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End of House Debate on Impeachment Articles; House Votes on Articles of Impeachment. Aired 7-8:09p ET

Aired December 18, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. At this moment, I yield for a unanimous consent request, the gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Crawford.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized.

[19:00:00]

CRAWFORD: Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to enter my remarks into the record in opposition to this sham-peachment.

SPEAKER: Without objection, so ordered. Gentleman's recognized.

COLLINS: Thank you. Madam Speaker, at this time I yield four minutes to the gentlewoman from Wyoming, Ms. Cheney.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady's recognized for four minutes.

CHENEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Collins, and Madam Speaker, I rise today on the floor of this magnificent chamber, the very heart of our democratic republic. And I would imagine, Madam Speaker, that every one of us in this chamber, regardless of party, understands, shares a common view that being citizens of this great republic is among life's most tremendous blessings. We all know that no force on earth is more powerful than the force of freedom. It is our miraculous constitutional system, Madam Speaker, defended by our men and women in uniform that has safeguarded that freedom for 230 years.

Each one of us in this chamber bears a sacred duty passed down to us through generations and affirmed in our Oath of Office to preserve and protect our Constitution. Madam Speaker, our nation's framers recognized that this republic is fragile, and that extreme partisanship can be among the most severe threats to its survival. That is why in Federalist 65 Alexander Hamilton wrote, quote, "There will always be the greatest danger that impeachment -- that impeachment decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."

Here, Madam Speaker, our Democratic colleagues have been working to remove this president since the day he was elected, searching for an offense on which they could impeach. Failing to find one, Madam Speaker, they have decided to assume one. Rather than attempting to enforce their subpoenas in court, they have also decided to declare it a high crime and misdemeanor when the president of the United States asserts his constitutional privileges. The Democrats are asking members of this body to impeach despite the fact that they have presented no direct evidence of any impeachable offense. Let me say it one more time, Madam Speaker: They have presented no direct evidence of any impeachable offense. If anyone in this chamber still believes the Democrats have proven their case, I would urge those members to ask the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Schiff, why he failed to appear to answer questions about his report. Before members vote for impeachment, they might want to know why the author of the impeachment report will not defend it under questioning.

If the House impeaches here, Madam Speaker, it will create exactly the type of risk the framers cautioned us to avoid. It will mean that divided government can imperil a democratically-elected president based on unproven allegations and innuendo in the absence of direct testimony.

Despite all the rhetoric you've heard today, Madam Speaker, passage of these articles of impeachment may permanently damage our republic. From this day forward, a hyper-partisan, bare majority can cite this precedent to try to remove a future commander-in-chief. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Madam Speaker: Think of our republic, think of the Constitution, think of the oath that we all swore to protect and defend that Constitution and vote against these partisan, reckless and dangerous articles of impeachment. I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from California.

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I'm proud to recognize the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Levin, for one minute.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for one minute.

A. LEVIN: Madam Speaker, today we proclaim that no person is above the law, not even the president of the United States. Donald -- Donald J. Trump abused the power of his office and violated his Oath of Office by extorting a new and inexperienced president of a vulnerable foreign ally to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump's domestic political opponents. He then obstructed the Congress, this equal branch of our government, from undertaking our duty outlined in the Constitution itself to investigate and check these violations.

Today, we do nothing more and nothing less than fulfill our duty to our country and to our Constitution.

Mr. Trump has allowed foreign powers to interfere in our domestic affairs. He has endangered our national security and our democracy itself. For those reasons, we must impeach this president.

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: Madam Speaker, at this point, I have a -- I yield for a unanimous consent request, to the gentleman from Oregon. SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

WALDEN (?): (inaudible) this resolution on impeachment and ask that my words be put in the record.

SPEAKER: Without objection, so ordered.

WALDEN (?): Madam Speaker, I have a unanimous consent request from the gentleman from South Carolina.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

WILSON (?): Madam Speaker, I ask -- oppose these resolutions. I ask for my comments to be admitted into the record.

SPEAKER: Without objection, so ordered.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker,

I ask unanimous consent for the gentleman from Mississippi.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

PALAZZO (?): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I oppose the articles of impeachment and like my comments be entered into the record.

SPEAKER: Without objection, so ordered.

COLLINS: I reserve.

SPEAKER: The gentleman reserves.

The gentleman from California?

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

SPEAKER: Who seeks recognition?

COLLINS: Madam Speaker, I ask of the gentleman, is he ready to close?

SCHIFF: No, we have a few more speakers.

COLLINS: Then I reserve.

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I recognize the gentleman from New York, Mr. Espaillat, for one minute.

SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized for one minute.

ESPAILLAT: Madam Speaker, if you live on Lenox Avenue in the village of Harlem in my district, you are not above the law. If you live on Webster Avenue in the Bronx part of my district, you are not above the law. If you live in Washington Heights, the immigrant neighborhood in my district, you are not above the law.

So I submit to you that if you live in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you are not above the law. And you will be held accountable.

President Donald Trump asked the Ukrainian president to "do us a favor," and look into the Bidens. That's abuse of power. President Trump used the official White House meeting to extort a Ukrainian president, that's abuse of power. President Trump ordered White House staff to withhold $400 million in aid to the Ukraine, that's abuse of power.

President Trump and his staff denied multiple -- defied multiple subpoenas from Congress, that's obstruction of Congress. He blocked witnesses from testifying before this body, that's obstruction of Congress.

(UNTRANSLATED). No one is above the law. I cast my vote for this impeachment...

SPEAKER: The gentleman's time's expired.

ESPAILLAT: ... articles of impeachment, and I ask my colleagues to do the same.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: Madam Speaker, I yield for a unanimous consent request from the gentleman from Virginia?

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

WITTMAN (?): Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to enter my statement into the record, recording that I am opposed to this articles of impeachment on the basis that they do not measure up to Article 2...

(CROSSTALK)

SPEAKER: Without objection, so ordered.

WITTMAN (?): ... Section 4.

COLLINS: I reserve.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from California?

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I'm proud to recognize the gentlelady from California, Ms. Brownley, for one minute.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

BROWNLEY: Madam Speaker, as the chair of the Women Veterans Task Force, I see, every single day, the immense sacrifice our women veterans and all of our nation's veterans have made in service to our country and service to our commander in chief, our Constitution, to protect our democracy and for every single man, woman and child in our country.

When the president of the United States used $400 million meant to protect our national security in order to cheat in our elections, he not only abused his power, he turned his back on the sacrifices of our veterans and their families have made for all that we hold so dear.

That abuse of power is reprehensible, and it is exactly what impeachment was designed to prevent. We have a solemn duty to protect our Constitution, to protect our democracy and to honor all those who have laid their lives on the line for these United States of America.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. At this time, I yield for a unanimous consent request to the gentlelady from Indiana.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized.

WALORSKI (?): thank you, Madam Speaker. I ask unanimous consent to enter into the record my opposition to these articles of impeachment.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

COLLINS: I reserve.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from California?

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I'm proud to recognize the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Davis, for 30 seconds.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized.

S. DAVIS: Madam Speaker -- Madam Speaker, make no mistake. We are not impeaching this president. He is impeaching himself. If you are the president and you obstruct justice, try to bribe a foreign leader and threaten national security, you're going to get impeached. End of story.

(LAUGHTER)

SPEAKER: Yields (ph) back.

(APPLAUSE)

Gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. At this time, I'd (ph) recognize the gentleman from North Carolina for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

BUDD (?): Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to enter into the record my opposition to these articles of impeachment.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

COLLINS: I reserve. SPEAKER: The gentleman from California?

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I'm proud to recognize the gentlewoman from New Mexico, Ms. Haaland, for one minute.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized for one minute.

HAALAND: Madam Speaker, I stand before you as a representative of New Mexico, a place where we believe in dignity and respect for all. In Congress, I've been fighting for them. We've been working to make health care more affordable, education accessible and move our country forward for the people.

But today, this president has forced us into a serious debate. We're talking about a president who used the power of the presidency for his own political gain, risking our national security and putting the integrity of the next election at risk.

It's a sad day when a president shows complete disrespect for Congress as a coequal branch of government, and for the American people who elected us. We collected the evidence and the facts are indisputable. We all took an oath to protect and defend our Constitution. We have the solemn responsibility to hold this president accountable because it's our job.

I urge my colleagues to live up to our responsibility and show our fellow Americans that no one, not even the president, is above the law.

And I yield.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady yields back.

The gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. At this point (ph), I yield to the gentleman from Oklahoma for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

MULLIN: I ask unanimous consent to enter into the record my opposition to these articles of impeachment.

SPEAKER: Without objection...

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: And I reserve.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from California?

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I recognize the gentlelady from North Carolina, Ms. Adams, for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized. ADAMS: Thank you. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to enter into the record my statement in support of the articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.

SPEAKER: Without objection, so ordered.

SCHIFF: I reserve the balance of our time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman reserves.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker...

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: ... at this time, I give five minutes to the gentleman from Louisiana, the minority whip, Mr. Scalise.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for five minutes.

SCALISE: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Impeaching a president of the United States? This isn't about some solemn duty tonight. Let's talk about what this is really about. This has been about a political vendetta. A political vendetta that didn't just start with the Zelensky call, it started long before that. Just listen to some of the quotes from Democrats in this chamber.

Speaker Pelosi, quote, "It's been going on for 22 months, two and a half years, actually. We cannot accept a second term for Donald Trump. What's more serious is that he can't win."

This isn't about some crime that was committed, it's about fear that he might win re-election. That's not why you impeach a president.

Al Green, quote, "I'm concerned that if we don't impeach this president, he will get re-elected."

This list goes on, Madam Speaker. In fact, there are some quotes that I can't even read on this House floor, that some of our colleagues made.

And keep in mind, more than a hundred Democrats on this House floor voted to impeach this president before the Zelensky phone call. Just look at some of these articles of impeachment that they voted for, two years ago.

Fifty-eight Democrats voted to impeach the president over comments he made about NFL player kneeling for the Pledge of Allegiance. Impeaching the president, over 50 Democrats voted to impeach him for that. Just this summer, over 90 Democrats voted to impeach the President for comments he made about the squad. So he makes comments about some other members of Congress, who make a lot of comments about him, and 95 members vote to impeach the President of the United States.

This is a political vendetta, it has nothing to do with the crime committed. There was no crime. And why don't we listen to some of the witnesses? Obviously we weren't able to call all of the witnesses we wanted but there were witnesses.

In fact, Gordon Sondland, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, he's mentioned over 600 times in the Schiff report. He was their star witness. And what did he say when asked quote "did President Trump ever tell you personally about any preconditions for anything?" His answer, "no." "Any preconditions for the aid to be released?" "No." "Any preconditions for a White House meeting?" Under oath, he testified "no."

Abuse of power, let's talk about that article of impeachment, Madam Speaker. George Washington law professor Turley, who admitted under oath that he voted against Donald Trump, spoke to this claim of abuse of power. In fact, he said quote "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. You are doing precisely what you are criticizing the President of doing, abuse of power."

There's a House rule, Madam Speaker, that requires -- not allows but requires that the minority get a day of hearing, which we asked for multiple times. They broke this rule, they didn't allow us to have a minority day of hearing. They didn't want to hear the facts about this case because it was never about the facts, because there was no crime. It is about a personal political vendetta.

Now let's talk about obstruction of Congress, as they make up these terms to impeach a President because they didn't find a crime and they were looking. It's been an impeachment in search of a crime. But they talk about obstruction of Congress in saying the President defied subpoenas, subpoena after subpoena.

Let's go through the departments. The Department of State they subpoenaed. Do you know that just literally four days after the subpoena, the Secretary of State himself responded to your subpoena? The Department of Defense, a week later, responded to the subpoena. The Department of Energy responded to the subpoena. We can go on and on with all of these agencies.

That's an abuse of power, that's an obstruction of Congress, responding to your subpoena? That's what they did, they responded. You might not have liked the answer but that's not the way this works. You don't impeach a President because you don't like his foreign policy, as so many of those foreign policy experts came and testified.

But this isn't just about Donald Trump. They don't just hate Donald Trump, Madam Speaker, they hate the 63 million Americans who voted for this President, the forgotten men and women of this country who have been left behind, Madam Speaker.

(BOOING)

SPEAKER: House will be in order. Gentleman may proceed.

SCALISE: Thank you, Madam Speaker. It's those forgotten men and women of this country that Washington had left behind. And what's this President doing for them? He's delivering for them -- 600 jobs in Pennsylvania, 1,000 jobs -- workers in Mingo Junction, Ohio, $750 million investment for 600 new jobs across this country, Detroit News, Chrysler, 6,500 new jobs. That's what this President is doing to deliver for those men and women of this country who have been left behind. It's about time somebody stands up for them and President Trump is.

So it is a political (inaudible), it is a political vendetta, but if they're going to go through with this, Madam Speaker, impeachment will not just be a stain on this Democrat majority, impeachment will be their legacy. I yield back.

SPEAKER: Members are reminded to address their remarks to the Chair. Gentleman from California?

(APPLAUSE)

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I recognize Ms. Kuster from New Hampshire for a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady's recognized.

KUSTER: Madam Speaker, I request the consent -- unanimous consent for enter in -- my statement into the record regarding the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in favor of articles of impeachment. Thank you.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, it is now my pleasure to recognize the gentleman from Maryland, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Hoyer for one minute.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized.

HOYER: My colleagues...

SPEAKER: The gentleman will suspend. The House will come to order. Gentleman's recognized.

HOYER: Madam Speaker, I have had the honor of serving in this House for over 38 years. I've served during six presidencies, I've been here through moments of tremendous progress and terrible tragedy. I have seen periods of rank partisanship and patriotic bipartisanship. I've seen our two party system work and I've seen it break down.

Never, in all my years of serving in this great institution that I love, and the people of my district, did I ever expect to encounter such an obvious wrongdoing by a President of the United States nor did I expect to witness such a craven rationalization of presidential actions, which have put our national security at risk, undermined the integrity of our elections and defined the constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct oversight.

We've heard from Republicans that this impeachment really has to do with policy differences or how we feel personally about the President, about his temperament, or that we simply dislike him. Throughout the Trump presidency, Democrats have resisted pursuing impeachment, even as we watched with dismay and disgust at a pattern of wrongdoing.

That pattern included ordering federal agencies to lie to the public, firing the FBI Director for refusing to end investigations of his campaign, siding with Vladimir Putin against our intelligence agencies, taking funding away from the military to put towards an ineffective border wall and setting policies that have led to the separation of families and caging of children.

We have to be sure deep disagreements with the policies and actions taken by this President. There's been a lot of talk about the 63 million people who voted for Mr. Trump. Little talk about the 65 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

The policy difference or those votes, this President was elected legitimately.

(APPLAUSE)

SPEAKER: The House will stay in order. The gentleman deserves to be heard. Gentleman's recognized.

HOYER: Because we have an electoral college. But none of these are reasons to pursue what Chairman Schiff has called a wrenching process for the nation. In fact, Democrats rejected that process emphatically in three specific votes.

In December of 2017, Democrats overwhelmingly voted against pursuing articles of impeachment, including the Speaker and myself. We did so again in 2018, with over 60 percent of the Democrats rejecting pursuing articles of impeachment. And again just months ago, in July of 2019, 60 percent of the Democrats said no to pursuing articles of impeachment, just days before the infamous July 25th telephone call. We did the same with 60 percent of Democrats voting not to proceed. Credible witnesses, many of whom were appointed to office by President Trump, have corroborated the details and timeline of his abuse of presidential power, which forms the basis of the first Article of Impeachment in this resolution.

Instead I will not (ph) recount all of the witnesses or abuses that have occurred. I congratulate my colleagues and Mr. Nadler and his committee and Mr. Schiff and his committee for setting forth a compelling case.

It'd been laid out fully in the articles before us and by colleagues in their remarks. What I will do is remind Americans that the House provided President Trump every opportunity to prove his innocents.

But the witnesses were precluded (ph) from coming forth. The witnesses who have personal knowledge did not come, either at the president's request in which he refused to show up because he thought it was a sham as so many of you have said or to the committees. Instead, he ignored congressional subpoenas for documents and for testimony by White House officials and ordered his subordinates not to cooperate. Perhaps they could have exonerated him.

This itself, I suggest to you is unprecedented. When President Nixon and Clinton were asked to hand over documents and allow officials to testify, ultimately both complied because it is the law. Such actions of the president can be taken as further evidence of his obstruction and abuse of power.

It is in and of itself impeachable conduct. The subject of the second article of impeachment. These two articles before us concern two very profound constitutional issues about the abuse of power in our republic.

First, whether it is acceptable for the president of the United States, any president, to solicit foreign interference in our elections. There is a difference as to whether he's done that and the place to try that is in the United States Senate.

But we believe strongly there is probable cause to conclude that to undermine our national security, the integrity of our elections, and the integrity of democracy. And secondly, whether it is permissible for the president to obstruct Congress and act as if he is above the law and immune from constitutional oversight.

On December 4th, the Judiciary Committee heard the testimony of constitutional law experts who weighed in on these points. Some 1,500 historians have said the same thing. As Professor Noah Feldman said, if we cannot impeach a president who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or we live under a dictatorship.

The votes we are about to take concern the rule of law and our democracy itself. Let us not forget the words of John Locke, so influential to the founders of our republic. John Locke, millennia ago said this, wherever law ends tyranny begins.

This impeachment ask whether we are still a republic of laws as our founders intended or whether we will accept that one person can be above the law. In America as we have said over and over again, no one is above the law but only as long as we hold every person accountable for breaking the law, even a president, will that be true.

If the House does not act, if we wait and delay we run the risk of allowing the president's misconduct, if we believe it to be so, to be repeated at the expense of the integrity of our elections, our national security and our constitutional system of separation of powers.

Democrats did not choose this impeachment. We did not wish for it. We voted against it -- we voted against it once, we voted against it twice, we voted against it three times as recently as July. We did not want this.

However, President Trump's misconduct has forced our constitutional republic to protect itself. These votes that we are about to take and the process that will follow in the Senate are not only an assessment of the president's commitment to the Constitution or to his oath of office, it is as well a test of our own.

Damning evidence of the president's high crimes has emerged. Never the less, Republican members of this House and of the Senate have continued to defend the president who's actions seem to many of us to be indefensible.

All of us feel a sense of loyalty to party. It's what makes our two party system function. It's what helps hold presidents and majorities accountable. But party loyalty must have its limits. And as evidence of the president's impeachable offenses have mounted daily as the witnesses testified it has become increasingly clear that the limits of partisanship have been reached and passed.

Now Democrats and Republicans together face a test before our constituents, our country men and our creator. The New York Times on October 18th summarized the question now posed to House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats.

Compromise by compromise, Donald Trump has hammered away at what Republicans once saw as foundational virtues. Decency, honesty, responsibility, and yes even civility -- going on to say will they commit themselves and their party wholly to Mr. Trump, embracing even his most anti-democratic actions or will they take the first step towards separating themselves from him and restoring confidence in the rule of law.

Madam Speaker, we have seen Republican courage throughout our history, from the Civil War to the Cold War. In 1950, Margaret Chase Smith, the senator from Maine, a Republican; spoke bravely against the cancer of McCarthyism in her party, leading six of her Republican colleagues in a declaration of conscious against their own leadership.

We are Republican's, they declared, but we are Americans first. In 1974, one congressman took the brave and principled step of becoming the first Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to support impeaching President Nixon.

He said to his colleagues and to the country and I quote, "It isn't easy for me to align myself against the president, to whom I gave my enthusiastic support, on who's side I've stood in many legislative battles, whose accomplishments in foreign and domestic affairs I've consistently applauded. But it is impossible," he went on to say, "for me to condone or ignore the long train of abuses to which he has subjected the presidency and the people of this country.

"The Constitution and my own Oath of Office," he said, "demand that I bear true faith and allegiance to the principles of law and justice upon which this nation was founded." And he concluded, "and I cannot in good conscience turn away from the evidence of evil that is to me so clear and compelling."

My colleagues, that congressman's name was Larry Hogan Sr. He represented the Fifth District of Maryland, which I now represent. His son is presently the second term Republican governor of our state. When Larry Hogan Sr. died in 2017, every obituary led with praise for his act of political courage. Who among us many years from now will receive such praise as a man or woman of courage? Who will regret -- regret not having earned it?

We've talked a lot about partisan differences. There is one person who has spoken today who is neither a member of the Republican party, nor the Democratic party. His name is Justin Amash, who represents a Republican district. He left the Republican party, and in doing so, he admonished his colleagues that, quote, "This president will only be in power for a short time, but excusing his behavior will forever tarnish your name." He spoke on this floor in support of the two articles that we will consider this evening. Neither a Democrat nor a Republican, Representative Amash, of course, is the only member of this House who has no allegiance to either party, but to his country. He is supporting, as I've said, both articles.

We need not ask who will be the first to show courage by standing up to President Trump. The question we must now ask is, who will be the last to find it? The pages of our history are filled with Americans who had the courage to choose country over party or personality. But as President Kennedy wrote, "The stories of past courage can teach. They can offer hope. They can provide inspiration, but they cannot supply courage itself. For this," President Kennedy said, "each man, each woman must look into their own soul."

I -- I urge my fellow colleagues in the House and, yes, in the Senate to look into your soul, summon the courage to vote for our Constitution and our democracy. I understand we will all not see the same conclusion, but to do less betrays our oath and that of our founders who pledged their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor.

Let us neither turn away from the evidence which, to me, seems so clear, nor from our good conscience, which compels us to do what in our hearts we know to be right. Let us not allow the rule of law to end or for tyranny to find its toehold. With our votes today, we can bear true faith and allegiance to the vision of our founders, and we can show a future generation what it truly means to be Americans first. Vote yes.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back.

(APPLAUSE)

Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Madam Speaker, a few weeks ago, just off of this floor I said that a dark cloud was descending upon this body. And today, because of the clock and the calendar, it is closing.

It is amazing to me what I just heard from the majority leader, that Mr. Schiff and Mr. Nadler presented a compelling case for impeachment. If this is a compelling case for impeachment, I'm not sure why we're here right now. It is not anywhere close to compelling. But you know what is interesting is what I have heard today. The majority leader just spoke and said that if the president was given every opportunity to come prove his innocence, I tell you what, Madam Speaker, let me have just a few minutes. Stop the clock, and let me go around to the press corps and to everybody here, and I'm going to accuse you of something. You did it. You did it. You did it. You did it. Now, prove us wrong. You did it. Guess what? You don't want to because deep down, you know that that's turning the entire jurisprudence of this country upside-down. You are guilt -- you're not guilty until you're proven. You're innocent.

And today from this floor we have heard the majority leader say this president is guilty and not the other way around. He is innocent, and these come nowhere close to proving it.

But what is left of this body? Let's have an honest conversation, Madam Speaker. What we have found over the past few weeks is that it is OK for the majority to tear down a foreign leader because they can't make their case. They've called him a liar, a weak, or worse, or as he was called in the committee, he even looked like a battered wife. It is below the dignity of this body and this majority to tear down a foreign leader because they can't make their case against this one.

(APPLAUSE)

We have broken rules in this House, even to this moment. Chairman Schiff and the others have broken House Resolution 660 by not turning over the things that they should be turning over. I still have not got a transcript. We still don't know what got -- and the White House still has not got their stuff. I guess minority hearing rule days don't matter, either.

You see, there is a problem here, because we're going to vote this tonight while breaking the rules. What a shameful incident. But we also found a creative interpretation of minority rights. We saw the rise of the partisanship because of things that have been done even further, and we've even seen members smeared in reports by drive-by political hacks when they matched numbers of the majority -- or the ranking member and the members of the press. That ought to concern every one of you as much as it concerns every one of us. Nothing but a drive-by hit.

But you know something? This majority leader also just said, "Wherever law ends, tyranny begins." But I will say this: In this House, wherever the rules are disregarded, chaos and mob rule actually began, and the majority has taken that to a new level. It has been said today, "Where is bravery?" I'll tell you where bravery is found and courage is found. It's found in this minority, who has lived through the last year of nothing but rules being broken, people being put down, questions not being answered, and this majority say, "Be dammed with anything else. We're going to impeach and do whatever we want to do. Why? Because we won an election."

I guarantee you, one day you'll be back in the minority, and it ain't going to be that fun, because when you look at it, when you actually trash the rules of this House, you want to really look at what did you gain at the end by trashing the institution you claim to love? That's the things we found out so far.

But you know, they're really careful in saying, "Oh, you want to deal in process and process." As I said last night in the Rules Committee, where they didn't want to listen, I'll win on process, and I will win on facts because we have the truth on our side. Let me remind you.

But here is what the process actually says: There was no pressure. Look at the call. President Zelensky, President Trump: no pressure. There was no conditionality. There was nothing done to get the aid, and the aid actually came.

There were five meetings, but when you look at it right now, none of which matter because right now, the dark cloud is descending upon this House and I am fearful, Madam Speaker, when I look out in that abyss, I don't know what I see. But I'll tell you what I do see. I see coming up a president who will put his head down even through this sham impeachment, and he will do his job. He will put the American people first.

(APPLAUSE)

He will tell them that I care about you. He will still put the economy first, and he will make sure this country stands strong. That's what I see in this abyss. That's where we're going.

(APPLAUSE)

And, Madam Speaker, it is with that hope in the future that I recognize right now that I yield one minute to the Republican leader of this House, the Republican from California, Mr. McCarthy.

SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized.

MCCARTHY: Madam Speaker, I must warn you, I'm about to say something my Democratic colleagues hate to hear. Donald J. Trump is president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

He is president today. He'll be president tomorrow. And he will be president when this impeachment is over.

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Madam Speaker, when they accept that, maybe this House can get back to work for the American people. Now tonight I rise not as the leader of the opposition to this impeachment, or as the elected representative from the Central Valley of California. I rise as Kevin McCarthy, citizen, no better, no worse than the 435 representatives that are in this chamber or the 330 million Americans watching this institution make what I believe to be one of the worst decisions we have ever made.

It doesn't matter whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, whether you're liberal or you're conservative, whether you're the first generation or the 10th, at our core we are all American. All of us. We choose our future. We choose what kind of nation we want to be. Here's our choice tonight.

Will we let impeachment become an exercise of raw political power, regardless if it damages our country or will we protect the proper grounds and process for impeachment now and in the future? For months Democrats and many in the media have attempted to normalize the impeachment process that would remove a duly-elected president from office. After three years of breathless and baseless outrage, this is their last attempt to stop the Trump presidency.

Madam Speaker, Speaker Pelosi even recently admitted that Democrats have been working on this impeachment for two-and-a-half years. Those were her words, they were not mine. Because they lost to him in 2016 , they'll do anything or say anything to stop him in 2020.

That's not America. That's not how democratic republics behave. Elections matter. Voters matter. And in 11 months, the people's voice will be heard again. Impeachment is the most consequential decision Congress can make other than sending our men and women into war.

Yet 85 days ago, Speaker Pelosi chose to impeach the president of the United States. She wrote the script and created an artificial timeline to make the details fit. Why else are we doing this just hours before Christmas? If that's all it was, a rush to judgment, she could be forgiven.

But before the speaker saw one word or one shred of evidence, she moved to impeach. In the past, in this body, such a step demanded a vote from all of us from the start. But not only did she move to impeach before she gave this House and the hundreds of millions of people we represent a say in whether to pursue an impeachment inquiry, she threw out the bipartisan standards this House gave President Nixon and Clinton.

That is why I immediately sent Speaker Pelosi a letter, asking her to follow the rules of history, of tradition, and follow those standards that have served America well. What did she say? She rejected it. She rejected it because Democrats knew a fair process would crumble their case.

A fair process would have exposed to the American public what many already knew. Democrats have wanted to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected. And nothing was going to get in their way, certainly not the truth.

Madam Speaker, Chairman Schiff said he had evidence, more than circumstantial, of collusion. That was false. In January, where we all stood in this body, we stood up, we raised our hands, we swore that we'd uphold the Constitution.

And a few mere hours after that, Congresswoman Tlaib said she was going to impeach the mother-f'er. Those are not my words. A year before taking the majority, Chairman Nadler campaigned to the Democrats that he wanted to be chairman of the Judiciary Committee where impeachment is, New York Times writes, Madam Speaker, because he is the strongest member to lead a potential impeachment.

And Congressman Raskin, a leading Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, one that the Democrats had represent in the Rules Committee for these articles just yesterday, told a crowd he would impeach President Trump two days before he was ever sworn into office.

What we've seen is a rigged process that has led to the most partisan and least credible impeachment in the history of America. That is this legacy. Any prosecutor in this country would be disbarred for such blatant bias, especially if that prosecutor was the fact witness, the judge, and the jury.

Madam Speaker, Democrats haven't just failed on process, they've also failed on evidence. I've heard a lot of debate on this floor today, but I haven't heard one member of this body dispute this simple fact, President Trump provided lethal aid to Ukraine. It came before the call, it came after the call, and it continues to this day.

President Trump provided Ukraine tank-busting bombs, the previous administration, they gave blankets. This is the truth. Meanwhile, the Democrats' case is based on secondhand opinions and hearsay.

Simply put, there are no grounds for impeachment. As constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, and I would challenge to say he's probably the most respected and we all know it, a Democrat who did not vote for the president, said under oath there was no bribery, there was no extortion, no obstruction of justice, and no abuse of power.

Based on the facts, based on the truth, based on the lack of evidence Turley called this the fastest, thinnest, and weakest impeachment in the U.S. history. Such a definitive answer should be the end of all of this. But Speaker Pelosi is still moving forward with this impeachment without evidence of facts or truth or public support.

The speaker says it is out of allegiance to our founders. On this I agree. I agree with the speaker. We should listen to the founders. And if one does, it's very clear that this impeachment is unfounded and improper. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton wrote: "There would always be the greatest danger that impeachment would be driven by partisan animosity instead of real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."

That impeachment would be driven by partisan animosity instead of real demonstrations of innocence or guilt. James Madison, another author of the Federalist Papers, wrote: "The danger of legislative abuse must lead to the same tyranny as is threatened by executive abuse." The founders did not want impeachment to be used for political or partisan battles.

If my colleagues do not want to follow the constitutional high standards for undoing a national election, perhaps you could have followed Speaker Pelosi's standard, at least the one she promised to follow back in March. It was a very sensible standard. She says impeachment is so divisive that the evidence must be overwhelming, compelling and bipartisan. Not one of those criterias have been met today. Based on the facts, based on the evidence, based on the truth, this impeachment even fails that Pelosi test.

Those now who say removing President Trump would protect the integrity of our democracy have it backwards. By removing a duly elected president on empty articles of impeachment, Congress will erode (ph) the public trust in our system of government.

I understand you dislike the president: his beliefs, the way he governs, and even the people who voted for him. How do I know this? Because you say so, day-in and day-out.

In 2016, they even dismissed his supporters. Remember calling us deplorables? Now they are trying to disqualify our voice before the 2020 election. They want to undo the results of the last election to influence the next one.

As I said, President Trump will still be president when this is all over. But Congress will have wasted months of time and taxpayers' dollars on impeachment rather than doing what America's people want us to do.

It didn't have to be this way. Is this why we came here to serve? To trample on due process rights? To issue more subpoenas than laws? To appease the new Democrat Socialist base?

(BOOING)

That is not leadership. That is raw political politics, and you know it.

By refusing to acknowledge the truth or follow the facts, by substituting partisan animosity for real demonstration of innocence or guilt, and by continuing a three-year effort to undermine the president, this impeachment has divided this nation without any concern for the repercussions.

Moreover, politicizing this process has discredited the United States House of Representatives, and could forever weaken the remedy of impeachment.

To again quote Professor Turley, it is the Democrats' rush to impeachment on these grounds, with unfair procedures, that is an abuse of power. History will write that.

Madam Speaker, as I said at the beginning, we face a choice. Do you trust the wisdom of the people, or do you deny them a say in their government? Fortunately, the people will have the opportunity to speak up and render their verdict, in 11 months, to my fellow Americans.

To my fellow Americans, if you approve of the way this House has conducted their business, if you want to see your tax dollars go forward to endless investigations, support this impeachment.

But if you want to restore a working Congress, like the previous Congress, that listened to you and worked to bring the best economy in this country has ever seen --

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-- and one that, once again, will work with the president to get things done for you and your family, then join with us in rejecting this baseless impeachment.

That's what's wonderful about this system of ours. We are a government of, by and for the people. Always remember, we work for you, not the other way around.

Now, I will say this stronger and with more conviction than I have ever said it before. In this time of great trial and tribulation, may God bless America.

I yield back.

(APPLAUSE)

(UNKNOWN): Speaker...

MCCARTHY: I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from California is recognized.

The House will be in order.

The gentleman from California?

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, I recognize myself for the remainder of our time.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.

SCHIFF: Madam Speaker, my colleagues, after eight hours, let us return to where we began, with the articles themselves.

Article 1 charges the president of the United States with abusing the power of his office by coercing an ally into cheating in a U.S. election on his behalf.

(BOOING)

It charges the president of the United States -- it charges the...

SPEAKER: The House will be in order. The gentleman has a right to be heard.

SCHIFF: It charges the president of the United States...

SPEAKER: The gentleman shall suspend.

Gentleman may resume.

SCHIFF: It charges the president of the United States with his -- abusing his power by withholding official acts, by withholding a White House meeting that the president of Ukraine desperately sought, to establish the support of his most important benefactor, the United States.

By withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to a nation at war in order to get that nation to intervene in our election by smearing his opponent. That is the gravamen of the charge in Article 1.

And what is the defense from my colleagues? Now, I have listened carefully to my colleagues for the last eight hours. And I have to say, it's been hard for me to follow. But it amounts, I think, when you cut through it all, when you cut through all the sound and the fury, signifying nothing, what it really amounts to is this: Why should we care?

Why should we care about what the president did to Ukraine?

Well, first of all, we should care about our allies, we should care about Ukraine, we should care about a country struggling to be free and (ph) a democracy. We used to care about democracy. We used to care about our allies, we used to stand up to Putin and Russia.

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We used to. I know the party of Ronald Reagan used to.

Why should we care about Ukraine? But of course, it's about more than Ukraine, it's about us. It's about our national security. Their fight is our fight. Their defense is our defense.

When Russia remakes the map of Europe for the first time since World War II by dint of military force, and Ukraine fights back, it is our fight too.

And when the president sacrifices our interests, our national security for his election, he is sacrificing our country for his personal gain. That is the gravamen of Article 1.

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Article 2, Article 2 charges the president of the United States with obstructing the Congress, with denying the Congress any witness, any document by telling all of his administration people, you will not appear. You will ignore a coequal branch of government.

And what is the defense to this from my colleagues? Again, it is, why should we care? He is the president of our party, why should we care if he ignores this Congress?

Well, I remind my friends that he will not be the last president. There will be another president. And you may be, one day -- although you do not act like it -- you may one day be in the majority, and you will want to hold a president accountable. And what will you say when that president says you are a paper tiger, you have no oversight. I can ignore your subpoenas, what will you say. What will you argue. Well, no. No, that was different. Then -- then we were in the minority, then it was a Republican president. Will that be your argument. Is that how little faith you have in our democracy and our Constitution.

Is that how poorly you defend and uphold that Constitution. But finally let me ask this question that overrides it all. Why should we care about any of this. And I will bring you to one conversation that came to light because it's not the most important conversation but in many ways it is the most revealing.

It took place on September 14th in Ukraine when Ambassador Volker sat down with Andriy Yermak, the top adviser to Zelensky. And he did what he should do. He supported the rule of law and he said, you president -- you Andriy Yermak should not investigate the last president.

President Poroshenko for political reasons. You should not engage in political investigations. And you know what Yermak said, you mean like you want us to do with the Bidens and the Clintons.

And in that abrupt brutal retort we see why we should care because what he was saying is you America, have forgotten what it means to uphold the rule of law. You have forgotten what it means to say that no one is above the law. We are a struggling democracy but even we know better than that.

What is at risk here -- what is at risk here is the very idea of America. That idea holds that we're a nation of laws, not of men. We are a nation that believes in a rule of law when we say we uphold the Constitution, we are not talking about a piece of parchment.

We're talking about a beautiful architecture in which ambition is set against ambition in which no branch of government can dominate another. That is what it means to uphold the Constitution.

If you ignore it -- if you say the president may refuse to comply, may refuse lawful process, may coerce an ally, may cheat in an election because he's the president of our party; you do not uphold our Constitution.

You do not uphold your oath of office. Well, I will tell you this, I will uphold mine. I will vote to impeach Donald Trump.

I yield back.

(APPLAUSE)

SPEAKER: Our time for general debate has expired.

Pursuant to House -- pursuant to House Resolution 767, the previous question is ordered on the resolution as amended. The question of adoption of the resolution as amended shall be divided between the two articles. The question now occurs on the adoption of Article 1.

All in favor say aye.

Opposed, No.

The ayes have it. (Inaudible).

COLLINS: Speaker...

NADLER: Madam Speaker, the ayes and nays on that vote.

COLLINS: Role call.

SPEAKER: The yays and nays -- the yays and nays are requested. Those favoring a vote by the yays and nays will rise.

A sufficient number having risen, the yays and nays are ordered. Members will record their votes by electronic device.

This will be a 15-minute vote.

[21:09:27]

(END OF CNN'S COVERAGE OF IMPEACHMENT DEBATE AND VOTE)