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INSIDE POLITICS

House Debates the Impeachment Managers Resolution. Aired 12:30- 1p ET

Aired January 15, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00]

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): -- impeachment trial of President Trump. This trial is necessary because President Trump gravely abused the power of his office when he strong-armed a foreign government to announce investigations into his domestic political rival. He betrayed our country when he used the powers of his office including withholding vital U.S. military assistance to pressure that government to help him win re-election. He invited foreign inference into our elections. Again, he jeopardized our national security.

He did all of this for his personal political gain, and then he violated the constitution by stonewalling Congress's efforts to investigate, ordering an absolute blockade of evidence. Despite that, the House was able to uncover powerful evidence that demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt the president's betrayal and violations of the constitution.

But we still have not heard the whole truth because the president has refused to allow a single document to be turned over to the House in response to our impeachment subpoenas and he has prevented us from hearing key witnesses as well. This is unprecedented. Our speaker has led our fight to a fair trial in the Senate. Above all, a fair trial must include additional documents and all relevant witnesses.

The American people have common sense, they know that any trial that has not allowed witnesses is not a trial, it is a cover-up. The speaker's assistance on this opponent has gotten results. Just yesterday we received critical new evidence from the president's former associate, Lev Parnas that further proves Mr. Trump's scheme to pressure Ukraine to go after his personal political opponents.

New witness testimony has become available as well including John Bolton's announcement that he would honor a Senate subpoena. Under today's resolution, the managers have broad authority to submit to the Senate any additional evidence the House may acquire on its own and we will do so.

The Senate is on trial. We will see whether they conduct a fair trial and allow the witnesses or conduct a cover-up. Today's resolution is the next step in this series of the constitutional process. I urge my colleagues to vote yes on the resolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman from Georgia.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Thank you, Madam Speaker. This impeachment process has been flawed from the outset. It resembles not a congressional action, it resembles more a Dr. Seuss book knowing not which way it goes.

On September 24th, the speaker declared at a press conference the House was conducting an impeachment inquiry. However, to the contrary to the speaker's decree that she -- that we were all of a sudden in an impeachment inquiry, the House did not authorize the impeachment inquiry until October 31st by adopting H.R. 660. It is just said just a moment ago that the speaker has been leading the fight for a fair trial in the Senate. I wish the speaker had been leading for a fair hearing in the House instead of trashing our rules. For those 71 out of 78 days, from the time it was announced in a press conference to the time we finished, the president was not permitted to participate in these meetings. Think about this, 71 days out of 78 in which we actually did something on impeachment. He's not presented the ability to cross-examine fact witnesses, present counter-arguments, no due process at all in those 71 days.

When presented with the opportunity when it came to the Judiciary Committee, instead of the Judiciary Committee stepping up and actually acting like the Judiciary Committee of the committee of impeachment, we punted. We had a couple of -- it was some law professors who already had there, you know, basic talking points. He could have cross-examined them. That would have done a lot of good.

Then we could have staffers who testified. Again, a lot of good. Where were the fact witnesses? Instead of the rubber stamp that we were warned about 20 years ago by the current chairman, we were rubber stamp.

Democrats repeatedly violated House rules and bluntly abused the rules they wrote, even wrote a 660. Even to this day, we will pass this out in violation of H.R. 660.

They used inflammatory rhetoric honing them because this is what they had to do. One Democrat said I called for impeachment today because it's one heck of an emergency. Another said we have a crime in progress, we have an emergency as our national election is going on right now. But my favorite in December is a crime spree in progress. Oh, the hyperbole just reeks in this room.

When we understand this, you know, if it's such an emergency, if there was an (INAUDIBLE) a 911 call, then why did we hold this for almost a month? But we've been told that it's to help us in a fair trial. Be damned the House inappropriate process we had. But even now the process was bad, I'm going to go back and make sure the facts are -- let's make sure the facts are here because they still haven't changed. A phone call that was put out in a transcript in which no pressure was applied. There was no conditionality on anything given in that call (INAUDIBLE) to do that.

There was also nothing given by the Ukraine to actually get this money that was released, by the way, before it was actually statutory deadline of September 31st. They did nothing, they got the money anyway. But the problem is they want the Senate to do their job for them but that's not how it works.

[12:35:07]

You see the speaker and what I have heard today even from folks giving one minute, Madam Speaker, is that this is all they wanted. It was a political impeachment. They had said, he is impeached for life. This shows the true motivation, I believe, of the other side, it is their dislike for this president and the good work he is doing.

So, Madam Speaker, before I reserve here for a moment, this has always been a political impeachment. Even today on the floor the talk of the president being forever impeached and he's always being a stain, forget the Senate trial, I hope this ends this political impeachment and this body never sees it again. I reserve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman reserves. The gentleman from New York.

NADLER: And I yield one minute to the distinguished chairman of the Intelligence Committee, the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The chairman is recognized for one minute.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the resolution. The task before us is a grave one but one demanded by our oath. The impeachment inquiry undertaken by the House of Representatives found that President Donald J. Trump abused his power and sought to cover it up with an unprecedented campaign of obstruction.

He withheld hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in vital military aid to Ukraine, a close ally at war with Russia. And withheld a coveted White House meeting critical to the Ukrainian leaders' international legitimacy until Ukraine would commit to help President Trump cheat, cheat in the next election. President Trump put his own personal interests above the national interests, above our national security. And if not stopped, he will do it again.

For that reason, he was impeached. And for that reason, the House managers will take the case to the Senate and to the American people. Because the appropriate remedy, indeed the only remedy is the conviction and removal from office of President Donald Trump. I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman from Georgia?

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. This time, I yield one minute to the gentleman from California, Mr. McCarthy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman is recognized.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Back when this national nightmare began, Speaker Pelosi laid bare her intentions and purely partisan agenda. She told her caucus that they needed to strike while the iron is hot. This was always an exercise in raw partisan politics. Contrary to the warnings of our founders, and over the last month we saw the justification for running the fastest, thinnest, and weakest impeachment in American history crumble.

Instead of sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial, Speaker Pelosi held them hostage in a failed play to gain leverage that she did not and would never have. In terms of concessions, she got nothing. No control, no moral victories, in other words, another failed strategy. After a month of counter-productive and harmful delays, I have three questions for my friends on the other side of the aisle, the Democrats.

What happened to impeachment being urgent? What happened to Congress being on the clock? What happened to saying the House would be derelict in our duty if we did not act immediately? These were all the assertions Democrats made over the past several months. I guess it turns out none of them are true.

These delay tactics were self-serving, hypocritical and discrediting. But they made an important admission, some might even call it a concession. You proved a very big point. Democrats do not even believe their case was robust enough to win in a trial. Even the speaker's allies admit the delays undermine their case. Some have gone as far as describing it as a failed strategy. These are those closest to her.

Senator Feinstein, the senior Democrat from our state of California and the hometown senator of the speaker said, the longer it goes on the less urgent it becomes. And Chairman Adam Smith, a confidante of the speaker said it was time to transmit the articles to the Senate. Before these statements were made last week, before the speaker relented, they are significant because they were public and they were honest. I'm disappointed these individuals did not have the courage to stand by their initial comments.

If impeachment was truly as urgent as Democrats claimed, the majority should not have waited for the speaker to choose a politically convenient time.

[12:40:03]

Anyone could have recognized this ploy would not work. The House and the Senate are different institutions. And at this point in time controlled by different parties. As James Madison wrote in the Federalist paper, the purpose of bicameralism is to guard against the dangers of encroachment and to stop toxic resolutions from taking effect. We saw the separation of powers prevail against abuse of power, just as the Constitution intends.

The idea of withholding a sloppy impeachment case to force the Senate to change its rules is constitutionally and politically unheard of. Frankly, it's just ridiculous. In Article I Section five, the constitution clearly states, each House may determine the rules of its proceeding. It doesn't say the House may determine the rules of the proceedings in the Senate. If anything, the speaker's actions have only further persuaded members of the Senate that the evidence of impeachment was neither thorough nor satisfactory.

But you know what, let's be honest, this was never about persuasion. It was never about the rule of law. It was what Alexander Hamilton warned us, that one party would get control, and just because of the animosity, it would demean the process of impeachment. And by selecting this particular batch of managers, the speaker has further proven she's not interested in winning the minds, the hearts or even following the constitution.

Let's take a look at the first three names Speaker Pelosi announced in her anticipated announcement earlier today. Chairman Schiff, a man who has already taken on the role of judge, jury, and fact a witness throughout the entire House impeachment process. Chairman Nadler, someone who campaigned for the chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee that's responsible for impeachment beginning as far back as December 2017 before you were even in the majority, on the notion that he would be the best person to lead the charge on potential impeachment against the president. You see, you get a chairmanship by your conference voting for you. He campaigned for it. You put your best ideas out there of why you should be the chairman. In 2017, that was the campaign.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a member who almost two years to this date voted in support of impeachment. You know, that was more than a year before the Ukraine call even took place. Those are just some of the managers. If you think about the members, there's people who were -- on the day they were sworn into this body, until those who supported him the greatest that they were going to impeach him.

As I've said in the past, there's an issue with fairness. But instead of looking to the Senate, Speaker Pelosi should be looking within her own caucus. From the beginning, this investigation was marred by selective leaks to the media, a completely predetermined process. Yes, we've been through impeachment before but it was much different. We believed in the rule of law back then, that we would face our accuser, that you could cross-examine, that the minority could actually ask for witnesses. The day that impeachment was asked to come forward I sent a letter to the speaker laying out 10 items, none that were made up. You know what they were? The fair process we've always used in the past. The answer was no because they've been working on this two and a half years, they could not let fairness determine the outcome.

Any other prosecutor would be disbarred for such blatant bias, especially if that prosecutor was a fact witness in the case. The reason for this impeachment is the same reason that's taken Democrats 30 days to send the articles to the Senate, just spite. They wanted to stain the president's record without giving him a fair chance to clear his name. Last year, we saw House Democrats invert the burden of proof during their fair investigation. For every American watching, think for instance if this was your government if you switched the burden of proof on you.

We have a congressman, Max Rose, characterized it this way, way, this new freshman of the majority, the president says he's innocent, so all we're saying is prove it.

[12:45:08]

God forbid government accuses you of something as an average American and say you have to prove it. We just switched a fundamental belief as an American, but only in this House do we do that.

This guilty and proven innocent mentality was an admission that impeachment was not about upholding justice or protecting the rule of law. Now, Democrats have invented and even more destructive standard. You're guilty because they say so. Our founders fear this day. Alexander Hamilton warned us of this day. I'd hope this day would not come. I would hope those who uphold the constitution would believe in the rule of law instead of the spite of a dislike of an individual, like the kangaroo courts on college campuses, an accusation is enough for a conviction. Even as early as just last Sunday in an interview, Speaker Pelosi made that point very clear to all of us. Asked what a Senate acquittal would mean, she said it didn't matter, the president is impeached forever. Is that what this is all about? Just a personality, just an abuse of power you have within a House that we all feared this country would never do. You can almost see in the speaker's smile as she spoke about this new standard, how incredibly solemn she was.

Madam Speaker, when Americans look back on this sad saga, they will see a rigged process that forever damage the remedy of impeachment. Speaker Pelosi got nothing from the Senate, but the American people got worse than nothing. They got stuck with a bill for a costly never- ending investigation. The old saying that you get what you pay for does not apply here. Congress wasted time and millions of dollars on partisan impeachment. In return, taxpayers get nothing.

Democrats' misaligned priorities have cost the people solutions that could have improved the quality of their lives. There's no greater contrast than what we are doing right here today than what is happening at Pennsylvania Avenue. The president sitting down with another country of a leader and signing a trade agreement, something people said we could never get done, to make this country stronger, to make America the next century ours. But what are we doing here? We are doing what this majority has worked their entire time for, before they're even sworn in, the campaign for the position of chairman, for this moment, for this time, for the millions of dollars that are spent, so they could say the president is impeached. That's a lofty history. Those are lofty goals that you now have authored more subpoenas than you created laws. But thank God we got a president in the White House that does not sit back.

Yes. He got the United States, Mexico, Canada trade agreement, our top two traders. He's sitting with a trade agreement with China today but think about how much stronger his hand would have been had that agreement taken place earlier when he got it. No, it was held. Why? Because we were impeaching. That's an amazing agenda but you promised people you would do it. This is not a moment this body should be proud of.

If Speaker Pelosi likes to say impeachment is a national civics lesson, let's use this blunder as a teachable moment. I make this promise to the American public because the day will come that the majority will switch. We will uphold the constitution, we will listen to the words of Alexander Hamilton. And just because somebody else is in an office that we may not like, we will not change the rule of law, will not accuse them of breaking it and say they have to prove it. We believe America's more than a country. That America is an idea, an idea of its greatness, and yes, would make students in Iran rise up for the freedom of what they know America to be.

But the rule of law was so powerful, this is a moment in a civics lesson that we should learn.

[12:50:02]

This is a moment that we'll teach our grandchildren that, yes, more than 200 years ago, the founders crafted an amazing country but they warned us what abuse of power would look like. The sad part is we're witnessing it. What a contrast in a day in time.

Moving forward, we must not redo these same mistakes in Congress. And my promise to you, if power was to change, the rule of law would come back. We'd have an agenda that focused on people, not on politics. We'd have a voice that you're innocent until proven guilty. We would not abuse our power just for the sheer shake of politics to say you're impeached forever because I dislike you.

We are better than this. It's a sad day. But the great thing about America, it will all change because the people have the voice.

I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Members are once again reminded to address their remarks to the chair. The gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I yield myself one minute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman is recognized for one minute.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, two points. First, my colleagues in the minority would rather talk about anything than try to defend what Trump actually did because they can't. There's overwhelming evidence that the president pressured the Ukrainian government to interfere in our election on his behalf then he covered it up. These are high crimes and misdemeanors and we will prove that in the Senate.

Second, our minority colleagues don't like our ongoing fight for a fair trial because it got results. New documents and additional witnesses have emerged that unmistakably point to the president's guilt and we have exposed the efforts of some in the Senate majority to put on a sham trial. The American people understand that a trial without evidence and without witnesses is no trial at all but a cover- up. And that will not stand.

We must protect the constitution and the integrity of our elections. That is what this is about. We must remove this president to protect our country. I yield -- I reserve to balance my time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman from Georgia? COLLINS: Reserved.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman from Georgia has 30 seconds remaining. The gentleman from New York has one minute remaining. And the gentleman from New York has the right to close.

The gentleman from Georgia is recognized.

COLLINS: I appreciate that, Madam Speaker. Is the gentleman from New York ready to close?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman from Georgia is recognized.

COLLINS: There's no other speakers. Our closing is no other speakers.

NADLER: I have one more speaker --

COLLINS: -- I reserve.

NADLER: No, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. The gentleman is incorrect. The gentleman from New York has one remaining speaker who will close. The gentleman from Georgia is recognized for 30 seconds.

COLLINS: I will take it back. Give me the time one more time, Madam Speaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman from Georgia has 30 seconds remaining and the gentleman from New York has one minute remaining.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker for your --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're welcome.

COLLINS: Look, two facts that just came out here and again, we're going to hear at this moment that they are facts. Undoubtedly, mics are not working on the other side. We talked about the facts. There's no overwhelming evidence. We've discussed this over and over it until we are blue in the face but it doesn't matter because this is a political impeachment. This has nothing to do with the facts. We've shown that there was no -- nothing was done wrong but hat does not matter. When the train is on the tracks, the whistle is blowing, impeachment matters, and the only thing that matters (INAUDIBLE), the only real emergency here is there's a 2020 election in which the Democrats can't stand to see the fact this president is going to win again. They can't stand the fact that who they've got running, so what do we do. We impeach him as they said for life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Again, no defense. I now yield one minute to the distinguished speaker of the House, the gentlelady from California, Ms. Pelosi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentlelady is recognized for one minute. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his exceptional custodianship of the constitution of the United States. For 13 years, the top Democrat on the constitution and civil liberties subcommittee and Judiciary Committee. And thank you for your leadership in protecting and defending the constitution, the oath that we take as members of Congress.

As I enter into the conversation, I do want to thank the distinguished gentleman from Georgia for his apology, for his ridiculous remarks about me and House Democrats. Thank you. We accept your apology, Mr. Collins.

Now, I want to go to the purpose of why we're on the floor today.

[12:55:02]

My colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history. On December 18th, the House of Representatives passed articles of impeachment of Donald Trump. Articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. By his own admission, the president stated that, yes, he had had that conversation with the president of Ukraine but he didn't see anything wrong with it. Well, we don't agree with that assessment. And yes, it is a fact, when someone is impeached, they are always impeached. It cannot be erased. So I stand by that comment although I know you don't like hearing it.

I stand by this American flag, picture of the American flag, as I did the day that we introduced the articles of impeachment onto the floor. Because every day, all over America, in classrooms as well as courtrooms, and in this Congress of the United States when we meet, we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, and to the republic for which it stands. That is what our nation is. That is the genius, the beautiful exquisite genius of the constitution that we are a republic. That was the decision of our founders, their vision. They didn't want a monarchy, they wanted a republic. And when Benjamin Franklin came out of Independence Hall and was asked, what do we have, Mr. Franklin, a monarchy or republic. He said, a republic if we can keep it.

I often wondered why he said that, why that would be in doubt. But we see why it is in doubt right now when the president of the United States had said, Article 2, says, I can do whatever I want. That's a monarchy, that is not a republic that we pledged our allegiance to every single day.

And so here we are today with the articles of impeachment about to be transmitted to the United States Senate. I was thinking this morning and mentioned in the previous public event, "The Midnight Ride" of Paul Revere. Listen my children and you will hear the midnight ride of Paul Revere. Well, listen to my children and you will hear about an assault on the constitution of the United States undermining the republic for which our flag stands by the president of the United States. The president of the United States, in using appropriate funds, enacted in a bipartisan way by this Congress, funds that were meant to help the Ukraine fight the Russians. The president considered that his private ATM machine I guess and said he could say to the president he could make, do me a favor. Do me a favor, do you paint houses, too? What is this, do me a favor?

So we have a situation that is very sad. Don't talk to me about my timing. For a long time, I resisted the calls from across the country for the impeachment of the president for obvious violations of the constitution that he committed. But recognizing the divisiveness of impeachment, I held back. Frankly, I said, this president isn't worth it. But when he acted the way he did, in relationship to withholding funds from Ukraine in return for a benefit to him that was personal and political, he crossed the threshold. He gave us no choice. He gave us no choice.

To children, our constitution is the vision of our founders. They were so brave, they declared independence. They did in a timeframe when in the course of human events it becomes necessary. They declared independence, they fought a war of independence and bravely succeeded. They wrote documents, our founding documents of the constitution. Thank God they made it amendable so that we could ever be expanding freedom in our country. And that, my children, is what you pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic contained in that constitution of the United States.

So we take that oath. And when the members of Congress or other public --

[13:00:00]