Hearing ends, after 8 hours
Chairman Nadler gaveled the hearing closed, after delivering his closing remarks.
Trump put his own interests above the national interest, Nadler said. Trump asked a“foreign government to intervene in our elections, then got caught, then obstructed the investigators twice.”
“The constitution has a solution for a president who places his personal or political interests above those in the nation, the power of impeachment,” Nadler concluded.
When Republican member Louie Gohmert tried to get Nadler’s attention (with a unanimous consent request), Nadler responded “Too late” and banged his gavel. “Typical,” Gohmert could be heard mumbling.
A very animated Doug Collins said, “This is not a time to play hide the ball” and repeatedly called for Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff testify before the Judiciary Committee.
He said it was “too early” to hold these hearings and that lawmakers had not talked to enough “fact witnesses”. The Democrats, he said, are “so obsessed with the election next year, they just gloss over things.”
Collins also repeated a Republican talking point that Ukraine only became aware that aid was being withheld “one month after” the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call. However, Pentagon official Laura Cooper testified that Ukraine was aware of the aid in early July, before the call.
Questioning ends in Judiciary Committee hearing
Representative Jerry Nadler, the leading Democrat on the committee, and Doug Collins, the leading Republican are now giving closing statements.
Read the key takeaways from today’s testimonies:
Pamela Karlan made a distinction between Trump’s political positions on foreign affairs and his right to solicit electoral interference from foreign powers.
“Yes there is political influence in our foreign affairs,” she said. “We’ve exited climate accords, we’ve taken different positions on Nato than we would have taken if his opponent won.”
That’s different from partisan politics in the context of electoral manipulation, she said.
“If we get over that or get used to that, we will cease to become the democracy that we are now”
Witness Pamela Karlan apologized for making a put out of Barron Trump’s name.
“It was wrong of me to do that…I do regret having said that,” she said, adding that she’s happy to apologize though the president hasn’t apologized for offensive comments he’s made in the past.
Earlier, Michael Johnson, a Republican representative from Louisiana, read a tweet by First Lady Melania Trump criticizing Karlan’s comment into the public record of the hearing.
Trump administration cuts food stamp program
In other non-impeachment political news, the Trump administration approved a rule that will remove nearly 700,000 people from the federal food-stamp program by tightening work requirements for recipients.
From the AP:
The move by the administration is the latest in its attempt to scale back the social safety net for low-income Americans. It is the first of three proposed rules targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Program, known as SNAP, to be finalized. The program feeds more than 36 million people.
The plan, announced Wednesday, will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.
The Agriculture Department estimates the change would save roughly $5.5 billion over five years and cut benefits for roughly 688,000 SNAP recipients…
The final rule will be published in the federal register Thursday, and go into effect in April.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on Capitol Hill…
Those still holed up in the Judiciary Committee hearing can reportedly hear echoes of holiday cheer filtering in from the outside world.
Several Republicans committee members have read from the memo that Donald Trump released summarizing his July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.
“They never mentioned the 2020 election. They never mentioned military aid,” Kelly Armstrong, a Republican representative from North Dakota, said just now.
Though the rough transcript of the call that Trump released may not contain the phrase “2020 election”, the president does clearly ask Ukraine to conduct investigations, including into Biden, one of his leading rivals in the upcoming elections.
The transcript also shows that Trump transitions directly from talk of military aid that the Ukrainian president says his country needs to talk of a “favor” that Trump needs.
Pushing back against arguments made by Jonathan Turley, who said that Democrats didn’t have enough evidence to make a case for impeachment at this point, Michael Gerhardt said that lawmakers have tried to gather more evidence.
“I might just point out that one of the difficulties with asking for a more thorough investigation is that’s exactly what the House has tried to conduct here,” he said, “The president has refused to comply with subpoenas and other requests for documents.”
Val Demmings, the Democratic representative from Florida who questioned Gerhardt, agreed that Trump was “desperate” to prevent investigations into his actions.
“The president’s obstruction of Congress is pervasive,” she said. “We are facing a categorically blockade by a president who is desperate to prevent any investigation into his wrongdoing.”
“Has a president ever refused to cooperate in an impeachment investigation?” Demmings asked.
“Not until now.” Gerhardt responded.
Pramila Jayapal, a Democratic representative from Washington, is now questioning Pamela Karlan. Jayapal asked Karlan what Trump’s behavior reveals about the credibility of his claim that he was most concerned about corruption. What, for example, does it mean that Trump allegedly insisted that the Ukrainian president publicly announce an investigation?
“Generally you don’t announce the investigation in a criminal case before you conduct it, because it puts the person under notice that they’re under investigation,” Karlan said.
As for credibility, Karlan said, “I think you ought to make that credibility determination because you have the sole power of impeachment. if I were a member of the House of Representatives I would infer that he was doing it for political reasons.”
The House judiciary committee is still holding its first public impeachment hearing, but I’m handing the blog over to my west coast colleague Maanvi Singh for the next few hours.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Three legal experts called by Democratic members of the House judiciary committee testified that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine constituted impeachable offenses, a position that was contradicted by the only witness called by Republican members of the panel.
- The first lady, the White House and Trump’s reelection campaign denounced one of today’s legal experts, Pamela Karlan, after the Stanford law professor made a pun out of Barron Trump’s name. “The president can name his son Barron, but he can’t make him a baron,” Karlan said.
- Democratic congressman Denny Heck, a member of the House intelligence committee, announced he would not seek reelection – citing his desire to spend more time with family and his chagrin over the Republican response to the impeachment inquiry.
- Rudy Giuliani reportedly traveled to Europe this week to meet with former Ukrainian prosecutors who helped spread baseless corruption allegations against Joe Biden, even though the president’s personal lawyer is under a microscope because of the impeachment inquiry.
- Trump canceled his final press conference at the Nato summit in London after a video surfaced of world leaders mocking the president’s lengthy comments to reporters yesterday.
Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
First lady lashes out against legal expert for Barron pun
The first lady has now added her voice to the Republican chorus criticizing Pamela Karlan, accusing the Stanford law professor of invading the privacy of her son by making a pun out of Barron Trump’s name.
Karlan said earlier at today’s hearing, “The president can name his son Barron, but he can’t make him a baron,” making a point about the constitution not allowing the president to distribute titles of nobility.
Republicans are now arguing that the mere mention of Barron’s name equates to a political attack meant to drag the first son into the impeachment inquiry.