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House On Track To Approve Articles Of Impeachment Against President Trump

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Well, NPR's congressional reporter Claudia Grisales has been listening to those lawmakers all day long. She joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Hi, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi there.

SHAPIRO: And it looks like at this moment the last speaker, Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, has just concluded the debate. And so what is happening right now?

GRISALES: So I think they are on the verge now on voting on these articles of impeachment; the first being the abuse of office, the second being obstruction of Congress. This comes after 11 hours of debate today, so they seem to be finally nearing those final moments...

SHAPIRO: And...

GRISALES: ...For both Democrats and Republicans.

SHAPIRO: And to be clear, there are going to be two separate votes, so the roll will be called twice.

GRISALES: Exactly. And what it looks like right now is they are going to vote on these two articles. They're lining up. I see the members now getting ready to submit those votes. And yes, there we go. We're underway, and we're seeing that vote tally moving very quickly right now. Yes.

SHAPIRO: Let's bring up a little bit of this live and just hear this historic moment in real time as we have members of the House of Representatives lining up on the floor. And you can see as their names are called. Unfortunately, we actually don't have the audio at our fingertips right now. But, Claudia, as historic as this is, the outcome is not really in question, right?

GRISALES: No. Democrats are very confident. They have more than the support they need to approve these articles tonight. There are possibilities for some defections. We've seen two members previously vote against the impeachment inquiry just a few months ago. We expect those Democrats to vote against impeachment articles tonight. There could be other defections but not enough to jeopardize the results. We're expecting both of these articles to pass.

SHAPIRO: You have been listening to this debate all day. I think you said it's been 11 hours or something like that (laughter).

GRISALES: Yes, we're hitting the 11 - they started right on time on at 9 a.m. this morning, which can be unusual (laughter)...

SHAPIRO: So...

GRISALES: ...On Capitol Hill. But yes, we're hitting the 11th hour.

SHAPIRO: And so as this first vote takes place, summarize for us what the main thrust of the Democrats' argument has been.

GRISALES: So they reiterated the months of investigations that started from this whistleblower complaint that the president used military aid to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 elections. This included moderate Democrats, and this vote today was critically dependent on those lawmakers from these more conservative districts that flipped from red to blue last year to give Democrats control of the chamber. I - we heard today from Elaine Luria. She was one of those - she's a Virginia freshman. She's a Navy commander. And she talked on the House floor earlier today about her oaths in the military and now in office. We can take a listen to that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELAINE LURIA: I rise today in support of the oath I first took at 17 upon entering the Naval Academy and took five more times in my 20-year Navy career; an oath that comforted me in the years I spent away from my family deployed around the globe, an oath that encouraged me to remain vigilant on the bridge of the ship at night.

SHAPIRO: And, Claudia, just briefly, what have Republicans said during these long hours of debate?

GRISALES: So they've attacked the process. They've disputed the proof showing the president tried to force this pressure campaign with Ukraine and they repeated a theme, accusing Democrats of, quote, "weaponizing impeachment."

SHAPIRO: That is NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales as this historic vote - the first of two - happens on the House floor. I should mention that the live audio feed from the House has been muted for this vote, which is why we're not getting audio of it. But we will have updates throughout the night.

Claudia, thank you so much.

GRISALES: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.