Chairman Nadler Files Judiciary Committee Impeachment Report Ahead of House Vote on Impeachment Articles
House Judiciary Committee produces report of the evidentiary and legal basis for charging President Trump with two articles of impeachment for committing 'high Crimes and Misdemeanors'
Washington, December 16, 2019
Tags: Government Oversight
Washington, D.C. – Late yesterday, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) filed the Committee’s report accompanying two articles of impeachment charging President Donald J. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The report details the case for Impeachment and will inform the House of Representative’s consideration of the Articles.
The filing of the report by the Judiciary Committee is customary. Similar reports were completed during the impeachments of President Nixon and President Clinton.
Key excerpts from the report are below, with the full report available here:
Key Excerpts from Report
Abuse of Power
President Trump’s Abuse of Power: “President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit. He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections… President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”
The Framers’ Grave Fears of this Kind of Abuse of Power: “In warning against abuse of power, the Framers repeatedly returned to two very specific risks: betrayal of the national interest and corruption of elections. Informed by history, the Framers perceived these abuses as existential threats to the Republic. The United States could not survive if Presidents used their high office to conspire with foreign nations in pursuit of personal gain. And democracy would be in grave danger if Presidents used their powers to subvert elections.”
President Trump Undermined our National Security: “President Trump’s abuse of power harmed the United States. It undermined our national security and weakened our democracy. There is no indication that the President attended to these concerns in pursuing his own political errand—and there is every indication that he ignored them. This is exactly what the Framers feared, and it is why they authorized Presidential impeachment…President Trump ignored and injured our national security when he corruptly abused the powers of his office for personal political gain. As Ambassador Yovanovitch summarized in her testimony, President Trump’s ‘conduct undermines the U.S., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin. Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. Both have now been opened to question.’”
The President Makes the “Strongest Possible Case” for Impeachment: “[a] President commits ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ where he exercises official power to obtain an improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest. Such an abuse is especially abhorrent where it involves a betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements or an effort to corrupt our democracy. Any one of these violations of the public trust justifies impeachment; when combined in a single course of conduct, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office.”
We Must Proceed Expeditiously: “There is an instinct in any investigation to seek more evidence, interview more witnesses, and turn over every remaining stone. But there also comes a point when the evidence is powerful enough, and the danger of delay is great enough, that inaction is irresponsible. We have reached that point here…That threat is not hypothetical. As noted above, President Trump has persisted during this impeachment inquiry in soliciting foreign powers to investigate his political opponent. The President steadfastly insists that he did nothing wrong and is free to do it all again. Every day that this Committee fails to act is thus another day that the President might use the powers of his office to rig the election while ignoring or injuring vital national interests. In Chairman Schiff’s words: ‘The argument why don’t you just wait amounts to this: Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?’”
The Strength of the Evidence and the Quality of the Case: Collectively, the evidence gathered…is consistent, reliable, well-corroborated, and derived from diverse sources. It paints a detailed picture of President Trump’s scheme. To the extent that the Committees did not obtain additional documents—or additional testimony from witnesses with personal knowledge of the relevant events—that is a direct consequence of the President’s unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate order that the entire Executive Branch unlawfully defy duly authorized Congressional subpoenas…The record stands firmly on its own two feet. Indeed, President Trump has not stonewalled the entire impeachment inquiry so that he can protect a hidden trove of exculpatory evidence..
Put simply, President Trump’s own words reveal that he solicited a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The President did so for his own political gain, rather than for foreign policy reasons. The testimony of experienced, expert officials in his own administration—including several of his own appointees—reveal that the President used his official powers as leverage to pressure a vulnerable strategic partner to do his bidding. And every indication, every piece of evidence, supports that the President will abuse his power again.
Obstruction of Congress
Our System of Checks and Balances: “This Nation has no kings. Unlike a monarch, whose every word is law, the President of the United States answers to the Constitution and the American people. He ordinarily does so through elections, legislative oversight, judicial review, and public scrutiny. In truly extraordinary cases, however, the Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to hold the President accountable through its ‘sole Power of Impeachment.’”
The President’s Obstruction is Incompatible with Our Democratic System of Government: President Trump’s obstruction of Congress does not befit the leader of a democratic society. It calls to mind the very claims of royal privilege against which our Founders rebelled….Through this conduct, President Trump has shown his rejection of checks and balances. A President who will not abide legal restraint or supervision is a President who poses an ongoing threat to our liberty and security.”
The President’s Unprecedented Defiance of Congress: “In the history of the Republic, no President has ever claimed the unilateral prerogative to categorically and indiscriminately defy a House impeachment inquiry. Nor has any President ever directed his administration to do so. On the contrary, every President to address the issue has acknowledged that Congress possesses a broad and penetrating power of inquiry when investigating grounds for impeachment.”
President Trump’s Obstruction is an “Assault on the Impeachment Clause Itself”: “President Trump’s direction to defy House subpoenas constituted an assault on the Impeachment Clause itself—and thus on our Constitution’s final answer to corrupt Presidents…. The ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ authorizes the House to review information that resides within the very branch of government it is empowered to scrutinize. By engaging in substantial obstruction of a House impeachment inquiry, the President could effectively seek to control a check on his own abuses. That is exactly what happened here.”
The President’s Pattern of Obstruction: “The pattern is as unmistakable as it is unnerving. [In 2016], President Trump welcomed and invited a foreign nation to interfere in a United States Presidential election to his advantage; here, President Trump solicited and pressured a foreign nation to do so. There, Executive Branch law enforcement investigated; here, the House impeachment inquiry investigated. There, President Trump used the powers of his office to obstruct and seek to fire the Special Counsel; here, President Trump used the powers of his office to obstruct and embargo the House impeachment inquiry. There, while obstructing investigators, the President stated that he remained free to invite foreign inference in our elections; here, while obstructing investigators, President Trump in fact invited additional foreign interference. Indeed, President Trump placed his fateful July 25 call to President Zelensky just one day after the Special Counsel testified in Congress about his findings.
Viewed in this frame, it is apparent that President Trump sees no barrier to inviting (or inducing) foreign interference in our elections, using the powers of his office to obstruct anyone who dares to investigate such misconduct, and engaging in the same conduct with impunity all over again. Although the Second Article of Impeachment focuses on President Trump’s categorical and indiscriminate obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry, the consistency of this obstruction with his broader pattern of misconduct is relevant and striking.
We Cannot Wait for the Courts: “The President is under investigation for soliciting and pressuring a foreign power to interfere in an election that is less than a year away. The House has already received compelling evidence of his misconduct. Waiting any longer would thus be an abdication of duty—particularly given the extreme implausibility that litigation would soon bring new evidence to light.”
A Fair Process
The Process Has Been Fair Under “Extraordinary Circumstances”: “The House of Representatives conducted a fair, thorough, and transparent impeachment inquiry under extraordinary circumstances. For the first time in modern history, committees of the House acted as original factfinders in a Presidential impeachment.”
Procedural Protections “Consistent with or in Some Instances Exceeded” Past Impeachments: “The House’s impeachment inquiry provided President Trump procedural protections that were consistent with or in some instances exceeded those afforded to Presidents Nixon and Clinton. The House’s inquiry was conducted with maximal transparency: transcripts of all interviews and depositions were made public, and HPSCI and the Judiciary Committee held seven days of public hearings. All documentary evidence relied on in HPSCI’s report has been made available to President Trump, and much of it has been made public. Furthermore, during proceedings before the Judiciary Committee, President Trump was offered numerous opportunities to have his counsel participate, including by cross-examining witnesses and presenting evidence.The President’s decision to reject these opportunities to participate affirms that his principal objective was to obstruct the House’s inquiry rather than assist in its full consideration of all relevant evidence.”