House To Move Forward On Articles Of Impeachment

In the wake of yesterday's hearing, the House of Representatives is taking the inevitable next step.

In the wake of yesterday’s hearing in which the House Judiciary hearing heard from a group of legal scholars regarding the history and meaning of the impeachment provisions of the Constitution and its application to the facts of the charges against President Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced this morning that the House would be proceeding with the drafting of Articles of Impeachment:

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that the House of Representatives would begin drafting impeachment articles against President Trump, pushing ahead with a rapid timetable that could set the stage for a vote before Christmas to charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors.

Wrapping her announcement in the words of the Constitution and the nation’s founders, Ms. Pelosi said it had become clear over the course of two months of investigation that Mr. Trump had violated his oath of office by pressing a foreign power for help in the 2020 election. Allowing Mr. Trump to continue in office without remedy, she said, would come at “the peril of our republic.”

“His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution,” Ms. Pelosi said in a formal address lasting less than six minutes, delivered against a backdrop of American flags from the hallway outside her office in the Capitol. ”Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit.”

Ms. Pelosi’s announcement came as the House Judiciary Committee laid out next steps for its formal impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump. The committee said it would convene a hearing on Monday morning to allow its lawyers and those for the Intelligence Committee to formally present the evidence in the inquiry. The witness lineup suggested the panel could consider both the president’s dealings with Ukraine and whether he obstructed justice in trying to thwart the special counsel’s investigation in whether the Trump campaign had a role in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Democrats familiar with the matter believe the Judiciary panel is on track to begin publicly debating and voting on articles by the end of next week, despite uniform Republican opposition. That would lay the groundwork for a possible vote to impeach the president by Dec. 20, the final day Congress is scheduled to be in session this year.

(…)

In saying that she was instructing “chairmen” to draft the charges, Ms. Pelosi left open the possibility that the other five panels that have investigated Mr. Trump and his administration — including the Intelligence Committee that drew up the Ukraine report and the Ways and Means Committee that has pressed for the release of the president’s tax returns — could also play roles, a break with past practice.

During her news conference, Ms. Pelosi framed the case against Mr. Trump as much broader than an isolated pressure campaign on Ukraine. She described an “aha moment” when she and other Democrats came to the conclusion that Mr. Trump’s treatment of Ukraine was part of a larger pattern of deference toward Russia, a leading American adversary.

“This isn’t about Ukraine; this is about Russia, who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance,” Ms. Pelosi said. “So sometimes people say, ‘Well, I don’t know about Ukraine, I don’t know that much about Ukraine.’ Well, our adversary is Russia. All roads lead to Putin. Understand that.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Nadler’s team made clear it was considering building charges going beyond the Ukraine matter, related to obstruction of the House’s inquiry. A lawyer for the chairman, Norm Eisen, also asked the witnesses to evaluate whether possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump laid out by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who investigated whether the Trump campaign had ties to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, was also impeachable. Democrats may ultimately decide to keep the case more narrowly focused on Ukraine.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reports that Democrats are considering a number of charges against the President:

House Democrats are considering articles of impeachment against President Trump that include obstruction and bribery but are unlikely to pursue a treason charge as they weigh how to illustrate that the president’s activities involving Ukraine were part of what they see as a pattern of misconduct, according to congressional aides.

Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee, which this week released a report of their findings from a two-month-long impeachment investigation, have said that they believe Trump’s actions vis-a-vis Ukraine meet the definition of bribery, one of the crimes the Constitution identifies specifically as an impeachable offense.

Central to the Intelligence Committee’s findings is that Trump compromised U.S. national security when he held back diplomatic engagement and congressionally approved military aid from Kyiv, until Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky committed to publicly announce he was launching investigations into a debunked conspiracy theory surrounding a hacked Democratic National Committee server and of the son of former vice president Joe Biden, who is running to replace Trump in 2020.

Biden’s son Hunter Biden sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma for five years. Before his arrival, Burisma’s owner had come under investigation for corruption.

Democratic leaders say they have overwhelming support in their ranks for articles dealing with the core of Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine, two Democratic leadership aides said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly.

The aides, who are familiar with internal discussions, also expect at least one article concerning the Trump administration’s obstruction of Congress, although it’s not known how broad those charges will be.
Aides cautioned that the situation remains fluid and that discussions about the articles are ongoing.

Several members of the Judiciary panel are also eager to make reference in the articles to the president’s alleged efforts to obstruct justice in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe, arguing that Trump has repeatedly solicited or welcomed foreign interference in his election bids.

Speaking with reporters Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) insisted that Russia was an integral factor in the president’s alleged misconduct regarding Ukraine, because when Trump decided to withhold military aid to Kyiv, it was the Kremlin that benefited.
“Russia. It’s about Russia,” Pelosi said. “All roads lead to Putin. Understand that.”

But Democrats have yet to commit to including articles of impeachment that directly address Trump’s alleged ties to Russia that were detailed in the Mueller report, or settle on how they will organize and draft their various grievances against the president. Pelosi refused to answer reporters’ questions about plans for specific articles Thursday, as well, noting only that impeachment was now an imperative.

“I’m really sorry the president made this necessary,” Pelosi said. “If we do not act on this, the message to any future president . . . would be, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ ”

Here’s the video of the Speaker’s remarks. You can also read the transcript at the link:

Naturally, President Trump responded to both yesterday’s hearing and this morning’s announcement via his favorite medium:

After yesterday’s Judiciary hearing, the hearings last month before the House Intelligence Committee, and the conclusions reached in the Committee’s report on those hearings, this announcement is basically an inevitability. As the evidence has mounted against the President, it has become clearer and clearer that the House was headed down the road of considering Articles of Impeachment for the fourth time in American history and voting on them for the third time in history and the second time in the past twenty years. To do any less would have been a dereliction of the solemn duty that the Constitution gives the House of Representatives in these matters.

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, including in detail in this morning’s post about yesterday’s hearing, 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.

The interesting part of today’s announcement is the fact that it raises the possibility that the Articles of Impeachment sent to the House will ultimately cover more than just the Ukraine scandal. As I’ve argued before, there is a good reason for the House to also consider adding other matters for the Senate to consider in its trial on the impeachment charges. This includes obstruction of justice in connection with the Russia investigation, the payoffs to Trump’s former mistresses on the eve of the 2016 election, the Emoluments Clauses issue, and the fact that the Trump Administration has obstructed justice by denying Congress access to documents and witnesses. As I’ve said before, if we’re going to impeach the President we may as well include everything and let first the Senate and then the American people, and ultimately history, be the judge.

This announcement also seems to confirm that the House will move forward with plans to hold a floor vote on Articles of Impeachment before breaking for the holidays. This would mean a Senate trial starting in January that could last for most of the month and, perhaps, even into early February. This would pose problems for the Senate Democrats running for President, which presently consists of Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Michael Bennet, but that concern is secondary to the far more serious duty of considering whether the evidence warrants removing the President from office.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, Law and the Courts, Nancy Pelosi, Politicians, U.S. Constitution, 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. Gustopher says:

    I would prefer a series of articles of impeachment, on a weekly basis. It would focus the national debate/discussion/shouting a bit better.

    I expect that with N articles at once, one will be weakest, and the President’s defenders will focus on that to try to drown out the others.

    Start with obstruction of Congress. Trump could solve that in an instant if he wanted.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Donald Trump is a traitor. Not an ideological traitor like Kim Philby who had actual beliefs, however mistaken. He’s the more common sort of traitor, a whore for money, like Aldrich Ames. Trump sold American foreign policy to an enemy nation, Russia.

    He has covered-up Russian interference in our election. He has rejected all countermeasures against future Russian interference. He was paid to launder Russian mob money. He immediately insisted on changes to Ukraine policy that favored Russia. He attacked NATO, favoring Russia. He dropped out of the TPP, favoring both Russia by weakening our position in the Pacific, and China as well. He tried to get sanctions on Russia removed and was only stopped by Congress passing legislation to block him. He pushed to get Russia back into the G7. He walked Kim Jong Un out of his cage, elevating that Russian and Chinese-supported thug state. He agreed to give Ukraine anti-tank missiles, but only if they swore not to use them against the invading Russians. He pushed a discredited conspiracy theory in an attempt to shift blame for 2016 from the guilty party, Russia, onto Ukraine. He has attacked the FBI, our counterintelligence arm, advantage Russia. He has attacked the CIA, Russia’s main opponent.

    He is a traitor. He must be removed.

    Trump is wildly corrupt. His DC hotel takes in millions from nations we have business with. His son-in-law was bailed out by a foreign power. He ran a phony charity and bilked veterans. he uses his office to push his daughter’s business. He has lied on financial forms. He steals from contractors. His Atlantic City casino was caught money-laundering and fined. He has refused to open his books.

    He is corrupt. He must be removed.

    He has obstructed justice at every turn, in losing court case after losing court case. Unlike Nixon or Clinton, he has ordered WH employees not to respond to subpoenas. He lied about an audit, lied about releasing his tax returns, and continues to refuse to do what every other president has done. He refused to place his holdings in a blind trust. He has asserted monarchical powers to resist investigation. He has sent people to lie to Congress. His associates, Stone, Manafort, Flynn and Cohen, among others, are in prison or on their way.

    He has violated the constitution and obstructed justice. He must be removed.

    I’ll leave aside the incessant lies, the misogyny, the racism, the nativism, the lack of maturity and self-control, the abasement of the office of president and the general nastiness of this pig of a man. Maybe that’s what his voters wanted. But they do not have a right to a president who is an active criminal and traitor.

    This was inevitable. It is entirely the fault of 46% of Americans who voted in 2016. They have no one to blame but themselves.

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  3. Jax says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I really hate it when you lay it all out like that, I get angry at all of the stuff that has happened that’s gotten washed away by the next terrible Trump Tweet, but it’s a perfect example of how numb we’ve become to the trashiness of the Trump Administration and Celebrity Apprentice: The White House.

    Make Government Boring Again!!!

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  4. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: This is a superb post. Sadly, those who most need to read it and heed it won’t do so.

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  5. Scott F. says:

    I have to admit some marvel at the scale of difference between the sober accounting of these impeachment proceedings from Doug’s final 5 paragraphs and Trump’s tweets from today. Lying or gaslighting or obfuscation don’t come close to describing the boundless disconnect here. These two descriptions aren’t different spins on a basic set of common real things – these descriptions can’t exist in the same universe.

    As has been noted before, Trump has done massive amounts of damage to the country’s institutions and it’s norms of governance. But, I think the damage Trump has done to objective fact is more pernicious and likely will have more lasting effects on the US. That the majority of Trump’s base take his Tweets as truth and the rest as Fake News gives Trump immense power. When enabled by his partners in crime at Fox and in the GOP, there really is no way to counter this power.

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  6. andros says:

    Rasmussen has Trump at 52% approval, 47% disapproval today–up 6% from when this august proceeding began. Ach, who could have dreamed that so many were in thrall to Putin? It’s like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. They walk among us, with their traitor’s smile. Trust no one.

    I understand Joe got apoplectic today when asked about Hunter’s Ukrainian shenanigans. Let’s hope these cretins don’t drive poor Hunter into a relapse.

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  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @andros:
    Once again, you fail to address the facts. Because you can’t. Because you know I’m right, so you throw scat in the air and run around your cage like a monkey in a roadside zoo.

    By the way, if you are actually interested in polls: Trump is and has been between 10 and 13 points underwater essentially since election day. But no, on second thought, don’t click on the link. You need to keep your brain far from reality.

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  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @andros:
    Oh, and if the only poll you like is Rasmussen, at least consult their averages.

    Oh, and here’s the page for Fox News Polls. Good old Fox. 49% want Trump impeached and removed.

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  9. Mikey says:

    @andros: You mean the GOP house pollster is a huge outlier?

    Color me shocked…bahahahahaha…

    If you were any more transparent we could use you to wrap Trump’s head when he gets his hair colored.

    Now bugger off, treason enabler. I haven’t spent my entire career in the defense of this nation to lose it to the likes of you.

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    Rasmussen has Trump at 52% approval, 47% disapproval today–up 6% from when this august proceeding began.

    Next you’ll be telling us about polls from the Weekly World News…

    Let’s hope these cretins don’t drive poor Hunter into a relapse.

    Oh, so you think it’s amusing to make fun of someone who’s suffered the family tragedies he has? No wonder you support Trump, you’re both douchebags…

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  11. An Interested Party says:

    Trump sold American foreign policy to an enemy nation, Russia.

    Oh look, he’s not the only one…

  12. Jim says:

    Bring. It. On.

  13. andros says:

    Trump’s defense that the questionable activities of the Bidens in Ukraine require investigation just got a big boost today from Marine Corps veteran Merle Gorman, who confronted Biden during an Iowa campaign event. Some choice quotes, from Gorman’s NY Post (Meet the Man Who Says Biden Has a ‘Wet Noodle for a Backbone, Tamir Lapin, 12-15-19) ‘ interview:

    “I’m positive 90% of the people there didn’t know about his son working on the board in Ukraine.”

    “He didn’t have the guts to explain the situation, and that’s what I wanted.”

    Going forward, it will obviously be more difficult for Biden to avoid explaining what he and Hunter were doing in Ukraine. (Gorman, BTW, claims to be a Democrat.)

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  14. JKB says:

    As I’ve argued before, there is a good reason for the House to also consider adding other matters for the Senate to consider in its trial on the impeachment charges. This includes obstruction of justice in connection with the Russia investigation, the payoffs to Trump’s former mistresses on the eve of the 2016 election, the Emoluments Clauses issue, and the fact that the Trump Administration has obstructed justice by denying Congress access to documents and witnesses.

    Yeah, it they throw all that against the wall, you won’t see this being completed in a month or even two. Such extensive charges will require extensive testimony and cross examination from many, assuming actual witnesses, and not hearsay and opinion witnesses can be found.

    As for the latter “obstruction of justice”, well, President Trump has not denied Congress access to any documents or witnesses that were ordered to be produced by the SCOTUS after a proper adjudication of a privilege claim. The Democrats in the House didn’t want to take the time to follow, you know, the proper procedures for resolving claims of privilege.

    The Senate looks like it will be resolved into a court of impeachment for quite sometime in 2019. That is if they don’t toss out the House accusations out of hand.

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  15. Kurtz says:

    In other news, random Iowa veteran confronts Biden. This is seen as evidence by some people.

  16. Mister Bluster says:

    President Trump has not denied Congress access to any documents or witnesses that were ordered to be produced by the SCOTUS after a proper adjudication of a privilege claim.

    The United States Constitution
    Article I, Section 2, Clause 5: The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

    The only role for the courts is spelled out in Article I Section 3 Clause 6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

    The abovementioned trial occurs after the President has been successfully impeached by the House of Representatives.

    The House of Representatives does not need permission from the Judicial branch to issue legal subpoenas of witnesses or documents.

  17. CSK says:

    You knew this was coming: Kellyanne Conway informs us that those foreign leaders who mocked Trump are “just jealous” of him.

  18. andros says:

    @Kurtz:
    Google “Merle Gorman,” click on “news,” and you’ll see my comment, heh. Ah’m naaaaationwide!

  19. Teve says:

    @CSK: They’re jealous of his big hands and full head of hair.

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  20. Kathy says:

    The question I would like all Republicans to answer is: When a Democrat does the same thing, will you also claim there is nothing impeachable?

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  21. CSK says:

    @Teve: And his svelte physique, his commanding visage, his piercing blue eyes, his dazzling oratory, his statesman-like demeanor…

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Notice that neither @andros nor @JKB disputes the facts.

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  23. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    As for the latter “obstruction of justice”, well, President Trump has not denied Congress access to any documents or witnesses that were ordered to be produced by the SCOTUS after a proper adjudication of a privilege claim.

    I have not failed to pay any parking tickets that were ordered to be paid by the SCOTUS after a proper adjudication of the validity of the ticket. The police and city court are somehow unpersuaded that this is a reasonable excuse.

    In case you are analogy-impaired: as noted above, the Constitution clearly says that the House does not need any review or permission from SCOTUS in conducting their impeachment — indeed, such review would be explicitly unconstitutional. Either you didn’t know this, and are again shooting your mouth off about things of which you are ignorant, or you did know this, and are again lying your ass off in defense of your cheap plastic imitation Mussolini.

  24. CSK says:

    North Korea is back to describing Trump as “a dotard in his dotage.” I guess the love affair with Kim has ended.

  25. JKB says:

    @Mister Bluster: @DrDaveT:

    When the Executive Branch asserts a claim of executive privilege and denies a request from the co-equal Legislative Branch, then the proper action is to go the c0-equal Judicial Branch for adjudication of the claim. There is no obstruction of Justice or Congress until the ruling on the claim is made.

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  26. JKB says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    There are no facts in evidence beyond the fact a call occurred and there is a transcript of that call.

    Beyond that, the closest to a fact we’ve seen is Amb Sondland’s presumption. And presumptions aren’t facts, they are opinion and feelz.

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  27. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    When the Executive Branch asserts a claim of executive privilege […]

    …it is negated by the explicit authority granted in the Constitution, which overrides any penumbral rights.

    and denies a request from the co-equal Legislative Branch

    The House of Representatives is not a “co-equal branch” in this specific case, any more than a judge is just a “fellow city employee” when trying the case of another judge who is being prosecuted for a crime.

    But you knew that.

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  28. DrDaveT says:

    @JKB:

    There are no facts in evidence beyond the fact a call occurred and there is a transcript of that call.

    So, none of that testimony actually happened? It was faked, like the moon landings?

    (Of course, even if this absurd claim were true, it wouldn’t get around the fact that Trump himself and Mulvaney and Giuliani all confessed to the crime on national television. You keep forgetting that.)

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  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    There is far, far more evidence than is used to convict any random drug dealer. All prosecutions rest on witness testimony and physical evidence. The physical evidence: call logs and emails. The testimony I assume you ignored.

    To claim that because we don’t have video of Trump explicitly selling out the country we should let him off, is to claim that we should empty our prisons tomorrow.

    And there is also ten times as much evidence as there has ever been to support any of the moronic conspiracy theories you try and peddle here. Pizza parlor basement sex cults anyone?

    Your position is absurd and jaw-droppingly hypocritical. As usual @JKB = Nada.

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    That is nonsense as well. Trump refuses to submit to clearly constitutional procedures. He is not required to resist, he’s not required to obstruct, he has chosen to obstruct. Why? Because he’s fucking guilty you brainwashed knob end.

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  31. andros says:

    Wonder if there will be an assertion of privilege with respect to the demands by Grassley and Johnson for records pertaining to the meetings of Obama officials with Blue Star Strategies (representing Burisma) and the Big Chalupa (Demand letters on Sen. Grassley’s website.)

  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @andros:

    Wonder if there will be an assertion of privilege

    How could there be you fuckwit? Are you under the impression that candidates have executive privilege? Stop trying to be clever, it’s painful to watch.

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  33. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Indeed. If any single one of the people the House called to testify but Trump has blocked were actually able to provide any exculpatory evidence at all, they’d have been up on Capitol Hill in milliseconds and plastered all over every news show from now until Election Day.

    But they’re not, because there is no exculpatory evidence, and whenever they actually talk about this whole shitshow they just make it worse for Trump (I’m looking at you, Mick Mulvaney).

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  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: They have no reason to dispute the facts. They’re mostly arguing parallel issues for which the facts are irrelevant. In JKBs case, he seems to be arguing that there will be some sort of electoral “reckoning” that will befall Democratic politicians and sees that he needs to get in his gloating early in case he’s wrong. And andros seems to want Hunter Biden investigated until the result matches his perception of reality–sorta like “Benghazi” of years ago.

  35. JohnSF says:

    Can anyone clear something up for me; if the House moves impeachment, can they still hold hearings and subpoena in related matters?

    If they can still proceed on related matters, surely there’s nothing to stop pursuit of testimony from e.g. Bolton, Mulvaney, Pompeo, Giuliani, Barr etc. ?

    Or will referral to the Senate rule that out?

  36. andros says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    The meetings in question occurred in 2016.

  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @andros:
    Genius: an assertion of executive privilege can only be made by a sitting president. Right? Is Biden the sitting president? No. Over whom exactly do you imagine he’d claim privilege? His gardener?

    Duuuuh.

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  38. An Interested Party says:

    That’s a cute little game Trump and his toadies are playing…arguing that the Democrats haven’t produced any witnesses with direct evidence of Trump’s actions, while at the same time refusing to let people with direct evidence testify…of course, as has been mentioned, that refusal itself is an impeachable offense…