Impeachment news roundup: Dec. 18

House ends historic impeachment debate, majority votes to impeach Trump

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., is seen in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall during procedural votes on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., is seen in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall during procedural votes on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted December 18, 2019 at 8:56am

The House shortly before noon began debate on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders said they were on track to vote on them this evening.

While Republicans moved to adjourn the House shortly after it convened and introduced another resolution condemning the Democratic committee chairmen who led the impeachment inquiry, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters that the House will definitely complete debate and vote on impeachment today.

“I don’t think the Republicans are going to have protracted delay tactics,” he said, citing conversations he had with the minority.

Republicans began the historic day with a last-ditch effort to protect
their party’s leader.

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Just after the House convened at 9 a.m., Arizona Republican and Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs offered a motion for the House to adjourn to stop the House from “wasting time” on impeachment. The motion was defeated, 188-226, along party lines.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy followed that by calling for a vote on a resolution condemning House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., subsequently made a motion to table the resolution, which also passed.

Republicans are expected to make similar motions, but Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, said he doesn’t expect those to continue, calling the historic session “just another sad day under a Democratic majority.”

“Believe me, by the end of the day, we’ll find out one thing: Everything will be said but just not everybody said it,” he said.

The House approved the rules on the impeachment vote shortly before noon on a 228-197 vote before moving on to the articles of impeachment themselves. Democrats Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who reportedly is planning to switch to the GOP, and Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota, who says he has been approached by Republicans to switch parties, voted against the rule.

Here is the latest on the impeachment inquiry:

Second article adopted: The House adopted the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, 229-198.

Gabbard: Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who according to CQ Vote Watch has missed more than 38 percent of votes this year while running is running for the Democratic nomination for president, voted “present” on the both impeachment articles. She later introduced a resolution calling for the House to censure Trump.

Trump impeached: The first of two articles of impeachment, abuse of power, was adopted 230-197. Lawmakers began voting on the second article on obstruction of Congress.

Impeachment greetings: According to Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., the White House is delivering White House Christmas cards to Senate offices, accompanied by copies of the six-page letter Trump sent on Tuesday to Pelosi.

Defense team: White House officials expect White House Counsel Pat Cipollone will lead President Trump’s defense during a likely Senate trial, Kellyanne Conway told reporters. Others who will assist with his defense is still being “finalized,” she said. 

Out of the country: Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois, is missing today’s big votes due to a long-planned trip to Tanzania to visit his son, who serves in the Peace Corps. But he made clear he opposes the Democrat-led effort.

“At The White House last week I informed President Donald J. Trump that I would not be present for the these votes, and he was supportive of me visiting my son,” he wrote on Facebook. “I told him I did not support his impeachment, and I have requested that this statement of my reasons for opposing both articles of impeachment be entered into the Congressional Record.”

POTUS at work: Trump is not glued to TV coverage of the House floor, says White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.

“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,” she said in a statement.

“ATROCIOUS”: Is the president fired up about soon becoming the third sitting president to be impeached? Here he was on Twitter at 12:45 p.m., in his own all-caps: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”

Stand down: The House Freedom Caucus discussed effectively “blowing up the House” by objecting to any action on the floor requiring unanimous consent, including the most mundane, routine procedures, but backed off because the White House didn’t want to delay impeachment moving out of the Democratic-controlled House, GOP Rep. Randy Weber said.

“Every time they come up with something, whether it was suspending the reading, whether it was voice-pass or whatever was, you’d have someone on the floor to go, ‘Nope, I object. It’s not a unanimous consent because I object,’ which makes you do everything,” the Texas Republican said. “We get the sense that the president’s lawyers wanted this to move forward, that they didn’t want to just blow up the House. I think they’d like to see the House portion over in December before we go home and then let the Senate take it.”

Republican leadership discussed the procedural objections planned for Wednesday’s debate with the Freedom Caucus and the White House, Weber said, and seemed to settle on motions that point out flaws in the process without significantly delaying the advancement of the articles.

“And the leadership is driving that train. Now, that doesn’t keep anybody from standing up at a mic” and moving to adjourn, he said.

“You think this is right, you do it”: Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern, who chairs the Rules Committee — which featured a lengthy debate yesterday — said it was important that House members hold a vote regardless of what eventually happens in the Senate “because you have got to do the right thing.”

He continued: “I don’t know what the Senate is going to do. And you shouldn’t be worried about polls. And you shouldn’t be worried about things that you think…those things don’t matter. It should be about, you think this is right, you do it. That’s the way this should operate.”

Busy in the White House: As the House debated up Pennsylvania Avenue, a White House official said, “The mood in this building is the same as it has been: Busy.”

“There’s nothing different this morning. That’s what they’re doing,” the official said, referring to House Democrats while gesturing toward a wall-mounted TV showing the House floor debate. “We’re doing other things, working on the president’s agenda. … It’s been clear since November 2016 they were going to do this, so…”

A few minutes after the official made those comments, Trump retweeted a Fox News political analyst’s criticism of Pelosi and contended that she “Will go down in history as worst Speaker.”

Trump followed that with a string of retweets of messages of support for him.

The battle in Battle Creek: Trump is slated to hit the stage at 7 p.m. EST at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan — just before the House is expected to begin voting on the two impeachment articles.

There are no changes to the rally’s start time, according to a Trump campaign official. That means an historic cable news split screen showing a sitting president slamming an impeachment vote as it happens on the House floor.

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 18: People rally in support of the impeachment of President Donald Trump in front of the Capitol as the House of Representatives begins debate on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday Dec. 18, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Demonstrators wearing Trump and Richard Nixon masks rally in support of impeachment in front of the Capitol on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Seen and heard: While the debate was going on inside the Capitol, a large group was rallying for impeachment outside.

The rally, organized by a coalition of progressive groups, followed a series of pro-impeachment rallies around the country on Tuesday.

Welcome back: House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler was on the floor Wednesday morning after being absent Tuesday from the House Rules Committee meeting because of a medical emergency involving his wife.
Nadler was greeted with well wishes from his colleagues.

How the day will go: In a contentious, 10-hour hearing on Tuesday, The Rules Committee voted along party lines to take up the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges against Trump in two votes, allowing members to vote for or against each article. Rep. Jared Golden, a freshman Democrat from Maine, is the only lawmaker who has announced so far that he will vote differently on each article.

After adoption of the articles, the House will consider the appointment and authorization of managers for the impeachment trial in the Senate, which will come in January after Congress returns from its holiday break .

“Say a PRAYER!”: Trump started his day Wednesday continuing to express shock that he could be impeached considering what he has accomplished in nearly three years in office.

He urged his Twitter followers to pray for future presidents as he continued to contend House Democrats have guaranteed that future House GOP majorities likely will impeach Democratic presidents over what he called small matters.

“Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing,” he tweeted. “Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!”

Pelosi picks DeGette: Speaker Nancy Pelosi has designated Rep. Diane DeGette of Colorado as speaker pro tempore to preside over the House during the impeachment debate today.

“This is a sad and somber moment in our nation’s history and the responsibility to preside over this important debate is something I will not take lightly,” DeGette said in a statement.

While DeGette is presiding over the debate, Pelosi will take the speaker’s chair to preside over the votes on the two articles, according to an aide.

Pelosi will speak at the opening of general debate.

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