Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) listen during testimony by Democratic and Republican counsels before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. The hearing is being held for the Judiciary Committee to formally receive evidence in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, whom Democrats say held back military aid for Ukraine while demanding they investigate his political rivals. The White House declared it would not participate in the hearing. (Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images)

Judiciary impeachment report: Trump committed “multiple federal crimes” and “betrayed the nation”

"His conduct here was criminal,” the report said. "Trump has realized the Framers' worst nightmare"


Igor Derysh
December 16, 2019 5:54PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump was accused of committing “multiple federal crimes" in the House Judiciary Committee's anticipated impeachment report and realizing "the Framers' worst nightmare."

The committee, which is controlled by Democrats, on Monday released a 658-page report teeing up the case for the president to be removed from office.

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“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 from the committee’s Democratic majority said.

The report found that Trump’s actions in the Ukraine scandal were “both constitutional and criminal in character” and that the president “betrayed the people of this nation.”

“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 added.

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The report came after the committee voted to approve two articles of impeachment — one for abuse of power and one for obstruction of Congress — against Trump. Republicans on the committee argued that neither of the articles of impeachment rose to the level of “statutory crimes."

“The Framers were not fools,” the Democratic-authored report said. "They authorized impeachment for a reason — and that reason would have been gutted if impeachment were limited to crimes."

The report found that Trump’s solicitation of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into his political rivals was part of a pattern that began with his “welcoming” of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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“This pattern is as unmistakable as it is unnerving,” the report said.

“President Trump has made it clear that he believes he is free to use his presidential powers the same way, to the same ends, whenever and wherever he pleases,” the report continued, adding that the president posed a “continuing threat if left in office.”

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The report found that the July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was enough evidence alone to impeach Trump, but added that the administration’s actions along with those of the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, were an “aggravating factor.” Trump’s request for political motivated investigations amount to solicitation of a bribe under federal law, according to the Democrats.

“Applying the constitutional definition of ‘bribery’ here, there can be little doubt that it is satisfied,” the report said. “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."

The report also concluded that Trump violated the honest services fraud statute during the phone call, as well as during his subsequent call to European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, which the committee described as “foreign wire communications . . . in furtherance of an ongoing bribery scheme.”

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“Fundamentally, the president has deprived the American people of the honorable stewardship that the nation expects and demands of its chief executive," the report said, adding that the charge warrants up to 20 years in prison under the law.

Republicans issued an accompanying 18-page dissenting report arguing that the evidence presented by Democrats was “paltry” and an “affront to the constitutional process of impeachment.”

“If President Nixon’s impeachment proceedings are the ‘gold standard’ for presidential impeachment inquiries, these proceedings, in stark contrast, will go down in history as the quintessential example of how such proceedings should not be conducted,” the Republican report said.

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The Republicans alleged that the articles of impeachment against Trump were “hyperbolic” and “misleading.”

“While individual articles of impeachment have been passed against prior presidents that do not allege criminality, no president has been impeached solely on non-criminal accusations,” the committee’s Republicans said.

Trump on Monday called the impeachment process “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.

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The full House of Representatives is expected to vote on the articles of impeachment this week. If the House votes to impeach the president, the Senate is expected to hold a trial in January. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing for a short trial without any witnesses, while Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is calling for a weeks-long trial with multiple witnesses.

A Fox News poll released over the weekend found that 50 percent of registered voters believe Trump should be removed from office, while 46 percent think that he should remain in office.

The House vote is expected to mostly go down party lines, with at least one exception. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., vowed to vote against impeachment. He is reportedly set to switch political parties, which prompted a half dozen of his aides to quit over the weekend. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., a moderate Democrat who flipped a pro-Trump district last year, instead vowed to vote in favor of impeaching the president.

“Over the past few months, I’ve been told more times that I can count that the vote I’ll be casting this week will mark the end of my short political career. That may be,” wrote Slotkin, a former CIA officer. “But in the national security world that I come from, we are trained to make hard calls on things, even if they are unpopular, if we believe the security of the country is at stake.”

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Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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