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Continued Coverage of the House Debate on the Articles of Impeachment. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired December 18, 2019 - 15:00   ET

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


BUCHANAN: Let's let the people decide this next November.

[15:00:00]

And I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back.

Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield one minute to the gentlelady from Michigan, Ms. Tlaib.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

TLAIB: Thank you.

I rise today in support of impeachment.

I learn so much every single day from my residents at home. Their common sense and understanding of what is right and wrong is centered on why they oppose any person using the most powerful position in the world for personal gain.

We honor our veterans in this chamber almost on a daily basis, but do we ever follow their lead where we serve the people of the United States and uphold the Constitution not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans? We should learn from their sense of duty and responsibility to country and democracy, not political party.

Doing nothing here, Madam Speaker, is not an option. Looking away from these crimes against our country is not an option. This is about protecting the future of our nation and our democracy from corruption, abuse of power, criminal cover-ups and bribery.

And this, Madam Speaker, this vote is also for my sons and the future of so many generations. So I urge my colleagues to, please, vote yes on these Articles of Impeachment.

With that, Madam Speaker, I yield.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

At this time, I yield a minute and a half to the gentlemen from Pennsylvania, Mr. Joyce

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for a minute and a half.

J. JOYCE: Madam Speaker, I rise today on this dark day in the United States House of Representatives to voice my opposition to the shameful impeachment process that has occurred in the people's house.

Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle do not like President Trump. We know this because they proudly boasted about their intention to impeach our president before he was even sworn into office.

Out of disdain for the president and for those of us who elected him, the House of Representatives is considering two Articles of Impeachment that are so very weak that they even fail to include specific crimes.

The people that I represent in south central and southwestern Pennsylvania know the truth. The American people know the truth. This impeachment circus has never been about the facts. This process has always been about seeking revenge for the president's election in 2016 and attempting to prevent him from winning again in 2020.

Madam Speaker, I wholeheartedly oppose this partisan and shameful effort to impeach our democratically and duly elected president for the sake of our nation. I urge my colleagues to join with me and vote no on the articles of impeachment.

Thank you. I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back.

Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, all we keep hearing from the other side are attacks on the process and questions of our motives. We do not hear, because we cannot hear, because they cannot articulate a real defense of the president's actions.

I now yield one minute to the gentlelady from Massachusetts, Ms. Pressley.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

PRESSLEY: Madam Speaker, I rise today to protect our democracy.

Today, we take a stand against corruption and abuses of power. What we are doing here today is not only patriotic, it is uniquely American.

America is a story of ordinary people confronting abuses of power with the steadfast pursuit of justice. Throughout our history, the oppressed have been relegated to the margins by the powerful, and each time we have fought back. Deliberate in our approach, clear-eyed, each generation has fought for the preservation of our democracy. And that is what brings us to the House floor today, efficiency and effective in the pursuit of our truth. Congress has done its due diligence. Today we send a clear message: We will not tolerate abuses of power from the president of the United States of America. The future of this nation rests in our hands.

It is with a heavy heart, but a resolved one, and because I believe our democracy is worth fighting for, I will vote to impeach Donald J. Trump and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady yields back.

Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

And you know, again, and my chairman, again, I think hears this. He just doesn't want to acknowledge it.

When you have nothing but a process that was completely amuck, you talk about process. But you also -- I've already debunked the facts many times. Let's do it one more time.

No pressure by either Mr. Trump or Mr. Zelensky. In fact, what really just horrifies me is the continuation to say that Mr. Zelensky, who is the supposed victim here, had said many times there was no pressure. He is the -- the majority Democrats are calling him a liar or weakening him in his own country. That's deplorable.

[15:05:00]

There is no conditionality in the transcript or conditionality after that. Five meetings proved that, all high level meetings, no conditionality. Two of those meetings were after the Ukrainians actually knew of the possibility of the aid being held. They've not ever addressed the four truths and the five facts.

Also, after there was nothing done to get the money, guess what? They got the money. That's the facts, that's what they don't want to deal with, that's where we're at today. So let's continue to see how the shambles are perpetrated. That's what many of our members are talking about.

With that, I yield a minute and a half from the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Burgess.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for a minute and a half.

BURGESS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise today in opposition to the articles of impeachment against President Trump. I believe all American people -- be able -- need to be looked in the eye by all our representatives.

Today is the culmination of the Democrats three year long quest to delegitimize the president. This has been in the works since November 2016 and was all but promised when the Democrats took the majority. This sham process began without a formal vote in the House and was continued over these past several months, willfully trampling on decades of bipartisan precedent. No due process, closed door depositions, even though nothing in this investigation was classified, and leaking only details that fit their narrative.

If this isn't partisan politics, I don't know what is. Holding our elected officials accountable is a job I take extremely seriously but the impeach votes today represent the worst of Washington, D.C. Yet another reason my constituents are so disillusioned with the process and disappointed by the 116th Congress.

Michigan's 1st district sent me to Washington to get things done, to get the government off their backs and to help rural Michiganders and other people around the country keep more of their hard-earned currency, not to impeach our duly elected president.

With that, I urge my colleagues to vote against the articles of impeachment. I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back. Gentleman from New York?

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield one minute to the gentlelady from California, Ms. Barragan.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady's recognized for one minute.

BARRAGAN: Madam Speaker, it is with a solemn sense of duty that I rise today in support of impeachment. As this chamber debates two articles of impeachment against the president for his abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, I want history to know that I stood up to say that I stand for the Constitution and our democracy.

When my immigrant mom became a United States citizen, she took an oath and an allegiance to our country and Constitution. When I stood on this floor as a new member of Congress, I took an oath to uphold and defend our Constitution.

The president abused his power when he used his official office and power to ask a foreign government to interfere in our elections, when he asked a foreign government for a personal favor to dig up dirt on his political opponent so he could cheat.

The president got caught and then he tried to cover it up. Today, we say no more. Today, we say we will not allow this president to abuse his power and endanger our national security. I stand to say no one is above the law, not even this president. I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker, I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Perry.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for a minute and a half.

PERRY: I thank the gentleman. Since before inauguration, the press and members of this Congress have been for impeachment. Members refused to intend the inauguration. They called for impeachment, they voted for impeachment. Without any evidence, they voted for impeachment creating and manufacturing evidence.

Recall and votes of no confidence are not included in our Constitution for a reason. Our system demands evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. If such evidence existed, there would be an agreement in this chamber but there is not. There is not an agreement because there is not evidence.

Madison and Hamilton warned us that this might happen, that impeachment would veer toward political factions and that's exactly what this is. This is bitterly and nakedly partisan. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have made a mockery of this process and this government. They despise the president and are themselves abusing the power of this office, all to settle the political score they were unable to resolve at the ballot box.

Madam Speaker, they hope that if they repeat them over and over and stay on message, you will believe their charges. Repeating things that aren't true does not make them true. The call record between the two presidents is clear. President Trump was interested in getting to the bottom of what happened in the 2016 election. He asked the Ukrainians to work with our Attorney General. The Ukrainians were already getting the military hardware and they got the assistance money and the meeting they desired.

These are not crimes, these are disagreements over foreign policy and the fact that this president is conducting it. If it weren't so sad, it would be laughable, Madam Speaker.

[15:10:00]

My colleagues are not driven by a quest for facts or truth, they are driven by their partisan animus and a timetable. These are the reckless and irresponsible act (ph) of elitists in the swap -- swamp and they underline the fabric of our republic. I urge a no vote and I yield.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from New York?

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I would remind the gentleman that there is in fact extensive direct evidence, including the president's own words and actions, which is corroborated and supported by indirect and circumstantial evidence.

The record leaves the following key facts indisputable. President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, pushed Ukraine to investigate Vice President Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 elections.

President Trump directed U.S. officials and President Zelensky himself to work with Mr. Giuliani to fulfill his demands. President Trump withheld critical military aid for Ukraine and President Trump stonewalled Congress investigation to cover up his misconduct.

I now yield one minute to the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Casten.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for one minute. CASTEN: Madam Speaker, this should not be a partisan vote. This is a vote about America, it's a vote about democracy and our oath to the Constitution. We all took an oath to protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and we all know that what President Trump did was wrong, we all know it's wrong to withhold foreign aid as a political -- for a political favor, we know it's wrong to ignore congressional subpoenas and we know it's wrong to default to silly partisan process arguments rather than to rise and defend this beautiful but all too fragile democracy.

And when those in elected power abuse their position for personal advantage, it's on us to somberly uphold and defend the responsibility that our founders bestowed on us. So when you talk about partisanship, I'd remind you of those great words of Lincoln, and paraphrasing him slightly, "when one party would inflame partisanship rather than let the nation survive, I'm proud to be of the party that would accept partisanship rather than let the nation perish."

So in this moment, the answer is clear not because we want to impeach but because we must. So when you vote in a few hours, don't vote your party, vote your character. That's how you're going to be judged and that's how we're all going to be judged. Thank you and I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: Madam Speaker, I ask for a time check for both.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia has an hour and four -- an hour and 44 and a half minutes. The gentleman from New York has an hour and 47 and a half minutes.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. At this time, I yield a minute -- a -- a -- a minute and a half to the gentleman from Colorado, Mr. Tipton.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for a minute and a half.

TIPTON: Madam Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this partisan impeachment process. Make no mistake, this process did not begin with the whistleblower report. In fact, impeachment efforts began shortly after the president was elected.

The theatrics, political posturing have ensured that this body is not actually pursuing to preserve checks and balances. Rather, this process echoes the calls by some that refuse to accept the 2016 election results. Neither of the -- of the articles receiving a vote justify the removal of the president from office.

The first article suggests that the president pressured a foreign government to be able to assist in an upcoming election. Ukraine received its aid without a prearranged agreement. This is unsubstantiated.

The second article is premised on the obstruction that occurred when the White House ignored subpoenas issued by the House. Our federal courts are the ultimate arbiters of these decisions. In fact, previous administrations Republican and Democrat both have dealt with these issues and claimed executive privilege.

Mr. Speaker -- Madam Speaker, the articles that are before this House are unsubstantiated. I intend to vote no on these articles and I would encourage my colleagues to be able to do the same.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back. Gentleman from New York?

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield one minute to the gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Gallego.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for one minute.

GALLEGO: Madam Speaker, today I will vote to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Those still defending the president's actions are desperately grasping at straws while living in an alternative universe where facts don't exist.

To those still unwilling to search their souls, ask yourself would you support a Democratic president using taxpayer dollars to pressure a foreign government to investigate a Republican political opponent based on false Russian conspiracy theories? Of course not. That's absurd.

GALLEGO: Any president who does that has abused the power of the presidency for personal gain and undermined our most sacred tradition, our elections. In a few hours, every member will make a choice.

[15:15:00]

Will you fall into the age old political trap of thinking blind partisanship is all that matters or will you vote to defend the Constitution and our democracy so that the -- President Trump and every future president will know that they are not above the law and will be held accountable for their actions? I have made my choice. I hope every member puts the defense of our nation first and joins me.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I need to yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Nebraska, Mr. Smith.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for a minute and a half.

ADRIAN SMITH: Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak out against this attempt to remove the duly-elected president of the United States.

Impeachment is importantly established in our Constitution. The impeachment of a president has only happened twice in our country's 243-year history. Yet today, for highly-political purposes, the House majority is trying to remove President Trump from office based on secondhand, indirect accounts.

The articles of impeachment we are voting on today offer no evidence of a crime, but instead, are purposely broad to fit the majority's narrative. Less than one year until the next presidential election, we are being asked to override the choice of the American people. This lop-sided and hyper-partisan biased impeachment process has had -- has been predetermined as an outcome from the very beginning.

This is an unfortunate day in the history of our great country. We must hope this political game does not set a precedent of which to follow in the future. Surely, there will be disagreements between a president and Congress for many years to come. Instead of unnecessarily dividing our country as we are seeing today, we should be looking at ways to bring our -- bring our country together.

Thank you. I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back.

Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, President Trump's actions are both impeachable and criminal. Although the violation of the federal criminal statute is neither necessary nor sufficient to justify impeachment, President Trump's conduct violated the federal anti-bribery statute very clearly.

Madam Speaker, I now yield one minute to the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Beyer.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for one minute.

BEYER: I thank the chairman.

Madam Speaker, today I will vote to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. I don't hate the president, but I love my country and I have no other choice. Voting for these articles of impeachment is the only moral course of action, the only way to honor our Oath of Office. I have no doubt that the votes I cast today will stand the test of time.

This has nothing to do with the 2016 elections. I'm so disappointed, though, my Republican friends approve of the president's abuses of power and solicitation of foreign interference in our elections. This is the very definition of the willful suspension of disbelief. They know in their hearts that what the president has done is deeply wrong. They know that they would vote without hesitation to impeach a Democratic president who had done these things.

I remind all Americans the president did not rebut the facts, the many, many facts which have led to the articles of impeachment today. For the sake of our democracy, our Constitution and our country, we must do the right thing and vote to impeach President Trump.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back.

Gentleman from Georgia. COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was just amazed by what the chairman just said. If it was obvious that he violated the bribery statute clearly, then why didn't we add it as an article of impeachment? The reason why? He didn't.

(LAUGHTER)

With that, I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from -- from Mississippi, Mr. Guest.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for a minute and a half.

GUEST: Thank you, Ma'am. Article 2, Section 4 of the United States Constitution states that the president of the United States may be removed from office for treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors. As a former prosecutor, I am confident that no court would accept these articles of impeachment as having met the standards set forth by our Founding Fathers.

The impeachment articles rely almost exclusively on hearsay and opinion testimony, and they present no direct evidence of wrongdoing. As a former district attorney, I am dismayed that the Democrats have submitted articles of impeachment against a sitting president using circumstantial evidence that fails to offer proof of an impeachable offense.

Additionally, the charges levied against the president in the articles of impeachment lack historical precedent and are motivated by pure political reason. If the House of Representatives passes the articles of impeachment, the Democrats will have set a dangerous precedent by undoing America's votes for president because a single party disagreed with the 2016 presidential election results.

I urge my colleagues to vote no on the articles of impeachment, and I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield one minute to the distinguished gentleman from California, Mr. Thompson.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for one minute.

M. THOMPSON: Madam Speaker, I find no pleasure coming to the floor today to consider impeachment. I ran for Congress to represent my community and to serve the country I love.

[15:20:00]

As a combat veteran and having served eight years on the Intelligence Committee, I understand the threat that foreign actors can play in our elections. Every elected official must dedicate themselves to protecting our democracy. No one should invite a foreign country to interfere with our most sacred act of voting.

It was abuse of power by the president to ask a foreign nation to interfere in our election to benefit his personal and political interest and to condition bipartisan, congressionally-approved aid on that interference. Unchecked, these actions could lead us down a path that will unravel the fabric of our nation.

I am saddened that we're here today, but in the interest of defending our nation, I will vote for the articles of impeachment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. At this time, I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Roy.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for a minute and a half.

ROY: Thank the gentleman from Georgia.

Mr. Speaker, our founders intentionally did not embrace recalls or votes of no confidence. Rather, we demand from Congress evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. While my colleagues are free to dislike the president and while they may reasonably view the infamous phone call and negotiations with the Ukrainians as something less than perfect, they are not free to impeach something less than a high crime and misdemeanor.

In just over 10 months, though, the people are free to decide, and we should let them. The eyes of the world are upon us, Madam Speaker. The press galleries are full. Our floor filled with members. When will we give the world something better than this?

My colleagues wax eloquent about the Constitutions they found under mothballs. Where is respect for the Constitution when people's House daily refuses to do its actual job, while shredding federalism and limiting government? Today in Mexico, a young girl will be abused while being trafficked toward our open borders, while some here yell, "Kids in cages" and play race politics in the false name of compassion.

Today in New York, a young mother will be coerced into abortion by taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood while we allow the genocide of the unborn in the false name of choice. Today across America, diabetics will struggle to afford insulin due to a health care system ravaged by government and insurance bureaucrats empowered in the false name of coverage. And today, our children inherit $100 million of debt an hour, borrowed in the false name of what government can provide.

And this conduct by Congress failing to do its jobs, that should be impeached, and one might ask if America would be better off taking the first 435 names out of the phone book to represent us in the United States House than what is on display here today.

Today is not a dark day, because the American people know this: America is great, Washington is broken and we're taking our country back.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield one minute to the distinguished gentlelady from California, Ms. Matsui.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

MATSUI: Madam Speaker, I rise today with a heavy heart. I came to Congress to serve the great people of Sacramento and to build a better future from our children and grandchildren, including my grandkids, Anna (ph) and Robbie (ph).

The facts before us are crystal clear. We heard testimony from 17 brave patriots who value our democracy and the Constitution. They testified that President Trump threatened to withhold congressionally- approved money in exchange for dirt on a political rival. And worse, that he continues to invite foreign powers to violate our sovereignty even today.

On its face, these are impeachable offenses that represent a clear and present danger to our country. That's why the only answer is to act now. We need to stand together and stop President Trump immediately so that he cannot violate the next election. For the sake of our country and our democracy, I will vote yes to impeach the president, and I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Smucker.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for a minute and a half.

SMUCKER: Thank you. Madam Speaker, I rise today to ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, how much is the trust of the American people worth? When the American people are dissatisfied with their government, the -- the prime -- primary tool that the Constitution gives them to make a change is their vote, and on November 8th, 2016, Americans from every part of this nation packed the polls to elect Donald J. Trump to be the president of the United States. The country wanted a disrupter, a fighter, a deal maker, a president that would put America first.

But sadly, on that very same day, Democrats had no plan or interest in honoring the vote of the American people. They were going to attempt from day one to delegitimatize this president and ultimately remove him from office. Right after the president was sworn in, The Washington Post wrote, "The Campaign To Impeach President Trump Has Begun."

[15:25:00]

Even before he took office, a Politico article headline read, "Could Trump Be Impeached Shortly After He Takes Office?" So, House Democrats have been planning for this day since January 2017. It's clear that facts have never mattered to the House Democrats. They never planned to work with the president, instead they intended only to fulfill their divisive partisan agenda.

Again I ask, how much is the trust of the American people worth? Because after the vote today, for what you think is a short-term partisan gain, you can be sure that the American people will have lost their trust in our institution.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's time has expired.

SMUCKER: They will have lost their trust in Congress and most importantly, they will have lost trust that their vote counts.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield one minute to the gentleman from California, Mr. Garamendi.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized for one minutes.

GARAMENDI: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Impeaching a president is one of the most solemn and consequential decisions the United States Congress can make. It's not an action that I or my fellow House colleagues take lightly.

Investigations and hearings conducted by the House prove overwhelming evidence that President Trump abused his power and endangered our national security.

President Trump also issued a blanket order prohibiting all Executive Office personnel from testifying, responding to subpoenas or turning over documents. Therefore he has obstructed the legitimate the constitutional obligation of Congress.

The president's actions leave me no choice. President Trump violated his oath of office, now I will uphold my oath of office to preserve and protect our Constitution and my promise to my constituents to carefully analyze all issues before me. I will vote in favor of both Articles of Impeachment against Donald John Trump.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker, I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Dunn.

SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized for a minute and a half.

DUNN: Madam Speaker, I stand before you today a disappointed man. I am disappointed in a broke and partisan process that has consumed the House Democrats. We were told this investigation was going to be bipartisan and transparent.

Instead, the proceedings were held in secret, behind closed doors, with no attempt at a fair hearing. All this was done deliberately in an effort to undo the results of the 2016 election.

Madam Speaker, my constituents in Florida want to see us to get to work. They want us -- they're counting on us to actually fix the surprise medical billing, to lower the cost of prescription drugs. Instead, we're here a week before Christmas voting to impeach the legitimate president, Donald J. Trump, on the strict of nothing but rumors.

We've wasted almost a year on this process while House Democrats chose political theater over serving the American people.

This shameful vote to impeach our president will be a lasting stain on our House. And I urge all of my colleagues to vote no. I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield one minute to the distinguished gentleman from Oregon, Mr. DeFazio.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's recognized for one minute.

DEFAZIO: I thank the gentleman. It's clear cut, the President of the United States has violated his oath of office, and betrayed the Constitution and the American people.

He admitted to soliciting assistance from a foreign leader to interfere in a U.S. election and aid his political reelection campaign. That's a violation of the law, violation of the Constitution and a betrayal of the American people and an impeachable offense.

Overwhelming evidence also demonstrates the president withheld Congressionally approved taxpayer dollars to blackmail the young, new president of Ukraine, under attack from Russia.

Now the gentleman from Georgia says, Ukraine didn't feel any pressure, they're being invaded by Russia. Vladimir Putin, you know? Trump's friend. And he withheld that aid until the whistleblower report came out, then the aid was released. It wasn't released for any good purpose. Congress voted for that aid, the president signed the bill.

That is another impeachable offense and the Judiciary Committee has put together an extensive document which shows that there is evidence of numerous other federal crimes, including bribery and wire fraud.

The president's actions threaten the continuation of our representative democracy. I'm proudly voting for impeachment today.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia.

[15:30:00]