the vice president's son when we have millions of people in this country who are suffering from addiction. I just believe to protect this president at any cost is shameful.
Article 2 in the Nixon impeachment said this: The article principally addressed President Nixon's use of power, including powers vested solely in the president, to aid his political allies, harm his political opponents and gain improper personal political advantages. In explaining this article of impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee then stated that President Nixon's conduct was undertaken for his personal political advantage, and not in the furtherance of any valid national policy objective. The president abused his power.
And to me, and at least the members on this side of the dias, that matters.
And with that, I yield the remaining time to Mr. Richmond from Louisiana.
RICHMOND: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Very quickly, I just want to remind people that when -- the people watching, that when you look at the credibility of a testimony and weighing the evidence you can look at other things. So I want to enter into the record unanimous consent the Guardian article, "Roger Stone, the -- Michael Cohen: The Men in Trump's Orbit Implicated in Crimes."
NADLER: Without objection. RICHMOND: CNN Politics, "Six Trump Associated -- Trump Associates Have Been Convicted In Mueller-Related Investigation."
RICHMOND: In honor of my wife's grandmother, who said, "Birds of a feather flock together."
RICHMOND: And then also, president Trump has made 13,435 false or misleading claims over 900 (inaudible) days.
(UNKNOWN): My friend's time's expired.
NADLER: Without objection, and the gentleman's time is expired.
I -- for purposes do the (inaudible) Ms. Jackson Lee seek recognition?
JACKSON LEE: To strike the last word.
NADLER: Gentlelady's recognized.
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman, thank you, and I -- I wanted to speak first to the underlying amendment that calls for the acknowledgment that the aid was released. In the article, first article, I believe. And I want to again recount not only the July 25th call, where previously I've indicated the president's language "I will ask -- would like you to do us a favor, though," that that was not tied to the -- "us" representing the entity of a public representation, which would be the United States of America, established foreign policy by the secretary of state, established foreign policy by the secretary of defense. And that is because, of course, the secretary of defense and state had already certified that Ukraine was working to graduate -- to -- working to ensure the end of corruption that had met the standards that were required for funding.
The other thing is that when Lieutenant Colonel Vindman thought that the words that he heard were appalling, and seemed to him to be inappropriate for a call to the president, as relates to a question
tying the military aid to investigation of Biden and others, sons and others, not official policy, he immediately gave it to the NSC counsel, John Eisenberg. John Eisenberg took the information, and then ultimately, put it in a separate coded filing and asked that the lieutenant colonel not say anything about it.
That is unusual, because you would think that if it was normal business, if it had to do with standard U.S. foreign policy, it'd be OK to talk about that call. But they knew a major mistake had been made. They knew that the president had offered to give military aid if he got an investigation against his political rival, and his political rival happened to be Joe Biden, and he knew that that was, in fact, conspicuously using public office and public money for public and private desires.
Let me also say that our friends talk about the courts. We have not shied away from the courts. In fact, Judge Howell, regarding the 6(e) grand jury materials, specifically said, "There is an impeachment inquiry. You can't stand in the way, Mr. President." Judge Jackson indicated in her decision that the president was not a king.
And so we're here to talk about, not as a mother, someone's child who may have some concerns like every American's child may have, which I am saddened that those personal matters were raised. We're here to talk about the abuse of this president and the obstruction of Congress, another amendment that we voted against. Because in Rodino's statement during the Nixon proceedings, he made it very clear to President Nixon regarding his failure to comply with subpoenas issued pursuant to the Watergate impeachment inquiry. And the Constitution reinforces the fact that we have the sole power of impeachment. And the underlying decisions of the two court decisions I mentioned was that we were in an impeachment inquiry. And as a reminder to my colleagues, this committee ultimately approved an article of impeachment against Richard Nixon on the obstruction of Congress matter, and wanted to clear up and bring some more points on that -- and it was clear that it was a case where the president could not dictate to the House impeachment inquiry what he was refusing to give or not.
This is where my friends steer off the rails, they refuse to acknowledge the facts of the case -- the president took public money with a public intent -- with a private intent to use those monies to deny Mr. Zelensky who was going to go ahead and announce investigations on CNN, but was stopped in his tracks when the whistleblower's letter, or statement was released it was out the bag (ph) that the president had done this on the July 25 call.
Let's be clear, this is about facts and the Constitution. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back. For what purpose does Ms. McBath seek recognition?
MCBATH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ladies and gentlemen, I have been sitting here all --
NADLER: Does the gentlelady strike the last words?
MCBATH: Yes, excuse me -- I move to strike the last word --
NADLER: Gentlelady is recognized.
MCBATH: I've been anxiously sitting here all day long, and I just want to be able to say this to the American people before our day ends today. My colleagues and I have been explaining the evidence that we've heard, we've been talking about all the documents and heard from so many witnesses along the way.
And as we have upholding our constitutional obligation to defend the Constitution, some today have argued that we have not upheld our constitutional obligation to legislate, to solve problems, and that all we want to do is impeach the president of the United States.
And I truly want to assure the American people, and to give you hope that this is not true. I want to make sure that we set the record straight so that you know that we have been working on your behalf, and despite what many people in this country think, Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time.
This Congress has been working very, very hard on behalf of the American people in spite of everything that's happening with this impeachment. This very day a bill -- we passed a bill that lowers the cost of prescription drugs for
hundreds of millions of Americans, H.R. 3. It will save our taxpayers over $456 billion over the next decade, and allow for the expansion of Medicare coverage including hearing, dental and vision benefits.
Just this week we achieved monumental changes to the U.S., Mexico, Canada trade agreement -- yes, we've been waiting a very long time for that. This agreement is huge -- it's a huge one for our families, our workers, and business owners in every district across the United States.
And we continue to work to make sure that we stay competitive in a global environment. Yesterday we voted to support the NDAA, legislation that will keep our country safe and will give a raise to our service members, and includes important reforms like paid parental leave for all federal employees and repealing the Whittles tax (ph).
And even on this Committee we've worked together. This week my Republican colleague, Congressman Reschenthaler, and I were among a bipartisan group of lawmakers who introduced legislation that would end online child exploitation. Since we've been sitting in this room today a deal has been forged by our colleagues to fund our government, and avoid another shutdown.
Throughout this investigation my colleagues and I have been fulfilling our duties as members of Congress -- do not be deceived. We have been working on the American public's behalf, every single day in spite of the tragedy that we're in now with this impeachment.
This Congress, the House of Representatives -- we have passed over 275 bills -- 275 bills and we are defending our democracy and delivering on the promises that we made to each and every one of our constituents. I want the American public to know this, we are truly disheartened by what is happening here with impeachment. But do know that we are working on your behalf, each and every single day.
We will continue to do what we swore an oath to do, and that is to protect and serve you even in this moment -- in this tragedy be rest assured we will do just that. And I yield back the balance of my time.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back. What purpose does Mr. Raskin seek recognition.
RASKIN: Move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
RASKIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. You know, in law school I teach my students to try to take the best argument of their opponents and not the worst arguments. And so I'm going to ignore all of the frivolous process objections about the rooms and the temperature and all that kind of stuff we've heard about.
And I'm going to try to make what I think is the best argument -- or reconstruct the best argument that's come out today. And I understand that our colleagues face a difficult task because 70 percent of the American people believe that the president has done something wrong in these actions of trying to pressure a foreign government to get involved in our election.
And so they've got a problem there, and they've got another problem which is that there is an overwhelming, an uncontradicted body of evidence that the president did that. The president withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance that we had voted for, besieged for an ally resisting Russian aggression.
Because he was trying to get the president of that country, Zelensky, to agree to conduct a press conference in which he would say he was investigating the Bidens -- and he also wanted President Zelensky to validate Vladimir Putin's favorite disinformation conspiracy theory about the 2016 campaign which is that it was Ukraine and not Russia that engaged in this sweeping and systematic campaign to interfere in our elections, so what do you do with that?
Well, we can understand why they've been talking about process for months, but I think they understand this is a serious investigation -- rigorous methods,
and serious inescapable conclusions. And the American people are focused on it -- a majority not only support the investigation, a majority would like to see the president impeached, according to Fox News anyway, at one point.
So in any event, huge numbers of Americans are very disturbed by this. So what have they come up with? Well they've not found an alibi, there's no fact alibi. He can't claim somebody else did it. But they've come up with a defense, which to me, looks like really a mitigating factor -- a plea for mercy. The president did all of these things, but his motive is misunderstood.
All of us think he was doing it because he wanted to advance his own reelection prospects, and in some sense he wanted to help for whatever reason his friend, Vladimir Putin, and Putin's already been in T.V. bragging about the fact that everybody's focused on Ukraine in the 2016 election, and not Russia.
Note to Mr. Putin, that's not right, we understand exactly what's going on here. But any event, the new argument is that the president was not trying to advance his own political interests, what he was trying to do was to advance his passionately held and yet little known campaign against corruption.
And that's why so much of our discussion today has been about corruption, because they're trying to say he was waging this campaign about corruption. Now we've noted a number of problems there and I want to just try to catalog some of the other ones to try to put this in to some order so people can understand the problem with their best argument.
The first is that the president never raised the word corruption on the July 25 phone call -- Biden's name was mentioned several times. It wasn't corruption, corruption, corruption -- it was Biden, Biden, Biden. And he never raised any other companies at all, it was all about Burisma, Hunter Biden's company. That's all that he mentioned, and as far as we know he's never mentioned any other company in connection with corruption in Ukraine.
In 2017 and 2018 when Congress voted money for Ukraine, the president passed it along, he didn't raise corruption in Ukraine -- he didn't even raise the Bidens at that point. It only became an issue in 2019 -- in 2019, why? Because Joe Biden has surpassed him in the public opinion polls, and now suddenly it was a big issue, and so he cared about it.
Well, what's the other evidence here? The president's team -- Rudy Giuliani, and Parnas, and Fruman engaged in a smear campaign against the U.S. ambassador who was crusading against corruption in Ukraine, and the president got her out of the way -- he pulled her back.
So all the evidence shows they were promoting corruption in a corrupt scheme, they weren't trying to attack it. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back --
LESKO: Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: Who seeks recognition? For what purpose does the gentlelady seek recognition?
LESKO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentlelady is recognized.
LESKO: And briefly, Mr. Chairman and members -- Mr. Raskin, my colleague Mr. Raskin just said Biden's name was used multiple times. Well, I think that's a little misleading. Again, the only place in this whole telephone call where Biden is even brought up is in one little paragraph and that was on page four of five pages of the transcript.
I mean, most of this call was about congratulating President Zelensky and the new Parliament, talking about how -- you know, a lot of these European countries aren't pitching in with the aid that was to Ukraine as much as the United States has -- and you know, all kinds of things. It was a long phone call and it's really disingenuous to say that the whole thing was about this, and Biden was mentioned several times.
Let me read, again -- in fact, I know that the President Trump tweets this out, read the transcript, and I wish people would. Because everybody watches T.V. and they get all these comments, but I did this with my husband -- I said, would you just please read the transcript? It's only five pages long, doesn't take that much time.
And you know, after he read it he's like, that's it? That's all they got? But here, this is the mention about Biden, again page five. The other thing -- "there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the
prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look in to it... it sounds horrible to me."
That's it folks, that's all there is. So Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back, the question now occurs on the amendment. Those in favor say "aye," opposed "no." The opinion of the Chair, the no's have it -- the amendment is not agreed to.
A role call is requested, the clerk will call the role.
CLERK: Mr. Nadler.
CLERK: Mr. Nadler votes no.
NADLER: 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?
BASS: No. 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. Mr. Jayapal.
CLERK: Ms Jayapal votes no. Ms. Demings.
CLERK: Ms. Demings votes no. Mr. Correa. Ms. Scanlon.
CLERK: Ms. Scanlon votes no. Ms. Garcia.
CLERK: Ms. Garcia votes no. Mr. Neguse.
CLERK: Mr. Neguse votes no. Ms. McBath.
CLERK: Mr. 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: Aye, 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 Louisanna.
M. JOHNSON: Aye.
CLERK: Mr. Johnson of Louisana 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. RESCHENTHALER: Aye.
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 everyone voted who wishes to vote?
CLERK: Mr. Correa you're not recorded.
NADLER: Mr. Correa?
CLERK: Mr. Correa votes no.
NADLER: Anyone else who wishes to vote who hasn't voted? The clerk will report.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman there are 17 ayes, and 23 no's.
NADLER: The amendment is not agreed to. Are there any further amendments to the amendment in the nature of a substitute (ph)?
RESCHENTHALER: Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
NADLER: Mr. Reschenthaler has an amendment at the desk, the clerk will report.
CLERK: Amendment to the amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 755 offered by Mr. Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania --
(UNKNOWN): (Inaudible) --
NADLER: The gentlelady reserves a point of order.
CLERK: Page five beginning on line six, strike article two.
(UNKNOWN): I withdraw my point of order.
NADLER: (Inaudible). The gentleman is recognized for five minutes to explain his amendment.
RESCHENTHALER: Thank you Mr. Chairman. My amendment would strike all of article 2, which is the obstruction of Congress charge. The facts simply do not align with the Democrats' claim of obstruction. Our government has three branches for a reason. When there is disagreement between the executive and legislative branch, it is supposed to be resolved by the third branch, the court. Republicans recognized this in 2011 when they investigated President Obama's fast and furious scandal. The fast and furious scandal allowed 2,000 firearms to fall into the hands of drug cartels and resulted in the death of an American border patrol agent, people actually died in President Obama's scandal.
Throughout the Republican's investigation that scandal, they made numerous attempts to accommodate the Obama administration. Yet despite their efforts, President Obama invoked executive privilege and bar testimony and documents. So what did the Republicans do, the appropriate thing, they went to the courts. Compare those efforts with what we have seen from the Democrats during this impeachment sham. House Democrats could have worked with the administration to reach accommodations for their requests, but they didn't. House Democrats should have worked through the courts, but they didn't, and why is that? It's simple, because
they have a political expedient deadline to send this mess out of Congress into the Senate before Christmas.
Despite what you hear from my colleagues, the administration has consistently cooperated with Democrats even though they have been out to get this president since the very moment he was elected. Let's just go through the numbers. Over 25 administration officials have testified before the House oversight committee, over 25. Over 20 administration officials have testified before this very committee. The administration has also handed over more than 100,000 pages of documents since the start of the sham impeachment inquiry. Now let's contrast that with the conduct from the Democrats. Democrats have threatened witnesses that will quote, unquote, "any failure to appear in response to a letter requesting their presence would constitute evidence of obstruction." Let me just go through that language; it's a letter, would constitute evidence of the of obstruction.
That's not a subpoena, that's a letter. Democrats have also told the State Department employees that if they insist on using agency counsel to protect executive branch confidentiality interests, they would have their salaries withheld. That kind of sounds like abuse of power, but I digress a little bit. Democrats have not afforded this president basic procedure protections such as the right to see all the evidence, the right to call witnesses or the right to have counsel at hearings. But it's not just the Trump administration that has been railroaded by the Democrats. Judiciary Democrats voted down my own subpoena, my own motion to subpoena the whistleblower, even though I said that he could -- he or she could testify in executive session which would be private, and yet they voted down on party lines.
Chairman Nadler also reviews requests to have Chairman Schiff testify before this committee. House Democrats also have denied every Republican request for a fact witness. So I ask, who is really obstructing Congress? The Democrats have no case when it comes to obstruction. This obstruction charge is completely baseless and bogus. If they really wanted to charge someone with obstruction, how about they start with Adam Schiff. Thank you and I yield back the remainder of my time.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what purpose does Ms. Basse seek recognition?
BASSE: To strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentlelady is recognized.
BASSE: I would like to begin by answering my colleague's question he asked, who is really obstructing Congress? Who is obstructing Congress? President Donald Trump. The text of the Constitution devotes only a few sentences to a discussion of impeachment power, yet among those few sentences is the clear statement that the house possesses the sole power of impeachment. And what that means is, is that within the sole discretion of the house to determine what evidence is necessary then for it to gather in order to exercise that power. So it's unnecessary for the House to go to the court to enforce it -- to enforce subpoenas issued pursuant to an impeachment investigation.
If it did, the House's sole power of impeachment would be beholden to the dictates of the judicial rather than the executive branch. Past presidents have disapproved of impeachments, criticized the House, doubted his motives and insisted they did nothing wrong. But no president, however, including President Nixon who was on the verge of being impeached for obstruction of Congress, has -- had declared himself in the entire branch of government he oversees totally exempt from subpoenas issued by the House pursuant to its sole power of impeachment. President Trump had made compliance (ph) with every demand, a condition of even considering whether to honor subpoenas, and he has directed his senior officials to violate their own legal obligations to turn over subpoenas and provide testimony.
Indeed, the House was only able to conduct its inquiry into the to the Ukraine matter because several witnesses like the ambassadors, the Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, had the courage to defy the president's unlawful command. President Trump's conduct toward the current House impeachment inquiry is unprecedented. My colleagues talk about information that we should wait to get from the courts, we really wouldn't have to wait to get from the courts if the president would comply and provide documents. I remember when -- when Ambassador Sondland was testifying and he said that he was testifying from memory because he wasn't even allowed to have access to his own notes in the State Department.
President Trump has abused his power and is a continued threat to our democracy and national security. He's put himself before the country and no one is above the law.
When I think of our elections and my concern for our election next year, our election should be decided by us. Our foreign policy and national security should be based on America's interest, not the president's personal and political interests. We talked over and over again about the real reason for all of this was his concern about corruption, but as one of my colleagues said earlier today, if he was concerned about corruption, he would be concerned about what is going on in the White House and all of the people who he has been affiliated with or either awaiting sentences, sent -- sent to prison, serving time, or awaiting court. So it's noteworthy that members of the minority never actually defend president Trump's misconduct by disputing the facts of the case, but instead try to deflect and distract with irrelevant issues. So I -- I just want -- and someone asked earlier but I do not believe my colleagues on the other side of the aisle ever answered. Forget President Trump. Is it ever OK for a president to invite foreign interference in our election? And with that, I yield to my colleague from California.
LOFGREN: Thank you for yielding. I would like to ask unanimous consent to put into the record the letter from the president's counsel Pat Cipollone, dated October 8, 2019.
NADLER: Without objection.
LOFGREN: I just -- reflecting on the comments made by my colleague from California, certainly, we had a right to receive information, we have a right to make a judgment on the information that we have been able to obtain because impeachment is solely in the province of the Congress. But just on the narrow issue of -- of the assertion of privilege. I think it's important to note that the privilege. No privilege was asserted in this letter by the Council. He doesn't say it's executive privilege. He does not say anything that you could take the court. He just says he does not like what we're doing and they are not going to give us anything, not a piece of paper, not a witness.
LOFGREN: No. And that is an absurd situation. It is not acceptable and it is really obstruction of Congress, and I thank the gentlelady for yielding and yield back to her.
BASSE: My time is expired, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady's time has expired.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: For purposes does Mr. Sensenbrenner seek recognition.
SENSENBRENNER: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
SENSENBRENNER: Listening to my two colleagues from California, this seems to be the greatest amount of circular reasoning that we've heard the last couple of days. There has been a lot of it, but this is one that I think grabs the blue ribbon because what I hear is that of impeachment inquiry, if the White House does not give the House of Representatives and this committee everything we ask for, then that's obstruction of Congress and impeachable offense. And that's not what the law said and it's not what the law should be. There certain privileges and immunities that the president has, irrespective of whether we're doing oversight or whether we're using our article II power, the sole power of impeachment. And he ought to be able to present those, you know, in a court of law. This is not a court of law at all.
I don't blame White House Counsel Cipollone for not saying that there were any privileges involved because we know what the answer is going to be, and that is we're going to blow any claim of privilege away. We're going to blow any type of executive immunity away. We are going to simply say we want it and you've got to give it to us no matter whether it's private information or doing some legitimate oversight. Now we know that the -- the rejection of the argument that we shouldn't have to go to court for that is bogus, because the House of Representatives has gone to court to try to get enforcement of subpoenas that are as a result of this impeachment inquiry.
The enforcement against Don McGahn has gotten as far as the DC circuit. There are others that are pending a little bit further backwards in the judicial system.
But what I would like to ask my friends on the majority side, is OK, say we're done with this impeachment inquiry next week. The House passes both articles of impeachment and goes to the Senate for trial. Does that mean that the whole nexus of why you are attempting to enforce those subpoenas is gone? Are you going to go to court and say it's gone? Are you going to move to dismiss those actions to support enforcement of the subpoenas? If you are following the argument that I just heard, you've got it do it; but I doubt it. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. I recognize myself five minutes. The actions of the White House, of the president in this case. Are different in kind from all previous actions of executives of presidents. It is not a question of asserting privileges, it is not a question of adjudicating rights, even in court. Rather, the counsel wrote, given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, the executive branch cannot be expected to participate in it. It is not up to the president to decide whether an impeachment inquiry by the Congress is legitimate or not, that's our function. That sentence shows right there usurpation by the president of congressional power. Number one.
Number two, if the White House had simply asserted privileges for a number of witnesses that could be adjudicated and maybe, it may very well be that we chosen to -- to -- to oppose that as a -- as a reason for an impeachment, that would be invalid. But that's now what we're talking about. We're talking about the president saying he does not recognize our impeachment and he will not participate in it. He will not grant anything. That is an obstruction of Congress. It's (ph) usurpation of Congress's role to decide whether to have an impeachment inquiry and it's a decision to completely try to frustrate that inquiry by denying all participation, by denying all documents, no witnesses, without asserting any privileges.
It has nothing to do with privileges. Privileges may be adjudicated in court, an assertion by the executive -- by the that the impeachment power cannot be exercised by Congress is an obstruction of Congress and if allowed to get away with it, eliminates the power of impeachment as a check on the power of the presidency, and is a large step toward dictatorship. Because the threat of impeachment is the only threat, the only enforcement mechanism that Congress has on the president who would usurp the powers and destroy the separation of powers, especially given the Department of Justice's policy the president -- a sitting president cannot be indicted and the administration's assertion that he cannot even be investigated criminally. That leaves only impeachment as a remedy and is a check on presidential power.
And if you don't want a dictatorship, you have to allow Congress to exercise the power of impeachment and the Congress has the sole power -- the House has the sole power of impeachment which means we have the right to get the documents we demand, may be subject to certain privileges, but that is not at issue here because no privileges been asserted. Instead, what is been asserted is that the executive has the right to determine that they will -- that the impeachment inquiry is invalid. They usurped the role the House. This is an assertion of tyrannical power, that's why we must impeach the president on this article. To let -- to -- to go along with this amendment, to get rid of article 2 and say it, in effect is permissible for the president to deny the impeachment power of the House is a long step away from constitutional government, a long step away from any control of the power of the president and a long step toward tyranny.
I oppose the amendment. I yield back.
BUCK: Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: Who seeks recognition?
BUCK: I just wanted to ask if you would yield for one minute -- one quick question on that?
NADLER: I will -- I yielded back -- I'll yield.
BUCK: I just wanted to ask, you said it's the only -- or to paraphrase, you said it's the only remedy, why is court not an appropriate remedy in this case?
NADLER: Well it -- it might --
BUCK: Your microphone is off, sorry.
NADLER: What might be an appropriate remedy if a privilege were asserted.
I'm not willing to say that you couldn't mount an impeachment based on overbroad assertions of privilege, but no privileges have been asserted. There's nothing for a court to review, all that the president said is there will be no -- he has directed everyone in the Executive branch do no provide them a piece of paper, do not testify. There's nothing for the court to review, he has simply asserted that the Constitution -- that he doesn't recognize the constitutional power of Congress to impeach, he won't recognize it, he thinks it's invalid -- and that's not his function to do, it's our function to determine whether an impeachment inquiry is valid or not -- is a valid inquiry.
BUCK: Isn't the next step then, to hold a witness in contempt for either not producing documents, or not appearing?
NADLER: If -- a privilege were asserted, yes. But it's gone beyond that. We could certainly do that but it's not a sufficient remedy. The remedy -- the only remedy for a president who says the House does not have the power to determine to have an impeachment inquiry, is to say that's an obstruction of Congress.
My time has expired, I yield back.
CHABOT: Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: Who seeks recognition?
NADLER: For what purpose does Mr. Chabot seek recognition?
CHABOT: To strike last word, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
CHABOT: Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate the gentleman offering his amendment to strike the second article which I think unfortunately is as ridiculous as the first article in this case. An obstruction charge requires a concerted effort to interfere with or impede a Congressional election. What the president did, asserting executive privilege is not in any way, shape, or form obstruction.
Executive privilege is a time honored, constitutionally protected right of each and every administration, and it's been asserted time and time again by administration after administration both Republican and Democratic. When Congress disagrees with a particular assertion of executive privilege the remedy is not impeachment -- the remedy is to go to court, and let the third branch of government, as I mentioned a little while ago, decide who is correct.
That's why we have checks and balances in this country -- we've got three branches of government, they're all supposed to keep an eye on each other, and in this case the remedy is to go to the courts and let the courts decide if the president and this Congress disagree, and accept that the House Democrats have decided that they don't want to wait for the courts to decide -- not when they can instead just impeach the president and maybe damage him politically, although apparently that's not happening -- but I think that was their goal.
You want to talk about abuse of power what the House Democrats are -- Democrats are doing here, is a clear case, in my view of abusing your office for political gain. The majority really should hold themselves in contempt for conducting this one-sided biased impeachment investigation, and then attacking the White House for refusing to participate in such a patently unfair process. And I think if you look at the record of this president thus far, and he's only been in office three years at this point -- the accomplishments are quite considerable. Impeaching a president that's accomplished these types of things is just patently absurd.
Look at the economy right now, and why is the economy doing so well? I think it's principally two things -- the tax cuts and jobs act that this president pushed and was passed when the previous Congress was in control -- was Republicans both the House and the Senate at that time.
The Democrats kept screaming, oh these are tax cuts for the rich -- tax cuts for the rich. About 85 percent of the American people had their taxes reduced. Yes, wealthy people got their taxes cut, but so did virtually everyone else in this economy. That's one of the principle reasons that we're seeing the economy continuing to grow. That's one of the reasons that unemployment in this country is so low right now, it's at historic lows -- about 50 years.
And it's not just wealthy people doing well, a lot of people are doing well and it's because of the tax cuts. About, as I mentioned, 85 percent of the people got their tax cuts.
Unemployment in this country among African-Americans, Hispanic- Americans, Asian-Americans is at all time low -- unemployment all time low among those groups because of this president's policies in conjunction with Congress back when Republicans were in the majority.
I happen to be the Ranking Member, the lead Republican on the House Small Business Committee. I was the Chairman of that Committee for the last two years. Small businesses all across America are doing very well right now. Their confidence is at all time highs. Why is it so important that small businesses do well?
Well about 70 percent of the new jobs created in the American economy are created by small business folks all across this country -
they're the backbone of the American economy.
And the other thing, the other reason I think other than taxes being reduced -- why you're seeing the economy grow so well is because he has reduced the red tape, the bureaucracy -- the regulations that come out of Washington. Because when he was running as a candidate, he said his goal was to get rid of two existing regulations right now -- red tape. Two existing regulations for every new regulation coming out of Washington.
That was a tough goal, but we've even exceed that, so those two things together I think are one of the principle reasons this economy is growing so well.
There are so many things that you could talk about, about the successes -- but one that's actually going to happen soon is improving NAFTA, USMCA. And again, hopefully the Democrats are going to (inaudible) control here in the House now, and they face the challenge because if they passed it then the president's obviously going to get some credit because he's been pushing this.
They don't really want the president necessarily to get any credit, but they also are trying to get rid of the label of being a do-nothing Congress since they've been in control now, so they're going to apparently impeach the president and at the same time pass the USMCA.
It's unfortunate it takes impeaching a president to pass it, but I'm really happy that we're impeaching it -- excuse me, that we are passing USMCA because that's really good for the country. And I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back before he gets in to too much trouble. I recognize -- for what purpose does Ms. Scanlon seek recognition?
SCANLON: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: Gentlelady is recognized.
SCANLON: I'm really uncomfortable with the suggestion that's been made several times today that the U.S. Constitution is for sale. You know, there's no exception in the Constitution that allows a president to cheat in an election just because the economy's going well.
My oath to protect and defend the Constitution isn't for sale. Look, if President Trump's obstruction, abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress are not impeachable, nothing is. Article One charges Trump with the abuse of power for attempting to undermine our elections. The primary check on a president becoming a king is elections -- this president abused his powers to undermine our elections, that's Article One.
Article two, which my colleague has suggested we should abandon charges President Trump with obstruction of Congress for blocking the production of all documents and witnesses subpoenaed by Congress in the impeachment investigation. Congress's power to investigate and impeach the president is the backstop to elections to protect our government from being overrun by a tyrannical executive. The president has undermined our Constitution by obstructing Congress' impeachment power without a legal basis. For a constitution to operate properly, it depends upon people acting in a reasonable manner. We're not dealing with an executive at this point who is acting in a reasonable manner.
You know, often people ask layers, oh, can I sue? And it's an old lawyer jokes. Of course, you can sue, he question is can you win? President Trump has made a career out of suing knowing that he had no chance to win, he has clogged up our courts for decades, and he usually loses because he has not a legal leg to stand on. That's the situation we are in now. He has defied congressional subpoenas without a legal leg to stand on. He hasn't claimed executive privilege which is something that could go to the courts. He has made up something called absolute immunity. Never before in the history of our country have we had a president who said you can't talk to anyone in my administration, you can't see any documents. When we had Hope Hicks come before this - his -- his communication secretary come before this committee several months ago, she was subject to a claim of absolute immunity. She wasn't allowed to testify to anything that it happened that she'd seen, that had been done from the moment she walked into the White House until she left. She was not allowed to tell us where her office was. I mean, this is the kind of absolute, tempted to say, Iron Curtain, that this president has tried to place between his administration and the American people. There is no way in hell I will vote to remove obstruction of Congress from these articles. And I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back. The gentlelady yields back. For what purpose -- for what does Mr. Jordan seek recognition?
JORDAN: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
JORDAN: I support the gentleman from Pennsylvania, his amendment. He said in his remarks, he said that the real obstruction came from Chairman Schiff. So true. And you know who the first victim was? This committee. This committee. Unless you were on the Intel committee, The Oversight Committee or the Foreign Affairs Committee, you could not set in for the 17 fact witnesses, you couldn't be a part of those depositions. Now some people tried, a good friend from Florida, tried to get in as a member of the committee that is now marking up the articles of impeachment, but he wasn't allowed. So the first victim of the real obstruction to get to all the information was this committee. The committee charged with writing up the articles of impeachment, marking them up as we speak, wasn't allowed to be in there for the 17 fact witness -- witnesses that we all depose.
The Democrat rules were even worse, no subpoena power for Republicans, depositions, as I said done in secret in the bunker in the basement of the capital. In those depositions, remember, these witnesses were subpoenaed, they're supposed to answer our questions, but only the Democrats got all their questions answered. There were questions that Republicans asked that the chairman of the Intel committee prevented the witnesses from answering. Democrats denied Republicans witnesses for the open hearings, we weren't allowed to call witnesses we want, we had to submit a list. We put a couple people on the list from the 17 people that Adam Schiff subpoenaed just so we can have some people that we thought might help make the real case to present the facts, but we weren't allowed to our witnesses.
And of course, the one witness that we really want to call even though Adam Schiff initially said that we'd get a chance to hear from and we weren't allowed to, and that's the whistleblower. Remember was when this all happened in September. Adam Schiff told us were going to get to hear from the whistleblower? The whistleblower with no firsthand knowledge who was biased against the president who worked with Joe Biden. He said we're going to get hear from him but then changed his mind. W and what changed -- what change the chairman's mind? Remember the day after, the day after the call, the whistleblower writes this memo, says the call was all described (inaudible), but he waits 18 days to file his complaint. What happens is that 18 day timeframe?
The whistleblower goes off and sees Adam Schiff, get some marching orders from Adam Schiff's staff and everything changes and we don't get to hear from him. We don't get to hear from the person -- and because we do not get hear from the whistleblower, remember the complaint it gets filed on August 12? The very first point the whistleblower makes in the complaint, he says this, over the past four months, more than half a dozen U.S. officials informed me about this effort. We have no idea the committee marking up articles of impeachment, we have no idea who those half a dozen U.S. officials are. We don't know if we talked to them, we don't know if they came and testified, we don't know if they're the people -- my guess is Colonel Vindman was one of them. But who knows?
We don't know because we never got to talk to the individual who started off with the complaint that the chairman of the Intel committee told us what it all started we're going to get hear from him, but then when it was discovered that his staff had communicated with the whistleblower, nope, nope, nope, we're not to get to. So the real victim of the obstruction here is this committee. We've not had any fact witnesses, we have had four Democrat witnesses in front of us. Three law professors that the Democrat -- the majority called in and one Democrat law Professor that the Republicans called in. That's all we've heard from, those are the four witnesses, and a bunch of staff. None of the 17 witnesses. So I support the gentleman from Pennsylvania's amendment and he is exactly right. The obstruction came from the chairman of the Intel committee. With that, I yield back.
SCANLON: The gentleman from Rhode Island is recognized.
CICILLINE: Madam Chair, I move to strike the last word.
SCANLON: I'm sorry, do you (ph) seek recognition? OK, you are recognized.
CICILLINE: Chair (ph), so we're charged with the responsibility of taking the facts that have been established in this investigation, applying them to the Constitution that we have sworn to protect and defend. Let's return for minutes to the facts. This series of events was described by Trump officials, Ambassador Bolton, to be particular, as a drug deal. It was described by Dr. Fiona Hill as a domestic political errand. There is direct evidence collected from 17 witnesses, over 100 hours of testimony, 260 text messages, the transcript of the president's own words, emails between high-ranking officials of the Trump administration, and what we know, what the direct evidence is, is the president of the united states hired Rudy Giuliani to lead this effort.
The president engaged in a smear campaign against Ambassador Yovanovitch and then fired her because she was an anticorruption fighter.
The president put a hold on military aid to Ukraine, the president and others acting on his behalf demanded that President Zelensky publicly announce an investigation of the president's chief political rival. The president put the three amigos, Ambassador Sondland, Perry and Volker in charge of Ukraine. The president refused to have a meeting or release aid until the public announcement of the investigation of his political opponent. The present told vice president -- Vice President Pence not to attend the new president of Ukraine's inauguration. And the president spoke to Ambassador Sondland about what Ambassador Sondland described as a quid pro quo, just to name a few highlights of the evidence.
But what we know also if you look -- drill down a little more, and I (ph) speak specifically about Trump administration officials who are in the middle of this activity. On July 21, 2019, it was a text from Ambassador Taylor to Ambassador Sondland, and I quote President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic reelection politics. David Holmes testified, I was surprised that the requirement was so specific and concrete this was a demand that President Zelensky personally commit to a specific investigation of President Trump's political rival on a cable news channel.
Mr. Holmes also testified in response to a question during council's examination, you're acknowledging, I think, Mr. Holmes are you not that Ukraine very much felt pressure to undertake these investigations that the president, Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador Solomon and others were demanding? The answer from Mr. Holmes, yes, sir. Ambassador Taylor has a call on September 8th to Ambassador Sondland. And Ambassador Taylor says this is a career diplomat, a Vietnam War hero, and Ambassador Taylor says during our call, Sondland tried to explain to me that President Trump is a businessman and that when a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes them something, this has been asked that a person to pay up before signing the check. Ambassador Volker made the same argument. I argued to both of them at that that exclamation made no sense. Ukrainians did not owe President Trump anything and holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was crazy.
And finally, on September 9th, Ambassador Taylor in a text exchange with Ambassador Sondland, again said, "as I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign," end quote. So the -- the record is filled with evidence that, in fact, the president of the United States abused the enormous power of his office in an effort to cheat in the 2020 election, to drag foreign interference into the 2020 election, and to corrupt an American presidential election and he used the power of his office with the help of taxpayer funds to leverage his effort drag foreign powers into our elections. And when I hear my colleagues on the other side of the aisle say who is the victim, the victim is American democracy.
The victim is the people we represent, who expect us to honor our oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Are my Republican colleagues really saying that it is ok for a president to invite or drag or persuade a -- foreign powers to distort an American presidential election? We have men and women who have given their lives to protect our democracy. We owe it to them to be sure that you know who gets to decide who's going to be the American president? The American people, not some foreign power. That's a sacred right of citizens of this country, and if we allow this president to get away with this, we will have lost our democracy and we have conveyed that right to foreign powers and we will no longer have a democracy. I urge my colleagues to support these articles of impeachment so we can again vindicate the right of the American people to determine their own future and to elect their own leaders. And with that I yield back.
M. JOHNSON: Madam Chair?
SCANLON: For what purpose of this gentleman seek recognition?
M. JOHNSON: Move to strike the last word.
SCANLON: The gentleman is recognized.
M. JOHNSON: Thank you. I just wanted urge support for this amendment striking article two. There has been a lot said the days as everybody has acknowledged and I -- I'm just struck by the hyperbolic language that is being used on the other side in this breathless charge that we hear over a333nd over that article two, that this is the first time in the history of the Republic that any president has evoked this kind of privilege or evoked this kind of immunity over subpoenas from Congress, and of course it's just simply not true. I mean, a cursory review of the history, even a review of the witness testimony that was presented in this very committee a week ago, would show you that that's just simply baseless charge.