House Judiciary Committee Unveils Articles Of Impeachment

The House Judiciary Committee has revealed the Articles of Impeachment against the President that it will vote on later this week.

As expected, the House Judiciary Committee announced this morning that it would move forward with two Articles of Impeachment against President Trump that focus essentially exclusively on the Ukraine scandal, leaving out other matters such as the Russia investigation:

WASHINGTON — House Democrats announced on Tuesday that they would move ahead this week with two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, as they accused him of violating the Constitution by pressuring Ukraine for help in the 2020 election.

Speaking from a wood-paneled reception room just off the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of six key committees said that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, had left them no choice but to pursue one of the Constitution’s gravest remedies. The move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for only the fourth time in American history.

“Today, in service to our duty to the Constitution, and to our country, the House Committee on Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment charging the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, with committing high crimes and misdemeanors,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the panel’s chairman. He stood before four American flags and a portrait of George Washington.

“Our president holds the ultimate public trust,” Mr. Nadler said. “When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security.”

(…)

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee who oversaw the House’s Ukraine investigation, sought to forcefully dismiss complaints that the House was moving too quickly toward impeachment, a little more than two months after opening their inquiry.

“The argument ‘why don’t you just wait’ amounts to this: Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?”

The Democrats indicated that they would forgo another possible article under discussion in recent weeks that would have charged Mr. Trump with obstruction of justice based on his attempts to thwart Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russian election interference in 2016. That decision reflected a calculated move by Democrats to push forward with a narrow case against Mr. Trump based on his dealings with Ukraine, after some of their moderate lawmakers in conservative-leaning districts signaled they would not support a broader set of charges.

Though the details differ substantially, the articles of impeachment Democrats outlined on Tuesday echo those the Judiciary Committee approved in 1974 charging President Richard M. Nixon with abuse of power, obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress. Mr. Nixon resigned before the full House had a chance to vote on the articles, amid clear indications that the charges had broad support from members of both parties.

There is less overlap with the other modern presidential impeachment. In 1998, the House approved impeachment articles charging President Bill Clinton with perjury and obstruction of justice. Two other counts, of perjury and abuse of power, failed in votes on the House floor. It was that kind of split decision that Democratic leaders are determined to avoid this time around.

Daniel Larison comments:

The president’s abuse of power is not in dispute. It is clear that he used the powers of his office in an attempt to extract a corrupt favor for his personal benefit, and this is precisely the sort of offense that impeachment was designed to keep in check. It doesn’t matter if the attempt succeeded. All that matters is that the attempt was made. It is also undeniable that he has sought to impede the investigation into his misconduct. The president has committed the offenses he is accused of committing, and the House should approve both articles of impeachment.

The president doesn’t have a credible line of defense left. That is why his apologists in Congress and elsewhere have been reduced to making increasingly absurd and desperate claims. The president’s defenders want to distract attention from the fact that the president abused his power, violated the public’s trust, and broke his oath of office, but these distractions are irrelevant.

The central question at the heart of this matter has always been whether we will tolerate the president corruptly using the powers of his office for personal benefit. The president’s defenders have answered loudly that they will tolerate corruption of the presidency. If we have any respect left for the Constitution and the rule of law, it is imperative that the president is not allowed to escape without facing serious consequences for his abuses. This is important not only to hold the current president in check, but it is also necessary to warn future presidents that such corruption will not be permitted to flourish.

Lairson is, of course, absolutely correct, for the reasons I noted this morning:

With respect to the Ukraine matter, the evidence is crystal clear. Beginning at nearly the same time that President Zelensky was elected the new President of Ukraine, the Trump Administration, at the apparent direction of the President working through his private attorney Rudy Giuliani, was seeking to put pressure on the new government. That pressure was directed at getting Zelensky to agree to launch an investigation aimed at finding compromising information about a political rival as well as information that would supposedly corroborate a discredited, Kremlin-based, conspiracy theory dealing with Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

When Congress authorized millions of dollars in defensive military aid for Ukraine to deal with the Russian-backed civil war taking place in the nation’s eastern region, that opportunity presented itself. Contrary to the wishes of Congress, the President placed a hold on that aide without explanation and then sought to tie the lifting of that hold and any progress with regard to the relationship between Washington and Kyiv and made clear to the aforementioned investigations. This was made clear in both the President’s July 25th phone call with President Zelensky and other communications with his government, including contact initiated by and through Giuliani. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, this constituted a violation of both the Constitutional understanding of “bribery” as that term is used in the impeachment clause and of a number of existing provisions of Federal law.

From here the process is likely to move fairly quickly, starting tomorrow, the Judiciary Committee will move forward with a process known as “mark up” during which the scope of the articles will be debated by the members. Republicans no doubt will use the relatively open rules that govern that process to seek to delay the impeachment process by demanding the calling of additional witnesses. Among those who have been mentioned are House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Joe and Hunter Biden, Rudy Giuliani, and the still-unidentified whistleblower whose complaint to the intelligence communities Inspector General set off the process that has brought us to this moment. These requests will most likely be rejected on a party-line vote by the committee and the committee will move forward with debating the Articles of Impeachment. This part of the process will likely take up the Committees time tomorrow and perhaps part of Thursday.

After this markup period, the Committee will then vote on either Thursday or Friday by the full committee to send the Articles to the floor for a vote. Most likely the two Articles of Impeachment will be approved by the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote and the matter will then shift to the House floor. At that point, it will be up to the House Rules Committee to set the terms of the debate that may take place, a process that could be complicated by the fact that the House will likely also have to consider a budget deal of some kind at the same time that it is considering impeachment of the President. Assuming things proceed smoothly, though, there will be a final vote by the end of next week and the matter will move to the Senate.

As noted, the Articles of Impeachment themselves, which are embedded below, focus exclusively on the Ukraine investigation. There is no reference to the Russia investigation, to the Daniels/McDougal scheme, to Emoluments, or to any other issue. As I said before, this is likely to due concerns among House Democrats to keep the process as simple as possible and to avoid the potential embarrassment of one or more of the Articles not having enough support among Democrats to pass out of the House. It’s also a recognition of the fact that, regardless of what the Articles say, it’s unlikely that the Senate will vote to remove the President from office.

Here are the Articles of Impeachment:

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Actually, I’d like to see Giuliani in the box. He’d most likely contradict Tiny and the party line while perjuring himself.

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  2. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Giuliani would be a very relevant witness. As would Pompeo, Bolton and a whole slew of others.

    Trump could make the “obstruction of congress” go away today by waiving his ridiculous claims of absolute immunity, releasing witnesses and releasing subpoenaed documents.

    I honestly with he would.

  3. Moosebreath says:

    “The president’s abuse of power is not in dispute.”

    At the risk of going Inigo Montoya on you and Larison, if it is not in dispute, why was my radio filled during yesterday’s drive time with Republicans and their counsel disputing it?

  4. Kathy says:

    Among those who have been mentioned are House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Joe and Hunter Biden, Rudy Giuliani, and the still-unidentified whistleblower

    Other than Rudy, I fail to see what relevant testimony there could be from the others. Unless Hunter Biden was part of Rudy’s drug deal or something.

    On the other hand, I’m available. If they pay my air fare, a nice 5-star, NON-Trump hotel, and a per diem of $1500, I’d be willing to show up this weekend and tell all I don’t know about Trump’s criminal behavior.

  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Pelosi seems to be playing everything right…but this seems kinda milquetoast to me.
    The most corrupt President in history…and this is what you have?
    Abuse of Power seems subjective.
    And Contempt of Congress seems whiny.

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  6. An Interested Party says:

    Abuse of Power seems subjective.
    And Contempt of Congress seems whiny.

    What charges would you have preferred?

  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @An Interested Party:

    What charges would you have preferred?

    Good question.
    Assuming you are going to stick to just Ukraine:
    ~Bribery is specifically mentioned in the Constitution…so I definitely would have used that language.
    ~Withholding the money is itself a crime…so I would have used that as an Article.
    ~And I would have used Obstruction of Congress…it’s a stronger word than Contempt, IMHO. Transitive verb versus a noun.
    Again…Pelosi is a pro, so I’ll assume she knows what she is doing. But it will not be the first time Democrats have failed by being weak.
    And Republicans are set on shredding the Constitution, and ending the country as we know it, so none of it really matters.

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  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    And Republicans are set on shredding the Constitution, and ending the country as we know it, so none of it really matters.

    If nothing happens to Trump, and I think every smart person knows nothing is going to happen to Trump, then his next four years is going to be OUT OF FUQING CONTROL. There will be nothing constraining him. Nothing to stop his worst impulses. Nothing to assuage his fealty to Putin. If that doesn’t scare you…

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  9. Kathy says:

    Well, if and when President Warren, say, orders Trump, Rudy, Barr and others arrested and held indefinitely without charge, what will the GOP do? Cry “abuse of power”? I’m sorry, was that not so nebulous a term Trump couldn’t be impeached for it? Besides, these miscreants were plotting a coup, lots of people say that.

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  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @An Interested Party:
    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    ~And I would have used Obstruction of Congress…it’s a stronger word than Contempt, IMHO. Transitive verb versus a noun.

    I’ve just seen that it does use “Obstruction of Congress.”
    I had previously seen it reported as “Contempt.”
    My mistake, and it requires my correction.

  11. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Even if Agent Orange does escape conviction by the Senate, it will be interesting to see how Putin’s stance toward him changes if he’s re-elected. Once he’s a lame duck, Vlad might not be such a good friend after all.

  12. CSK says:

    @SC_Birdflyte: Nah. Putin knows Trump will be dancing to Vlad’s tune all the while. Putin may make his utter contempt for Trump more obvious, though.

  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Shoot for $1500/day (round trip, portal to portal of course), I’ll even stay in Trump’s pseudo 5-star hotel if required. My only thing is that I can’t travel by plane and will have to take the train. Fortunately, I live close enough to Seattle so that I can take the Empire Builder and Capital Limited and get there in about 5 days (can’t sleep on the train sitting up).

  14. Andrew says:

    The case is solid. Soon the spotlight will be on the Senate and what Mitch does.

    Every Democrat should repeat as often as they can what the charges are.

    The Republicans will continue attacking the establishment. The process. Those that are being mean to them. With no interest in arguing the case at hand. The line about how this is unimportant and Congress should be focused on something that really matters.
    How will the country feel when the Republicans treat the impeachment as a joke?
    How can they convince everyone in favor of impeachment, that they were wrong?

  15. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Shoot for $1500/day (round trip, portal to portal of course), I’ll even stay in Trump’s pseudo 5-star hotel if required.

    Well, I’ve never trashed a hotel room.

  16. Kathy says:

    @Andrew:

    Every Democrat should repeat as often as they can what the charges are.

    During the Merrick Garland debacle, I thought Obama and the Democrats in general were not loud enough in 1) demanding the Senate act on the nomination and 2) reminding the public Moscow Mitch was playing dirty and lying down on the job.

    That said, it wouldn’t have made Mitch move on the nomination. But it might have turned off some voters from the GOP.

    I see this as the same thing. nothing, absolutely nothing, the Democrats can do will get the sniveling cowards in the Senate, aka the Republican Senators, to vote to convict Trump. But they may damage Dennison and his Yellow Wall enough to affect the 2020 election.

  17. DrDaveT says:

    Still waiting to hear any GOP senator explain how their current position is consistent with their position regarding Bill Clinton…

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: Clintons are completely different; they’re all hypocrites, whereas Trump is exactly who he shows himself to be and only his followers are hypocrites. It’s like comparing railroad car couplers to boat fenders.

  19. Nickel Front says:

    @Moosebreath:

    “The president’s abuse of power is not in dispute.”

    At the risk of going Inigo Montoya on you and Larison, if it is not in dispute, why was my radio filled during yesterday’s drive time with Republicans and their counsel disputing it?

    “Because I said so” is pretty much what it boils down to.

    If it really weren’t in dispute, more than 35% or so of people would be paying more attention, and a majority of people wouldn’t be opposed to impeachment right now.

  20. Andrew says:

    @Kathy:

    It would have helped with voters all around.

    With hindsight being 20/20.
    I very much doubt Mitch would have given two poops about what the country thought, anyway.

  21. Andrew says:

    @DrDaveT:

    You see, what had happened was…

    SQUIRREL! BIDEN!

  22. An Interested Party says:

    …and a majority of people wouldn’t be opposed to impeachment right now.

    Nope…try again…

  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Nickel Front:

    If it really weren’t in dispute

    The facts are not in dispute. Trump has admitted to bribery. The obstruction has happened in plain sight.
    The only dispute is if people like you care more about Trump or your Country. We know the answer.

    a majority of people wouldn’t be opposed to impeachment right now.

    You are wrong, per usual.
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/public_approval_of_the_impeachment_inquiry_of_president_trump-6956.html
    A smart person, upon being proven wrong, repeatedly, would re-evaluate. Clearly you lack the self-awareness required.

  24. Andrew says:

    Lindsay Graham just threatened the Democrats that when a Dem President is elected they will impeach him. For holding people accountable.

    Piece of $hit Graham.

    What do you do when an entire party and supporters of a party believe wrong is right, facts are fiction, and being help accountable is fainting couch worthy.
    These people have not and will not respect the results on any election that does not go the way they feel it should.

    How as a country do we make these ignorant, delusion people get the hell out of power?

  25. Kurtz says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Pfft, polling averages. How do i pick the ones that confirm what i already think?

    Worst wishes,

    A Deplorable

  26. Kathy says:

    @Andrew:

    In the decades leading up to the Civil War, southern slave-holders won most major legal battle sin favor of extending and perpetuating slaver. things like the Dred Scott decision, the fugitive slave act, and so on.

    Given that the South kept mostly having its way, I wondered why the North wasn’t the one to rise up in arms, or even in secession to leave the slave states behind. I suppose there are many reasons, not the least of which was the lack of a strong enough sentiment against slavery and, in particular, for African Americans.

    But the continuing victories by the South do explain why there was such a strong reaction against secession. the South embodied the classic reaction of one used to getting their way, suddenly facing the possibility of not getting their way as often. Much like today’s GOP

    So it makes sense that, like their slave-holding spiritual ancestors, they threaten violence and mayhem, literal as well as figurative, and smash norms and put their thumbs in every scale, when faced with less than complete acceptance of their core beliefs (I can’t bring myself to call them principles).

    The flip side, for the Republicans, is that the Democrats, and many independents and former Republicans, will wind up absolutely hating the Republican party.

    I can see a president Biden trying to return to what was normal in the 80s. I can also see him failing. The troops will demand, and very likely get, their pound of flesh.

  27. mike shupp says:

    @Kathy: if and when President Warren, say, orders Trump, Rudy, Barr and others arrested …

    Not much prospect of that, as it’d likely lead to similar treatment of Warren and her cabinet by the Republicans after her term of office expired. Once retaliation occurs, it’s likely to become the norm — which wouldn’t bode well for the future.

  28. Kathy says:

    @mike shupp:

    You’d think so, yet here we are. Not one thing the GOP has done is beyond what the Democrats can do when they win back the senate of the White House. this hasn’t stopped them.

  29. mike shupp says:

    @Kathy:

    You’re asking me to explain The Republican Mind to you, like an official spokesman? I’m not so daring, but I’ll make some guesses.

    (1) Since Newt Gingrich’s takeover of Congress in 1996, Republicans elected to office have been shifting rightward, until the reasonable and centrist ones have pretty much been purged. We can debate the causes; my own observation is that being elected types, Republican pols have much of their mental life focused on partisan politics, to the point where they can’t “let go.” They’re not wholly sane, as a result. They’ re not looking downstream a number of years.

    (2) Part of above, Republicans have totally lost sigh of how far they’ve moved from objectivity and fairness. They’re convinced what they’re doing is sane and sensible. Moreover, they’ve generally convinced themselves that EVERYTHING they do to get an advantage over Democrats is just the counterpart of some dirty trick Democrats played on Republicans in the past.

    (3) Republicans are bold independent spirits who REALLY understand how politics operate, unlikely wishy washy Democrats. Whatever we do to them, they won’t have the nerve to do back to us. Look how chicken-hearted Peloshi and her crew have been so far! They’ll never catch up, and the more damage we can do the Democrats, the less likely they’ll ever be able to respond.

    (4) White people and Christians and Capitalism are being swamped by rising tides of Blacks and Hispanics and Asians and immigrant Jihadists and that horrific young mob of college-educated Socialists! This is the time for battle! There is no future unless Republicans prevail! I exaggerate, and most Republicans wouldn’t be quite so blatant, but still … I think people raised in comfortable circumstances back in the 1950, the sort now in command of American politics, look back with nostalgia to their childhood circumstances and weep a bit seeing that environment has vanished and not understanding why and not being able to imagine a better future. They are old and Death is near. Armageddon, emotionally if not theologically, is at hand.

  30. Kathy says:

    @mike shupp:

    You’re asking me to explain The Republican Mind to you, like an official spokesman? I’m not so daring, but I’ll make some guesses.

    It strikes me as an accurate analysis. Concisely presented, too.

    I was hinting that doing that which you really want to do now, outweighs the consequences of what might happen to you as a consequence later, especially if “later” is years from now.

    Democrats might be more civilized, but everyone has a breaking point. I don’t think Warren, nor Biden or any of the others, would hold former American officials without charge or trial. But they may well decide to investigate and prosecute Dennison and much of his administration. Assuming preemptive pardons (as likely as finding water in the bottom of the Mariana’s Trench), the hunt will be on for crimes not covered by said pardons, and to encourage all fifty states to look hard and find something, anything, that can land the Orange Bunch in prison.

    Oh, and a Senate win by the Democrats will end the legislative filibuster. I’m sure.

  31. Andrew says:

    I literally watching house judiciary. Republicans not only tell blatant lies, they are giving credit of Obama’s policies to Trump and AND

    They bring up BENGHAZI!!!

    No defense of the crimes Trump has committed. Just talk and more bull$hit. These people are insane.

  32. mike shupp says:

    @Kathy: “… that which you really want to do now, outweighs the consequences … “

    Strikes me we’re sort of trained to do that, growing up in America. Do what you want or strive towards some distant goal, never give up, never show fear, never express doubt, and in the last reel you’re sure to beat the villain, get the girl, and hear the crowd praising you. It’s what God (and Cecil B DeMille) ordained.

    Not sure what the cure is, some ways I’m not sure there ought to be a cure.