Trump Charges: Betrayal of Nation 12/11 06:23
House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President
Donald Trump, declaring he "betrayed the nation" with his actions toward
Ukraine as they pushed toward historic proceedings that are certain to help
define his presidency and shape the 2020 election.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment
against President Donald Trump, declaring he "betrayed the nation" with his
actions toward Ukraine as they pushed toward historic proceedings that are
certain to help define his presidency and shape the 2020 election.
The specific charges aimed at removing the 45th president of the United
States: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of impeachment inquiry
committees at the U.S. Capitol, said they were upholding their solemn oath to
defend the Constitution. Trump responded angrily on Twitter: "WITCH HUNT!"
Voting is expected in a matter of days by the Judiciary Committee, which
begins deliberations Wednesday, and by Christmas in the full House. The
charges, if approved, would then be sent to the Senate, where the Republican
majority would be unlikely to convict Trump, but not without a potentially
bitter trial just as voters in Iowa and other early presidential primary states
begin making their choices.
In the formal articles announced Tuesday, the Democrats said Trump enlisted
a foreign power in "corrupting" the U.S. election process and endangered
national security by asking Ukraine to investigate his political rivals,
including Democrat Joe Biden, while withholding U.S. military aid as leverage.
That benefited Russia over the U.S. as America's ally fought Russian
aggression, the Democrats said.
Trump then obstructed Congress by ordering current and former officials to
defy House subpoenas for testimony and by blocking access to documents, the
By his conduct, Trump "demonstrated he will remain a threat to national
security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, " the nine-page
impeachment resolution says.
"If we did not hold him accountable, he would continue to undermine our
election," Pelosi said later at a forum sponsored by Politico. "Nothing less is
at stake than the central point of our democracy - a free and fair election.''
Trump tweeted that to impeach a president "who has done NOTHING wrong, is
sheer Political Madness."
He later headed to Pennsylvania for a reelection campaign rally, where he
called the effort "impeachment lite" and promised it would lead to his
reelection in 2020.
The outcome appears increasingly set as the House presses ahead toward
impeachment as it has only three times in history against U.S. presidents, a
test of the nation's system of checks and balances.
Democrats said they had a duty to act in what is now a strictly partisan
undertaking, as Republicans stand with the president, because Trump has shown a
pattern of behavior that, if left unchecked, poses risks to the democratic
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the Judiciary chairman, said the president
"holds the ultimate public trust. When he betrays that trust and puts himself
before country, he endangers the Constitution; he endangers our democracy; he
endangers our national security."
"No one, not even the president, is above the law," he said, announcing the
charges before a portrait of George Washington.
Chairman Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee said, "We stand here
today because the president's abuse of power leaves us with no choice."
Trump's allies immediately plunged into the fight that will extend into the
new year. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Democrats are
trying to "overthrow'' the administration. Campaign manager Brad Parscale said
Democrats "don't have a viable candidate for 2020 and they know it." The
president's son, Eric, embraced his father's penchant for name calling,
assailing Pelosi and "her swamp creatures."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would be "totally surprised''
if there were 67 votes in the chamber to convict Trump, and signaled options
for a swift trial. He said no decision had been made whether to call witnesses.
In drafting the charges against the president, Pelosi faced 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."
Some liberal lawmakers wanted more expansive charges encompassing the
findings from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in
the 2016 election. Centrist Democrats preferred to keep the impeachment
articles more focused on Trump's actions toward Ukraine as a clearer case.
The final resolution, slim in length yet broad in concept, attempted to find
common ground by linking the Ukraine inquiry to the Mueller probe in two
separate lines.It said the abuse of power was consistent with Trump's "previous
invitations of foreign interference in United States elections" while the
obstruction charge was consistent with his efforts to undermine U.S. government
''investigations into foreign interference."
Democratic leaders say Trump put his political interests above those of the
nation when he asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July phone call
to investigate his rivals, including Democrat Joe Biden, and then withheld $400
million in military aid as the U.S. ally faced an aggressive Russia. They say
he then obstructed Congress by stonewalling the House investigation.
The articles say 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."
The first article, on abuse of power, says Trump "corruptly" solicited
Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.
The second article, obstruction of Congress, says that Trump directed
defiance of the House's ability to conduct its legal oversight like no other
president "in the history of the republic."
Trump insisted in a new tweet that when he asked Ukraine's president "to do
us a favor" with the investigations, "'us' is a reference to USA, not me!"
Democrats, however, say Trump's meaning could not have been clearer in seeking
political dirt on Biden, his possible opponent in the 2020 election.
Republicans stand with the president even if they don't fully address his
actions. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said, the vote will be on impeachment
not "whether a call is perfect.''
While the impeachment is focused on the Ukraine matter, Trump's actions
toward Russia continue underlie the debate. On Tuesday Trump met at the White
House with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister just back from Paris
efforts to revive peace talks with Ukraine.
At the same time, a top adviser to the Ukraine president, Andriy Yermak,
disputed key impeachment testimony from U.S. Ambassador Gordon Sondland,
telling Time magazine the two did not speak of the investigations Trump wanted
during a Warsaw meeting.
The next steps are expected to come swiftly after months of investigation
into the Ukraine matter and special counsel Mueller's two-year Russia probe.
In his report, Mueller said he could not determine that Trump's campaign
conspired or coordinated with Russia in the 2016 election. But he said he could
not exonerate Trump of obstructing justice and left it for Congress to
Even as she pushed ahead with the impeachment proceeding, Pelosi announced
an agreement with the White House on a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, a
top priority for the president as well as many centrist Democrats. It, too,
could get a vote next week.