November 13, 2019/Blog, Media

Public Impeachment Hearings Put Donald Trump’s Gross Abuse of Power on Full Display

Today, the House Intelligence Committee began the first public hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry. In open hearings this week, Americans will have the opportunity to hear firsthand about the president’s gross abuse of power.

As we watch the impeachment hearing today, we plan to follow the facts, wherever they lead. We encourage elected officials on both sides of the aisle to put their country ahead of partisan politics and do what is best for the American people.

“Today’s public impeachment inquiry is yet another step in the right direction. The American people deserve to know the truth. Trump must be thoroughly investigated for his actions and if found guilty, properly held accountable. The only way to do this is to continue Congress’s full, open, and public impeachment inquiry,” said Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa.

Trump’s pressure campaign started well before and continued well after July 25, 2019.

In February 2019, Indicted Giuliani associates pushed the then-president of Ukraine to announce investigations in exchange for a state visit. In May, a Giuliani associate allegedly told the incoming government it had to announce investigations or Pence would not attend Zelensky’s inauguration and aid would be frozen. Ukrainian officials were worried about how to handle Trump and Giuliani’s pressure campaign and how to stay out of U.S. domestic politics.

Ukraine knew by at least early August that the aid had been frozen. Trump envoys pushed for a statement announcing investigations, even drafting language for Ukraine to use. Zelensky felt so much pressure from Trump that he was eventually willing to go on CNN to announce the investigations Trump wanted. Conveniently, the freeze on aid to Ukraine was lifted just days after Congress became aware of the whistleblower complaint.

This is deeply troubling.

In the months since the whistleblower complaint was made public, the White House summary of the president’s call with the president of Ukraine, Trump’s own public admission, news stories, and first and secondhand accounts from reputable witnesses directly involved in U.S. diplomacy with Ukraine have pointed to one thing — Trump has betrayed our democracy, our national security, and our entire country.

Congress has an obligation to thoroughly investigate this matter and other wrongdoing; anything less would be an abdication of its constitutional responsibility to serve as a check on the executive branch.

President Trump’s calling on Ukraine to intervene in his election betrays his oath to the Constitution and threatens our national security. Here are the facts:

  • The President admitted that he called upon a foreign power to intervene in the 2020 election and our democracy.
  • The Administration is flagrantly violating the law by blocking the Intelligence Community Inspector General from giving Congress a credible whistleblower complaint of urgent concern.
  • We face a grave new level of lawlessness from President Trump and will continue moving forward with an impeachment inquiry.
  • The Intelligence Committee will take the lead on the whistleblower complaint, while it and the other five committees proceed with their investigations under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry.

Despite the overwhelming evidence against Trump, his Republican cronies are doing everything they can to delay justice for as long as possible. Trump and his Republican allies can’t win on the facts, so they’ve chosen instead to blame the process, limit evidence, and attack witnesses.

The impeachment inquiry is about defending the Constitution and our system of checks and balances. Members of Congress take an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, not the president.

President Nixon resigned from office because of the break-in of the DNC Headquarters that was orchestrated for his political gain, and the cover-up. Some observers of that sad time in our history say that President Nixon’s offenses pale in comparison to what President Trump has done.

In the case of Nixon, Democrats weren’t alone in their acknowledgment of the president’s abuse of power. Two days after the transcript of the Watergate “smoking-gun” tape was made public, then-Senator Barry Goldwater, a Republican, led fellow members of his party to the White House to inform Nixon that his presidency was coming to an end. Although partisanship was present throughout the Nixon impeachment, Republicans ultimately chose their country over their party. That same level of cooperation is needed now more than ever.

Despite President Trump’s rhetoric, this impeachment inquiry is not a political witchhunt. When a president abuses the power of the office, it’s the duty of the legislative branch to make sure unlawful, undemocratic acts do not go unchecked. Democrats are fighting day in and day out to expand access to health care, raise wages, help the American worker, and defend the Constitution they swore to protect.