House Democratic leaders today formally called for President Trump’s removal from office, asserting that he “ignored and injured the interests of the Nation” in two articles of impeachment that charged him with abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
In nine short pages, the draft articles accused Trump of carrying out a scheme “corruptly soliciting” election assistance from the government of Ukraine in the form of investigations that would smear his Democratic political rivals.
To do so, Democrats charged, Trump used as leverage two “official acts”: the delivery of $391 million in security assistance and a White House meeting for Ukraine’s president.
“In all of this, 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,” according to a draft of the first article. “He has also betrayed the nation by abusing his office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.”
A second article charges that by ordering across-the-board defiance of House subpoenas for testimony and documents related to the Ukraine matter, Trump engaged in “unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance” that harmed the House’s constitutional rights.
Democrats unveiled them today ahead of a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee as soon as Wednesday, where the panel will debate and vote on the charges.
The panel could vote by Thursday to recommend them to the full House of Representatives for final approval.
If the House follows through as expected next week, days before Christmas, Trump could stand trial in the Senate early in the new year.
Trump responded angrily to Democrats’ announcement, taking to Twitter to proclaim their charge that he pressured Ukraine “ridiculous.”
The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, accused Democrats of “manufacturing an impeachment inquiry and forcing unfounded accusations down the throats of the American people.”
Their goal, she said, was to try to use the House’s impeachment power to weaken Mr. Trump’s chances of re-election.
“The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the president, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our nation,” Ms. Grisham said in a statement. “The president will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.”
The introduction of formal charges was a major milestone in a more than two-month impeachment inquiry and the long, slow-building partisan showdown that has defined Trump’s presidency.
Speaking earlier this morning from a wood-paneled reception room just off the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of six key committees said that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, had left them no choice but to pursue one of the Constitution’s gravest remedies.
The move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for only the fourth time in American history.
Attribution:The New York Times