The House Rules Committee on Tuesday began the next procedural step before a full House vote Wednesday on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
The small panel is tasked with preparing legislation and setting the terms for debate on the House floor.
In one big decision, the committee decided late Tuesday to debate the articles of impeachment in the full House for six hours Wednesday. That would put a vote on track for late in the afternoon or early evening.
This was the first time in American history that the House Rules Committee, which is traditionally used by the speaker to control the floor schedule of the chamber, has ever taken up impeachment.
The committee, which can hear testimony from any member of the House, spent much of Tuesday huddled in their hearing room on the top floor of the U.S. Capitol with Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass. After dozens of hours of hearings and testimony, Tuesday’s hearing was the last opportunity for House Republicans and Democrats to spar over the charges before they’re taken up on the floor.
“No one should be allowed to use the powers of the presidency to undermine our elections or cheat in a campaign. No matter who it is. And no matter their party,” McGovern said at the start of Tuesday’s hearing. “Today we’ll put a process in place to consider these articles on the House Floor. And when I cast my vote in favor, my conscience will be clear.”
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is addressing the panel about the impeachment articles.
McGovern asked him: “Was the call perfect?” referring to the president’s call with Ukraine’s president, during which Trump pressured him to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.
“There was nothing wrong with the call,” Collins answered.
Another Republican, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, said: “There’s no way this can and should be viewed as legitimate. … The majority is seeking to remove the president for something that didn’t happen.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., is making the Democratic case, in place of Chairman Nadler, who will miss the hearing as a result of a family emergency.
“We believe this conduct is impeachable and shouldn’t take place … under our constitutional system,” Raskin said.
Raskin said the crime is “in progress, up to this very minute,” citing the latest activities by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The panel will determine how much time the House spends debating both articles on Wednesday, ahead of a vote that will send the charges to the Senate to tee up a trial early next year.
You can read the rest of Benjamin Siegel’s article at ABCnews.com