Donald Trump: “This scheme to corrupt an American presidential election subordinated the democratic sovereignty of the people to the private political ambitions of one man.” (Doug Mills/New York Times)
Donald John Trump will also certainly be the third impeached President in US history by the end of Wednesday.
The 435-member House of Representatives is likely to vote today, having received the evidence of the Intelligence Committee — documents and testimony from 17 current and former US officials, defying White House orders not to comply with subpoenas — and the reports of the Judiciary Committee on the legal and Constitutional position.
Trump is charged with abuse of power over his pressure on Ukraine to investigate political rivals and to cover up Russia’s involvement in the 2016 US election. The witnesses and documents say Trump withheld security assistance to Kiev until it complied with the 10-month campaign by Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Democrats hold 235 of the 435 House seats. By Tuesday, enough had declared support of impeachment to guarantee a majority, sending Trump to a Senate trial in January.
In a PR attempt to seize attention and appeal to Trump supporters, Trump and his staff sent a rambling six-page letter — filled with invective, falsehoods, and trashing of legislators and US agencies — to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, portraying Trump as the victim of an “attempted coup”.
In a message to Democratic representatives, Pelosi ignored the letter as she said the House must “proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States”.
As legislators discussed the rules for today’s debate, Rep. Jamie Raskin represented the position of the majority on the Judiciary Committee:
This scheme to corrupt an American presidential election subordinated the democratic sovereignty of the people to the private political ambitions of one man, the president himself. It immediately placed the national security interests of the United States of America at risk.
Trump-supporting Republicans continued their tactic of avoiding the evidence and denouncing the process as “Alice in Wonderland”.
The House Rules Committee voted along party lines to allow a total of six hours of debate today, divided equally between Republican and Democratic representatives.
A series of Democrats explained why they will vote for impeachment today, even if it puts them at political risk in November’s elections.
I will be voting not as Democrat or Republican but as an American who has been given this responsibility by the people I serve and the community I love.
— Rep. Anthony Brindisi (@RepBrindisi) December 17, 2019
Rep. Debbie Dingell wrote in The New York Times:
If we don’t address this abuse of power, we abdicate our constitutional and moral responsibility. Failing to address it would also condone these actions as acceptable for future administrations.
Did President Trump’s actions rise to the level of a threat to our democracy? Yes. Future generations and historians will judge us if we did not address these dangers. I will cast my vote to protect our Constitution, our democratic republic and the future of our country.
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan summarized:
I grieve for our nation. But I cannot let history mark the behavior of our president as anything other than an unacceptable violation of his oath of office. The future of our republic and of our values depend on that.
McConnell: “I’m Not Impartial”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell continued his effort for a trial to protect Trump, saying four White House officials — three of whom, including White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, have defied subpoenas — will not be called as witnesses.
After a meeting with White House counsel Pat Cipollone last week, McConnell said that he was abandoning the role of impartial juror in the trial and would coordinate with Trump’s team.
He defended his rejection of the oath to “do impartial justice”: “I’m not an impartial juror. This is a political process. I’m not impartial about this at all.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had written McConnell to request testimony from Mulvaney, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Mulvaney’s top aide Robert Blair, and Michael Duffey, the top political appointee at the Office of Management and Budget.
According to witnesses during the impeachment figures, Mulvaney carried out Trump’s order to suspend security assistance to Ukraine, implementing it through the OMB. Bolton objected stridently to the “drug deal” being pursued by Mulvaney and Giuliani at Trump’s behest.
Schumer said Tuesday that a trial without witnesses “would be an aberration” which “eats away at the foundation of the republic”: “The bottom line is that a trial with no witnesses, a trial with no documents is not a trial.”