On Dec. 18, I spent 12-straight hours in the House Press Gallery witnessing history as the House of Representatives adopted two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.
The House settled on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and, indeed, those two articles of impeachment are more than justified; both were adopted on the House floor in a highly partisan vote.
The primary basis in the abuse of power article is the president using the powers of his office to coerce a foreign entity to interfere in the upcoming election for political gain. Specifically, Article I focused on Trump’s misuse of his office to gain a political advantage on a likely Democratic opponent by pressuring the newly elected President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, to announce an investigation into that opponent by withholding much needed military aid and a much needed White House meeting.
Article II, obstruction of Congress, has as its primary basis on Trump’s refusal to allow administration officials to testify during the House committee hearings or provide subpoenaed documents requested by those House committees.
The question that arises is, why not three articles of impeachment? Why not obstruction of justice? Why not include all of Volume II of the Mueller Report, which provided extensive examples of obstruction of justice on the part of Trump and which, as such, established the pattern of Trump’s behavior that led to his abuse of power in the Ukraine scandal?
Richard Nixon’s impeachable behavior came closest to the conduct of Trump. Although Nixon was not nearly as threatening to national security as the behavior of Trump, he had three articles of impeachment ready to be filed against him until he decided to resign rather than face impeachment.
The three articles of impeachment against Nixon were abuse of power for using the IRS and the FBI to investigate individuals on his “enemies list” as well as trying to use the CIA to curtail the FBI’s investigation into the Watergate scandal, obstruction of justice for the cover-up of the Watergate break-in, and contempt of Congress for withholding the incriminating White House tapes relating to the break-in.
The importance of including the Mueller Report findings in an article of impeachment, obstruction of justice specifically, is that not to do so would contribute to the Trump narrative that the report exonerated him, that there was “no collusion, no obstruction.” Anyone who read all 447 pages of the report, as I did, knows full well that that is clearly not the case.
As previously mentioned, Volume II goes into great detail outlining specific instances of obstruction of justice, such as instructing members of his administration such as White House Counsel Don McGahn to lie and to have him end the Mueller investigation. So why then not include obstruction of justice as a third article of impeachment against Trump? At worst, if included, it might fail to be adopted.
There were four articles of impeachment filed against Bill Clinton, but only two were adopted. Andrew Johnson had eleven articles of impeachment initially filed against him, yet only four were adopted. So why not at least three against Trump?
Well, the strategy adopted by the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership is to keep it as simple as possible to make it as easy as possible for those members of the citizenry who are following the proceedings to understand the magnitude of the president’s corruption.
Moreover, since impeachment proceedings did not proceed after the release of the Mueller Report, to include it now would, conceivably, place Democrats in the position of having to explain why, if the report did not justify impeachment when it was released, why does it suddenly justify impeachment now?
Are Democrats merely trying to lay it on? Are they throwing everything at the wall to see what will stick at the Senate trial? Maybe they should go all out and include, as well, Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution as he enriches himself through the presidency on an almost daily basis?
The short answer is that I fully understand the rationale. Could you keep it simple? Don’t go back to 2016 campaign issues when there is more than enough evidence of Trump’s abuse of power with just the facts of the Ukraine case and more than enough evidence of his obstruction of Congress with his blatant refusal to respect the authority and responsibility of a co-equal branch of our government regarding Congressional subpoenas.
However, I’m afraid I have to disagree. Obstruction of justice and the Mueller Report should have been the third article of impeachment. The level of corruption of this president is monumental. His blatant refusal to adhere to the principles laid out by our founding fathers in the Constitution is, likewise, monumental.
The partisan politics in Washington, D.C., makes it extremely unlikely that the Republican Senate will remove this president from office. However, this is not about removal as much as it is about making a case for the American people the extent of this president’s misuse of the office of president.
No, this is about ensuring that the electorate of this country is made aware of who Trump is when they go to the ballot box on Nov. 3, 2020.
It is about educating the electorate about their elected officials in both the House and the Senate and expose how these officials view contempt for our Constitution and our democracy.
It is about how America, as a whole, views an oath of office, which requires a president to affirm that he or she will “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution if the United States.”
One last point: In the 12 hours of floor debate on the two articles of impeachment, not one Republican said that he or she would do the same thing as was done by the president – solicit foreign assistance in their next election – not one. If he really did nothing wrong, then why not? That is something for you to consider.