House Judiciary holds high-stakes impeachment hearing
When Democrats moved to take a short break in today's impeachment hearing before the Judiciary Committee, Republicans on the committee called for a vote, showing just how tense this hearing has become.
The committee proceeded to do a roll call vote on the motion to take the recess. The Democrats, who hold a majority on the committee, won.
The committee is now on that break.
House Democrats' counsel Daniel Goldman said that President Trump "has not given up" on what Democrats believe is a "scheme" by the President to pressure Ukraine to do his political bidding and investigate his rivals.
Trump "and his agents continue to solicit Ukrainian interference in our election," Goldman said during his testimony. "Causing an imminent threat to our elections and our national security."
They will be back in about 15 minutes.
Daniel Goldman, the Democratic counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, is laying out evidence gathered by the committee during their impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Goldman is going over witness testimony, Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's president and details about the hold on US security aid to Ukraine.
"This investigation moved swiftly and intensively as all good investigations should. To the extent that other witnesses would be able to provide more context and detail about this scheme, their failure to testify is due solely to the fact that President Trump obstructed the inquiry and refused to make them available," he said.
Goldman is also laying out the committee's "critical findings":
- "First, President Trump used the power of his office to pressure and induce the newly elected president of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election for President Trump's personal and political benefit."
- "Second, in order to increase the pressure on Ukraine to announce the politically motivated investigations that President Trump wanted, President Trump with held a coveted oval office meeting and $391 of essential military assistance from Ukraine."
- "Third, President Trump's conduct sought to undermine our free and fair elections and poses an imminent threat to our national security."
- "And fourth, faced with the revelation of his pressure campaign against Ukraine, President Trump directed an unprecedented effort to obstruct Congress's impeachment inquiry into his conduct."
Daniel Goldman, the Democratic lawyer for the House Intelligence Committee, is giving his opening statement now. He's making six key arguments while laying out the case for impeaching President Trump, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.
Here are the six points he's describing:
- President Trump abused the power of his office
- President Trump sought an investigation into a 2016 election conspiracy theory
- President Trump sought an investigation into his political rival
- The President conditioned an Oval Office visit on investigations
- President Trump conditioned military aid on investigations
- President Trump obstructed the impeachment inquiry
Goldman has been walking through this list and elaborating on the evidence for each argument.
Daniel Goldman, the Democratic counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, just brought up the committee's impeachment report, which lawmakers say lays out evidence of President Trump's misconduct and obstruction of Congress.
The report, released last week, will form the backbone of the impeachment proceedings against the President and charges that Trump's conduct toward Ukraine compromised national security.
Here's what we know about the report:
- What's in it: The 300-page report is broken down into two sections, one on Ukraine and the other on obstruction of Congress — both of which are expected to be separate articles of impeachment. Democrats charged that the White House's obstruction of their impeachment investigation was an "unprecedented campaign," detailing the numerous subpoenas that were defied over the two-month investigation.
- What it doesn't say: The report stops short of outright recommending impeachment, with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and the other committee chairs leading the inquiry said that was a decision Congress ultimately has to make.
- Why it matters: The report sets the stage for the impeachment of a US president for just the third time in history.
Daniel Goldman, lawyer for Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, said President Trump's behavior is "a clear and present danger" to future US elections.
"President Trump's persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security," he said.
Goldman is still giving his opening statement, but he'll come back to the idea of "clear and present danger," according to a copy of his prepared remarks.
According to the remarks, he'll end with this thought:
"President Trump’s actions and words show that there is every reason to believe that he will continue to solicit foreign interference in our elections. This undermines the very foundation of our democracy: our independent and sovereign right to choose our elected officials, including and especially our Commander in Chief. Ultimately, this Committee and the House of Representatives must determine whether such conduct poses a clear and present danger to our elections and to our national security such that it warrants the impeachment of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump."
The House Judiciary Committee's lawyers just finished up their opening arguments. The House will now hear from lawyers representing House Intelligence Committee Republicans and Democrats.
Democratic intel lawyer Daniel Goldman took the seat of Democratic judiciary lawyer Barry Berke. GOP lawyer Steve Castor stayed seated, since he's representing both committees for the Republicans.
During this switch, Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, asked Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler why the Judiciary lawyers were not sworn in.
"The Chairman is allowed to administer an oath, Not mandated to. But it has been the practice of this committee to administer oaths to witnesses. I'm wondering why we have not ministered the oath in this situation?" he asked.
Nadler said Berke and Castor were "not witnesses" but instead staff of the committee.
"I'm going to administer the oath to the two witnesses who are now coming before us to make presentation," Nadler said.
Castor and Goldman were then sworn in.
Watch the moment:
In his opening argument, Republican counsel Steve Castor criticized the Democrats' impeachment inquiry, calling it "rushed."
"This rushed and take-it-or-leave-it approach to investigating is contrary to how successful congressional investigations typically work. Congressional investigations take time. There is no easy button," Castor said at today's hearing.
Castor's argument about the speed of the investigation has been repeated by GOP lawmakers throughout the impeachment process.
At last week's hearing, Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, including their witness, repeatedly pointed out how fast the investigation was moving.
But President Trump appeared to undercut their argument when he dared the House to “impeach me, do it now, fast.”
Watch the moment: