Dems Resurrect Russia Collusion in Announcing Articles of Impeachment
On Tuesday, House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. They accused him of abuse of power and of "obstruction of Congress." The poll-tested "bribery" charge was nowhere to be found. Yet they also resurrected the skeleton of the Russia collusion narrative, despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller's finding of no collusion and an Inspector General report revealing the many errors in the FBI investigation. The announcement was a clear political attack on Trump, more calculated to undermine his chances in 2020 than to actually hold him accountable for any alleged crimes.
"The first article is for abuse of power," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) began. "It is an impeachable offense for the president to exercise the powers of his public office to obtain an improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest. That is exactly what President Trump did when he solicited and pressured Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 presidential election, thus damaging our national security, undermining the integrity of the next election, and violating his oath to the American people."
This claim twists the facts of Trump's engagement with Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has insisted, over and over again, that he felt "no pressure" on the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry. In that call, Trump asked him to investigate Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and potential corruption regarding the notoriously corrupt energy company Burisma, which had given Joe Biden's son Hunter a sweetheart job on the board — despite his lack of experience in the industry.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has also provided a more plausible explanation for Trump's withholding of funds from Ukraine — he was testing the new president to see if he would clamp down on corruption. Trump did end up releasing the military funding to Ukraine without any investigation into Hunter Biden and Burisma being publicly announced — but after U.S. officials had repeatedly met with Zelensky and his team.
Yet Nadler did not just explain the first article of impeachment. He also connected it to the putrid decaying corpse of the Russia collusion narrative.
"These actions, moreover, are consistent with President Trump's previous invitations of foreign interference in our 2016 presidential election," Nadler declared.
While Trump did campaign on a platform of getting closer with Russia, he has proven stronger against Russia than Obama was. In fact, the case of Ukraine shows Trump's willingness to send military aid — aid which Obama did not send — to a country at war with Russia. As for the 2016 election, the closest Trump came to "inviting foreign interference" was a joke he made, asking Vladimir Putin to hand over Hillary Clinton's secret emails.
Democrats have been trying to impeach Trump for Russia for three years, and even when they gave up that effort and went with something else, Nadler could not restrain himself from bringing up the Russia narrative.
The second article of impeachment concerned "obstruction of Congress."
"And when he was caught, when the House investigated and opened an impeachment inquiry, President Trump engaged in unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of the impeachment inquiry. This gives rise to the second article of impeachment for obstruction of Congress," Nadler explained.
Attempting to echo the obstruction of justice argument from the Mueller report, the New York Democrat suggested Trump considered himself "above accountability."
"Here too we see a familiar pattern in president Trump's misconduct. A president who declares himself above accountability, above the American people, and above Congress's power of impeachment, which is meant to protect against threats to our democratic institutions, is a president who sees himself above the law," Nadler said.
Yet Trump's refusal to work with House Democrats on impeachment followed the Democrats' secretive efforts cooking up the impeachment inquiry — and their repeated refusals to allow Republicans to call their own witnesses to present an alternative view of the story.
In a telling moment on Monday, the Democrats' counsel said, "I am going to go on record and tell you that I'm NOT going to reveal how we conducted this investigation." This despite reports that Rep. Adam Schiff's (D-Calif.) staff coached the so-called whistleblower before he filed his report.
Democrats have rushed this impeachment process because they know it will not result in the Senate removing President Donald Trump. Instead, they want to tarnish the president going into his 2020 re-election campaign. Yet swing-state polls have suggested that impeachment is actually helping Trump, not hurting him. The American people will see beyond this partisan impeachment process.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.