A day in history, December 18, 2019
I began drawing at 8 am, listening and watching people mill about with papers in the House Chambers. The first order of business was to pass the rules for the day — members of the rules committee spoke in short segments. Basically, the arguments made in the morning were a sample of what was going to be said over and over again throughout the day by other members of both sides of the House.
Then a clerk read the two articles of impeachment against Trump: Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress.
I drew speakers from both sides of the aisle, to get a sense of both Republican and Democratic arguments against and for impeachment of the President. The Republicans put forth that there is no impeachable offense, Trump did nothing wrong. They continually argued that in his interaction with the Ukranians, he did not ask anything (when he did in fact), the aid was released (after Trump was caught withholding for the favor), and that the president of Ukraine said there was no pressure to do what Trump asked as a favor (what else could he say? The country is a fledgling democracy and in need of our help). The Republicans also claimed over and over again that the process of impeachment as set up by the Democratic run House, was “unfair.” It followed rules that have been followed before. They also claimed it was a too-short and slipshod process. One of the very common claims from the GOP was that the Democrats “hate” Trump and that is why they want to impeach him.
The Democrats focused on the idea that this impeachment was about protecting our Constitution, protecting our Republic. They argued that Trump put himself and his personal interests before the interests of the country when he invited a foreign country to enter into our election process by investigating the Bidens. They continually said that we need to protect our election process from interference, and that if Trump were allowed to go into the next election, it put our country in grave danger. Democrats argued that Trump instructed all key administration officials who were involved in the Ukranian phone events to ignore their supponaes and not testify. Our country’s founders’ intentions were clear, they said, no one is above the law. There was not one mention of hate.
Finally, the articles were read again by a clerk.
It was late in the evening, around 7:30pm, when the arguments from both sides were finished. The House voted electronically on the two Articles of Impeachment, one by one. The vote was split along party lines, with the majority party — Democrats — having the most votes.
And when the articles were adopted, Donald J. Trump became the third president in history to be impeached. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi gaveled the vote into approval. She, along with other members of the House, wore all black as if to express that this impeachment was solemn and sad.
This is the first step. Now our country moves this Impeachment to the Senate, where there will be a trial next month. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who is tasked with running the trial because his party is the lead party in the Senate, has indicated there will be no witnesses and that the trial will move very fast. Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Jerry Nadler and Adam Schiff have called for four key witnesses. McConnell has indicated he will not be impartial in this trial — even though he is supposed to be. All members of the Senate will be under oath to be impartial. McConnell has said he will coordinate with the White House counsel, a clear statement that he will do whatever Trump wants.
I am fascinated by the process of democracy in action. Each speaker yesterday had a different approach to how they see this, and it was interesting not only to see the various personalities, but to see who said what from what part of the country. So many of them were speaking to their constituents, arguing their case for their vote, pro or con. No one wanted impeachment, but it had to be done.
Moments ago (the morning after) Nancy Pelosi held a press conference and told us that many in the House have a “spring in their step” because justice was served. The President was held accountable.
With stylus and tablet in hand, I will watch the proceedings. Stay tuned.