Meeting on Capitol Hill just a week after being viciously attacked by a pro-Trump mob, the House on Wednesday opened an emotional debate on whether to impeach President Trump for his role in inciting violence.
The vote was expected in the afternoon and Democrats confidently predicted they had the votes to impeach, with nearly every member speaking in favor and several Republicans pledging to join them.
But as the vote drew near, the two sides traded harsh blows and dueling arguments for and against the use of the Constitution’s most serious remedy just days before Mr. Trump left office. Democrats have consistently described the president’s conduct in scathing terms, arguing that impeachment was an appropriate remedy. A few Republicans defended him, but most of the rest simply argued that a rush to impeach Mr. Trump without a hearing or investigation raised constitutional questions.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi from California: “The president must be impeached and I believe the president must be condemned by the Senate, a constitutional complaint which will ensure that the republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to demolish what is close to our hearts and that we hold together. I am not happy to say that. It breaks my heart.”
Representative Jaime Raskin of Maryland, Senior Charging Officer: “It’s a little hard to hear that these people wouldn’t try to destroy our government and kill us if we just weren’t so mean to them.
Representative Adam B. Schiff from California: “America has been through civil war, world wars, great depression, pandemics, McCarthyism, and now a Trumpist and white nationalist insurgency. And yet our democracy endures.
“It lasts because at every moment, at every pivotal moment, when the evil threatens to overtake the good, patriotic Americans come forward to say, enough. It’s one of those times. “
Representative Hakeem Jeffires from New York: “Donald Trump is a living and breathing impenetrable offense. It is what it is.”
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, Majority Leader: “I served with Ronald Reagan, with George HW Bush and George Bush. I have respect for all of these presidents. They cared about our country. They honored our Constitution and performed the duties of the office in accordance with the constitution and laws of our country.
“This is not the case with this president. And therefore, it should be removed. And we have this opportunity to do it. Is there little time left? Yes. But it’s never too late to do the right thing. “
Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota: “For years we have been asked to turn a blind eye to crime, corruption and the blatant disregard for the rule of law on the part of the tyrant president that we have in the White House. As a nation, we can no longer look away. “
Representative Cedric Richmond from Louisiana, a Democrat leaving to join the White House Biden: “Simply put, we told you.
Representative Joaquin Castro from Texas: “Let me ask you a question. What do you think they would have done if they had come in? What do you think they would have done to you? And who do you think sent them here?
Ohio Representative Jim Jordan: “It was always about getting the president, no matter what. It’s an obsession, an obsession that has now broadened. It’s not just a question of impeachment anymore, it’s a question of overturning, as I said. Cancellation of the president and anyone who disagrees with them.
Representative Tom McClintock from California: “If we were to indict every politician who gave a heated speech in front of a crowd of supporters, this Capitol would be deserted. That’s what the president did, that’s all he did.
“He specifically told the crowd to protest peacefully and patriotically. And the vast majority of them have. But every move has crazy bangs. “
Washington State Representative Dan Newhouse: “The president has taken an oath to defend the constitution against all foreign and domestic enemies. Last week there was an inside threat at the Capitol Gate and he did nothing to stop it. That is why, with a heavy heart and a clear determination, I will vote yes on these articles of impeachment.
Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida: “I speak out against political violence from all sides of the spectrum, but make no mistake, the left in America has instigated a lot more political violence than the right. For months our towns burned down, police stations burned down, our businesses were destroyed and they didn’t say anything. Or they applauded and raised money for it and they made it happen in the biggest country in the world.
“Now, some have cited the metaphor that the president lit the flame. Well, they lit real flames. Real fires. “
Representative Guy Reschenthaler from Pennsylvania: Mr Reschenthaler condemned the violence that had taken place, but was one of the few Republicans to oppose the impeachment charge on the merits, disputing that Mr Trump had instigated violence.
“During his rally, President Trump urged participants to ‘make your voices heard peacefully and patriotically’. There was no mention of violence, let alone calls to action. “
Representative Nancy Mace from South Carolina: “The US House of Representatives has every right to remove the President of the United States. But what we are doing today, rushing this indictment into an hour or two hour debate on the floor of this chamber, bypassing the judiciary, poses big questions about the constitutionality of this process.
Washington State Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, who supports impeachment: “I’m not afraid of losing my job, but I’m afraid my country will fail.”