What, No Bribery? House Dems Expected to Say Trump Abused Power, Obstructed Congress

Susan Jones | December 10, 2019 | 7:15am EST
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House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and (a frustrated) Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) attend the Dec. 4 impeachment hearing. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and (a frustrated) Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) attend the Dec. 4 impeachment hearing. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning produced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, both of them "high crimes and misdemeanors," Committee Chair Jerrold  Nadler announced.

No specific crime was mentioned, despite numerous Democrats using the word "bribery" in recent weeks. Bribery is listed in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.

Nadler said Trump abused his power by using his public office to obtain an improper personal benefit; and the second article says Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to cooperate with a congressional impeachment inquiry.

In his closing remarks at the end of another marathon, repetitive impeachment hearing on Monday, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said what he and other Democrats have repeated for weeks -- and what Republicans have refuted for weeks:

"We know that the president was at the center of a scheme to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation of the president's political rivals," Nadler said. "He applied that pressure by withholding both the White House meeting and vital military aid. He made that demand directly to President Zelensky and confirmed his personal involvement on the White House lawn."

Nadler said Trump's actions "endangered our national security, including our alliances, and put our reputation and safety at risk."

"We know that the president also compromised the integrity of our elections for corrupt private, political purpose. We know that President Trump, in an unprecedented act of obstruction, ordered everyone in the Executive Branch to defy all congressional subpoenas for documents and subpoenas related to the impeachment inquiry."

Nadler also invoked Trump's remarks at a July 2016 campaign rally in Miami, where Trump said: "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” a reference to the 30,000 email messages Hillary Clinton deleted from the personal server she was not supposed to be using. "I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” Trump added sarcastically.

On Monday, Nadler construed Trump's off-hand remark about Hillary's emails as soliciting political assistance from the Russian government. He called it a "pattern of misconduct" that continued with Ukraine.

But Republicans -- noting the lack of first-hand testimony -- question how impeachment can proceed when the basic "facts" of the case are in dispute.

"These are disputed facts!" Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said in his closing remarks on Monday. "It'll be the first impeachment that is partisan on facts that are not agreed to."

Republicans point out that not a single witness have said they heard Trump condition U.S. aid to Ukraine on the Ukraine president's public announcement of investigations. They note that Zelensky himself said he never felt pressured by Trump.

Moreover, there was no announcement about "investigations" from Ukraine; Trump did meet with the Ukraine president on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September; and U.S. military aid eventually did flow, as members of Trump's own party repeatedly pressed the skeptical president to release it. (Democrats insist Trump released the military aid only after learning about the whistleblower.)

In his phone call with Zelensky, Trump made no "demands," as Nadler alleged. After Zelensky mentioned buying more U.S. Javelin missiles, Trump said: "I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows alot about it." Trump wanted Zelensky to look into Ukraine's alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. election.

A short time later in that phone call, after Zelensky promised that "all investigations will be done openly and candidly," President Trump responded: "Good, because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down [with input from then-Vice President Joe Biden] and that's really unfair," Trump said.

Trump told Zelensky he wanted his attorney Rudy Giuliani to call him: "If you could speak to him, that would be great...The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it...It  sounds horrible to  me."

Appearing on Fox News Monday night, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said President Trump, by invoking executive privilege to refuse subpoenas, has not obstructed Congress: "When he has conversations with the secretary of state, those are privileged -- the attorney general, the chief of staff -- but somehow he's obstructing when he asserts a privilege. They (Democrats) don't go to court to challenge that privilege, they just charge him with obstruction."

As for abuse of power, Republicans point a finger the other way, straight at intelligence committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who has denied Republican witness requests and who secretly subpoenaed the telephone records of ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and journalist Jon Solomon:

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), appearing on Laura Ingraham's show along with Buck, said: "We found out later he (Schiff) was spying on members of the press, members of Congress. We don't know who else. I've heard reports that there are up to 3,500 pages of telephone records that Adam Schiff is sitting on. And he only selectively released it against his political opponents, against Devin Nunes, against a concerned reporter. Why isn't the press outraged by the way he is spying on members of the press?"

Scalise called that an "abuse of power."

For the record, the House Judiciary Committee in 1998 brought four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, only two of which passed the full House. But all four involved actual crimes, including perjury, false and misleading testimony; preventing, obstructing and impeding justice; and impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries.

Clinton was acquitted after a five-week trial in the Senate

By contrast, President Trump has not been accused of a specific crime, at least not in Nadler's closing statement. Democrats have vowed to impeach him ever since Trump took office, but the grounds for impeachment keep shifting.


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