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House Judiciary Committee’s rancorous tenor persists amid impeachment vote

The House Judiciary Committee has passed two articles of impeachment against President Trump. In the rancorous committee, even the vote's timing was partisan and fraught, as Chair Jerry Nadler pushed the expected Thursday night vote into Friday. But in a potential Senate trial, the schedule could be up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP. Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins joins me now.

    Hello, Lisa.

    So this vote by the Judiciary Committee was supposed to happen last night. They put it off until this morning. Tell us what happened and why does that matter?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    First of all, I want to note this is something that is very detailed and kind of wonky to talk about. It's not something we usually bring up, the timing of a vote.

    But it is significant because of the friction happening right now. Republicans expected this vote to happen last night. They spent all day putting forth their amendments, and then they stopped. It could have gone all night, but they stopped thinking that a vote was imminent, that there was sort of a deal to move to a vote.

    And then listen to what happened as they thought the final votes on the articles of impeachment would be coming.

    Here's Chairman Jerry Nadler.

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.:

    It has been a long two days of consideration of these articles, and it is now very late at night.

    I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciences before we catch our final votes. Therefore, the committee will now stand in recess until tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. The committee is in recess.

  • Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.:

    Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, there was no consulting for the minority ranking member on your schedule for tomorrow, in which you have just blown up schedules for everyone? You chose was not to consult the ranking member on a schedule issue of this magnitude?

  • Man:

    So typical.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    So typical.

    And I think that's why we wanted to raise this. This kind of activity is actually unusual. Usually, the ranking member and the chairman talk about basic stuff like this.

    But, Judy, here's where we are, where they can agree or talk even about the closing time for votes or when votes are happening. And this has just added to this atmosphere sort of anger.

    I talked to Sheila Jackson lee, who's on the committee, from Texas. She said she does have empathy for Republicans, that their expectation that they would get something like a scheduling announcement, but she said, we really felt it was so important to take the vote in daylight.

    Clearly, just communication has broken down.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, emblematic of the divide that exists clearly on that committee.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, next, it will go — after the House votes, it will go to the Senate.

    What are you hearing at this point about the Senate, about Leader McConnell and what their plans are?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I know it feels like we're skipping ahead a little bit, but this has been a lot — there's been a lot of news from Mr. McConnell in the last few days about what he thinks the Senate should do.

    And speaking to aides to Senator McConnell, we know a few things. One, he is cautious about having a very long trial in the Senate. He doesn't want every witness perhaps that the White House or other Republicans may want to call.

    So what he's doing now is, he's going to have a process where you will hear essentially opening presentations by the House, who will be arguing for impeachment and removal of the president, and from the president and whoever he selects to defend him.

    At that point, the plan right now is to let the Senate to decide essentially case by case if they want witnesses at that point or not. It will take 51 senators to decide on any kind of rules going forward from that. There's a chance there could be a bipartisan deal. No one expects that.

    But, essentially, it's going to be a little unpredictable when we get to January. It's possible the trial could move quickly. It's possible it doesn't.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Lisa, stepping back, four American presidents have faced impeachment, three of them in the last 45 years.

    You have been talking to people on the hill about what that says.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

    These three recent presidents who saw the House Judiciary Committee vote on articles of impeachment is significant, especially to longer-term members of Congress and staffers, who look at the span of America's 230 years of having presidents and say, this is happening more frequently now.

    This is a tool that we see lawmakers on Capitol Hill thinking about more often. There are, of course, still very relevant debate as to, what is the standard for impeachment, what is impeachable? There just is a very real conversation about the fact that it is happening more often in this modern era.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And we are certainly thinking about it right now.

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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