The House is set to debate articles of impeachment ahead of an impending full House vote on the issue later today. The TPM team is covering it, and Tierney Sneed is on the Hill.
At a rally in Michigan, Trump started griping about how certain Democrats he had “helped” ended up voting to impeach him, including Michigan’s own Rep. Debbie Dingall. Trump recalled Dingell thanking him for lowering the flag after her husband, army vet and the longest serving congressman, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), passed away in February.
“‘He’s looking down, he’d be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir,'” Trump quoted the congresswoman as saying. “I said, ‘That’s okay, don’t worry about it.'”
“Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know?” Trump then told his rally crowd in Battle Creek, Michigan.
That Trump would go as far as to imply a political rival’s late spouse is in hell was apparently too much even for Trump’s audience: Audible groans filled the room after he made the shocking comment.
Michiganders do a brief double-take when Trump jokes that veteran Rep. John Dingell may have gone to hell when he died. pic.twitter.com/Bv503szBLJ
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) December 19, 2019
Pelosi dances around questions on whether the House will withhold transmitting the articles, while hinting she might wait to see what procedures the Senate plans for its trial. “We’ll decide what that dynamic is,” gesturing towards the committee chairs joining her.
“We’re not having that discussion,” Pelosi says, when reporters try to press her on her plans for transmitting the articles.
Pelosi gives a tribute to Rep. Elijah Cummings, the late House Oversight Committee chair, before taking question.
Schiff says that “the remedy isn’t complete as long as the President is free to” continue it invite foreign interference in our elections.
Fox News isn’t showing Pelosi’s post-impeachment presser. Instead, they have Sean Hannity ranting at the camera with a variety of creative graphics.
Schiff, up now, pivots to the Senate trial coming next: “The question is now whether Sen. McConnell will allow a fair trial in the Senate.”
“A president must not be allowed to become a dictator,” Nadler says
Nadler up next: “A president who subverts both our elections and our constitutional system of checks and balances above the law and its congress’ duty to hold the president — any president — accountable.”
Pelosi stresses that leadership never whipped the Democratic caucus for the impeachment vote, as she praised her members’ “moral courage”
Speaker Pelosi kicks off her press conference: “December 18th: a great day for the Constitution of the United States. A sad one for America.”
Pelosi shot a death glare at Democrats who cheered as she gaveled the first impeachment article.
The Pelosi moment pic.twitter.com/dfqzuiicpN
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) December 19, 2019
Trump inevitably circled back to impeachment shortly after the article passed, though there wasn’t an indication he had been informed that he’s officially joined Club Impeachment with Clinton and Nixon.
“This lawless, partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat party,” Trump said.
Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), who did not vote against on the first article of impeachment, has voted against the second one, obstruction of Congress.
Trump still hasn’t said anything else about impeachment. That’s not to say he hasn’t gone off script: He spent a good amount of time ranting about how “politically correct” security officials at his rallies aren’t treating anti-Trump protesters roughly enough.
“You gotta get a little bit stronger than that, folks,” he tells security.
The vote on the second article of impeachment is underway.
The first article of impeachment is adopted with a 230-197 vote, with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voting present.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-TX) is on the floor for the vote.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) voted present.
Speaker Pelosi has cast a vote, an unusual practice for her because of her position.
Dozens of members have chosen to vote by casting a physical card, rather than vote electronically. There was a rush of members to the well to vote this way, which is not typically used.
Reps. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) have both voted against the first article of impeachment. They were both the only Democrats to vote against authorizing the impeachment inquiry in the first place, in October. Van Drew is reportedly mulling a switch to the Republican Party.
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) is hugging some of the staff lawyers.
Trump’s rally in Michigan was delayed because he was busy watching the impeachment debate, according to Pence. Near the end of Schiff’s closing remarks, Trump finally emerged and told the crowd, “It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached.”
The debate has ended and members now have 15 minutes to vote.
“It has become increasingly clear that the limits of partisanship have been reached and passed,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) says, midway through a somber address. The Congress faces “a test,” he says.
Steve Scalise (R-LA) made a big deal over the 94 Democrats who joined Rep. Al Green (D-TX) in an earlier impeachment vote. The vote was “for some comments he made about the squad,” Scalise said, referring to the foursome of left-leaning Democratic congresswomen. He didn’t say what those comments were: Telling the congresswomen to “go back” to their countries, even though they’re (obviously) all Americans.
Scalise drew loud boos from the Democrats when he said, “They don’t just hate Donald Trump, Madame Speaker, they hate the 63 million Americans who voted for this President.”
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), controlling Democrats’ time, says “We have a few more speakers.”
Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) spoke in front of a large poster with the words “NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW” on it. A former police officer and a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, Demings stood out during the impeachment inquiry. She’s reportedly jockeying to be an impeachment manager and make House Democrats’ case in the Senate.
“I’ve enforced the laws and now I write the laws,” she said. “But the laws mean nothing if the accused can destroy evidence, stop witnesses from testifying, and blatantly refuse to cooperate.”
“I ask you to name somebody in your community or your family who can do that,” Demings continued. “I know the President said that he can get away with anything he wants to. I come today to tell you that no, he cannot. Because no one is above the law and he shall be held accountable.” Some applause followed.
After Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) spent three minutes reciting mostly the same-old case from Fox News airwaves — the phrase “it’s not easy to make a coup attempt boring” seemed new — Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) responded with characteristic apathy.
“I thank the gentleman for his remarks,” he said, not bothering to correct Nunes’ testimony. Daniel Goldman, Schiff’s top committee lawyer, chuckled behind him. (edited)
A string of Democrats entered their statements directly into the congressional record rather than reading them, indicating the majority is trying to save up time as the day draws to a close. Meanwhile, Rep. Jim “No Jacket” Jordan (R-OH) is speaking with a suit jacket on. Truly, this is a historic day.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) ends his remarks by denouncing impeachment as “a total Schiff show!”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who has been assigning time to Republican colleagues all day, didn’t do them any favors these past few minutes by doling out 30-second windows — an attempt, it seems, to keep Democrats from hogging the last minutes of the debate.
“I spent two Christmases defending our country overseas and I get a measly 30 seconds to speak in this laughable process!” Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS) growled.
Later, Rep Robert Aderholt (R-AL) couldn’t finish his remarks in time: “Twisting the Constitution to impeach a president you fear will be — will be –.”
“Unfortunately, the rules of debate won’t allow me to cite all of the reasons why this President should be impeached,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) announced at the top of her remarks. “There are many.”
Several minutes later, after reciting the case in some detail, she defended her “early” call to impeach Trump — back in 2017 — and then left the podium without yielding back the remainder of her time.
Walking away from the podium and out of range of the microphone, Waters shouted “I yield my time!” to laughter and applause. “Reclaiming my time that the gentlelady did not have,” Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) responded.
There was audible booing in the chamber — even on CSPAN’s broadcast — in response to a cutting comparison from Intel Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
Republicans have protested that Trump’s withholding of aid from Ukraine isn’t impeachable because Trump ultimately released the aid — after he was caught withholding it. That, Schiff said, is “equivalent of saying if you’re pulled over by a cop, and you attempt to bribe the cop, and the cop doesn’t take the money but arrests you, where’s the crime in that?”
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) becomes the sixth member, by my count, to quote Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 65:
In many cases [impeachment] will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other.
Notably, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) cited the same essay — as did Reps. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), Greg Murphy (R-NC), Scott Perry (R-PA), and Justin Amash (I-MI).
It’s eminently quotable, and useful if you’re a member of Congress trying to make a point in two minutes. Read it here.
“This is not about the Ukraine, this is about power!” Trumpian wunderkind Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) exclaimed. “Donald Trump has it and House Democrats want it.”
Democrats, Gaetz said, had been “triggered into impeaching the President! Because they don’t like him, and they don’t like us.”
“They haven’t forgiven you, the American people, for voting for him,” the congressman added later.
Last hour, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) used his time to observe a bizarre “moment of silent reflection” for 63 million living Americans — Trump voters.
“Pause for a moment and remember the voices of the 63 million American voters the Democrats today are wanting to silence,” he said. (Those same voters also selected Mike Pence to fill in for Trump, should Trump ever be impeached. Johnson didn’t mention that part.)
Johnson said he had “63 million reasons to vote ‘no’” on impeachment.
Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) used his time to observe a "moment of silent reflection" for 63 million Americans — Trump voters who, he said, would be “disenfranchised" by an impeachment vote. pic.twitter.com/KmWWdmcED0
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) December 18, 2019
Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who left the Republican Party entirely earlier this year after straying from pro-Trump orthodoxy, was notably given time to speak by Adam Schiff (D-CA).
“President Donald J. Trump has abused and violated the public trust by using his high office to solicit the aid of a foreign power, not for the benefit of the United States of America, but instead for his personal and political gain,” Amash said.
He stressed that the Congress “need not rely on any other branch or body to endorse our determinations” — perhaps a nod to some Republicans who’ve protested that Congress should have had the courts order executive branch officials testify in the impeachment inquiry. Instead, Trump faces an impeachment charge of obstructing Congress for ordering officials not to testify.
“It is our duty to impeach him,” Amash said of Trump.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, Senate Democrats received a delivery from the White House that included both Trump’s Christmas card and his bonkers letter to Pelosi.
Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has passed the baton to Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who will now control Democrats’ debate time and recognize others in the party for speeches. Recognizing himself first, Schiff quoted Alexander Hamilton, with a passage that’s popped up a few times in the impeachment saga:
When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanor—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”
“Hamilton, among others, seems to have predicted the rise of Donald Trump with a staggering prescience,” Schiff commented.
Schiff quotes Hamilton: pic.twitter.com/J2pwaxSIY9
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) December 18, 2019
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) claimed that impeachment was meant to “stop the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and Ukraine into the corruption of Ukraine’s interference into U.S. elections in 2016.”
“You said this was about ‘Oh, this terrible Russian collusion,'” he told Democrats. “That fell through.”
After his remarks, Nadler raised concerns about Russian propaganda being floated from the House floor. Gohmert, who was just about to exit the chamber at this point, marched back to the lectern, shouting about the accusation.
“Will the gentleman yield?” he yelled, adding that he should be able to address the allegation. The time was not yielded to Gohmert.
All eyes are on Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ), one of two Democrats who broke with the party on the formal impeachment inquiry vote back in October.
The signs are that he’ll vote no on the articles of impeachment as well — and we just got the latest in that vein: According to Vice’s Cam Joseph, he’s been sitting on the Republican side of the chamber during debates.
He said that if he does switch parties, he’d wait to announce it until after the impeachment vote, which he’d take as a Democrat.
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) used his House floor time to make an odd comparison. Listing off the important dates in the month of December, Kelly noted December 7, the day of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. He then cited the famous words of former President Franklin Roosevelt, that the date “will live in infamy.”
“Today — Dec. 19, 2019 — is another date that will live in infamy,” Kelly said.
Trump the Messiah.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) declared that Jesus Christ got a more fair treason trial — which ended with … crucification — than House Democrats have given President Trump.
“When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president in this process,” he said.
Watch for yourself here.
Before yielding his time to Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) poked fun at Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), who used much of his time on the House floor to suggest that impeachment is just a Democratic attempt to fix the “mistake” of President Trump getting elected over Hillary Clinton.
“I would remind the gentleman that if President Trump is impeached and removed, the new president would be Mike Pence, not Hillary Clinton,” Nadler quipped. The remark was reportedly met with cheers from Republicans.
“I have descended into the belly of the beast. I have witnessed the terror within, and I rise committed to oppose the insidious forces which threaten our republic,” he began — gold!
Socialist Democrats, Higgins said, were not inspired to impeach Trump by a “newfound love for the very flag that they trod upon!” No. He pointed to a county-by-county map of 2016 election results: Democrats “fear the true will of We The People.”
“We will never surrender our nation to career establishment D.C. politicians and bureaucrats,” Higgins bellowed, doing a toned-down R. Lee Ermey impression. “Our republic shall survive this threat from within. American patriots shall prevail.”
Via the White House pool reporter, here is what White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham had to say about Trump’s plans while the House debates articles of impeachment:
“The President will be working all day. He will be briefed by staff throughout that day, and could catch some of the proceedings between meetings.”
About ten minutes after the pool reporter sent out Grisham’s statement, Trump appeared to tweet about the proceedings.
Other key quotes from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):
“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the President’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” she said. “He gave us no choice. What we are discussing today is the established fact that the President violated the Constitution. It is a matter of fact that the President is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections, the basis of our democracy.”
“The President used the power of his public office to obtain an improper personal political benefit at the expense of America’s national security. When a president weakens a democratic ally that is advancing American security interests by fighting an American adversary, the President weakens America,” she said. “This abuse of power also jeopardizes the integrity of our elections. All Americans agree that American voters should choose our president, not some foreign government. The founders understood that it is profoundly corrosive for our democracy for a president to invite interference in our elections.”
“As our beloved Chairman Elijah Cummings, Oversight Committee chair, our north star, said when announcing his support for this action, quote, ‘When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to show that I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny.’ He also said, almost prophetically, ‘when we are dancing with the angels, the question will be what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact,’” she said. “Elijah, as you know, has since passed on and now he is dancing with the angels. I know he and all of us here are proud of the moral courage of our members who want to honor the vision of our founders for a Republic, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform to defend it and the aspirations of our children to live freely within it.”
Now that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has kickstarted the six hours of debate on articles of impeachment, we are getting into a series of quick back and forth speeches between Democrats and Republicans.
So far, leading the debate have been Judiciary Committee members, with top Judiciary Republican Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) making the first Republican remarks of the debate.
After Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) made some remarks of his own, Collins kicked it too Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-W), a Judiciary Republican who was in the House for the Clinton impeachment proceedings. Nadler rebuked one of Sensebrenner’s points before yielding to a Democratic committee member, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-NY).
And so the back and forth will go through the afternoon and likely into the early evening.
In a steadily rising voice, Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) proclaimed President Donald Trump’s innocence and railed against Democrats for being poised to impeach him.
“I do not believe no matter what was said today and even what has been said, this is not a solemn occasion,” Collins said very quickly. “When you go looking for something for three years, and especially this year since January, you ought to be excited when you found it. I was thinking about it. Why do we keep calling this a solemn occasion when you’ve been wanting to do this since ever since the gentleman was elected.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) opened her remarks on the House floor on a patriotic note, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as she stood beside a poster featuring the American flag and the words: “To the Republic for which it stands…”
“‘The Republic for which it stands’ is what we are here to talk about today. ‘A Republic if we can keep it,'” she said, quoting Benjamin Franklin.
“We gather today under the dome of this temple of democracy to exercise one of the most solemn powers that this body can take, the impeachment of the President of the United States,” she continued. “No member regardless of party or politics comes to Congress to impeach a president. But every one of us as our first act as a member of Congress stood on this historic house floor before our beautiful American flag and raised our hands in this oath.”
A half-full House chamber watched as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) formally opened the floor debate on the articles of impeachment against President Trump.
A majority of Democratic seats were full, with several other Democratic members and their staff standing in the chamber’s wings, as Pelosi made roughly 10 minutes of remarks that kicked off an expected six hours of debate ahead of the final impeachment votes.
The Democrats gave her a standing ovation once she finished.
Attendance was more sparse on the Republican side, with just a few dozen GOP members sticking around after a procedural vote opening the debate. Their butts, not surprisingly, stayed glued to their seats when she wrapped, but they also held back on any heckling or disruption during her remarks.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, was the first GOP House member to step up to make remarks for the debate. Democratic members were beginning to trickle out before he finished.
The debate was opened after the House approved by a 228-197 vote the procedures that will lead up to and dictate the final two votes on the impeachment articles.
For that vote, and for some votes on Republican measures that preceded it, at least two senators made cameos in the lower chamber. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) — who previously served several years in the House, including as a majority whip — made the rounds through the chamber. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) made an appearance on the Democratic side, where she greeted several members including Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA).
Thanks for joining us as we live blog today’s impeachment vote. For TPM members, Kate Riga has some more on what to expect today here.