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House Panel Debates Impeachment Articles Against Trump Before Vote. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired December 12, 2019 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] RATCLIFFE: Remember, Chairman Schiff, the person that the Democrats instead of the Judiciary Committee - which has spent a full week on this - that's not who's been in charge. The person they put in charge was the person that got caught with the whistleblower.
Have you spoken directly with the whistleblower? No, we have not. We'd like to. That wasn't true. The person that said he had evidence of the first fake impeachment scam, collusion with Russia, had evidence of that collusion and didn't have, the person who in the course of that read into the record the Steele dossier because the people needed to know the truth about what happened.
Well, we heard about the truth about the Steele dossier this week when the inspector general told us it was all garbage, rubbish, all made up. Yes, that Chairman Schiff, and now he got caught not being truthful about a whistleblower, who as I told you the other day didn't tell the truth verbally and in writing, and that's in a transcript.
You know what we didn't get in this one-week impeachment summary in the House Judiciary Committee? We didn't get that transcript. Chairman Schiff didn't send that one over. Only if you were on the Intelligence Committee have you seen that transcript. I've seen it. I'd like everyone to see it. With that, I yield to my good friend, Congressman Jordan.
JORDAN: I thank that gentleman for yielding. I want to go back to where Mr. Buck was referencing the gentleman from Rhode Island when he mentioned Mr. Sondland as, again, the guy they mentioned 611 times in their report, Mr. Sondland - the guy who presumed there was as quid pro quo, the guy who had to file an addendum to his deposition testimony, and in that addendum, again, he has this great sentence where he says Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I conveyed this messaged to Mr. Yermak on September 1, 2019 in connection with Vice President Pence's visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky - six people, again, having four conversations in one sentence.
Here's the interesting thing. Yermak talks with Sondland, Sondland talks with Morrison, Morrison talks with Taylor, and somehow through all that we get the Democrats believing that there was this quid pro quo and that they need to impeach the president. But what they - what they forget is what Mr. Gaetz brought up just a few minutes ago. Yermak talks with Sondland, Sondland talks with Morrison, Morrison talks with Taylor, and this is part of their scheme. Guess what? Two days ago the guy who started it, Yermak, said it didn't happen, but that's their guy, Mr. Sondland. Had to file the addendum to his testimony, had to write this sentence to clarify. I think this is amazing. This is the clarification.
Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I convinced Mr. Yermak on September 21, 2019 in connection with Vice President Pence's visit to Warsaw and the meeting with President Zelensky. Yermak's the key here, and it didn't happen. He just told us that. Time Magazine just reported it. The very same day as Mr. Gaetz pointed out that you all filed your articles of impeachment. Holy cow, this is what it comes down to. I yield back.
BIGGS: Mr. Chairman...
NADLER: Gentleman yields back. For what purpose does...
BIGGS: Mr. Chairman, I have unanimous consent to strike the last word.
NADLER: For what purpose does Ms. Demings seek recognition?
DEMINGS: Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: Gentlelady is recognized.
DEMINGS: You know, let me just say I've been pretty shocked and disappointed with my colleagues on the other side. There have been so many things that have been said like the president never used the word demand. Well, I can tell you this. When a robber points a gun at you to take your money, they usually don't walk up and say, "I'm robbing you right now."
The other argument that we've heard this morning is that while the aid was released, it was eventually released, there was no investigation. There was no announcement of an investigation. But you know, the aid was released because the president got caught. It was released after the whistleblower's complaint. It was released after public reports that the aid was being held because Ukraine was being coerced into doing an investigation, and Congress has initiated congressional investigations into why the aid was being released.
You know, we can talk about alternative facts all day long, but the facts are really pretty clear that the president abused his power, the precious power of his office to coerce a country that was dependent on us, a country who's fighting Russian aggression because when Ukraine fights Russian aggression they're helping us fight Russian aggression, and he did it for personal gain and he should be held accountable. Mr. Chair, I yield back.
NADLER: Gentlelady yields back.
BIGGS: Mr. Chairman, I have unanimous consent request. NADLER: Who seeks recognition for unanimous consent?
BIGGS: Biggs from Arizona.
NADLER: The gentleman's recognized for unanimous consent request.
BIGGS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My first unanimous consent request is the record of the correspondence of subpoenas served on Executive Branch officials by Chairman Schiff. We have concerns because three of those were served prior to the passage of H. Res. 660.
NADLER: We'll reserve the right to object. We'll take a look at that.
BIGGS: Thank you, and I have another one, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: Gentleman will state it.
BIGGS: Thank you. It is two letters sent by the Office of the Vice President dated October 15 and December 11. The first explains the overbroad scope of the document request from Chairman Schiff but offers to work with Congress to advance legitimate oversight authorities. The second letter points out inaccuracy in Chairman Schiff's report. Contrary to a assertion contained in Chairman Schiff's report at the time of the release of the report...
NADLER: Are these public correspondents?
BIGGS: They are correspondents between the vice president and...
NADLER: And without objection.
BIGGS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: What purpose does Ms. Roby seek recognition?
ROBY: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentlelady's recognized.
ROBY: I yield to my friend, Mr. Reschenthaler.
RESCHENTHALER: Thank you. I think that we've got to remember that the abuse of power is coming from the quid pro quo charge which then morphed into bribery. The problem is is that my colleagues across the aisle can't make out what, again, we call primae facia case meaning the elements are not supported by the facts, so let's just go back and look at the federal statute for bribery.
The elements are as follows. 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. Now, we could tear apart each one of these elements, but let me just focus on corruptly.
The president didn't have corrupt intent, and that's where the Democrats cannot make out a primae facia case. Contrary to Schiff's parody version of the July 25 call, the president wasn't asking Ukraine to, quote, unquote, "make up dirt about my opponent." That quote came from a parody from Chairman Schiff. The president didn't say it in the phone call. For whatever reason, that is being missed.
There was also significant reason to believe that the Bidens were involved in corruption and there's also evidence Ukrainian officials colluded with Democrats in the 2016 campaign. Now, there's been a lot of talk about this being a conspiracy theory. It's not a conspiracy theory. The Hill, Politico, Financial Times all reported on this, and for whatever reason now it's being labeled a conspiracy theory. It's not a conspiracy theory that The Hill, Politico, Financial Times, all reported on this, and for whatever reason now, it's being labeled a conspiracy theory. Also, the president was not seeking to help with his 2020 campaign; rather he was seeking accountability regarding Ukraine Democrat collusion in 2016, and also potential corruption in Obama -- in the Obama administration's dealing with Ukraine as well. And we have to remember to what Professor Turley said. Remember, Professor Turley voted for Hillary, he is not a Trump supporter, he was very impartial, and he said, and I quote the professor, "Trump does not state a quid pro quo in the call. He is using his influence to prompt Ukrainians to investigate and to cooperate with the Justice Department.
If President Trump honestly believe there was a corrupt agreement with Hunter Biden that was not fully investigated by the Obama administration, the request for an investigation is not corrupt." And again, I was quoting Professor Turley. I'd also like to quote the Mueller report -- and just an aside, we have to remember months ago, Robert Mueller came in here and he said there was no evidence of collusion, no evidence of -- of obstruction, but again, we're back here. OK, let me just go back to the Mueller report. There was discussion of corruptly in that report. As it pertains to obstruction of justice, it was -- it was stated quote, "corruptly means acting with an improper motive or with intent to obtain an improper advantage for himself or someone else inconsistent with the official duty and the rights of others." By that standard, by Mueller's own standard, the president's behavior is entirely inconsistent with the definition of the underlying statute. With that, I yield back to my friend and colleague from Alabama.
ROBY: I yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Gohmert.
GOHMERT: I thank my friend, Ms. Roby, so much. First of all, I was astounded having been a prosecutor, I've defended some cases, I've been a judge. I have sent a lot of people to prison, but I've never sent someone to prison where the victim didn't know or figure out that they were a victim. That -- that's extraordinary to hear that you can commit a crime like robbery or theft, and the victim never knows or never figures out there's a victim. That -- I've never sent anybody to prison when the victim didn't know they were a victim.
COLLINS: Will the gentleman (ph) -- Mr. Gohmert?
GOHMERT: Yes? COLLINS: I want to make -- Ms. Roby...
NADLER: It's Ms. Roby's time.
COLLINS: I'm going to let it go.
ROBY: I yield to Mr. Collins.
COLLINS: I'll (ph) let it go. No, you can go back (ph) Mr. Gohmert.
GOHMERT: All right. And also there are probably nobody on this committee that has followed what has happened over time in Ukraine more than I have. And there's no question Putin wants the old Soviet Empire back. And what happened when President Bush was in office? Putin had Russia invaded Georgia and President Bush reacted strongly and he put sanctions in place, and so what happened when President Obama took office and Secretary Clinton was in office, they went over there with a red plastic reset button and the message was clear to Putin. Look, Bush overreacted when you invaded Georgia so you can invade Ukraine and we're OK. That may not been what they intended, but that's exactly what -- what Putin heard and that's why invaded Ukraine, Crimea and you're upset at Trump? For heaven's sake.
NADLER: The gentleman's time has -- the gentlelady's time has expired. For what purpose does Mr. Raskin seek recognition?
RASKIN: I move to strike the last word, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
RASKIN: Thank you very much. Our -- our colleagues reprove Mr. Cicilline for raising Ambassador David Sondland to (ph) President Trump's ambassador to the E.U., which has fascinated me of course because that's President Trump's pick; he contributed $1 million to the Trump campaign, he became the ambassador to the E.U. They don't like him now because he clarified his testimony to say yes, there was definitely a quid pro quo at the heart of this whole thing. So now of course they turn on the president's own ambassador. But we have to rely on his word.
I started mention this before because he had a lunch with David Holmes, who was a senior State Department official at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, and they went out to a restaurant and Ambassador Sondland got President Trump on the phone. And afterwards -- and Holmes could hear the conversation, and this is all uncontradicted by other witnesses who were there -- and essentially Ambassador Sondland said to him that you know, Zelensky love your ass, and you're going to get exactly what you want from him. And afterwards Holmes as well, you know, what is it we can get from him? Well, it's the big stuff. And Holmes says the big stuff, well, you be like the war, dealing with the Russia? And so no, the big stuff, what President Trump cares about. OK, no I'm not quoting verbatim, I don't have it in front of me, but the substance of this is very clear. What does he care about?
What can benefit him, like the Bidens. And it's very clear from multiple witnesses exactly what President Trump wanted to get from President Zelensky, he wanted his statement on television that Ukraine was investigating and was going to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and he wanted his statements contradicting the 2016 understanding by our Intelligence Committee and by Special Counsel Mueller, that there been a sweeping and systematic campaign by Russia to interfere in our campaign and saying it was Ukraine that interfered in our campaign, that's what he wanted, that was the big stuff. He didn't care about the Russian war on the people of Ukraine, he didn't care about corruption. They invite us to believe that Donald Trump is an anticorruption crusader who was shaking down President Zelensky about corruption when he doesn't raise any corruption on the call except for what he believed was going on with the Bidens; except that he reduced anticorruption funding for Ukraine, except he doesn't raise it anywhere else that we can find, and what do you know?
You pick up the New York Times yesterday, President Trump, how to pay $2 million to charities because he ripped off his own charity for millions of dollars. This is the anticorruption crusader they want us to believe in, the guy who had to pay $25 million to students at the phony Trump University which the attorney general of New York called the classic bait and switch operation. This is the guy that they want us to believe was shaking down the president of Ukraine because he had some secret anticorruption agenda that actually wasn't related to the Bidens, that wasn't related to rehabilitating the totally discredited Russian conspiracy theory, that it was Ukraine and not Russia that interfered in our campaign in 2016. Come on, on get real, be serious.
We know exactly what happened here; 17 witnesses. It's uncontradicted; there is no rival story, no rival story at all. And our colleagues will not even tell us whether in theory they think it would be wrong for the president United States to shakedown foreign governments to come and get involved in our presidential campaigns in order to harm the president's political opponents. They won't even tell us in principle whether they think that's wrong, because it's too dangerous at that point.
We know that they don't accept the facts. We know they don't accept the evidence. They don't like the fact that the depositions took place in the basement?
Where should they have been, on the first floor, the second floor? Would they accept the facts if we found some other room? Would that be all right?
Because their people were there. I was in that room. There were Democrats. There were Republicans. The Democratic counsel got an hour. The Republican counsel got an hour. It was even on both sides.
Enough of these phony process objections. Let's get back to the facts of what happened. The president of the United States shook down a foreign power to come and get involved in our election. And that's wrong. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman? Down here.
NADLER: For what purpose does the gentleman seek recognition?
(UNKNOWN): Move to strike the last word.
NADLER: No, no, no.
NADLER: The gentleman from -- Mister -- Mr. Armstrong is recognized.
NADLER: For what purpose does Mr. Armstrong seek recognition?
ARMSTRONG: Move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, I think it bears mentioning that there's a lot about David Holmes I would say, but what I would say first is that, for a guy who heard part of one half of a three-minute phone call, he had a -- he had a 40-minute opening statement.
And Sondland testified that Biden was never linked in his mind until the transcript was released on August -- at the end of August.
And the Democratic report does not -- not the Republican report -- the Democratic report does not establish any linkage between the announcement or understanding of investigations for his personal political benefit. The only testimony Democrats rely on to prove that allegation is Ambassador Sondland's testimony.
However, they conveniently leave out the most crucial aspect of the ambassador's testimony. And that is, after being questioned, he only presumed the linkage. In fact, he admitted in his public testimony that no one in the world told him there was any linkage. But this is the basis for the Democratics' Article I (ph).
But I want to go a little broader reason of why should accept Mr. Jordan's amendment. A Democratic senator was quoted saying, "Never, in my view, had America been led by such a dangerous head of state." He bemoaned that America was misled by a reckless and arrogant president.
That was Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia describing George W. Bush.
Ronald Reagan was accused of abuse of power for pushing a growth-based economic agenda, for committing troops to Lebanon or for turning back the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
Clinton, excluding the impeachment, was accused of abuse accusations for an Asia fund-raising scandal -- four dozen donors were arrested; aides getting sweetheart appointments; use of the FBI to dig up dirt on political employees; Waco; and a Swedish slush fund.
George W. Bush was accused of abuse of power for domestic spying, an energy task force controversy; Presidential Records Act; steel tariffs, the Iran -- Iraq War and NSA over-reach.
Obama's IRS engaged in politically motivated targeting of charitable groups; Fast and Furious gun-running scandal; collected telephone records on AP journalists without a warrant; the seizure of private property under the guise of environmental -- environmental protection.
The problem we're running into, which is going to last far longer than today and far longer than this Congress, is this will become the new normal. Every one of those things I mentioned had reports written about them. They probably had election consequences. There were hearings held.
You know what they didn't have? A nebulous, ambiguous charge of abuse of power. If you cannot prove an underlying crime, you do not get to use all of the -- all of the evidence you're presenting for.
This will continue. This will move forward. In the history of our country, the -- the party who is not in the White House has accused the White House of abuse of power. It started 200 years ago. It will continue into the future, except now, congratulations. It will be impeachment every single time one party controls the House of Representatives and the other party is in the White House.
And with that, I'd yield to my friend from Louisiana.
M. JOHNSON: I thank my friend.
I just want to point out we are talking about, and we have been for the last two hours, this amendment that Mr. Jordan brought. He wants to strike Article 1 of the resolution, because the resolution isn't worth the paper it's written on. Why do we need to do that?
That Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution is what gives us the standard for impeaching a president. You've got to have treason. You've got to have bribery or a high crime and misdemeanor. You guys have defaulted to this amorphous abuse of power allegation. It's not a criminal act. It's not a crime, certainly not a high crime.
There's one problem that everybody can -- this -- to summarize all this, if you're getting lost in the arguments at home here's what it comes down to: In the 243-year history of this country there's only two previous presidents that have been impeached by a vote of the House. It is, of course, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, and both of those, and in the lengthy Nixon impeachment investigation, evidence clearly established that specific criminal acts were committed. Evidence clearly established that specific criminal acts were committed.
These guys don't have that here. They know it. You know it. It's not on paper in the resolution in Article 1 or Article 2. It's in nothing that's been said here in the last two hours. These facts don't change. This is a completely unprecedented, single-party impeachment charade and everybody at home can see that clearly. These things don't change, and they won't.
I yield back to my -- my friend.
(UNKNOWN): (OFF-MIKE) It's Armstrong's time.
NADLER: It's Mr. Armstrong's time.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong.
ARMSTRONG: I yield to my friend from Florida.
GAETZ: I thank the gentleman for yielding.
No evidence? Quote: "When Time asked Yermak, 'Have you ever felt there was a connection between U.S. military aid and the request for investigations,' Yermak was adamant: 'We never had that feeling. We did not have the feeling this aid was connected to any one specific issue.'"
GAETZ: Mr. Chairman, I seek unanimous consent to enter this Time Magazine article of 12/10/2019 into the record (inaudible)...
NADLER: Without objection, it'll be -- the -- the -- the article will be entered.
COHEN: Mr. Chairman?
NADLER: For what purpose does Mr. Cohen seek recognition?
COHEN: Strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman's recognized.
COHEN: Thank you, sir.
I took theater and drama when I was in college, just one course, and I was told the first thing you have to do is have the willing suspension of disbelief. The Republicans obviously took that course over and over and over again, and they don't -- I mean, they're the Fifth Avenue crowd. They've talked about Sondland. That's the man the president appointed as his ambassador to the E.U. That's the man he said was a great guy.
That's the man who's still employed. And Sondland said, "They were all in the loop." Pompeo, Giuliani, Mulvaney, Bolton -- they were all in the loop, and it was about the quid pro quo. It was about having an investigation announced on CNN, and then you'll get the military aid, and Sondland told, in Warsaw, one of the aides to President Zelensky, "You've got to announce the investigation." It was a strong-arm. They did it. And where do we get these people in the loop to testify? They've been asked to testify. The president says no. He won't let them testify because he knows that if they tell the truth, it will hurt his case because they know that they held up the military aid.
President Zelensky has no choice. He needs America to protect himself from the big bear, Russia. They say he hasn't said that he felt pressured. Well, A, he's an actor; and B, he's a politician, and he depends on us. He has no choice, and so he can't say that. But you knew it, and he told people, and he knew the aide was -- was -- was being withheld. They knew it on July the 25th. There were communications from the embassy that have been released that they knew the aide was being held up.
They knew it was being held up. There was no reason for President Trump to tell Sondland, "No quid pro quo. I don't want anything," except for saying, "I want you to testify that I told you this," because he knew that the whistleblower had come out and blown their cover and he knew that the -- the jig was up, so he needed to find a way to say something that would be in the record, and Sondland remembered it, and Sondland...
Their best witness, he -- they -- they talk about the three professors, three of the most respected professors in America, all of who came in here and said this is the most impeachable president. He's -- if you can't -- this abuse of power is -- is one of the most serious offenses you can imagine. It's the Constitution. It's the law of the land, and if you abuse your power that's the most impeachable crime you could be charged with.
And they forget their witness, Mr. Turley said what the president did was wrong. He didn't come in and give a -- a clean bill of health to the president. He said you need some more information. You need some more proof. But you can't get the proof because the president won't allow his men to testify. One of them's writing a book. One of them's still in an interim job. The other one's running for senator. They -- they can't do it.
The proof is there. This is the most abusive act we can imagine: trying to influence our elections with foreign interference. That takes power away from the American people, and that would end our country as we know it, a democracy, a shining city on the hill, a beacon of hope to people around the world who followed our revolution by changing their governments to giving people the power, and not kings. And this is a way to revert back to a king, a man who thinks he can do whatever he wants. If it's Article 2, says, "I can do whatever I want. I'm president." That's not right.
When he said, "I need a favor, though," he was talking about getting dirt on the Bidens. He feared Joe Biden as his primary political rival.
Michael Cohen told us, "The president doesn't come out and say exactly what he wants. He speaks in code." That's the president's code. Michael Cohen knows it, and Michael Cohen is in prison now. Individual One is not in prison because Individual One could not be indicted because of the Justice Department's policies that say you can't indict a sitting president. But Michael Cohen, who is in prison because he facilitated the payments to Ms. Daniels and the payments to Ms. McDougall.
You talk about abuse of power -- abuse of power is having a charitable foundation and taking advantage of the charities and using the money for your own purposes and having to pay a $2 million fine and not being allowed to be on a board ever again because you don't have the kind -- the character to be over a charitable foundation. Abuse of power is ripping off people with Trump University and paying $25 million.
I yield back the balance of my time.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back.
For what purpose does Mr. Cline seek recognition?
CLINE: Move to strike the last word.
NADLER: Gentleman's recognized.
CLINE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm not going to go into why I don't see any of the remarks from the gentleman from Tennessee in these articles of impeachment. But I do want to say I'm a little incredulous. As a prosecutor, I'm just so amazed at what the majority are calling facts. They keep talking about the facts and the evidence.
Well, their evidence is in dispute because it's based on hearsay, opinion and speculation. These are not facts. This is testimony about what somebody thought or what somebody concluded from acts taken by members of the administration.
The -- the charge is abuse of power but what the majority is really upset about is the fact that the president and the administration is exercising its power under the Constitution, its authorized powers.
For example, the president's authority to set foreign policy and fire, for example, an ambassador is not a smear on an official. It's the use of Article II Section 2 of the Constitution. The president is authorized by statute to put a stop on the distribution of funds.
The president is instructed in the NDAA to ask for and monitor investigations into corruption in the Ukraine. When you talk about direct testimony from individuals like Ms -- Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Mr. Morrison, you have the fact that they were on the call and the transcript speaks for itself but you have opinions and conclusions after that.
And when it comes to actual testimony that hasn't been heard, it just shows that the majority really doesn't have any interest in getting to the bottom of this question because if they did care about actually finding out facts, they would be calling Mr. Yermak back into this committee.
They will be delaying this process because what we have read from this article in Time Magazine is incredible and exculpatory, and quite frankly a bombshell when you have specific rejection of claims made by Ambassador Sondland that he was told the aid to Ukraine would not be released unless investigations were launched.
CLINE: Why is he not in here? When asked if he thought there was a connection between the aid and the investigations, Yarmak stated, "We never had that feeling." He added, "We had a clear understanding that the aid had been frozen. We honestly said, OK, that's bad what's going on here. We were told they would figure it out and, after a certain amount of time, the aid was unfrozen. We didn't have the feeling the aid was connected to any one specific issue."
If you ignore this evidence and you were in a court case, you would lose your law license for allowing a case to go forward without this exculpatory evidence being provided to the defenses.
It is just so ridiculous to me that we are not taking time to look further into this.
And with that I want to yield to Mr. Collins, the ranking member.
COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Cline. Well, I appreciate so much, the gentleman from Tennessee. He just answered a ton of questions from me about his understanding of props and theatrics by a study of drama in his -- our education because now we understand a lot of things.
But also we have another -- another thing (ph), folks who study drama also understand you read the lines. They can read the transcript, quit saying, "I want you to do me a favor." It's not in the transcript. It's -- it must be hard to read. I guess neither us (ph) gets confused when you're trying to make that facts.
That's what's happening here. But he also just proved my point while Mr. Jordan saw -- article is actually -- the amendment is actually good because it's what I have said all along. The moment I saw that they decided to use abuse of power, what they did is they gave their whole conference, Carte Blanche to make up anything they want and call it abuse of power because they don't have anything else to give.
They don't have actual crime to take and add up but they did. is -- is -- was portrayed from the gentleman from Maryland and so many others if you had the crime (ph), if you had it you would long and to put it -- you had to put it in the articles. You didn't do it, but then the last thing that is amazingly to me, and the gentleman from Tennessee said, he called the -- Mr. Zelensky, a politician and an actor in a derisive way.
Basically implying politicians lied (ph) while we're seeing that this morning even in just order Tom Matt Halley (ph) came and read the transcript, and he's an actor. He's amazing to me how we, in this committee, are degrading (ph) Mr. Zelensky in the eyes of his country and in the world because we can't make a case against his president.
This is the tragedy of this impeachment right now is they're trying to disintegrate (ph) because they can't make the fact that he felt pressured. That is the critical element to their case. I yield back to Mr. Cline.
STEUBE (?): Unanimous consent request.
NADLER: Who yields back? Who's seeking in the -- who's seeking recognition?
STEUBE (?): Unanimous consent.
NADLER: Who is seeking recognition for unanimous consent request?
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Cohen.
NADLER: The gentleman would say his unanimous consent...
STEUBE: I would like unanimous request to introduce the editor from the USA Today, today, they called for the impeachment of the president...
NADLER: Without objection.
STEUBE: ... from the Los Angeles Times, from the Philadelphia Inquirer and from the Boston Globe.
NADLER: Without objection.
(UNKNOWN): I want to read it.
NADLER: Objection is heard.
(UNKNOWN): I'd for him to read it.
NADLER: Who else seeks recognition?
STEUBE (?): He approves it. I can't read the transcripts and they're here (ph) not be able to read.
NADLER: Who seeks recognition? Does anyone else seek recognition of this amendment? Who have purposes -- does Mr. Steube seek recognition.
STEUBE (?): I move to strike the last work, Mr. Chair.
NADLER: The move (ph) is recognized.
STEUBE: The fact that members of this committee would insinuate that Ukrainians died at the hand of Russians because they didn't get aid is absolutely ridiculous. Having actually served in a combat theater -- theater and knowing what that is like to blame that aid was delayed a few weeks would have saved lives is frankly insulting to me and to all that served.
Now, Democrats want you to believe that Ukrainians died and it's Trump's fault. Why don't we impeach him on that? Members on the other side of the aisle on this committee now are talking about bribery and laying out a case for bribery and laying out elements for bribery.
Yet if their case was so compelling and overwhelming, and they had all the elements then why is it -- why isn't in the articles of impeachment? It's not neither one. They didn't included it because there's no evidence for that charge. The aid was released before the deadline set up by Congress.
They released the aid. The Ukrainians didn't start any investigations. They didn't -- they also got a meeting with Presidential Trump and Presidential doesn't have to meet with foreign leaders and he still agreed to meet with them. Article II Section 49 states Constitution says, the president, vice president, all officers, shall be removed from office on impeachment for conviction of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
We do not have that here, and every impeachment, Congress has interpreted this section to mean that the president has committed an actual criminal act, one that is outlined in the criminal statute. For exams -- for example, Nixon, he was accused of an -- a criminal act. Bill Clinton three.
These are crimes that if not tried in the House of Representatives could have been tried in criminal court. This standard of criminality provides clarity and as one witness who testified before this committee has thoroughly explained, although criminality is not required, clarity is necessary.
That comes from a complete and comprehensive record that eliminates the exculpatory motivations or explanations, but throughout this investigation, the Democrats can't seem to find any criminal act on the part of the president. So, instead of relying on historical president of -- president of criminality, he decided to impeach him for abuse of power, a vague phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution in discussing impeachment.
It has no basis, in fact, or evidence or rather is deeply rooted in a personal opinion and perception. Mr. Turley also explained the implications of this occurrence quote, "We have never impeach the president solely or even largely on the basis of a noncriminal abuse of power allegation. There is good reason for that unbroken record. Abuses of power tend to be even less defined and more debatable as a basis for impeachment and some of the crimes already mention."
He went on to say that the principal problem with proving an abuse of power theory is the lack of direct evidence due to the failure to compel key witnesses to testify or production of the documents.
Now, let's talk about the direct evidence that they have. There is none. The only person that who have -- would have first-hand knowledge of the quid pro quo, bribery, extortion or whatever buzzword the Democrats want to try to out next is President Zelensky who was categorically denied any such agreement or pressure. Herein lies the issue with hinging your entire impeachment on a noncriminal abuse of power allegation. The facts don't support your claims. So, let's review. Never in history the United States has a president been impeached solely or largely on the basis of abuse of power. Every president who has been a impeached has been impeached for criminal acts.
Democrats found no evidence of criminal misconduct on the part of the president. The Democrats have even failed to even prove a noncriminal standard for abuse of power and have -- have relied on hearsay and conjecture. What the Democrats are trying to do here is pull the wool of the eyes in the American people and make them think that wrongdoing has occurred where there is none.
By using fancy rhetoric and flowery language, they think that they can convince a nation of their ill-conceived ideas. Don't fall for it America. I yield the remainder of my time to Mr. Jordan.
JORDAN: I thank the gentleman for yielding. If the Democrats are going to take Samuel Sondland (ph), you got to take Ali Sondland (ph). You're going to mention him (ph) 611 times in your report.
If you're going to build your case around, the guy who presumed -- presume there was a quid pro quo, the guy who had to file an addendum to his deposition, if you're going to do all that, you can ignore the direct conversation he had with the president of the United States where he asked him, "Mr. President, what do you want from Ukraine?"
What the president say? Interesting. Mr. Sondland left this out of his opening statement is 20-some page opening statement. What do you want from Ukraine? What the president say, "I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. I want him to do what he said. I want him to do what he ran on."
You can ignore that. The one piece of directive and you want all this presumption, you want all this addendum -- if you're going to take Samuel Sondland (ph), you're going to take all of them (ph). I yield back.
I yield to Mr. Steube (ph).
(UNKNOWN): There's no -- I think Mr. Steube side (ph) -- Mr. Steube has...
JORDAN (?): I yield to Mr. Gaetz.
(UNKNOWN): Hear (ph) you back.
(UNKNOWN): There's ...
JORDAN: I have 30 seconds.
(UNKNOWN): Thirty seconds.
NADLER (?): Yeah, OK. (UNKNOWN): You have 30 seconds.
(UNKNOWN): Thirty seconds.
JORDAN: I have 30 seconds before they cut the clock.
NADLER: OK, gentleman, proceed.
JORDAN: I yield to Mr. Gaetz.
GAETZ: Thank the gentlemen for yielding. I just don't think the gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Cohen's debate on the last subject really shows what we're dealing with. This is not a rifle shot impeachment with facts and evidence. This is birdshot. I mean, you talked about everything from, you know, the campaign-finance concerns to Trump University, concerns about charities.
This is like pin the tail on your favorite impeachment theory because they don't have evidence for any one single thing to impeach the president for. I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. What purpose does Mr. McClintock seek recognition?
MCCLINTOCK: I had to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
MCCLINTOCK: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, the -- the Constitution introduces the president with 15 words. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. It does not vest any authority in lieutenant colonels of the NSC, ambassadors, State Department officials or Cabinet secretaries.
The only authority that these officials exercise is delegated to them by the president. So, all of the criticisms and resentments and personal and political disagreements that we've heard from those officials are completely irrelevant.
It is dangerous that so many officials in the Executive Branch believe that they have independent authority to override presidential policy, leak classified documents and actively work to undermine the lawful discharge of the president's duties under Article II.
If their judgment can replace that of the president, it means that the people of the United States have simply been removed from the equation. As someone said during the discussion today that the president has actually committed real crimes, the article does not charge such crimes.
Why not? Because there's no evidence to support them. If there was evidence, you know that in a heartbeat, they would have included these charges. So, it's obvious they don't even believe their own rhetoric. One member said, "We are not restricted as the Department of Justices."
Think about what that statement means. The Department of Justice is restricted by the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights sets forth the basic principles of due process, the right to confront your accuser, the right to call witnesses in your defense, charges have to be supported by evidence not gossip and you have the right to appeal to the Courts to protect these rights.
Yes, the Department of Justice is restricted by the Bill of Rights but our Bill of Rights with its due process restrictions, restricts all of us who take the oath of office and that includes Congress. We are restricted to respect these rights also. Only the majority is now placing themselves above the supreme law of the land.
The lawful exercise of executive power is simply not an impeachable offense. The president is responsible for faithfully executing the laws. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime to offer something of value to secure business in a foreign country. Well, the facts of Mr. Biden's actions in the Ukraine certainly look like they cross that line.
Does the president have the authority to request cooperation of a foreign government to investigate potentially corrupt interactions between U.S. officials and their own officials? Of course, he does. The Democrats impute the most sinister motives to this request well nothing in the conversation suggests that.
Do us a favor because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. That's the exact quote, and the National Defense Authorization Act specifically requires the administration to determine that Ukraine is taking steps to combat corruption before aid can be released.
Now, the Democrats have made much of the fact that the secretary of defense certified this in May. They ignored two facts. Number one, the secretary of defense exercises no authority independent of the president.
The buck still stops at the president's desk and to the president retrains (ph) responsibility to determine that the findings of his administration remain valid -- valid, particularly as he assesses the intention of a newly elected president and newly elected parliament.
And lest we forget, last year three Democratic senators wrote to the Ukrainian government demanding that it cooperate in investigating President Trump. The Democrats found absolutely nothing objectionable about this. The only difference I see is that the president actually has the authority and the responsibility to make such a request.
So, what's at stake here? The worst possible interpretations of the president's motives in discharging his constitutional powers are being imputed to him by his most vitriolic opponents. Now, there's nothing extraordinary about that. It is called politics, but at this can become the new standard of impeachment that Congress can impeach any president whose motives his opponent's question. If this is allowed to replace treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors as the standard for nullifying a national election and substituting the judgment of Congress instead of the judgment of the American people, well then no president can make any decision without subjecting the nation to the travesty going on today.
The Executive Branch will be subordinated to the legislative serving at the pleasure of Congress and the separation of powers at the heart of our Constitution will have been utterly destroyed.
I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what purpose does the ranking member, Mr. Collins, seek recognition?
COLLINS: Let me strike last word.
NADLER: The gentleman is recognized.
COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As we've went through this amendment which I think this is -- is probably one of the most telling amendments and when put to a vote is going to tell a lot because this is the most amorphous amendment that you could have.
This is the one that even when I was waiting for the announcement from the chairman and others at the Podium, I was actually there and was being interviewed, and when I heard this one come up and confirm that abuse of power was one of their articles of impeachment, it was simply stunning.
And my first reaction has been made in wrong through (ph) completely here today by many of the members on the majority including Mr. -- the gentleman from Tennessee just recently who just confirmed it. Abuse of power for article of impeachment means anything they want to make.
It is the Carte Blanche coverage. You're saying, we don't really have a case to our caucus but go out and make it up, just go out and say what you don't like. If he didn't say something nice to this, if he didn't do our policy you don't like, do this and then -- that's going to cover (ph) you. You'll be OK because remember this is always about an election.
You know, how we continue to know this? We keep misquoting the transcript. They don't have the facts, so we keep misquoting the transcript saying, "Do me a favor." Again, it's simple, read it. It's us, our country. I mean, if you'd got a case, make it, but don't make it up because you don't have it.
What we have here also is this can -- continual just repeated attacks on the Ukrainian President, Mr. Zelensky. The repeated attacks because we're either claiming, he is a liar or a puppet or we just call him, he's a politician and an actor. So, disregard him.
Wow, that's a lot of concern for the Ukrainian people taking on their very president they've just elected. When we understand and we look at this, this is the -- this is how it gets to the -- to the problem.
When you get to a certain point, and you can't make your case, when you can't factually added up, when you have law school professor tell you, "Well, if you think this thing that an inference is OK," then we've lowered the standard where anything can be brought in.
The factual case that it just been made over the past couple of three -- almost three hours now by our -- by the minority side has laid bare the case on abuse of power. There is none. You can make it up. You can call it whatever you want and you can go around (ph), sell that to the American people, but that, you know, they're not buying it. They're not.
And it's going to get harder and harder for members to actually go to that well next week or go to that ballot where they actually stick their card in and vote yes on abuse of power and then actually have to go back and explain that. It's easy in this room.
You got help from your colleagues, but when you're back home trying to explain why you're going to take down a president, duly elected over abuse of power because some of the arguments we've heard this morning that's just amazing.
There is true skepticism about what went on in the Ukraine and it's deeply rooted with this president, and by the way, there was another time, it's the late '17 and early '18, Ukraine aid was held. It's not the first time. Just get to a foreign aid. He ran on this. I've said this before, most people are amazed that he actually does what he says, although he runs on campaign that our foreign aid needs to be looked at.
He actually does those kind of thing, that's what our president and shows true leadership does. The policies (ph) for 55 days, also other countries' aid was also held. Lebanon was actually held. Others were actually held. This is not a new thing. Do not let the majority convince -- try to convince the American people they're withholding aid or not looking into corruption is a new thing. Don't let them do it.
In the words like I said, other maybe that's what, you know, when you're having to play a part, you have to do that, you have to make it up. That's called ad-lib (ph) and that's what they're doing. Mr. Hill testified, one of the more egregious ones, and I have a friend of mine who texted me just a few minutes ago.
Mr. Steube has brought this up. I brought this up but, again, it needs to be hit. The -- one of the things perpetrated this morning out to the American people what is it people lost their lives in Ukraine over the sale date (ph).
This friend of mine who texted me just a few minutes ago lost limbs on his own body in defense of our country, in a war zone, and he says, don't let them get away with this because this is a future act. Mr. Hale (ph) testified to this fact (ph). In fact, he refuted in his deposition. We want to talk about facts, go the deposition. Go to the transcript they get. He said, this was future, right, had nothing to do with running the Army right in. In war zones, people get hurt and people die and Russian has invaded Ukraine. They are fighting that it is a hot war. People will, but to blame this conversation because you're trying -- you have such a weak case that you're going to try and throw that in just to scare the American people, that's not right.
Make a case, have your fact, put it in the articles, but when you can't do that, you go into backroom, you start writing all exam (ph) impeachment, and you say, "Uh-oh, we got a problem." Let's put something in there that all of our conference can get behind because they don't like the president.
I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yields back. For what purpose does Ms. Dean seek recognition?
DEAN: I move to strike the last word.
NADLER: The gentlelady is recognized.
DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I rise to speak in opposition to this amendment and to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to remind you of the facts that have been uncovered and to review them and put them on the record, again, for the American public because facts do matter.
Notice the contrast between the conversation on this side of the aisle and that. They run away from the facts. They are afraid to -- to admit to themselves or to the American public of what the president's behavior really adds up to.
So, let me just recite the facts. When Ukrainian President Zelensky raised the issue of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine during the 20 -- July 25th call, President Trump replied quote, "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about that," end quote.
Congress appropriated and authorized $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine. On May 23rd, the Department of Defense certified to Congress that Ukraine had completed the requisite anticorruption reform actions to qualify for the security assistance appropriated by Congress.
The president himself directed the aid to be put on hold. In July, Ukrainian officials asked Pentagon staff about the hold on military assistance. No legitimate public policy or national security rationale exists and the president has not brought one forward for President Trump's decision to withhold the security assistance from Ukraine.
Providing aid to Ukraine is in the national security interest of the United States. Withholding it is in the personal political interest of the president and of Putin. President Trump failed to say the word corruption during his April 21st call with President Zelensky. President Trump failed to say the word corruption during his July 25th call to President Zelensky.
The aid to Ukraine was released only after House Committees announced an investigation into the administration's decision to halt the aid. The president instructed all witnesses from the administration not to testify and withheld all relevant documents from House investigators.
On October 3rd, when asked by a reporter, what he hoped President Zelensky would do following their July 25th call? President Trump told the American public and the world, "Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens." It's very -- it's a very simple answer.
On October 17th, at a press briefing in the White House, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said, "President Trump absolutely mentioned corruption related to the DNC server in connection with the security assistance during his July 25th call," and that that server was part of quote, "Why we held the money up," end quote.
Upon taking a question from a reporter attempting to clarify the acknowledgment of a quid pro quo, Mulvaney replied quote, "We do that all the time with foreign policy. Get over it." Let me -- let you -- let me remind you of a statement that Dr. Fiona Hill made in her opening statement and her extraordinary powerful opening statement, incredible testimony before this Congress.
She said and I quote, "If the president or anyone else impedes or subverts the national security of the United States in order to further a domestic political or personal interests, that is more than worthy of your attention."
I ask my colleagues respectfully on the other side of this dais, is it not worthy of our attention to uphold the Constitution and ask the president to do the same or do they think it is proper -- do they think it's OK for any president, not just this one, but for any president to invite foreign interference into our elections?
And with that Mr. Chairman, I yield to the gentleman from Rhode Island.
CICILLINE: Ms. -- I thank the gentlelady for yielding. Mr. Chairman, there's letter that was signed by more than 500 legal scholars across the ideological spectrum that -- that I'd like to just read from very briefly. Speaking of the president's conduct to say -- the president's conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution.
We take no position on whether the president committed a crime, but conduct need not be criminal to be impeachable, the standard here is constitutional. It does not depend on what Congress has chosen to criminalize. They go on to say impeachment is an essential -- especially essential remedy for conduct that corrupts elections. I know that my time is about to expire, so I'll come back to this before I introduce it because I -- I like to read some additional parts of it. I thank -- I yield back.
NADLER: The gentleman yield -- the gentlelady yields back. I recognize myself on the amendment and I yield to Mr. Cicilline.
CICILLINE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I like to just continue to read because this, again, is a letter signed by more than 500 constitutional scholars, and I think some of the confusion my colleagues have been struggling with this that the difference between impeachable offenses and violations of the criminal statute.
So, I -- I hope this will help clarify that. They write, impeachment is a remedy for grave abuses of the public trust. Impeachment is an especially essential remedy for conduct that corrupts elections. The primary check on the president is political. If a president behaves poorly, voters could punish him or her at the polls.
A president who corrupts the system of election seems to place himself beyond the reach of this political check. 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.
Put simply, if a president cheats in his effort at reelection, trusting the democratic process to serve as a check through that election is no remedy at all. This is what an impeachment is for. They go on to say in this letter, whether President Trump's conducts is classified as bribery, as a high crime or misdemeanor or both, it is clearly impeachable under our Constitution.
So, I -- in asking a unanimous consent that this letter and more than 500 legal scholars signed to be made for the record, I hope my colleagues on this other side of the aisle will -- will understand the basis of this article impeachment.
That the president of the United States violated the public trust, undermined the national security of the United States, betrayed our national interests by using the enormous power of his office not to advance the public good, not to advance the policies of the United States in the interest of United States but to advance his own personal political benefit. That is exactly what the framers (ph) spoke about.
That's not my conclusion alone, it was the conclusion of the scholars we heard from our hearing and more than 500 legal scholars that have joined them, and so, I -- I hope will put to rest this notion that you have to violate a criminal statute. You know, a president could deface a Post Office, a mailbox.
That's a federal crime. No one would suggest the president could be impeached for that. So, the framers are talking about the abuses of the of the public trust, a violation of the -- what sacred oath to honor the interest of the American people and not to venture own personal political interest.
These -- these (inaudible) scholars have -- much better than I can and, as well as Professor Raskin has said. So, I asked unanimous consent to be made part of the record.
NADLER: Without objection. Reclaiming my time, I would simply point out a few things. Number one, that the impeachment of President Nixon, although he had committed many crimes, he was impeached -- the committee voted impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of justice, it did not specify specific crime.
I would also point out that it -- that the majority staff report of the Judiciary Committee back in 1974 not just now and I believe in 1998, and certainly, 1974 pointed out that crimes and impeachable offenses of different things. There are crimes which may not be impeachable. There are impeachable offenses which not -- which may not be crimes.
An impeachable offense, high-crime misdemeanors like high is a grave and serious offense against the Constitution, against the structure and function of the government. I would defer you to the Federalist papers. I would also say one other thing, we've repeatedly heard that -- that the Democrats are accusing President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak of -- of -- of lying. Because Mr. Zelensky said -- President Zelensky said, he wasn't pressured.
Well, of course, he said, he wasn't pressured. The United States is a powerful nation on which his nation is dependent. He has a gun to his head. The gun is the fact that the president of the United States upon whom he depends for military aid, for help in many different ways has shown himself willing to withhold that aid and to do other things based on what he says -- based on what he says, based on what he's willing to -- to play along with the president in -- for his personal and political goals.
So, of course, he denies he was pressured because he knows that if he didn't deny that, there might be heavy consequences to pay and you cannot credit that denial and you cannot credit that denial without any aspersions on his character, but simply on the fact that the president of the United States holds a gun to his head.
I yield back and the question is on the amendment. Those in favor say, "Aye."
In the opinion of the chair, the noes have it.
(UNKNOWN): Roll call.
(UNKNOWN): Roll call.
NADLER: Roll call is requested. The clerk will call the roll.
CLERK: Mr. Nadler?
CLERK: Mr. Nadler votes no. Ms. Lofgren? 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?
CLERK: Mr. Johnson of Georgia votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Deutsche votes no.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: As they do this roll call, Jeffrey Toobin, this has been, what, three hours already that they've just been debating the first of what are clearly going to be several amendments to these two articles of impeachment.
And the Democrats are in the majority, so there's no suspense as to the outcome of these amendments that these Republicans are putting forward.
But what's significant is the history of all of this that's unfolding. This is clearly a moment in American history that students will remember for years and years to come.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: And, you know, what is often said about congressional hearings is everything has been said but not everyone has said it. I mean, it is a certain degree of repetition,
But if you actually -- oops, my microphone fell. If you do actually listen, I mean, you have a good sense of what the issue is here.
There is a -- it's interesting, they're talking almost exclusively about the abuse of power article of impeachment. They're not talking much about the obstruction of Congress.
But I think this has been a civic education --