Rally crowd grows restless as impeachment vote delays Trump


WASHINGTON (AP) – A sample of the sights and sounds across Washington and beyond on a momentous day in Washington as the House lurches toward a Wednesday evening vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

The crowd is growing restless in Michigan for President Donald Trump as his appearance at a campaign rally is delayed by the House of Representatives’ impeachment vote.

Audience members chanted “We want Trump” as Trump was more than 45 minutes late to taking the stage.

Trump is set to make quite the entrance Wednesday evening at the “Merry Christmas” rally.

A faux fireplace is set up around the catwalk in the Kellogg Arena from which Trump is set to emerge to speak to the thousands of supporters. Two decorated Christmas Trees flank the stage, topped with the Trump campaign’s signature red hats bearing the “Keep America Great” slogan.

5:55 p.m.

The top Senate Republican during Bill Clinton’s impeachment isn’t too worried by all the infighting on how to run the upcoming Senate trial.

Former Majority Leader Trent Lott reminded a swelling band of reporters that he didn’t talk at all with Democratic counterpart Tom Daschle of South Dakota until after the House impeached Clinton.

Lott recalls the good relationship he had with Daschle: “He was fair. He was honest. We worked very closely through the whole process.”

Current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are feuding about Schumer’s demand to summon witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton to testify.

Lott wasn’t a big fan of witnesses in the 1999 trial. “I didn’t want Monica Lewinsky in the well of the Senate testifying about the stain on a blue dress. I was not going to let that happen,” Lott said.

“It was a different time. Different media and different people,” Lott said. And the Senate is much more polarized. Still, Lott is not worried that McConnell and Schumer will work it out.

“Important moments – I won’t call them great moments in history – bring people together, sometimes whether they want to be or not,” Lott told reporters. “They’re going to have to talk about how to proceed.”

4:40 p.m.

The House debate over President Trump’s impeachment has taken a strange turn.

Republicans held a moment of silence for the 2016 election.

An Ohio congressman accused Democrats of trying to overturn the results of the last election by impeaching Trump. Bill Johnson asked for a moment of silence to remember the “63 million Americans” who voted for Trump and have been forgotten.

All the Republicans in the House chamber stood up. Democrats stayed glued to their seats.

No Republicans are expected to support Trump’s impeachment when votes are held later Wednesday.

Democrats say Trump betrayed his oath of office by pushing Ukraine for an investigation of Joe Biden.


4:10 p.m.

There’s one line coming from Democrats during the impeachment debate that Republicans were happy to hear. It’s that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t become president if Donald Trump is impeached and removed from office.

A Republican congressman from Utah, Chris Stewart, said during a speech that Democrats want to impeach Trump because they hate him and, in Stewart’s words, “they think Hillary Clinton should be president and they want to fix that.”

Stewart then said that if the House voted to impeach Trump, then “the next president, I promise you, is going to be impeached – and the next president after that.”

That’s when Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the committee that passed the two articles of impeachment, used part of his speech to remind Stewart of the constitutional line of presidential succession.

The New York Democrat explained that it’s Vice President Mike Pence who’d become president if the House voted to impeach Trump and the Senate voted to remove him from office. And Nadler made clear that Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, isn’t in line to move into the White House.

After Nadler spoke, a group of Republicans in the chamber clapped and whooped.

The first impeachment article charges Trump with abuse of power. The second charges him with obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him if there’s a trial next year.


3:45 p.m.

Republican lawmakers have compared the looming impeachment of President Donald Trump to infamous moments in history, including the attack on Pearl Harbor and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

A Georgia congressman, Barry Loudermilk, said in a speech on the House floor that Republicans haven’t been able to question the anonymous whistleblower whose complaint about Trump ‘s action on Ukraine triggered impeachment.

Loudermilk said “Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus” when he was “falsely accused of treason.” Pontius Pilate was the Roman ruler who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus.

In separate remarks, a Pennsylvania congressman, Mike Kelly, recalled the “horrific act” of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Kelly said that this Wednesday – Dec. 18, 2019 – the day when the House is expected to impeach Trump, “is another date that will live in infamy.”

Trump himself has compared the drive to impeach him to the Salem Witch trials. During those infamous 17th century trials, 20 people suspected of witchcraft were killed in Massachusetts. Trump said those people were afforded “more due process” than he has been,

Democrats repeatedly noted during their speeches in the House on Wednesday that they invited Trump to testify before the House Judiciary Committee but he declined.


2:10 p.m.

First in English and then in Spanish, a California congressman used his allotted time on the House floor to urge colleagues to vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

Democrat Lou Correa called it a “very sad day” in American history as the House moved toward expected votes Wednesday evening.

No Republican is expected to support impeachment.

The first impeachment article charges the Republican president with abuse of power. The second charges him with obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

Correa said Trump’s actions to invite foreign intervention in an American election has given Congress no choice but to fulfill its constitutional duty and approve articles of impeachments.


12:50 p.m.

Queen’s “We Are the Champions” was one of the songs on the playlist before a Michigan rally where Vice President Mike Pence told supporters of President Donald Trump that the upcoming House impeachment votes were a “disgrace.”

Pence spoke to more than 200 people at a “Workers for Trump” event in Saginaw. He criticized Democrats in the important swing state and predicted that Trump will once again carry the state, in part because of impeachment.

The Democratic-run House has begun debate on two articles of impeachment against the Republican president. The first charges Trump with abuse of power. The second charges him with obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

Pence is accusing Democrats of “trying to impeach this president because they can’t defeat this president.”

Pence is in Michigan for a daylong bus tour before joining Trump at a rally Wednesday evening in Battle Creek.


12:45 p.m.

The House has approved rules that allow six hours of floor debate on historic votes to impeach President Donald Trump.

The vote in the Democratic-controlled House was 228-197. The rules should allow for dozens of lawmakers to speak on the floor, with a vote expected Wednesday night.

Two Democrats sided with Republicans to oppose the rule. They are Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

Independent Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican, voted with Democrats.

Lawmakers have been arguing about the charges Trump faces and the legitimacy of the investigation that brought Congress to the brink of impeachment.


12:35 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump’s actions have left the House with “no choice” but to act on impeachment.

The Democratic-run House has begun debate on two articles of impeachment against the Republican president. The first charges Trump with abuse of power. The second charges him with obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

Pelosi held her hand over her heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the House. She observed that lawmakers are the “custodians of the Constitution.”

The California Democrat spent much of the morning in the dimly-lit third row from the back, all to herself. There, she sat in black with her mace pin on her jacket and a green folder on her lap. She flipped through sheaf of papers, appearing to read them one by one. Periodically, she looked up to hear the debate on the rules.

At 12:08 p.m., Pelosi descended to the well of the chamber to the podium and to open the debate on the abuse and obstruction articles.


12:15 p.m.

Joe Kennedy III took to the House floor with impeachment – and his children – on his mind.

The House was opening six hours of debate Wednesday on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, with evening votes scheduled. And Robert Kennedy’s grandson wanted to have his say.

The Massachusetts Democrat read from a letter to his own young children. It said, “This is a moment you will read about in your history books.’”

With the House moving closer to impeaching a president for only the third time in U.S. history, Kennedy wanted to explain to his kids why he felt it necessary to act. Kennedy said Trump abused the “most sacred office in our land.” He said that by day’s end, the record will show that “justice won. … We did not let you down.”

But a Republican congresswoman from Arizona accused Democrats of “tearing this country apart.” Debbi Lesko said the impeachment process was unfair and rigged.

The House will vote on two charges – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.


9:25 a.m.

Utter disbelief.

That’s the sense expressed by President Donald Trump as arose he Wednesday morning and faced the prospect that by day’s end, he’d likely to be just the third U.S. president to be impeached.

Trump has a relatively light schedule during the day. He’s indicated he won’t be watching the six hours of impeachment debate on the House floor. And in the evening he’s scheduled to be in Battle Creek, Michigan, for a rally.

His remarks at Kellogg Arena could come around the same time as House is voting on the two charges – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump’s press secretary says the president will have plenty to say at the rally about the voting back in Washington.

Trump started his day as he often does: by airing his grievances on Twitter.

Here’s what he said: “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing.”

The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him in a trial next year.

President Donald Trump arrives at W.K. Kellogg Airport to attend a campaign rally, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)