House Judiciary Committee Publishes Full Impeachment Report
By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter
December 16, 2019
The House Judiciary Committee released the full 658-page report on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, which outlines the committee's justification and reasoning behind two articles of impeachment that were forwarded to the full House for consideration last week.
The document released by the committee is divided into four parts. The first section is devoted to the process followed by the House Intelligence Committee, who investigated the initial case and whistleblower report against the president. Part two outlines the standards of impeachment as they are laid out in Article 1, section 2 of the Constitution. Part three runs through the evidence collected by Democrats during the course of the impeachment inquiry to make their case for how Trump abused the power of his office in pressuring a foreign government to investigate his potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.
"President Trump has realized the Framers' worst nightmare. He has abused his power in soliciting and pressuring a vulnerable foreign nation to corrupt the next United States Presidential election by sabotaging a political opponent and endorsing a debunked conspiracy theory promoted by our adversary, Russia," the committee wrote.
Part four of the report outlines the Democrats' case that Trump and his administration obstructed Congress' ability to investigate the executive branch by ignoring House investigators' requests for documents and testimony.
"Other Presidents have recognized their obligation to provide information to Congress under these circumstances," the report states. "President Trump's stonewall, by contrast, was categorical, indiscriminate, and without precedent in American history."
The report accuses President Trump of falling into a "pattern of behavior" and that "this is not the first time he has solicited foreign interference in an election, been exposed, and attempted to obstruct the resulting investigation. He will almost certainly continue on this course."
"For all the reasons given above, President Trump will continue to threaten the Nation’s security, democracy, and constitutional system if he is allowed to remain in office. That threat is not hypothetical," the committee wrote.
What is Impeachment?
Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to begin impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States. The bar for beginning impeachment proceedings is quite low, with Article 1 limiting ground for impeachment to "Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Because the phrase, "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" is not defined in the constitution, it can be broadly interpreted by the House in what should count for beginning those proceedings.
Impeachment proceedings can begin when requested by a member of the House of Representatives, either through presenting a list of charges under oath, or by asking for a referral to the appropriate committee (usually the House Judiciary Committee). The committee determines whether the grounds for impeachment are valid, and if find grounds for impeachment, the committee will set forth specific allegations of misconduct in one or more articles of impeachment. Those articles of impeachment are then forwarded to the full House with the committee's recommendations.
We are here. Last week, the Judiciary Committee forwarded two articles of impeachment to the full House for consideration and a vote, which could occur as early as Wednesday, before lawmakers go home for the holiday break.
House Reps debate the resolution and eventually vote on whether or not to impeach the president. A simple majority is all it needs to pass. Should that happen, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he would base the Senate Trial for President Trump using the same procedures used for the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton.
If the full House votes to impeach, the process then moves to the Senate, where several representatives will be selected to act as "managers" to present the impeachment case to the Senate. The House managers act as a prosecutor or district attorney, much like you would see in a standard criminal trial. The impeached official is given the opportunity to mount a defense with their own attorneys as well. The trial would allow each side to call witnesses and perform cross-examinations, with the "House Manager" presenting the prosecutor's case. However, the proceeding is far closer to what happens when federal workers are fired from their jobs. No actual criminal prosecution is done, however, the individual being removed from office is still subject to criminal proceedings should circumstances warrant.
The President of the Senate, the Vice President of the United States presides over the impeachment. The duties could also fall to the President pro tempore of the Senate, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
Any trial by the senate would likely last for several weeks. A two-thirds vote by the Senate is required by the Constitution to convict and remove the person being impeached from office. Should that occur, the person being impeached is immediately removed from office.
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