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Key moments in the U.S. House impeachment debate

Click to play video 'Trump impeachment: What to expect as Congress prepares for historic vote' Trump impeachment: What to expect as Congress prepares for historic vote
WATCH: Trump impeachment: What to expect as Congress prepares for historic vote – Dec 18, 2019

A bitterly divided U.S. House of Representatives engaged in an impeachment debate before historic votes on two charges accusing President Donald Trump of abusing his power and obstructing Congress.

Here are some highlights from the contentious back-and-forth between Democratic and Republican lawmakers ahead of the historic vote:

Shortly after the Democratic-controlled House came into session on Wednesday morning, Republican lawmakers made a series of motions that delayed impeachment debate. 

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

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy introduced a resolution accusing Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, respectively the chairmen of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees that led the impeachment hearings, of “wilfully and intentionally” violating House rules and exceeding their powers.

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McCarthy’s motion failed, and debate began shortly thereafter.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened six hours of impeachment debate by saying that “today is a national civics lesson, though a sad one.”

“I solemnly and sadly open the debate on impeachment of the president of the United States. If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty,” the longtime Democratic lawmaker said, calling the U.S. Congress the “custodians of the Constitution.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks ahead of a vote on two articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., in a still image from video Dec. 18, 2019. House TV via REUTERS

“It is a matter of fact that the president is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections, which is the basis of our democracy,” Pelosi said.

Representative Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Democrats had begun plotting Trump’s impeachment even before his dealings with Ukraine, which form the core of the impeachment case, became public in September.

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“To Democrats, it’s politics, not facts, that matter,” Collins said on the House floor.

“Today is going to be a lot of things. What it is not, is fair,” Collins said.

Click to play video '‘The president is not above the law’: Nadler makes case for impeaching Trump' ‘The president is not above the law’: Nadler makes case for impeaching Trump
‘The president is not above the law’: Nadler makes case for impeaching Trump – Dec 18, 2019

Nadler, the Judiciary Committee chair, said Trump’s actions threatened the integrity of the November 2020 presidential and congressional elections.

“Congress cannot wait until the next election to address this conduct,” he said.

“The impeachment inquiry is not an effort to overturn an election,” he later added.

There are currently 15 candidates vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination to take on Trump in November 2020. Five of them are U.S. senators who will act as jurors in the impeachment trial.

READ MORE: Trump impeachment: Here’s what to watch for as Congress prepares for historic vote

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Republican Representative Clay Higgins, who last year beat six opponents in Louisiana to win a second term with Trump’s endorsement, warned that “America is being severely injured by this betrayal,” referring to the impeachment proceedings.

“We will never surrender our nation to career establishment D.C. politicians and bureaucrats. Our republic shall survive this threat from within. American patriots shall prevail,” Higgins said.

Democratic Representative Veronica Escobar said that the impeachment represented “a great tragedy and a moment of truth” for Trump.

“We have witnessed the president of the United States abuse his public office for personal political gain and invite foreign governments to interfere in our elections,” Escobar said, adding that the evidence showed he was a “clear and present danger” to fair elections and national security.

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