UPDATE: Statement from Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver:
Public office is a public trust. And those who violate that trust must be held accountable. The evidence is clear: President Trump has abused the power of his office, put our national security at risk and blocked Congress’s attempt to investigate his actions. No one in this country is above the law, not even the president. In order to protect the strength of our democracy, Congress has a duty to act.
The New York Times reports on today’s announcement that two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, will proceed to a vote in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House:
House Democrats announced on Tuesday that they would move ahead this week with two articles of impeachment charging President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, as they accused him of violating the Constitution by pressuring Ukraine for help in the 2020 election.
Speaking from a wood-paneled reception room just off the floor of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leaders of six key committees said that Mr. Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, and his efforts to block Congress’s attempt to investigate, had left them no choice but to pursue one of the Constitution’s gravest remedies. The move will bring a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for only the fourth time in American history.
“Today, in service to our duty to the Constitution, and to our country, the House Committee on Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment charging the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, with committing high crimes and misdemeanors,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the panel’s chairman. He stood before four American flags and a portrait of George Washington.
With a nation not only divided politically but unable to reach consensus on a common set of facts from which to argue our respective cases, the heart of the matter with regard to the case against Trump–that American leaders must not use the power of their office to manipulate foreign policy for domestic political advantage–has itself become a partisan political question when it should never have been.
The Republican defense of Trump relies on the idea that Trump’s actions toward Ukraine are not an impeachable offense, or even a problem at all. After the precedent set by Russia’s assistance to Trump in 2016, which Republicans have consistently sought to downplay and deny despite overwhelming evidence, the defense of Trump against articles of impeachment over pressuring Ukraine to help Trump in 2020 boils down to such actions constituting an acceptable “new normal” in American politics–despite being clearly illegal under federal law and troubling to a majority of Americans.
This is why Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposed the push to impeach Trump for a controversially long period of time, has now committed the House to impeachment no matter what the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate does. Because there are fundamental nonpartisan principles at stake. Were it not for the political requirement of Republicans to defend a President who has repeatedly proven himself either ignorant of or indifferent to the law, this would not be nearly as divisive a question.
Whatever happens next, Trump is about to join a very small and ignominious club.