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House Judiciary Committee debates impeachment articles: "The threat is urgent"

House Judiciary Committee finishes first day of debates
House Judiciary Committee finishes first day of debates 29:25

The House Judiciary Committee held a meeting Wednesday night to "mark up" the two articles of impeachment against President Trump on abuse of power and obstruction of justice. Lawmakers plan to return Thursday morning to begin considering amendments, with a vote to refer the articles to the full House expected later in the day.

Wednesday's hearing didn't feature any witnesses. Instead, the committee's 41 members each had five minutes to weigh in on the articles, during which members on both sides took turns arguing for and against the impeachment of Mr. Trump. 

Many Democrats used personal anecdotes to state their cases for what they described as the value of following and defending the rule of law. Republicans, on the other hand, continued to express outrage at the process and alleged that the proceedings have been based off hearsay. They also continued to jab at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and argued he should testify before the committees. 

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler opened the meeting by underscoring the importance of meeting and the vote that follows. 

"Over the past 94 days since the House investigation began — indeed, over the past three years — one indisputable truth has emerged: if we do not respond to President Trump's abuses of power, the abuses will continue," the New York Democrat said. 

"President Trump's continuing abuses of power jeopardize our security and our elections," he added. "The threat is urgent. If we do not act—now—what happens next will be our responsibility as well as his."

Ranking Member Republican Doug Collins followed Nadler's speech by slamming Democrats for an alleged "crusade" to impeach the president. 

House Judiciary Committee Meets For Markup On Articles Of Impeachment
 U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, with ranking member Doug Collins, delivers opening remarks during the Committee's markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on December 11, 2019. SHAWN THEW / Getty Images

"For this committee, this day was inevitable. That is because, for House Democrats, the conclusion was never in doubt," Collins said. "Since the day President Trump was elected, Democrats have engaged in a crusade to impeach him, and the facts really do not matter." 

Nadler released the articles of impeachment Tuesday. The first article accuses Mr. Trump of abusing his office by pressuring Ukraine to open investigations into events in the 2016 campaign and a company that employed former Vice President Joe Biden's son. The second article accuses the president of obstruction of Congress for ordering administration officials not to comply with congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony in the impeachment inquiry.

The hearing on Thursday will start at 9 a.m. with the committee clerk reading the nine-page impeachment resolution into the record. The committee will then consider each article of impeachment in turn — abuse of power, then obstruction of Congress. Once all amendments have been offered and considered, they'll vote on each article separately. Democratic leaders said Wednesday that the articles would each be considered in full floor votes next week.

Democrats don't plan to offer any amendments on Thursday, aside from one addressing a procedural matter. Republicans are expected to offer several of their own.

Rebecca Kaplan and Arthur Jones contributed reporting.

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