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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Judiciary Debates Impeachment Articles for President Donald Trump Before Vote. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired December 12, 2019 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] CICILLINE: -- and no one else. Men and women have died on the battlefield to protect our democracy. The least we could do is show the courage to stand up tonight and do our part to protect our democracy.
With that, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. Does anyone else seek recognition on the amendment?
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Biggs.
NADLER: Mr. Biggs, no, no.
NADLER: Armstrong. For what purpose does Mr. Armstrong seek recognition?
ARMSTRONG: Move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
ARMSTRONG: And I'm going to go back to actual language of the amendment, and particularly, the "removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust, or Profit under the United States."
So at numerous points in times during today's debate have they -- my friends on the other side of the aisle have held up a pocket constitution, waved it around. I think it's interesting nobody's read from it yet, and I think there's a reason for that, but I'm going to read from the constitution. And if we want to talk about Article 1, which we're so fond of, then let's go to Article 1 Section 2 Clause 5, "The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers, and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment."
Article 1 Section 2 deals with the U.S. House of Representatives. Article 1 Section 3 deals with the Senate. "The Senate shall have the sole Power of try all Impeachments," Article 1 Section 3 Clause 6. "Judgment in case of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States," Article 1 Section 3 Clause 7. The language in this bill is over-broad, gives the U.S. House of Representatives and this impeachment article more power than the constitution allows. We have heard through the course of this investigation, when we have complained about process, when we have talked about secrecy, when we have not been allowed to use our -- use minority rights that this is more akin to a special counsel. Adam Schiff has referred to himself as a special counsel or it's more akin to an investigation or a grand jury. Right now what we are doing is becoming the judge, jury and executioner.
The Senate has determined that issues of removal and disqualification are divisible from other articles of impeachment. Essentially, what happens in the Senate is there is a two-thirds vote if an impeachment is granted and then a simple majority in which to say whether they're going to hold from other office. And while the House has the sole power of impeachment, the -- the Senate also provides -- the -- the constitution also provides that the Senate has the sole power to try all impeachment.
(UNKNOWN): But I don't want to get (inaudible).
ARMSTRONG: The Constitution describes the Senate's conviction power, which allows the Senate to remove in office -- an official from office and disqualification that official from holding future office.
The Democrat Articles of Impeachment state the President should be removed from office and disqualified to hold future office. The House has no constitutional authority to include this language that suggests the President should be removed from office. At best, it's unnecessary, and at worst, it is an over-broad description of what the actual power of this body is.
To include the language that the President should be disqualified from office is prejudicial to the constitutionally prescribed process that the Senate will take up. And I agree with my friend from Ohio and others on my side, it really shows the true motives of the Senate. It's circular how this is all gone. It started in 2016, now we're back to 2020. In the middle we had again collusion, conspiracy, obstruction, quid pro quo, bribery, extortion -- all of these other crimes we have come to the nebulous part of this.
There have been a lot of smart lawyers on my -- on my friend's side, on the other side of this case, so I can't -- I can't imagine this is an omission. And what we are truly doing is taking power away from the United States Senate, which is at their sole discretion. We -- you have the right to proceed with this, we know this. It's a -- and we've seen how this has gone. It's been fast-tracked and railroaded since day one. And you can equate yourself to a grand jury, a special counsel, an investigation, but you have no right as a U.S. House of Representatives to be judged, jury and executioner.
So while you may say taking these languages out is ridiculous, I think it's actually constitutional. And with that, I yield back.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. Does anyone else seek recognition on this amendment?
For what purposes Mr. Gaetz seek recognition?
GAETZ: To strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
GAETZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There's been much said about motive this evening for my Democratic colleagues. They seek to opine as to the President's motives rather than looking at his own words reflecting in the transcript. They seek to opine into his motive rather than listening to the direct statements of President Zelensky that he felt no conditionality and no pressure in communications with the administration.
But this amendment, this amendment shows the true motive of the Democrats because it is not about some cleansing of the office, it is not about some restoration of national security, it's about national security. They would've been all up in arms when President Obama withheld military aid to the Ukrainians, but they weren't. It's all just a show to demonstrate some attack on the President.
Four facts never changed. President Trump and President Zelensky both denied conditionality. The transcript shows no quid pro quo. Ukraine was not aware of any delay in military aid at the time of the call, and the aid was ultimately delivered in the absence of the investigations the Democrats are talking about. Nothing has changed those four facts.
But I do wonder, if we had had the opportunity to hear witnesses, what more would we have learned beyond that? If we had been able to call Chairman Schiff as a witness, like we had asked, maybe we would've learned about his office's contact with the whistleblower. Maybe we could've asked Chairman Schiff why he felt it appropriate to go engage in some weird theatrical re-performance of a transcript that never existed. It was just a fake thing that he did in the Intelligence Committee.
Maybe we could've asked him why he wasn't fully forthcoming about his office's contact with the whistleblower when he was asked about it on national television. We could've asked Chairman Schiff his reasons for omitting exculpatory evidence in the majority's report, and most certainly, we would've wanted to ask Chairman Schiff whether it was his decision or someone else's decision to publish correspondents and communications between the President's personal lawyer and others, journalists and even a member of Congress.
We could've also learned a lot probably from the whistleblower. We could've learned about who the multiple sources were that they spoke to and whether or not the information was accurate, whether or not it was reliable and verifiable. We could've asked the whistleblower why the outreach to Chairman Schiff's staff in this particular way whether or not it was truly a sincere concern or the result of some political bias. We could've asked the whistleblower about potential contacts with Presidential campaigns.
We could've asked Nellie Ohr a lot of questions, too. She was on our witness list. We probably would've wanted to know from Nellie Ohr how is it that one of the top people at the Department of Justice can have a spouse that goes and moonlights for people trying to dig up dirt on a presidential campaign and then see that very dirt shuttled into the Department of Justice, injected into the bloodstream of our intelligence community, and then used as an illegitimate basis to go and spy on American citizens.
We probably would've asked Nellie Ohr which Ukrainian legislators she was talking to to dig up dirt on the President. What was on the thumb drive that she gave to her husband?
We -- we would've had a lot of questions for Alexandra Chalupa. Alexandra Chalupa was the intermediary between the DNC and elements of -- of the Ukrainian government that were working against President Trump. We could've asked Alexandra Chalupa whose idea at the DNC was it to have a specific operative assigned to the Ukraine to impair our elections? Whose idea was that? Who funded? Was it some specific donor? Was it some elected official that was out there trying to bring Ukraine into our elections?
We could've asked Alexandra Chalupa who at the Ukrainian embassy were you talking to? What elements of the Ukrainian government were engaged in trying to see President Trump defeated? I mean, we already saw Ukraine engaging in our elections in plain view when you have the ambassador from -- from Ukraine writing op-eds criticizing the President, animating the President's legitimate concern that, hey, maybe we ought to ask a few questions of these folks. Maybe we ought to verify that Zelensky is the real deal that he, in fact, turned out to be.
I don't know that we've learned a great deal of these hearings other than the fact that the Democrats have been -- have been on impeachments since they first took the majority, that they've been unfair in their process, that they've been unable to evidence accusations against the President with anything other than hearsay and conjecture, but I would have liked to have known a lot more.
And that's why the rules of the House allow it. That's why no matter who's in charge, the minority gets to call witnesses and bring forward evidence because you know what, it's clear to the American people watching that the President did not do something to justify this impeachment. But I think we could have done a lot more to fulfill the President's promised to drain the swamp if we would've actually followed the rules.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Richmond.
NADLER: For what purpose does Mr. Richmond seek recognition?
RICHMOND: I move to strike the last word. NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
LOFGREN: Mr. Richmond.
RICHMOND: Mr. Chairman, I'd start by yielding time to my colleague from California, Ms. Lofgren.
LOFGREN: Thank you. You know, there's a doctrine where you don't -- if you can't argue the facts, you can't argue the law, argue a lot. You know, in the constitution, it has the very language that's in the article, and I'd just like to read this.
Wherefore, William Jefferson Clinton, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States, the exact same language that is being complained about this evening with Mr. Trump was put into the articles by the Republicans relative to Mr. Clinton. And I yield back with thanks.
RICHMOND: Thank you to my colleague from California. And I would just remind because it was brought up by my colleague from Louisiana that this was some extraordinary language designed to go after Donald Trump. This Committee, the Judiciary Committee in the House, when it impeached Judge Thomas Porteous from Louisiana, which my colleague is very aware of, and it went over to the Senate and was voted on unanimously, 96 to zero, had the same exact language in it. There's nothing extraordinary about the language in this.
What is extraordinary is the gymnastics and hurdles that my colleagues on the other side are going through to make sure that they just throw a whole bunch of stuff at the wall, hope that they confuse the American people, hope that something sticks.
My friend on the other side just mentioned that this President wanted to make sure that this new Ukrainian administration was not corrupt like the last one. Well, he gave the last corrupt administration $550 million. Again, what a judge will tell you when you're on a jury, as you get to apply common sense and if it doesn't make sense, you don't have to believe it. So if you gave $550 million to an administration you knew that what was corrupt, what happens between 2018 and 2019 besides you being scared to death of your next political opponent?
But what the judge will also tell you is that you do not have to take everything that everybody says as a fact. But in this case, let's look at the three witnesses that testified under oath, Vindman, Lieutenant Colonel, Purple Heart. He said it was a meeting in exchange for an investigation into the Bidens. Sondland, Trump supporter, said that it was a quid pro quo. Bill Taylor, West Point, said that it was crazy to withhold military aid for an investigation, all under oath, all with a penalty of perjury.
Who do they offer on the other side? President Trump. 14,435 lives to date since he's been President, not under oath, but we should take his word for it. Then it is so absurd because in a call we know the President's vocabulary. We know what he does and what he does not say. He may say bigly, he might say great, he might say winning a lot. But in this ordinary conversation, he does not use the words "quid pro quo."
So when he has the conversation after the whistleblower is known to everybody, he gets a call first thing out of his mouth, "Hey, I don't want to quid pro quo." Where did that come from?
It came from the fact that you are guilty of the crime that is charged just like a kid who just got caught going into the cookie jar with crumbs on his mouth when his mother says, "What are you doing?" "I didn't eat that cookie." That's what we have, a call out of the blue.
The first thing he says is, "I don't want to quit pro quo. I want them to do the right thing." No, you would not have held up their vital military aid. You have to understand that this is a country that is being occupied by his friend Putin, and he is holding up the vital aid for them to protect their country because he says it's about corruption. But we know from the facts in this case, from the three people who testified under oath that all this was about was making sure that he gets an investigation into Joe Biden. Why was that important? Because when you panic you go back to what worked the first time.
And an investigation where he got to run around the country saying, "Lock her up," he figured if he can get another investigation, he can run around the country saying, "Lock him up," and it might work again.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. Who else seeks recognition?
CHABOT: Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: For what purposes Mr. Chabot seeks recognition?
CHABOT: I move to strike the last word, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
CHABOT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We have a -- you didn't give us a lot of witnesses in this Committee, no fact witnesses, but we did get one professor, Professor Turley who, early on in his talk, mentioned that he didn't vote for President, and none of the other witnesses did either.
One thing he did say the evidence that you have against him that you're bringing these impeachment charges on is wafer-thin -- wafer- thin evidence. What's not wafer-thin is the partisan result by the Democrats, at least on this Committee, to get rid of this President. And they've been looking for an excuse to impeach this President for a long time and now they think they've got one, but we obviously know he's not going to be removed from office. But it's embarrassing and it's a mark, and it's really unfortunate because the country really shouldn't be put through this.
But I -- I think one of the things that we ought to do is look at the things that this President has -- has actually accomplish that they're talking about getting rid of. This is a President that's successfully grown this economy. If you look at the savings accounts and 401(k) accounts of so many Americans and so many retirees, they're up as the stock market is. Now that's not going to go on forever, but it's certainly something positive that most Americans can be pleased about.
There are more Americans now employed than ever before in our nation's history. Manufacturing jobs, which we really used to be hurting in this country, wherein have been in decline for a long time are now coming back. Manufacturing jobs are including by hundreds of thousands.
Unemployment, as I mentioned, 50-year low. Four million Americans no longer need to rely upon food stamps. That's a positive thing.
Retail sales are up. We're finally becoming energy-independent. In fact, in -- U.S. is now a net natural gas exporter for the first time in 60 years -- 60 years. We're now an exporter of natural gas.
Right to try that I remember the President -- I'm sure my Democratic colleagues remember this, too -- the President was encouraging us to pass a Right to Try law, which allows people who oftentimes have -- they don't have a lot of chance. They've got a disease that's been considered fatal and they'd like to try some drug that maybe comes out some years down the road, but they're willing to try it now. Because of this it's -- it's giving some people a hope and, hopefully, will save some lives. That was the President's idea.
Our military is stronger than it's been in a long, long time. And thank God we're actually increasing the pay for our men and women in uniform, and they deserve even more.
There are two great judges I would argue, so my Democratic colleagues would probably disagree with me here, but two great judges on the Supreme Court now. Elections have consequences. They looked -- they had have been very, very different had Hillary Clinton been elected last time. Elections have consequences, and there are many circuit court judges that they're filling in -- in the Senate. And -- and thank God for that.
The President withdrew us from that awful Iran deal, which essentially allowed money -- billions of dollars to go to terrorists. It's now being used against us by Iran. We've seen -- the embassy, our U.S. embassy moved to Jerusalem. Thank God for that. We've seen -- finally, we're starting a strength in our southern borders, although we've got a long way to go there.
Despite all these things, when the Democrats took over the House earlier this year in January, one of the first thing they did, Articles of Impeachment were introduced earlier this January in the House. And that very same day, one of their members in a profanity- filled speech famously said, "We're going to impeach the bleep." She didn't bleep it obviously. And another said if we don't impeach the President, he might well get reelected. I mean, is that a reason to impeach a President because he might get reelected? It was -- it was to them.
You know, it really goes back two years inauguration that the hatred for this -- this President when he got elected. We saw it in the streets here in Washington. Not a lot of people came up here to protest and that's fine. We also saw a lot of windows broken. We saw one -- one person, you know, say that she was dreaming about blowing up the White House and that sort of thing, so it really did get ugly.
The bottom line is here, they've been looking for an excuse for years now to impeach this President. They are wafer-thin. We should not be moving forward on something like this. The country does those (ph) a lot better than they're getting in this impeachment process, and it'll -- I'll be glad when we get beyond this because it's bad for the country, very divisive. And I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. Does anyone else seek recognition of this amendment?
What -- what purposes Mr. Buck seek recognition?
BUCK: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
BUCK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I hear my colleague from Rhode Island say that this isn't about policy differences, this is about our obligation to protect and defend our constitution. It's about courage. Well, of course, it's about policy differences because you said nothing on your side when President Obama send his surrogates out to lie about Benghazi. You said nothing when President Obama's administration entered into a gun-running deal with Mexican cartels and -- and the fast and furious program was developed.
You said nothing about Democrat leaders. This is about a policy difference and it's not about courage. I don't question anyone's courage on the other side of the aisle. I question your judgment, I don't question your courage.
And I think that the American people are getting tired. And I say that because I have a friend from college, Jim and Jim sent me a text. And just so you know little bit about Jim, his dad was a pastor south of the Mason-Dixon Line in the '60s and '70s who was a leader in the civil rights movement. Jim didn't vote for Donald Trump. He didn't vote for Mitt Romney. He didn't vote for John McCain, but Jim sent me a text and he said, "Would you tell your Democrat colleagues that I'm voting for Donald Trump this next time around?" And by the way, he tells me that he believes that your party is overreaching at this point -- overreaching.
The last text he sent me was kind of interesting. He said the stock market closed at a record high; they're losing. But I thought about that overreach comment, and I thought about what was my -- the most ludicrous of the -- the ways that this group of Democrats in the House have tried to take out this President. And there are a lot to choose from.
My favorite happens to be the 25th Amendment. I thought when you all came up with the 25th Amendment, it was -- it was right at the top. You call in a professor from Yale, and that professor from Yale could have been right out of a -- a movie about the -- the old Soviet Union. She says testifying in Congress, well, that takes a majority of the -- of the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, but this President might be -- he would need an examination. And when asked by a member could he be detained, could the President of the United States be detained for purposes of a examination? She said yes, right out of the old Soviet Union. That was my favorite.
My second favorite was the emoluments clause because it had a run of the constitution to figure out what in the heck you guys were talking about what the emoluments clause, but I guess anybody that is successful and that has worldwide businesses is going to be subject to an emoluments clause argument. Thankfully, you didn't include that in this set of articles. You had four now on the floor of the House, and you think that somehow we're not showing courage when we stand here and tell you you don't have the facts to convict this President on these charges, and you don't.
The thing that's going to change is when this moves over to the Senate, you lose the narrative because the Republicans in the Senate will call Hunter Biden. They will call the whistleblower. And you better wait and see what the American public does when all of the facts are out. You don't get to hide the facts in the basement anymore. All the facts are going to be coming out.
So I -- I ask a few of my friends whether they had any favorites. And I -- I will yield to my friend from Arizona if he'd like to talk about some of his more outrageous scenarios that -- that our friends, the Democrats, have proposed on this President.
BIGGS: I thank my friend for yielding and -- and you really took -- the 25th Amendment really was -- really right at the top of the heap there. But I mean, virtually every time the President tweets something I've heard criticism that he should be impeached for tweeting. They -- in fact -- in fact, the -- the -- the Harvard law professors in here last week wrote a piece that he should be impeached for tweeting in 2017. That was fun.
The -- the other one is the bribery -- the bribery issue, that was fun, too, because when you had this -- when Professor Karlan tried to explain it, took her five minutes to try to explain what the bribery was, and then we didn't hear any more from our colleagues about what bribery was.
BUCK: I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
JEFFRIES: Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: Who seeks recognition?
JEFFRIES: Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: Mr. Jeffries seeks recognition. For what purposes the gentleman seeks recognition?
JEFFRIES: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
JEFFRIES: My colleague suggested that we're here because we have policy disagreements with this President. We do have some policy disagreements with this President. We disagree with the fact that you passed as your signature legislative accomplishment in the last Congress a GOP tax scam where 83 percent of the benefits went to the wealthiest one percent. You exploded the deficit and the debt. We disagree with that.
We disagree with your policy of separating God's children from their parents and caging those children. That was unacceptable, unconscionable and un-American. We disagree with that.
We disagree with your effort, which is ongoing to strip away health care protections from more than 100 million Americans with preexisting conditions. We disagree with that as well. But we're not here, at this moment, undertaking this (inaudible) and responsibility because we disagree with his policy positions. We'll deal with that next November. We're here because the President pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain thereby soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election by withholding $391 million in military aid without justification.
Now the President says that was perfect. Here's what others have had to say about that.
Ambassador Sondland, who gave the President a million dollars for the inauguration said it was a quid pro quo. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, Iraq War veteran, said it was improper. Dr. Fiona Hill, Trump appointee, what is she saying? Political errand.
Ambassador Taylor, West Point graduate appointed by Reagan, Bush and Trump, Vietnam War hero. He said it was crazy.
And John Bolton, a super conservative, Trump National Security Adviser, said it was a drug deal.
What were the framers of the constitution have said? Impeachable.
I yield to my colleague from California, Eric Swalwell.
SWALWELL: I thank the gentleman. In my -- in my colleague's efforts to defend this President, you want him to be someone he's not. You want him to be someone he is telling you he is not. You're trying to defend the call in so many different ways, and he's saying, guys, it was a perfect call. He is not who you want him to be. And let me tell you how selfish his acts were.
And, Ranking Member Collins, you can deny this as much as you want -- people died in Ukraine at the hands of Russia. And Ukraine, since September 2018, when it was voted on by Congress, was counting on our support. One year passed and people died. And you may not want to think about that, it may be hard for you to think about that, but they died when this selfish -- selfish President withheld the aid for his own personal gain.
And I -- I -- I get it, oh, Obama, you know, he only gave them XYZ, we've proven the record that President Obama gave them not only military capabilities, military training and medical equipment. So don't -- don't tell yourself Ukrainians didn't die, they died.
Ambassador Taylor, he said, these were weapons and assistance that allowed the Ukrainian military to deter further incursions by the Russians against Ukrainian territory. If that further incursion, further aggression were to take place, more Ukrainians would die, so it is a deterrent effect these weapons provided.
But you didn't only hurt Ukraine, Mr. President, by doing this, you helped Russia.
And to my colleagues who believed we have such an anti-corruption President in the White House, I ask you this, how many times did this anti-corruption President meet with the most corrupt leader in the world, Vladimir Putin? How many times did he talk to him? Sixteen times between meetings and phone conversations. And how many conditions did the President put on Vladimir Putin to get such an audience with the most powerful person in the world at the highest office? Zero conditions.
That's who you're defending. So keep defending him. We will defend the constitution, our national security and our elections. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. Who seeks recognition?
Mr. Cline, for what purpose do you seek recognition?
CLINE: Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
CLINE: Mr. Chairman, first I want to thank the gentleman, my colleague, Mr. Jeffries, for laying bare what we all have known is that they have policy differences and, as he said, they'll deal with it next November. They are not really interested in removing this President from office. They don't think that the Senate is going to remove him from office. They get it. This is all a political exercise on their end just to help them in next November's election. That's what it's all about for them. And it's infuriating to me that they put on this show and wave their constitutions, which they must have just found because, you know, I've been at this a long time and I don't see folks on their side of the aisle waving the constitutions much less reading from it very often, but it's good to know what they're -- that they're actually finally talking about what their real motives are to use this as a political maneuver for damaging the 2020 election.
And with that, I'd yield to the Ranking Member.
COLLINS: Thank you for yielding. Mr. Swalwell, I'm not sure if the hearing is bad on that end because on battle it is. I did not say no one died. (Inaudible) you can't have a trouble reading an article that said people died. No one said that. And you can accuse whatever because you're just sitting there just telling untruth because you don't get it because you have a personal agenda, and maybe you're auditioning for the prospect of being an impeachment manager. That's great.
But you can't get into this one because as someone who sat and watched people down the battlefield, I know when people die. I know when they come into the hospital and they've been shot up and they've been hit with IEDs. So to come in here to take a shot and say, oh, Mr. Collins don't think people die, that's a load of hogwash. In fact, they're so wrong to get a cheap shot to say what didn't happen.
When you can't even read your own article you put into submission. I mean, maybe we can go by it word by word, although there is no way to link (inaudible) dozens of other desks directly to lack of aide.
Undersecretary Hale said this was prospective, not at the time. I'm not sure what part and I could maybe draw a picture and put it on a chart for you. That's the most ridiculous comment and there's been a lot of them here. That is the most amazing -- amazing lack of honesty and integrity that I've seen so far, looking at your own article to say that I never said no one died. We know people died. Let me explain it to you, wars people died. Is that difficult to understand? Maybe that's why you're back here with us tonight. It's not hard to understand.
And to say that -- two -- again, two things the most amazing things today, tearing down the Ukrainian -- Mr. Zelensky and besmirching the folks who died, that's just amazing to me. Even for this majority to sit there and keep repeating the lie after lie after lie, they died.
Mr. Hale, Undersecretary of State, said that was prospective money, not current money. People died when they were money released earlier. Are we going to claim that that was because we didn't give them enough money? I don't know, I get it. You all have got an agenda to push and the clock is ticking. But to sit there and come back with that one and accuse me that I said that they didn't know -- that nobody died. I never said nobody died and that you don't understand that because your own article that you wanted to get in so quickly said there's no way to actually tell what they died of because even this is an article (inaudible) slanted against the position that the President had. So if you want to continue this debate, go right ahead because for the men and women out there who served in the military, who've watched and have been overseas, who've watched this, who understand around the world who are fighting, even in Ukraine and others right now, for you to say that, it's just wrong but they'll get it.
JEFFRIES: Would the gentleman yield?
COLLINS: And I'm not yelling to anyone. I mean, maybe like I said, maybe it's a reading comprehension problem. Maybe we just don't have it. Maybe it's just because we don't have the fact to make the argument. I'll go back to the fact (inaudible) we know nothing happen and we know that you couldn't maximize the case. Otherwise, you would have wrote them in the articles of impeachment. You can't do it. So what do we do?
Today, we've taken attack of tearing down Mr. Zelensky, just tearing him down, and then also continuing the unfortunate misrepresentation of money and deaths of soldiers fighting for their country. That is the darkest thing that we see today. I yield back.
JACKSON LEE: Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: Mr. Cline's time has now expired.
JACKSON LEE: Chairman?
NADLER: Ms. Jackson Lee, for what purposes do you seek recognition?
JACKSON LEE: Strike the last word, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentlelady is recognized.
JACKSON LEE: I'm going to take a -- a different perspective than my good friend from Georgia, Mr. Collins, this remind us of the words of George Washington, "The constitution is a guide, which I will never abandon."
The American people who watch this debate, to men and women who are wearing a uniform around the nation, I hope that you'll understand that we will never abandon the constitution. That is why we are here today to discuss the articles of impeachment.
When I began my words yesterday, I said, "We, the people of the United States," as evidenced by James Madison, promote the general welfare but establish the constitution for the United States of America. Let me speak very briefly to say that the language the gentleman is trying to strike has already been established, that it was in the constitutional articles or the articles of impeachment in 1998.
Let me also say that my good friends are speaking to an audience of one, a person who now is absorbing all the accolades and all the great work that he has done. And I have no quarrel with their representation of their President. But I don't serve a man or a President.
Benjamin Franklin, to the throngs of those who are outside the constitutional convention, answered the question when they shouted out, "Mr. Franklin, what do we have, a monarchy or republic?" And he said a Republic if we can keep it. Today, the majority, Democrats are attempting to keep this Republic and to maintain that the President of the United States cannot abuse its power and cannot disrupt Congress.
Chairman Rodino made it very clear. He made it very clear by stating that the President of the United States, at that time, in the Nixon proceedings could not design for himself how the impeachment inquiry would work. And then to talk about the President's use of his public office with public funds to, in essence, get a foreign entity to help him with his campaign, besmirching the elections, undermining the integrity of the election for the American people.
I disagree with the President on cutting SNAP for poor people or separating children. I disagree, as a Texan, for the wall because my fellow Texans are against it. But the real issue is the power imbalance between the President of Ukraine, newly elected President, a President who would run on the get-corruption-out campaign. Literally, he campaigned his party was a anti-corruption party. And he comes hat and hand on this conversation because he missed the President at the inauguration, he did not go. He sent Sondland and he sent Perry.
Mr. Pence did not go. So he wanted to say anything that he could to make sure that he would get these dollars and calling for an investigation on an opponent. It was not beneath him. How do you think that he would admit now publicly that he's willing to do it?
But let me show you the atmosphere in which Ukraine lived. Putin regulations reclaims Crimea right on their border arrogantly without in any defense by Ukraine. They lost. Crimea was taken just like we would have lost Mississippi or Texas or New York or California. And then they lived in the atmosphere of a jetliner explodes over Ukraine, shot down by Russian weapons by -- supported by Ukraine and by Russia, and then Ukraine -- in Ukraine, the U.S. trains and Army in the west to fight the east impacting our national security.
So let me say to my colleagues, I read the constitution regularly. My predecessor always said keep a constitution in your hand. Barbara Jordan said we, the people. But I am clear that the imbalance of power between Ukraine and the United States and two heads of state would've caused that President to do almost anything.
And as Ambassador Sondland said he will do anything you desire him to do, and he will call for investigations. And so he was willing to go on CNN and announce those investigations.
The President has abused his power. The President has tried to obstruct Congress in trying to create his own way of us doing an impeachment inquiry. I believe we are doing the right thing, and I support the articles of impeachment. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentlelady yields back. For what purposes Mr. McClintock seek recognition?
MCCLINTOCK: To strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
MCCLINTOCK: Mr. Chairman, there I -- to state the obvious, I have not heard a new point or an original thought from either side in the last three hours. The same talking points have been repeated over and over again ad nauseam by both sides. Repeating a fact over and over doesn't make it true, and denying a fact over and over doesn't make it false.
Everybody knows this, everybody watching knows this. This hearing has been enough of an institutional embarrassment without putting it on an endless loop. So if I could just offer a modest suggestion if no one has anything new to add that they resist the temptation to inflict what we've already heard over and over again.
And with that, I yield back.
CHAIRWOMAN: The point is well taken. Who else seeks recognition? The...
CHAIRWOMAN: OK, Ms. Roby, for what purpose do you seek recognition?
ROBY: I move to strike the last word.
CHAIRWOMAN: The gentlewoman is recognized.
ROBY: I yield to Mr. Jordan?
JORDAN: Yeah, and I'll be -- I thank the gentlelady for -- for yielding. I heard the last speaker from Texas on the other side talk about election interference, talking about campaign. How about -- how about the FBI spying on four American citizens associated with the Trump campaign in 2016? And the people running that investigation, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, people running that investigation were the ones who said, "We're going to stop Trump." They're the ones who said Trump should lose $100 million to zero.
They are the ones who said we have an insurance policy. They're the ones who -- or ran that investigation where they went to the FISA court and lied to the court. We just learned this two days ago, lied to the court 17 times, didn't tell the court the guy who wrote the dossier was, quote, "desperate to stop Trump," the dossier they're using to get a warrant to further spy on the Trump campaign.
Didn't tell the court who -- the guy who wrote the dossier was working for the Clinton campaign. That's probably a pretty important fact that they get to the court; they didn't do that. Didn't tell the court the guy that wrote the dossier Christopher Steele was fired by the FBI because he was out talking to the press. Didn't tell him all that, so we're talking election interference.
How about that fact? And now -- now in 2020, now in 2020, we don't have -- we don't have the FBI spying on people with the Trump campaign yet. We don't have -- we don't have them going to the FISA court lying. What we have instead insurance policy, instead now is impeachment. That's what they're doing. That's how they're going to make it a little tougher on the President to win reelection. That's what this is about and that's why it's so wrong.
Let the American people decide. We are 11 months away -- less than 11 months away from -- from the next election. Let the American people decide.
We already had the FBI try to weigh in 2016 and do all the things that Mr. Horowitz (ph) was just told us about this week. Now, in 2020, the Democrats in Congress are trying to create some kind of insurance policy with this impeachment effort. Let the American people decide.
I yield back to the gentlelady from Alabama.
ROBY: I thank the gentleman. I'll yield the remainder of my time to Mr. Reschenthaler.
RESCHENTHALER: Thank you. I appreciate it. There's been some talk about javelin missiles tonight. I just want to -- I just want to draw attention to some of what the Democrat witnesses have said. I just got to find it on my desk.
You know what? Let's talk about the law instead. I've heard that we say -- said tonight that when the fact isn't on your side and when the law isn't on your side, just argue for a long time. The facts are on our side and so is the law.
If you look at the legal definition, again it's very clear that the Democrats cannot make out a prima facie case. It's -- it's interesting to note, too, that the Democrats have become originalists all of a sudden. So let's just go back to the statute.
The federal bribery statute contains the following elements whoever, being a public official, corruptly demands or seeks personally anything of value in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act. So we can take any one of those elements and deconstruct it. Let's just start an official act because we haven't hit that yet tonight.
Official act, a meeting in the White House is not a, quote-unquote, "official act" under the Supreme Court's McDonnell precedent. Setting up a meeting, talking to another official or organizing an event -- without more -- does not fit the definition of an official act. So right there, under Supreme Court precedent, you don't have an official act.
We can also look at the element anything of value. The Department of Justice Criminal Division, the Public Integrity Section, opined in September that something as nebulous as an investigation is not of sufficient concrete value to constitute something of value under the federal campaign finance laws. Presumably, the same would be true under the bribery statute. So again, if we're arguing the law, I'll stay here and argue all night because the law is on our side. You cannot make out a prima facie case.
Again, I was a district judge in Pennsylvania. I decided cases at preliminary hearing level. I would have dismissed this every single time that came before me because they are not the elements needed to support a prima facie. I only have 30 seconds left, so if somebody would yield me more time, I'd appreciate it. But let me just go back into corruptly (ph).
The President did not have corrupt intent. Again, the Democrats are using a parity version of Chairman Schiff when he was talking about the President when he said, quote-unquote, "make up dirt about my opponent." The President didn't actually say that, that was a parity of Chairman Schiff. And unfortunately, it's being used to support this element.
If anybody has more time, I'd appreciate it if it would be yielded to me. With that, I yield back.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: Who seeks recognition on this amendment?
BIGGS: Mr. Chairman? Biggs, Arizona.
NADLER: Mr. Biggs?
(UNKNOWN): He's already had (inaudible).
NADLER: Mr. Biggs has...
(UNKNOWN): It's on this side.
(UNKNOWN): He's already...
BIGGS: I've not already gone...
(UNKNOWN): He's already spoke.
BIGGS: You are incorrect, Sir.
NADLER: (Inaudible) on this amendment. Who seeks...
BIGGS: Did you recognize me?
NADLER: No, I'm told you have already spoken on this.
BIGGS: That would be an error, sir.
NADLER: Not on Jordan?
(UNKNOWN): He's spoken (inaudible).
NADLER: No, you have spoken on the amendment already. Someone may yield you time.
BIGGS: No, not on Jordan, not on Jordan.
NADLER: On this amendment. It's what our record say.
NADLER: I don't think so. That's not what our record say.
Does anyone else seek recognition? No one else seeks recognition?
BIGGS: Mr. Chairman, point of order. Mr. Buck yielded the time to me.
NADLER: Mr. Ratcliffe is -- does Mr. Ratcliffe seek recognition?
RATCLIFFE: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
RATCLIFFE: I yield to my friend from Arizona.
BIGGS: Thank you, Mr. Ratcliffe. Thank you so much. I guess -- I guess, this means we're not doing the -- the minority hearing day.
I will just say that James Madison -- we heard people intone James Madison. He said at the convention of 1787, appeasement was for, quote, "removal of an officer who had rendered himself justly criminal in the eyes of the majority of the people," close quote, majority of the people that -- you don't have that. What you have here is a slot bucket that you're calling your articles of impeachment.
So what we've heard over the last two days is basically every grievance that Democrats have against this President. You've stuck the ladle in that slot bucket and you try to throw it out there, and you try to pigeon hole that grievance into one of two things, either the -- the obstruction of Congress or abuse of power. That's -- that's the problem that you have here is that you're all over the map because you can't deliver a crime. There's no high crime, there's no misdemeanors, no -- there's no bribery.
Remember, Professor Karlan tried to explain bribery what the bribery might have been. The girl was full five minutes. And after she was done, we didn't hear anybody talking about bribery anymore as an impeachable offense.
You talked about quid pro quo, and that was pretty much off the table until tonight it's kind of revved back up again. But the bottom line is this, you don't have a specific charge so you used the two amorphous weak areas to go forward. So I mean, you've been -- been trying different -- different avenues for -- for three years now. And I'm reminded that -- that one of my colleagues on the other side said, "You want Trump to be something he isn't." And reality is that's projection. Reality is you want him to be something he isn't. That's why you're trying to impeach him. That's why you've tried all kinds of theories that have all fallen flat. And the big one was the Mueller -- the Mueller impeachment. You really wanted that one. That didn't work so well, didn't work so well because there was nothing there.
I would say something about President Zelensky and -- and this discussion with the President. He, himself -- President Zelensky without instigation in this conversation atoll about Ambassador Yovanovitch after she'd been recalled said, "Her attitude towards me was far from the best that she admired the previous President," and she was on his side. This is the anti-corruption crusader you keep talking about.
And then you talked Poroshenko -- President Poroshenko as being corrupt, and I'm not saying he wasn't, but President Zelensky said Yovanovitch was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough. So the reason I bring that up is because you've repeatedly said there's nothing contested here. The facts are not contested, but I go back to something I think is very important.
All the inferences you've drawn have been designed to go against this President and paint him in the light least favorable. And that's because you've tried to project him into being something you want him to be. But when you look at the facts and the direct evidence, the direct evidence is real clear -- Ukraine receive the aid, provided nothing in return and they stated President Zelensky and Foreign Minister -- the Foreign Minister Yermak said they felt no pressure, there was no pressure there.
And even Ambassador Sondland who you relied on over 600 times in your -- in your effort said, "Hey, you know what, I don't have nobody in the world told me anything, I just presumed it. You don't have a case, you've never had a case, you just wanted to have a case." And that's the sadness about it. You're impeaching him because you've wanted to for three years. You can't beat him in a reelection, you're not going to beat him in a reelection so you had to go to -- go to impeachment. And that is a tragedy for America. I yield.
NADLER: The gentleman yields -- the gentleman yields back. What purposes Mr. Neguse seek recognition?
NEGUSE: Move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
NEGUSE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And with much respect to my colleague's quote at James Madison, you know, there's been this description of abuse of power as amorphous by some and by nebulous, I think, is a word that one of my colleagues has used in this long debate tonight. And I'd offer you the following quote, which is that, liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. That quote is from James Madison. The part of this debate that has been so frustrating for me -- and I think for a lot of Americans who are watching tonight -- is the diminishment of the public servants, the patriots who stepped forward and provided the evidence that demonstrates that this President abused his power. People like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who served this country bravely overseas, people like Ambassador Bill Taylor, a West Point graduate, a Vietnam veteran, people like Dr. Fiona Hill, people like Laura Cooper, official after official after official from the Trump administration, these individuals serve in the president's administration.
Ambassador Taylor was not appointed by President Obama, he was appointed by President Trump. So I would hope that my colleagues, as we proceed with the solemn duty that this committee is charged with that we respect the people who came forward, who have served on the Republican and Democratic administrations to tell the truth under oath and to help this Committee as it seeks to hold this administration accountable.
And with that, I yield to Ms. Lofgren from California.
LOFGREN: I thank you, Mr. Neguse. I was just listening to this debate and, you know, where most of us hear lawyers. But the idea that the founding fathers in 1789 would be considering the U.S. code precedent and the McConnell case precedent and the (inaudible) Services Supreme Court (inaudible) as precedent in 1789 is simply ridiculous.
Mr. Neguse has pointed out what the founding fathers had in mind with the impeachment clause, and we know that high crimes and misdemeanors is essentially actions that the President uses with the extraordinary power that he's been given under the constitution to subvert the constitutional order, to prevent the constitutional system from working. And that is a concern that we have here not only that the President has done that, but that he is not contrite, he's not correcting his behavior, he's continuing to do it. He's presenting an ongoing threat that he will continue to subvert the constitutional order.
So I thank Mr. Neguse for yielding to me on the idea that his court cases would have been precedent in 1789. And I yield back with that.
CICILLINE: Mr. Neguse?
LOFGREN: Mr. Chair?
NEGUSE: With that...
CICILLINE: Mr. Neguse?
NEGUSE: Mr. Chair, I would yield the balance of my time to Mr. Cicilline from Rhode Island.
CICILLINE: Thank you, Mr. Neguse. I just want to remind my colleagues we have introduced in the record a letter from 500 legal scholars that really reinforced the point Mr. Neguse just made, and I'll read from it. "Impeachment isn't especially the central remedy for conduct that corrupts elections. The primary check on President's power is political ever. If a President behaves poorly, voters can punish him or and his party at the polls. But if a President corrupts the system of election and seeks to place himself beyond the reach of this political check.
As the -- at the Constitutional Convention, George Mason described impeachable offenses as attempts to subvert the constitution. Corrupting election subverts the process by which the constitution makes the President democratically accountable would simply if a President cheats in his efforts at reelection, trusting the democratic process to service as a check through that election is no remedy at all. This is what impeachment is for.
I ask my Republican colleagues, how many of you would allow or solicit a foreign power to help in your reelections. Please raise your hand? Not one of you because you know what violate the constitution.
(UNKNOWN): Would the gentleman yield?
CICILLINE: And you know what corrupt the right of the American people to decide who will represent them in the Congress of United States. You know, I was the mayor of Providence. It would be like if I got a federal grant of a million dollars to fight gang violence...
NADLER: The gentleman...
CICILLINE: ... my police chief called me and said where is that money, and I said, "You know what, Chief, before I send it over, do me a favor, announce an investigation of my political rival.
CICILLINE: I'd be arrested on the spot. That's what we're talking.
NADLER: The gentleman...
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: ... the gentleman's time has expired. For what purposes the gentle...
(UNKNOWN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: No, you've already spoken on this amendment.
(UNKNOWN): Oh, I apologize, I thought it was the last one.
NADLER: Question -- the question is now on the amendment. Those in favor say aye.
No. In the opinion of the Chair the nayes have it. The amendment is not agreed to. (UNKNOWN): Roll call.
NADLER: A roll call vote has been requested. The clerk will call the roll.
CLERK: Mr. Nadler?
CLERK: Mr. Nadler votes no.
CLERK: Ms. Lofgren votes no.
Ms. Jackson Lee?
JACKSON LEE: No.
CLERK: Ms. Jackson Lee votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Cohen votes no.
Mr. Johnson of Georgia?
H. JOHNSON: No.
CLERK: Mr. Johnson of Georgia votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Deutch votes no.
CLERK: Ms. bass votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Richmond votes no.
JEFFRIES: No. CLERK: Mr. Jeffries votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Cicilline votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Swalwell votes no.