Nadler de­lays com­mit­tee vote

Ju­di­ciary mem­bers clash for 2nd day over ob­struc­tion, abuse of power against Trump

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Mary Clare Jalonick and Lisa Mas­caro

WASHINGTON — The House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee pushed to­ward a his­toric vote Thurs­day night to ap­prove ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment against Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, split­ting along party lines in a gru­el­ing ses­sion. It was ex­pected to end with charges be­ing sent to the full House for ac­tion next week, be­fore the hol­i­days.

The Ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee, made up of some of the most stri­dent Democrats and Repub­li­cans in

Congress, clashed for hours in pointed and at times emo­tional de­bate, draw­ing on history and the Con­sti­tu­tion to ar­gue over the two charges.

Af­ter 14 hours of ran­corous de­bate, Ju­di­ciary Chair­man

Jerry Nadler abruptly ad­journed the com­mit­tee un­til 10 a.m. Fri­day.

Trump is ac­cused, in the first ar­ti­cle, of abus­ing his pres­i­den­tial power by ask­ing Ukraine to in­ves­ti­gate 2020 ri­val Joe Bi­den while hold­ing mil­i­tary aid as lever­age, and, in the sec­ond, of ob­struct­ing Congress by block­ing the House’s ef­forts to probe his ac­tions.

Trump is only the fourth U.S. pres­i­dent to face im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings and the first to be run­ning for re­elec­tion at the same time.

He in­sists he did noth­ing wrong and blasts the Democrats’ ef­fort daily as a sham and harm­ful to Amer­ica.

Repub­li­can al­lies seem un­wa­ver­ing in their op­po­si­tion to ex­pelling Trump, and he claims to be look­ing ahead to swift ac­quit­tal in a Se­nate trial.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi sounded con­fi­dent Thurs­day that Democrats, who once tried to avoid a solely par­ti­san ef­fort, will have the votes to im­peach the pres­i­dent with­out Repub­li­can sup­port when the full House votes next week. But she said it was up to in­di­vid­ual law­mak­ers to weigh the ev­i­dence.

“The fact is we take an oath to pro­tect and de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States,” Pelosi told re­porters. “No one is above the law; the pres­i­dent will be held ac­count­able for his abuse of power and for his ob­struc­tion of Congress.”

The out­come poses po­ten­tially se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences for both par­ties ahead of the 2020 elec­tions, with Amer­i­cans di­vided over whether the pres­i­dent con­ducted im­peach­able acts and if it should be up to Congress, or the vot­ers, to de­cide whether he should re­main in of­fice.

The pres­i­dent has re­fused to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­ceed­ings, tweet­ing crit­i­cisms as he did Thurs­day from the side­lines, mock­ing the charges against him in the House’s nine-page res­o­lu­tion as “im­peach­ment light.”

But Pelosi said the pres­i­dent was wrong and the case against him is deeply grounded.

Democrats note that the in­ves­ti­ga­tions go back to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the 2016 elec­tion that put Trump in the White House.

And they say his deal­ings with Ukraine have ben­e­fited its ag­gres­sive neigh­bor Rus­sia, not the U.S., and he must be pre­vented from “cor­rupt­ing” U.S. elec­tions again and cheat­ing his way to a sec­ond term next year. “It is ur­gent,” Pelosi said. The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee ses­sion drew out over two days, with both sides ap­peal­ing to Amer­i­cans’ sense of history — Democrats de­scrib­ing a sense of duty to stop what one called the pres­i­dent’s “con­sti­tu­tional crime spree” and Repub­li­cans de­cry­ing what one said was the “hot garbage’’ im­peach­ment and what it means for the fu­ture of the coun­try.

Trump, ap­par­ently watch­ing the live pro­ceed­ings on tele­vi­sion, tweeted his dis­ap­proval of two Demo­cratic women on the panel — Reps. Veron­ica Es­co­bar and Sheila Jack­son Lee, both of Texas. He called their com­ments about his ac­tions in­ac­cu­rate.

“Very sad,” Trump tweeted.

No, there was no room for mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion, Jack­son Lee said.

As law­mak­ers dug in for the sec­ond day at the stately hear­ing room in the Capi­tol, Nadler, D-N.Y., im­me­di­ately asked for a full read­ing of the two ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment against the pres­i­dent

as TV cam­eras car­ried the live pro­ceed­ings.

Then came a long day of fights over amend­ments, pri­mar­ily by Repub­li­cans try­ing to stop the im­peach­ment. They were be­ing re­jected by Democrats along party lines.

“The cen­tral is­sue of this im­peach­ment is the cor­rup­tion of our in­sti­tu­tions that safe­guard democ­racy by our pres­i­dent,” Nadler said. “We can­not tol­er­ate a pres­i­dent sub­vert­ing the fair­ness and in­tegrity of our elec­tions.”

The top Repub­li­can, Rep. Doug Collins of Ge­or­gia, called the pro­ceed­ings a “farce” and said they should be halted un­til his side was pro­vided a chance for its own hear­ing.

The re­quest was de­nied, with the chair­man say­ing the process was in line with the im­peach­ment hear­ings of Pres­i­dents Richard Nixon and Bill Clin­ton.

First up was an amend­ment from GOP Rep. Jim Jor­dan of Ohio, who tried to delete the first charge against Trump.

“This amend­ment strikes ar­ti­cle one be­cause ar­ti­cle one ig­nores the truth,” he de­clared.

Rep. David Ci­cilline, DR.I., ar­gued there was “over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence” that the pres­i­dent with his lawyer Rudy Gi­u­liani, in push­ing Ukraine to in­ves­ti­gate ri­val Bi­den, was en­gaged in an abuse of power “to cor­rupt Amer­i­can elec­tions.’’

De­bate on that one amend­ment lasted for hours be­fore it was de­feated, 23-17, on a party-line vote.

An­other amend­ment, from Rep. Matt Gaetz, RFla., sought to re­place part of the ar­ti­cle that says Trump “cor­ruptly so­licited”

Ukraine to launch an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bi­den with his ref­er­ence to Bi­den’s son Hunter Bi­den and the gas com­pany in Ukraine where he served on the board.

That, too, was re­jected by the panel on party lines.

“We can­not tol­er­ate a pres­i­dent sub­vert­ing the fair­ness and in­tegrity of our elec­tions.” Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y, Cha­ri­man of the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

Chair­man Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., left, and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the rank­ing mem­ber, dur­ing a House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee ses­sion.

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