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Rep. Danny K. Davis Statement on the Vote to Impeach President Donald J. Trump

I believe the facts and findings concerning President Donald J. Trump’s willful and dangerous violations of the United States Constitution, his actions undermining of safety and security of our nation and his actions undercutting our democracy as set forth below based on reports of the relevant Congressional committees are largely uncontested and that the procedures of the relevant Congressional committees which have investigated the President’s actions to have been eminently fair and transparent. I believe the facts and findings as detailed by those committees and summarized below lay out a clear and convincing case which demands the Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump. Therefore, consistent with my responsibilities under the constitution, I will be voting aye on both counts in the Articles of Impeachment also reproduced below.

After extensive investigation and receiving in person testimony and extensive documentary evidence the Select Committee on Intelligence filed a report titled Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry. Key excerpts from that report are below:

  • “The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage.  In so doing, the President placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.”

  • “President Trump […] sought to pressure and induce Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to publicly announce unfounded investigations that would benefit President Trump’s personal political interests and reelection effort.”

  • “President Trump, acting in his official capacity and using his position of public trust, personally and directly requested from the President of Ukraine that the government of Ukraine publicly announce investigations into (1) the President’s political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden, and (2) a baseless theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine—rather than Russia—interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. These investigations were intended to harm a potential political opponent of President Trump and benefit the President’s domestic political standing.”

  • “President Trump ordered the suspension of $391 million in vital military assistance urgently needed by Ukraine, a strategic partner, to resist Russian aggression.”

  • “In directing and orchestrating this scheme to advance his personal political interests, […] the President undermined U.S. policy supporting anti-corruption reform and the rule of law in Ukraine, and undermined U.S. national security.”

  • “By withholding vital military assistance and diplomatic support from a strategic foreign partner government engaged in an ongoing military conflict illegally instigated by Russia, President Trump compromised national security to advance his personal political interests.”

  • “This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election presents a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain.”

  • “President Trump ordered and implemented a campaign to conceal his conduct from the public and frustrate and obstruct the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry[.]”

Based on these findings House Judiciary Committee filed a report accompanying two articles of impeachment charging President Donald J. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The report details the case for Impeachment and will inform the House of Representative’s consideration of the Articles.

The filing of the report by the Judiciary Committee is customary. Similar reports were completed during the impeachments of President Nixon and President Clinton.

Key excerpts from the report are below:

Abuse of Power

President Trump’s Abuse of Power:“President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit. He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections… President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”

The Framers’ Grave Fears of this Kind of Abuse of Power:“In warning against abuse of power, the Framers repeatedly returned to two very specific risks: betrayal of the national interest and corruption of elections. Informed by history, the Framers perceived these abuses as existential threats to the Republic. The United States could not survive if Presidents used their high office to conspire with foreign nations in pursuit of personal gain. And democracy would be in grave danger if Presidents used their powers to subvert elections.”

President Trump Undermined our National Security: “President Trump’s abuse of power harmed the United States. It undermined our national security and weakened our democracy. There is no indication that the President attended to these concerns in pursuing his own political errand—and there is every indication that he ignored them. This is exactly what the Framers feared, and it is why they authorized Presidential impeachment…President Trump ignored and injured our national security when he corruptly abused the powers of his office for personal political gain. As Ambassador Yovanovitch summarized in her testimony, President Trump’s ‘conduct undermines the U.S., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin. Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. Both have now been opened to question.’”

The President Makes the “Strongest Possible Case” for Impeachment:“[a] President commits ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ where he exercises official power to obtain an improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest. Such an abuse is especially abhorrent where it involves a betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements or an effort to corrupt our democracy. Any one of these violations of the public trust justifies impeachment; when combined in a single course of conduct, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office.”

We Must Proceed Expeditiously:“There is an instinct in any investigation to seek more evidence, interview more witnesses, and turn over every remaining stone. But there also comes a point when the evidence is powerful enough, and the danger of delay is great enough, that inaction is irresponsible. We have reached that point here…That threat is not hypothetical. As noted above, President Trump has persisted during this impeachment inquiry in soliciting foreign powers to investigate his political opponent. The President steadfastly insists that he did nothing wrong and is free to do it all again. Every day that this Committee fails to act is thus another day that the President might use the powers of his office to rig the election while ignoring or injuring vital national interests. In Chairman Schiff’s words: ‘The argument why don’t you just wait amounts to this: Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?’”

The Strength of the Evidence and the Quality of the Case: Collectively, the evidence gathered…is consistent, reliable, well-corroborated, and derived from diverse sources. It paints a detailed picture of President Trump’s scheme. To the extent that the Committees did not obtain additional documents—or additional testimony from witnesses with personal knowledge of the relevant events—that is a direct consequence of the President’s unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate order that the entire Executive Branch unlawfully defy duly authorized Congressional subpoenas…The record stands firmly on its own two feet. Indeed, President Trump has not stonewalled the entire impeachment inquiry so that he can protect a hidden trove of exculpatory evidence..

Put simply, President Trump’s own words reveal that he solicited a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The President did so for his own political gain, rather than for foreign policy reasons. The testimony of experienced, expert officials in his own administration—including several of his own appointees—reveal that the President used his official powers as leverage to pressure a vulnerable strategic partner to do his bidding. And every indication, every piece of evidence, supports that the President will abuse his power again.

Obstruction of Congress

Our System of Checks and Balances: “This Nation has no kings. Unlike a monarch, whose every word is law, the President of the United States answers to the Constitution and the American people. He ordinarily does so through elections, legislative oversight, judicial review, and public scrutiny. In truly extraordinary cases, however, the Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to hold the President accountable through its ‘sole Power of Impeachment.’”

The President’s Obstruction is Incompatible with Our Democratic System of Government: President Trump’s obstruction of Congress does not befit the leader of a democratic society. It calls to mind the very claims of royal privilege against which our Founders rebelled….Through this conduct, President Trump has shown his rejection of checks and balances. A President who will not abide legal restraint or supervision is a President who poses an ongoing threat to our liberty and security.”

The President’s Unprecedented Defiance of Congress: “In the history of the Republic, no President has ever claimed the unilateral prerogative to categorically and indiscriminately defy a House impeachment inquiry. Nor has any President ever directed his administration to do so. On the contrary, every President to address the issue has acknowledged that Congress possesses a broad and penetrating power of inquiry when investigating grounds for impeachment.” 

President Trump’s Obstruction is an “Assault on the Impeachment Clause Itself”: “President Trump’s direction to defy House subpoenas constituted an assault on the Impeachment Clause itself—and thus on our Constitution’s final answer to corrupt Presidents…. The ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ authorizes the House to review information that resides within the very branch of government it is empowered to scrutinize. By engaging in substantial obstruction of a House impeachment inquiry, the President could effectively seek to control a check on his own abuses. That is exactly what happened here.”

The President’s Pattern of Obstruction: “The pattern is as unmistakable as it is unnerving. [In 2016], President Trump welcomed and invited a foreign nation to interfere in a United States Presidential election to his advantage; here, President Trump solicited and pressured a foreign nation to do so. There, Executive Branch law enforcement investigated; here, the House impeachment inquiry investigated. There, President Trump used the powers of his office to obstruct and seek to fire the Special Counsel; here, President Trump used the powers of his office to obstruct and embargo the House impeachment inquiry. There, while obstructing investigators, the President stated that he remained free to invite foreign inference in our elections; here, while obstructing investigators, President Trump in fact invited additional foreign interference. Indeed, President Trump placed his fateful July 25 call to President Zelensky just one day after the Special Counsel testified in Congress about his findings.

Viewed in this frame, it is apparent that President Trump sees no barrier to inviting (or inducing) foreign interference in our elections, using the powers of his office to obstruct anyone who dares to investigate such misconduct, and engaging in the same conduct with impunity all over again.Although the Second Article of Impeachment focuses on President Trump’s categorical and indiscriminate obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry, the consistency of this obstruction with his broader pattern of misconduct is relevant and striking.

We Cannot Wait for the Courts: “The President is under investigation for soliciting and pressuring a foreign power to interfere in an election that is less than a year away. The House has already received compelling evidence of his misconduct. Waiting any longer would thus be an abdication of duty—particularly given the extreme implausibility that litigation would soon bring new evidence to light.”

A Fair Process

The Process Has Been Fair Under “Extraordinary Circumstances”: “The House of Representatives conducted a fair, thorough, and transparent impeachment inquiry under extraordinary circumstances. For the first time in modern history, committees of the House acted as original factfinders in a Presidential impeachment.”

Procedural Protections “Consistent with or in Some Instances Exceeded” Past Impeachments: “The House’s impeachment inquiry provided President Trump procedural protections that were consistent with or in some instances exceeded those afforded to Presidents Nixon and Clinton. The House’s inquiry was conducted with maximal transparency: transcripts of all interviews and depositions were made public, and HPSCI and the Judiciary Committee held seven days of public hearings. All documentary evidence relied on in HPSCI’s report has been made available to President Trump, and much of it has been made public. Furthermore, during proceedings before the Judiciary Committee, President Trump was offered numerous opportunities to have his counsel participate, including by cross-examining witnesses and presenting evidence. The President’s decision to reject these opportunities to participate affirms that his principal objective was to obstruct the House’s inquiry rather than assist in its full consideration of all relevant evidence.”

The Articles of Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump

RESOLUTION

Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Resolved, That Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States of America, against Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.

ARTICLE I: 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 reelection, 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.

President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct through the following means:

(1) President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents Within and Outside the United States Government corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into—

(A) a political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden; and

(B) a discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine—rather than Russia—interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.

(2) With the same corrupt motives, President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government—conditioned two official acts on the public announcements that he had requested—

(A) the release of $391 million of United States taxpayer funds that Congress had appropriated on a bipartisan basis for the purpose of providing vital military and security assistance to Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression and which President Trump had ordered suspended; and

(B) a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine sought to demonstrate continued United States support for the Government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

(3) Faced with the public revelation of his actions, President Trump ultimately released the military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine, but has persisted in openly and corruptly urging and soliciting Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit.

These actions were consistent with President Trump's previous invitations of foreign interference in United States elections.

In all of this, President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit. He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.

Wherefore President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

ARTICLE II: 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.

President Trump abused the powers of his high office through the following means:

(1) Directing the White House to defy a lawful subpoena by withholding the production of documents sought therein by the Committees.

(2) Directing other Executive Branch agencies and offices to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of documents and records from the Committees—in response to which the Department of State, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense refused to produce a single document or record.

(3) Directing current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees—in response to which nine Administration officials defied subpoenas for testimony, namely John Michael "Mick" Mulvaney, Robert B. Blair, John A. Eisenberg, Michael Ellis, Preston Wells Griffith, Russell T. Vought, Michael Duffey, Brian McCormack, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl.

These actions were consistent with President Trump's previous efforts to undermine United States Government investigations into foreign interference in United States elections.

Through these actions, President Trump sought to arrogate to himself the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry into his own conduct, as well as the unilateral prerogative to deny any and all information to the House of Representatives in the exercise of its "sole Power of Impeachment". In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate "high Crimes and Misdemeanors". This abuse of office served to cover up the President's own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment—and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.

In all of this, President Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

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