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Speaker Pelosi Leads House Toward Its Final Votes On Impeachment

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Trump has officially become the third U.S. president in history to be impeached. The House of Representatives voted to approve two articles tonight - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The vote broke down largely along party lines.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The impeachment inquiry about the president's dealings with Ukraine began three months ago. The final debate on the House floor began at noon. Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the floor first - face somber, dressed in black - and gave an opening statement aimed at creating an air of gravity and seriousness.

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NANCY PELOSI: We gather today under the dome of this temple of democracy to exercise one of the most solemn powers that this body can take - the impeachment of the president of the United States.

SHAPIRO: Pelosi evoked the Pledge of Allegiance and the congressional oath of office while standing next to a poster of an American flag. It was an effort to lay out what Democrats see as the stakes for this impeachment vote.

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PELOSI: The vision of our founders for a republic, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform to defend it and the aspirations of our children to live freely within it - today we are here to defend democracy for the people. May God bless America. I yield back the balance of my time.

CORNISH: The debate over the two articles of impeachment - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - continued for hours. Republicans and Democrats took turns, each speaking for a minute or two. Late in the afternoon, Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, took the floor.

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ADAM SCHIFF: Has he lived up to that sacred obligation? Has he honored his oath of office? Has he preserved, protected and defended the Constitution of the United States? The uncontested evidence provides the simple yet tragic answer; he has not.

SHAPIRO: Republicans called the process unfair and political. They defended the president often, like Mike Rogers of Alabama, echoing Trump's own words.

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MIKE ROGERS: The matter before the House today is based solely on a fundamental hatred of our president. It's a sham, a witch hunt and is tantamount to a coup against the duly elected president of the United States.

SHAPIRO: The president himself weighed in on the impeachment vote at a rally in Michigan tonight.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: After three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams, tonight, the House Democrats are trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.