NOEL KING, HOST:
The president leaves us no choice - that's what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday while directing Democrats to write articles of impeachment. What she hasn't said yet is how broad the charges against President Trump will be, whether they'll focus only on Ukraine or whether they will also include findings from the Mueller investigation. It seems like Democrats want to be ready for a vote by or before Christmas, so Republicans are trying to figure out their next moves. One of them is Doug Collins of Georgia. He's the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee - that committee is drafting the articles of impeachment - and he gave an interview yesterday to my colleague Mary Louise Kelly, who hosts All Things Considered. Good morning, Mary Louise.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel.
KING: So what did Representative Collins think of Pelosi's announcement?
KELLY: He shrugged when I asked him about it - that was my first question, of course. And I think the reason he shrugged is that his complaints about the process do not change with Pelosi's announcement. He told me he thinks this is being rushed, that they are moving too fast. And he said, we don't have all the facts. Let you listen to what - a little bit of this.
DOUG COLLINS: We don't have uncontested facts here. I think that - I guess if you had an uncontested fact, it will be, there was a phone call. But past that, there seems to be a difference of opinion. Even one of the witnesses yesterday talked about inference. There was all this. So I think this is a concern for many of us going forward - is how we go forward after yesterday. What I think the speaker did today was to simply revive and say, yes, we're doing this. I did think it was interesting, though, she didn't give a timeframe. But although, after some conversation I've had already this morning, we still would like it to be before Christmas.
KELLY: And, Noel, just to clarify those time references, when he talks about today and this morning, that was yesterday that I was sitting down with him at his office.
KING: Let's pick some of this apart because it sounds like he's trying to make a few different arguments there.
KELLY: He was. Take his very first point - he said, we don't have uncontested facts. A lot of people would contest that. Nancy Pelosi - when she came out yesterday, one of the things she said was the facts are uncontested. I asked Doug Collins, if there are gaps in the facts, is that not because the White House is blocking many witnesses from testifying? And we went around on that for a while. There's a longer version of this exchange that we aired on All Things Considered.
Two other quick points just to highlight from what he said there, Noel - you hear his frustration in that tape. And it came up several times in our interview, over what Collins and other Republicans feel is a fait accompli - that Nancy Pelosi came out and announced, we're moving forward with impeachment, no matter what hearings the Judiciary Committee may have going forward. You also heard him reference that Christmas deadline again.
KELLY: He says, why is the rush? Well, you know, why? So this is all very on-message. These are the Republican points that we're going to hear as this rolls forward in the days ahead.
KING: Mary Louise, you also talked to him about the July 25 phone call, the one in which President Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens. And you asked him, do you think there was anything wrong with that? What did he say?
KELLY: He said no - flat-out emphatic no. I said, do you believe the president did anything wrong, anything he should have done differently about Ukraine? The answer was no. Whether it is asking a foreign government to investigate your domestic political rival or whether it is now blocking aides from the White House and other parts of the administration from testifying, Doug Collins is defending the president. And we had an interesting exchange about this - I want to play you some of it.
KELLY: You're a minister.
KELLY: You have a Master's in Divinity.
KELLY: You've served as an Air Force Reserve chaplain.
COLLINS: Still do.
KELLY: You have spent a portion of your life thinking deeply about right and wrong...
KELLY: ...Moral character.
COLLINS: Went to war, as well.
KELLY: Do you believe the president has exercised good moral character in his leadership?
COLLINS: I think that exercise is character is all that he has acted out in his way. And I also believe that moral character is shown in how we deal with individuals each day. I have what I believe. You have what you believe. You know...
KELLY: My question is about Donald Trump.
COLLINS: ...Are there things that I agree or disagree with the president? Sure. Are there things that I would handle differently? Sure. So we all have difference of opinion as we go forward. So I think as we move forward, we go from our own convictions, and we say, look. We're an imperfect world that's ruled by imperfect people. The greatest thing about it that we get from our faith perspective, since you brought it in, is the gift of Christ that give us forgiveness for our sins, that give us eternal life. So, you know, if I cannot give forgiveness or I cannot give mercy to others, how can I expect to receive it myself?
KELLY: So, Noel, that is Republican Doug Collins giving a window there into how unshakable his support for the president will be as this process rolls on. It is a matter of faith. That is the way he sees it. And this process is rolling on, as we know. He will be back at it on Monday. His committee, the Judiciary Committee, has a hearing on the evidence that is on the calendar there.
KING: Mary Louise Kelly, host of All Things Considered, thank you so much for coming in early. We appreciate it.
KELLY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.