The Latest on the Impeachment Inquiry into President Trump

The House Intelligence Committee released a draft of its report on the Trump-Ukraine impeachment inquiry on December 3 following two weeks of open hearings as well as document requests and closed-door sessions. The staff of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs Committees wrote the draft. The report spans 300 pages. There are two main sections to the report. The first outlines the President’s misconduct. This section includes information about how the President forced out the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (Marie Yovanovich); put his personal attorney (Rudolph Giuliani) and his associates in charge of Ukraine issues; froze military assistance to Ukraine; conditioned a meeting with the newly elected President of Ukraine (Volodymyr Zelensky) on an announcement of investigations; requested that the President of Ukraine investigate both the Bidens and the 2016 presidential elections; and wanted a public announcement of investigations. The second part discusses the President’s obstruction of the House Impeachment Inquiry through his refusal to produce subpoenaed materials, attempts to block key witnesses from testifying, refusal to allow top aids to testify, and intimidation of witnesses. The Executive Summary of the Report enumerates nine different findings:

  1. President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election
  2. President Trump sought to have the new President of Ukraine publicly announce investigations that would benefit his personal political interests
  3. President Trump directly requested that the President of Ukraine open investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and whether Ukraine and not Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election (despite there being no credible evidence of the latter) and publicly announce such.
  4. President Trump ordered the suspension of $391 million in military assistance already appropriated by Congress.
  5. President Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine publicly to announce that it would undertake the requested investigations by conditioning a head of state meeting at the White House and military assistance on such an announcement.
  6. President Trump did not implement, promote, or anti-corruption policies, but actually undermined such policies through his actions.
  7. President Trump compromised national security by withholding military assistance and diplomatic support from a strategic foreign partner.
  8. Once his actions became known, President Trump publicly and repeatedly urged foreign governments, including Ukraine and China, to investigate his political opponent.
  9. President Trump used his office and power over the Executive Branch to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate the House inquiry into his actions.

On December 4, the House Judiciary Committee held an open hearing on the Constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Trump. The hearing consisted of four witness, all law school professors. The democrats invited Professors Noah Feldman, Michael Gerhardt, and Pamela S. Karlan to testify. The republicans invited Professor Jonathan Turley to testify. Turley was the only one who claimed that the record of evidence so far is insufficient to draft articles of impeachment against the President. The other three professors all concluded that the President committed impeachable offenses rising to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that could lead to several articles of impeachment.

On Monday December 9, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee are scheduled to provide a presentation on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The exact nature of this presentation is currently unknown although there will presumably be some sort of summation of the results of hearings and records requests. On December 5, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi provided remarks on the impeachment inquiry.  Speaker Pelosi discussed the historical debates over the need to include a provision for impeachment in the Constitution at the time of its writing. Speaker Pelosi went on to say that “the facts are uncontested: the President abused his power for his own personal, political benefit at the expense of our national security, by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.” Speaker Pelosi outlined how the President has violated the Constitution and his oath to uphold said document through his actions and included a request to the Chairmen of the committees leading the inquiry into impeachment to draft articles of impeachment in order to uphold the oath of office she and other members of Congress made when sworn into office.

Once the articles of impeachment are drafted, the Judiciary Committee will report the articles to the full House of Representatives for consideration. After a period for debate set by the majority party, the House will vote on the articles of impeachment either individually or as a whole. A simple majority is needed in order for the articles of impeachment to move forward to trial in the Senate.

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