Both sides make their closing arguments on Trump impeachment articles

Lawmakers on the House Rules Committee heard closing arguments Tuesday on the merits of Democrats’ articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House counsel didn’t take lead on Trump letter to Pelosi: reports Trump endorses Riggleman in Virginia House race Lisa Page responds to ‘vile’ Trump attacks: ‘Being quiet isn’t making this go away’ MORE, marking the last debate before the full House is set to take up the historic vote.

The impeachment debate, which follows the curvatures of previous dueling Democratic and GOP claims about the propriety of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, provided a new cast of Democratic and Republican lawmakers the opportunity to amplify their views before the rolling television cameras.

The top Democrat and Republican on the House Judiciary Committee were expected to kick off the hearing by going toe-to-toe in debating the merits of the two impeachment articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — that the panel approved in a party-line vote last week. But an unexpected family emergency led Judiciary Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats question fairness of Senate trial after Graham, McConnell statements Sunday shows – Republicans, Democrats maneuver ahead of House impeachment vote Durbin: Witnesses to exonerate Trump may not exist MORE (D-N.Y.) to miss the hearing.

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Rather, Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse panel sets guidelines for historic impeachment vote Overnight Defense: Senate sends 8B defense bill to Trump | Bill establishes Space Force, federal paid parental leave | House approves .4T spending package Both sides make their closing arguments on Trump impeachment articles MORE (D-Md.), a constitutional lawyer, found himself propelled into the high-profile role of defending Democrats’ view that Trump should be removed from office for seeking to recruit a foreign power to hurt a 2020 political rival’s campaign. 

“The president’s continuing course of conduct constitutes a clear and present danger to democracy in America. We cannot allow this misconduct to pass. It would be a sellout of our Constitution, our foreign policy, our national security and our democracy,” Raskin said in his opening remarks.

He battled against the claims of Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsTrump’s GOP allies huddle at White House on eve of impeachment vote House panel sets guidelines for historic impeachment vote Overnight Defense: Senate sends 8B defense bill to Trump | Bill establishes Space Force, federal paid parental leave | House approves .4T spending package MORE (Ga.), the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, who railed against the “sham” impeachment process as an unfair partisan-driven effort designed to remove Trump from office because Democrats cannot beat him at the ballot box.

In particular, Collins warned that the decisions made this week will have lasting consequences.

“There will be a day of reckoning. The calendar and the clock will continue. But what you do here, and how we have trashed the process in getting here will live on,” Collins said.

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And the process is not limited to the 13 members of the panel and the two Judiciary representatives. Any lawmakers outside the committee will be able to put forward an amendment to the articles, which means there is a long list of members who can argue for or against their merits.

With that in mind, Democrats have anticipated that Republicans will offer multiple amendments designed to alter or eliminate the impeachment articles, though none of those proposals are expected to pass, as every Democrat on the Rules panel has already endorsed both articles.

The Rules Committee hearing comes shortly after two other House panels — Intelligence and Judiciary — moved through the fact-finding part of the nearly three-month inquiry to the drafting and debate over the articles of impeachment.

Democrats say Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open two politically motivated investigations, including into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse panel sets guidelines for historic impeachment vote Schumer on Trump’s Pelosi letter: ‘He’s obviously under a great deal of duress’ Pelosi calls Trump impeachment letter ‘ridiculous’ and ‘really sick’ MORE and interference in 2016 presidential election.

In particular, they allege that he used the promise of a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in congressionally approved U.S. aid as leverage to get Zelensky to make a public commitment to the probes.

The full House vote set for Wednesday could make Trump the third president in the nation’s history to be impeached, and it is expected to be approved largely along party lines.

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