The debate on articles of impeachment against Trump

By Veronica Rocha, Fernando Alfonso III and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:15 AM ET, Fri December 13, 2019
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2:57 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Trump campaign manager sees perks in impeachment drama

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Allie Malloy

 Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
 Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump's campaign manager weighed in on impeachment this morning and the effect it's having on the campaign.

Brad Parscale said the drama in Washington has helped them fundraise faster, fill up rallies easier and, overall, has "ignited a flame" for their base. 

“I’ve always said I’d rather not have the President impeached," Parscale told reporters today. "I think the President did nothing wrong. But let’s just talk about statistically what occurred. First, and five minutes, afterward was fundraising. This lit up our base, lit up the people that are supporters of the President. They’re frustrated, they’re upset. That motivates voters."

Later, Parscale added, "Any time he’s attacked, any time people try to lessen that he’s a legitimate President in any way — his voters fight back. And I think that that is a motivation, I think it’s a huge miscalculation by them and I think they have no choice but it is a success metric.”

2:38 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

The Judiciary Committee is back in session

The House Judiciary Committee has resumed their debate on the articles of impeachment against President Trump.

2:29 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Moderate Democrats on impeachment pressure: "Whatever you do, you are going to aggravate people"

From CNN's Clare Foran

 

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who flipped a congressional district from red to blue and has said he plans to vote against the articles of impeachment, summed up the pressure moderate House Democrats are facing when he told reporters today, “whatever you do, you are going to aggravate people.”

He said that the calls coming into his office right now on the issue are “about 50/50” for and against impeachment.

Van Drew said “it’s too early to tell” whether the House majority will be at risk over impeachment and lamented that Democrats never seriously pursued censuring Trump instead. “

"Censure would have been, hey we’re done, you did something wrong, we’re letting you know you did something wrong and now it’s finished,” he said. "There wasn’t enough time to really discuss and think about that. I wish we had.”

The congressman said “I wouldn’t expect a huge number” of House Democrats “to vote no." In addition to his own vote against the articles, Van Drew said he expects Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota to vote in opposition and said, “there’s a chance there could be another one or two.”

Rep. Anthony Brindisi of New York, another moderate House Democrat, said he hasn’t yet decided how he will vote on the articles of impeachment, saying, “I have not made a decision yet, no,” but that he plans to make a decision over the weekend.

“I think it’s been a pretty even split so far. We’re getting a lot of calls, we’ll take that all into consideration and make a decision this weekend,” he said.

Brindisi highlighted the various wins that moderates are pointing to as the impeachment push ramps up.

“This has been a long week. We got the USMCA trade deal done, which was important for farmers in my district, got a lot of wins for my district in the [National Defense Authorization Act], passed the agricultural labor bill yesterday and today a big prescription drug bill. There’s been a lot on the plate this week and this weekend I’m going to take some time and deliberate and look at the articles and make a decision," he said.

2:56 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

White House lawyer is on his way to see McConnell

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins

White House Counsel for President Trump Pat Cipollone is on Capitol Hill today to meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to a White House official.

An official confirms that the meeting is about the potential impeachment trial in the Senate. 

2:22 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Top House Republican: There will be no GOP defections on articles of impeachment

From CNN's Manu Raju

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy just asserted there would be NO GOP defections.

“We will have as many defections as they have facts: Zero,” he told CNN.

His comments came after the GOP whip team asked members how they’d vote on the articles. He said he wouldn’t talk about the whip count but expressed confidence in total GOP unity.

2:06 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

In 5 hours, the congressional ball at the White House begins

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump leave after the Congressional Ball on December 15, 2018.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump leave after the Congressional Ball on December 15, 2018. Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee has been debating articles of impeachment against President Trump since 9 a.m. ET. There's no limit on how long the session could go.

But one big event might draw the arguments to a close: the 2019 congressional ball, which begins at 7 p.m. ET.

A number of members, particularly Republicans, are expected to head to the White House to attend the annual festivity.

At last year's ball, the President said, "I think it’s going to be a really exciting year and exciting two years."

1:53 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Rep. Matt Gaetz: Republicans may not win the vote — but they're "sure winning the argument"

From CNN's Ali Zaslav

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Rep Matt Gaetz, a Republican on the House Judiciary committee, told reporters “we may not win the vote as the Republicans, but we're sure winning the argument."

“As we said on CNN this morning the polling is turning against Democrats, even some of their own members. I continue to hear more and more Democrats seeking some alternative to impeachment because they see that this is not a political winner for them,” the Florida lawmaker said.

Rep Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters on his way to votes that “the Republicans have articulated a singular argument in defense of the President's clear abuse of power: that Donald Trump is an anti-corruption crusader."

"Does anyone reasonably believe that?" Jeffries said. "Perhaps the most corrupt President in modern American history.”

Asked if he would be satisfied with the Democrats' case after today, Jeffries replied, “Witness after witness after witness have testified that Donald Trump pressured the foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain.”

“It was done for political reasons. That's an abuse of power," he said.

1:54 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

Catch up: 3 takeaways from the committee meeting so far

Andrew Harrer/Pool/Getty Images
Andrew Harrer/Pool/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee is meeting today to debate and consider the articles of impeachment against President Trump.

The committee is on a short break while they vote on an unrelated matter on the House floor.

Here's what's happened so far:

  • Republican amendment rejected: An amendment introduced by Rep. Jim Jordan to strike the article accusing Trump of abuse of power from the impeachment articles was voted down by the committee. The 23-17 vote was along party lines.
  • 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.
1:03 p.m. ET, December 12, 2019

The committee just took a break

The House Judiciary Committee is in recess right now.

Chair Jerry Nadler said the committee would return to the meeting after members participate in votes on the House floor.