Analysis after House Judiciary Committee votes to impeach President Trump

Lawmakers act against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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The House Judiciary Committee voted Friday to impeach President Donald Trump on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstructing Congress. The historic vote lasted just a few minutes following a marathon, 14-hour public discussion about amendments to the articles.

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Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., compared Republican lawmakers to Judas, saying they "would betray the American people" for "30 positive tweets" from President Trump.


White House counsel meets with McConnell during markup

White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Eric Ueland, the legislative affairs director, met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for over an hour on Capitol Hill on Thursday afternoon. 

“This is one of a regular set of conversations we’ve been having with Senate Republicans on the issue of impeachment, and we’re going to keep having good conversations about it," Ueland said.

When asked if he has a preference for how long the hearing will be, Ueland said, “Look, I’m not in the prognostication business, I don’t have a crystal ball in terms of timing. The president deserves to have his case heard. Unfortunately, the process in the House was fatally flawed and based on facts that were not all correct since the president did nothing wrong. So we continue to make our case to the American public.”

Cipollone did not answer questions from reporters.

Biggs introduces amendment arguing administration did nothing wrong freezing aid to Ukraine

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., introduced the third amendment of the day, which would insert language into the articles for impeachment that says the U.S. aid to Ukraine that was held up over the summer was eventually released

“The aid was released within days of Ukrainian President Zelenskiy signing two major anti-corruption measures into law, convincing President Trump that the new Ukrainian administration was serious about reform measures and consistent with Administration policy to ensure foreign aid is not used for corrupt purposes,” the amendment says. 

In explaining his amendment, Biggs brought up a letter from the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the distribution of U.S. aid to foreign countries, that he said walks through the entire process.

Biggs said that the Trump administration “never intended to or actually violated the law” and that it “always intended to release the funds.” 

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., however, then questioned why Biggs was tying the release of the aid to anti-corruption efforts when she said that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney himself said at a White House press conference that the aid was clearly being withheld as leverage to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations demanded by Trump. 

The aid was frozen by July 18 and the hold wasn’t lifted until September 11.

Folks, we could really be in for a long night

After three-and-a-half hours of debate, members voted down Gaetz's amendment to replace Biden's name in the articles of impeachment with his son's name and the name of a Ukrainian company he sat on the board of.

Three-and-a-half hours (which did include an hour-and-a-half recess) over an amendment to alter one line of the articles of impeachment.

The committee is just now debating its third proposed amendment of the day. The hearing started nearly seven hours ago. On top of this, Collins suggested the committee could be in session "all night" as part of this process. And there will likely be more breaks. 

If you're planning on sticking with this all the way through, find a comfortable seat if you haven't already. 

Gaetz amendment to articles of impeachment fails

An amendment introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz failed to pass during the House Judiciary Committee's debate to bring the articles of impeachment against Trump into final form. 

Gaetz had introduced an amendment to strike a reference of former Vice President Joe Biden from the articles of impeachment and put in Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, and Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of that company while his father was in office. 

It failed to pass with 23 Democrats voting against and 17 Republicans voting in favor. 

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Trump's watching closely. He already tweeted in direct response to little-noticed comments made by Democratic lawmakers during the proceedings.