GOP Amendment Targets Hunter Biden, Burisma: Impeachment update

Billy House

The House Judiciary Committee is likely to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump as early as Thursday. The impeachment resolution is H.Res. 755.

Here are the latest developments:

GOP Amendment Targets Hunter Biden, Burisma (12:45 p.m.)

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.,during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.

Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida proposed amending the abuse of power article to revise the description of Trump’s request for investigations by Ukraine.

Instead of saying the president asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, “a political opponent,” and a “discredited theory” that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, Gaetz’s amendment would state that Trump sought investigations of Hunter Biden and Burisma Holdings, a Ukraine energy company on whose board Hunter Biden served.

Republicans contend Hunter Biden was overpaid and unqualified to serve on the board of Burisma, a company that had been widely known to be corrupt.

“We have the ability to show that Burisma is corrupt,” Gaetz said. “We have the ability to show that Hunter Biden is corrupt. That totally exculpates the president because there is no way in the United States of America that honestly pursuing actual corruption is an impeachable offense.“

Republican Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin added, “the real malefactor is Hunter Biden.”

Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee said, “this is about distraction, distraction, distraction” from the allegations against Trump.

GOP Amendment Rejected by Democrats (12:02 p.m.)

The Judiciary Committee rejected Republican Jim Jordan’s amendment that would have eliminated the first article, which accuses Trump of abusing his power.

It was the first vote on an amendment after about three hours of debate.

Pelosi Not Pushing for Democrats’ Support (11:11 a.m.)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. attends a health care event at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s not pushing moderate Democrats to support impeachment of the president but is allowing them to vote their consciences.

She said she has “no message to them” and told reporters “we’re not whipping this legislation.”

“People have to come to their own decisions,” Pelosi said. “I don’t say anything to them.”

Trump Tweets That Democrats LIE’ in Debate (10:48 a.m.)

President Donald Trump, with first lady Melania Trump, speaks during a Hanukkah reception in the East Room of the White House Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Trump appears to be keeping track of the Judiciary Committee debate, as he made clear in a Twitter posting Thursday morning.

“Dems Veronica Escobar and Jackson Lee purposely misquoted my call” with Ukraines president, Trump wrote on Twitter minutes after Escobar and Sheila Jackson Lee, both of Texas, spoke during the committee debate.

“I said I want you to do us (our Country!) a favor, not me a favor. They know that but decided to LIE in order to make a fraudulent point! Very sad,” the president wrote.

A rough transcript of the call released by the White House showed that Trump asked the Ukrainian president for a favor and mentioned investigations that weren’t part of official U.S. foreign policy.

Judiciary Committee Debates Abuse of Power (10:22 a.m.)

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, listens during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.

Republican Jim Jordan proposed an amendment that would eliminate the first article, which accuses Trump of abusing his power.

“The call transcript shows no quid pro quo” between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during their July 25 call, said Jordan of Ohio. He said there was “no pressure, no pushing, no linkage whatsoever between assistance money and any kind of investigation.”

The proposed amendment set off a debate over the allegations against Trump and whether they’re serious enough to warrant impeachment.

Top Judiciary Committee Republican Doug Collins of Georgia said there are “no factual underpinnings for impeachment.” GOP member Debbie Lesko of Arizona called the inquiry a “one-sided sham.”

“This president isn’t even accused of a crime,” said Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican, unlike former President Bill Clinton, who was accused of perjury for lying to a grand jury about his affair with a White House intern.

Democrat Eric Swalwell of California responded that the Constitution doesn’t require allegations of a crime to support impeachment charges. In addition, he said, Trump’s conduct overlaps with two statutory crimes: bribery and honest services fraud.

“The president was caught red-handed trying to pressure a foreign government to target an American citizen, said Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York. – Billy House

Judiciary Committee Nearing Historic Vote (9:03 a.m.)

The Judiciary Committee opened its meeting Thursday to debate and vote on amendments to the two articles of impeachment.

At the end of the day’s hearing, lawmakers will be asked to vote on sending the articles to the House floor for debate and vote next week on whether to impeach the president for only the third time in U.S. history. – Billy House

Committee to Debate Amendments to Articles (7 a.m.)

Ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., second from the right, speaking as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., second from the left, listens during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.

The Judiciary Committee plans to resume considering the impeachment resolution at 9 a.m. Thursday with members being allowed to offer amendments to the two articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by the president.

Most, if not all, of the proposed amendments are likely to come from Republicans, and the vote – probably later in the day – is almost guaranteed to be strictly along party lines.

Each committee member gave an opening statement Wednesday night, most of which echoed the partisan positions that have taken hold since the Ukraine investigation began. At the end of the hearing on Thursday they will be asked to vote separately on each count. House leaders haven’t yet said what day next week the full House will be asked to vote. – Billy House