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House Debating Two Articles of Impeachment Against Trump; GOP Leadership Speaks; Judiciary CMTE Leads Debate. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired December 18, 2019 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:00] CORREA: -- Yet I'm here to do my job as a member of Congress.

(UNTRANSLATED). And today, I pray for God for his guidance in uniting our great nation.

And with that, Mr. -- the gentleman from New York, I yield.

SPEAKER: The gentleman will be required to provide a translation of -- of your remarks.

The gentleman from New York. Do you reserve, Mr. Nadler?

NADLER: Reserve.

SPEAKER: Gentleman reserves.

Mr. Collins is recognized.

COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SPEAKER: Yes.

COLLINS: I would just have to disagree with my chairman. I'm not sure what he's been watching, but facts are not undisputed. They're -- in fact, they're very much disputed not only by the minority but by the witnesses who actually testified.

With that, I yield a minute and a half to the gentlemen from Georgia, Mr. Carter.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized.

CARTER: I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to the Democrats' sham process which makes a mockery of the rules of the House and is, frankly, dangerous to this country.

Since day one the Democrats have made it clear that they wanted to move towards impeachment, well before any of the accusations took place. What Democrats, unfortunately, don't recognize is the damage that this will cause for our political institutions and America's trust for years to come. Every American should be concerned that Speaker Pelosi doesn't trust our citizens to let them decide who should lead our great country.

This impeachment process isn't focused on strengthening and protecting our political foundations, but rather shaping public opinion. I ask you is it worth that? Not only is the process alarming, but it's wasting taxpayers' dollars and valuable time that elected officials could be using to move our country forward. That includes securing our borders, addressing our student loan debt, or bringing down the cost of health care and prescription drugs.

I urge all of my colleagues while considering these articles to ask themselves whether this is truly being done for the good of the country.

Thank you, Madam -- Mr. Speaker, and I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman yields back.

The gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler.

NADLER: I would remind the gentleman that after recovering millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, the Mueller investigation was actually a net plus for the taxpayers.

I now recognize the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Neguse, for two minutes.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Colorado is recognized.

NEGUSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

And I want to thank Chairman Nadler and Speaker Pelosi for their leadership and their moral courage.

Today, the House of Representatives is debating whether to take the rare step of voting to impeach a president for only the third time in our country's history. Unfortunately, President Trump has left us no choice.

The fact of the matter is that the president abused the power of his office and invited a foreign country to interfere in our elections. In so doing, he undermined the sanctity of the free and fair elections upon which our republic rests.

Making matters worse, over the past several months President Trump and his administration have done everything they can to prevent Congress from uncovering the truth.

Let us be clear: In the history of our republic, no president has ever obstructed Congress like this before.

During the Watergate investigation, as my colleagues well know, President Nixon's chief of staff testified before Congress. President Trump's chief of staff refused. President Nixon's counsel testified. President Trump's refused. White House aides close to President Nixon testified. President Trump refused to allow any aide who may have knowledge relevant to this investigation to testify.

[13:05:00]

Simply put, his administration has engaged in a wholesale obstruction of Congress, and that is exactly why we're considering not just one, but two Articles of Impeachment before the House today.

Every member of this body has a responsibility to uphold our Constitution, to defend our republic and, when necessary, to hold the executive branch accountable. And we are exercising that responsibility today.

So, with that, and therefore, I will vote yes on both articles, because it what the Constitution requires...

SPEAKER: Gentleman's time has expired.

NEGUSE: ... and what my conscience demands.

And with that, I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman yields back.

The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Wow, I'd never thought that a Department of Justice investigation was used as a money revenue plot, but I guess one thing is true: It was a loser for the minority in a net profit situation.

For that, I yield to Mr. Newhouse a minute and a half.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

NEWHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, the people's House should be better than this. We should be better than this.

During a member's remarks in the Judiciary Committee -- Committee's impeachment proceedings, he stated, and I quote, "To my Republican colleagues, how do you want to be remembered during this watershed moment in our nation's history?"

Well, Mr. Speaker, it won't be watching sports on a laptop during official Judiciary Committee proceedings to impeach a sitting president. It won't be using expletives to refer to our president, calling for his impeachment just hours after being sworn into Congress. It won't being using the chairmanship of the once-respected Intelligence Committee to distort the president's words in order to mislead the American people. And it certainly won't be using the most serious and solemn powers of Congress to overturn a legitimate national election for political expediency.

No, Mr. Speaker, my fellow Republican colleagues and I won't be remembered in history for doing any of those things, because we know this is far too grave a matter for subversions such as these of our democratic republic. We should all be better than this.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back.

COLLINS: Reserve.

SPEAKER: Gentleman reserves.

Mr. Nadler?

NADLER: Mr. Speaker, may I inquire how much time remains on both sides?

SPEAKER: Mr. Nadler, you are advised, sir, that you have 156 and 3/4 minutes remaining. The gentleman from Georgia is -- has 157 minutes remaining. Divide that by 60.

(LAUGHTER)

NADLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I now yield two minutes to the distinguished gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Escobar.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized.

ESCOBAR: Our country faces a great tragedy and moment of truth. We have witnessed the president of the United States abuse his public office for personal political gain and invite foreign governments to interfere in our elections, putting the integrity of a government of, for and by the people at great risk. The evidence is overwhelming and clearly shows that President Trump will continue to abuse his office and obstruct Congress if left unchecked.

The Intelligence Committee conducted a robust investigation into the president's misconduct. Members interviewed 12 witnesses in public hearings totaling over 30 hours, conducted 17 depositions totaling over 100 hours; examined text messages and e-mails, reviewed the president's own words and actions, and published a 300-page report detailing their findings. All of this, despite the fact that under the president's direction, 12 current and former administration officials refused to testify, even ignoring subpoenas and 71 document requests were denied.

The Judiciary Committee then reviewed the evidence and concluded that two Articles of Impeachment -- which I support -- were warranted.

The evidence shows that President Trump is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and our national security. The most powerful evidence of this pattern had come from the president himself. In 2016, we heard him when he called on Russia to interfere in our elections. He said, "Russia, if you're listening."

He then repeated this call for election interference on the July 25th call with the Ukrainian president. And we heard him again on the White House lawn, further adding China to that mix.

[13:10:00]

I stand ready to protect our sacred Republic, support these Articles of Impeachment, and I pray that my colleagues have the courage to do the same. We must uphold our oath office, defend the Constitution and our fragile democracy, because no one is above the law.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady yields back.

The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Rutherford.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

RUTHERFORD: I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, in 2016 Vladimir Putin and his cronies waged a war on our elections with the goal of sowing discord and division in America. Do you think he's been successful?

Somewhere in Russia right now, Putin is laughing at us today. The majority has given him exactly what he wants: a divided America, with a pure partisan politics, with nasty political rhetoric at an all-time high, that some, already, across the aisle, are discrediting the results of future elections. Already.

It seems to many Americans that for the past three years the House majority has been carrying out the wishes of the Kremlin. And the sad part is, the Democrats have vowed to continue their sham investigations even after today's vote.

Impeaching a duly elected president in a purely partisan manner with no crimes to show for it, not one element of a crime defined, disgraces the integrity of our democracy. Now is the time to end the partisan politics, come together and put America first. I urge this body to vote no to partisan impeachment.

SPEAKER: The gentleman yields back.

COLLINS: Reserve.

SPEAKER: The gentleman reserves.

Mr. Nadler.

NADLER: Mr. Speaker, I now yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from New York, Mr. Jeffries.

SPEAKER: Mr. Jeffries is recognized for two minutes. JEFFRIES: George Washington in his farewell address to the nation counseled America that the Constitution is sacredly obligatory upon all. It is in that spirit that we proceed today.

Donald Trump pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain, and at the same time withheld without justification $391 million in military aid to a vulnerable Ukraine as part of a scheme to solicit foreign interference in an American election. That is unacceptable, that is unconscionable, that is unconstitutional.

There are some who cynically argue that the impeachment of this president will further divide an already fractured union, but there is a difference between division and clarification.

Slavery once divided the nation, but emancipators rose up to clarify that all men are created equally. Suffrage once divided the nation, but women rose up to clarify that all voices must be heard in our democracy. Jim Crow once divided the nation, but civil rights champions rose up to clarify that all are entitled to equal protection under the law. There is a difference between division and clarification.

We will hold this president accountable for his stunning abuse of power. We will hold this president accountable for undermining our national security. We will hold this president accountable for corrupting our democracy. We will impeach Donald John Trump. We will clarify that in America no one is above the law.

SPEAKER: The gentleman yields back.

The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I now yield two minutes from the gentleman from California, Mr. McClintock.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

MCCLINTOCK: Mr. Speaker, nullifying a national election requires an overwhelming case of high crimes supported by indisputable evidence that the vast majority of the nation finds compelling.

Now Article 1's a made-up crime called abuse of office. It does not charge that the president broke any law, but that Congress doesn't like how he lawfully discharged his constitutional duties. This would reduce the presidency to that of a minister serving at the pleasure of Congress, destroying the separation of powers at the heart of our Constitution.

Article 2 is another made-up crime, called obstruction of Congress. It means the president sought to defend his constitutional rights and those of his office. It removes the judiciary from our Constitution and places Congress alone in the position of defining the limits of its own powers relative to the president. [13:15:00]

Our Bill of Rights guarantees every American the right to confront their accuser, to call witnesses in their defense, to be protected from hearsay and to defend these rights in court. The Democrats have trampled them all in their stampede to impeach.

Even in this kangaroo court, the Democrats' handpicked witnesses provided no firsthand knowledge the president linked aid to action. In fact, two witnesses provided firsthand knowledge that he specifically ordered no quid pro quo.

Any case that charged no actual crime and offered no legally admissible evidence would be laughed out of court in a heartbeat. That's the case before us today. It would redefine the grounds for impeachment in such a way that assures that it will become a constant presence in our national life.

Now we know just how reckless is the Democrats' chant of resist by any means necessary. This is a stunning abuse of power and a shameless travesty of justice that will stain the reputations of those responsible for generations to come.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman yields back.

COLLINS: Reserve.

SPEAKER: The gentleman reserves.

Mr. Nadler.

NADLER: Mr. Speaker, abuse of power was no vague or weak notion to the framers. It had a very specific meaning: the use of official power to obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest. President Trump has abused his office and must be removed.

I now yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Cohen.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

COHEN: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, from our founding the United States has been a special nation, a city upon a hill. Our values are enshrined in our Constitution: liberty, equality and opportunity.

We are a self-governing people where every person is equal before the law. In the United States we don't have a king, we chose our leaders. We vote. Generations of Americans have fought and some have died to secure these inalienable rights.

The Constitution begins, "We the people of the United States"; that's us. It's not "We the leaders of Russia, Ukraine or China," or "We the Democrats," or "We the Republicans." It's, "We the people of the United States," and all Americans and only Americans get to have a say in our elections.

Donald Trump used the high power of the presidency to pressure a foreign nation to besmirch his perceived primary political opponent. He corrupted our elections and compromised our national security so that he could keep power; not power for the people, power for himself.

In 2016, candidate Trump called for foreign interference when he said, "Russia if you are listening." In 2019 President Trump sought foreign interference when he needed a favor from Ukraine to intervene in the 2020 elections.

President Trump attacked and is a continuing threat to our system of free and fair elections. Like all of you, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution. I urge my colleagues to abide by that oath and stand up to President Trump's abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

To my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I appeal to your patriotism and implore you to defend free and fair elections and preserve the Constitution.

God save the United States of America.

I yield back the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman yields back. And the gentleman and all members are reminded to address their comments to the chair.

The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

And I do believe, Mr. Speaker, that our elections should be free and fair. I do believe that with all my heart, except it seems like in this case this impeachment is based on the fact that the speaker, who said in this month -- or last month that it would be dangerous to leave it to the voters to determine if Mr. Trump stays in office.

With that, I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Higgins.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

C. HIGGINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have descended into the belly of the beast. I have witnessed the terror within. And I rise committed to oppose the insidious forces, which threaten our republic.

America's being severely injured by this betrayal, by this unjust and weaponized impeachment brought upon us by the same socialists who threatened unborn life in the womb, who threaten First Amendment rights of conservatives, who threaten Second Amendment protections of every American patriot, and who have long ago determined that they would organize and conspire to overthrow President Trump.

We don't face this horror because the Democrats have all of a sudden become constitutionalist. We're not being devoured from within because of some surreal assertion of the socialist newfound love of the very flag that they trod upon.

[13:20:00]

We face this horror because of this map. This is what the Democrats fear. They fear the true will of we the people. They are deep establishment D.C. They fear -- they call this Republican map fly-over country. They call us deplorables. They fear our faith, they fear our strength, they fear our unity, they fear our vote, and they fear our president.

We will never surrender our nation to career establishment D.C. politicians and bureaucrats. Our republic shall survive this threat from within. American patriots shall prevail.

Mr. Speaker, I yield.

SPEAKER: The gentleman yields back.

COLLINS: I reserve.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler.

NADLER: Mr. Speaker, I now yield two minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Johnson.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Johnson is recognized.

H. JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was not among those who supported impeachment before Ukraine, but I call for impeachment today because our president is, as we speak, abusing his power and placing himself above the law.

President Trump's attempt to sabotage the 2020 election is a clear and present danger on our democracy. We the people know this and more Americans support impeachment today than at any time since Richard Nixon's final weeks in office.

We know that it's wrong to enlist the help of foreigners in our -- in interfering in our elections. We know it's wrong to cheat. And we know what's at stake. It's not just that our elections were attacked; our elections are under attack right now.

The very day the Judiciary Committee voted out articles of impeachment, President Trump welcomed Rudy Giuliani back to the White House. President Trump is still at it. He's doubling down. He doesn't think he can win an election fair and square, so he's trying to cheat.

To ignore these crimes is not just giving the president a pass, it's giving him a green light. Those who vote against impeachment are not just endorsing President Trump's past actions, but his future ones as well.

If you think I exaggerate in warning that our elections can be undermined, I'd urge you to come down to Georgia, find a black man or woman of a certain age and they'll tell you the danger is real. And they'll tell you of brave Americans, patriots willing to risk far more than a political career, who marched and struggled and sometimes died so that we could have fair and free elections.

We're not asked to possess even a fraction of their courage. We're simply called upon today to do what's right. And I'm proud to vote yes on impeachment.

And with that I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I would -- I'm glad that my colleague, Madam Speaker, just mentioned Georgia, because in the last -- since 2014, the actual voter participation among minorities, African-American female, African- American male, Hispanic male and Hispanic female, have risen double digits.

I'm very proud of what Georgia is doing to get everybody to the poll. I'm glad he chose to highlight it. Unfortunately, he just highlighted it in the wrong way.

And I will now (ph) yield. Ms. -- Madam Speaker, I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Meuser.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for a minute and a half.

MEUSER: Madam Speaker, back home people refer to Capitol Hill as a bubble. They are right. It's as if we are completely detached from what's going on in communities across America.

Many here don't hear or listen to what people are saying. And many here as well think they know better than the people we serve.

Our communities are benefiting greatly from President Trump's agenda: a booming economy, secure border, better trade deals and a stronger military. Unfortunately, inside the halls of Congress, the Democrats' obsession with impeachment is all-consuming.

Is this how Democrat leadership chooses to represent the people of America by nullifying the results of the 2016 election, disregarding the will of the American people and doing everything in their power to prevent the president and this Congress from doing the job we were elected to do?

After three years of trying, months of unfair, politically motivated impeachment proceedings, Democrats have delivered two weak Articles of Impeachment.

Abuse of power? Not according to the Ukraine. President Zelensky confirmed many times that there was no quid pro quo, no action taken and significant military aid was delivered without anything in return. Of course his words have been conveniently dismissed.

Obstruction of Congress? Is this the new standard. If this is the new standard, then every president since Jimmy Carter and every president moving forward would and will be impeached.

[13:25:00]

Let me be clear: It is an honor to serve in the United States House of Representatives, but today I am distraught. Today, Democrats will disregard the will of the American people and vote to impeach the duly elected president of the United States. What should be equally troubling is that this has eroded, if not wiped out...

SPEAKER: The gentleman's time has expired.

MEUSER: ... the trust the American people have in the 116th Congress.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, President Trump said "No quid pro quo" only after the White House learned of the whistleblower complaint and after The Washington Post had published an article about the president's pressure campaign on Ukraine.

I now yield two minutes to the distinguished gentlelady from California, Ms. Bass.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized for two minutes.

BASS: Madam Speaker, this is a sad day in U.S. history when we have to vote on Articles of Impeachment because Donald Trump has abused the power of the Office of the Presidency in his attempt to cheat his way to reelection.

The facts are uncontested.

Fact one, the president abused the power of his office by attempting to shake down the president of a country that has been our ally. Trump wanted President Zelensky of the Ukraine to dig up, to make up dirt on Vice President Biden because he sees him as the biggest threat to his reelection.

Fact two, Trump wanted Zelensky to go before the press and announce an investigation of Biden, hoping the mere announcement would create doubt about Biden and strengthen Trump's hand in the 2020 election.

Fact three, Trump obstructed Congress by engaging in a cover-up. Trump has refused to comply with congressional subpoenas and has blocked current and past employees from testifying before congressional committees.

Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and one of our central responsibilities is to provide oversight and investigation of the administration, the very checks and balances the framers built into the Constitution so no one branch would have unchecked power.

The House of Representatives has no choice but to vote and pass Articles of Impeachment because President Trump has abused his power and obstructed the ability of Congress from performing our constitutional duty.

The urgency to move forward with Articles of Impeachment is because there is no reason to believe President Trump won't continue to abuse the power of his office, no reason to believe he won't continue to put his foot on the scale of his reelection, and in fact his attorney just returned from the Ukraine and in an article just released in The New Yorker magazine confesses to continuing the effort to interfere in the election.

In many of our congressional districts, we worry about voter suppression and schemes that purge legitimate voters from participating in the election, or we worry about Russian interference in our election. It is a sad day in America when we have to worry about the commander in chief interfering in the election in order to be reelected. Elections should be decided by the American people.

I will vote for both Articles of Impeachment. It is my constitutional duty that fulfill my oath of office.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady's time has expired.

BASS: No one is above the law.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I yield two minutes to the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Stewart.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for two minutes.

STEWART: I discovered something recently. It's shocking I know, but it turns out that some people don't like President Trump. They think he's loud. They think he can be arrogant. They think sometimes he says bad words and sometimes he's rude to people. And to their sensitive natures, they've been offended. I get that. I really do.

But let's be clear: This vote, this day has nothing to with Ukraine, i has nothing to do with abuse of power, it has nothing to do with obstruction of Congress.

This vote, this day is about one thing and one thing only: They hate this president. They hate those of us who voted for him. They think we're stupid. They think we made a mistake. They think Hillary Clinton should be the president and they want to fix that.

That's what this vote is about. They want to take away my vote and throw it in the trash. They want to take away my president and delegitimize him so that he cannot be reelected. That's what this vote is about.

And for those who think this started with this investigation, what nonsense. You've been trying to impeach this president since before he was sworn into office. Some of you introduced Articles of Impeachment before he was sworn into office.

This isn't something you're approaching prayerfully and mournfully and sadly. Oh the chaos. Oh the sadness. This is something you're gleeful about. And you've been trying to do it for three years.

And it's very clear. You don't have to go back and Google very much to find out that is the absolute truth. I could give you pages of examples of things you have said for three years about this president. That's what this is about.

And if you think -- if this impeachment is successful, the next president --

[13:30:00]