Judiciary Committee sends 2 articles of  impeachment to the full House
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler had adjourned Thursday without a vote on the articles of impeachment. Ranking member Doug Collins (in background) likened the move to a "kangaroo court." | J. Scott Applewhite/AP

WASHINGTON – A massive coalition of progressive groups, led by MoveOn.org, and including sponsors such as the Service Employees, United We Dream, Indivisible and its Chicago affiliate, the Women’s March, NOW, Democracy 21 and Credo, plan mass rallies in more than 440 cities nationwide on the eve of the upcoming U.S. House vote to impeach GOP President Donald Trump.

That vote is a virtual certainty now that the House Judiciary Committee has approved two articles of impeachment against the president, one on abuse of power and the other on obstruction of Congress.

“Today is a solemn and sad day,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D.-N.Y., said. “For the third time in little over a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeachment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“The House will act expeditiously,” he added.

The committee’s historic approval of the articles followed a day of failed showmanship by GOP lawmakers who offered amendment after amendment that would water down the articles. They used their time speaking for their failed amendments to talk about everything but central facts of Trump’s wrong-doing, which they were unable to challenge.

They made false charges that the impeachment process has cut out Republican defenders of Trump and put forward debunked conspiracy theories that it was Ukraine and not Russia that interfered in the elections. Their total inability to challenge the facts underlying the impeachment articles allowed Democrats to capture the moral high ground throughout the debates yesterday.

Pundits have claimed that Republican lawmakers are afraid of Trump’s white working-class base and that is why they blindly back the president. Yesterday’s actions by Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, however, seem to show that the lawmakers themselves are to blame here. Their actions reflect people who either are authoritarian or fascist-minded and racist themselves or that they are right-wingers willing to tolerate anything in order to foist their anti-working-class agenda on the country.

They talked, for example, how Trump’s tax cuts for the rich benefit the country but never mentioned his pre-Christmas decision to cut food stamps for hungry Americans.

“Nobody is above the law,” the Democrats said over and over again in their arguments for their two articles of impeachment. That cry is being repeated by the many mass organizations planning to demonstrate on the nation’s streets the day before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., schedules the roll call vote on impeachment. The mass rallies across the country could be held then as soon as Dec. 16.

The first impeachment article covers Trump’s scheme to – in so many words – bribe Ukraine’s government into interfering on his behalf in the 2020 presidential election campaign, by sham investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump also demanded the Ukrainians investigate a debunked right-wing theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 vote and the totally disproved claim that they worked in tandem with the Clinton Campaign to ensure Hillary Clinton’s victory.

Trump’s bribe, though the impeachment article doesn’t use that word, was to withhold U.S. military aid until the right-wing Ukrainian government kowtowed to his demands. The Ukrainians refused, but the whistleblower report and newspaper revelations of his plot forced Trump to release much of the $391 million in aid. He is still withholding more than $30 million because his delay made it impossible to disburse the full amount approved by a bi-partisan congressional vote on time.

The second article details how Trump has obstructed the investigations of those acts every step of the way, in defiance of the separation of powers and of Congress. It shows how he ordered everyone in the executive branch to refuse to testify before Congress and how he refused to supply Congress with even a single document. The articles also declare Trump has broken his oath of office “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The Democratic-run House Judiciary Committee finished two days of work on the specifics of the impeachment articles on Dec. 13, sending them to the full House, where its Democratic leaders expect approval.

Those work sessions, like prior weeks of public congressional hearings, featured witnesses under oath testifying and offering evidence of Trump’s constitutional crimes and Republicans caterwauling about the process and repeating Trump’s talking points of “witch hunt,” “fake news” and — the latest — “nothing happened.”

On the House floor, Democratic leaders hope to keep defections in the single digits and will also gain support from Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., who was kicked out of the GOP for saying Trump committed impeachable offenses. All the Republicans are expected to back Trump and oppose impeachment.

The grass-roots coalition wants to make sure, with rallies in cities as large as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and as small as Gillette, Wyoming that the Democrats don’t waver, while lobbying Republicans to defect.

“We’ll head to every congressional office and public square to declare that Nobody Is Above the Law as representatives finalize their positions and senators look on,” the coalition says. The GOP-run Senate is expected to try Trump on the charges in January, with party discipline strongly enforced there, too.

The Senate is where the real process problems are expected to happen. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already announced that he is coordinating the entire trial with the Trump White House and Trump’s lawyers. It is outrageous but not surprising, of course, that McConnell, who should be functioning as the foreman of the “jury” in the trial would collude, ahead of time, with the lawyers for the accused.

The impeachment demonstrations, according to the organizers, “will be visible, family-friendly, public gatherings to demonstrate to our lawmakers their constituents are behind them to defend the Constitution — and that Trump has left them no alternative to uphold their oath of office but to support impeachment and removal,” the coalition statement says.

It’s also requiring all participants who RSVP to pledge to be non-violent and peaceful. “We will not have any direct engagement with those who do not support our efforts,” add the organizers of the event in Crystal Lake, Ill. “We will not engage in any negative or derogatory conversations with others.”

“We are calling on Congress to impeach and remove Donald Trump from office.”

“45, the present occupant in the White House, used military aid to pressure Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 elections. There’s more….He tried to cover it up! He. is. not. above the law and must be impeached!”

The D.C. events will include a press conference and mass gathering on the U.S. Capitol grounds plus several rallies in the suburbs. The Chicago Loop event will be at Federal Plaza, with others in Glenview, Evanston, Arlington Heights, Elmhurst, Crystal Lake, Mount Prospect, and Naperville.

The New York City-area events will be at Times Square, with others in Huntington and White Plains. There will be six events in New Jersey, in cities as large as Newark and as small as Newton, and two more in the Big Apple’s Connecticut suburbs.

The main Los Angeles rally will be outside City Hall, with others in Torrance, Valencia, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Sherman Oaks, Westlake Village, West Hollywood and Sierra Madre.

“Let’s have one unified voice raised as high as the voices around the world in opposition to corruption, authoritarian rule, and inhumanity,” the downtown L.A. organizers declared.

While none of the lead sponsors of the pro-impeachment events issued separate statements, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry laid out the case two months ago when she announced her union’s support for the House impeachment investigation. SEIU was one of only three unions to take that stand, along with National Nurses United and the Teachers (AFT). The labor-allied National Day Laborers Organizing Network is also a sponsor of the pro-impeachment events.

The presidents of two other unions, the National Education Association and the Communications Workers, also individually favored impeachment. But their union conventions did not go along with that. NEA delegates voted a pro-impeachment endorsement down. CWA delegates slammed Trump but went no farther.

“All Americans — no matter where we are from or what color we are — can agree that our democracy is too important for any individual to be above the law, including the nation’s president,” Henry said in late September. “People deserve to know the facts about whether President Trump has abused his authority by putting his own political interests ahead of the interests of the country.”

“Working people of all colors and creeds are fed up with self-interested politicians using their power and influence to rig the rules in their favor. Congress must exercise its constitutional duty to investigate thoroughly and, if necessary, take action to ensure that we have a democracy that works for all of us.”

City-by-city information and RSVPs can be found at www.impeach.org.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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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