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Bribery crux of impeachment proceedings against President Trump noticeably absent from impeachment articles


A glaring omission

Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Democrats announced late Monday they would file two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, one for abuse of power and another for obstructing Congress.

Noticeably absent are charges of bribery, the crux of the impeachment proceedings.

Indeed, House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry on the basis of accusations that Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, threatening to withhold U.S. aid if Ukraine did not publicly announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.

But quid pro quo's are not necessarily illegal; what is illegal, however, is bribery.

In fact, the House Judiciary Committee released a report over the weekend previewing the possibility that the committee would file impeachment articles against Trump. Included in the report was a charge of bribery.

From The Associated Press:

The report released Saturday is an update of similar reports issued during the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachments and lays out the justification for articles under consideration, including abuse of power, bribery and obstruction.

The report examines treason, bribery, serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements and corruption of office and elections. Democrats have been focused on an overall abuse of power article, with the possibility of breaking out a separate, related article on bribery. They are also expected to draft at least one article on obstruction of Congress, or obstruction of justice.

It is not clear why Democrats will not include bribery charges in their articles of impeachment, especially considering that the heartbeat of the impeachment proceedings are the president's alleged Ukraine dealings that allegedly included bribery in the form of a quid pro quo.

What is clear, however, is that many key witnesses in the impeachment investigation testified to Congress that they did not have direct evidence of a quid pro quo.

While the Democrats' public campaign against the president has included allegations of a quid pro quo, because there is not sufficient evidence to prove such a charge — some claim there is no evidence of a quid pro quo — bribery could not be included in the impeachment articles because they require actual legal standing of alleged wrongdoing as outlined in the Constitution.

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