House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) lashed out at House Democrats at the debate of impeachment articles on Wednesday, Dec. 11, arguing they are impeaching President Donald Trump because they think they cannot beat him next year.

As the debate began, Collins accused the Democrats of having “spent all year in this committee trying to impeach the president” since they became the majority in the House, and though they have occasionally had markups on bills, most of them are partisan and cannot go forward in the Senate.

During the impeachment hearings, a bunch of law professors could not tell why President Trump should be impeached, Collins said.

In his opening statement prepared for the debate, Collins argued that Democrats have engaged in a crusade to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected, and the facts really do not matter.

Democrats did not have facts to support their verdict “and, today, they still don’t have the facts,” he wrote.

“There is no crime alleged anywhere in the articles we are marking up today,” Collins declared.

There is no article of bribery, he said, adding that there is also no evidence of the crime of obstruction of justice though Judiciary Democrats, led by Chairman Jerry Nadler, wasted nine months on their investigations into the president.

Regarding the conviction of “abuse of power”, Collins said he has checked but there is no legal standard for measuring when someone has abused his or her power.

“This is the best they’ve got, and it’s consistent with their approach to this entire so-called impeachment inquiry: Conclusions first, investigations second, and facts last,” Collins said.

With two counts, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, “Democrats lied about the criteria for this impeachment,” Collins said.

But if Democrats’ investigation has shown anything, “it’s that Democrats are the ones abusing their power,” Collins argued.

“I could go on. The abuses of power have been by Democrats, not the president,” Collins said, reaffirming, “In fact: The president did not commit any crimes.”

Collins then listed some facts to defend President Trump: He had a long-standing skepticism of foreign aid and a deeply held belief that Ukraine was corrupt; He was protecting taxpayer dollars from going to a corrupt nation; He released the aid only after several people, including Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), assured him Ukraine was taking meaningful steps to address corruption.

And though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said many times that there was no pressure from President Trump, the House Democrats refused to acknowledge.

Addressing the committee, Collins said, “The Democrats are tearing down a world leader” by calling Zelenskiy a liar when the Ukrainian president confirmed no pressure, and thereby they cannot make their case against President Trump, and that would be also an excuse for Russia to attack Ukraine’s newly elected president.

Collins argued that Democrats are impeaching President Trump because they think they cannot beat him in the 2020 election, but the president will survive the impeachment and win the re-election.

“I do believe he will be president for five more years,” Collins said of President Trump.

“The real legacy of this impeachment hearing will not be the removal of Donald Trump as president,” Collins said. “The real legacy will be the institutional damage to this institution.”

“After a year of trashing this institution, a year of trashing this administration, we come up with abuse of power? And we can’t define it?” Collins said.

“My heart breaks for a committee that has trashed this institution and this is where we are now,” the Republican lawmaker said.

Read Collins’s statement here: Rep. Doug Collins’s opening statement