The House Judiciary Committee on Saturday released a report prepared by its staffers on the constitutional grounds for impeaching President Donald Trump, offering members of Congress legal analysis in advance of a historic impeachment vote.
“The Framers worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment,” committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet announcing the release.
The 55-page document is primarily a historical and legal discussion about why and how a president should be removed from office, rather than a lengthy debate on Trump’s presidential misconduct in dealings with Ukraine. Its release follows Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on whether or not those dealings are grounds for impeachment.
Three experts on constitutional law testified that there was clearly enough evidence of wrongdoing to impeach the president. A fourth disagreed.
Impeachable conduct is defined in the Constitution as “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
“A President faithful only to himself — who will sell out democracy and national security for his own personal advantage — is a danger to every American,” the report states. “Indeed, he threatens America itself.”
In a series of public and private hearings, several current and former American foreign policy officials helped House investigators piece together a picture of a president attempting to secure a this-for-that deal with a foreign power: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would receive military aid and a coveted White House meeting if he announced investigations that would benefit Trump personally.
Committee staffers who authored the report did not instruct members of Congress how to vote on impeachment. Instead, they offered guidance, concluding that “the ultimate question in an impeachment is whether leaving the President in our highest office imperils the Constitution.”
A similar report was prepared in advance of President Richard Nixon’s impeachment.
The report defends the way in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has led the proceedings, which have been criticized by Republicans as unfair because they have not been able to call witnesses of their choosing in the Democrat-controlled chamber.
It also addresses another popular Republican talking point, that Democrats in Congress are attempting to reverse the results of the 2016 election. The nation’s founders “firmly rejected” that notion, the staffers wrote, arguing that ”[w]here the President’s misconduct is aimed at corrupting elections, relying on elections to solve the problem is no safeguard at all.”
Pelosi instructed the House this week to begin drafting articles of impeachment. If passed, the impeachment proceedings will move to the Senate for a trial.