The debate on articles of impeachment against Trump

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9:43 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Democrats won’t cut off GOP amendments and are prepared to go very late

Democratic members and aides are signaling at the break that they are preparing to go as late as the GOP wants — and they won’t cut off amendments, even though House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has the right to do so. 

When will the hearing end? It depends on when the GOP decides it has no more amendments to offer. 

At the moment, Democrats are not considering punting the session to the morning and are prepared to go through night. 

9:38 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

McConnell: "There is no chance the President is going to be removed from office"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted tonight how the impeachment trial will end.

“We all know how it's going to end. There is no chance the President is going to be removed from office," the Kentucky Republican said.

McConnell, speaking on Fox News, called the Democrats’ case “so darn weak” and said he will coordinate with President Trump’s lawyers every step of the way when the case moves to the Senate.

 

9:20 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

The committee has been debating for 12 hours

Andrew Harrer/Pool via AP
Andrew Harrer/Pool via AP

The debate in the House Judiciary Committee tonight has been free-wheeling.

Any committee member has been able to offer an amendment to the impeachment articles and every lawmaker could speak up to debate it.

At one point, the impeachment debate even veered back two decades, as two lawmakers who were on the Judiciary Committee when President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 debated the merits of that case compared to the current impeachment proceedings.

They've been debating for 12 hours now.

9:04 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

The committee is now in recess

The House Judiciary Committee has taken a 30-minute recess at about 9 p.m. ET.

The committee has been debating amendments to the articles of impeachment for more than 12 hours today.

9:03 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Fifth amendment to the articles of impeachment defeated in party-line vote

A fifth amendment to the articles of impeachment has been voted down by the House Judiciary Committee tonight by a vote of 23-17.

The amendment had been introduced by Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio. The amendment called to strike language that President Trump should be removed from office.

All four other amendments proposed today have been voted down.

8:52 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Catch up: 4 takeaways from the committee meeting so far

Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images
Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee continues to debate and consider the articles of impeachment against President Trump tonight.

Here's what's happened so far:

  • Republican amendments rejected: A total of four amendments to the articles of impeachment have been introduced today and all have been voted down. One of the amendments wanted to replace the mention of former Vice President Joe Biden with his son Hunter Biden and Burisma in Article 1 while another would have added to the articles that US aid was released to Ukraine. The committee is currently debating a fifth amendment.
  • On the vote timing: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced today that vote timing on the articles of impeachment in the full House will be announced after the Judiciary Committee votes tonight.
  • The GOP blasts the impeachment process: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said that the impeachment debate "just lacks a certain sincerity" this morning, adding that "If I'm watching at home I'm thinking, 'well, where are they in the impeachment?' That is just a Democrat drive-by, to go and list crimes that you don't allege and that you don't have evidence for."
  • About the President's middle name: House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler introduced an amendment this morning to change references of "Donald J. Trump" to "Donald John Trump" in the articles of impeachment. Rep. Doug Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee, said the amendment showed the "absurdity" of impeachment.

8:07 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

McConnell and top White House lawyer agree to close coordination, but not final strategy, on impeachment trial

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump’s top lawyer sketched out a plan to coordinate closely for the Senate’s impeachment trial, but haven’t reached agreement on a final unified strategy to defend Trump against charges of high crimes and misdemeanors, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

The closed-door meeting today between McConnell and White House counsel Pat Cipollone occurred as Senate Republicans and the White House have diverged on what each would like to see take place in the looming trial in the chamber.

Trump has made clear he wants witnesses to testify, in person, while senators — including McConnell in private — have warned that going down that path could lead to a politically precarious slippery slope in the GOP effort to acquit Trump.

“We are having a lot of good conversations with Senate Republicans,” Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters as he departed the meeting with Cipollone. “We will continue to do that here over the next few days and weeks as we work through all these issues and priorities the President has outlined when it comes to where we should go on these articles.”

While no final decisions have been made, there both McConnell and Cipollone agreed that when a trial begins, the House Democratic impeachment managers would have an opportunity to present, followed by the Trump’s lawyers presenting the president’s defense, the sources said.

McConnell made clear this week that no decisions have been made about witnesses or final trial structure, but the path after the initial presentations will be dictated by what a majority of his conference wants to see next — witnesses or a quick vote to bring the trial to an end and then vote to acquit the President.

7:44 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Committee debates fifth amendment that would strike language on Trump's removal from office

Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, has introduced a fifth amendment to the articles of impeachment that would strike language that President Trump should be removed from office.

The four other amendments proposed today were all voted down.

The phrase "strike the last word" keeps coming up during the debate. Here's what it means:

  • Strike the last word: A lot of representatives have said "I move to strike the last word" today as the House debates amendments. It's a maneuver that allows them time to speak. House rules allow each member five minutes to speak on each amendment. Since they're proposing a new amendment (a change to the text), they're given five more minutes.
7:34 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Meanwhile, Trump attends tonight's congressional ball

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

President Trump delivered brief remarks at the congressional ball tonight while the House Judiciary Committee continued to debate the articles of impeachment.

Trump called it a “very exciting month in Washington, DC,” receiving some warm laughter. He also touted stock market records.

“Our country is doing really great,” Trump said, thanking everyone for attending and acknowledging Vice President Mike Pence, who was in attendance with his wife Karen.

Trump, who spoke from a podium with a golden carved eagle, congratulated first lady Melania Trump on a “beautiful job.” 

"We’re going to have a fantastic year,” Trump said, predicting “the best year in decades.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, legislative director Marc Short and Rep. Steve Scalise were among those in attendance.  

Democrats were invited to the congressional ball, according to a White House official.