Democrats accuse President Donald Trump of criminal bribery and wire fraud in a 658-page report released early Monday that explains the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — that the full House is scheduled to consider on Wednesday.
At the heart of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
The report released Monday argues that Trump’s solicitation of investigations from Zelensky at a time when military aid was being withheld meets the definition of both constitutional and criminal bribery — terms that are not made explicit in the articles of impeachment drafted by the House Judiciary Committee.
Trump’s July call with Zelensky also meets the standard of federal wire fraud, the report argues.
“The first Article of Impeachment charged President Trump with an abuse of power as that constitutional offense has long been understood,” the report says. “While there is no need for a crime to be proven in order for impeachment to be warranted, here, President Trump’s scheme or course of conduct also encompassed other offenses, both constitutional and criminal in character, and it is appropriate for the Committee to recognize such offenses in assessing the question of impeachment.”
“Applying the constitutional definition of ‘Bribery’ here, there can be little doubt that it is satisfied,” it continues. “President Trump solicited President Zelensky for a ‘favor’ of great personal value to him; he did so corruptly; and he did so in a scheme to influence his own official actions respecting the release of military and security assistance and the offer of a White House meeting. Although President Trump’s actions need not rise to the level of a criminal violation to justify impeachment, his conduct here was criminal.”
The report also details the article of impeachment for obstruction of Congress, accusing Trump of having directed executive branch agencies and officials not to comply with subpoenas issued during the impeachment inquiry “without lawful cause or excuse.”
“Taken together, the articles charge that President Trump has placed his personal, political interests above our national security, our free and fair elections, and our system of checks and balances,” the report says. “He has engaged in a pattern of misconduct that will continue if left unchecked. Accordingly, President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.”
The report also includes a dissent written by Rep. Douglas Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
“To these Articles, the minority dissents,” Collins says. “The majority’s actions are unprecedented, unjustifiable and will only dilute the significance of the dire recourse that is impeachment. The ramifications for future presidents are not difficult to surmise.”
The Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday to determine the parameters of the House floor debate on the impeachment resolution before the expected vote on Wednesday.
A coalition of liberal advocacy groups are planning to stage more than 400 rallies across the country on Tuesday night calling for Trump’s impeachment.
“How wavering representatives and senators vote will be powerfully influenced by their conscience and, at least as much, by their political read on the situation,” said an email promoting the events sent out by Public Citizens, one of the groups involved. “In short, they need to feel the heat from the public. That’s why calls, emails and protests — visible manifestations of support for impeachment — matter so much.”
Campaign rallies planned
Trump is planning to stage a campaign rally in Michigan on Wednesday. He plans to travel to Battle Creek in his second trip to the state this year. Trump narrowly carried Michigan over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, and the state will be key to the Republican’s prospects in 2020
The country remains sharply divided over whether Trump should be impeached — and few people seem to be changing their views, according to a new NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll.
Forty-seven percent of Americans support the impeachment of Trump while 48% are opposed, according to the poll. Those finds are statistically unchanged since last month despite the public hearings and debate that has ensued.
“It’s like the hearings have never happened,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll. “The arguments have only served to reinforce existing views and everyone is rooting for their side.”
If the impeachment vote passes in the House a trial is expected to begin in the Republican-led Senate in early January.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., pressed his case Monday to subpoena several senior Trump administration officials who did not testify in the House’s impeachment probe as witnesses for Trump’s expected trial next month in the Senate.
“To not have them is to engage in a coverup,” the Senate minority leader said during an appearance on MSNBC’S “Morning Joe.” “These witnesses are vital to determining exactly what has happened.”
In a letter Sunday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Schumer outlined a number of procedural demands that Democrats say would make the Senate trial fair and able to be completed “within a reasonable period of time.”
That includes subpoenas issued by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. for acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; Robert Blair, a senior adviser to Mulvaney; former national security adviser John Bolton; and Michael Duffey, a top official at the Office of Management and Budget.
Mulvaney, Blair and Duffey had been subpoenaed by the House committees and defied the summons; Bolton has not been subpoenaed but indicated he would fight one in court.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed Monday that it was “laughable” for Schumer to assert that he wants Trump to have a fair trial.
In a tweet, Grisham quoted Schumer, who made multiple television appearances Monday morning, saying, “Let us hope that fairness will prevail.” She added: “Thankfully the people of this country continue to see the partisan sham that this is.”
Trump also returned to Twitter on Monday morning to call impeachment “the greatest con job in the history of American politics.”
“The Fake News Media, and their partner, the Democrat Party, are working overtime to make life for the United Republican Party, and all it stands for, as difficult as possible!” he tweeted.