House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearing Transcript – Day 2 - transcription powered by Happy Scribe

[00:00:00.03]
We are conducting this hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump, presentations from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee pursuant to House Resolution 660 and the Special Judiciary Committee procedures that are described in Section 4 a. of that resolution. Here is how the committee will proceed for this hearing. 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.

[00:00:32.00]
We will hear 30 minute. Opening arguments from counsels for the majority and the minority of this committee. Goiter in the room. You're in the room, what you're running to keep order in the committee room. We've all been through that. The committee will come to order. Obviously, I shouldn't have to remind everyone present that the audience is here to observe, but not to demonstrate, not to indicate agreement or disagreement with any witness or with any member of the committee.

[00:01:32.06]
The audience is here to observe only and we will maintain decorum in the hearing room. And again, I will say here is how the committee will proceed for this hearing. 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. We will hear 30 minute opening arguments from counsels for the majority and minority of this committee. Then we will hear 45 minute presentations of evidence for a majority and minority counsel from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, followed by 45 minutes of questioning by the chair and ranking member who may yield to council for questioning during this period.

[00:02:11.06]
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 was given the opportunity to participate today, but the White House has declined the invitation. I will now recognize myself for an opening statement. No matter his party or his politics, if the president places his own interests above those of the country, he betrays his oath of office. The president of the United States, the speaker of the House, the majority leader of the Senate.

[00:02:47.01]
The 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 United States. 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.

[00:03:26.03]
That all stands even when it is politically 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 undermine. 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 knew the threats from true democracy can take many forms that we must protect against them.

[00:03:59.03]
They warned us against the dangers of would be monarchs, vague, populous and charismatic demagogues. They knew that the most dangerous threat to our country might come from 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 someday pose. So they adopted the phrase treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors to capture the full spectrum of possible presidential misconduct.

[00:04:32.03]
George Mason, who proposed the standard, said that 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, betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements and corruption of public office. Any one of these violations of the public trust would compel the members of this committee to take action when combined. The single course of action they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office.

[00:05:10.01]
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 ideas, common ground in this hearing room and common ground across the country at large. We agree, for example, that impeachment is a solemn, serious undertaking. We agree 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 enemies, foreign or domestic, we cannot wait until the next election to address the threat.

[00:05:53.07]
We surely agree that no public official, including and especially the president of the United States, 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, his promise to America's citizens, require the president to put the country first. If we could drop our blinders for just one moment, I think we would agree on a common set of facts as well. A July 25th President, Trump called President Zelinsky of Ukraine and asked him for a favor.

[00:06:33.02]
That quote was part of a concerted effort by President Trump to compel the government of Ukraine to announce an investigation that an investigation of corruption writ large, but an investigation of President Trump's political rivals and only his 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 he withheld a well, a White House meeting from President Zelinsky. Multiple witnesses, including respected diplomats, national security professionals, 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.

[00:07:24.07]
President Trump put himself before country. And when the president got quite. When Congress discovered that the aid has been withheld from Ukraine, the president took extraordinary and unprecedented steps to conceal evidence from Congress and from the American people. These facts are not in dispute. In fact, most of the arguments about these facts appear to be beside the point. As we review the evidence today, I expect we will hear much about the whistleblower who brought us concerns about the July 25th call to the inspector general of the intelligence community.

[00:08:02.05]
Let me be clear. Every fact alleged by the whistleblower has been substantiated by multiple witnesses. Again and again, each of who has been questioned extensively by Democrats and Republicans alike. The allegations also match up with the president's own words as released by the White House. Whereas that he still says we're 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 committed for it to be a crime at all.

[00:08:37.09]
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 not related to the foreign policy objectives of the United States. Multiple officials testified that the president intended to withhold the aid until it intended to withhold the aid until Ukraine announced investigations. Yes, multiple officials testified that they understood this arrangement to be a quid pro quo for the president's personal political benefit. President Trump put himself before country.

[00:09:18.08]
The president supporters are going to argue that this whole process is unfair. The record before us is clear at 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 say in his own defense, but he cannot claim that he did not have an opportunity to be heard. Finally, as we proceed today, we will hear 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.

[00:10:00.05]
I want to be absolutely clear. The integrity of our next election is at stake. Nothing could be more urgent. The president welcomed into foreign interference in our elections in 2016. He demanded it for 2020. Then he got quiet. 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 gin up the same so-called favors that brought us here today and forced Congress to consider the impeachment of a sitting president.

[00:10:38.03]
This pattern of conduct represents a continuing risk to the country. The evidence shows that Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States, has put himself before his country. He has violated his most basic responsibilities to the people. He has broken his oath. I will undermine, if you would honor yours and I would urge you to do your duty. Let us live. Let us review the record here in full view of the American people, and then let us move swiftly to defend our country.

[00:11:13.03]
We promised that we would. I now recognize the ranking member of the MISCHELLE Marie Committee. The gentleman from Georgia, Chairman Howard Dean, segment chairman of the intelligence consortia is recognized. The gentleman from Georgia is recognized. The gentleman from Georgia is recognized. You're not gonna recognize a possible motion before me. Unanimous consent, Mr. Chairman. Now, that request. See, that was generally for judges recognized. Want to take that later point of order, Mr.

[00:11:44.01]
Chairman. The gentleman from Georgia is the chairman of a point of order into Lewis status. Point of order. Mr. Chairman, last week you furnished with the proper demand for minority hearing pursuant to clause to J, one of rule eleven and a blatant egregious violation. The rules you are refusing to schedule a hearing. Therefore, I insist on my point of order. Unless you're willing to immediately schedule a minority hearing day, that is not a proper point of order in today's hearing.

[00:12:07.06]
They have told the ranking member several times now I am considering the minority's request is not to be charango. Mr. Member gentleman will suspend. The ranking member thinks we would be violating the rules of the House if we considered articles of impeachment before holding Minority Day. Hearing his point of order would be timely at 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.