In a surprise move, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) gaveled the daylong impeachment hearing to a close late Thursday night (Dec. 12) without voting on the two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
It was actually the end of a two-day marathon of debate over the articles, though it was mostly a point and counterpoint series of speeches, charges and countercharges, with many invocations of the founding fathers and punctuated by legislators "striking the last word" ad infinitum, a parliamentary move to extend debate.
Nadler, to Republican cries of "unbelievable," "kangaroo court" and "Stalinesque," said the committee would reconvene Friday (the 13th) for a vote starting at 10 p.m. The Republicans, and journalists, were expecting the vote Friday following the debate, and so the latter were scrambling at press time to figure out just why the vote had been postponed.
Nadler said it was late and he wanted to give members time to digest the proceedings and think about their historic votes before they cast them, but another theory offered up by unhappy Republicans was to get fresh TV and video eyes on the vote in the morning rather than after 11 p.m. and more than 14 hours. He also said the vote would be split so that members would cast up or down votes on each of the two articles.
That set the vote up for a made-for-special-report TV/video moment for the broadcast and cable networks.
Republicans were complaining that the move had blown up their schedules without allowing them input on a decision of that magnitude.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) told Fox News that Nadler had not provided any explanation beyond the fact that it was late and "time to go," and had lost any goodwill or trust, not that there appeared to be much of that in evidence across the aisle during a hearing where the sides were, if anything, even more entrenched.
Judiciary ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) took to the microphones immediately after to rip Nadler over the surprise decision. "Chairman Nadler's integrity is zero. They have nothing they can offer up anymore other than the kangaroo court that we've seen the last three days." He said the committee's rubber stamp on impeachment has made it and the chairman "irrelevant."
He called it a bush league play to make sure the vote gets enough viewers because there weren't enough people watching," adding: "I have never seen a group that wanted to get in front of cameras more..."