Where we are now...
It has been roughly six hours since Thursday's markup meeting began and now Republicans and Democrats are fiercely making their case for and against impeachment.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., introduced an amendment to strike a reference from Joe Biden from the articles of impeachment and replace it with Hunter Biden and Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where he worked, in an apparent effort to argue that the company was corrupt and Biden was unqualified but well-connected.
Republicans have repeatedly hammered home their position that Trump did not abuse his power when he spoke with the Ukrainian president on July 25 because he had legitimate concerns about corruption in the country before releasing critical military aid. GOP lawmakers also said that because Ukraine did not feel pressured, did not know the aid was held up and it was later released, there was no wrongdoing. Republicans also have slammed Democrats for the process, saying it is moving too quickly, unfair to the president and has limited committee Republicans from fully making their case.
Democrats, on the other hand, have implored their Republican colleagues to remember their oath is to the Constitution, not the president. They have also argued that impeachment is the last resort to hold Trump accountable or else he will abuse his power and usurp Congress’ authority again. Committee Democrats argued that Trump gave Ukraine the aid before this year and held up and eventually released the aid after the whistleblower complaint began circulating. Democrats also said that Trump was not concerned about corruption because it was not mentioned on the call, but his own re-election.
Collins says hearing could go on 'all night'
It might be an even longer day than we anticipated.
Ahead of tonight's congressional ball, Collins just said there will plenty of opportunities to attend such swanky parties in the future and suggested the hearing could go on "all night."
Markup is back in session
Following a roughly hour-and-a-half break, the meeting has resumed.
Meacham: We're having a historic debate in unhistoric fashion
Historian Jon Meacham reacts to the House Judiciary Committee hearing to vote on articles of impeachment. Meacham says the committee is having a historic debate in an unhistoric fashion.
4 takeaways from the hearing so far
We're still in what we'd describe as an intermission of today's Judiciary Committee markup, so here are some of the bigger takeaways from this morning's action — or lack thereof.
- Republicans echo Trump in their lead defense: "No crimes" being alleged in the articles of impeachment. Democrats pointed to similar articles drafted during the Nixon impeachment proceedings.
- We're moving at a very slow pace. Through the first four hours, there have only been two amendments debated. So far, only one of those amendments has earned a vote, and it was shot down.
- Republicans insist there's no evidence Ukraine knew of the hold on aid until it became widely known. That runs counter to evidence provided by the Pentagon's Laura Cooper, who testified that Ukrainians emailed her staff as early as July 25 asking what was going on with the aid.
- Trump's watching closely. He already tweeted in direct response to little-noticed comments made by Democratic lawmakers during the proceedings.
Markup is in recess. So far, it's been 4 hours, 2 amendments and 1 vote.
Members are taking an extended break from today's hearing, which just hit the four-hour mark.
In those four hours, we've seen debate over just two amendments that were introduced so far. And only one of those amendments reached the point of being voted on. It was shot down.
Buckle up, folks. It looks like it's going to be a long day.
Democrats jockeying for coveted House manager appointments
Once impeachment deliberations move to the Senate, it will be up to House “managers” — or prosecutors — to present the case against President Trump at trial.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has sole discretion to appoint House managers, and sources tells us members have already started campaigning and jockeying for what will be a career-defining appointment.
As Jon Allen notes today, “It's a complicated task for the politically ambitious because the picks will be made solely at the discretion of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and many House members presume that it could be disqualifying to lobby too hard — especially publicly — for posts that require the utmost solemnity.”
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler are almost certain to make the cut as managers. (As Garrett Haake notes: Republicans who want Schiff to appear as a witness in a Senate trial may get their wish, in that Schiff would be in a position to answer questions.)
Pelosi has privately signaled that she wants the group to represent a range of regional, gender and racial diversity – two sources familiar tell NBC News.
Pelosi, one source says, is especially interested in “regional diversity,” to help counter the Republican criticism that the House process is being led by a “coastal impeachment squad.”
During the Clinton impeachment, 13 House Republicans served as managers, all of whom were on the Judiciary Committee.
This time, according to a second source familiar, it will likely be a mix of House Intelligence and House Judiciary members.
Among the Democratic representatives whose names are circulating (and this is not meant to be a complete list):
- Schiff, Calif.
- Nadler, N.Y.
- Hakeem Jeffries, N.Y.; House Democratic Caucus chairman
- Zoe Lofgren, Calif.
- Jamie Raskin, Md.
- Jackie Speier, Calif.
- Eric Swalwell, Calif.
- Val Demings, Fla.
- Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ill.
Gaetz brings up Hunter Biden's past substance issues — and it immediately backfired
Debate surrounding the next amendment to be introduced quickly divulged into a tit-for-tat involving allegations of cocaine usage and driving under the influence charges.
It began with Gaetz introducing an amendment to strike former Vice President Joe Biden from the articles of impeachment as the subject of an investigation Trump wanted Ukraine to launch and replace him with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, and Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of that company.
Gaetz said the purpose of Trump's ask was clear: probe Hunter Biden's conduct. In the July phone call with Zelenskiy, Trump asked his counterpart to investigate "the Bidens."
But then Gaetz went into an extensive speech in which he highlighted Hunter Biden's past cocaine and crack abuse.
"I don't want to make light of anybody's substance abuse issues," Gaetz said. "But it's a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car."
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., took note of Gaetz highlighting Hunter Biden's past substance abuse and said it was rather hypocritical to hear such commentary, alluding to Gaetz's 2008 arrest on a charge of driving under the influence.
Gaetz calling out Hunter Biden's substance abuse was like the "pot calling the kettle black," Johnson said, adding that if someone had a DUI, it would not be something he'd bring up. The charge against Gaetz was eventually dropped.
"I would say that the pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do," Johnson said. "I don't know what members, if any, have had any problems with substance abuse, been busted in DUI, I don't know."
"But if I did, I wouldn't raise it against anyone on this committee," he continued. "I don't think it's proper."
Jordan's effort to eliminate first article of impeachment is defeated
After nearly three hours of debate, Jordan's amendment to eliminate the first article of impeachment against Trump — the one charging him with abuse of power — was voted down along party lines.