Analysis: Nasty House floor fight sets baseline for Trump impeachment
WASHINGTON — For only the fourth time in its history, the House voted Thursday to initiate impeachment against a president of the United States.
As a technical matter, the resolution was a dry set of rules for the public phase of the investigation. But on a political level, the floor fight over it was nasty, brutish and relatively short — just over an hour — ending in a nearly perfectly party-line vote.
The contours of Thursday's debate, and the vote totals on each side, set a baseline from which the two parties will battle over the coming weeks. Democrats now know they still have work to do to force Republicans to cross the aisle by applying public pressure. Republicans, meanwhile, know that most politically vulnerable Democrats are unafraid of the consequences of pursuing impeachment.
Read the full story here.
2 Democratic defectors join GOP in voting against Trump impeachment resolution
Two Democratic congressmen on Thursday broke with their party to vote against the House resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, a move that ushers in a new and public phase of the investigation.
Here are the two Democrats who defected:
Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey
Van Drew, a freshman member who is up for reelection next year, has consistently opposed impeachment. "Let the people choose," he told NBC News Thursday ahead of his "no" vote. Afterward, he released a statement detailing why.
"Without bipartisan support I believe this inquiry will further divide the country tearing it apart at the seams and will ultimately fail in the Senate. However, now that the vote has taken place and we are moving forward I will be making a judgment call based on all the evidence presented by these investigations," he said. "My hope is that we are still able to get some work done to help the American people like infrastructure, veteran’s benefits, environmental protections, immigration reform, reducing prescription drug cost, and strengthening Social Security."
Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota
Peterson, described as a centrist, represents a rural district that Trump won in 2016 by 30 points — the most Trump-friendly district in the country that also elected a Democratic congressman.
After his "no" vote, Peterson said in a statement that the process "continues to be hopelessly partisan."
"I have some serious concerns with the way the closed-door depositions were run, and am skeptical that we will have a process that is open, transparent and fair. Without support from Senate Republicans, going down this path is a mistake," Peterson said. "Today's vote is both unnecessary, and widely misrepresented in the media and by Republicans as a vote on impeachment. I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented."
Read more about the lone Democratic impeachment defectors here.
House Republicans make it clear they feel Trump has done nothing wrong
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talking to reporters at the GOP House leadership press conference, was asked by a reporter if he would say Trump has done nothing wrong.
“A very clear yes,” he responded. The cadre of House GOP leaders standing behind him yelled in affirmation as McCarthy responded.
Responding to a subsequent question, McCarthy claimed Republicans in Congress will vote on impeachment — if and when articles are formally introduced — "based on the facts."
"Show us the truth. We always vote based on the facts," he said.
Schiff: 'The Founders provided the remedy' for when a president abuses power
Speaking at a House Democrats press conference Thursday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the founding fathers "provided the remedy" for a president who "refuses to defend the Constitution" and pursues his or her own personal or political agenda.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Democrats are going to zero in on the substance of the allegations facing Trump regarding his conduct toward Ukraine.
Rep. Jim Jordan: Americans 'will not tolerate this'
Republican House leaders, speaking at their post-vote press conference, continued their criticism of House Democrats, accusing their rival party’s leaders of going against the wishes of the American people
“The American people see this for what it is,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said. “They will not tolerate this.”
Rep. Michael McCaul, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, claimed the Democrats’ procedural approach to the impeachment inquiry “defies historic precedent.”
GOP House leaders rip Pelosi, Democrats over vote
House GOP leaders lambasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in their post-vote press conference.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., ripped Pelosi for being “infatuated with impeachment,” while Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the chair of the House Republican Conference, accused her of prioritizing the impeachment inquiry over working on other items.
There is a “long list” of “things not getting done here” because of the “Democrats obsessions with impeachment,” she said.
Republicans might say she opted for 'trick'
Grassley says House resolution is 'a day late and a dollar short'
Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley said the House's impeachment resolution is "a day late and a dollar short."
"This entire process has been contaminated from the beginning and the Senate may have a difficult time taking seriously an impeachment founded on these bases," he said in a statement.
Here's his full statement:
"House Democrats announced the opening of impeachment proceedings more than a month ago. So far, this process has been defined by its secrecy, lack of due process and fundamental unfairness. This vote is an implicit admission by House Democrats of exactly that. It’s a day late and a dollar short.
"Democrats’ impeachment proceedings are rooted in animus, a lack of rights for the accused, no transparency and anger at the 2016 election results. Even with this long-overdue resolution, House Democrats are still denying House Republicans the unrestricted right to call their own witnesses, to rebut Democratic witnesses and to have the same right to subpoena witnesses that the Democrats have granted themselves. And the president’s counsel still doesn’t have the right to be present and ask questions of witnesses before the Intelligence Committee, which has been given the role the Judiciary Committee has played in the past. This all stands in stark contrast to previous impeachment proceedings.
"As a result, this will continue to be a purely partisan and political process – a continuation of Democrats’ impeachment obsession that began before President Trump was even inaugurated. This entire process has been contaminated from the beginning and the Senate may have a difficult time taking seriously an impeachment founded on these bases."
Chaos erupts after vote
Appearing to object to the vote on the resolution that had just concluded, Republicans began yelling “point of order," shouting over the Democrat who was presiding in protest of the resolution, whose rules they have strongly rejected. It was a brief chaotic scene on the House floor following a historic vote.