Facing a wall of Republican opposition, Democrats in the U.S. House are on the verge of approving two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, as critics of the President pressed their case in opening arguments Wednesday night before the House Judiciary Committee.
"We must hold this President accountable for corrupting our democracy," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). "We must impeach this President."
"President Trump grossly abused his power," said Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ).
"Until this investigation began, I did not support impeaching President Trump," said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), who labeled this a 'break glass' emergency moment in American history.
"This is a moment that the President has forced upon us," said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL).
.@RepSwalwell tells story of his dad, a police chief, who was fired for writing parking tickets for the mayor and a few council members. "My dad believed no one was above the law and held firm. He lost his job and we packed up our little family and moved west." pic.twitter.com/uC9LlH8992— CSPAN (@cspan) December 12, 2019
HANK JOHNSON: “I’m a black man representing Georgia, born when Jim Crow was alive and well. … I have constituents who remember what it’s like to live in a democracy in name only and they can tell you what it’s like when powerful men undermine fair and free elections." pic.twitter.com/AzUbc2qbCu— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) December 12, 2019
On the other side of the dais, Republicans ridiculed and blasted the impeachment effort by Democrats, labeling them sore losers, and accusing their rivals of simply trying to undo the results of the last election.
"We are witness, I believe, the most tragic mockery of justice in the history of this nation," said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH).
"This is scary stuff what they're doing," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). "Frankly it is dangerous for our country. It is not healthy for our country."
"We've heard some great speeches tonight, but let's not forget, this is a political hit job," said Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA).
"This is the quickest, thinnest, weakest, most partisan impeachment in all of American presidential history," said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
.@RepMattGaetz: "House Democrats aren't clarifying that no one's above the law, they're just clarifying that none of them are above partisanship and politics. This is the quickest, thinnest, weakest, most partisan impeachment in all of American presidential history." pic.twitter.com/xcuV8wmn0l— CSPAN (@cspan) December 12, 2019
Debate will resume at 9 am on the two articles of impeachment which Democrats have set before the panel.
One charge alleges abuse of power by President Trump, revolving around his July 25, 2019 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, where the President pressed Ukraine to announce investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden, and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine - and not Russia - had been behind the hacking of Democrats in 2016.
The other impeachment charge covers obstruction of Congress, as Democrats say the President's refusal to cooperate with investigators - and his orders to Executive Branch officials to defy subpoenas from Congress - is not behavior which should be tolerated under the Constitution.
Votes in the Judiciary Committee are expected Thursday, with a vote in the full House next week.