House Judiciary Committee Approves Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump
On December 13, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, making him the fourth President in American history to face potential impeachment. In contrast to the previous day’s contentious back-and-forth between the two parties, the December 13 session was devoid of rancor, or even any debate. Immediately after calling the meeting to order, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) the Judiciary Committee Chairman, ordered two votes, one for each article. Both were approved 23-17 along party lines. In brief remarks after the votes, Nadler said, “Today is a solemn and sad day. For the third time in a little over a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeachment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.” Nadler promised the House “will act expeditiously.” House Democratic leaders are planning to hold the full House vote on articles of impeachment on December 18, according to two Democratic leadership aides.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, President Donald Trump said Democrats were “trivializing impeachment.” “It’s a witch hunt, It’s a sham, It’s a hoax,” President Trump told reporters as he began an unrelated meeting in the Oval Office with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez. Commenting on the next stage of impeachment, the Senate’s impeachment trial, Trump said he would not mind a lengthy trial and would like to see the whistleblower testify. Judiciary Committee member Debbie Lesk (R-AZ), told reporters that the committee’s action was “a travesty for America, and it’s really tearing America apart.” She added, “I have never in my entire life seen such an unfair, rigged railroad job against the President of the United States.”
The House Judiciary Committee had been expected to approve the articles late on December 12, but later in the day, Congressman Jerrold Nadler pushed the vote to the next morning. “It is now very late at night,” Nadler said, adjourning the hearing. “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 consciences before we cast our final votes.” Nadler’s decision led to vocal objection from Republicans on the committee, including ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA). “You’ve just blown up schedules for everyone,” Collins said. “This is the kangaroo court that we’re talking about.” Throughout the day on December 12, committee members delivered partisan talking points in support of or in opposition to Trump’s impeachment. Republicans offered several amendments that were rejected.
Assuming that the House of Representatives votes to impeach President Donald Trump, the Senate would then begin a trial to determine whether to remove President Trump from office or, much more likely in the Republican-led chamber, acquit him. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a December 12 interview on Fox News that there is “zero chance the president will be removed from office.” McConnell said he was hoping that there would be no Republican defections in the Senate trial and that he was working closely with White House lawyers, pledging “total coordination.”
Thus far, the only Republican Senators who may potentially vote to impeach President Trump are Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, and Richard Burr. All three are considered to be “Never Trump” conservatives who are particularly opposed to the President’s conduct regarding foreign policy. On the other hand, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will likely vote to acquit President Trump because he represents a state in which President Trump has his highest approval ratings, as well as the fact that he is arguably the most conservative Democrat currently in Congress, and routinely votes to the right of several moderate Republican Senators including Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. For example, Joe Manchin voted in favor of President Trump’s agenda a majority of the time and expressed an openness to support Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020.