House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday urged his colleagues to remember their oaths of office and hold President Donald Trump accountable for his behavior in the White House, saying the facts surrounding the impeachment proceedings were “overwhelming.”
“Over the past 94 days since the House investigation began — indeed, over the past three years — one indisputable truth has emerged: If we do not respond to President Trump’s abuses of power, the abuses will continue,” Nadler said in his opening remarks during a committee hearing Wednesday.
“One way or the other,” he added, “President Trump will not be president forever. 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. How would you be remembered?”
The House Judiciary Committee began a two-day markup session Wednesday that allows debate, revision and additions to the proposed articles, which will almost certainly remain dramatically partisan as the president’s allies come to his defense.
Democratic lawmakers have charged the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress related to his attempts to pressure the leader of Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son in exchange for the release of $391 million in military aid. Biden is considered a front-runner in the Democratic campaign to unseat Trump.
The committee is expected to vote later this week to recommend the articles for a full vote in the House, which would take place next week. If a majority of the House votes to pass the articles, Trump will become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, and the Senate will hold a trial to determine if he should be removed from office (which would require a two-thirds majority vote, requiring about 20 Republicans to join all of the Democrats in support).
Democrats have heard from a parade of current and former administration officials as part of their investigations, which have detailed efforts by Trump to arrange a quid pro quo that would benefit him politically. But Republicans have largely ignored that testimony and continue to defend the president, saying that, although he may have asked for the investigations, he had not broken any laws.
“The big lie is that a sham impeachment is OK because the threat is so real and so urgent and so great,” Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.), the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday night. He later accused the Democrats of being “the party that has lost all moorings of fairness and good taste.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) later said Democrats were moving to overturn the results of the 2016 election merely because they didn’t like the president or Republican voters.
“They don’t like the 63 million people who voted for this president,” Jordan said. “All of us in flyover country, all of us from Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas. They don’t like us.”
Nadler attempted to appeal to his GOP colleagues on Wednesday, saying that, though he supported the articles of impeachment with a “heavy heart,” he did so on the belief that Trump’s “continuing abuses of power jeopardize our security and our elections.”
“I know this moment must be difficult, but you still have a choice,” Nadler said. “We have each taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I hope to be remembered for honoring that oath.
“I hope you feel the same.”