Judiciary Committee impeachment report alleges Trump committed 'multiple federal crimes'

Source: Politico | December 16, 2019 | Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio

The 169-page report makes the case for Trump’s removal from office.

President Donald Trump committed criminal bribery and wire fraud, the House Judiciary Committee alleges in a report that will accompany articles of impeachment this week.

The report, a 169-page assessment of the case for Trump’s removal from office, contends that Trump committed “multiple federal crimes” — ones that Democrats addressed under the broad umbrella of “abuse of power,” the first article of impeachment against the president.

“Although President Trump’s actions need not rise to the level of a criminal violation to justify impeachment, his conduct here was criminal,” the panel’s Democrats argue, labeling Trump’s behavior “both constitutional and criminal in character” and contending that the president “betrayed the people of this nation” and should be removed from office.

The staff report, which was filed to the House Rules Committee just after midnight Monday, argues that Trump directed a months-long scheme to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election, the allegation that forms the core of the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — approved by the Judiciary Committee last week. Democrats emphasized that proving a criminal violation is not required to justify impeachment.

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The Judiciary Committee’s report presents the panel’s most thorough analysis yet of why Democrats believe the accusations against Trump are worthy of immediate impeachment and a recommendation that the Senate remove Trump from office. It comes a day before the Rules Committee formally considers the articles of impeachment, ahead of a likely Wednesday vote on the House floor.

The committee contends that Trump’s actions were part of a pattern than began with his “welcoming” of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and continues to this day. In fact, the panel’s Democrats cite his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine just last week as evidence that Trump intends to continue the alleged scheme. Trump’s lack of remorse over the Ukraine allegations, Democrats claim, is evidence that he poses a “continuing threat if left in office.”

“President Trump has made it clear that he believes he is free to use his presidential powers the same way, to the same ends, whenever and wherever he pleases,” the report states.

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Democrats argue that Trump crossed the threshold into criminal behavior with his posture toward Zelensky, writing in the report that his request for the announcement of politically motivated investigations constituted the solicitation of a bribe under federal law.

Those investigations were valuable to Trump personally, and he used his official power to schedule a state visit and withhold military aid to obtain them, the panel says.

These actions are a “corrupt” use of Trump’s authority that satisfies the final element of a bribery crime, Democrats argue.

The committee also alleges that Trump violated the honest services wire fraud statute during the July 25 phone call, as well as during a separate phone call a day later with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Those “foreign wire communications” were done “in furtherance of an ongoing bribery scheme,” according to the report.

“Fundamentally, the president has deprived the American people of the honorable stewardship that the nation expects and demands of its chief executive,” the panel alleges, noting that the federal wire fraud statute imposes a 20-year imprisonment.

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The committee’s report also marks a return of sorts for the evidence unearthed by special counsel Robert Mueller. Democrats claim the Ukraine allegations against Trump are part of a “pattern” of misconduct that began with Trump’s alleged solicitation of Russian assistance in the 2016 election — a matter probed by Mueller for nearly two years. Mueller also found that Trump made multiple attempts to hinder or end his investigation.

“The pattern is as unmistakable as it is unnerving,” the Judiciary Committee argues.

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