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THE SITUATION ROOM
The House's Hearing on Articles of Impeachment Continues. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired December 12, 2019 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
The truth is, in the history of this Republic, there has never been a single party fraudulent impeachment process deployed against president like the one that's being used against Donald Trump. That's what is unprecedented here. It's not the claim that a president does not want to turn over witnesses or documents, that, as we've said many times, it is actually quite common. And -- and by the way, let's remember, it needs to be noted again that President Trump has consistently cooperated with this Congress in fulfilling its oversight and investigation responsibilities. I noted the statistics this morning when we started, over 25 administration officials and testify before the House Oversight Committee this year, over 20 have testify before the House Judiciary committee.
At the start of the impeachment inquiry this year, the House also -- the White House produced more than 100,000 pages of documents to the Oversight Committee. In spite of their allegation, the Democrats know that President Trump has a lawful cause to challenge these subpoenas because they involve direct communications between high-ranking advisors and a president, that's very sensitive stuff. It's always recognized to be privileged. There's a -- a special legal protection that applies there and we need the courts to sort through the nuances of that. And -- and most of these individuals by the way that the subpoenaed are not related to the Ukraine matter at hand, any objective observer would regard this as a mere fission (ph) exposition -- expedition, some would even call it presidential harassment because the administration is being used by these Democratic committee chairs to advance their political agenda. This agenda does not allow them time to proceed to a court to do this the right way, to go through the process that is historic. It comports with our custom and practice and our tradition and the Constitution.
Professor Turley was our only witness, the only one we've been allowed in the Judiciary Committee on our side. In -- in the very I think exceptional testimony that he submitted to us in writing, he said this -- I want to read you this excerpt because it's right on point. Quote -- this is page 42 of his document, "if this committee elects to seek impeachment on the president's failure to yield the congressional demands and in oversight impeachment investigation," listen, "it will have to distinguish a long line of cases where prior presidents sought the very same review while withholding witnesses and documents. Take the Obama administration's position for instance on the investigation of fast and furious," which was mentioned earlier, "Congress justifiably began an oversight investigation into that scandal. Some members called for impeachment proceedings but President Obama invoked executive privilege and barred essential testimony and documents." President Obama did that, this is not unprecedented, OK? This is custom and practice.
Now Professor continues, "the position of the Obama administration was regarded as extreme there and -- and some even said absurd, but," here is the important point, "President Obama had every right to seek judicial review in the matter and many members of this very committee supported that position. Basing impeachment ," Professor Turley continues, "on this obstruction theory would itself be an abuse of power by Congress. It would be extremely dangerous precedent to set for the future presidents and Congresses in making an appeal to the judicial branch into a high crime and misdemeanor," unquote. Here is the deal, impeachment was never intended to be a remedy for political disagreements. It wasn't intended to be a remedy even for legal disagreements between the legislative branch and the executive branch. That's why there is a third branch of government, that's why we have the judiciary. This is a very dangerous road indeed, as president -- Professor Turley noted, and I hope and pray that future Congresses can and will exercise greater restraint than what's been shown by Chairman Schiff, and Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Nadler and the rest.
The stability of our republic is going to depend on that in the future, and I pray that we can put this genie back in the bottle. I yield back.
SCANLON: For what purpose does the gentlewoman from Florida seek recognition?
MUCARSEL-POWELL: I strike to -- I move to strike the last word.
SCANLON: The gentlewoman's recognized.
MUCARSEL-POWELL: Thank you. You know, it's truly disheartening to hear my colleagues on the other side argue in favor of crippling the very institution that they're a part of. The power of impeachment has built in due-process protections. We are the American people's dully elected representatives, and we, the members of Congress are empowered to hold to account corrupt and criminal presidents.
When the president obstructs an impeachment inquiry, he's obstructing the people who have a right to know how the president is running their government. After all, that is the basis of our government -- by the people, for the people.
We have requested hundreds of documents and have been provided with absolutely not one document. The president has actually instructed the State Department to not give us the information that we've asked.
He has told witnesses -- people that we have subpoenaed to come in front of Congress to testify, to not come and testify. Talk about a dangerous president. I think that the people deserve to know how he's using the office of the presidency to advance his own interests above those of the people whom he was elected to serve.
The president has abused his office and is now using that power of the office to hid the extent of that abuse from the people, that is abuse of power -- that is an impeachable offense.
And I just want to end by saying, that it is also appalling that throughout this process the president and the Republican party have continuously attacked foreign service offices -- the men and women of the military, our intelligence community -- those who protect us every day, undermining our national security. They are patriots, and they should be treated as such. After all, we are all Americans. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back. For what purpose does Mr. Gohmert seek recognition?
GOHMERT: Rise in support of the amendment.
NADLER: Does the gentleman strike the last word?
GOHMERT: Yes, guess I do.
NADLER: Gentleman is recognized.
GOHMERT: Now this is so surreal, it seems that we've come to a time when right is wrong, wrong is right -- bullies are the victims and the victims are called bullies. This -- for three years this president has been harassed, he's been electronically surveilled -- spied upon as normal people would call it. Allegations have never ceased, they continue and they're continuing today.
At some point you would think that someone would look at the abuses by Congress, by the Justice Department, friends of our Democrats -- by the FBI friends of our Democrats who hated the president when he was nothing but a candidate -- at some point somebody would go, this is out of control, we need to step back and say wait, wait this train is off the tracks its time to get, and here's the word -- reasonable.
What's gone on the last three years is not reasonable. (Inaudible) you're going to try to pursue some remedy you need to have clean hands. The majority has been so abusive, I'm sure this administration has produced tons of witnesses after subpoenas -- some without, sometimes it's just negotiated.
But normally what happens is a subpoena is received and it means you're not going to be able to use an agency attorney even though -- and an agency attorney will not be allowed in, even though the only way that the witness can appear and have executive privileges properly claimed is to have an agency or department attorney with them -- and that's when things get negotiated and get worked out.
But some of our friends know that if they're abusive enough with subpoenas, and with lawfare -- just -- not warfare, but using the law as a weapon, you can run people out of office. They successfully did that, genuinely (ph) suing Sarah Palin, Ryan Zinke -- he couldn't afford to keep hiring individual lawyers when agency lawyers couldn't come.
This is the kind of stuff that's been going on. And so this will end up, since our friends are not being reasonable, we're not willing to negotiate with the administration so agency lawyers could come claim executive privilege -- even though the target kept changing. They didn't know what they were going to come testify about, they were being accused of all kinds of different thing (ph) -- that kept changing, and it's changed even in the last 48 hours -- 24 hours, it's changed.
How do you defend yourself when the charge (ph) keep changing? I mean this is like a Stalin-esque type court system, you know, you don't get to meet and cross-examine your witnesses, and in fact we'll just have some law professor that's paid by our friends, come in and explain what the witnesses
probably said, did say -- what it is, that's all you need to hear if you're going to vote on guilt or innocence, impeachment or not -- you don't need to hear the witnesses, we don't need no stinking witnesses (ph), just bring us the chance to vote and we will vote.
It is an outrage, there is nothing reasonable about what's gone on, and especially it is so ironic, this is the same week when the corruption of the Department of Justice has been shown and there is no sorrow, no apology -- no remorse whatsoever by this incredible, abusive, system. So the obstruction of Congress is by people in Congress, the administration has not been unreasonable.
They've seen what has happened when this abusive Justice Department gets people in a perjury trap, they've got nothing to go on -- but if we can get you in and get you to testify, then we can prosecute you if you make a mistake while you're testifying. It was very, very reasonable not to come answer the subpoenas when you couldn't have an agency lawyer and there's no negation with the other side. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what purpose does Ms. Dean seek recognition?
DEAN: To strike the last word.
NADLER: Gentlelady is recognized.
DEAN: Throughout the course of this investigation, we've seen a stark contrast between the patriots who stood up to tell the truth and those who have turned a blind eye to the truth. And so tonight to those patriots I want to lift you up. I want to tell you thank you, I am in awe of you. I am in awe of your courage to uphold your oath at great personal sacrifice and professional cost. Patriots like Lieutenant Colonel -- Colonel Alexander Vindman, Purple Heart recipient and Iraq war veteran, Ambassador William Taylor, Ron Starr recipient and Vietnam War veteran ,Marie Yovanovitch, extraordinary former ambassador to Ukraine who joined the Foreign Service during the Reagan administration. Dr. Fiona Hill, doctor -- former deputy assistant to the president, senior director of Europe and Russia on the National Security Council and so many others.
More than a dozen other witnesses in this administration who confirmed the details of the wrongdoing of a president. A described president who reflexively and repeatedly abused his power for personal gain, jeopardizing our security and our own democracy. These patriots had the courage to live up to their oath, their words mattered. Patriots, my family knows something about the sacrifice of service. Two of my brother served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. My brother Bob serving two tours in Vietnam and I'm lucky to serve with those who have served on my own staff. First Lieutenant Colin Milon, who was recently called to service to active duty and staffers Tim Mack and Dave Corrigan (ph), proud Marines. Now, as members of Congress, it is our turn to stand up.
Dr. King once said, the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, it's where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. This is a time of great challenge and some of my colleague -- colleagues do not want to face the realities of the president's wrongdoings. So I asked my colleagues tonight, what are you afraid of? This country was built by those who were brave enough to stand up against King George. We are called to stand up against Donald J. Trump. What are you afraid of? Look to our framers, look to our patriots for courage, because it is about courage, the courage to honor our oath, my oath, your oath.
Mr. Chairman, I will with somberness of purpose, yet with confidence in our Constitution, be voting no on this amendment and be voting yes on these articles of impeachment. And with that I yield back.
BIGGS: Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back. Who seeks -- for what purposes Mr. Biggs seek recognition?
BIGGS: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
BIGGS: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I support the Reschenthaler amendment and I -- I offer this to you. Charging the president with obstruction of Congress is frankly unprecedented and in of itself, it threatens our system of government. The principles of separation of
powers and checks and balances demanded a person be permitted to resist demands that the president finds overly broad, burdensome, harassing, or otherwise volatile (ph) of his constitutional privileges. It is an absurdity to claim that the granting of -- to Congress of the sole power of impeachment implies duties to the president to cooperate in any and all congressional requests, no matter their merit.
Disputes between the branches are actually a feature -- they're a feature of our -- of our system, not a bug in the system. The branches are required to engage in a process of accommodation to reach an agreement that takes into account the relative equities of the side -- of both sides. But both branches have rights and interest to protect. We do, the executive does. If those disputes cannot be resolved, the courts are to step in. Anything less threatens the separation of powers, that is a very foundation of this Constitution.
This majority has taken the position, quite frankly, the dubious position that despite through precedent to the contrary that a vote of the full House is not required to an open an impeachment proceeding. Think of the implication of that, any rogue committee chairman can on his or her own, commence an impeachment proceeding against the president. That chairman can then submit whatever subpoenas and document requests that they wish. Under the theory of these articles, the president has no choice but to comply with a single row committee chairman (ph), because his failure to do so would be impeachable.
How does that comport with separation of powers? The House not be able to artificially create an impeachable offense through its own actions. President Trump's actions are not unprecedented. Many presidents have defied congressional subpoenas, including President Obama on many occasions as my colleague from Louisiana just pointed out a moment ago. Many presidents have outright refused to cooperate with congressional investigations as well, and I am going to give you three historical cases that are not artifacts but are actual cases where for instance President Jackson said in 1837, he called a House subpoena illegal and unconstitutional -- unconstitutional, stating that he would repel all such attempts as an invasion of the principles of justice as well as of the Constitution and he shall esteem that his sacred duty to the people of United States to resist them as he with the establishment of a Spanish Inquisition.
That's from Andrew Jackson. Later, President Coolidge said in the New York Times article from April 24th that he sent a message in that op- ed piece to the Senate, saying that he would cease to participate in their unwarranted intrusion and questioning the legitimacy of investigation. In 1948, for instance President Truman an executive -- published an executive order in the Federal Register ordering executive departments to respectfully decline any subpoena pertaining to congressional investigation into the executive branch personnel. And then we have the recent Obama example.
So if you had a problem, you don't necessarily-- the -- the chairman said that while he didn't exert privilege, well actually he claimed executive privilege in a very broad way, y'all were -- y'all were very disgusted about when he initially did it. But typically what would happen is, I'd issue a subpoena, have it served, the person doesn't show up. Guess what we do? We go into court and we prove the provenance of our subpoena. The court then issues an additional order, maybe it is a warrant for arrest, maybe it is a fine, maybe it's a contempt citation, but we avail ourselves of the process. You haven't done that, and you haven't done it because Mr. Schiff says so just last week, because he didn't want to take the time to avail himself of the process that you claim you're defending. And that is precisely why Professor Turley and all who look at this with objective eyes say you are the ones abusing the process, you are abusing Congress and you're abusing the president and the executive branch. But I'm afraid, what happens is we actually denigrate our body, and we denigrate the very process that we claim to be protecting today. With that, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what purpose does Ms. Escobar seek recognition?
ESCOBAR: To strike the last word.
NADLER: Gentlelady is recognized.
ESCOBAR: Thank you, Chairman. We've heard our colleagues argue that obstruction of Congress has not happened. One of our colleagues called the charge ridiculous,
another colleague said quote, "the president has consistently cooperated with Democrats." A stunning statement.
You know, I have had the incredible privilege of serving on the House Judiciary Committee now for almost a year, we were -- the freshman were sworn in January 3 and we've had many, many, many hearings -- and there is a thread that runs through all those hearings, especially those hearings where we are trying to provide proper oversight over the president of the United States.
And that thread is that my colleagues complain bitterly about our efforts to be a check, our efforts to perform our obligation under the Constitution and our efforts to provide oversight. We hear it time and time again.
And this idea that the president has cooperated, that is the claim that is actually absurd. In fact, during some of our oversight hearings we heard the president say that he was covered under absolute immunity without listing the documents or the reasons why he deserved absolute immunity.
And no president, not even Richard Nixon, no president has refused to honor subpoenas during impeachment. So if you can imagine, this president has achieved a new low, and lowered the bar significantly.
If it were not for the patriots -- and I associate myself with the statement by Representative Dean who thanked them, they are heroes -- they put their reputations, their names, their safety and their security at risk so that they could defend this country and defend the Constitution and uphold the oath of office -- the oath that they took as public servants.
But let's find out just how cooperative this president has been during this investigation, and I'd like to ask Representative Swalwell, my colleague who serves on Intelligence -- Representative Swalwell, how many documents did you all request during this investigation?
NADLER: Gentlelady yields to Mr. Swalwell.
SWALWELL: (Inaudible) -- pages 30 and 31 of the Intelligence Committee findings, it was 71 documents to (ph) the White House.
ESCOBAR: And how many witnesses?
SWALWELL: Twelve witnesses we asked to show up, who the president directed to not show up.
ESCOBAR: How many -- so just -- so that the American public understands. So you requested 72 documents, 12 witnesses -- how many documents and how many witnesses did the president provide?
SWALWELL: Twelve were asked to show up, he directed them not to show up -- 0 of the 71 documents were provided.
ESCOBAR: Thank you so much, Representative Swalwell. I want to ask the American people, what is the president trying to hide from you? Why is he trying to keep you in the dark? If he has nothing to hide, then let him come forward with those documents and those witnesses.
I want to conclude by just touching a little bit on something I mentioned last night. Unfortunately we've come to expect this kind of behavior from the president, and this really is a very, very tragic moment in American history -- a very dark moment in American history.
But it's made even more tragic by enablers who seek to make sure that they protect one man at any cost. One man who is not for America, one man who is for himself. This is a reckoning for us, and this is a moment when we should be standing with the patriots.
I am very proud, as dark as this moment is -- I am very proud to stand with the patriots here on this Committee, and I will continue to stand with the patriots who defend this country. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
NADLER: Gentlelady yields back. For what purpose does Mr. -- oh, I'm sorry -- what purpose does Mr. Cline seek recognition?
CLINE: I'd like to strike the last word.
NADLER: Gentleman is recognized.
CLINE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We've already talked today about the lack of evidence and support of the first article of impeachment -- the abuse of power article. They can't prove bribery, they can't prove extortion, they can't even prove a campaign finance violation.
Since they don't have the elements to prove any crime they created one and said that there was quote, "no higher crime." There are higher crimes, there are actual crimes.
But since the president didn't commit one, here we are. It's laughable if it weren't so sad.
We do know a few things though, the same four facts that have been repeated throughout -- both President Trump and President Zelensky have said there were (ph) no pressure on the call, there was no conditionality of aid in the call transcript. The Ukrainians were not aware that the aid was withheld when the presidents spoke, and we have the "Time" magazine article involving Andrew (Inaudible) which hasn't been pursued by this Committee. And fourth Ukraine didn't open an investigation but still received the aid and a meeting with President Trump.
You know, my colleagues said earlier we can't prove any of it so we're going to accuse him of all of it and call it abuse of power -- that's it to a point. So now we have an article -- the second article charging obstruction of Congress.
The Democrats have alleged that the president directed the unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives, but the facts don't match up with these claims. The president has legitimate, Constitutional privileges -- and the courts can and should determine the boundaries of these privileges.
The White House release two call transcripts to the public for review during this process. Ambassador Sondland said, the president told him, go tell the truth, when the Ambassador told the president he was asked to testify before Congress.
In addition, these claims of obstruction ignore the appropriate role of the third branch of government, to review conflicts between the Executive and Congress. The majority by seeking to impeach the president for failing to yield to their demands in an oversight or impeachment investigation fails to distinguish instances where prior presidents sought the very same review while withholding testimony and documents.
They also ignore instances where the two branches negotiated in good faith, over the return of documents. But after the failure of the majority to negotiate in good faith over the rules for this very impeachment proceeding -- why would we think that there would be an effort by the president to acknowledge and work in good faith to resolve said dispute? Better in their minds to wait for the courts to resolve it, which is their right.
President Obama during the fast and furious investigation invoked executive privilege and barred essential testimony and documents. During its litigation the Obama administration argued the courts had no authority over its denial of such witnesses and evidence to Congress, but the federal court and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform versus Holder (ph) disagreed.
Professor Turley in his testimony to this committee testified that he thinks the Democrats impeachment process is an abuse of power, he said quote, "what I'm saying is, that if you want a well based, a legitimate impeachment case to set this abbreviated schedule, demand documents and then impeach because they haven't been turned over when they go to a court, when the president goes to a court, I think that is an abuse of power. If you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts it is an abuse of power, it's your abuse of power." I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and I yield back the balance of my time. NADLER: The gentleman back. For what purpose does Ms. Jayapal seek recognition
JAYAPAL: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentlelady is recognized.
JAYAPAL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My Republican colleagues have been putting forward a lot of excuses today and so I want to go through the ones that we've heard the most. First they've said that the president's behavior was all about his supposedly legitimate concern about corruption, but what we know is that all of President Trump's agencies, all of his advisers every one unanimously told him that Ukraine had passed all the anticorruption benchmarks. What we know is that the Department of Defense said no further review on Ukraine corruption was necessary. What we know is that President Trump's budget aid for Ukraine designed to fight Ukraine corruption, and what we know is that President Trump before the calls with President Zelensky in April and July was given official talking points, official talking points on corruption in Ukraine and yet he never use those talking points. In fact he never mentioned the word corruption on either call. The only two names that President Trump mentioned were Joe and Hunter Biden on July 25.
Second excuse the Republicans put forward, they suggest that this was all about the president's desire to get the European Union to share more of the burden of foreign assistance. Well let's look at that.
Mr. Holmes told us that Europe provides four times as much assistance, more aid to Ukraine then we do and actually the United States aid largely gets paid back. On top of that Ambassador Sondland, President Trump's ambassador to the European Union testified clearly that nobody ever told him to go to the European Union and actually ask for more military aid to be provided, that simply wasn't the case.
The only thing that President Trump told Ambassador Sondland to communicate to Ukraine, what was that? He told us that resumption of aid would likely not occur unless President Zelensky announced the investigations, and Ambassador Sondland made clear, this is a quote, "unless Zelensky went to the mic and announced these investigations, there would be a stalemate over the aid." So what were the -- what were these investigations? 2016 election interference and Burisma, meaning the Bidens.
So finally left with no other defenses, my Republican colleagues say that President Trump had a legitimate reason to investigate Vice President Biden, but once again let's look at the facts. That makes no sense whatsoever. The minority's own report states that the allegations against the Bidens or from 2015, 2015. But President Trump readily gave military aid to Ukraine in 2017 and then again in 2018. President Trump's own aides told him that there was no merit to these investigations/ so what changed? What led to the sudden push to hold up congressionally approved desperately needed military aid without telling anybody? The reason? Vice President Biden began beating President Trump in the polls. The evidence is clear, when President Trump that do us a favor though, who was the us?
We know who the us was because he said it, President Trump told President Zelensky that his personal attorney, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani quote, "very much knows what's going on." President Trump could've gone through official channels if he wanted, he could have asked for the attorney general to conduct an investigation, he could have conducted all sorts of legitimate investigations, but didn't and we know that too because the Department of Justice said that President Trump never asked them to do any investigations or even talk to Ukraine. Instead, President Trump asked his personal attorney because us was not about America, the president was not putting America first.
This wasn't official policy, this wasn't what was right for our country. Every witness told us that too. This was personal, it was all for President Trump's personal political gain to benefit his own campaign in his reelection and that's why he used his personal attorney to do that. He abused his power, he abused the power entrusted to him by We the people and he placed our safety, millions of dollars of taxpayer money on the table. That is an abuse of power, we must impeach Donald J. Trump. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back. For what purpose does Mr. Armstrong seek recognition?
ARMSTRONG: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
ARMSTRONG: Talk about obstruction of Congress and subpoenas, and I'd' like to talk about subpoenas for little bit and the Democratic majority's abuse of subpoenas and how it started. And it started in this committee with the subpoena to the Attorney General Bill Barr. That compliance with that subpoena would've required him to violate the law. So like a reasonable, rational deliberative body we are, what did we do? We held him in contempt. We held the attorney general of the United States in contempt of Congress for not violating the law.
But it gets better, because after that we held a hearing in Judiciary about whether or not we should have held him in contempt, Oversight Democrats subpoenaed documents from Commerce, legal documents, relating directly to a case that was pending in front of the Supreme Court. And as I stated earlier, those same Democrats on Oversight subpoenaed the personal e-mails of President Trump's children. Democrats and Ways and Means have subpoenaed Presidents Trump's tax -- tax returns for purely political purposes.
Speaking of politics Adam Schiff used the subpoena power of the Intelligence Committee to obtain for phone records. He then released the phone records of a member of the press and the ranking member and his political opponent.
But we -- you know who we -- when you are going -- you cannot weaponize the subpoena power of Congress in order to harass the executive branch and then not expect the executive branch to use every legal remedy at their disposal to oppose those subpoenas. You can continue with an impeachment proceeding, it's a political proceeding, but what you cannot do is charge obstruction because you're going to continue long -- continue faster than (ph) allowing the courts to decide it.
And before -- before I finish, I'd just like to point out a couple things.
You know who we haven't subpoenaed? Ambassador Bolton. He basically begged to have one issued to him.
We haven't subpoenaed the whistleblower. We haven't subpoenaed Adam Schiff. We haven't subpoenaed Adam Schiff's staff member who talked with the whistleblower. We haven't subpoenaed all of the people that the whistleblower mentioned he talked to in relation to this phone call.
So if we want to talk about abuse and obstruction and why these things are going on, I think as another comment by Professor Turley said in a different hearing, we've met the enemy and he is us. And with that, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what privilege does the -- does Mr. Deutch seek recognition?
DEUTCH: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
DEUTCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, there are two Articles of Impeachment, each is vitally important. Obstruction of Congress matters to all of us who value the separation of powers here in the House, and it will matter to all of those who value the separation of powers in the United States Senate.
Article 1 vests in the House the sole power of impeachment. That's set forth in the Constitution. So what has the President done? President Trump is the first and only President in American history to openly and indiscriminately defy all aspects of constitutional impeachment process.
On October 26th, the President argued that Congress should not even be allowed to impeach him under the Constitution. And then on October 8th, the White House counsel acting on behalf of the President wrote a letter to the House and said that President Trump cannot permit his administration to participate.
Well, this is not a fishing expedition. This is a matter of grave importance and we've talked about at length the abuse of power that the President has exhibited. But what -- why did the President refuse to produce what we we've heard about the dozen officials that he's blocked? But what about all of the documents that we've asked for?
What about the witnesses who did come forward who told us about the briefing materials for President Trump's call with President Zelensky that were prepared by Lieutenant Colonel Vindman? And the National Security Council staff summaries of conclusions from meetings relating to Ukraine, including military assistance?
And what about the Memorandum of Conversation for President Trump's meeting in New York with President Zelensky on September 25th? And what of the -- all of the additional documents from the Vice President, the notes taken by Jennifer Williams during the call between President Trump with President Zelensky? The briefing materials prepared for the Vice President's meeting with President Zelensky?
And on November 24th, a news report revealed the White House conducted an internal records review and turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate after the fact justification for the decision. That's what we're talking about.
Obstruction of Congress matters because we know what we're looking for. We know how important it is. The President has stood in the way of this House of Representatives doing its important work. The President should allow -- should have allowed these officials to speak, should have allowed these documents to speak.
My colleagues on the other side understand that this is not a fishing expedition. They know that these documents are there. And if they were to help the President, they would be urging the President to work with us, rather than obstruct us.
We have to proceed with this obstruction of Congress Article of Impeachment, and I oppose this amendment. I yield the balance of my time to Mr. Johnson.
H. JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Deutch. Tonight, we are called upon to protect the nation's core values and I'm going to tell you money and the economy are not our core values. Cutting regulations are not our core values. Tax cuts for the top one percent are not core values. Withholding desperately needed security assistance from an ally, desperately in need is not our core value. Coercing a foreign power to interfere in a Presidential election is not our core value. Giving Congress the finger as it seeks to exercise its authority as a co- equal branch of government is not a core value.
I'll tell you what our core value is: Fair and free elections and respect for the Constitution and to take care that your duties are faithfully executed. As President, that is our core value, the faithful execution of the Office of the President, the upholding of the Oath of Office are our core values. To the best of your ability, preserving, protecting and defending our Constitution. That is the nation's core values.
When a President commits a grave abuse of the public trust by running roughshod over the high office of President, then Congress is left with no choice but to do its duty to protect the public and the Republic from clear and present danger. We must impeach this President. And with that, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. To what purpose does Mr. Jeffries seek recognition?
JEFFRIES: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
JEFFRIES: Donald Trump pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain, at the same time, withheld $291 million in military aid from a vulnerable Ukraine without justification as part of a scheme to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election.
The July 25th rough transcript is a smoking gun and Donald Trump's words pulled the trigger. Five words, do us a favor, though. And the central question for us to resolve on this Committee is whether the President sought a political favor or is he, as my Republican colleague suggest an anti-corruption crusader? That notion is laughable.
Well, let's just check the record to see what it says. Donald Trump spoke to the Ukrainian President twice, once on April 21st. He did not use the word corruption once. He had a second call with the President of Ukraine on July 25th. He did not use the word corruption once.
Donald Trump's own Department of Defense, wrote a letter to the Congress on May 23rd and said that the new Ukrainian government -- the new Ukrainian government had satisfied all necessary preconditions to receive the aid including the implementation of anti-corruption protocols. That was Donald Trump's Department of Defense saying there are no corruption concerns that should justify the withholding of the aid.
That's why so many Trump-appointed witnesses came forward and were troubled. And I just want to enter into the record three. Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who was on the call, reported his concern because, quote, "They had significant national security implications for the country." And Lieutenant Colonel Vindman said it is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen for a political opponent.
That was Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, Iraq war veteran, Purple Heart recipient, 20 years of active duty.
Gordon Sondland, Ambassador appointed by Donald Trump, what did he say? Everybody was in the loop. It was no secret. Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes. Is Sondland a never-Trumper? He was appointed by Donald Trump. He gave $1 million to Trump's inauguration.
And then of course, there's Bill Taylor. West Point graduate. What did he say? To withhold that assistance for no good reason, other than help with a political campaign made no sense. It was illogical. It could not be explained. It was crazy. That is the record evidence that has been established.
Donald Trump did not care about alleged corruption in Ukraine. He sought a political favor.
And at the same time that Donald Trump was allegedly concerned with corruption in Ukraine, he authorized $8 billion in weapons sales to the corrupt Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states -- $8 billion, in April, he authorized. People supposedly concerned about corruption. This is a regime that butchered a "Washington Post" journalist with a bone saw and then lied about it.
And at the same time, he was withholding money from Ukraine, he authorized $8 billion in weapons sales over the objection of Congress.
The President pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain. He solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election. The record is clear, he abused his power. He must be held accountable because in America, no one is above the law.
I yield back, Mr. Chair.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what purpose does Mr. Collins seek recognition?
COLLINS: Strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
COLLINS: You know, it is -- it is -- I've listened to this and you know, this idea of the process and the -- I fully support this amendment sorted -- all of it -- because frankly, we're in a position right here where we don't need to be.
But it's also been very interesting just to listen all day today to the trying to build a case out of nothing. And like I said, I've already went through the fact that we have -- that the majority has already disparage beyond belief Mr. Zelensky. I'm not sure why they just chose to end up with character assassination, but they did, and they still are.
I'm not sure why they choose to continue to put out Articles saying that members of the Ukraine military died because of aid that was withheld, that was -- it's just a lie and even their own Articles to prove it says well, we can't actually say that that's true. But keep sending it out there.
Believe me the American people are watching this -- this -- farce, but it is amazing to me to listen to my colleagues now talk about how we do proper process and subpoenas.
Let me just take you on a little Wonderland trip back through this Committee this year, in which we issued more subpoenas and we did more things that were just amazingly outrageous than I could ever imagine.
In fact, we've learned some stuff this year, and no offense to my Chairman, he has been -- he's been doing his best he could to satisfy the many demands of being the Chairman who has to go over to get impeachment over.
But we've learned this year, these subpoenas were, you know, they just -- they just help you look better in court. We learned that subpoenas are a conversation starter. I'm not sure what that is about. But I know in court that they're not as a conversation starter. They're compelling information.
They're actually wanting us to move forward, and so when you really look at this and you start talking about how the Democrats have been denied process and denied this, you know, it is really interesting to me that again, 70-something days...
The other day, I think, the gentlelady from California said that -- tried to make the comparison. It was not fast as the Ken Starr investigation was done. But that was after almost three and a half years of investigation.
In this one, we've had since September till now. We're -- the majority frankly is acting like petulant children who are not getting their way quick enough because Santa Claus hadn't come yet. Believe me, they're getting ready to vote for their Christmas present.
I think the American people next November will remember this Christmas present. But it goes back even further. I remember in a time and we -- if we want to talk about the sanctity of subpoenas, then why did the majority withdraw from the Kupperman suit? Why did they withdraw from that? They wanted to continue -- they could have done this. They could have had this charade and still stayed in court.
No, it's just a waste of time. We're not going to do it.
So don't hand me these high and mighty arguments about process. This is not about obstructing Congress, which right now -- it's about Congress just being petulant, and saying, we don't want -- well, we don't want it because we wanted it now.
And I can think back to February of this year. Acting Attorney General Whitaker, you remember this? I'll remind some of the folks because many of you are here who wrote about this. They were trying to get acting Attorney General Whitaker here because they were trying to make political points before the -- as the year got started, because there was nothing rolling yet. Mueller hadn't happened. So they couldn't talk about it except in broad generic terms. Bill Barr wasn't sworn in yet.
And one week before Bill Barr was sworn in, we brought in Mr. Whitaker. Now we threatened him with a subpoena and made public declaration about a subpoena until we found out the night before they sent him a letter saying if you show up, we won't do that subpoena. No, we won't do that. I mean, we found it all right. Here, we talked about it.
So it's a little bit hard for me to hear how this Congress, this Committee, and then we're not even going to get started on Mr. Schiff, who, again, loves the camera, loves the microphone, loves his own gavel, but doesn't like to actually have to answer our own questions about his own work and what he has actually done.
He don't have to answer questions of him and Mr. Goldman last week when Mr. Goldman was here on who actually ordered the matching of that so that they could unmask Ranking Member and journalist, when they could have just as easily put in, if it had been proper member one, Congress person one, individual anyway, it doesn't matter. They could use whatever they wanted to, but no, they did it for drive-by purposes.
So tonight, as we hear the angst, and we hear the just playing out just flat out hypocrisy.
Remember that this is the majority that had one thing in mind and I will not deny that they have not passed bills. But I'll also deny that they've not passed bills enough that actually can get any bipartisanship in the Senate, which is known for that. We've done that before and this Committee. We pass bills that actually get signed into law.
Instead, we want to talk subpoenas that we don't enforce processes that we don't follow law. Why? Because you can't make the argument. You don't have abuse of power and you definitely don't have obstruction of Congress. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what purpose does Miss Demings seek recognition?
DEMINGS: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentlelady is recognized.
DEMINGS: Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment. One of my colleagues said a minute ago that we're using the law as a weapon. Well, the law is the weapon against people who violate it, don't respect it, don't obey it.
My Republican colleagues have claimed that there is not enough here to impeach a President. I have heard them previously say that this is merely about eight lines from one phone call.
Well, perhaps they forgot that the pressure against Ukraine lasted for months. Perhaps they forgot that trying to limit this to merely eight lines on one phone call underestimates the risk to our national security and our national interest.
You see, Ukraine's ability to protect themselves against Russian aggression is directly tied to our ability to protect ourselves from Russian aggression. But that's right. This President only cares about and I quote, "the big stuff." Big stuff, big things that are directly tied to his personal agenda.
But my colleagues also seem to ignore the pattern of behavior, the pattern of misconduct and certainly the abuse of power. First, the President welcomed interference in the 2016 election. His campaign had multiple contacts with Russia, and he himself publicly invited Russia to interfere. Remember this? Russia, if you're listening, I hope you are able to find a 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
Then, after the Special Counsel was assigned to investigate the President's conduct, the President tried to cover it up by obstructing the investigation and refusing to cooperate.
Then this one really as someone used to say, takes the cake, just one day after the Special Counsel testified before Congress, the President was at it again. Apparently, undeterred and emboldened. He demanded interference into the 2020 elections, telling a vulnerable ally, I would like you to do us a favor, though, and conditioned official acts on the announcement of a sham investigation into the President's chief political rival.
And true to form, after the President's scheme was exposed after he was caught, and Congress launched an investigation, the President tried to cover it up by trying to undertake a complete blockade of Congress's investigation.
The President's misconduct is a part of a pattern. First, the President invites foreign powers to interfere in our elections, and then he instructs -- he obstructs lawful inquiries into his behavior, whether by Congress or by law enforcement, and then he does it again because remember, he believes he is above the law and he certainly has the full support of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
Most recently, the President suggested publicly that China, why don't you come on in? The water is warm. China should interfere in our elections by investigating former Vice President Joe Biden.
The President has taken no accountability for his misconduct. He has shown no remorse, no surprises there. Rather, he has doubled down and made clear that he will continue to solicit interference in our election for his own personal gain, not the gain of the American people.
He will continue to disregard a co-equal branch of government that were designed to keep the Executive Branch in check. In other words, unless he is stopped, the President will continue to erode our democracy and the values on which our country was founded. We cannot and we will not allow that to happen. And, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields backward. For what purpose does Mr. Ratcliffe, seek recognition?
RATCLIFFE: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
RATCLIFFE: A yield to Mr. Reschenthaler. RESCHENTHALER: I thank the gentleman from Texas. You know, there's a saying, and that's facts don't care about your feelings. So let's go through some facts.
Let's talk about the Trump administration and how much they actually have cooperated with Congress. In the report, the Schiff report. Chairman Schiff argued that President Trump has obstructed the Impeachment Inquiry.
In a letter sent to request deposition witnesses, Chairman Schiff wrote, and I quote, "Any failure to appear for a scheduled deposition shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's Impeachment Inquiry," end quote.
However, there's ample evidence of the administration complying with the Congressional Oversight and Investigations during 2017 and 2018 even with congressional probes that the administration did not find legitimate.
For example, over 25 administration officials testified before the House Oversight Committee. Over 20 administration officials had testified before the House Judiciary Committee. Additionally, as of the start of the Democrats Impeachment Inquiry, the administration has produced more than 100,000 pages of documents to the House Oversight Committee. That's over 100,000 pages of documents. I must say they produced them in a timely manner. They didn't dump them within 48 hours of a hearing. But again, I digress.
The administration also engaged in investigations that they disagreed with. For example, the House Oversight Democrats initiated a sweeping investigation into the White House security clearances practices despite the President's broad authority to grant security clearances to whomever the administration wishes.
In that investigation, the administration provided the current White House Chief Security Officer to brief both members and staff the White House security clearance process.
The administration has also provided Committee staff with in-camera reviews of over 500 pages of White House documents and policies related to the security clearance process.
The F.B.I. has also allowed Committee staff to review in-camera hundreds of documents pertaining to that rule. The White House Security Clearance has played -- has briefed both members of the committee staff on their role in the White House security clearance process and provided Committee staff with multiple follow up briefings regarding their own internal security clearance process.
We've heard Democrats talk this evening about the border. So let's just talk about the border and the administration's willingness to open themselves up to review in that regard, too.
The administration has produced more than 9,600 documents in response to the Committee's subpoenas related to child separation at the border. Again, that's over 9,600 documents. Additionally, in August and September of 2019, the administration accommodated nine separate multi-day surprise congressional visits to ICE and DHS facilities across the country.
The administration has worked with Committee -- with the Committee staff to observe 11 C.P.B. holding facilities, 13 ICE detention facilities and six state licensed privately run facilities that contract -