Impeach me NOW do it fast, Donald Trump demands as Nancy Pelosi moves to put him on trial22 min read

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Donald Trump dared Democrats to impeach him ‘now, and fast,’ on Thursday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly told House Democrats to draft articles of impeachment to try to remove the president from office.

The president used twitter to taunt the Speaker herself, saying he would make ‘Nervous Nancy’ a witness at his trial – and bring in both Hunter and Joe Biden, who has already said he will not voluntarily testify.

On a day when Pelosi first invoked the founding fathers and later furiously turned on a reporter who asked if she ‘hated’ Trump, the president himself launched a fusillade of tweets before taking three leading defenders to the National Christmas Tree lighting in a show of thanks.

But the timeline is not in his hands. 

The next meeting of the House Judiciary Committee will be on Monday, when chairman Jerry Nadler will take evidence from the counsel of the House Intelligence Committee, which led the impeachment inquiry.

Pelosi did not say what would happen after that, and whether she would order a full House impeachment vote by Christmas.

Just two House Democrats are holding out against impeachment, making it certain there will be a Senate trial, with Mitch McConnell blocking off the whole month of January for the proceedings.

Get it on: Donald Trump demanded a rapid impeachment so he can have a trial in the Senate. He and Melania Trump took three of his leading House defenders - Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, and John Ratcliffe to the National Christmas Tree lighting in a show of thanks

Get it on: Donald Trump demanded a rapid impeachment so he can have a trial in the Senate. He and Melania Trump took three of his leading House defenders – Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, and John Ratcliffe to the National Christmas Tree lighting in a show of thanks

Some of President Trump's top House allies got premier seats at the festivities including Rep. Mark Meadows (left), Rep. Jim Jordan (second from right) and Rep. John Ratcliffe

Some of President Trump’s top House allies got premier seats at the festivities including Rep. Mark Meadows (left), Rep. Jim Jordan (second from right) and Rep. John Ratcliffe 

 

When reporter asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 'Do you hate the president?' she became unusually angry and insisted she doesn't 'hate' anyone: 'Don't mess with me when it comes to words like that!'

When reporter asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, ‘Do you hate the president?’ she became unusually angry and insisted she doesn’t ‘hate’ anyone: ‘Don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that!’

Pelosi erupted in response to a question from Sinclair Broadcasting reporter James Rosen (center-right, arm raised), who asked whether she hates Trump

Pelosi erupted in response to a question from Sinclair Broadcasting reporter James Rosen (center-right, arm raised), who asked whether she hates Trump

Pelosi insisted she hates no one, and that she often prays for the president

Pelosi insisted she hates no one, and that she often prays for the president

Pelosi announced her decision to fast-track impeachment articles, the congressional equivalent of criminal charges against Trump in a formal statement outside her ornate balcony on the second floor of the Capitol.

‘Our democracy is what is at stake,’ the longtime liberal lawmaker said.

‘Today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.’

She did not specify which articles of impeachment she favored—an issue of intense debate within her caucus—or how quickly she might call a vote, another fraught question. 

The speaker also left no doubt where she personally comes down on the matter, after spending many months initially resisting a push to impeach.

‘The president’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution,’ she said in her televised statement, speaking in somber tones in a measured voice. 

‘His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution it’s separation of powers,’ she intoned – ‘three coequal branches, each a check and balance on the other.’ 

Trump quickly attacked the move on Twitter, warning Democrats were impeaching him over ‘NOTHING.’

‘Impeachment will be used routinely to attack future Presidents. That is not what our Founders had in mind,’ Trump retorted on Twitter.

Pelosi also appeared to suggest the potential for a sweeping set of impeachment articles – by accusing Trump of corruption in the 2016 election alongside his more recent moves. The House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry dealt primarily with Trump’s actions as recently as this fall and summer dealing with Ukraine.

‘The president leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit,’ Pelosi said. 

What we do know on impeachment after Pelosi’s speech (and what we don’t) 

WHAT WE KNOW 

Democratic committees will draft articles of impeachment for president Trump.

Pelosi used plural language, implying the House Intelligence Committee would continue to be involved, although Judiciary is the place such action would occur.

The committee must hold formal public hearings where articles would be voted on by members.

If those articles are ordered reported in Committee, House leaders would then bring them quickly to the House floor for a vote.

There would be public debate before such a vote, and each member’s vote will be recorded.

Then, the matter will go to the Senate, where Senate leaders have said a trial will occur.

 

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW 

Pelosi didn’t say what the impeachment articles would be. 

She didn’t say whether obstruction of justice – alleged in the Mueller report – would be included.

Obstruction of Congress is another possibility.

Lawmakers are considering various abuse of power related articles.

She did not say when committees would act.

She didn’t say when the goal would be to have the House vote – or if year’s end is the official goal.

She did not speak on the likelihood of passage, although she would be unlikely to proceed without knowing the outcome.

Pelosi did not reveal who House impeachment managers will be. They are charged with arguing the case in the Senate. 

The terms of the Senate trial are fluid. Witnesses are called, but it is unclear if the White House will follow through on Trump’s call to bring forward Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and the Bidens as witnesses. 

The timing is also unknown. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked out time in January – but Democratic presidential primaries start in early February. 

‘The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,’ she continued. ‘His actions are in defiance of the vision of our founders and the oath of office that he takes to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”‘

‘Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders,  and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.’

She thanked committee chairs and members ‘for their somber approach’ to deal with actions the president made ‘necessary.’

The Catholic lawmaker invoked the Declaration of Independence signers’ reliance on Divine Provenance. 

She said Democrats were ‘prayerful’ and will proceed in a manner ‘worthy of our oath of office.’ 

There is much Pelosi did not say about a way forward – including what precise articles she wants the House Judiciary to draw up. 

The House intelligence committee, which began the probe under Pelosi ally Adam Schiff, has said it will continue its inquiry. 

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Seeking to bring her comments above the partisan mud fest that the two initial public hearings have become, Pelosi quoted a long list of Founders in her comments: James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and and Constitution signer Gouverneur Morris. 

‘The founders feared the return of the monarchy in America,’ Pelosi said, in terms that compared Trump to a corrupt tyrant and a king. In particular, she said, they feared one who ‘might betray his trust to for powers,’ she said.  

Pelosi, who for months resisted the drive that began among members of her party’s liberal wing, has since jumped aboard, setting up a House Intelligence impeachment inquiry and Wednesday Judiciary Committee hearing. 

But her decision has promoted Republicans to accuse her of acting out of ‘hatred’ of the president.

Two hours after her statement, her regular weekly press conference became an extraordinary scene as she was asked about that charge as she walked from the podium.

‘Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?’ asked James Rosen, a longtime correspondent for Fox News who is now with Sinclair Broadcasting.

Pelosi, typically even-tempered, abandoned her measured speaking and became visibly angry. 

‘I pray for the president all the time,’ she shot back. ‘So don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.’ 

‘Let me say this: I think the president is a coward when it comes to helping kids who are afraid of gun violence. I think he is cruel when he doesn’t deal with helping our dreamers, of which we’re very proud. I think he’s in denial about the climate crisis,’ she said.

But ‘take it up in the election,’ Pelosi continued. ‘This is about the Constitution of the United States and the fact that leads to the president’s violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word “hate” in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone.’   

Trump wasted little time in escalating the feud with the Democrat who wants him ousted from power.

‘Nancy Pelosi just had a nervous fit. … She says she “prays for the President.” I don’t believe her, not even close,’ he wrote in a tweet.

‘She hates that we will soon have 182 great new judges and sooo much more. Stock Market and employment records,’ he added, before sniping about her hometown San Francisco’s chronic homelessness problem. 

The California Democrat had said before storming off the stage that hatred ‘has nothing to do with’ her crusade to impeach Trump. 

‘Let me say this: I think the president is a coward when it comes to helping kids who are afraid of gun violence. I think he is cruel when he doesn’t deal with helping our dreamers, of which we’re very proud. I think he’s in denial about the climate crisis,’ she said.

But ‘take it up in the election,’ Pelosi continued. ‘This is about the Constitution of the United States and the fact that leads to the president’s violation of his oath of office. And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word “hate” in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone.’  

Do US a favor: Trump said he was asking Ukraine to help 'our Country' by investigating Joe Biden and the 2016 elections

Do US a favor: Trump said he was asking Ukraine to help ‘our Country’ by investigating Joe Biden and the 2016 elections

He called on Democrats to apologize to the American people

He called on Democrats to apologize to the American people

'Our democracy is what is at stake,' the longtime California lawmaker said

‘Our democracy is what is at stake,’ the longtime California lawmaker said

She spoke in the corridor outside the Speaker's balcony in the Capitol before a bank of American flags

She spoke in the corridor outside the Speaker’s balcony in the Capitol before a bank of American flags

The president is focused on making the case against impeachment in the Senate, the White House signaled Wednesday as House Democrats continue to plow toward recommending impeachment to the upper chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who holds considerable sway over how impeachment will go in his chamber, said on the Floor Thursday: ‘For weeks now, Republicans have beeen asking Democrats to take off their impeachment blinders and let Congress legislate for the American people.’ He said ‘Democrats literally obsess over impeachment.’

Today, he said, ‘the Speaker gave a speech on national television to push forward her rushed and partisan impeachment. Not one word, not one word on the outstanding legislation the American people actually need. Nothing on USMCA or the NDAA or funding for our armed forces. All impeachment, all the time, said McConnell, who served in the Senate during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, whom he accused at the time of a ‘persistent pattern and practice of obstruction of justice.’

White House director of legislative affairs Eric Ueland, a longtime former Senate aide, said Trump ‘wants his case made fully in the Senate.’

‘In this instance, we believe very strongly — given the fatally flawed process in the House — that if they were to elect against our better advice [and] send over impeachment to the Senate, that we need witnesses as part of our trial and a full defense of the president on the facts,’ Ueland told reporters, gesturing toward the Senate chamber, according to The Washington Post.

Ueland, along with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, met with GOP senators on Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee conducted its first public hearing. 

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on during a meeting in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

Pelosi's statement was carried on multiple platforms

Pelosi’s statement was carried on multiple platforms

Ueland signaled that the White House was focused on the likely Senate trial where he feels they will be able to make a fair defense.

While speaking with reporters at the White House Monday, the president’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, said Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff should testify because he is a fact witness in the impeachment inquiry.

She even said if Schiff testified under oath Wednesday before the Judiciary Committee she would show up on Capitol Hill.

Republicans have also asserted that Hunter Biden should appear to testify – since his business dealings in Ukraine are also at the center of the president’s actions that led to the impeachment inquiry.

Trump’s missive came a day after key White House advisors lunched with Senate Republicans to plot strategy on how to handle impeachment in the Senate. 

Trump’s push for speedy House Democratic action, if sincere, would put him on the same page as Democratic leaders, who have been fearful of dragging out impeachment long into the new year. They fear it could interfere with their party’s message of working on kitchen table issues like health care and prescription drug costs. 

To date, Pelosi has refrained from sweeping pronouncements on process, preferring to let House committees and investigations go forward at their own pace, at least publicly.

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‘Are you ready?’ she asked her colleagues Wednesday during a closed-door meeting, earning yells of approval from fellow Democrats, the Washington Post reported. 

She has yet to give lawmakers a firm timeline for what comes next – although all indications are that Democrats are rushing to complete impeachment by the end of the year. 

That would provide barely enough time for Judiciary to consider and vote on articles of impeachment, setting up a House vote. That could bring a Senate trial early next year. 

For that to happen, though Democrats must reach some decisions among themselves over how expansive a set of impeachment articles they want to craft.

The House Intelligence Committee kept its public hearings to Trump’ and his administration and emissaries’ conduct – and its 300-page report dealt with alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But some influential Democrats want to plumb the findings of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report, which investigated 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice. 

Some Democrats are pushing the party to incorporate Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and other actions by Trump as articles of impeachment. 

Democrats say no decision has been made at this point on the specific charges. They could include abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice. 

More centrist and moderate Democrats prefer to stick with the Ukraine matter as a simpler narrative that Americans understand. As complex as the Ukraine affair has become, it has the virtue of being a more contained set of circumstances. 

Obstruction of justice could encompass Trump’s conduct allegedly trying to shut down the Mueller probe, his interactions with former White House counsel Don McGahn, payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, and a variety of ancillary issues.  

Either way, Democrats could begin drafting articles of impeachment in a matter of days, with a Judiciary Committee vote next week. 

The full House could vote by Christmas. Then the matter would move to the Senate for a trial in 2020.  

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff,

Robert Mueller, Former Special Counsel for the United States Department of Justice

Democrats are debating whether to include an article on obstruction of justice as laid out in the report by special counsel Robert Mueller.  House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff,left, is leading the impeachment hearings

On Wednesday, three leading legal scholars testified that President Donald Trump’s attempts to have Ukraine investigate Democratic rivals are grounds for impeachment.

The legal opinions bolster the Democrats’ case as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes sure they’re prepared for that momentous next step.

A fourth expert called by Republicans at the Judiciary Committee warned against rushing the process, arguing it would be the shortest of impeachment proceedings, with the ‘thinnest’ record of evidence in modern times, setting a worrisome standard.

Meeting behind closed doors ahead of the initial Judiciary hearing to consider potential articles of impeachment, Pelosi asked House Democrats a simple question: ‘Are you ready?’

The answer was a resounding yes.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined at left by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., makes his opening statements on Wednesday

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined at left by Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., makes his opening statements on Wednesday

Though no date has been set, the Democrats are charging toward a Christmastime vote on removing the 45th president. It’s a starkly partisan undertaking, a situation Pelosi hoped to avoid but now seems inevitable.

Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by putting personal political gain over national security interests, engaging in bribery by withholding $400 million in military aid Congress had approved for Ukraine; and then obstructing Congress by stonewalling the investigation.

Across the Capitol on Wednesday, the polarizing political divide over impeachment, only the fourth such inquiry in the nation´s history, was on display.

At the Judiciary hearing Democrats sided with the scholars who said Trump´s actions reached the Constitution´s threshold of ‘bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.’ Republicans pointed to the lone professor they were allowed to invite, who said impeachment was not warranted.

Democrats in the House say the inquiry is a duty. Republican representatives say it’s a sham. And quietly senators of both parties conferred on Wednesday, preparing for an eventual Trump trial.

‘Never before, in the history of the republic, have we been forced to consider the conduct of a president who appears to have solicited personal, political favors from a foreign government,’ said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., as he gaveled open the landmark House hearing.

Nadler said Trump’s phone call seeking a ‘favor’ from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wasn’t the first time he had sought foreign help to influence an American election, noting Russian interference in 2016. He warned against inaction with a new campaign underway.

‘We cannot wait for the election,’ he said. ‘ If we do not act to hold him in check, now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal political gain.’

At the Democrats’ private morning meeting, support for the impeachment effort was vigorous, though voting to remove Trump could come hard for some lawmakers in regions where the president has substantial backing.

Trump’s defense: he was telling Ukraine’s president to help the COUNTRY when he asked him to ‘do us a favor’ by investigating Biden

Donald Trump’s efforts to push the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden weren’t done for his own benefit, but for the nation’s the president said online after returning to the U.S. from a trip to London. 

Trump offered the latest defense of his ‘perfect’ phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky about two hours after returning home from a trip that had the president clashing with European leaders just as the House Judiciary Committee held its first impeachment hearing on his fate. 

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

Trump explained his position in two long tweets.  ‘When I said, in my phone call to the President of Ukraine, ‘I would like you to do US a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.’ With the word ‘us’ I am referring to the United States, our Country,’ he wrote.

‘I then went on to say that … ‘I would like to have the Attorney General (of the United States) call you or your people…..’ This, based on what I have seen, is their big point – and it is no point at a all (except for a big win for me!).’

Trump concluded: ‘The Democrats should apologize to the American people!’ 

Trump’s July 25th phone call has become the center of a Democratic impeachment push. In it, he asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and contact Barr, who in addition to guiding the release of the Mueller report has named a federal prosecutor to probe alleged FBI misconduct in the Russia probe.  

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After Zelensky mentions anti-tank missiles he wants to fend off Russia, Trump says ‘I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.’ 

He then mentions a conspiracy theory about the Democratic 2016 election server and the Crowdstrike security firm asks Zelensky to ‘get to the bottom of it.’ He then mentions a ‘very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine.’ He said it was ‘very important’ that Zelensky do it. 

He also asks Zelensky to contact his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, brings up Hunter Biden’s son, and calls the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine ‘bad news.’

Trump’s defense of his call came as a trio of legal scholars called by Democrats blasted his conduct as a clear breach of the Constitution.  

They all argued for impeachment in their opening statements before the panel.

‘I just want to stress, that if this – if what we’re talking about is not impeachable, than nothing is impeachable,’ said Michael Gerhardt, a law professor at the University of North Carolina.

‘This is precisely the misconduct that the framers created a constitution – including impeachment – to protect against,’ he said. ‘If Congress concludes that they’re going to give a pass to the president here… every other president will say, ‘Ok, then I can do the same thing.’  

Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan told lawmakers the most ‘chilling’ line in testimony she reviewed came from ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland who said he had never heard that the Ukrainians needed to go through with the investigations, just announce them publicly.

‘This was about injuring someone who the president thinks of as a particularly hard opponent,’ she said in reference to Joe Biden.  

Karlan said of the Founders: ‘The very idea that a president might seek the aid of a foreign government in his reelection campaign would have horrified them. But based on the evidentiary record, that is what President Trump has done,’ she said.

But the Republican witness, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, said he did not think there was any way Trump’s conduct rose to the level of impeachment.   

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s full press statement on articles of impeachment on President Trump 

Good morning.

Let us begin where our Founders began in 1776: ‘When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…’

With those words, our Founders courageously began our Declaration of Independence from an oppressive monarch, for, among other grievances, the King’s refusal to follow rightfully-passed laws.

In the course of today’s events, it becomes necessary for us to address, among other grievances, the President’s failure to faithfully execute the law.

When crafting the Constitution, the Founders feared the return of a monarchy in America. And, having just fought a war of independence, they specifically feared the prospect of a king president corrupted by foreign influence.

During the Constitutional Convention, James Madison – the architect of the Constitution – warned that a President might ‘betray his trust to foreign powers… which might prove fatal to the republic.’

Another Founder, Gouverneur Morris, feared that a president ‘may be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust.’ He emphasized that, ‘This Magistrate is not the King…The people are the King.’

They therefore created a constitutional remedy to protect against a dangerous or corrupt leader: impeachment.

Unless the Constitution contained an impeachment provision, one Founder warned, a president might ‘spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected.’

Similarly, George Mason insisted that a president who ‘procured his appointment in the first instance’ through improper and corrupt acts might ‘repeat his guilt’ and return to power.

During the debate over impeachment at the Constitutional Convention, George Mason asked: ‘Shall any man be above justice? Shall that man be above it who can commit the most extensive injustice?’

In his great wisdom, he knew that injustice committed by the President erodes the rule of law – the very idea that – of fair justice, which is the bedrock of our democracy.

And if we allow a president to be above the law, we do so surely at the peril of our republic.

In America, no one is above the law.

Over the past few weeks, through the Intelligence Committee working with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees, the American people have heard the testimony of truly patriotic career public servants, distinguished diplomats and decorated war heroes: some of the President’s own appointees.

The facts are uncontested: the President abused his power for his own personal, political benefit at the expense of our national security, by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.

Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee – at the Judiciary Committee, the American people heard testimony from leading American constitutional scholars who illuminated, without a doubt, that the President’s actions are a profound violation of the public trust.

The President’s actions have seriously violated the Constitution – especially when he says and acts upon the belief, ‘Article II says, I can do whatever I want.’

No. His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution: a separation of powers, three co-equal branches, each a check and balance on the other; ‘a Republic, if we can keep it,’ said Benjamin Franklin.

Our Democracy is what is at stake. The President leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit.

The President has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.

His actions are in defiance of the vision of our Founders and the oath of office that he takes ‘to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’

Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our Founders and our hearts full of love for America, today, I am asking our Chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment.

I commend our Committee Chairs and our Members for their somber approach to actions which I wish the President had not made necessary.

In signing the Declaration of Independence, our Founders invoked a firm reliance on divine providence.

Democrats too are prayerful.

And we will proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic, so help us God.

Thank you.