House leaders put forward articles of impeachment against the president
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, joined by key House committee leaders, announces articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol on Dec. 10, 2019. | J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Congressional leaders unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Trump this morning—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The announcement brings the nation another step closer to only the third time in U.S. history that a president will have been impeached.

The articles of impeachment announced today stem from Trump’s having sought foreign interference in the 2020 election by withholding congressionally-approved security aid to Ukraine and the resulting danger, according to congressional committees, that this poses to U.S. security.

The historic announcement today was made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and impeachment inquiry committee chairs as they stood, shoulder to shoulder, in front of a huge portrait of George Washington.

“He endangered our democracy, he endangered our national security,” Rep. Jerold Nadler, D-N.Y., chair of the Judiciary Committee that drafted the articles, declared solemnly. “Our next election is at risk. That is why we must act now.”

The House is expected to vote on the articles before Christmas and send them to the Senate for a trial in January. It has taken two and a half months since the beginning of the impeachment inquiry for the House committees to lay out their cases against the president.

The investigations show the president led a conspiracy across government departments to pressure the Ukrainian president into opening an investigation of his political rivals. The pressure involved holding up almost $400 million in security aid to Ukraine that had already been allocated by Congress. That action by the Trump administration was followed by a cover-up and Trump’s refusal at every turn to obey the constitutional requirement that he cooperate in the Congressional probes.

Many in Congress have actually been calling for articles of impeachment that are more extensive than the ones announced by Congress this morning. They have argued that the Mueller Report findings and Trump’s violation of the emolument clauses of the Constitution, which forbid presidents from using their office to enrich themselves, should have been included. The more centrist lawmakers have argued that the articles should be kept simple and focused.

A number of progressive organizations also are not happy with the narrow focus of the impeachment articles released today.

“It’s beyond overdue for House Democrats to introduce articles of impeachment, but failing to include articles addressing most of the high crimes and misdemeanors Trump has committed is a dangerous abdication of responsibility,” said the progressive group CREDO Action in a statement today.

“Omitting Trump’s abuses of executive power to promote hatred and incite violence, his abuse of emergency powers and the armed forces, and his abuse of the presidency to swindle the American people, is a tacit stamp of approval of these heinous and hateful violations of the Constitution,” the statement added.

“We’re gravely disappointed that Speaker Pelosi and House Democratic Leadership introduced the narrowest possible articles of impeachment instead of holding Trump accountable for the full extent of his crimes.

“Trump’s actions with regard to Ukraine are absolutely impeachable, that is not in question,” the CREDO statement said. “But by not including Trump’s bigotry, corruption, and self-enrichment, Democrats are telling the communities that Trump has terrorized that they are on their own.”

Republicans, ignoring the repeated offers to the president by the congressional committees that he come or send someone to testify in his behalf, are claiming the entire impeachment process has been unfair. Democrats point out that Republicans are on all of the committees involved and the rules that have been followed were actually drawn up by the Republicans themselves.

Trump was also unhappy with the findings yesterday by the Inspector General of the Justice Department that the FBI was indeed justified in its investigation into the connections between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives and that the FBI did not act with pro-Democratic Party bias.

Functioning as the president’s personal lawyer rather than as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General William Barr is challenging his own department’s report, claiming instead that the FBI had launched an unjustified “massive intrusion” into Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Events are so outrageous and so fast moving these days that what is lost on almost everyone is that, at any other time in U.S. history, had an attorney general called for an investigation of his own FBI and had that investigation found the attorney general’s concerns were wrong and were themselves politically motivated, that attorney general would have most certainly been forced to resign. Instead, Barr remains in office, working full-time as Trump’s personal lawyer.


CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

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