WASHINGTON: House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment on Tuesday against President Donald Trump abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — pushing towards historic votes over charges he corrupted the US election process and endangered national security.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of the impeachment inquiry committees, stood at the Capitol in what she called a solemn act.” Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House.
“He endangers our democracy, he endangers our national security,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, the Judiciary chairman announcing the charges before a portrait of George Washington. Our next election is at risk [...] That is why we must act now.
The charges unveiled on Tuesday stem from Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals as he withheld aid to the country.
Trump tweeted ahead of the announcement that impeaching a president with a record like his would be sheer Political Madness! The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares for voting, as it has only three times in history against a US president.
In drafting the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The charges will be submitted for debate and a vote in the Judiciary Committee and, if passed, presented to the full 435-member House, where Democrats have a solid majority.
If Trump is impeached he faces a trial in the Senate, where Republicans currently hold 53 seats to the Democrats’ 47. An unlikely two-thirds Senate majority is required to remove the president.
Article II, Section 4 of the US Constitution outlines the grounds for impeaching a president.
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery and other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” it states.
The two articles of impeachment are:
Article I: Abuse of Power
Trump is accused of abusing his power by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into Democrat Joe Biden, his potential opponent in the 2020 presidential election.
“Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election,” Article I says.
“President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit,” it says.
“In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process,” it adds.
The resolution accuses Trump of withholding $391 million in “vital military and security assistance” to Ukraine and a White House meeting for Zelensky to secure an investigation into former vice president Biden.
“President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit,” the resolution states.
“He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.” The resolution says Trump’s actions were consistent with his “previous invitations of foreign interference in United States elections.” “President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,” the resolution says.
“President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,” it says.
Article II: Obstruction of Congress
The basis of the second article of impeachment — for obstruction of Congress — stems from Trump’s refusal to comply with various congressional subpoenas issued by House impeachment investigators.
“Donald J. Trump has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its Power of Impeachment,” Article II of the resolution says.
“President Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency in a manner offensive to, and subversive of, the Constitution.
“Without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas,” the resolution says.
The resolution says Trump’s defiance is unprecedented.
“In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” it reads.
“In all of this, President Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States,” it goes on to say.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019