Gathered in the Capitol just a week after it was attacked by a pro-Trump mob, the House opened an emotional debate on Wednesday about whether or not to blame President Trump for his role in inciting violence.
The vote was expected in the afternoon and the Democrats confidently predicted that they had the votes to impeach, with nearly every one of their members speaking out in support and several Republicans pledging to join them.
But leading up to the vote, the two sides exchanged bitter jabs and dueling arguments for and against using the Constitution's most serious remedy just days before Mr Trump was due to leave office. Democrats uniformly described the president's behavior in scathing terms, arguing that impeachment was an appropriate remedy. A few Republicans defended him, but most others simply argued that a rush to overthrow Trump without a hearing or an investigation raised constitutional questions.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi from California: “The president should be impeached and I think the president should be condemned by the Senate, a constitutional means that will keep the republic safe from this man so determined to tear down the things we hold dear and it keeps us together. It gives me no pleasure to say this. It breaks my heart. "
Representative Jaime Raskin from Maryland, the chief accusations manager: "It's a bit much to hear that these people wouldn't try to destroy our government and kill us if we just weren't that mean to them."
California Representative Adam B. Schiff: America has experienced civil war, world wars, a great depression, pandemics, McCarthyism and now a Trumpist and white nationalist uprising. And yet our democracy continues.
“It continues because at any moment, any crucial moment, when evil threatens to overtake good, patriotic Americans step forward to say enough. This is one of those times. "
Representative Hakeem Jeffires from New York: & # 39; Donald Trump is a living, breathless offense. It is what it is."
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, majority leader: "I have served with Ronald Reagan, with George HW Bush and George Bush. I respect all those presidents. They cared about our country. They honored our constitution and performed the duties of the office in accordance with the constitution and laws of our country.
& # 39; That does not apply to this president. And that's why it should be removed. And we have the opportunity to do that. Is there little time left? Yes. But it is never too late to do the right thing. "
Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar: “For years we have been asked to turn a blind eye to the crime, corruption and blatant disregard for the rule of law by the tyrant president we have in the White House. We as a nation can no longer look away. "
Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond, a Democrat leaving to join the White House of Biden: "Simply put, we told you."
Representative Jim Jordan from Ohio: It's always been about getting the president no matter what. It's an obsession, an obsession that has now expanded. It's not just about impeachment anymore, it's about cancellation, as I said. president and anyone who disagrees with them. "
California Representative Tom McClintock: 'If we turn off every politician who gave a fiery speech to a crowd of partisans, this Capitol would be deserted. That's what the president did, that's all he did.
He specifically told the crowd to protest peacefully and patrioticly. And the vast majority of them did. But every move has an insane edge. "
Florida Representative Matt Gaetz: “I condemn political violence on all sides of the spectrum, but make no mistake, the left in America has incited much more political violence than the right. For months our cities have been set on fire, police stations set on fire, our businesses destroyed and they said nothing. Or they cheered for it and raised money and made it happen in the best country in the world.
Now some have cited the metaphor that the president lit the flame. They lit real flames. Actual fires. "
Pennsylvania Representative Guy Reschenthaler: Mr. Reschenthaler condemned the violence that had taken place but was one of the few Republicans who, on merit, opposed the charge of impeachment and denied that Mr. Trump incited violence.
At his meeting, President Trump called on those in attendance to "make your voices heard peacefully and patriotically." There was no violence, let alone calls to action.
South Carolina Representative Nancy Mace: “The US House of Representatives has every right to impeach the President of the United States. But what we do today, rushing this charge into an hour or two hour debate on the floor of this room, past the judiciary, raises big questions about the constitutionality of this trial. "