The House Judiciary Committee on Monday heard from lawyers for both Democrats and Republicans on findings from the Intelligence Committee's impeachment inquiry over allegations that President Donald Trump withheld aid to Ukraine in order to pressure its government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Witnesses for the Intelligence Committee included majority counsel Daniel Goldman and the Republicans' lawyer, Steve Castor. Also on the witness list was Barry Berke, majority counsel for the Judiciary Committee. The hearing began at 9 a.m.
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Republicans keep fighting Nadler over parliamentary inquiries and points of order
The start of Monday's Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing was filled with back-and-forth bickering between Republican members and Nadler over points of order and parliamentary inquiries.
Republicans cut off Nadler just seconds into the hearing, demanding a minority hearing day — something that Nadler said he would later consider. Protests from Reps. Andy Biggs and Mike Johnson led to the tabling along party lines of a pair of motions they sought to have approved. Those mentions were aimed at striking certain remarks from Berke from the official record because they said those comments impugned Trump's motives.
At the onset of the hearing, Rep. Matt Gaetz began shouting back and forth with Nadler, leading to him being loudly gaveled by the chairman.
"Is this when we just hear staff ask questions of other staff and members get dealt out of this whole hearing and for the next four hours you're going to try to overturn the results of an election with unelected people?!" Gaetz, a close ally of the president, shouted.
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72d ago / 4:08 PM UTC
Berke slams Trump impeachment defenses: 'He does not have the right to do whatever he wants'
Analysis: Democratic lawyer lays out rebuttal for each of Trump's defenses
Democratic lawyer Barry Berke, whose time just wrapped, gave a cocktail-napkin version of the Democratic rebuttal to each of Trump’s defenses:
1. The money for Ukraine defense was released: Berke noted it was released only “after he got caught.”
2. Trump was concerned broadly about corruption in Ukraine, not his political opponent: Berke pointed to the July 25 phone call, when Trump “ignored the talking points that were prepared” for him to discuss broad corruption and instead “only wanted to talk about the two things” that could affect his re-election.
3. Ukraine never felt pressured by Trump: To this day, Berke said, with continued U.S. aid on the line, Ukraine feels pressure. Specifically, he pointed to U.S. diplomats discussing on a text chain their desire to get the money but also not be trapped into engaging in U.S. domestic politics.
4. Trump never said “quid pro quo”: After Trump knew about the allegations against him, he spoke to U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland — according to Sondland — and literally said “no quid pro quo” for the investigations, but Berke noted that Trump “then described what he wanted.”
"None of these excuses hold any water,” Berke said. “They are refuted by testimony, contemporaneous records and more.”
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72d ago / 3:27 PM UTC
White House press secretary's 'five indisputable facts'
Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, tweeted their main points in the case against impeachment.
FIVE INDISPUTABLE FACTS: 1. No evidence of wrongdoing by @POTUS 2. Ukraine said there was no pressure 3. Lethal aid to Ukraine wouldn’t exist w/o @realDonaldTrump 4. There’s no obstruction whatsoever 5. This is an unfair & unprecedented impeachment process
During the back and forth over the parliamentary objection, Rep. Zoe Lofgren said she calls to table the Republican motion. Ranking member Collins said that has to be in writing. So Rep. Lofgren wrote on a notepad at her desk, ripped it off and showed it to Rep. Collins.
Then the vote ensued.
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72d ago / 3:16 PM UTC
Democrats revisit clip of Trump saying he has the right to do whatever he wants
Berke made a point to play a July clip of Trump saying he has the right to do whatever he wants — a clip that's been played now multiple times during the Judiciary Committee hearings
Berke made note of the comment when discussing how Trump's conduct is impeachable. The remarks served as Berke's basis that Trump views himself as above accountability — just as they were used in Thursday's hearing.
Trump's comments were made at a July speech before a Turning Point USA conference.
"Then, I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president," he said. "But I don’t even talk about that."
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72d ago / 3:07 PM UTC
The GOP impeachment wall: Why Republicans won't walk away from Trump
Late in the afternoon of Aug. 7, 1974, Republican leaders in Congress traveled up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House to deliver a stark message to Richard Nixon: His presidency was over....
Today, as Democrats in the House of Representatives move toward bringing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, with the next Judiciary Committee hearing of evidence set for Monday, few Democrats are still clinging to the hope that Republicans will reach a breaking point with Trump like they did with Nixon.
"I really don't think there is any fact that would change their minds," Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told NBC News.
Why? Two key changes since Nixon: a massive divide in American political life — we hate the other team more than ever before — and a media climate that fuels and reinforces that chasm, powered by Fox News on the Republican side.
Berke recounts what David Holmes heard on Trump-Sondland call
Berke recounted a key moment from the impeachment hearings in which longtime diplomat David Holmes explained how he was able to overhear a phone conversation between Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland at a Ukrainian restaurant.
Holmes testified that he was able to overhear the July 26 conversation between Trump and Sondland because Trump was speaking on the phone extremely loudly — so loudly, in fact, that Holmes said Sondland “winced” in discomfort and had to hold the phone away from his ear.
'Why are we here?': Collins blasts impeachment as 'PR move' by Democrats
Ranking member Collins opened the second House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing with a familiar argument: President Donald Trump did nothing wrong and the Democrats have a vendetta against him because they lost the 2016 election.
"This may be known as the focus group impeachment," Collins said, adding that it's a "good PR move" from Democrats to try to convince the American people to favor impeachment.
He also took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced Thursday that she has asked key chairmen leading the inquiry to draft articles of impeachment against the president. He said she undercut their inquiry by pushing to draft articles of impeachment as the committee is beginning its inquiry.
Collins also excoriated Democrats for how they have run the inquiry, saying the committee has become a "rubber stamp" and warned that "this institution is in danger" because he said it has not been a fair process for the president.
"I guess that's what you get when you're making up impeachment as you go," Collins said.
This is misleading. During a hearing in September, Schiff parodied Trump’s rhetoric and exaggerated some of the president's language while making it clear at the time he was illustrating a point and not reading verbatim the White House's record of that July 25 conversation. Some of his phrasing matches the White House's own summary of what Trump said. Read more about the backstory behind this claim here.
After Trump attacked him, Schiff acknowledged that the president was "right about one thing — your words needs no mockery." Read the White House's record of the call here.
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72d ago / 3:49 PM UTC
Analysis: Giuliani is now Exhibit A
One reason that Giuliani’s recent trip to Ukraine is so confounding is that it is so central to the Democrats’ case that Trump’s actions not only merit impeachment, but also require it.
The idea is that the president is corrupt and that his corruption is an ongoing danger, meaning that only removing him from office would protect the nation from him.
That’s what Nadler said about Giuliani’s “apparent attempt to gin up the same so-called favors” from Ukraine that resulted in the impeachment inquiry in the first place. “This pattern of conduct represents a continuing risk to the country,” Nadler said.