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Democracy 21 Supports Articles of Impeachment, Essential Need to Hold President Trump Accountable for Gross Abuse of his Powers

WASHINGTON - Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer released a statement today supporting the passage of the two Articles of Impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee and scheduled to be voted on by the full House this week.
 
The Wertheimer statement concluded:

It is incumbent on the House of Representatives to renounce and reject President Trump’s irresponsible, indefensible, un-American, unpatriotic actions by passing Article I and Article II of the Articles of Impeachment.
 
The House must affirm that President Trump is unfit to serve as President.According to the statement:The evidence presented in the House impeachment inquiry, including testimony by courageous public servants, is essentially uncontroverted and establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that the President’s wrongful conduct warrants his impeachment.
 
The starting point in this case is the President’s obvious goal: he wanted the President of Ukraine to announce a corruption investigation of Joe Biden in order to damage Biden’s chances of defeating Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Biden has been leading in national polls to be the Democratic nominee to oppose Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
 
In other words, Trump wanted a foreign country to intervene in our elections in order to damage a political opponent and thereby serve Trump’s personal political benefit. All of the events at issue flowed from Trump’s goal of using a foreign country to inflict political harm on a political opponent.The statement continued:It is beyond question that Trump wanted to damage a potentially strong opponent in the 2020 presidential election and that he used the powers of the presidency to try to achieve this result.
 
In short, Trump used the presidency to attempt to rig the 2020 presidential election for his personal political benefit.According to the statement:Trump’s campaign to get a corruption investigation of Biden involved:
  • Gross abuse of his powers by attempting to extort Ukraine to conduct a corruption investigation against a political opponent for Trump’s personal political benefit;
  • Gross abuse of his powers by misusing taxpayer money appropriated by Congress for Ukraine for his own personal political benefit;
  • Illegally soliciting a foreign country to intervene in U.S. elections by violating the statutory ban on any person soliciting “a thing of value” from a foreign country in connection with any U.S election; and
  • Endangering our national security and the national security of our ally, Ukraine, by withholding for his own personal political benefit military funds appropriated by Congress for Ukraine.

The statement continued:In engaging in these activities, President Trump violated a cardinal principle that is fundamental to our democracy, our constitutional system of government and our sacred right to vote: Only Americans are permitted to participate in and decide our elections, not foreign countries, and not foreign interests. Period. No exceptions.
 
President Trump, however, personally and directly solicited a foreign country to interfere in our presidential election to benefit his personal political interests.  
 
This was a frontal attack on our democracy.
 
The record is irrefutable that President Trump engaged in impeachable actions as set forth in Article I of the Impeachment Articles.The statement said:The President also directly attacked and engaged in obstruction of the impeachment powers provided to Congress in Article I of the Constitution.
 
Trump ordered his entire Administration to refuse to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry. He directed Executive Branch agencies and officials to ignore subpoenas, refuse to testify and refuse to turn over any documents to Congress regarding the House impeachment inquiry. The President even directed private citizens who are no longer in government to refuse to cooperate with the proceeding. (Fortunately for the country, a number of courageous public servants defied his order to ignore congressional subpoenas and testified before the House Intelligence Committee.)The Wertheimer statement said:The conduct of President Trump in the Ukraine affair flagrantly contradicted our democratic norms and values and attacked the integrity of our elections. President Trump’s actions cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged, since failing to formally do so would establish the actions as precedents for future conduct and be used to validate future attempts by Trump to rig the 2020 elections.
 
The President must be held formally accountable by the House, regardless of what the Senate does.Read the full statement below or here.
 


 
Passage of Impeachment Articles is Essential to Holding President Trump Accountable for Gross Abuse of His Powers and Violation of His Oath
Statement of Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer
 
Democracy 21 supports the passage of the two Articles of Impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee and scheduled to be voted on by the full House this week. Passage of the Articles is essential to holding President Trump accountable for his gross abuse of his presidential powers and for violation of his oath of office. 
 
Contrary to the President’s absurd claim, Article II of the Constitution does not give him “the right to do whatever I want as president.” The Founders established the powers of Congress first, in Article I, for a reason. They gave Congress the constitutional right to oversee the President and executive branch and to remove the President from office for impeachable offenses.
 
The evidence presented in the House impeachment inquiry, including testimony by courageous public servants, is essentially uncontroverted and establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that the President’s wrongful conduct warrants his impeachment.
 
The starting point in this case is the President’s obvious goal: he wanted the President of Ukraine to announce a corruption investigation of Joe Biden in order to damage Biden’s chances of defeating Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Biden has been leading in national polls to be the Democratic nominee to oppose Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
 
In other words, Trump wanted a foreign country to intervene in our elections in order to damage a political opponent and thereby serve Trump’s personal political benefit. All of the events at issue flowed from Trump’s goal of using a foreign country to inflict political harm on a political opponent.
 
Trump withheld a White House meeting and $400 million in military assistance appropriated by Congress and desperately needed by our ally Ukraine to defend itself from a military incursion by our adversary, Russia. At the same time, in what amounts to extortion, Trump pressured Ukraine President Zelensky to announce a corruption investigation of Biden. Trump engaged his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland and others to help carry out his goal.
 
Trump was clearly holding military assistance to Ukraine and a White House meeting hostage until Ukraine “paid” Trump with the Biden corruption investigation in order to get those important benefits freed up.
 
In a moment of candor, the President’s own White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, stated that the Trump’s actions involved a “quid pro quo” effort by the President to obtain the Biden investigation he sought. Although Mulvaney later tried to walk back his claim, the die had been cast in his original comment.

Sondland, operating as President Trump’s agent to obtain the Biden investigation, also described the withholding of a White House meeting and military assistance as a “quid pro quo” effort by Trump to get President Zelensky to announce the Biden corruption investigation.
Trump released the military assistance to Ukraine only after the whistleblower complaint  unleashed an impeachment inquiry, although Ukraine still hasn’t received all of the funds appropriated by Congress.
 
It is beyond question that Trump wanted to damage a potentially strong opponent in the 2020 presidential election and that he used the powers of the presidency to try to achieve this result.
 
In short, Trump used the presidency to attempt to rig the 2020 presidential election for his personal political benefit.
 
It is also clear that the President’s efforts to accomplish this went far beyond his one phone call to President Zelensky on July 25 requesting “a favor,” but instead was an ongoing effort over a period of months to get Ukraine to announce a corruption investigation of Biden. It is questionable whether Trump even cared if the investigation was ever carried out, since all he     needed politically was the ability to say that Biden was under investigation for corruption.
 
Trump’s campaign to get a corruption investigation of Biden involved:

  • Gross abuse of his powers by attempting to extort Ukraine to conduct a corruption investigation against a political opponent for Trump’s personal political benefit;
  • Gross abuse of his powers by misusing taxpayer money appropriated by Congress for Ukraine for his own personal political benefit;
  • Illegally soliciting a foreign country to intervene in U.S. elections by violating the statutory ban on any person soliciting “a thing of value” from a foreign country in connection with any U.S election; and
  • Endangering our national security and the national security of our ally, Ukraine, by withholding for his own personal political benefit military funds appropriated by Congress for Ukraine.

In engaging in these activities, President Trump violated a cardinal principle that is fundamental to our democracy, our constitutional system of government and our sacred right to vote: Only Americans are permitted to participate in and decide our elections, not foreign countries, and not foreign interests. Period. No exceptions.
 
President Trump, however, personally and directly solicited a foreign country to interfere in our presidential election to benefit his personal political interests.  
 
This was a frontal attack on our democracy.
 
The record is irrefutable that President Trump engaged in impeachable actions as set forth in Article I of the Impeachment Articles.

The President also directly attacked and engaged in obstruction of the impeachment powers provided to Congress in Article I of the Constitution.
 
Trump ordered his entire Administration to refuse to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry. He directed Executive Branch agencies and officials to ignore subpoenas, refuse to testify and refuse to turn over any documents to Congress regarding the House impeachment inquiry. The President even directed private citizens who are no longer in government to refuse to cooperate with the proceeding. (Fortunately for the country, a number of courageous public servants defied his order to ignore congressional subpoenas and testified before the House Intelligence Committee.)
 
According to Impeachment Article II, President Trump “sought to arrogate to himself the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry into his own conduct, as well as the unilateral prerogative to deny any and all information to the” House. Impeachment Article II states that “In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry.” 
 
The conduct of President Trump in the Ukraine affair flagrantly contradicted our democratic norms and values and attacked the integrity of our elections. President Trump’s actions cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged, since failing to formally do so would establish the actions as precedents for future conduct and be used to validate future attempts by Trump to rig the 2020 elections.
 
The President must be held formally accountable by the House, regardless of what the Senate does.
 
It is incumbent on the House of Representatives to renounce and reject President Trump’s irresponsible, indefensible, un-American, unpatriotic actions by passing Article I and Article II of the Articles of Impeachment.
 
The House must affirm that President Trump is unfit to serve as President.

 

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Democracy 21 and the Democracy 21 Education Fund work to strengthen the integrity and fairness of our democracy and to increase the role of citizens in our political process. The organization brings unique policy and litigation experience and expertise to campaign finance and democracy issues, and to related government integrity, transparency and accountability issues.

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