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What to expect from House impeachment vote


JUDY WOODRUFF: It is the eve of impeachment. The United States House of Representatives
convenes tomorrow to consider the case against President Trump. But, first, lawmakers spent long hours working
out the rules for those proceedings. Once again, congressional correspondent Lisa
Desjardins begins our coverage. REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): The Rules Committee will
come to order. LISA DESJARDINS: In a small room on the Capitol’s
third floor, today, the last step before impeachment goes to the House floor. REP. JIM MCGOVERN: It’s unfortunate that we have
to be here today. LISA DESJARDINS: The House Rules Committee
will decide the process for the impeachment debate expected tomorrow. And it began with a first in this process,
bipartisan signs of respect from the Democratic chairman and the top Republican, or ranking
member. REP. JIM MCGOVERN: We take up a lot of contentious
issues on the Rules Committee. And, often, we are on different sides of many
issues. But he leads with integrity, and he cares
deeply about this House. REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): Let me begin by reciprocating
a personal and professional respect for you and other members of this committee as well,
because I do think very highly of each and every person on this committee, and particularly
of you, Mr. Chairman. But this is a day where we’re going to disagree,
and disagree very strongly. LISA DESJARDINS: At the White House, disagreeing
strongly would be an understatement. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Look, it’s a hoax, the whole impeachment thing. LISA DESJARDINS: President Trump spoke at
an appearance with the president of Guatemala. DONALD TRUMP: This has been a total sham from
the beginning. LISA DESJARDINS: But his real outrage was
unleashed in a six-page letter the president sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today,
breathing fire in the first line: “I am writing to express my strongest and most powerful
protest against the partisan impeachment crusade.” He called Democrats’ process “disingenuous,
meritless and a baseless invention of Democrats’ imagination.” The letter raised previous themes for the
president. He blasted the FBI’s Russia investigation,
the Mueller report, and former Vice President Joe Biden. Also blasting Democrats today, Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This slapdash work
product will be dumped on us over here in the Senate. LISA DESJARDINS: The Kentucky Republican,
now preparing for a trial, rejected Democrats proposal and their leaders’ request for four
witnesses. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: He wants to volunteer the
Senate’s time and energy on a fishing expedition. LISA DESJARDINS: That leader, Democratic Senator
Chuck Schumer of New York, fired back that McConnell is out of line, already working
with the White House, and that senators should reserve judgment. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Mitch McConnell said
proudly he is not an impartial juror. Do the American people want Mitch McConnell
not to be an impartial juror in this situation? And I would ask every one of my Republican
Senate colleagues, are you impartial jurors? LISA DESJARDINS: As the Senate thinks weeks
ahead, House Democrats are thinking about tomorrow, and insisting this is not about
politics. REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D-MA): We don’t know how
this may or may not affect the 2020 election, but we know this: We are a co-equal branch
of government that is going to insist that no one is above the law. JUDY WOODRUFF: And joining me now is Lisa
Desjardins. So, Lisa, this is an historic day, as we have
been saying over and over again. What do we know about the lay of the land
tomorrow? LISA DESJARDINS: Here’s what’s going to happen. The House will convene at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 a.m. Pacific time. They will have normal opening procedures,
the prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and then immediately begin what will sort of be
a two-part debate. First, they will debate the actual rule, kind
of the procedures ahead for the impeachment debate. And then, after that, they will get into that
actual debate. Really, though, Judy, the entire day — and
I think we will expect an entire day of debate over this impeachment idea. I expect it to last until at least about this
time tomorrow night. It could go late. The question being, how much do Republicans
object to the process? How much do Republicans try to use parliamentary
procedures to gum up the works? That could make it take longer or not. JUDY WOODRUFF: And that’s just an unknown
we can’t predict at this point. LISA DESJARDINS: It is. It is unknown. They only have a limited amount of procedures
they can use, but they do have some. JUDY WOODRUFF: At, Lisa, so what do we know
about what the president’s plan is tomorrow and how the White House is going to respond? LISA DESJARDINS: Well, I think we had a preview
in that really remarkable letter that he sent to the speaker today. He has his fist raised, and he is going to
hold, what else, a rally tomorrow night, 7:00 Eastern, roughly the time the House could
be voting on impeachment articles, in Michigan, where else, Battle Creek, Michigan. I think it’s no mistake. The White House is sending a lot of messages
here. My question is, he’s — actually has a very
defensive posture here. He’s being very assertive and aggressive on
this. I wonder how the House Republicans — if they’re
going to take that tone tomorrow on the floor or not. JUDY WOODRUFF: And, Lisa, finally, I want
to turn back to that spending bill that you have been reporting on. It passed today. Democrats actually ended up having division
over what is in it. LISA DESJARDINS: Right. As we reported last night, there were some
big benefits for Democrats, things they were happy about on guns, for example, and for
election security, other things. However, today, Judy, there was real divide
in the Democratic Caucus over the president’s money for the border wall. This is the main concession that Democrats
gave away in spending bill. Let’s look. It was $138 billion, key being unrestricted
for a border wall. In the past, this money has been restricted
to fencing. This now has fewer restrictions. The president can do a little bit more with
it than in the past. Also, Judy, in this money, the president can
use military funds. There are no restrictions barring him — barring
him from taking military construction money, as he has attempted to do in the past year. And, Judy, there’s no hard cap in these bills
on detention beds. There’s sort of a suggested cap, but it’s
not enforceable. The Hispanic Caucus is furious over this and
disappointed. They’re worried that this is the wrong direction
in terms of the immigration debate. It’s the wrong concession. Other say, hey, the president wanted $8 billion
for a wall. He only got $1.4 billion. But it’s a very critical issue that this bill
is dealing with, and it was a concession for Democrats. JUDY WOODRUFF: But the — but it’s now passed
the House. LISA DESJARDINS: It has passed today. Thank you. Yes, it did. It passed today. These things are all happening so quickly. This did pass the House; 75 Democrats voted
against it, even though it was their leadership proposing it. JUDY WOODRUFF: All right, Lisa Desjardins. So much to follow. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s right. JUDY WOODRUFF: Tomorrow is the big day. LISA DESJARDINS: It is. Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you.

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