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CNN Live Event/Special
House Floor Hearing: The 2nd Trump Impeachment Vote. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired January 13, 2021 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): Rather than seeking to heal America, they are seeking to divide us more deeply.
And rather than following the appropriate processes the House has used in every modern impeachment, the majority is rushing to the floor, tripping all over themselves in their rush to impeach the president a second time.
What's worse, though the majority seems to believe that this course of action is self-evident -- and that's simply not the case. I have to tell them, it's not. Members that have reviewed the same conduct and have come to dramatically different conclusions.
Legal scholars like Professor Turley and Professor Alan Dershowitz, both of whom condemn the president's statements, believe that his statements are not impeachable. I know other scholars have different points of view.
Given this difference of opinion, shouldn't we have a better process than this? Shouldn't we have a chance to examine witnesses, discuss the matter with legal scholars and consider this in committee? On a matter as grave and consequential as impeachment, shouldn't we follow the same process we have used in every modern impeachment rather than rushing to the floor?
On behalf of generations of Americans to come, we need to think more clearly about the consequences of our actions today. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, there is no reason to rush forward like this other than the very obvious fact that there are only seven days left until a new president takes office.
But what's worse, as Professor Dershowitz has pointed out, because of the Senate's rules, the case cannot come to trial in the Senate until 1 p.m. on January the 20th, one hour after President Trump leaves office. This is an ill-advised course, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker. Even Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, agrees.
Senator Manchin is quoted this week as having said, quote, "I think this is so ill advised for Joe Biden to be coming in, trying to heal the country, trying to be the president of all the people when we're going to be so divided and fighting again. Let the judicial system do its job," unquote. So what then is the point of the rush to impeach? We are coming off a horrific event that results in six deaths. We have an opportunity to move forward, but we cannot if the majority insists on bringing the country through the trauma of another impeachment. It will carry forward into the next president's term, ensuring that he will struggle to organize his administration.
What's worse, it will continue to generate the bitterness so many of us have opposed. Why put us through that when we can't actually resolve this before the end of the president's term?
Mr. Speaker, I think my colleagues in the majority need to think about this more soberly. We need to recognize we are following a flawed process. We need to recognize that people of good will can differ. We need to recognize that while the House may be done with this matter after today's vote, it will not be done for the country, it will not be done for the Senate, and it will not be done for the incoming Biden administration. The House's action today will only extend the division longer than necessary.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would note that there are other remedies that can be pursued. The president is expected to face litigation over his role in last Wednesday's events. There will be criminal proceedings against the perpetrators, and I hope all of those who stormed the Capitol will be brought to justice.
And some members have proposed an alternative procedure, censuring the president, which could garner significant bipartisan support in the House. I do not think impeachment is a wise course, Mr. Speaker. I would urge my friends in the majority to reconsider. There's still time to choose a different path, one that leads to reconciliation and hope for a better and brighter days (ph).
With that, I urge opposition to the rule and I reserve the balance of my time.
SPEAKER: Gentleman from Oklahoma reserves.
Gentleman from Massachusetts is recognized.
MCGOVERN: Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert in the record the powerful statement by Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who is the chair of the House Republican Caucus, entitled, "I will vote to impeach president -- the president."
SPEAKER: Without objection.
MCGOVERN: And I just want to be clear about one thing. If we vote to impeach the president today and we send it over to the Senate, there is nothing to prevent the Senate from taking it up immediately if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decides that he wants to proceed, number one.
Number two, we all want to talk about unity? I can't think of anything that would unify this country more if there was a big, bipartisan vote in favor of impeachment. Every second that this president remains in office is a danger to this country and to the world. We have no idea what he is capable of doing, whether he will pardon these terrorists, whether he will go to war. So I would urge all my colleagues on both sides to support this rule and the impeachment resolution.
I yield one minute to the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Chu.
SPEAKER: Gentlewoman from California is (ph) recognized for one minute.
CHU: Last week, I hid in an office for hours, terrified to open the door because I did not know if a rioter was on the other side ready to attack, kidnap or murder me. But my experiences were just the tip of the iceberg. The U.S. Capitol was targeted, besieged and ransacked on January 6th by a murderous mob holding a noose for Vice President Pence and targeting Speaker Pelosi. Their rampage resulted in destruction and five people dead.
We were attacked by terrorists. But this time, the terrorists were radicalized right here in the United States. Worse, they were radicalized by the president, who intentionally lied to his supporters that the election was stolen and then told them when to come to D.C., where to protest and who to direct their anger at.
The need to remove this president could not be more urgent. He is too dangerous to remain in office. Donald Trump must be held accountable; he must be impeached.
SPEAKER: The gentlewoman yields. The gentleman from Massachusetts reserves.
The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized.
COLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized.
COLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If we defeat the previous question, I'll offer an amendment to the rule to immediately bring up a resolution, establishing a bipartisan national commission on the domestic terrorist attack on the United States Capitol.
This proposed bipartisan commission will be tasked with examining and reporting upon the terror attack on our Capitol that occurred last Wednesday. The commission will be bipartisan in nature, modeled after the 9/11 Commission, and will fully empower -- be empowered to undertake a full investigation to -- and make recommendations to the president and to Congress.
I can think of no more appropriate path for Congress to follow than by ensuring a bipartisan commission reviews all evidence and reports back to us on this horrific event.
Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of my amendment in the record along with extraneous material immediately prior to the vote on the previous question. With that, I -- I...
SPEAKER: Without objection.
COLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
With that, I urge a no vote on the previous question. I yield four minutes to my good friend, Mr. Davis of Illinois, the ranking Republican member on House Administration, for a further explanation of this amendment.
SPEAKER: The gentleman from Illinois is recognized for four minutes.
R. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I first want to thank the U.S. Capitol Police and the Sergeant at Arms employees who were here on the front lines protecting this Capitol last week during the unprecedented attack. It is imperative that we focus on ensuring a safe inauguration day, protecting members and staff during this time of increased threats, and making sure that our Capitol Police officers have the support that they need.
We need to ensure that what we saw happen a week ago today never happens again. Yesterday, I introduced, along with Representatives Katko and Comer, a bill that would create a national commission on the domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol. The bipartisan commission would consist of 10 members -- 5 Republicans, 5 Democrats -- appointed by the next president and by House and Senate leadership.
This commission would be tasked with investigating the domestic terrorist attack that occurred in this building just a week ago and it will provide us recommendations to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future. What we saw last week scared all of us who were here, but it also showed adversaries what it takes to take out a branch of government.
When this commission is done with this investigation, it will submit a report to the president and to Congress, detailing its findings and recommendations to ensure that no foreign or domestic adversary could accomplish what was done on January 6th. We need to ensure that we fully understand what took place last week and any and all issues that occurred during our response.
Republicans and Democrats need to work together. We must unite to prevent any attacks like this from happening in the future and we must protect this institution, not just for us, for the American people. That's why we should defeat the previous question so that we can establish this bipartisan commission to equip us with the information that we need to support our Capitol Police and the men and women who work in these buildings.
And with that, I yield back.
SPEAKER: The gentleman yields. The gentleman from Oklahoma reserves.
The gentleman from Massachusetts is recognized.
MCGOVERN: Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to yield one minute to the distinguished gentleman from Maryland, the Majority Leader Mr. Hoyer.
SPEAKER: The gentleman from Maryland is recognized for one minute.
HOYER: I thank the chairman of the Rules Committee for yielding. I congratulate him for his efforts and that of the Rules Committee, in acting and acting swiftly.
I appreciate the remarks of Mr. Cole, for whom I have great respect, but I disagree with his sense of a lack of urgency and action. I do agree with him of the consequences of our action.
There are consequences to actions. And the actions of the president of the United States demand urgent, clear action by the Congress of the United States.
The chairman of the committee introduced the remarks and put them in the record. But I want to reference the remarks of the chair of the Republican Conference, which is the analogue to the Democratic Caucus. It is all the Republicans elected to the Congress of the United States in the House of Representatives. And they elected Liz Cheney, the daughter of the vice president of the United States, the former whip of this House, Dick Cheney, with whom I served in the 1980's.
Representative Cheney from Wyoming, a conservative Republican, said this, "The president of the United States summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack." That is not some irresponsible new member of the Congress of the United States. This is the daughter of the former Republican whip and former vice president of the United States of America. She knows of what she speaks.
And she said this as well, "There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath of Constitution -- to the Constitution." This is not, as Liz Cheney says, just some action. She characterized it as the biggest betrayal of any president of the United States in our history.
Mr. John Katko, not a backbench Republican who just got here and doesn't know what's going on. Mr. John Katko, who is the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, says this, "To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequences is a direct threat to the future of democracy."
This is not some backbencher on your side of the aisle -- on their side of the aisle, Mr. Speaker. It reflects the sense of outrage, the sense of historic dissimilarity from the actions of any previous president.
And then, Mr. Adam Kinzinger, a member to the Energy and Commerce Committee, a senior member from Illinois -- so we have a member from Wyoming, a member from Illinois, and a member from New York. There will be others on this vote who will join them.
And Mr. Kinzinger said this, "If these actions," he hasn't had any hearings, he hasn't had any -- he doesn't need any long, drawn-out consideration, "If these actions are not worthy of impeachment, then what is an impeachable offense?"
HOYER: There is no doubt in my mind that the president of the United States broke his oath and incited this insurrection. I tell my friend, Mr. Speaker, a gentleman for whom I have great respect -- he is my friend and I say that honestly, not just as rhetoric as we say on this floor, because there are some that I don't consider friends, whose values I do not share, that is not Mr. Cole -- we have a difference.
Liz Cheney, John Katko, Adam Kinzinger, and other Republicans whom I have talked to within the last 24 hours believe this action is required.
Now, let me say, I see the gentleman from Ohio is on the floor. He likes to say that we Democrats were elected and the first thing we wanted to do was impeach this president. And he's shaking his head in agreement, because, like the president of the United States, he denies the facts -- Trump-like, fake news.
December 6, 2017, Mr. Green, whom I'm going to refer to, offered a motion because he saw the danger that confronted our country. And he filed a resolution of impeachment. And on December 6, 2017, we had a vote on that. And the majority of Democrats voted no -- actually, they voted yes to table -- so that we did no proceed in 2017.
The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Green, thought, however, the next year that there was still a danger to our country. Some of us shared that view, but we were not confident that the case could be made or that the transactions that had preceded would lead to conviction.
So on January 19th of 2018, we had a motion to table Mr. Green's resolution and the majority of Democrats voted to table that resolution. What a rush to judgment.
And then, on July 17, 2019, nine days before the call to Ukraine to get the Ukrainian leader to act on the political behalf of the president of the United States -- and withheld money to defend the Ukrainian people from Russian involvement and offered that as a bribe.
And on July 17th, the majority of Democrats voted to table that resolution. So Mr. Speaker, there was no rush to judgment. And then that call to which I just referred was on July 26th, nine days later. I call that the aha moment. Yes, I knew what I thought. But that was proof.
And the gentlemen -- some gentlemen have lamented that we didn't know the whistleblower because, after all, if we knew the whistleblower we could intimidate everybody else from coming forward.
And this president has done everything he can to intimidate whistleblowers, people who came forward and told the truth. And we had witness after witness after witness who confirmed what the whistleblower brought to our attention. So the reason I rise today -- and I'm going to speak on the resolution itself at some later time -- is to recognize the contributions that Al Green of Texas has made to getting us to this place.
And I just want to -- and I'm not going to read all the resolutions, but I want to read excerpts from the resolution he has introduced, we won't be considering his resolution, we'll be considering Mr. Cicilline and over 200 others who have signed on to the resolutions.
Mr. Green had a resolution when (ph) introduced, "Resolved, that Donald Trump, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and the following articles of impeachment be exhibited in the Senate.
Article I says, "In his conduct with the president of the," excuse me, "In his conduct while president of the Unites States, unmindful of the high duties of his high office and dignity and proprieties thereof, and of the harmony and courtesies necessary for stability," to which my friend spoke, the gentlemen from Oklahoma.
Donald John Trump in violation of his constitutional and -- oath faithfully to execute the Office of President, has harmed the society of the United States.
Brought shame and dishonor to the Office of the President of the United States, sowing discord among the people of the United States by weaponizing hate for political gain.
He went on to say, on January 6, 2021, in a speech at the National Mall, President Donald Trump weaponized the hate and resulted -- that resulted in violence, the deaths of multiple people, an assault on democracy and an insurrection against the Capitol of the United States of America by inciting a mob.
Who said that? Liz Cheney said it and Al Green said it.
Infected with white supremacists, carrying a rebel flag, erecting a gallows structure with a noose, wearing shirts and hateful messages such as: Camp Auschwitz; Work brings freedom; and MAGA Civil War January 6, 2021.
MAGA Civil War. They had the hats on of the army of MAGA, which I refer to as make America grieve again.
We grieved at Fort Sumter. We grieved on December 7, 1941. And we grieved on 9/11. And yes, we grieved on December -- excuse me, January 6th of this year.
He goes on to say what the president told this mob that Liz Cheney said was recruited by the President of the United States. And I quote, this is the president talking to this mob, "All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by bold and radical left Democrats," like the Secretary of State in Georgia and the Governor of Georgia, "which is what they are doing, and stolen by the fake news media."
Inciting, riling up, creating anger with the fake news and lies that the president of the United States said to these folks.
"That is what they have done and what they are doing," the president continued. "We will never give up. We will never concede; it doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved."
And so what did they do? Incited by this president, as Liz Cheney said; as John Katko said; as Adam Kinzinger said; and, frankly, what Secretary Chao acted upon; and what the Secretary of Homeland Security acted upon; and what so many others in the administration have acted upon -- disgusted, dismayed and disheartened by what their president had done, they got out. They quit.
The president further emboldened them saying, this is the Green resolution. We're not considering it, but it is the Green resolution.
The president further emboldened them saying, "You will never take back our country with weakness." We had a display of non-weakness, criminal insurrection-like conduct.
Recruited by and deployed by the president of the United States to come to this Capitol and stop the steal.
The steal, of course, was: we assembled accepting what all the courts that considered it said was a fair and accurate election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice president of the United States.
After his National Mall speech, a mob of his supporters proceeded to the Capitol Complex; we know that.
HOYER: And so, Mr. Green's resolution ends with, wherefore, to prevent national harm to our society, Donald John Trump by such conduct warrants immediate impeachment, trial.
And removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States Constitution and the 14th Amendment.
So, in conclusion, Mr. Green is going to speak after me, but in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, let me tell my friend, Mr. Cole.
I've been here some time, he has as well. I served with Ronald Reagan, with George H.W. Bush and George Bush. I have respect for all of those presidents. They cared about our country. They honored our Constitution and they executed the duties of their office consistent with the Constitution and laws of our country. That is not true of this president and therefore, he ought to be removed and we have that opportunity to do so.
Is there little time left? Yes. But it is never too late to do the right thing. I yield back the balance of my time. SPEAKER: The gentleman from Maryland yields. The gentleman from Massachusetts is recognized.
MCGOVERN: Thank you. At this point, I'd like to yield one minute to the gentleman from Texas, my good friend, Mr. Green.
SPEAKER: The gentleman from Texas is recognized for one minute.
A. GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have tears to well in my eyes as I heard Mr. Hoyer, and I know that hearts are hurting. This is a very sad time in the history of our country. No one is celebrating, no one wants to see this occur. I was at the Rules Committee by way of Zoom. I was there for the entire hearing. Those members on the other side, this is something that they understand and they take seriously.
Regardless as to what's said, I could sense that they're hurting too. So I just want to thank everyone for all that is happening and the appreciation that's been shown. And I want to say that the healing that we talk about that has to begin that -- may I have just 30 seconds?
MCGOVERN: I yield the gentleman 30 seconds.
SPEAKER: The gentleman has an additional 30 seconds.
A. GREEN: Thank you. The healing, it also -- it has to start with some of these people who were there initially, who helped to lay this foundation, 110 people. And I'm going to recognize Maxine Waters, Congresswoman. A lot of them were threatened, their lives were disrupted and if I may, with unanimous consent, I'd just like to insert their names in the record.
SPEAKER: Without objection.
A. GREEN: I thank you and may god bless our country as we go forward.
SPEAKER: The gentleman from Texas yields. The gentleman from Massachusetts reserves. The gentleman from Oklahoma is recognized.
COLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I yield two minutes to my good friend, the distinguished Republican member, our leader of the Budget Committee, Mr. Smith of Missouri.
SPEAKER: The gentleman from Missouri is recognized for two minutes.
J. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If we defeat the previous question, we will amend the rule to immediately bring up the bill establishing a bipartisan national commission on the domestic terror attack of the United States Capitol. This has been a devastating week for our nation.
Just last week, we stood right here in this very chamber while a violent mob laid siege to the feet of American democracy. It is vital we get the facts on what went wrong last week, why the security apparatus felled and how we can ensure it never -- it never happens again. J. SMITH: Less than 50 feet from where we stand in this room, a young lady lost her life through those doors, through those doors. I was in this chamber when those gunshots rang. That is real stuff. That should never happen in the people's house.