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Conservative Review

Vote Alert: Advancing absurd articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump

This House resolution allowed the House to consider and vote on articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump. This procedural vote set the terms of debate on the articles of impeachment, divided the impeachment resolution between its two articles, required a vote on each article after debate, and cleared the way for the House to appoint impeachment managers to transfer the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate after they were passed by the House. Blocking this resolution would have prevented the House from impeaching the president.

Impeachment of a sitting U.S. president is serious. The charges brought against President Trump in the articles of impeachment allege that the president abused his power by soliciting the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 election and that the president obstructed Congress by defying subpoenas issued by the House impeachment inquiry. These charges do not withstand scrutiny and are far from evidence that President Trump should be removed from office.

Article I of the impeachment resolution accuses the president of corruptly “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 is accused of pressuring Ukraine into investigating his 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, by withholding $391 million in foreign aid appropriated by Congress. Additionally the president is accused of asking Ukraine to investigate a “discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine—rather than Russia—interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.” Article I concludes by alleging, “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.”

These allegations fail on several counts. 1) President Trump and Ukraine President Zelensky both deny that any pressure was applied on Ukraine to investigate Biden or 2016 election interference, and a record of their phone call shows no evidence of Trump making demands of Ukraine. 2) It is within a president’s powers to add conditions to foreign aid, and past presidents have done so. Regardless, Ukraine was not aware that any aid was delayed or aware of any conditions for its release. 3) The aid was released after 84 days without any of Trump’s alleged demands fulfilled. 4) There are legitimate questions surrounding the Biden family’s relationships with Ukraine and possible corruption on an even larger scale, and it is in the national interest, not President Trump’s personal political interest, to uproot corruption involving public figures and especially potential presidential candidates. It ought to be clear that President Trump did not abuse his power with regard to Ukraine for his own personal interest.

Article II of the impeachment resolution accuses President Trump of obstructing Congress by directing “the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its ‘sole Power of Impeachment’.” The House makes a separation of powers claim against the president, alleging that he unconstitutionally “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.” The president allegedly abused his powers by directing the White House and executive branch agencies and offices to defy lawful subpoenas by withholding documents and records and directing executive branch officials to defy subpoenas to appear to testify.

The charge of “obstructing Congress” in Article II is absurd on its face. Our constitutional republic is established on a framework that creates three separate but equal branches of government that are designed to conflict with each other’s powers and interests. President Trump challenged Congress’ subpoena authority by refusing to answer the subpoenas and by taking his case to court. The Supreme Court has decided to hear all three of the president’s subpoena challenges and issue a judgment resolving the dispute. This impeachment charge essentially says that a U.S. president is not permitted to challenge congressional subpoenas in court. In accusing President Trump of assuming legislative power over impeachment, Congress essentially assumes judicial power denying the president’s right to challenge Congress and declaring its own subpoenas to be unquestionable. How can Congress demand the president be removed from office for assuming another branch’s constitutional powers and then do the very same thing itself? That is nonsensical and is certainly not a basis to remove the president from office.

The charges against President Trump in the two articles of impeachment do not withstand fact-based scrutiny or the constitutional requirement of “high crimes or misdemeanors” for impeaching a president and removing him from office. This resolution that brought the articles of impeachment to the House floor should have been rejected by the House so that the matter of impeaching the president under these insufficient and ridiculous charges could be laid to rest and members of Congress could return to the serious business of governing the country.

The House of Representatives voted to approve the resolution and advance the articles of impeachment on December 18, 2019, at 11:55 a.m. ET in a roll call vote of 228 – 197.

To see how your elected officials stack up or other votes that compose the Liberty Score, view our full scorecard here.

CR position: NO

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