House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has thrown down the gauntlet, directing Congress to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The House’s task will now be twofold: 1) deciding what alleged wrongdoing to include in the articles; and 2) actually drafting the language that will serve to officially impeach the president. Although Congress could choose to impeach on a number of matters (not just Trump’s conditioning of military aid on political assistance, but also items alleged in the Mueller Report, violations of the Emoluments Clause, refusal to turn over tax records etc.), it will likely keep the scope relatively narrow. Unlike criminal indictments — which often include numerous counts to strategically pressure defendants to plead guilty, or to maximize possible sentencing – simpler may be more effective for those who wish to remove President Trump from office.
Congress may, however, include articles related to the Trump’s lack of cooperation with the impeachment inquiry as well as the malfeasance of the Ukraine aid debacle itself. Indeed, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff ‘s (D-Calif.) guidance to the House Intelligence Committee was clearly focused on the conditioning military aid on Trump’s personal political gain, and any interference with investigation thereof.
When drafting, the House is likely to go with what’s been used before. Although the impeachment articles against President Richard Nixon never lived out their full potential, they did bear fruit in the form of his resignation prior to a Senate trial. To impeach President Trump, Congress might well choose the most efficient course of action – and just redline the Articles of Impeachment (some that were adopted and others that were rejected) from 1974. There are differences between the two narratives, of course, but as goes the familiar political expression, “there’s much more that unites them than divides them.”
To read the full Articles of Impeachment brought against Nixon, click here. We’ve included some choice excerpts below — with edits — to help clarify things.
Using the powers of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, or contravening the laws governing agencies of the executive branch and the purposed of these agencies.
This conduct has included one or more of the following:
2. He misused executive authority Federal Bureau of Investigation,the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by initiating investigations to benefit his personal political interests, including directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to withhold U.S. military assistance from Ukraine conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations and for his personal political gain, and pressuring the head of state and president of Ukraine to advance his personal political interests for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office.
4. He has failed to take care that the laws were faithfully executed by failing to act when he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates directly and personally endeavour[ing] to impede and frustrate lawful inquiries by duly constituted executive, judicial and legislative entities the House Intel/Judiciary Committee concerning the unlawful entry into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, improper conditioning of Ukrainian military assistance on personal political gain, and the cover-up thereof, and concerning other unlawful activities including those relating to Richard Kleindienst as Attorney General of the United States. the electronic surveillance of private citizens, the break-in into the offices of Dr. Lewis Fielding, and the campaign financing practices of the Committee to Re-elect the President.
5. In disregard of the rule of law, he knowingly misused executive power by interfering with United States foreign policy agencies of the executive branch, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Division, and the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, of the Department of Justice, and the Central Intelligence Agency,in violation of his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
In all of this, Richard M. NixonDonald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.
WhereforeRichard M. Nixon Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office.
Specification of Charges (Bill of Particulars) Supporting All Articles
- Conspiracy to Commit Crimes to Influence the Election. Adopted a plan or scheme proposed by Gordon Liddyto employ various unlawful devices, including wiretaps, illegal entries, assault and battery and prostitution, to influence the results of the 1972 2020Presidential election in a manner favorable to Richard M. Nixon Donald J. Trump; in violation of section 371 of the Criminal Code.
- Obstruction of Justice. Attempted to conceal from Congress and the American people his actions and conduct seeking to influence the 2020 presidential election influence a United States District Court Judge, Hon. W. Matthew Byrne, in a matter then pending trial before him, to wit, the prosecution by the United States of Daniel Ellsberg for violation of the espionage statutes, by suggesting to Judge Byrne that he might be appointed as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in violation of sections 371 and 1503 of the Criminal Code.
To be perfectly clear, none of this is boilerplate language. When it comes to impeachment of a president, there is no boilerplate language, except maybe for the part that calls for “impeachment and trial, and removal from office.” President Nixon’s wrongdoing has been a rare topic about which Democrats and Republicans of today often unite. The Watergate break-in, the cover-up, and the misuse of government agencies and executive privilege have, for decades, stood as examples of misconduct so extreme as to be indefensible, irrespective of party loyalty. The political climate is certainly different today, but President Trump’s attempted exchange of foreign aid for political gain is as clear an impeachable offense that could exist.
Next, the House of Representatives will vote on whether to adopt whatever specific Articles of Impeachment are drafted.
[image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.