September 13, 2019
Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee clandestinely have begun to compile a list of possible charges against President Donald Trump— delineating potential articles of impeachment—even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders publicly resist taking such action, The Washington Post reported on September 12.
Indeed, the Post says, the procedural tools approved on Wednesday—on a 24-17 party line vote—by that committee are similar to those used against former presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.
Commenting on the markup of the resolution for investigative procedures, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) said in his opening remarks: “The resolution before us represents the necessary next step in our investigation of corruption, obstruction, and abuse of power.
“This Committee has already covered the central findings of the Special Counsel’s investigation,” he said, adding, “The President’s 2016 campaign asked for and received the assistance of the Russian government. Key figures from the campaign then lied to federal investigators about it. The Special Counsel found that, at least ten times, the President took steps to interfere with the investigation. In at least five of those incidents, the Special Counsel concluded that all of the elements necessary to charge obstruction of justice had been met.”
Nadler continued, “Our investigation is not only about obstruction. Our work must also extend beyond the four corners of the Mueller Report. We have a responsibility to consider allegations of federal election crimes, self-dealing, violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and a failure to defend our nation from future attacks by foreign adversaries.
“And, of course, this Committee and others have gone to court to secure evidence that has been withheld from Congress on indefensible legal grounds. Former White House Counsel Donald McGahn is not ‘absolutely immune’ from appearing before this Committee. We require his testimony for our obstruction investigation. But the President has vowed to ‘fight all of the subpoenas,’ and this, too, is conduct that requires a congressional response.
“As Members of Congress—and, in particular, as members of the House Judiciary Committee—we have a responsibility to investigate each of these allegations and to determine the appropriate remedy. That responsibility includes making a judgment about whether to recommend articles of impeachment.”
He ended with a call to action. “…We have a constitutional, historical, and moral obligation to fully investigate these matters. Let us take the next step in that work without delay. I urge my colleagues to adopt this resolution.”
According to the Post’s report, additional potential impeachment articles being explored by the committee could focus on hush-money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
Sources told the news outlet that the current behind-the-scenes planning reflects a growing desire among House Democrats to build a public case against Trump—and soon—even if there is no chance the Senate would convict him.
The additional tools approved on Wednesday would, the Post says, allow the committee to designate certain hearings as impeachment sessions, allow counsels to question witnesses publicly, permit some evidence to remain private and allow the president’s counsel to respond in writing to evidence and testimony.
Trump “has trampled the Constitution,” said Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee), a committee member who has drafted his own articles, threatened to introduce them and then backed off after learning of the panel’s plans to eventually craft its own. “There is just so much you could go after. It’s going to be refining it down to the most salient.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) commented that the vote was a “continuation of what we have been doing.” Asked Thursday to clarify whether Democrats have taken a new step toward impeachment, Pelosi demurred, according to a report by The Huffington Post, saying, “There’s nothing different from one day to the next,” she said. “We’re still on our same path.”
She added that the investigations, which have been greatly stymied by the administration’s refusal to comply with subpoenas, were moving at a good pace.
“We are, from a timing standpoint, where we need to be,” Pelosi said
Research contact: @washingtonpost