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: