House Democrats Unveil 2 Articles Of Impeachment Against President Trump

Dec 10, 2019
Originally published on December 10, 2019 7:05 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

After months of investigations, House Democrats today released the draft text of articles of impeachment against President Trump. At a press conference this morning, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Trump has violated the public's trust.

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JERRY NADLER: When he betrays that trust and puts himself before a country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy and he endangers our national security.

SHAPIRO: NPR political reporter Tim Mak joins us now from Capitol Hill.

Hi, Tim.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey, there.

SHAPIRO: So two articles of impeachment - spell out exactly what is in them.

MAK: So House Democrats announced two articles. The first is for abuse of power. That is that the president used U.S. foreign policy for personal and political gain. They're accusing the president of leveraging nearly $400 million in congressionally appropriated aid and a meeting with the Ukrainian president for investigations into Joe Biden and a 2016 election conspiracy theory.

The second article of impeachment is for obstruction of Congress. Now, this relates to allegations that the president directed the White House and other executive branch agencies to defy congressional subpoenas for documents and interviews. It's obviously a really historic moment. If the president is impeached, he would be just one of a handful ever to face this rebuke from the House of Representatives.

SHAPIRO: Now, you'd been covering some discussion within the Democratic Party about whether the party should go bigger and include things in these articles of impeachment related to the Mueller investigation into Russia and the 2016 election. What happened to that?

MAK: Well, ultimately, Democratic leadership made the decision not to go broader, not to include the Mueller investigation in these articles. But Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee makes the case that his work is alluded to.

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SHEILA JACKSON LEE: All of the information that we've secured over a two-year period is reflected in particular by references to patterns of behavior.

MAK: So what she's saying is that in the abuse of power article, they allude to the Russia investigation when they allege that the president's actions were consistent with his, quote, "previous invitations of foreign interference" in the United States' elections.

SHAPIRO: Now, one criticism from Republicans has been that Democrats are rushing this through. And party leaders today said that the House Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the articles of impeachment this week. Why is it important to them to move so quickly?

MAK: So you're right to observe this. Congress almost never moves this quickly on anything. The House Judiciary Committee will begin considering these articles tomorrow with a vote in committee on Thursday and then a full House vote on the articles of impeachment next week. One of the arguments Republicans have been making is that a complete and comprehensive investigation would have included going to court to enforce subpoenas against figures like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney. That's a process that could take months. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said that the nature of the alleged offense requires urgency.

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ADAM SCHIFF: The argument - why don't you just wait? - amounts to this. Why don't you just let him cheat in one more election?

SHAPIRO: And Tim, Republicans have, of course, been very unified in their opposition to the impeachment process at every turn. What are they saying today?

MAK: Well, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that this all has to do with Democrats not accepting the results of 2016.

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KEVIN MCCARTHY: Back in 2016, the Democrats called those who supported Donald Trump deplorables. And now they're trying to disqualify their votes. Democrats still cannot get over the fact that the president won the election and they lost.

MAK: The president, for his part, said he never pressured the Ukrainian government, and a White House spokesperson said he fully expects to be exonerated in a Senate trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he doesn't expect that trial to start until January.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Tim Mak on Capitol Hill.

Thanks, Tim.

MAK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.