Update: U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a South Florida member of the Judiciary Committee, walked through the the evidence against Trump.
“Some say this impeachment is about eight lines in a call transcript, but there is so much more,” Deutch said.
“This was about a scheme that lasted months and it involved dozens of Trump administration officials. Look at the evidence, look at the direct evidence. Text messages, emails, calls, and meetings way back in May. The president told his team, ‘Talk to Rudy Giuliani.’ The president’s message: No White House meeting unless Ukraine helped him in the 2020 election.
“The direct evidence kept coming after the call – more text, more emails, more calls, all with the same message: If Ukraine didn’t announce an investigation into the president’s political rival, then they wouldn’t get the White House meeting that they promised, and that they wouldn’t get the aid that they needed in their war against Russia.
“American presidential power comes from the people. He was cheating American voters before they even had a chance to vote. President Trump’s actions force us to protect our elections and the Constitution.”
Update: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Broward County Democrat and member of the House Oversight Committee, said the testimony of career diplomats led to her decision to impeach.
“In America, no one is above the law, she said. “With his conduct around Ukraine, President Trump corruptly abused his power for his own interests, at direct odds with our national welfare and our Constitution. This president put his own interest before those of this nation. Left unchecked, he would do it again and has said so.
“The actions and ongoing schemes that led us to this moment are severe threats to our national security and democracy that we cannot defend or dismiss,” Wasserman-Schultz said. “With history watching, I must fulfill my constitutional duty and vote to impeach this president. His corrupt conduct and assault on our Constitution leave no other choice.”
Update: Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, representing western Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys, pointed to her family’s exodus from Ecuador to escape government corruption. She compared what Trump is doing here to what happened there.
“It is undeniable that he has abused his power and obstructed Congress. He presents a clear and present danger to our democracy,” she said.
“As an immigrant, I still get chills because I feel so fortunate to live in this extraordinary country,” she continued. “The genius of American democracy lies in our Constitution and the dedication to the rule of law. I want my children, and all of our children, to feel the same way when they grow up.
“If we sit idly by as cracks being to appear in our democratic institutions, our children will be in the same situation that so many of us experienced when we left countries whose leaders destroyed democracy.”
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat from Palm Beach County, invoked the interests of future generations.
“I did not come to Congress to impeach a president,” Frankel said. “But I did take an oath to keep the republic for our children and grandchildren, and we should do nothing less. One day I will tell my grandson that I stood up for our democracy. I will vote yes to impeach the president.”
Update: Rep. Kathy Castor, of the Tampa Bay region, said Trump elevated his personal interest over the national interest and then attempted to cover it up.
“The president abused his power. He violated his oath of office. He sought to elevate himself as a dictator, a king,” Castor said.
“But we’re not a monarchy. We are the United States of America. We are a republic, a democracy, where the executive does not have absolute power,” she continued.
“When the president withheld military aid to vulnerable Ukraine and pressed for a personal favor to manufacture dirt against a political opponent, he went too far. He undermined America’s national security. He sought to sabotage our elections. He elevated his personal interest over the interest of America.
“Then he attempted to cover up his scandalous behavior. He obstructed the investigation. He violated his oath of office, but I intend to uphold mine, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
“The president must be impeached today.”
Original item: The first Florida Democrat to take the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives during Wednesday’s historic impeachment debate highlighted the risk Donald Trump poses to the 2020 elections if allowed to remain in office.
“We know that the president illegally held up congressionally appropriated aid to Ukraine,” said U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, a South Florida Democrat.
“We also know that the president has actively blocked congressional attempts to determine the extent of his misconduct by ordering executive branch officials to defy subpoenas and withhold information,” she said.
“Despite the unprecedented obstruction from the president, the evidence, in this case, is powerful enough that to delay this vote any further would risk interference in the 2020 election and the permanent erosion of our system of checks and balances. … This is not a matter of politics; this is a matter of protecting the integrity of our democracy for the next generation.”
The House was debating two articles charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in response to allegations that he improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and blocked lawmakers’ efforts to investigate the incident.
Editor’s note: The Florida Phoenix will post separate updates as each of the state’s Democratic and Republican U.S. House members debate impeachment. Florida Phoenix reporter Laura Cassels contributed to this story.