House Dems Plan to Lay Out 2 Articles of Impeachment

WASHINGTON (CN) – House Democrats are ready to move forward with at least two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday that will likely include abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Breaking the news about the articles Monday night, the Washington Post cited sources who sat in on a closed door meeting led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and attended by other senior Democratic leadership.

The decision to announce the articles Tuesday comes after the House Judiciary Committee’s nine-hour long hearing on Monday where lawmakers weighed evidence amassed by the House Intelligence Committee alleging Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, left, listens to ranking member Rep. Doug Collins after the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Dec. 4, 2019 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Republicans were combative with Democrats as they squared off over two seemingly opposite narratives. For Democrats, the evidence presented over weeks of public and private testimony by senior ranking Trump administration officials corroborated and revealed a scheme by Trump to leverage $391 million in military assistance in order to apply pressure on Ukraine, a long-time U.S. ally.

Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman presented “four takeaways” Monday to lawmakers based on this premise and argued that the President’s push to have Ukraine’s President Volodomyr Zelensky announce an investigation into his 2020 election opponent Joe Biden was an abuse of power, even if it never got off the ground. 

Trump’s outright refusal to submit to subpoenas and his direction to cabinet members that they not testify were also emphasized by Democrats Monday, a preview of the likely obstruction of Congress article to come.

During the impeachment inquiry, Republicans largely ignored the content of Trump’s call with Zelensky on July 25, the admission by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in an October press conference that quid pro quo did occur, and a failure by Trump to notify Congress of his intent to delay funds. 

Instead, Republicans zeroed in on what they have dubbed a rushed inquiry process motivated by a long-simmering Democratic desire to oust Trump.

The House Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, Republican Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, echoed the president’s own sentiments regarding the impeachment investigation. Collins called it a “sham” on multiple occasions Monday. As the hearing wound down, he referred to the inquiry as a “focus group impeachment” rooted not in matters of potential presidential criminality but on what Democrats think their base wants to believe about the president’s conduct. 

Democrats have been split over whether to include articles of impeachment related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections. One of the investigations that Trump demanded of Zelensky sought to sow doubt over the conclusions of Mueller’s report, and multiple fact witnesses characterized Republicans’ attempts to pin election interference on Ukraine as little more than Russian disinformation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has regularly told reporters that “all roads seem to lead to Putin.”

Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told Courthouse News that Trump’s conduct in Ukraine cannot be separated from the broader picture of his relationship with Russia.

“When the Speaker says all roads lead to Russia, what she means is that the president and all the president’s men continue to be under the spell of Putin’s conspiracy theories,” Raskin noted in an interview on Friday. “The claim that it was Ukraine and not Russia that interfered in our election in 2016 is Russian disinformation. That is Russian propaganda. So, you simply cannot disentangle the Ukraine shakedown from the general pattern of president’s involvement with the Russian propaganda.”

The 300-page majority report released by the House Intelligence Committee suggests that two articles of impeachment could be broad enough to capture both. 

Structurally reminiscent of the Mueller report, the Intelligence Committee divided its analysis into “The President’s Misconduct” and “The President’s Obstruction of the House of Representatives’ Impeachment Inquiry.”

Congressman Raskin made clear that he personally favors not giving Trump a pass on any impeachable conduct.

“Put it this way, I would rather go deep than go shallow,” he said.

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