Opinion | Susan Knopf: If this isn’t an impeachable offense, nothing is
For the Record
“The president has never obstructed Congress in the manner of President Trump. It’s unprecedented … in the history of our country,” Florida Congressman Ted Deutsch told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
The Republicans say, “Forget all that. Don’t believe your eyes. Don’t believe your ears.” We saw the president in front of the cameras ask China to investigate Joe Biden. He asked Ukraine on the phone. In 2016, he asked Russia to look for emails. He flaunts the Constitution soliciting foreign assistance to win an election.
The House will soon vote on articles of impeachment accusing Trump of:
- Abuse of power, for his attempt to trade Ukraine’s $391 million in congressionally appropriated military aid for personal political favors.
- Obstruction of Congress, for refusing subpoenas for documents and testimony, and stopping others from complying with House subpoenas, a breach of the division of powers outlined in the Constitution.
Kudos to Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse, who got it on the record from Republican counsel Stephen Castor that there is no dispute of facts:
- Russia engaged in a prolonged, well-organized cyber attack on the U.S. that likely affected our 2016 elections.
- Ukraine didn’t.
- Russia is advancing the Ukraine-hack story to deflect attention from its own guilt.
- Russia benefits from prolonged U.S. investigation into the matter.
Yet U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr continues investigating why the FBI started the probe of Trump’s connection to the Russian cyber-attacks. Fox News agrees Trump put himself on the FBI’s radar when he asked Russia to look for Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Stunningly, Republicans still want to dispute facts. Even their own constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, admits, “In my view, the references to Biden and his son were highly inappropriate and should not have been part of the (July 25) call.” For the record, neither Joe Biden nor his son are suspected of any corruption by any government agency.
Republicans argue we should just let it go, and let the voters decide.
“… The framers believed that elections were not a sufficient check on the possibility of a president who abused his power by acting in a corrupt way. They were especially worried that a president might use the power of his office to influence the electoral process in his own favor. They concluded that the Constitution must provide for the impeachment of the president to assure that no one would be above the law,” Harvard Law School constitutional law professor Noah Feldman told the House Judiciary Committee.
Yale-educated Pamela Karlan, who is the director of Stanford University Law School’s Supreme Court litigation clinic, told the House Judiciary Committee “… when President Trump invited — indeed demanded — foreign involvement in our upcoming election … that demand constituted an abuse of power. … Drawing a foreign government into our election process is an especially serious abuse of power because it undermines democracy itself.”
“The use of military aid for a quid pro quo to investigate one’s political opponent, if proven, can be an impeachable offense,” said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, the Republicans’ constitutional scholar.
In the now infamous July 25 phone call between Trump and newly elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Zelensky states, “… we are almost ready to buy more Javelins (anti-tank missiles) from the United States for defense purposes.” Trump responds, “We’d like you to do us a favor though.” He asks Zelensky to investigate debunked 2016 election conspiracy theories and the Bidens.
Numerous witnesses testified they understood Trump was using the appropriated aid as a bargaining chip to get personal political favors.
It’s darkly comical Republicans keep insisting the more than 70-day House investigation is not thorough enough. Particularly as Neguse established in the hearing, there is no dispute of fact. Previous hearings took longer to uncover facts.
It’s ironic Republicans warn Democrats are rushing to judgment, while the president urges Congress to hurry up so he can have his say in the Senate. The president was offered an opportunity to speak to the House and declined.
North Carolina School of Law professor Michael J. Gerhardt cited Trump’s dangerous misstatements, declaring the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want as president” and the president’s dismissal of the impeachment process as “constitutionally illegitimate.”
Gerhardt stated, “The president’s serious misconduct, including bribery, soliciting a personal favor from a foreign leader in exchange for his exercise of power and obstructing justice and Congress are worse than the misconduct of any prior president.”
If we let this president’s behavior stand, we invite any leader to involve any country to sway our elections. Trump repeatedly sought foreign interference from Russia, China, Britain, Australia and Ukraine. This is not a partisan battle. It’s a battle for the survival of the independence of the United States. It makes me sad Republicans don’t see it.
Susan Knopf’s column “For The Record” publishes Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf has worn many hats in her career, including working as an award-winning journalist and certified ski instructor. She moved to Silverthorne in 2013 after vacationing in Summit County since the 1970s. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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