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!
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.
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”.
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.
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?