Impeachment Hearings Led By House Judiciary Committee | NBC News (Live Stream Recording)

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Published: 12/10/2019 04:14 AM

Watch live coverage of the Judiciary Committee hearings in the next phase of the Trump impeachment effort following the hearings led by the Intelligence Committee. Coverage begins at 9am ET, Monday December 9. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: http...

> good morning. It is 9:00 a. m. in the east and we're bringing you live kuchk of the next step in the impeachment inquiry into president trump. 17 weeks ago today that now famous whistleblower complaint was filed, raising quote serious and urgent concerns about the president's conduct regarding ukraine. Since then, there have been hours of congressional testimony, alleging abuse of power and a ...
instruction of justice. Now this morning the house judiciary committee holds a public hearing on the evidence gathered so far with an eye toward drawing up articles of impeachment, for only the fourth time. In american history. joiningme, now andrea mitchell, geoff bennett and hallie jackson.

, we'll be hearing from michael mcfaul and also michael beshloss, and also carol lamb. I want to start with jeff bennett on the hill. set the scene. This is a very different hearing to those we've seen. Thus far. , reporter you're right. good morning. , think of this as a day of final arguments. today, committee members, and for that matter the american public will hear from committee staffers for democrats and republicans of the house, intelligence and house judiciary committee and those attorneys will Lay out all of the evidence that house investigators have compiled over the past several months and democrats will also make the case for the legal right and responsibility as they see it, for pushing forward with impeachment. a source tells me they expect to have the feeling of A trial.

- and this is pivotal because i'm told that it will really inform the scope of the impeachment articles that house democrats intend to bring and jerry nadler has said that house democrats plan to formally introduce articles of impeachment. Sometime later. This week. - and this is all be watched carefully at the white house, despite the fact that they have decided, not participate and not accept the invitation to participate this morning. , let me go to hallie jackson at the white house, who can tell us a little More about the position there. reporter not much has changed on the cooperation front, as you put it with the white house deciding not to participate in this phase of the impeachment inquiry. , but based on conversations this morning with the top adviser to president trump. It appears as though the white house is getting more and more prepared for a potential senate trial down the road. If, in fact, that is where this leads. , if, as geoff pointed out that house judiciary committee, does moveforward with the articles of impeachment and the ball essentially moves over to the senate's court. , that is where the white house is focused right, now. continuing to call what is Happening today, illegitimate and a sham.

i'll tell you this, the president seems to be more focused on another big piece of news happening, and that is the release expected of the key inspector general report over the department of justice. president has tweeted that he believes. That is the big story. As you know, the president has long suggested without any evidence that the fbi spied on the trump campaign on his campaignback in 2016. That report, according to a draft copy, as confirmed by a person familiar with nbc news, is expected to clear top leaders. , but there will still be meat for critics to sink their teeth into based on reports. , and that is what you are hearing. The white house seize on. , so another key moment in this administration, as this appears to be ready to move the impeachment inquiry to the next phase of its investigation. Even as this is happening watch for president trump to be more focused on what is coming out over the department of justice, looking to change the topic from what we'rewatching here, live. and we're watching everyone taking their seats.

And let me go to andrea mitchell. For those who are feeling that i've seen this movie before i saw clinton, i saw nixon tell me how this process differs. First of all, there is going to be these closing arguments today and you will hear from both sides at great length. You will hear from the attorneys for both of these committees. , so this is more of a representation of the case. preparatory for articles of impeachment to be written as early as this week. and then going to the floor for a vote. intalking to people over the weekend.

Democratic sources indicating that they are not backing down they. There are some who believe that the 2020 candidates are really losing all kinds of opportunities to speak to the public because of the preoccupation with impeachment. But even moderates in the party have been arguing that there should be slowing down that maybe a censure would be a better punishment rather than a trial in the senate. Where is he most likely to be acquitted that that would backfire against democrats? They are now too far down the road. This train has left the station. Andthey are going towards articles of impeachment, which would mean a senate trial. Another point here is that the business of government really is going on behind the scenes, because there are other deadlines similar to the deadlines for the end of the session, which would lead to a house vote. -- -closing in on the house, vote on the floor. , a deadline for about funding the government and a deadline for the usmca trade deal. So all of this is being worked on by speaker pelosi and the democratic majority on the house side and with senators.

But if the articles of impeachment are actuallygoing forward and it has to move to the trial, that trial has to start almost immediately. , so a lot of moving parts and all of this going into an , all right. carol good to have you here. for the Lehman it is so easy to want to think of this in terms of a criminal proceeding. , but when we talk about articles of impeachment, there was no statutes when the idea of impeachment was presented in the u. s. constitution. So what are they looking at? If not a crime, what are they looking for? ? It is easy to look at this as a political process, but people tendto, think of it as a i believe, doctor trial. It is really a political process in the guise of a criminal trial, because that is what we're used: to. we're used to thinking about law and order and perry mason and that sort of process in a criminal court room.

But it is important to remember that in impeachment process the rules are completely different. They are made up by the house and the senate. They can hear different kinds of evidence that are admissible in a criminal trial. and at the end of the day the courts have said they don't really have jurisdiction over the process. so. While we look for the common sense elements that are the same in both criminal trying and impeachment processes, the rules are different and you will see a lot of differences. and the most obvious is the fact that we will hear lawyers testifying today, not fact. Witnesses. , that's right band, of course, in criminal trials. The jurors are instructed that what the lawyers say is not evidence.

So an unusual process. , and we are making history. , and so we want to bring in our presidential historian. michael, give us a snapshot of what we're watching here and how this fits into the history. and ithink the gavel: fell. four times in american History that we had an impeachment investigation, that was this serious. and you have to look at the ways that this is different from others that have followed --, preceded this. , national security at the center. The president is running for re-election. and also a case where the president's part i did controls the senate. we've never seen that before.

, all right. chairman nadler, about to begin. and also the inspector general report will be released. Today. house committee on the judiciary will come to order. without objection. The chair is authorized to declare recesses -- object. objection, noted. >, > quorum is present. We are conducting the hearing on the impeachment inquiry into donald trump. presentations pursuant to house resolution 660 and the special judiciary committee procedures that are described in section 4.

A of that resolution. i will make an opening statement. and then i will recognize the ranking member for an opening statement. After that, we will hear two sets of presentations. opening arguments from counsels for the majority and minority of this -- [ crowd, interruption, ], order in the room. order in the room. order in the committee room. , not unexpected, not unheard of at emotionallycharged. Congressional hearings. , a protestor there. , the committee will come to order.

and obviouslier shouldn't have to remind everybody present that the audience is here to observe, but not to demonstrate not to indicate agreement or disagreement with any witness or any. Member of the committee. The audience is here to observe only and we will maintain decorum. and again i will say here is how the committee will proceed. immake an opening statement. and then i will recognize the ranking member for an opening statement. Pmt statement. After that, we will hear 30 minute opening arguments for counsels from the majority and minority. and then 45minutes of presentation of evidence. , followed by 45 minutes of questioning by the chair and ranking member.

, who may yield to counsel for questioning during this period. Finally, all of our members will have the opportunity to question the presenters from the intelligence committee under the five minute rule. I would note that the president's counsel sell was given the opportunity to participate today, but the white house has declined the invitation. I now recognize myself. No matter his party or his politics, if the president places his own interests above those of the country, he be twras his oath of office. , the president of theunited states, speaker of the house, majority leader of the senate, chief justice of the supreme court and the chairman And ranking members of the house committee on the judiciary all have one important thing: in common. we have each taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the ground.

If the president puts himself before the country, he violates the president's most basic responsibility. He breaks his oath to the american people. if he puts himself before the country in a manner that threatens our democracy, then our oath. Our promise to the american people requires us to come to the defense of the nation. That oath stands even when it is lically inconvenient, even when it might bring us under criticism, even when it might cost us our jobs as members of congress. , and even if the president is unwilling to honor his oath. I am compelled to honor mine. , as we heard in our last hearing. The framers of the constitution were careful students of history. and clear in their vision for the new nation.

they threat knew threats can take many forms. They warned us against the dangers of would be monarchs and demagogues. They knew the most dangerous threat might comefrom within in the form of a corrupt executive who put his private interests above the interests of the nation. They also knew that they could not anticipate every threat. A president might some day pose, so they adopted the phrase, treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors to capture the spectrum. george mason said it was meant to capture all manner of great and dangerous offenses against the constitution. The debates around the framing make clear that the most serious such offenses include abuse of power, portrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements and corruption of public office.

Any one of these violations would compel the members of this committee to take action. when combined, they state the strongest ponlg case for impeachment, and removal from office. president trump put himself before country. , despite the political partisanship that seems to punctuate our hearings these days. I believe that there is common ground around some of these idea. common ground in this hearing and common ground across the country. we agree. Impeachment is a solid undertaking that it is meant to address serious threats to democratic institutions like our free and fair elections. We agree that when the elections themselves are threatened by entities domestic, we cannot wait. Toaddress, the threat. and we.

that no public official, including and especially the president, should use his public office for private gain. , and we agree that no president may put himself before the country. The constitution and his oath of office is promise to. America'S hits require the president to put the country first. if we drop our blinders. I think that we would agree on a common set of facts as well. on july 25, president trump called president zelensky and asked him for a favor. That call was part of a concerted effort by president trump to compel the government of ukraine toannounce an investigation, not an investigation of corruption at large, but an investigation of president trump political rivals. President trump put himself before country.

The record shows that president trump withheld military aid allocated by the united states congress from ukraine. It also shows that we held a white house meeting from president zelensky. Multiple witnesses, including respected diplomats, national security professionals and decorated war veterans all testified to the same basic fact. President trump withheld the aid and the meeting in order to pressure a foreign government to do him that favor. president trump put himself before country. and when thepresident got caught. When congress discovered that the aid was withheld. The president took extraordinary steps to conceal evidence from congress and the american people.

These facts are not in dispute. In fact, most of the arguments about these facts appear to be side. The point. , as we review the evidence today. I expect that we will hear much about the whistleblower who brought his concerns about the july 25 lt call to the in in-general inspector general. Every fact brought forward by the whistleblower has been substantiated. The allegations also match up with the president's own words, as released by the white house. words thathe still says, were perfect.

I also expect to hear complaints about the term quid pro quo, as if a person needs to verbally acknowledge the name of a crime. While he is committing it for it to be a crime at all. , the record on this point is also clear. Multiple officials testified that the president's demand for an investigation into his rivals was a part of his personal political agenda and did not relate to the foreign policy objectives of the united states. Multiple officials testified that the president intended to withhold the aid until ukraine announced the investigations. and yes, multiple officials testified thatthey understood this arrangement to be a quid pro quo for the president's personal political benefit. president trump put himself before country. The president's supporters will argue that this whole process is unfair.

The record before us is clear on this point. As well. we invited the president to participate in this hearing to question witnesses and to present evidence that might explain the charges against him. President trump chose not to show. He may not have much to shay in say in his own defense, but he can't claim that he did not have an opportunity to be heard. Finally, as we proceed today, we willhear a great deal about the speed with which the house is addressing the president's actions. to the members of the committee to the members of the house and to my fellow citizens. I want to be absolutely clear: the integrity of our next election is at stake.

Nothing could be more urgent. The president welcomed foreign interference in our elections in 2016. He demanded it for 2020. and then he got caught. If you do not believe that he will do it again, let me remind you that the president's personal lawyer spent last week back in ukraine meeting with government officials in an apparent attempt to ginnup the same so-called favors that brought us here today and forced congress to Consider the impeachment of a sitting. President. : this pattern of conduct represents a continuing risk to the country. The evidence shows that donald trump president of the united states has put position before his country.

He has violated his most basic responsibilities to the people and he has broken his oath. Let us review the record here in full vuft american people and then let us move swiftly to defend our country. We promised that we would. I now recognize the ranking member of the -- mr. chairman -- gentleman from georgia, -- . Mr. chairman, i have a unanimous consent.

The gentleman from georgia is recognized. you're not going to recognize a possible motion before me. unanimous consent. Mr. chairman. The gentleman from georgia is recognized. point of order. Mr. chairman. The gentleman from georgia is recognized.

I have a point of order. The gentleman will state his point of order. Last week you were furnished pursuant to clause 2, j, 1 of rule 11. and in blatant, egregious you are refusing to schedule the hearing, and i insist that you schedule a minority hearing date. That is not a proper point of order. I am considering the minority's request. ranking member --.

The gentleman will suspend. if the ranking member thinks that he would with be violating the rules of the house if we are considered articles of impeachment before holding a minority day. Hearing his point of order would be timely and a meeting where we considered articles of impeachment. That is not the purpose of today's hearing. and the point of order is not timely. The gentleman from georgia. Well, that got us started again. the chairman completely. Not answering a question.

, it is timely. and frankly notup to his discretion. But again, we've not really cared about that from the start to begin with. So my question is just schedule the hearing but undoubt. Undoubtedly that is not what they want out there. So, let's start over. , there have been famous moments in impeachment, as we've gone, forward. famous lines from nixon like what did the president know and when did he know it. from the clinton impeachment? I did not have sex with that woman. about this one.

Where is the impeachable offense? Why are we here? I tell you this may become known as the focus group impeachment, because wedon't have a crime. We don't have anything that we can actually pin, and nobody understands really what the majority is trying to do, except that interfere in basically make sure that they believe the president can't win next year. If he is impeached. , the focus group impeachment takes words and then takes them to people and say: how can we explain this better? Because we don't have the facts to match it. focus group impeachment says you know we really aren't working with good facts, but we need a good pr move. That is why we're here today. This is all about as isaid a clock and calendar. , and it really became evident to me that this was true because last wednesday, after we had a long day of hearing here the next morning before anything else, could get started. Speaker of the house walked up to the podium and said: go write articles of impeachment. she just quit.

She stopped. go write articles of impeachment. I appreciate that the majority practiced for two days this weekend on this hearing. I appreciate the fact that you have to try to get it right to try to convince the american people of your problem, but your speaker already undercutyou. She took the thrill out of the room. you're writing articles of impeachment. Why couldn't we just save that time today and if are you going to write the articles of impeachment, go ahead and write them.

? Well, there is probably a reason for that. because, as the chairman laid out, amazing claim, none of which i think after this hearing today. The american people can see that there was overwhelming evidence. There is a proper reason that he abused his power because, as the speaker another statement, she said that to do impeachment you have to be so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan. , all of which weare not. So why not? Why are we here? Well, i think that we can do this. Let'S look at the three things that typically are associated with making your case for a crime. Let'S do it against what the majority has said.

I think that they have motive means and they have opportunity. what is their motive november 2020. It has been said over and over and over again. chairman said it again, this morning. , it has been said all along that we have to do this, because if we don't impeach him he will win again next year. The reason is shown clearly as last week, onthe jobs report and the economy. I had a man come up to me in the grocery store. He said, keep doing what you're doing i've never seen an economy. This good people are working, people are being taken care of, and this is just a fatal distraction on a president that they don't like.

motive is easy. november 2016, they lost. january 2017. Just a few minutes in the `` washington, post' confirmed what every democrat had been talking about. Now is the time for impeachment. We see tweet after tweet, saying now get -- maing with impeachment, and then they spent two years figuring out. What do weimpeach him on. and the means is to always talk about impeachment. To always say president is doing something wrong. He is not an legitimate president.

To constantly tear down on a president who is working on behalf of the american people. , i think the chairman said something interesting. He said the president should be held accountable for the oath of their office. Congress should be accountable for their oath of office as well and not to do what we're doing right now and that is run a process that does not fit fairness or decorum. A fact pattern that you are having to forceagainst a president. You don't like. What was the opportunity? The opportunity came last november. when they got the majority and they began their impeachment run. , even as they selecting the chairman, the chairman said: i'd be the best pen of impeachment.

This is november of last year. Before we had any hearings before, we had even were sworn into this congress. for anyone. the media watching on tv or watching in this room, for anyone to think that this was not a baked deal is not being honest with themselves. presumption is now the standard. Instead of proof. , it should cause anyone to begin toquestion, because the entire case is built on a presumption or, as we found out last week from three scholars. The inference is okay. If you just infer that that is what they mean then we'll take that.

That was an interesting line. You know they made their whole case build on gordon sondland. You will see that lot today. , he testified thathe presumed the aid was connected to an investigation, but nobody told him that. When sondland asked the president directly. He said i want nothing. , but this is also a problematic experience. Just look over the past three weeks when the chairman ofthe intelligence committee, who, by the way is absent today he made up the factual call when he made it up. He started the fairy tale that we're having today, if you can't even put the transcript in the right context, just read: it.

chairman schiff couldn't even read the fr transcript because he didn't make it up. It didn't sound as bad. He said, let's make up some dirt. That is not what was said. The chairman misled the american people as an attorney as a chairman, as a member of congress who swore an oath to tell basically to be honest with the american peopleand uphold the constitution. That was such a massive malpractice. I'Ve never seen. , because again they don't care about what actually was in the transcript.

They don't actually care what happened. and we heard last week from witnesses. They don't even care that the aid was released. They are simply looking at the facts to make it fit their narrative. What also helped you know. This is also the chairman schiff, who also said that they had seen collusion in plain sight already there before the mueller report came out. All this was going to happen. , but i might need to stop commenting onchairman schiff because i may end up on the next phone records subpoena is as we go. Forward. , you see, we've taken a dangerous turn in this congress.

subpoenas are fine. , properly done. and should be done properly. , but they should never be at the expense of a political vendetta. Professor turley testified last week. Presumption is no substitute for proof. The current legal case is not just woefully inadequate but dangerous and basis for impeachment. I love my friend on the majority of the committee said when we got the mueller report. It didn't go real well, so we had a lot of hearings and then we finallygot bob mueller, and they said this will be the movie version.

and what happened. My colleagues on the majority had live readings from capitol hill. They made dramatic podcasts, they even wrote a comic book rendition and it didn't work. , so they brought bob mueller. the moved. Have i version. , they told us robertler's testimony would be the thing that would be convinced. and guess what they weren't convinced. It fell flat. But today i guess is the movie version of the schiff report, except the star: witness failed to show up.

Mr. nunes is here. , his staff is here. , the leading headline is there. schiff report. but, where is mr. schiff and mueller testified. The ken starr report, ken starr testified. , author of the schiff report, is not here. Instead, he s sending his star staff to do his job for him.

I guess that is what you get when you are making up impeachment. , so there will be plenty of times to discuss the factual case. What is detrimental to me is this. This committee is not hearing from a factual witness. ; they are not doing anything but hearing from staff. show me where the president would have a proper process in this. That is not talking to staff and not talking tolaw school professors when we could have witnesses called by both sides, but i want to say this. I love this institution.

I was here as a 19-year-old kid. as an intern. , almost 32 years, ago. this institution as we see it today, is in danger. We see chair men issuing subpoenas for personal vendettas. We see committees such as the judiciary committee that has held many many substantive hearings being used as a rubber stamp because we get not our marching on thes from the speaker and the intelligence committee chairman. we're not able to do what we need to do. because we're A rubber stamp. i lovethis institution, but in the last three days i've seen stuff that just bother me to no end and should bother everyone. the speaker of the house. After hearing one day of system in the judiciary committee said, go write, articles.

facts be damned. Al green another member of the house majority said we can keep impeaching him over and over and over again. adam schiff. When he told us he wasn't going to come informed -instead hide behind his staff. He said they would keep investigating because they are desperate to have an impeachment vote on this president. The economy is good job description, military is strong, our country is safe. and the judiciary committee has been relegated to this. Why? Because they have the means they have. The motive and they have the opportunity.

and, at the end of the day, all this is about a clock and a calendar because they can't get over the fact that donald trump is president of the united states and they don't have a candidate that they think can Beat him. , it is all political. and, as we have talked about before, this is a show. Unfortunately, the witness who is supposed to be the star witness, chose to take a pass. and let his staff answerfor him. With that i yield back. I have a point of order. Thank you mr.

collins. I have a point of order. The gentleman will state his point of order. Mr. chairman clause, 2, j 1 of rule 11 requires you to schedule a minority hearing date. Not consider it not to meet to discuss it but to schedule one. and to discuss it at the a reasonable time. not after articles have been drawn not after there has been a vote on articles of impeachment.

I inquire and insist, mr. chairman, that you immediately schedule a minority hearing day or tell uswhy. You are ignoring the rules. The gentleman -- we've already gone through that, but i will repeat that is not a proper point of order in today's hearing. , as i've told the ranking minority member several time, i'm considering the request. , if you think we are violating the rules of the house, if we Consider the articles of impeachment before a minority day, hearing that point of order would be timely at a meeting where we considered such articles. That is not the purpose of today's haerlg and the point is not in order. , since i've been --, . Without objection, all other opening statements will be included in the record. reserve.

My point of order on that. i have a question. You brought my name into this. You brought my name into this. The gentleman is recognized. thank you. , telling me that you are considering something that you have nothing to consider --, and you have told me that i will admit to record is nowhere close to actually following your duty as a chairman to follow the rules. and So i think that the point of order is very well taken.

I think that the issue that we have is not --. I think your timing, -- imean, show me in the rules where you come to a time of actually being able to deny this at a certain point. , i reserve the right to further object. As i have said, the point of order is at the meeting where we are considering -- , reserving the right to object. We will hear -- . I appeal the decision of the chair. There is no decision to appeal. There was not a ruling and a motion. ruling on the point of order.

You made a ruling on the point of order. You can't then just not allow us toappeal the ruling of the chair. The gentleman will suspend. It was not a recognizable point of order; it was not a recognizable point of order. It was not an order at this time to make that point of order. There is no ruling to appeal. , but mr.

chairman, you are obligated to schedule not consider. make you a ruling. It is an order to appeal. The gentleman will suspend. We are doing what we have to do under the rules. We will now hear -- . The gentleman is not recognized.

We will now hear -- . I have a parliament inquiry. , i willnot recognize that. is this. When we hear staff ask questions of other staff and the members get dealt out of the hearing, the next four hours you're going to try to overturn the election with -- . The gentleman will success. , the hearing will be considered in an orderly fashion and the gentleman will not yell out. and he will not attempt to disrupt the proceedings. We will how hear presentations of evidence from counsels of the judiciary committee up to 60 minute. barry berke will present for the majority and steve kastor for the minority. when the light switches from green to yellow.

You have one minute to conclude your testimony. when the light turns red it signals. Your time has expired. mr. berke -- . Mr. chairman, you realize i have not withdrawn my objection. You have not responded to my objection. I want everyone to have an opening statement. Comment.

nothing else. Mr. berke is recognized. steam roll continues. , . Mr. berke has the floor. Thank you mr. chairman ranking member collins and all the members. before i had the great honor of being a counsel for this committee.

My young son asked me a question. , he said dad. Does the president have to be a good person? Like many questions, it has a certain clarity, but it was hard to answer. I said son. It is not a requirement that the president be a good person, but that is the hope. and it is not a requirement that the president be a good person. That is not why we're here today. - that is not the issue. , but the very document that created the awesome presidency and its powers that we have made clear. It is a requirement that the president be a person who does not abuse his power.

It is a requirement that the president be a person who does not risk national security of this nation andintegrity of our elections. In order to further his own re-election prospects. It is a requirement that the president not be a person who acts as though he is above the law in putting his personal and political interests above the nation's interests. That is lesson of the constitution. That is the lesson of the founders. They were concerned that someone would be elected president, who would use all the power of that office to serve his own personal interests at the expense of the people who elected him. They decided there needed to be a remedy because they had suffered the abuses of king george wherethey had no remedy.

The remedy they opposed was that if a president commits a grave offense, a high crime or misdemeanor, this body has the power to impeach that president. They wanted to ensure that president could not serve his own interests over that of the nation. It flows from the very oath that all members of this body must take to support and defend the constitution and bear true faith and allegiance to the same. That is why we're here today. - and it is an unfortunate occasion that these proceedings are necessary. , but the president's actions have left no choice. The founders were very clear in spellingout what they found to be the greatest abuses that would raise the most concerns for our nation.

They spelled them out as warning signals that if a president violated or committed one of these, that would be a reason to potentially impeach that president. - there were abuse of power, betrayal of the national interests, corruption of elections. and what is so extraordinary is the conduct we'll Be talking about today of president trump didn't violate one of these, but all three. First, the evidence is overwhelming that the president abused his power by pressuring ukraine and its new president to investigate a political opponent. The evidence is overwhelming that the president abused his power by ramping up that pressure by conditioning a wanted white house meeting and a needed military aid that had been approved in order to get that president to investigate a political rival. It is clear and overwhelming that, in abusing that power, the president betrayed the national interests by putting his own political prospects over the national security of our country. It is clear that the president risked corrupting our elections by inviting foreign interference to knock out an adversary to help his prospects in re-election.

It is why in debatingthe kons james madison warned that, because the presidency was a single man, his corruption might be fatal to the republic. and the scheme by president trump was so brazen, so clear, supported by documents. Actions sworn testimony, uncontradicted contemporaneous records that it is hard to imagine that anybody could dispute those acts. Let alone argue that it does not constitute impeachable offenses. This is a big deal. President trump did what a president of our nation is not allowed to do. It is why, last week, the constitutional sdol lar professional, michael gerhardt, said if what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothingis impeachable. , president trump's actions are impeachable offenses.

, they threaten our rule of law. , threaten our institutions. and, as james madison warned us, they threatened our republic. Let me begin where we must with the facts in evidence. First, it is upon the to understand. Whyyou crane was so important to our national security. Ukraine was under attack by russia. They had already encroached on its territories.

The ukraine was as great risk that russia would again to further territorial try. Europe had a stake in this, and so did we. I'M going to turn to an expert on this ambassador taylor, who was one of themost, highly decorated diplomats for over 40 years. He served our country and he was a pointed by president trump himself to be in charge of the u. s. embassy in ukraine. and. He was a pointed by president trump himself to be in charge of the u. s. embassy in ukraine.

The russians are violating all of the rules treaty, understandings that they committed to that actually kept the peace in europe for nearly 70 years. , that rule of law that order that kept the peace in europe and allowed for prosperity as well as peace in europe, was violated By the russians. it affects theworld that we live in, that our children will grow up in our grandchildren. This affects the kind of world that we want to see a be abroad. , and that is ambassador taylor, explaining why the president's actions so significantly risked hurting our national security, our national defense policy and our national interests. you've already heard there is significant proof that President trump himself told the new president of the ukraine president zelensky that he wanted him to investigate a political rival. former vice presidenjoe biden. , and you will hear a lot about that today. , but that proof is only on the tip of theiceberg.

There are so many more events and meetings and contemporaneous text messages, emails out, documents that show this happened and happened exactly as it is alleged. , and it is clear that in the scheme to pressure ukraine to investigate a political rival, the person at the center of that Scheme was president donald trump. The facts cannot be disputed. President trump used the powers of government. If for a domestic political, errand. and i'll turn to fiona hill. , she explain what happened. it struck me yesterday, when you put up on the screen, ambassador sondland's emails on who was on these emails, and he saidthese are the people who need to know that He was absolutely right. because he was being involved in a domestic political errand. and we were being involved in national security, foreign policy and those two things have just diverged.

, and that tells you what the evidence shows. , the president, put his own domestic political interests Over the nation's national security and foreign policy. , a president cannot abuse his power to secure an election. He cannot do that at the expense of the american people. that is impeachable offense. The president has tried to make excuses for his conduct. , why it is not wrongful or corrupt or anabuse of power. , but the truth holds together. It makes sense.

It is consistent with the evidence. when someone is offering an excuse. That is not true. It is not consistent with the evidence; it does not make sense, it cannot be squared with what the facts show and you will see these excuses do not make sense. The facts are clear that president trump put his own political and personal interests over the nation's interests. I'D like to go through what you will see about the president's scheme - and you will hear about today from the facts that we have. first you're, going to hear thatpresident's pushed an priorcall investigate former vice president tweeted new ukraine o were toldpresident's personal, the president's that he Was thatto you schedule, it is very for response out cl ukraine new to what is agencies to and supposed millions order on. All involved, approved and documents show it and prove it. people said that they were shocked.

Ambassador taylor said he was in astonishment a witness said that it was illogical to do this 37. Then, on the july 25th call president trump expolice, italy told him. He wanted him to do two ukranian investigations. , one of a u. s. citizen and his political rival and the other about the origins of the interference in the 2016 election. Some conspiracy theory that russia, who all the intelligence agencies agreed, interfered with the 2016 election that maybe it was ukraine. again. Another investigation intended to help the president politically. That is it.

, and you know the president cared about the investigations that would help him politically achbtd, not ukraine, and not the national security interests. , and you don't have to take my word i'll play something from david holmes who had worked in the u. s. embassy in ukraine And was speaking to ambassador sondland, who president trump appointed. ambassador sondland had just come to the ukraine. he met with president zelensky. He went to a restaurant with mr. holmes. , the u. s. political affairs counselor to ukraine.

, and he called president trump on his cellphone and mr. holmes. Could hear that call and then he spoke to mr. sondland. , let's see what happened on july 26th. The day after that call. I heard ambassador sondland greet the president and explained he was calling from kyiv ambassador sondland said he was in ukraine and said that president zelensky loves your ass. I then heard president ask so he will do the investigation. Ambassador sondland replied that he woulddo it and i hadding that president zelensky will do anything. You ask him to do.

That is sworn testimony by david holmes, who heard it from the president himself. , and it was clear to even the most experience the people, this government, who donald trump himself, a pointed in their positions. They knew what was going on. Let'S look at a text message from ambassador taylor around this time on september 9, he said, as i said, on the phone. I think it is crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. again, that is president trump putting hisown political and personal interests over the nation's interests. to hold aid desperately needed by ukraine in order to combat russia and show the support he did it To help his own campaign. , now there have been excuses offered by the president. I'D like to briefly talk about those excuses.

The first excuse offered by president trump is that the aid was ultimately released and president trump met with president zelensky. , but the aid was only released after the president got caught doing the scheme. So september 9. The committees of this house started their investigation and announced tha conduct and two days later, he released the aid. and there was a news article on september 5, explode september, 5 xposing his scheme. , and it was only after that that he met with president zelensky in new York. and another excuse offered the president was motivated by general corruption. Concerns. again, the evidence shows that that is not true, that that is what caused him to withhold the aid. president zelensky was elected on an anti corruption platform.

He was a reform candidate. His own people told him again and again, president zelensky is doing it the rght way they urged him to be supportive. So his call with president zelensky on july 25th, president trump ignored the talking points prepared to talk about corruption. He only wanted to talk about two things: the two investigations that helped him politically. every intelligence agency unanimously supported releasing the aid that it was appropriate. They did a study and she said: release it.

The white house never provided an explanation. , the aid had been approved and it was not for any corruption issues that president trump withheld it. The next is ukraine was not pressured. and the argument about that is well. Today they haven't said that they were pressured. Ukraine was pressured then, and still is pressured. theyare desperately in need of the united states support as they battle the threat of russia. So, of course, they have to be careful what they said. , but contemporaneous documents.

Emails texts from the ukranian officials themselves show the pressure they felt show that they knew what president was doing show what they had to do. This is one from bill taylor to again, ambassador sondland and ambassador kurt volker. One thing kurt - and i talked about - was a senior aid to president zelensky - that president zelensky is sensitive about ukraine being taken seriously, not merely an instrument in washington's domestic re-election. Politics. They not only felt the pressure, they got the message. They were not going to get a white house meeting and not going to get military aid unless they furthered president trump's re-election efforts. That is a corrupt abuse of power.

Another argument that is made that trump never said quid pro quo. and what you will hear is on a call with ambassador sondland. After a `` washington, post' article came out on september 5, which we will look at after that. There was a `` washington, post' article that came out that again exposed the ukranian scheme. days. After that, president trump was on a phone call with ambassador sondland and without prompting said there was no quid pro quo. because he got caught. , but even ambassador sondland didn't buy it because, ultimately, then president trump not only was not dissuaded, he again described what he wanted. He didn't want, and you krin, to actually conduct these investigations. He wanted them to announce investigations of his political rival to help him politically. again.

None of these excuses hold any water. and they are refuted by testimony contemporaneous records and more. Now some have suggested that we should wait to proceed with these impeachment proceedings. because we've not heard from all of the witnesses orobtained all the documents. But the reason we have not heard from all the witnesses or documents is because president trump himself has obstructed the investigation. He has directed his most senior aides, who were involved in some of these events, not to come testify to defy subpoenas. He has told everyone to not produce the record to try to obstruct our investigation. now.

This is evidence that president trump is replaying. The playbook used in the prior department of justice investigation. in that investigation, he directed his white house counsel to create a false phony record and document and lie denying that president trump had told him to fire the special counsel. He did many other things to try to interfere with that investigation. He attacked the investigators and witnesses and called them horrible names, just as he has done here. and president trump thought he got away with it. on july 24th. The day that special counsel testified before this committee and the house intelligence committee. , the 24th. - it was exactly the following day: the 25th that president trump spoke to president zelensky in furtherance of his ukranian scheme.

He thought he got away with it and that he could use his powers to interfere with that investigation, so he coulddo what he wanted. He could act like. He was above the law and if he got caught, he would again prevent the facts from coming out. , but fortunately, because of the true american patriots who came forward to testify. Despite the threats by the president against the people who worked in his own administration, they told the story they on their own produced documents that provide uncontroverted, clear and overwhelming evidence that president trump did this scheme. He put his political re-election interests over the nation's national security and integrity of its elections. He did it corruptly and he abused his pow erhes in the ways founders feared. The most. no person in this country has the ability to prevent investigations, and neither does the president. Our constitution does not allow it.

No one is above the law. , no even the president. and one of the concerns and requirements of finding impeachable offenses. Is there a sense that could you move because it could be repeat theed. again? First, all of the constitutional experts who testified recognized that obstructing an investigation is an impeachable offense. , but here the offense, we're talking about that is being interfered or obstructed with is interfering with this very electionthat is coming up. and i submit to you, given what happened with The department of justice investigation, given what is happening here if, in fact, president trump can get away with what he did again. Our imagination is the only limit to what president trump may do next, or what a future president may do next to try to abuse his or her power to serve his own personal interests over the nation's interests. I'D like to turn back to what the founders most cared about when we talk aut the abcs of potential presidential abuses. , it is extraordinary that the president's conduct was a trifecta.

checking all three boxes. Let'S begin with abuse of power. what that means, it is to use the power of the office to obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or inju.

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