Chairman Nadler Floor Statement in Support of Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump
Washington, December 18, 2019
Tags: Government Oversight
Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement at the start of debate on the House floor in support of H.Res. 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump:
"The first article charges that the President used his public office to coerce a foreign government into attacking his political rivals.
"The second article charges that the President took extreme and unprecedented steps to obstruct our investigation into his conduct.
"Taken together, the two articles charge that President Trump placed his private, political interests above our national security, above our elections, and above our system of checks and balances.
"After months of investigation, there can be no serious debate about the evidence at hand.
"On July 25, when he spoke to President Zelensky of Ukraine, President Trump had the upper hand. The President, through his agents, had already demanded that Ukraine announce an investigation of his political opponents.
"Ukraine needed our help—both military aid, which had been appropriated by Congress because of our security interests, and an Oval Office meeting, to show the world that the United States continues to stand with our partner against Russian aggression.
"President Trump should have been focused on the interests of the American people on that call. Instead, he prioritized his private, political interests.
"President Trump asked President Zelensky for a favor. He wanted Ukraine to announce two bogus investigations: one into former Vice President Biden, then his leading opponent in the 2020 election; and another to advance a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked our elections in 2016.
"Neither request was premised on any legitimate national security or foreign policy interest.
"One was intended to help President Trump conceal the truth about the 2016 election. The other was intended to help him gain an advantage in the 2020 campaign.
"After the call, President Trump ratcheted up the pressure. He deployed his private attorney and other agents, some acting far outside the regular channels of diplomacy, to make his desires clear: there would be no aid and no meeting until Ukraine announced the sham investigations.
"To our founding generation, abuse of power was a specific, well-defined offense. A President may not misuse the powers of the presidency to obtain an improper personal benefit. The evidence shows that President Trump did exactly that.
"For this alone, he should be impeached—but the first article also identifies two aggravating factors.
"When President Trump conditioned military aid on a personal favor, he harmed America’s national security.
"And when he demanded that a foreign government target his domestic political rival, he took steps to corrupt our next election. To the Founders, these offenses clearly merited removal from office.
"The President faces a second article of impeachment for his efforts to obstruct our investigation of his misconduct.
"The Constitution grants the sole power of impeachment to the House of Representatives. Within our system of checks and balances, the President may not decide for himself what constitutes a valid impeachment inquiry. Nor may he ignore lawful subpoenas, or direct others to do so.
"Many presidents, including President Trump, have asserted privileges and other objections to specific subpoenas—but only President Trump has ordered the categorical defiance of a congressional investigation, the automatic rejection of all subpoenas. The President is not above the law, and he should be impeached for this obstruction as well.
"Congress cannot wait for the next election to address this misconduct. President Trump has demonstrated a clear pattern of wrongdoing. This is not the first time he has solicited foreign interference in an election, has been exposed, and has attempted to obstruct the resulting investigation.
"We cannot rely on the next election as a remedy for presidential misconduct when the President threatens the very integrity of that election. He has shown us he will continue to put his selfish interests above the good of the country. We must act without delay.
"By his actions, President Trump has broken his oath of office. His conduct continues to undermine our Constitution and threaten our next election. His actions warrant his impeachment and demand his removal from office.
"I urge my colleagues to support these articles, and I reserve the balance of my time."