We've seen a lot of things through the multi-week impeachment process currently gripping Washington, D.C.: Gordon Sondland admitted he cozied up to President Donald Trump by telling him that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelinsky "loves your ass;" drag queen Pissi Myles showed up for live coverage; and Trump himself said he was ready for impeachment, and challenged Democrats to bring it on.
Ask and you shall receive: The articles of impeachment are here!
On Tuesday (December 10), the House Judiciary Committee unveiled two articles of impeachment they hope to bring against the President, the New York Times reported. Democratic leaders are alleging that Trump abused his power as President, and further obstructed Congress's investigation into that abuse.
"Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election," the articles detailing abuse of power read. "He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage."
The articles argue that Trump "engaged in this scheme" by asking Zelensky directly — and by directing others to ask Zelensky — to announce investigations into the Bidens and pushed for a separate investigation into a "discredited theory promoted by Russia" alleging that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. In return for announcing these investigations, Trump dangled nearly $400 million in military aid and a meeting at the White House. While the articles concede that Trump did eventually release the military aid, it argues that he continued to "openly and corruptly" urge Ukraine to investigate.
The second article — obstruction of Congress — focused on Trump thwarting Congress's impeachment inquiry. The article notes that the House of Representatives served subpoenas for documents and testimonies throughout its impeachment inquiry, and Trump directed agencies, offices, and officials to not comply with those subpoenas.
"Wherefore, President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to 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 article states. "President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States."
The charges are pretty narrow, and focus specifically on his actions towards Ukraine, but they do include that his actions were "consistent with [his] previous efforts to undermine United States Government investigations into foreign interference in United States elections." As the Times reports, lawmakers deliberated over whether to charge the President with obstruction of justice in relation to the report conducted by special council Robert Muller, but ultimately decided to stick to the two claims related to Trump's attempt to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals by withholding military aid to the country and all the ensuing attempts to cover up those actions.
At a press conference on Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said that "the president's continuing abuse of power has left us no choice" but to continue with articles of impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee is slated to vote on the articles latter this week, following debates regarding the articles and potential changes to them. If it passes the Judiciary Committee, the full House is expected to vote on the finalized articles as early as next week, before Congress breaks for the holiday.
"We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said on Tuesday, per the Washington Post.
Trump took the news exactly how you'd expect. In addition to shouting "Witch hunt!" like someone straight out of 18th century Salem, Massachusetts, he trotted out a disparaging nickname for Schiff and doubled down on his claim that when he told Zelinsky, "I would like you to do us a favor," he meant "us" as in the United States, not "us" as in the Trump re-election cohort. Further, he implored the American people to "read the transcript," which you cannot currently do since the White House only ever released an edited memorandum of the call, not a transcript — and even that is pretty damning.
This is the fourth time in U.S. history that articles of impeachment have been brought against a sitting president. President Bill Clinton was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice; he was later acquitted on both counts in the Senate. President Richard Nixon resigned after the Judiciary Committee raised charges of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and contempt of Congress, but before the House could formally impeach him. Andrew Johnson was acquitted of all 11 articles of impeachment brought against him by the House, many of which centered on his well-documented racist rhetoric.