AG Barr Warns Against Trump’s Impeachment Being Used as ‘Political Tool’

December 18, 2019 Updated: December 18, 2019
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Ahead of President Donald Trump’s historic impeachment on Dec. 18, Attorney General William Barr warned against the president’s indictment being “trivialized” and used as a “political tool” by Democrats.

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday as the House of Representatives debated two articles of impeachment against the president, Barr argued that the allegations against Trump do not meet the high standard for impeachment required by the Constitution.

“As a general matter, I think we have to be careful about trivializing the process, and they put in a hurdle of high crimes—of treason, bribery, and other high crimes,” Barr told “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

Barr added that the two articles of impeachment “do not allege a violation of law.”

“…It looks as if it’s going to be along partisan lines—I think—you know, I’m concerned about it being trivialized and used as a political tool.”

Trump was charged with “high crimes and misdemeanors” by the House of Representatives on Wednesday. His impeachment is marked as being the most partisan in U.S. history, with all of the Republicans voting no on the resolution.

Voting almost exclusively along party lines, the abuse of power impeachment article was approved 230-197-1, while the Obstruction of Congress article passed 229-198-1, making Trump the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.

Two Democrats—Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)—broke ranks with their party to vote no on the first article of impeachment. Rep. Justin Amash, an independent from Michigan who left the Republican Party earlier this year, voted with the Democrats. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) joined Van Drew and Peterson in voting no on the second article of impeachment. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) voted “present” on both articles.

The impeachment resolution alleges that Trump abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival and that the president obstructed justice when Democrats began to investigate the matter. The president has vehemently denied both allegations.

Republicans say impeachment is a partisan effort to overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election. Democrats say their support of the resolution stems from a constitutional duty.

Trump has slammed the process as a hoax and called the impeachment an “ASSAULT ON AMERICA” on Twitter just hours before the vote.

He tweeted earlier: “Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible thing. Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again. Say a PRAYER!”

In speeches during the eight hours of bitter debate that preceded the vote, Republicans defended the president and accused Democrats of seeking to use an unfair, rigged process to ram the impeachment through the House of Representatives. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee approved the articles of impeachment based solely on hearsay evidence and the presumptions and opinions of witnesses.

“The matter before the House today is based solely on a fundamental hatred of our president,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said. “It’s a sham, a witch hunt—and it’s tantamount to a coup against the duly elected president of the United States.”

House Democrats argued that Trump’s alleged wrongdoing had left them with little choice but to move forward with impeachment.

“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said. “It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary.

House Democrats probed the events surrounding the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to “look into” the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. Weeks before his ouster, Shokin seized the property of the owner of a Ukrainian gas firm which, at the time, paid Joe Biden’s son Hunter tens of thousands of dollars a month to sit on its board of directors.

Biden has bragged about forcing Shokin’s ouster by threatening to withhold from Ukraine $1 billion in loans.

Having cleared the House, the Democrats’ impeachment articles will be sent to the Senate, which will hold a historic trial in 2020 on whether to acquit the 45th president or convict and remove him from office.

A supermajority vote by two-thirds of the Senate (67 votes) is required to convict and remove the president, meaning 20 Republicans would need to get on board. Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and have shown no interest in removing Trump, who wields a 95 percent approval rating among Republican voters.

Ivan Pentchoukov and Reuters contributed to this report.