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The Trump Impeachment Vote; Later: Vote on Abuse of Power & Obstruction. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired December 18, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] STEWART: -- about this president. That's what this is about.

And if you think -- if this impeachment is successful, the next president, I promise you, is going to be impeached and the next president after that. If you set this bar as being impeachable, every president in our future will be impeached.

It erodes our republic in ways that our founding fathers recognized. They got it right: high crimes and misdemeanors. Other than that, settle it at the ballot box. I look forward to that day.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's time has expired.

STEWART: Let the American people decide.

SPEAKERS: Members are reminded to direct their comments to the chair.

The gentleman from New York.

(UNKNOWN): Reserve.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I would remind the gentleman that if the president -- if President Trump is impeached and removed, the new president will be Mike Pence not Hillary Clinton.

I now yield two minutes to the distinguished gentlelady from Florida, Ms. Mucarsel-Powell.

SPEAKER: I'm sorry, the gentleman yields two minutes?

NADLER: Two minutes.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady -- the gentlelady is recognized for two minutes.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Madam Speaker, I did not have the privilege of being born into this country. My mother brought me from Ecuador looking for freedom and opportunity. But that's not my story alone. This is a story that I share with so many people that live in Florida's 26th District and all over the country. We've left and experienced corruption in our countries of birth where brutal dictatorships have choked their potential to benefit those in power. This president, elected by the American people, has violated his oath of office and violated the rule of law. The evidence is overwhelming that he withheld military aid approved by Congress and leveraged a White House meeting to extract a political favor from a foreign government. The president actively sought foreign election interference to benefit himself.

It is undeniable that he has abused his power and obstructed Congress. He presents a clear and present danger to our democracy.

As an immigrant, I still get chills because I feel so fortunate to live in this extraordinary country. The genius of American democracy lies in our Constitution and the dedication to the rule of law. I want my children and all of our children to feel the same way when they grow up. However, if we sit idly by as cracks begin to appear in our democratic institutions, our children will be in the same situation like so many of us experienced when we left countries whose leaders destroyed democracy.

We in Congress must abide by our oath to defend our Constitution. That is my duty as a member of this body. That is my duty as a mother.

I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

At this time I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from New York, Mr. King.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for a minute and a half.

P. KING: Thank the gentleman for yielding.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to the Articles of Impeachment against President Trump.

As Chairman Nadler must recall, exactly 21 years ago today I spoke on this floor in opposition to the impeachment of President Clinton. And 21 years ago tomorrow I voted against all four Articles of Impeachment against President Clinton.

Today's Articles of Impeachment against President Trump are an assault on our Constitution and the American people. To impeach a president for a phone call to which no crime is charged, never mind a high crime, and asserting his constitutional prerogatives as president is a clear abuse of power by the Congress. It sets a dangerous precedent of weaponizing impeachment to undo the solemn decision of the American people.

Madam Speaker, President Trump and I grew up in the same borough of New York City and today I'm proud to stand with President Trump and urge a no vote on these horrible acts of impeachment -- these Articles of Impeachment.

I yield back the balance of my time and strongly urge a no vote.

SPEAKER: The gentleman yields back.

COLLINS: I reserve.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New York

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield two and a half minutes to the gentlelady from California, Ms. Lofgren.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized for two and a half minutes.

LOFGREN: Madam Speaker, the president and members of Congress each take an oath to uphold the Constitution. When the president abuses his presidential power to upend the constitutional order, we have an obligation to live up to our oath of office.

We've been presented with direct evidence about the president's actions. They threaten our national security and undermine the integrity of the next election. We now vote on Articles of Impeachment for abuse of power and contempt of Congress as a result of that evidence.

I've worked on presidential impeachments as part of the Judiciary Committee twice before. This third time brings me no joy.


President Nixon attempted to corrupt elections. His agents broke into the Democratic Party headquarters to get a leg-up on the election and then, just like President Trump, he tried to cover it up. Then he resigned.

This is even worse. President Trump not only abused his power to help his reelection, he used a foreign government to do it. He used military aid provided to fight the Russians as leverage, solely to benefit his own political campaign. George Washington would be astonished since he warned against the insidious wiles of foreign influence.

The direct evidence is damning. The president hasn't offered any evidence to the contrary. These actions constitute grounds for presidential impeachment.

What is before us is a serious abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. These abuses strike at the heart of our Constitution. The president's unconstitutional abuse of power, a high crime and misdemeanor, is ongoing. He totally refused to provide any information to Congress related to the impeachment inquiry.

It's our responsibility to use the tool our founders gave us in the Constitution to preserve the constitutional order. We must impeach.

And I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from Georgia. COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

At this time I yield a minute and a half to the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Rouzer.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for a minute and a half.

ROUZER: Madam Speaker, The Washington Post, headlined a story immediately following President Trump taking the oath of office stating, "The Campaign To Impeach President Trump Has Begun." How accurate they were.

Here we are almost three years later and what we are witnessing today is unprecedented in American history: a very partisan-based impeachment with no facts that warrant it. This is an impeachment based on hearsay and speculation rooted in a deep-seated hatred for a man for whom many of my colleagues on the other side detest; not all, but many. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that personal disdain is grounds for impeachment.

At every turn the claims made by my Democrat colleagues have turned out to be false. Early on it was claimed there was evidence of Russian collusion. There was none. We were told the FBI didn't abuse the FISA process in its investigation of the Trump campaign. That too has now been proven completely false.

Then, when the Russian collusion hoax collapsed, we were told that we would hear from a whistleblower that had details of a nefarious call between the president and the president of Ukraine. Then we find out they weren't even on the call, and we still don't even know who the whistleblower is.

We were told there was clear evidence of a quid pro quo for personal gain. After reading the transcript it is obvious that you have to make assumptions that wouldn't even stand up in traffic court to come to that conclusion.

Instead, the undisputable facts of record destroy their case. And though they alleged treason and bribery by the president, the articles we are considering today only make vague accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, because they found no evidence of treason or bribery, or anything else for that matter.

SPEAKER: The gentleman's time has expired.

ROUZER: Mr. Speaker, today is a very sad day...

SPEAKER: The gentleman's time has expired.

Gentleman from New York.

ROUZER: The country is now divided...

(UNKNOWN): (Inaudible).

SPEAKER: Gentleman is recognized. ROUZER: The country is now more divided than it ever has been in my lifetime. The truth has been trampled by this House of Representatives. And because of the abuses at the FBI and the Department of Justice, more Americans have an even dimmer view of very important American institutions.

Thankfully the lens of history will ensure that the truth is told and will endure.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, one specific concern of the framers was a president who would corrupt our elections, who would abuse the great powers of his office to ensure his own reelection.

The impeachment inquiry is not an effort to overturn an election. It is a reaffirmation of the simple truth that in the United States of America, no person, not even the president, is above the law, and our democracy cannot allow a duly elected president to abuse the power of his office for personal and political gain.

And I now yield two and a half minutes to the gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady is recognized for two and a half minutes.

JACKSON LEE: I hate no woman or man.

Today the American people should receive clarity and truth. The Constitution is the highest law of the land. The president breached and violated the Constitution of the United States of America, the president committed constitutional crimes, the president's crimes are impeachable.


John F. Kennedy said, "If this country should ever reach the point where any man or group of men by force or threat of force could defy the commands of our courts and Constitution, then no then no law would stand free from doubt, and no citizen would be safe from his neighbors."

The facts are undisputed.

First President Trump violated his oath of office by placing his personal political interests above the national interest by scheming to coerce Ukraine into investigating a potential election opponent.

Second, President Trump betrayed the nation by -- interest by withholding the congressionally agreed $391 million to a fragile ally against a very strong foe, Russia.

Third, the essential purpose of the scheme concocted by the president was to enlist a foreign country to help in the 2020 election.

These acts are constitutional crimes and abuse of power. The truth is the president did ask for a favor; those were his own words. In the July 25th call, no mention of corruption, only the mention of the Bidens.

The president was engaged in wrongdoing and is a clear and present danger. He has a pattern, and his behavior remains a continuing threat to America's national security.

The truth is that abuse of power does violate the Constitution while both corrupting and cheating our American democracy. His acts betray the nation.

He must take care to execute laws faithfully. This is the truth. Why does the truth matter? Because it matters to the farmer at his or her plow, it matters to the waitress on an early morning shift, it matters to the steelworker building America, it matters to the teacher in a fifth grade class, it matters to a mother kissing off her military recruit going off to war.

The Constitution must be preserved, our laws must be honored and respected. The bloodshed and sacrifice of fellow Americans cannot be ignored, trampled on, or rejected. And today our actions on the vote taken today must be for no personal gain or grandeur.

The bright light of this constitutional democracy has been dimmed because of his acts. The truth is no longer for all, it is for one man, Donald J. Trump, his truth, his way. We must reject that abuse of power because this is not America. No one is above the law.

Alexander Hamilton said impeachment was designed to deal with this conduct in a public manner (ph)...

SPEAKER: The gentlelady's time has expired.

JACKSON LEE: ... and violation of public trust. The president has violated the...

SPEAKER: The gentlelady's time has expired.

JACKSON LEE: ... trust. We must impeach Donald J. Trump.

SPEAKER: Who seeks recognition? Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

At this time it is my pleasure to yield a minute a half to the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Mitchell.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for a minute and a half.

MITCHELL: Today the House of Representatives votes on two Articles of Impeachment for President Trump.

Members and all Americans must recognize that impeachment was intended to be a safety valve, rarely used, only when a president acts in such an immoral and blatantly unlawful manner as to threaten the very basis of our republic. As we cast votes on these articles, the future tone of this House and politics in this nation must be carefully considered.

The issue is not whether we agree with or like the president's rhetoric, political tactics, use of Twitter, policy choices or his political rallies.

One of our founders, Alexander Hamilton, warned of the risks of becoming -- of impeachment becoming a solely partisan act in the Federalist Papers. This impeachment inquiry and these articles clearly do no heed that warning. These proceedings are weaponizing impeachment, making it another election tool.

I've carefully examined the evidence presented throughout the inquiry and, contrary to some, considered our history, our founding documents and our future. It is clear President Trump's actions as described in these articles do not constitute treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors. You simply don't like him.

I'll be voting no on these articles and will hope someday we return to serving the needs of the American people.

With that I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back.

COLLINS: I reserve.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield two minutes to the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Richmond.

RICHMOND: Madam Speaker, President Trump on January 20, 2017, raised his hand and swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Now we must preserve, protect and defend the Constitution from him.

Madam Speaker, I rise today not to disparage and embarrass the president of the United States, but to defend our precious democracy. I speak today not because I hate this president, but because I love this body, the people's house.


I have heard Republicans say, why are we rushing to judgment? This is not a rush to judgment, it's a rush to justice, and we must not delay. Corruption is corrosive. It eats away like acid. And the longer we wait, the more time we allow for this president to do irreparable harm to our country and our democracy. Just last week, Rudy Giuliani was back at it in Ukraine. So please don't tell us to wait, because the corruption continues.

There is a famous quote that says "politicians worry about the next election, statesmen worry about the next generation." Today calls upon us to be statesmen and stateswomen. Democrat, Republican, and independent. Our election is under attack from within. So to my Republican colleagues, many of whom spend a lifetime trying to build a reputation of honesty and courage, I beg you don't throw that away for President Trump. He doesn't deserve it, nor will he appreciate it past the next tweet or next week.

My fear, my prediction is that his actions will continue. Madam Speaker, Donald Trump recently said, I can do anything I want. He also bragged that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. Well, he's shooting holes in our Constitution on Pennsylvania Avenue. And our House, the people's House, must defend the Constitution from a domestic enemy to the rule of law, Donald Trump.

Because I don't want generations to come to blame me for letting our democracy die, I therefore rise in favor of impeaching Donald Trump.

With that, Madam Speaker, I yield back.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. At this point I yield a minute-and- a-half to the gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Luetkemeyer.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for a minute-and-a-half.

LUETKEMEYER: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I rise today in strong opposition to this political charade that has tormented our country for nearly three years. If there is was ever any doubt that this entire illegitimate investigation is 100 percent politically motivated, earlier this month Speaker Pelosi actually admitted the impeachment process began two-and-a-half years ago.

Let me say that again, the speaker of the house said publicly that the Democrats have been trying to remove our president from office since the day he got elected simply because it was not the outcome they wanted. Another of my Democrat colleagues publicly admitted in May that the driving force behind their actions was, and I quote, "if we don't impeach the president, he'll get re-elected."

This wasn't an investigation, Madam Speaker, this was a political crusade. In order to arrive at their Stalinistic predetermined conclusion, House Democrats spent the last several months staging well-rehearsed hearings where the charges were drawn up by their own focus groups, Democrat donors served as witnesses, and Democrat staff served as judge and jury. Even with the odds so blatantly stacked against the president, Democrats still came up with absolutely nothing.

A while ago the speaker spoke of the Pledge of Allegiance. The last phrase of the pledge is, "justice for all." Justice is not something afforded the president during the investigation. He was denied due process, something Supreme Court said should be afforded in all congressional investigations. That makes this process illegal and illegitimate.

What a shame, what a sham. With that, I yield back.

COLLINS: Reserve.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield two minutes to the gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Garcia.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized for two minutes.

S. GARCIA: Madam Speaker, I didn't come to Congress to impeach the president. Even when he separated babies from their parents at the border, even when he took money from our troops to build his wall, no, I didn't call for impeachment because I'm here to make a difference in the lives of my constituents.

Yet, here we are in the middle of a constitutional crisis. As a former judge, I took my responsibility seriously to weigh the evidence and determine if the president's actions were impeachable. Unfortunately, the evidence in the Intelligence and Judiciary reports leaves us with no choice but to impeach the president.

So I stand on my oath that I have sworn to the Constitution and to the American people. And today I urge my colleagues to stand by their oaths, too. The framers of the Constitution included impeachment as a safeguard against a corrupt president whose misconduct could destroy the very foundations of our country.

Donald J. Trump abused his power when he obstructed Congress and ordered government officials not to appear before us. Donald J. Trump corrupted our election when he asked a foreign government to interfere for his personal and political gain. Today, sadly, I ask my colleagues, will you put your party over our country or will you help save our democracy and vote yes on the Articles of Impeachment before you? I urge you to vote yes.


I yield back. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady yields back.

The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I do have an inquiry as to the time remaining for both sides.

SPEAKER: The gentleman from Georgia has two hours, 22.5 minutes. The gentleman from New York has two hours and 27.5 minutes left.

COLLINS: Pulled ahead.

OK. Thank you, Madam Speaker. At this point is my -- I yield now a minute-and-a-half to the gentleman from Iowa, Mr. King.

SPEAKER: The gentleman is recognized for a minute-and-a-half.

S. KING: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding. And I start out first that this is the largest and most massive cover- up of such a list of crimes against our country. And to go so far as to bring impeachment hearings to try to cover all of this up. And I would take you back to October of 2015 when Barack Obama said, Hillary Clinton would never intend to jeopardize our national security. Again, the following April, the next month, Peter Strzok wrote the statement that was delivered by James Comey, and they spent Democrat money and Hillary Clinton money in Russia to pick up dirt on Donald trump.

And then Joe Biden goes to Ukraine and makes a statement, here's a billion dollars but you must do what I tell you to do. You are accusing Donald Trump of doing that which Joe Biden has confessed to doing. And by the way, Joe Biden was not the opponent of Donald Trump. He's in a 21-way primary for -- and he's running third in that race. His opponents are the other 20 Democrats.

How would anybody dig into that mess of 21 people and decide he's going to go overseas and pull someone over like this. You have to assign him a motive. You assign him a motive, then you create the dots, then you go dot to dot. But the reality is that it was Biden that was doing the extortion, the power play in order to protect his own son.

And it was Donald Trump that was following the law that said you have to ensure that there is not corruption here before this money is handed over. And by the way, there was a violent war going on in Ukraine and that's when we sent blankets and MREs over there under Barack Obama.

So this -- but when I hear this from the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Johnson, he doesn't think he can win the election fair and square so he will -- he would cheat. And I heard that here on this floor. No, it's the other way around. Your number one proponent of impeachment is Al Green of Texas, and he said those very same things and they brought this case November 9th, the day after Trump was elected.

I yield back.

COLLINS: I yield -- I mean, reserve.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: Madam Speaker, I now yield two minutes to the gentlelady from Pennsylvania, Ms. Dean.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized for two minutes.

DEAN: Madam Speaker, words matter. We have heard many words over the course of these last weeks. Still what strikes me are the words that are missing from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. A gaping hole in this conversation. The words they cannot or will not mouth. Defending a president's conduct. Conduct that threatens our constitutional order.

And so, Speaker, I ask, when is it ever right for a president to coerce a foreign power to interfere in our elections? When is it ever right for a president to intimidate a foreign leader into announcing false investigations into a political rival? When is it ever right for that president to withhold congressionally appropriated aid to that country at the expense of its national security and our very own? And when is it ever right for a president to block a co-equal branch of government from investigating the scheme to cheat an election?

The answer, of course, is never. But that word does not come trippingly from the tongues of those who are making the choice to stand behind a man whose behavior is not worthy of your tortured words. By our vote today we are speaking to future presidents and to future generations.

We are declaring that we will not tolerate foreign interference in our presidential elections. Americans alone will determine the outcome. And we will not permit a president to order the complete defiance of a co-equal branch of government. And in the end, regardless of the outcome of this impeachment, the president's tenure will end. And this body and our grandchildren will be left with what we did here today.

Ours is a somber generational duty about love of country and lifting a Constitution to its gravest protections, but it's highest aspirations. Our democracy is a matter of conscience. And by voting to safeguard our Constitution, mine is clear.

I thank you, Madam Speaker, and yield back.


SPEAKER: The gentlelady yields back.

The gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

As I've reminded many times, we have followed a sham process that we've had to deal with, and we've followed the facts and won both. And I will remind that if you want to talk about elections, remember it was the speaker of the House who said we can't trust the voters to -- it is too dangerous to leave it with the voters for President Trump next year.

With that, I yield two minutes to the gentlelady from Arizona, Ms. Lesko.

SPEAKER: Gentlelady's recognized for two minutes.

LESKO: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

As you all know, I serve on both the Judiciary Committee and Rules Committee, and I have literally spent hours -- hours poring over testimony, looking at documents, sitting in hearings. And you know the conclusion I got from all of that? This impeachment is a total joke and a total sham. And let me tell you one of the reasons why I think that.

All of those witnesses, the 17 witnesses that the Democrats brought forward, not one single one of them was able to establish that President Trump committed bribery, treason, high crimes or misdemeanors, which is required in the U.S. Constitution.

And again, 17 out of 24 Democrat members on Judiciary Committee voted on this floor to move forward Articles of Impeachment before the phone call. And five out of nine Rule Committee Democrat members did the same thing.

So if the main part of your impeachment is the call, why did you vote for impeachment prior to the call?

I also want to remind the American public and -- and others that for two years Adam Schiff claimed he had proof -- proof -- that President Trump had colluded with Russia. That turned out to be false. And then overnight it was obstruction of justice then quid pro quo then bribery then extortion. And the list goes on, but yet not one of those is listed in the Articles of Impeachment.

To my Democrat colleagues, Madam Chair, I say please stop tearing the country apart. Stop this sham.

And I yield back.

SPEAKER: Gentleman from New York.

NADLER: The gentlelady is correct: President Trump's behavior is not new. He has a pattern of engaging in misconduct and then obstructing any investigation into his misconduct to cover up his actions and hide the truth from the American people.

I now yield to the gentlelady from California, Ms. Roybal-Allard, for the purpose of a unanimous consent request.

SPEAKER: The gentlelady is recognized.

ROYBAL-ALLARD: Madam Speaker, I rise in support of today's impeachment proceedings and ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.

SPEAKER: Without objection.

NADLER: I will now yield one minute to the distinguished gentlemen from Rhode Island, Mr. Langevin.

LANGEVIN: I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Madam Speaker, our nation was founded on certain principles: the government should be all, by and for the people; that a system of a three coequal branches of government will provide the checks and balances necessary to ensure the people's voices are heard; and that no one is above the law.

Today, sadly, we are voting to impeach President Donald John Trump because he has fundamentally broken his covenant with the American people. In doing so, we are using the powers the founding fathers enshrined in the Constitution to address a president who has violated his oath of office. The evidence is clear and the facts are not in question. President Trump has consistently engaged in a pattern of behavior inconsistent with the rule of law. He has refused to take responsibility for his actions. He has undermined the checks and balances we rely on by obstructing Congress at every turn. And most importantly, he has abused his power by using his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections, undermining the will of the people.

So on this sad day for our nation, I will do what the president has so often failed to do, and I will fulfill my oath to support and defend the Constitution, and I will vote in favor of impeachment.

I yield back that balance of my time.

SPEAKER: Gentleman yields back.

Gentleman from Georgia.

COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

At this time, it is my pleasure to yield two minutes to the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Chabot.

SPEAKER: Gentleman's recognized for two minutes.

CHABOT: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Today is a sad day in our nation's history as House Democrats are poised to approve on a strictly party-line vote Articles of Impeachment based on what constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley called wafer-thin evidence. This will set a dangerous precedent where impeachment becomes the norm rather than the exception.

That's not what our founding fathers intended. They wanted impeachment to be rare. They set a high bar for impeachment: treason, bribery, high crimes and --