Articles of Impeachment

The House Judiciary committee just voted on and passed the articles of impeachment against President Trump. The debate and discussion leading up to this vote, and how each member of the committee voted, provides the perfect broad-strokes outline for the arguments for and against impeaching President Trump. While the discussion is divided as Democrats in favor and Republicans against, I will use the Articles themselves as the arguments in favor and “rebuttal” for the arguments against the Articles of Impeachment. It’s my hope that we can read this as a discussion rather than a battle across party lines.

Here we go!

Resolution

President Trump is being impeached for “committed high crimes and misdemeanors” per the US Constitution. This is a conclusive statement which will be supported by the following two articles of impeachment. 

Rebuttal

It is argued that all of the testimony and information collected so far does not constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Several Judiciary committee members point to past presidents who have carried out similar actions that were not seen as worthy of impeachment. The facts and burden of proof have not been met to elevate the severity of the status to “high” crimes or “high” misdemeanors. 

Article 1 – Abuse of Power

President Trump used his power as the President of the United States to solicit a foreign government, specifically Ukraine, to interfere in the 2020 elections. President Trump asked Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation that would benefit his reelection and that would harm a political opponent. President Trump put pressure on Ukraine to comply with his request by making certain acts of the United States Government conditional. 

Specifically, President Trump withheld:

1) a visit to the White House, which would have demonstrated “continued United States support for the Government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression” as well as 

2) defense aid ($391 million) “approved on a bipartisan basis for the purpose of providing vital military and security assistance to Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression”. 

All of this was withheld until Ukraine fulfilled his request by making a public announcement that Ukraine would be investigating Burisma, the Biden family, and Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 elections. President Trump did ultimately release security assistance, only after these actions were brought into the public light following the whistleblower complaint. 

Therefore President Trump used the United States Government, government resources, and his office as the President for personal gain. These acts are consistent with President Trump’s previous actions which includes making invitations to foreign governments to interfere in our elections. 

By putting Ukraine in this awkward position and by withholding defense aid, President Trump has threatened our “national security and other vital interests” for “personal political benefit.”  He has also “betrayed” Ukraine by asking them to corrupt our “democratic elections”. 

Rebuttal

Testimony and further comments clarify that it is within the rights of the President to ask a foreign government to aid in investigations conducted by the United States. The fact that President Trump asked Ukraine to conduct an investigation into Burisma, the Biden family, and Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election all fit under that general umbrella. 

Funds have been withheld by other administrations (specifically during the Obama administration) for reasons of corruption. Those concerns still exist and it is within the right of the President to withhold aid on such grounds.

Ukraine has not confirmed that there was a clear connection between President Trump’s request to announce an investigation and the withholding of a visit to the White House or defense aid. The terms “quid pro quo” and “bribery” are missing from the document because there is not enough evidence to prove that this actually happened.

It has not been proven that relations with Ukraine have been jeopardized by the actions of the President. 

Article 2 – Obstruction of Congress

As put forth by the Constitution, the House of Representatives has the sole responsibility of carrying out impeachment proceedings and therefore needs to do extensive investigations. President Trump “has directed the unprecedented… defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives.” President Trump has instructed staff and members of the executive branch to not cooperate with members of the House who are involved in investigating impeachment. 

That felt like a mouthful. Let me try to state that a little more simply. 

The House of Representatives needs to collect and validate evidence in order to figure out if there’s anything worthy of impeaching the President. President Trump has made it incredibly difficult. He has therefore obstructed congress, preventing them from carrying out their duties. You’ll often hear the term “stonewalling”  which means — delaying or blocking a request by refusing to answer questions or by giving evasive answers.

I don’t know if my second attempt was better, but I tried. 

Rebuttal

As chief executive, the President of the United States has a right to conduct his matters as he chooses under Article II of the Constitution. This is especially applicable to executive branch confidentiality interests. If there is anything objectionable in the conduct of withholding information specifically, there is a process for obtaining that information through the judiciary branch. That due process would determine what information is necessary and what information is not. This would protect the President’s right as chief executive to conduct affairs within his rights, while also holding him accountable for those things that should be released to Congress for the purposes of the impeachment process. 

Putting that in simpler terms, there is a process for making sure Congress can get the information they need without giving them too much power to snatch and grab whatever they want. The judicial branch serves as a check on both the power of legislative branch and the power of the executive branch.

The House of Representatives has failed to utilize the proper channels and processes to obtain information, favoring a rushed approach in order to get everything done. Since due process has been ignored by the House of Representatives, the President should not be accused of obstructing Congress.

And there you have it. What are your thoughts so far?

18 comments

  1. I was able to watch almost every day of hearings, but I realize that’s impossible for most people, so a summary like this is great. I guess what I don’t understand is how someone else can watch the same proceedings and draw completely opposite conclusions. To me it is so incredibly obvious that our president abused his power. I heard a few good arguments from the Republicans, but mostly shouting. And mostly focused on the process, not the actual facts about what happened. Listening to the ambassadors and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was very eye-opening for me. I was so impressed with all of them. I actually thought about you guys while watching and wondered what you thought! Miss your faces. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    • We sure do miss you guys!! ❤ Yeah, so many thoughts as I listened to testimony. I’m hoping to fit it in a separate post. For me, it’s been a good exercise to try to see all sides. Politics on this one is pretty tiring.

      Like

    • I agree — it’s wild that people come to such different conclusions. My best guess is that people are watching different “highlights” afterward that spin the substance of the debates one way or another.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicely done. Seems pretty clear cut to me that the only reason one could defend our president is completely partisan. His behavior and ethics are reprehensible. That Utah’s elected congressional representatives (with the exception of Mitt Romney) have are against impeachment without logical reasoning is beyond my comprehension..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Noting Ben McAdams is voting for it. John Curtis says he doesn’t like what the President did, but we can’t prove his intent to do wrong with the information presented. So I’m wondering if the things he’s said on TV and Twitter count as indicators of his intent.

      Liked by 1 person

      • John Curtis has to tow the party line, regardless of what he personally believes. Curtis was originally a Democrat. This impeachment process and the various responses highlights just how broken our system is.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the clear summary. My questions:

    – Do we know whether Trump was working with our own agencies on this investigation, or was this personal for him?

    – Why would he condition aid on the announcement of an investigation, rather than the results?

    – Trump has already said on TV that he would accept dirt from opponents if a foreign country offered it. I don’t recall that interview being mentioned in the hearings. Given that he himself will not testify, can his previous statements on Twitter and TV be used as evidence?

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    • These are great questions! I’m glad you’re including them in the comments so that others can consider them too. As part of the investigation process, that’s what we need to be looking for… indications of intent among other things. I liked several of the Judicial committee member’s points, which I feel address your questions well. I can summarize what I understand from listening to them (and adding a little more of my own). As a way of explaining myself, I try not to include too much of these other ideas just because they are often based on inference, or can be somewhat leading to a specific conclusion. I hope to write a separate post with all of my own thoughts on this issue, but I don’t want to overload everyone too much. Plus, we’ll have the Senate trial for some of that. Anyway, I feel comments are the right place for a healthy discussion, so I’ll make that here…

      From experience, Government agencies are always investigating stuff like this, which is likely why President Trump knew about it in the first place. Concerns were raised by the usual watch dogs as soon as Hunter Biden started working for Burisma. Hunter Biden also resigned around the time his father announced his running in the 2020 elections. This could indicate to some that there might have been a conflict of interest in the first place otherwise why resign?

      If there was conclusive evidence that there was any wrong doing, President Trump and his executive officers could simply file charges against the Bidens. Likely there is nothing illegal, even if people may feel the actions of the Bidens are unethical. Fingers can be pointed at Trump’s children as well who have profited greatly from the connections made since Trump became president. I don’t know if there have been any official government agency investigative reports published on the Biden/Burisma thing, but I feel it must exist somewhere, likely at a classified level.

      To your second question, I think that’s exactly it (which is probably why you’re asking). Why would he want an announcement of an investigation and not care so much about any results? Speculation says that all you need is a hint of something in order for the public to take the thread and run with it. All Trump needed to hurt Biden was an announcement. And honestly, just look at the polls right now. It worked, even without an official announcement.

      Saying that Trump would accept dirt on an opponent by a foreign government and actually engaging in bribery or quid-pro-quo, or using his position for political, personal gain IS THE TIE that must be made in order for the impeachment arguments to hold together. Simply accepting dirt from a foreign government isn’t enough. In fact, that’s why the Russia probe only produced consequences for members of his campaign team and not consequences for Trump himself. Sure, he accepted whatever fruits were produced by Russia’s meddling, but was he party to it? Did he orchestrate it? The investigation failed to produce that key connection.

      Trump has mentioned a willingness to testify, but I don’t think his advisers are supportive of that idea. President Clinton was impeached solely on his testimony.

      Like

      • Honestly I think the simple fact that he would continue to accept dirt, knowing how it’s harmed us, makes him unfit for office.

        Like

  4. Thanks Emmo I love a succinct and factual summary and you nailed it! My comment is that this political issue exposes the naked pursuit of power regardless of what madman is at the helm. I struggle with anyone who places the president above the law and the legal process of checks and balances, ignores firing people without cause, and disregards the way that Ukraine was bullied, particularly at a time when they needed us to be a staunch ally against corruption and against Russia.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Emily, I really appreciate how clearly you can explain the impeachment process and how you stay neutral.

    Having been a parent dealing with a state deaf school and how to get the services I needed for my deaf children, I learned just how much government relies on due process and following the protocol that has been agreed upon to resolve conflicts. The House of Representatives cannot rush through this. Everything has to be done according to the laws, checks and balances, and procedure that has already been established and agreed upon by those running the government.

    Many times politicians walk a fine line to please the people, do the right thing, and gain voters for themselves. I think it was a previous post where you defined a politician and a bureaucrat.Obviously we’ve got both politicians and bureaucrats involved in the impeachment process and it’s difficult to decide who is hollering more !

    I appreciate this information and clarity.

    Bronwyn

    Liked by 2 people

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