December 18, 2019


WASHINGTON - In case you missed it, the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) joined MSNBC’s Morning Joe where he exposed the president’s abuse of power and affirmed the constitutional responsibility of all Members of Congress to hold him accountable as the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on articles of impeachment today.

[CLIP: THURSDAY’S JUDICIARY HEARING ON IMPEACHMENT] CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: Let's actually go through the facts. We're here today because the president abused his power. We're here today because he solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election. He had welcomed foreign interference as it relates to Russia. He solicited foreign interference on the White House lawn with China. And he did it with Ukraine. He's a serial solicitor.  

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York joins us now. He is the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and a Member of the Judiciary and Budget Committees. Thank you so much for being on this morning. Let's start with your take on what's at stake in today's vote.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: Everything is at stake in terms of the Democratic Republic that we have, that we hold and that we cherish. The Founding Fathers, when they created our republic, were very concerned about three principle things: A. Abuse of power by a president elevating his or her own personal gain, B. Betrayal of our constitution and C. The corruption of our free and fair elections. What the president has done in this particular instance is implicate all three primary concerns of the Framers of the Constitution as it relates to presidential overreach. That's why it's important for the House to act today.

WILLIE GEIST: We're just over an hour away now from you gaveling in the full House. A lot of people will be tuning in this morning, watching MSNBC, and watch the full proceedings. So a bit of a viewer's guide about how this might work, if you could. I know we'll talk about some rules first. You all will in the House vote on the rules and then a long debate begins with potentially a vote later in the evening. 

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: That's correct. Six hours of debate that will be equally divided between the Democrats and the Republicans. We expect during that debate as Democrats, we're going to keep the focus on the facts, that the president in this particular instance pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain and simultaneously withheld, without justification, $391 million in military aid from a vulnerable ally as part of a scheme to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election, and in the process, undermined our national security. So we're going to lay out the facts, and we're going to elevate the values that are at stake as it relates to liberty and the integrity of our democracy and free and fair elections. 

JASON JOHNSON: Congressman Jeffries, so this is a historic day. I'm pretty sure you and most people in Congress never thought they would have this experience. But for regular people out there now, they're thinking, "Okay, the president gets impeached. What does this do to him?" So can you explain to the public, if the president gets impeached on both articles today, how does that affect his ability to do his job or how you all view him doing his job going forward? That's what a lot of people want to understand.

CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: That's an important question. We've maintained from the very beginning as Democrats that our center of gravity and our primary commitment remains getting things done on behalf of the American people, whether that relates to driving down the high cost of life-saving prescription drugs, infrastructure, criminal justice reform, free and fair trade, but doing it in a way that benefits the American worker. We want to continue to do the business of the people. I think we've shown over the last few weeks that we're going to continue to try to find common ground with President Trump. But at the same time, we have a constitutional responsibility to protect our democracy.

You know, the Founders created a system where the House of Representatives is a separate and co-equal branch of government. We don't work for this president or any president. Of course, we work for the American people, and we have a responsibility under the Constitution to serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control executive branch. Donald Trump has demonstrated himself to be out of control. The evidence of wrongdoing is hiding in plain sight. And so we have that responsibility to proceed while at the same time, working to try to get the business of the people done, which we have done, we are doing, and that is what we'll continue to do moving forward.