After hours spent sparring over proposed amendments to the two counts against Donald Trump, the vote was moved to Friday.
The House judiciary committee on Thursday abruptly postponed a historic vote to advance articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, following a 14-hour meeting that devolved into a rancorous, deeply-partisan debate that stretched late into the night. The committee will reconvene on Friday morning, when Democrats are poised to pass along party lines two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstructing Congress. The move by chairman Jerry Nadler stunned Republicans who had expected to finish the vote on Thursday night.
It has been a long two days of consideration of these articles and it is now very late at night, Nadler said. I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciousness before we cast our final votes. Therefore the committee will now stand in recess until tomorrow at 10am.
This is the kangaroo court that we’re talking about, Doug Collins of Georgia, the committee’s leading Republican, replied angrily demanding to know why Nadler hadn’t consulted with him about the change of plans. Unbelievable, one Republican member fumed. Stalin-eque, another lamented.
The final minutes of the marathon session were a fitting end to a day spent sparring over several proposed amendments to the two articles, which charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Following their expected approval on Friday, the articles will be delivered to the House floor, where the full chamber could vote on whether to impeach Trump next week. The hours-long debate was punctuated by moments of partisan repartee – and fleeting mentions of Bill Clinton and Stormy Daniels – over proposed amendments to the articles leveled against the president. At one point, Collins walked away from his chair after a heated exchange over whether to allow an article chronicling the deadly impacts of withholding aid to Ukraine be entered into the record. A Democratic representative compared the Republican’s conduct to that of Judas.
Today I’m reminded of Judas – because Judas for 30 pieces of silver betrayed Jesus; for 30 positive tweets for easy re-election, the other side is willing to betray the American people, said Cedric L Richmond of New Orleans.
With Democrats in control of the committee, the day’s debate was largely a formality, notwithstanding simmering disagreements that have defined the impeachment inquiry since it began in late September. Those disagreements were rejoined with gusto on Thursday, with Democrats saying the evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing was overwhelming and Republicans claiming that no such evidence existed. Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power for his own political benefit and at the expense of US national security, by conditioning military aid and an Oval Office meeting for Ukraine on the announcement of an investigation into the former vice-president Joe Biden, his political rival in the 2020 presidential election, and into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
The president committed the highest crime against the constitution by abusing his office, cheating in an election, inviting foreign interference for purely personal gain, while jeopardizing our national security and the integrity of our elections, said the congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California.
Trump denies wrongdoing. The proposed amendments weighed by the committee ranged from the mundane – changing Donald J Trump to Donald John Trump – to the extraordinary. The Republican Matt Gaetz proposed adding the name of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to the articles of impeachment, and proceeded to read into the official record reportage about the younger Biden’s history of substance abuse. The Democrat Hank Johnson rebuked Gaetz, warning members not to wade into personal matters and alluding to a 2008 arrest of Gaetz for driving under the influence, in a case that was later dropped by prosecutors.
I don’t think it’s proper, said Johnson.
For hours, the committee debated an amendment proposed by the Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio that the first impeachment article, charging abuse of power, simply be deleted. Arguing in favor of the amendment, the Republican Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, who sat on the committee during the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton, said that an alleged abuse of power had never been central to articles of impeachment.