Some Democrats are pushing Pelosi to delay sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate
From CNN's Manu Raju
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler told CNN today that he has not spoken with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about delaying the transmittal of the articles of impeachment.
Asked if he believes they could withhold the articles as leverage, Nadler said, “I really don’t know.”
But Rep. Earl Blumenauer said he spoke with Pelosi a few days ago to delay the articles until the “appropriate time.” Democrats who support this approach argue they should be withheld until Senate Republicans agree to witness testimony.
“She said she’s thinking about it — she’s made no determination,” Blumenauer said of Pelosi.
Blumenauer said he has spoken with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries about this tactic — along with over three dozen other members.
“Everybody is interested,” Blumenauer said.
Pelosi's office has declined to say when the articles will be transmitted.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, said Democrats were trying to use the impeachment process to “stop the investigation by the US Department of Justice and Ukraine into the corruption of Ukraine interference into US election in 2016.”
Immediately after Gohmert finished speaking, Rep. Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said, “I am deeply concerned that any member of the House would spout Russian propaganda on the floor of the House.”
This criticism triggered a heated response from Gohmert, who returned to the podium, shouting, but the microphone had been turned off.
Facts First: By raising the specter of “Ukraine interference” in the 2016 election, Gohmert was spreading Russian propaganda. Russia, not Ukraine, meddled in the 2016 election. The US intelligence community believes this conspiracy was concocted by Russia to blame Ukraine for its actions in 2016. Republicans have also embraced this counter-narrative, but it just isn’t supported by the facts.
Here are the facts: The Russian government and military, at the direction of President Vladimir Putin, launched an unprecedented attack on the 2016 presidential election. They spent millions of rubles on hackers and trolls who systematically tried to weaken Hillary Clinton and boost President Trump. It's impossible to know if their efforts tipped the scales, but Trump won by a razor-thin margin.
But Trump has questioned, dismissed and contradicted these findings from the US intelligence community. Instead, Trump has promoted an alternate reality that it was the Ukrainian government who meddled in the 2016 election, and they tried to help Clinton win. In this telling, Ukraine framed Russia for the hacks and coordinated with Democratic operatives in the US to smear Trump.
There is no evidence to support Trump’s conspiracy theories of a Ukrainian government operation against him. At worst, it appears that Ukrainian leaders may have hoped Trump would lose, especially after he publicly embraced Russia-friendly policy positions.
In fact, CNN reported that US intelligence officials briefed senators this fall that Russia has engaged in a years-long campaign to push these conspiracy theories, which would shift the blame away from Moscow and onto Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 election.
Even with this information in the public ledger, supposed “Ukrainian interference” became a primary talking point for Republicans throughout the impeachment inquiry. GOP lawmakers pointed to op-eds published by Ukrainian officials, and news articles describing alleged contacts between Ukrainians and Democratic operatives, as proof of what they claimed was a wide-ranging conspiracy.
Watch moment here:
5:39 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019
Kellyanne Conway says Trump doesn’t see impeachment as a "stain" on his legacy
From CNN's Allie Malloy
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway spoke for more than 40 minutes in the briefing room on impeachment, telling reporters that President Trump was monitoring the impeachment debates but that he has a “lot on his schedule.”
Conway said that Trump doesn’t see impeachment as a “stain” on his legacy.
“We’re not fine with the impeachment. We think it’s ridiculous… but it’s a preordained. It’s a conclusion in search of evidence," she added.
Conway was asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins whether Trump agrees with the characterization made by Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Republican, that Jesus was afforded more due process than him. Conway said that while she doesn’t believe the President has been treated fairly, she also doesn’t “like many Jesus comparisons because he is my Lord and Savior and the Messiah to me and many Christians around the world.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Conway whether Trump wishes he could do anything differently regarding Ukraine. Conway replied no, adding, “He was always going to be impeached and you know that.”
“You want him to do something differently because you must be very disappointed you were talking about treason, bribery, extortion, quid pro quo, collusion, Ukraine, Emoluments. And I like all this better," Conway said.
4:03 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019
Rep. Adam Schiff says Trump "tried to cheat and he got caught"
Rep. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, is speaking now on the House Floor.
On the scheme to withhold aid from Ukraine for political gain that Democrats accuse Trump of, Schiff said, "But for the courage of someone willing to blow the whistle, he would have gotten away with it. Instead he got caught. He tried to cheat and he got caught."
4:18 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019
Nadler defends timing of impeachment: "This is not about the clock and the calendar — it is about corruption and the Constitution"
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler defended the impeachment of President Trump against claims from the GOP that the probe has been rushed.
"This is not about the clock and the calendar. It is about corruption and the Constitution — it is about a President who abused his power to coerce and ally to intervene in our election and poses a continuing threat. Based and three pillars. When those pillars fall, the entire defense of the President falls," Nadler said.
4:08 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019
"My constituents are calling every day mad as hell," Republican congressman says
Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican from Oklahoma, said his constituents aren't happy about the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
"My constituents are calling every day mad as hell, saying we should be ashamed this historic chamber has fallen so low to allow something like this to happen," he said.
Hern also complained that the Democrats are rushing through the impeachment process.
"I'm ashamed to be a part of this today even as I vote against the impeachment," he said.
3:45 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019
Democratic congressman claims that Vladimir Putin is "Trump's friend"
Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, accused President Trump of "blackmail" of Ukraine's president.
DeFazio, in an attempt to rebut a common Republican talking point that Ukraine didn't feel any pressure, said, "They're being invaded by Russia. Vladimir Putin, you know? Trump's friend."
Rep. Doug Collins shot back at DeFazio by once again making his case that since Ukrainian president said he didn't feel any pressure from Trump his actions aren't impeachable. Collins said that fact "destroys" Democrats' case since "no pressure was felt" by Ukraine.
3:36 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019
While the House debates Trump's impeachment, the White House is delivering holiday cards to Senate offices
From CNN's Philippa Holland and Maegan Vazquez
Nothing is going to stop the White House from making sure senators get their holiday card this year, not even the impeachment.
A White House staffer was seen delivering packages to Senate offices that included a Christmas card and a letter President Trump penned to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday, Sen. Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, tweeted this afternoon.
"True story: there is a White House staffer going around the Senate delivering to each office, as a package, the incoherent, scathing Pelosi letter AND...wait for it...a giant 16x12 White House Christmas card (along with, implausibly, a second smaller Christmas card). What a day," Murphy tweeted.
The letter Murphy is referring to berated House Democrats and railed against his impeachment.
Trump wrote in his indignant six-page missive that Democrats would come to regret their efforts when voters cast ballots next fall.
Employing falsehoods and exaggerations, Trump bemoaned the process as woefully broken, wildly claiming that "(m)ore due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials."
He accused Pelosi of portraying a "false display of solemnity" during the impeachment process.
Read Murphy's full tweet below:
3:17 p.m. ET, December 18, 2019
Democratic congressman delivers his remarks in front of famous photo of crying child at the border
Rep. Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, echoed sentiments expressed by other lawmakers today on Capitol Hill when he said President Trump is not "above the law."
Green made his remarks in front of a poster featuring the words "Impeach Now" and the famous photo of 2-year-old Honduran girl who traveled across the Rio Grande with her family. They were stopped in Texas by US Border Patrol agents in June 2018.
"If this president is allowed to thwart of efforts of Congress with a legitimate impeachment inquiry the President will not only be above the law, he will be beyond justice. We can not allow any person to be beyond justice in this country. In the name of democracy, on behalf of the republic, and for the sake of the many who are suffering, I will vote to impeach," Green said.