In a press conference this morning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership announced they’ll be introducing articles of impeachment on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Ever since Pelosi announced she had asked the relevant committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment, there had be questions about what specific charges would be used. The Speaker and other members had been noncommittal on giving an answer and said they were working together to draft articles that lay out Trump’s inappropriate behavior and are supported by the available evidence.
While this might not be something folks would say directly, how much support various articles of impeachment would get from individual members of Congress and the public at large was also likely taken into consideration while deciding exactly what charges would be brought. This could be an important factor as the Republicans are already trying to portray the entire process as a partisan witch hunt and it’s unlikely 20 Republicans will vote to convict (which is how many would need to do so to reach the 2/3 majority required for removal).
This concept hasn’t been lost on the Democrats. During her appearance on a CNN Town Hall, the same day she publicly asked committee chairs to draft articles of impeachment, Speaker Pelosi said that while Democrats took their oath to defend the Constitution seriously, it appears as though the GOP has “taken an oath to Trump.” Other Democratic leaders have made similar remarks, both during official hearings and during interviews with the press.
We’ve seen this locally here in Northern Virginia as Rep. Gerry Connolly told a crowd of Democrats in Fairfax County this weekend that he would be voting to impeach Trump. This wasn’t a surprise to anybody in the room as Connolly called for an impeachment inquiry back in August and frequently highlighted how the president’s behavior, especially surrounding the interactions with Ukraine, was an abuse of power that Congress had to hold him accountable for.
Connolly went on to bluntly say he didn’t think the Republican controlled Senate would actually vote to convict the president. The obvious implication was the GOP has put loyalty to Trump ahead of loyalty to the Constitution and the best interests of the American people.
Perhaps the obvious question that comes from all this is why move forward with impeaching Trump if even Members of Congress are admitting the Senate is extremely unlikely to convict him on any charges. There have even been some suggestions that Congress simply move forward with censure instead of impeachment, which would only require the support of four Senate Republicans and would still hold Trump accountable to some degree.
As was pointed out during today’s press conference announcing the articles of impeachment, however, Trump’s actions have “threatened the integrity of our elections” and “are consistent with President Trump’s previous invitations of foreign interference in the 2016 elections.” In other words, moving forward with any action other than impeachment would allow the president to potential steal an election with blatantly illegal behavior.
Rep. Adam Schiff also highlighted how delaying impeachment in order to hear from the Trump Administration also is not an option. Trump has already order administration officials not to corporate with Congress and there has been a lengthy court process already taking place for other matters trying to force executive branch officials to comply with subpoenas. Waiting on impeachment would therefore likely result in the process extending beyond the 2020 election, which would allow Trump to take even more illegal action to swing the election in his favor.
The House Judiciary Committee is likely going to vote on the articles on Thursday and the full House will follow with a vote next week. They will then be sent over to the Senate where Mitch McConnell will have to set up the timeline for the trial.