House Impeachment Case Against Trump Goes to Closing Arguments
(Bloomberg) -- House investigators give their closing summations Monday in the Democrats’ case against President Donald Trump as they continue debating how far they want to go in drafting articles of impeachment later this week.
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said Sunday his panel is on track to decide on what charges will be brought against the president, setting up an historic vote on impeachment in the full House before Congress leaves for a scheduled holiday break on Dec. 20. Likely articles of impeachment are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, he said.
“There’s a sense of urgency, because he will do anything — judging from his past conduct — that he can to get interference and to rig the next election,” Nadler said of Trump on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
Judiciary Committee Democrats worked through the weekend preparing for Monday’s hearing at which the staff counsels of both parties will outline opposing views of the evidence from months of work by multiple House committees.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has already informed Nadler that the administration won’t participate. Trump on Sunday derided the investigation and highlighted counter-arguments by his allies on news shows.
Officials familiar with the Judiciary Committee’s plans say it will start to publicly debate and compose final versions of articles of impeachment as soon as Thursday, though it could spill into another day. With a vote of the full House the following week, which is expected to cleave along party lines, Trump would be only the third U.S. president to be impeached. He is all but certain to be acquitted in the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority.
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Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on Judiciary, accused Democrats of having long ago decided on impeachment and they’re moving ahead without giving Trump due process to defend himself.
“I’m not sure why we’re doing anything else, because they have made up their mind,” Collins said on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures” program. “This is a farce.”
Collins on Friday submitted to Nadler a list of eight witnesses Republicans want to hear from, including Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and the intelligence community whistle-blower whose complaint triggered the impeachment inquiry. He also wants to call Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden and who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, as well as any witnesses requested by Trump.
Nadler rejected the list, saying Sunday that the individuals are “irrelevant.” While Republicans can appeal to the full committee, the Democratic majority isn’t likely to overrule their chairman.
Democrats are focusing on Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine. They argue that evidence and testimony demonstrate that the president withheld almost $400 million in security assistance to pressure Ukrainian officials into announcing an investigation of Biden and his son in order to benefit Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.
Still unsettled within Democratic ranks is whether to consider evidence from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference and actions by Trump’s 2016 campaign.
“There is broad agreement we don’t want the kitchen sink in there, and we’re not going to do that,” said Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia, a member of the Oversight committee. “We’re going to follow a tried and true prosecutorial method, which is you put the best, strongest case you got in front of the juror. And that’s Ukraine.”
Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that the best case can be made with the evidence gathered in the Ukraine investigation.
But Democrat Ted Deutch of Florida, a member of the Judiciary panel, said in an interview that the Mueller report offers significant evidence that establishes a pattern of conduct by the president.
“Certainly if we’re talking about obstruction of justice we can’t ignore the obstruction of justice that is laid out in great detail in the Mueller report,” he said.
Nadler said on NBC that he’s reserving judgment on whether to include evidence from the Mueller investigation and that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have a role in that determination. The differences aren’t expected to hinder the quick timetable set by the Democrats.
The debate over what evidence to include coincides with the expected release on Monday of a long-awaited Justice Department Inspector General report on the genesis of the FBI’s Russia probe, which led to Mueller’s nearly two-year-long investigation.
Mueller’s report specifically said that the investigation didn’t exonerate Trump of obstructing justice.
“The obstruction that we’ve seen throughout this investigation is part and parcel of the obstruction by this president from the start,” Deutch said. “It’s actually easier for people to understand through that pattern that existed.”
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