House Judiciary Committee Releases Report Defining Grounds for Impeachment

House Judiciary Committee Releases Report Defining Grounds for Impeachment
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Capitol Hill on May 21, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Janita Kan

The House Judiciary Committee released on Saturday a report that attempts to define what the founders of the Constitution meant in their impeachment clause, days after the Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked the committee’s chair to move forward in impeaching President Donald Trump.

The 52-page report, titled “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment” (pdf), is meant to act as a guide for impeachment as the committee’s Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) prepares to draft articles of impeachment against the president.
The report was drafted by majority staff and provides details about the “history, purpose, and meaning” of Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution—the impeachment clause.

House Democrats are investigating in their impeachment inquiry allegations that the president had leveraged his office during a call with Ukraine in July where he asked the Ukrainian president to look into corruption accusations on former Vice President Joe Biden—who is running for president in 2020.

The release of the report comes after the House heard from a panel of four legal scholars to provide their understanding of what they think are impeachable offenses and how to apply it to the facts. Many of the academics had previously criticized Trump or have defended the impeachment against the president. The empaneled scholars drew criticism from the president’s allies and opponents of impeachment due to their apparent anti-Trump bias.
The report, which updates a 1974 version of the document that was used during the impeachment inquiry into President Richard M. Nixon, lays out reasoning to justify the House Democrat’s interpretation of what the impeachable offenses include. The Constitution does not explicitly define what “high crimes and misdemeanors” are, which is then open to legal analysis. According to the document, treason and bribery, abuse of power, betrayal involving foreign powers, and corruption are considered impeachable offenses.

“Within these parameters, and guided by fidelity to the Constitution, the House must judge whether the President’s misconduct is grave enough to require impeachment,” the report states. “That step must never be taken lightly. It is a momentous act, justified only when the President’s full course of conduct, assessed without favor or prejudice, is ’seriously incompatible with either the constitutional form and principles of our government or the proper performance of constitutional duties of the presidential office.'”

The report also serves as a formal rebuttal of hotly contested issues during the impeachment process that the Democrats have deemed as “fallacies” such as the law that governs House procedures for impeachment, which states: “the law that governs the evaluation of evidence, including where the President orders defiance of House subpoenas, and whether the President is immune from impeachment if he attempts an impeachable offense but is caught before he completes it.”

On Wednesday, during a brief press conference, Pelosi said Trump’s dealings with Ukraine “have seriously violated the Constitution.” She added, “He is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”

In response, Trump raised concerns about the House Democrat’s actions, warning that the extraordinary act of impeaching a president will be used on future presidents, as some legal scholars and Republicans have previously noted.

“This will mean that the beyond important and seldom-used act of Impeachment will be used routinely to attack future Presidents. That is not what our Founders had in mind. The good thing is that the Republicans have NEVER been more united. We will win!” Trump wrote.

Epoch Times reporter Jack Phillips contributed to this report.
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