The U.S. House of Representatives was on a collision course with history on Wednesday, debating two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, as an affirmative vote would add Trump to a very short list of American Presidents who have been impeached by the House, placing Mr. Trump in a pantheon with Andrew Johnson (1868) and Bill Clinton (1998).
GOP lawmakers in the House seemed united in their opposition to the articles of impeachment, while a handful of Democrats were expected to vote against the impeachment effort, including Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a New Jersey Democrat who was on the verge of switching to the Republican Party.
Check back for our latest updates throughout the day:
5:00 pm. President Trump left the White House without taking questions from reporters, as he heads to his campaign stop in Michigan. From the Capitol, I caught a photo of Marine One heading away from the White House.
4:20 pm. There are a lot of people showing up in hopes of seeing the end of the impeachment debate on the House floor.
4:00 pm. The debate has now turned from the members of the Judiciary Committee to the members of the House Intelligence Committee. Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA is now laying out the case against the President. Schiff is a much better communicator than other Democrats who have dealt with impeachment.
3:30 pm. As the debate rolls on, President Trump is getting ready to fly to Michigan to join Vice President Pence for a campaign rally this evening. The VP has been talking about the impeachment debate during his visit to the Wolverine State.
2:45 pm. One theme from Republicans today is that the process has not been fair, as GOP lawmakers complain they were not allowed to call witnesses - though they don't really mention how the President ordered Executive Branch officials to defy subpoenas from Congress for testimony and documents.
1:45 pm. From my quick research, I can only find two lawmakers who were here in 1998 for the Clinton impeachment vote, who will likely vote “no” on the articles against both Presidents Clinton and Trump. One is Rep. Pete King R-NY, and the other is Rep. Colin Peterson D-MN.
12:40 pm. The debate is proceeding without any interruptions, as both sides make their arguments.
12:08 pm. With floor debate getting underway on the actual impeachment resolution, my guess is this will be done by 9 pm ET. Remember - one hour of debate does not equal one hour on the clock. Speaker Pelosi is the first to speak - she is recognized for one minute, but will speak for much longer.
11:55 am. When you visit President Trump's campaign website today, this is what you see:
11:50 am. Only two Democrats have broken ranks on the first real votes of the day, Rep. Colin Peterson of Minnesota, who represents and very-Trump district, and Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who is evidently going to switch to the GOP at some point. The one Independent voting with Democrats is Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who left the GOP earlier this year - in part over impeachment. President Trump will hold a campaign rally in Amash's district tonight.
11:30 am. Debate on the rule governing the impeachment resolution is now finished. After two votes, the House will then start the 6 hours of debate on the impeachment charges. Look for a final vote around 8 pm - and that might slip later depending on the number of procedural votes, and extra time used by the leaders of each party.
11:00 am. We are getting ready for the votes on the 'rule' governing the impeachment debate. I noticed that Rep. Jeff Van Drew D-NJ - who will soon be switching to the GOP - did not show up for the first two impeachment-related procedural votes today.
10:45 am. I had forgotten that President Trump once said Democrats should have impeached President George W. Bush over the Iraq War.
10:15 am. The preliminary debate is finally underway. And President Trump is paying attention down at the White House.
10:00 am. We are one hour into the legislative day and there still has not been any debate. After the motion to adjourn, Republicans offered a resolution to rebuke Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) for their handling of the impeachment work before the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
9:45 am. Earlier, we gave you a tweet from a GOP lawmaker opposed to impeachment. Here's one from a Democrat in favor.
9:25 am. While Republicans might want to keep making motions to adjourn to delay the proceedings, they cannot keep making those motions - even though adjournment is of the highest precedence on the floor of the House. Deschler reminds us that repeated dilatory motions can be ignored by the Speaker.
9:15 am. What do the arguments look like on both sides? First, let's start with the Republicans, and this tweet from Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA).
9:10 am. The House convened at 9 am, and then Republicans forced a vote on a motion to adjourn. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said, “Madam Speaker, so that we can stop wasting America's time on impeachment, I move that the House do now adjourn.” This vote will not succeed, but it may not be the only procedural hurdle thrown up by Republicans during today's debate.
8:45 am. The last time the House voted to impeach a President, I sat in the same seat 21 years ago almost to the day - as lawmakers approved two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton. That day was marked by other news as well, when Rep. Bill Livingston R-LA suddenly announced he would resign, and not become the next Speaker of the House. Rushing to do a live shot on the radio, I slammed my thumb in the door to my House radio booth. The thumbnail finally came off the day after the Clinton impeachment trial ended in February of 1999.
8:35 am. Democrats are defending their push to impeach the President, arguing that Republicans are simply ignoring the actions of President Trump - merely to stay in power.
8:15 am. In a letter to fellow Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking her colleagues to all be present as the debate begins on the House floor on impeachment. It's possible they might have to be there right away no matter what, as it's thought that Republicans will start the day by forcing procedural votes. The first one possible would most likely be a motion to adjourn.
8:00 am. The big question right now as the day begins is who will break ranks and vote against impeachment among Democrats. Rep. Colin Peterson D-MN seems to be one 'no' vote, along with Rep. Jeff Van Drew D-NJ - though it's not clear when Van Drew is going to switch parties to the GOP. Republicans are doing all they can to focus fire on Democrats in tough districts over this vote.
7:45 am. President Trump is on Twitter, expressing his frustration about being impeached.
7:30 am. If you didn't have the chance, you should read the President's impeachment letter from Tuesday. Obviously, Mr. Trump is not one to mince words, and this six page scorching-hot letter sounds like it was definitely dictated in parts by Mr. Trump, as reports are that he did not include White House lawyers in its assembly. One passage made very clear that the President does not like it when Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is praying for the President. We'll see if she says that on the floor today to further needle Mr. Trump.
7:15 am. President Trump has made very clear how he feels about impeachment in recent months, as he has repeatedly denounced the Russia and Ukraine investigations. Asked on Tuesday at the White House whether he bears any responsibility for the historic rebuke that he is about to get, the President said, no.
7:00 am. As the sun struggles to get up over the horizon on this chilly December morning, the schedule shows the House convening at 9 am, with final votes predicted around 7 pm. Whether that schedule is maintained will depend partly on how lawmakers behave - and how many procedural votes are forced by Republicans in the House.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.