Democrats’ impeachment articles: abuse of power, obstruction of Congress

The U.S. Capitol is seen on October 30, 2019, as House committees conducted depositions in the Trump impeachment investigation. House leaders now have pressed forward with two counts against the president. Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Democrats on Tuesday announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders to formally lay out their charges against the president: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

A vote on the articles is expected later this week in the Judiciary Committee, where they’re expected to pass and could soon advance to a floor vote in the House.

“We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law,” Nadler said during a news conference. “We do not take this action lightly.  But we have taken an oath to defend the Constitution and — unlike President Trump — we understand that our duty, first and foremost, is to protect the Constitution and the interests of the American people. That is why we must take this solemn step today.”

The two articles are narrower than some House Democrats were pushing for, as some lawmakers sought to deliver a broader rebuke to the president. Many moderate Democrats, however, wanted to keep the articles narrow and to focus on allegations that Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate Trump’s political rival.

“The president abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to help his re-election campaign,” said Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

“For members of Congress this is not a question of fact, because the facts are not seriously contested. It is rather a question of duty. The president’s oath of office appears to mean little to him. But the articles put forward today will give us a chance to show that we will defend the Constitution, and that our oath means something to us.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) panned Democrats on Twitter, accusing them of having an “impeachment obsession” and for delaying other legislation. Democrats, meanwhile, counter that McConnell has turned the Senate into a “legislative graveyard.”

Below are the two articles introduced by the Democrats. Click here for the full text.

Article 1: Abuse of power

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole power of impeachment” and that the president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” In his conduct of the office of President of the United States — and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the presidency, in that:

Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States presidential election. 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 re-election, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States presidential election to his advantage. President Trump also sought to pressure the government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations. President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the presidency in a manner that compromised the national  security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interests of the nation.

Article 11: Obstruction of Congress

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole power of impeachment” and that the president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” In his conduct of the office of President of the United States — and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — Donald J. Trump has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its “sole power of impeachment.” President Trump has abused the powers of the presidency in a manner offensive to, and subversive of, the Constitution, in that:

The House of Representatives has engaged in an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump’s corrupt solicitation of the government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 United States presidential election. As part of this impeachment inquiry, the committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various executive branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.

In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed executive branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the “sole power of impeachment” vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.