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‘Our democracy is at risk’: Protest erupts outside the Capitol amid impeachment debate

Click to play video: 'Pro-impeachment demonstrators gather on Capitol Hill amid House vote' Pro-impeachment demonstrators gather on Capitol Hill amid House vote
WATCH: Pro-impeachment demonstrators gather on Capitol Hill amid House vote – Dec 18, 2019

A historic debate is underway that will determine whether to impeach United States President Donald Trump. But as Republicans and Democrats spar inside White House walls, another rally occurred just outside its front door.

At Capitol Hill, civil action organization MoveOn is hosting a rally ahead of the impeachment vote. Protesters holding signs emblazoned ‘Never Again’ and ‘All I want for Christmas is impeachment’ can be seen in a video posted by Reuters. Reggie Hubbard, MoveOn’s congressional liaison, kicked off the rally by thanking supporters and recounting the events that led up to Wednesday to the crowd.

“This moment is bigger than congress, it’s bigger than the president, this is about the constitution and the revolutionary ideal that nobody is above the law — especially the president of the United States,” said Hubbard. “Our democracy is at risk and we must come together to do something about it.”

Click to play video: 'Activists in DC call on Congress to impeach Trump' Activists in DC call on Congress to impeach Trump
Activists in DC call on Congress to impeach Trump – Dec 18, 2019

Several leaders from grassroots organizations, army veterans and constitutional and national security experts spoke at the rally, all supporting Trump’s impeachment.

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In Michigan, thousands lined up to attend a ‘Merry Christmas’ rally held by Trump in Battle Creek.

Late Tuesday night, protesters gathered in more than 500 cities and towns across the U.S. for “Nobody Is Above The Law” rallies calling for Trump’s impeachment.

Activists rally in support of the impeachment and removal of U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Dec. 18, 2019. Tom Brenner / REUTERS

“The mobilization is part of a massive, grassroots effort to ensure Congress holds Donald Trump accountable for using military aid to pressure Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 elections,” protest organizers said in a statement, which claimed that over 200,000 people gathered for the demonstrations. “Congress must show that no one — including the criminal in the White House — is above the law.”

Meanwhile inside the Capitol, the Judiciary House Committee is leading six hours of impeachment debate between Democrats and Republicans.

Republicans claim impeachment is a strategy Democrats turned to in fear of losing the 2020 election.

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“They’re trying to run down this president because they know they can’t run against our record,” Pence told a crowd in Freeland, Mich., on Wednesday.

House Democrats are accusing Trump of both abusing his power by attempting to withhold US$400 million in military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into his political rival, former vice-president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as obstructing justice.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and accused Democrats on Tuesday of pursuing an “illegal, partisan attempted coup” and declaring “open war” on American democracy.

“In the end here, nothing happened,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “We don’t approach anything like the egregious conduct that should be necessary before a President should be removed from office.”

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READ MORE: Trump impeachment: Congress votes to approve rules, moves onto debate of articles

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the debate by saying “today is a national civics lesson, though a sad one.”

“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary,” Pelosi said.

With the exception of less than a handful of outliers, Democrats have shown a mostly united front in the march towards impeachment.

Most Republicans, however, disagree.

Activists rally in support of the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Dec. 18, 2019. Tom Brenner / REUTERS

Rep. Guy Reschenthaler told Congress that the impeachment is “nothing more than a political hit job.”

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Rep. Barry Loudermilk said Jesus was afforded better due process prior to his crucifixion than the president.

“When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk said. “During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than Democrats have afforded this president in this process,” the lawmaker added.

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