By now, you’re no doubt familiar with the impeachment inquiry against Trump, who is accused of withholding Congressional-approved military aid to Ukraine unless its president agreed to investigate potential 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his family. As the impeachment inquiry continues to unfold, it can be tough to keep up with the day-to-day details. Here, Election Central takes a look at some of the key highlights from the past week, to keep you up-to-date and informed.
Last week, House Republicans released a 123-page report outlining their opposition to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. In it, they stated that the Democrats have no actual evidence against the president, and that the entire inquiry is politically motivated–an attempt to prevent Trump from being re-elected in 2020.
Democrats responded by saying that the GOP is ignoring the evidence that’s already been presented in the hearings, as well as discounting the testimony of several key witnesses, including current and former ambassadors.
On Monday, December 9, Republicans and Democrats faced off against each other in an impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Both sides stated that they believe there are four key facts to be considered–they just don’t agree on which facts. According to Democrats, Trump used the promised military aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens; he withheld $391 million in aid to Ukraine unless the country complied; everyone knew about it; and Trump hasn’t backed down, despite being found out.
According to Republicans, there is no evidence of Trump exchanging military aid for political favors (also known as a quid pro quo); Ukraine’s President Zelensky has denied that he was pressured by Trump; Ukraine didn’t know about the withholding of military aid; and the aid was eventually released, even without the investigation into the Bidens. Both sides claim that the other side is either misinterpreting facts, or is just plain wrong.
The following day (Tuesday, December 10), key House Democrats–including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters, and House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney–formally announced the articles of impeachment against Trump.
The president faces two formal charges. The first is abuse of power for his dealings with Ukraine. The second is obstruction of the congressional investigation (for blocking witnesses, defying subpoenas, etc.). There was also debate about whether or not to include charges of obstruction of justice for his refusal to cooperate with last spring’s investigation into his role in the Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election. While some moderate Democrats argued against broadening the scope of the impeachment articles beyond the Ukraine incident, others said that this third charge was important because it shows Trump’s pattern of defying justice.
House Democrats will begin debate on the articles of impeachment in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday.