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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
House to Vote on Trump Impeachment; Seven Republicans Have Announced They Will Vote for Impeachment. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired January 13, 2021 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SPEAKER: The gentleman reserves.
The gentleman from New York?
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): Madam Speaker, I now yield -- I now yield 30 seconds to the gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee.
SPEAKER: The gentlewoman from Texas is recognized for 30 seconds.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): I was on the floor just one week ago, and so today the insurrectionists and chief will be impeached for insurrection. It is because he failed to defend this nation against all enemies, domestic and foreign, and he stood down near the White House and told a mob of domestic terrorists to go and show your strength, be strong, you can't gain anything because of weakness.
We must hold him accountable. We can heal this nation. But he must be impeached today. We must impeach Donald J. Trump as an insurrectionist to do that now.
SPEAKER: The gentlewoman's time has expired. The gentleman from New York reserves, the gentleman from Ohio is recognized.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Yes, thank you Madam Speaker. We reserve.
SPEAKER: The gentleman from Ohio continues to reserve, the gentleman from New York.
UNKNOWN: Ask that they're prepared to close.
NADLER: Is the other side prepared to close?
JORDAN: Yes. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
SPEAKER: Yes, the gentleman from Ohio. JORDAN: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I yield three minutes to the republican WHIP, the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Scalise.
SPEAKER: the gentleman from Louisiana is recognized for three minutes.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): Thank you, Madam Speaker, and thank the gentleman from Ohio for yielding. Madam Speaker, our nation still mourns the unacceptable violence and anarchy that took place in this capitol last week. As we speak, arrests are still being made and the anarchists who stormed our capitol are being brought to justice as should be the case.
Emotions are still high, but in this moment, we need to be focused on toning down the rhetoric and helping heal this nation as we move forward a peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden next week. My prayers, Madam Speaker, still with Capitol police officer Sicknick and Liebengood, who we lost, as well as all of the Capitol police officers who risked their lives to keep us safe.
They are true heroes and they deserve all of our applause today. Madam Speaker, I've seen the dark evil of political violence firsthand and it needs to stop. But all of us need to be unequivocal in calling it out every single time we see it, not just when it comes from the other side of the aisle.
I oppose this rushed impeachment brought forward without a single hearing. And by the way, the Senate will not even take this up until President Trump is out of office. So let's keep that in mind. It will only serve to further divide a nation that is calling out for healing.
Madam Speaker, many speakers today have invoked one of our nation's greatest leaders, President Abraham Lincoln. Maybe we should follow some of Lincoln's wisdom that he's imparted upon us in moments like this.
As Abraham Lincoln was giving his second inaugural address, in March of 1865, Lincoln issued us a challenge. This is what he said. "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as god gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves and with all our nations."
Madam Speaker, in times like these, let us not reach out to our darkest demons but instead, like Lincoln, seek the higher ground. May god bless this great United States of America. I yield back.
SPEAKER: The Gentleman from New York is recognized.
NADLER: Madam Speaker, we can have all this but we have accountability too. I now yield our remaining time -- one minute to the distinguished Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Hoyer.
SPEAKER: The Majority Leader is recognized for one minute.
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): I thank the chairman for yielding.
This is a troubled time, a sad time. It is a time where all of us have stood almost to a person and lamented the violence and the assault on this Capitol and the assault on democracy itself. It was right to do that.
But this impeachment ought to be put in the perspective of what the Republican chair of the Republican Conference said it was. She said the President of the United States summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of that attack.
There has never been, she said, a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of this office -- of his office and his oath to the constitution.
That is why we are here today. That is why we are here today just a week before that president, at the request of the American people, will leave office. And the issue is what do we do, the 433 of us, I believe, who are here, do on behalf of the American people to respond to what Representative Cheney described happened on the 6th of January.
A mob assembled by, summoned by, and then spoken to to light the flame of the attack to "stop the steal." As we sat here exercising our constitutional duty, and to his great credit, the Vice President of the United States following the constitution of the United States of America, notwithstanding the fact that he was opportuned by the president not to do so.
That mob sent by the president to "stop the steal" did so for a few hours. Not the steal, but the constitutional duty that we had. And so we ask ourselves what do we do? What is our responsibility? What should we say in light of only the Civil War as an analogy?
That doesn't mean there haven't been demonstrations in Washington before and demonstrations throughout this country before, but it is the first and only physical presence, other than the 9/11 attack on this nation which came from abroad and had a plane aimed at our Capitol dome.
This attack was not from abroad. It was as Liz Cheney said, summoned, assembled, and inflamed by the President of the United States of America, who when Liz Cheney said words, "that there has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the constitution."
I pride myself as a member of this Congress who for 40 years has worked in a bipartisan fashion with many of your leaders, and due to this day, but are we to remain silent in the face of Liz Cheney's saying this was the greatest betrayal of the duty of the President of the United States in history.
Are we to stand silent, will we stand silent, will we not stand up and say this is not acceptable?
Madam Speaker, for four years Donald Trump has made not effort to hide his ambitions or his lacking of republican principles. Not our principals, but the principles that Abraham Lincoln was just quoted as having said.
Your president, our president has never displayed those in the four years he's been President of the United States. He has allowed little constraint on his worse inclinations. His desire for autocracy and his glorification of violence have not been tempered but rationalized; rationalized by those who sought to profit financially and politically from their proximity to power.
Upon the foundations of virtue, reason and patient wisdom laid down by George Washington as our first president; Donald Trump has constructed a glass palace of lies, fear mongering, and sedition.
Last Wednesday on January 6 the nation and the world watched it shatter to pieces. There can be no mistaking any longer the kind of man sitting in the Oval Office or its intentions and capabilities.
The curtain has been pulled back. The office to which he was elected could not temper or reform him. Washington's legacy was passed down to us not as written decrees. Mr. Speaker, the House is not in order.
SPEAKER: The gentleman - the gentleman is correct. The House will be in order. The gentleman --
HOYER: Washington's legacy was passed down to us not as written decrees but understood norms. How we ought to act. How we ought to conduct ourselves. Term after term, each occupant has observed those norms out of a recognition that our constitution's articles are not the only preservative of our democracy.
For more than two centuries, Madam Speaker, whenever those norms were tested and strained; good and virtuous citizens on both sides of the aisle found common purpose in reaffirming those norms. But memory fades and from time to time it must be refreshed.
Madam Speaker, as the framers emerged from the Constitution Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked whether they had made America a monarchy or a republic. Probably all of us know this response. A republic, he answered, if you can keep it. That's the question today; if we can keep it. And the way we keep it is to say, no, to actions and words that do not promote the keeping of that republic.
For millennia people have understood that a republic is only as stable and lasting as the citizens and leaders who commit themselves to its upkeep. This president has shown us he's not committed to that project.
His tweets, every day have shown he is not committed to that project. Indeed he openly disdains it and appears to prefer the alternative. But what of the rest of us? Those who have the honor and the great privilege and the weighty responsibility to represent the views of 750,000 of our fellow citizens? We, in this Congress have an opportunity, no, a duty to demonstrate our commitment both as leaders and as citizens to keeping America a republic. A republic that resolves its differences not through being ordered to come to the Capitol to prevent them from stealing the election, which was an absurd assertion from the very first day, it was made.
We cannot erase the last four years, Madam Speaker, we cannot turn back the clock. But we can look to the ideals and principles inherited from great presidents like Washington, like Jefferson and yes certainly like Abraham Lincoln. And Franklin Roosevelt.
And from outstanding Americans like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Susan Anthony, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, our beloved John Lewis and yes, RBG, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who taught us a lot about equality and inclusion.
It's up to us to restore the vibrancy, Madam Speaker, of our democracy, by reaffirming our commitment to the norms they passed onto us and entrusted to our care. But to make that possible, Madam Speaker, we must rise to this moment and not only affirm the virtues we cherish but reject the vices we abhor. That's what I'm asking my fellow representatives on both sides of the aisle to do today.
Well all stood and we abhorred the violence that occurred and the threat to the very democracy that we hold so dear and swore an oath to protect and uphold. Reject deceit. Reject fearmongering. Reject sedition, tyranny and insurrection. Reject the demand for fealty to one man over fidelity to one's country.
When I addressed the House during the debate over the Articles of Impeachment in December 2019 I said the following; We need not ask who will be the first to show our courage by standing up to President Trump. The question we must ask, who will be the last to find it?
Senator McConnell, Representative Cheney, a number of other representatives who have spoken on this floor with great courage, Madam Speaker. Because there is much fear of Donald Trump, there's much fear of Donald Trump's Tweets. There's much fear of Donald Trump's retribution for opposition. In my view Donald Trump demands absolute loyalty and gives none in return.
I hope others will join Liz Cheney. I hope others will be honest with themselves and with their constituents, as Liz Cheney was saying, "There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution," don't dismiss that. She's a daughter of a Vice President of the United States, who was the Whip when I came to Congress. As she has taken a stand I hope others will as well, Madam Speaker.
Soon the Clerk will call the roll. And ask for our votes. Make no mistake, this will be no ordinary roll call. This is about our country, our Constitution and our democracy. These votes will be inscribed on the roll of history, a record of courage and of our commitment to country and Constitution; of our commitment to the Rule of Law and renewal of that which we inherited and hope to pass on, unbroken, unshattered.
With just seven days left in the president's term, this vote is not about timing, it is about principle. And fidelity to our Constitution. It concerns the clear and present danger facing our country, not only in these final days of the Trump administration, but in the weeks, months and years that will follow.
It is about the necessity to demonstrate to this generation and to future generations the duty we share to protect our democracy every single day. Do not pretend, my friends, that it was simply those who came into the Capitol, encouraged by our president to Stop the Steal at any cost.
And by the way, if the vice president doesn't do my bidding and follows the Constitution, sweep him away.
We know that this president would never emulate George Washington and give up his power for the good of our republic, even after losing an election. Somebody talked about a peaceful transition? There has not been a peaceful transition, I don't know what you're talking about. You're not living in the same country I am.
It was just days ago that the president, after committing this terrible act, thought he had to admit that Joe Biden might, yes, be president of the United States. We know that this president neither recognizes norms, nor reflects the rule of law. We know that this president is not a patriot.
So I ask this House, who among us, Madam Speaker, will be recorded on the roll of history for their courage, their commitment to the Constitution and their country? We do this today not for politics, we don't need this for politics. Georgia showed that, there was no mistake in this election.
We do this today to preserve and protect this great democracy. We do it for the America we love, our America the Beautiful, whose founders' sacrifices we praise in song, "Oh beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life."
Sadly, Madam Speaker, as our current president, the appropriate words would be, "Who less than self his country loved, and victory more than truth." Vote for this, for America, for our Constitution, for democracy, for history. I yield back the balance of my time.
SPEAKER: All time for debate has expired. Pursuant to House Resolution 41, the previous question is ordered on the resolution. The question is on adoption of the resolution. Those in favor say aye.
UNKNOWN: Aye. UNKNOWN: Aye.
SPEAKER: Those opposed say no.
SPEAKER: In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.
The gentleman from Ohio is recognized for what reason?
JORDAN: We'd ask for -- thank you, Madam Speaker, we'd ask for a roll call vote.
SPEAKER: Pursuant to Section 3S of House Resolution 8, the yeas and nays are ordered. Members will record their votes by electronic device.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And so there you have it. Almost 3 1/2 hours of this debate. The House of Representatives is now finished a very impassioned and truly historic and momentous debate on impeaching President Trump for inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Now comes the historic vote. They will be voting at least for one hour, maybe even a bit more. It's expected to make him the first and only U.S. president to be impeached for a second time. And Jake, the question is how many Republicans will join the Democrats? The Democrats have the votes. But now we are told at least seven Republicans have publicly declared they will vote in favor of impeachment.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's right, wolf. Seven Republicans we know of right now. Most senior among them, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president. She is the House conference chair. Basically she's third in line there in the House Republican leadership.
And I have to say, Dana and Abby, listening to all these speeches, what struck me is that there are basically four groups of Republicans. One is the seven that we know of -- there might be more -- who are voting to impeach. Who were just so appalled that even if you look at the list of them, some of them are quite conservative, are just absolutely appalled.
Then there's a second group of people who do hold Trump responsible but do not favor impeachment for various reasons. And I think you can say that these are principled Republicans. Congresswoman Mace, Congressman Roy of Texas, they have a principled reason for opposing impeachment, but they do understand that President Trump did what he did.
Then there's the third group which is unfortunately for the country, most of the House Republican caucus, which is the "what about caucus." They're out there saying, well what about this rally that got violent in Portland?
Or what about literally one of them said there were negative hashtags about President Trump on Twitter. Literally Congressman Moore, and a freshman from Alabama said that, I mean I couldn't even believe it. What about it?
Somebody actually cited Sarah Sanders being turned away at a restaurant. People, there were people killed in the Capitol by a terrorist assault, by President Trump's supporters. Who cares about a hash tag?
Anyway, and then there's the fourth group. And that group is a group of one person. The House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. The House Republican leader who said today that Joe Biden was legitimate, that it was not the American way to say he's not legitimate and we need to work together, as if Kevin McCarthy has not been fueling these lies, spreading these lies.
It makes you wonder. Like he knows when he goes on Fox, we can see him, right? I mean he literally put out a tweet in November after the election, far from over, Republicans will not back down from this battle two days after the election, far from over, Republicans will not back down from this battle. Two days after the election McCarthy said on Fox, President Trump won this election, so everyone who is listening, do not be quiet. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes.
I'm sorry, Kevin, but we all saw you say that. You can't pretend now that you didn't let the genie out of the bottle.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean the that was missing from every one of those categories that you just laid out there is something that is really basic. Which is those who did say that the election was stolen, those who propagated that. Those who fed the lies and enabled the lies of the president. I'm sorry, I made a mistake.
TAPPER: Not one of them.
BASH: We heard that from nobody. Nobody. And that's frankly reprehensible, especially given the fact that they all know better. It's impossible --
TAPPER: I don't know that that's true.
BASH: It's impossible for me to believe --
TAPPER: Do you think the QAnon caucus knows better?
BASH: Yes, I do. I think that they know -- I think know the reality. I think that they know the truth. I think that they, in their heart of hearts, understand that when the secretaries of state in swing states like Georgia or Pennsylvania or Arizona say this election wasn't stolen, and it was free and fair and honest, that that actually is the truth.
And, you know, maybe I am giving them too much credit in following logic. But even one basic example is they're not challenging the elections of the Republicans who won the house seats in those states.
But the other thing that I think is really, really important is the fact that we have video -- and I was just watching it as they were starting this vote -- of the people who were storming the Capitol saying the president told us to come here.
BASH: That is happening. I mean that is video. There's video of this. It's just exhibit-A of the reams of evidence that we have. There's one other thing I wanted to share --
TAPPER: But just one other thing. That's relevant -- what you're saying is relevant because Congressman Brian Mast, a Republican from Florida, who lost his legs, by the way, fighting for democracy abroad. Although I don't know what his -- I don't know about his commitment to it here in the United States. He said, did anybody say that? Yes, we heard them.
BASH: The answer is yes. Yes. And you know, anybody out there, I'll retweet the tweet, so everybody sees the video. But also just on a more personal first-person level, somebody at CNN, one of our colleagues was out there a week ago at the Capitol, plain clothed. A lot of people were having trouble getting cell service.
And they saw that this colleague of ours was looking at his phone and so they all swarmed him and what they were saying was, what is he saying? Meaning the president. Where does he want us to go? What does he want us to do? They were taking direction from the president, looking for direction from the president and they'd gotten it at that rally. And you know for two months prior to that and they were continuing to look for him and to him. And that is so telling and so chilling.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yet if you listen to Republicans today on Capitol Hill, you would think that the victim of this entire situation is the president himself. That they have created this whole myth of President Trump being constantly victimized by the system and being unfairly punished in his final seven days in office.
And just completely, in many cases, ignoring the reality of what actually happened last week. Which is completely different from anything that this country has seen in decades, perhaps even hundreds of years.
There is a sense, I think, you know, among Republicans, the vast majority of Republicans -- I think we should be clear about this.