The final phase of the impeachment process before a House vote kicked off Wednesday evening, marking the first day of a two-day House Judiciary Committee hearing. In a hearing that Politico describes as a "four-hour partisan slugfest," Democrats and Republicans on the 41-member panel delivered blistering opening statements ahead of a Thursday debate on the articles of impeachment, which will be followed by a vote on sending the articles to the full House. During the statements Wednesday evening, Democrats said they had a duty to stop President Trump's "constitutional crime spree," while Republicans called the impeachment "hot garbage," the AP reports. Some highlights:
- "How would you be remembered?" In his opening statement, committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler called the facts against Trump "overwhelming" and reminded Republicans that whatever happens, Trump won't be president forever, the Washington Post reports. "When his time has passed, when his grip on our politics is gone, when our country returns, as surely it will, to calmer times and stronger leadership, history will look back on our actions here today," the Democrat said. "How would you be remembered?"
- "The wrong reason." Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the panel, accused Democrats of trying to impeach Trump because they want to overturn the results of the 2016 election and they know they can't beat him in 2020. "That's the wrong reason to impeach somebody, and the American people are seeing through this," Collins said. "But at the end of the day, my heart breaks for a committee that has trashed this institution."
- Personal stories. Rep. Hank Johnson was among numerous Democrats who shared personal stories, the Hill reports. "To me, the idea that elections can be undermined is not theoretical," he said. "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."
- "Weakest impeachment." "This is the quickest, thinnest, weakest, most partisan impeachment in all of American presidential history," said Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz. "For all of the radical-left syntax on the president's honesty, it is their lies that continue to fuel this scorched-earth strategy of impeachment."
- A "heavy heart and a grieving soul." Freshman Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath spoke about losing her son to gun violence and said impeaching the president was not what she came to Washington for, the AP reports. But she added that she wants to "fight for an America that my son Jordan would be proud" and, after considering the president's actions involving Ukraine, she will vote "with a heavy heart and a grieving soul."
- "Say goodbye to your majority." Rep. Ken Buck was among the Republicans who predicted that the impeachment process would cost Democrats control of the chamber in next year's election. "Say goodbye to your majority," he said. "And please join us in January of 2021 when President Trump is inaugurated again."
- An appeal to Democrats. Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner countered Nadler's appeal to Republicans with one to Democrats, the New York Times reports. "Put aside your partisan politics and don't listen to what Pelosi, Schiff, and Nadler are telling you, because the future of our country and the viability of our Constitution as the framers decided it are at stake," he said.
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