Preserving and Protecting: “This is a question of duty – we will honor our oath of office and defend the Constitution”

December 10, 2019 – The House of Representatives releases Articles of Impeachment.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters and Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney.

Chairman Schiff has the last word:

Chairman Adam Schiff: The Framers of the Constitution recognized that someday, a president might come to office who would abuse that office, betray the public trust and undermine national security to secure foreign help in his re-election and who would seek to abrogate of the power of Congress to hold him accountable. They recognize this danger and they prescribed a remedy and that remedy is impeachment.

It is an extraordinary remedy and one that I have been reluctant to recommend until the actions of President Trump gave Congress no alternative. We stand here today because the President’s continuing abuse of power left us no choice. To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the President’s abuse of his high office, the public trust, and our national security.

The President’s misconduct is as simple and as terrible as this: President Trump solicited a foreign nation, Ukraine, to publicly announce investigations into his opponent and a baseless theory promoted by Russia, to help his re-election campaign. President Trump abused the power of his office by conditioning two official acts to get Ukraine to help his re-election: the release of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid that nation desperately needed and a White House meeting with an ally trying to fend off Russian aggression. […]

The argument, ‘Why don’t you just wait?’ amounts to this: Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time? That is what that argument amounts to. […]

Ben Franklin said we have a republic, if we can keep it. The President and his men say you can’t keep it and Americans should just get over it. Americans don’t get to decide American elections any more, not by themselves, not without foreign help.

For the Members of Congress, this is not a question of fact because the facts are not seriously contested; it is rather a question of duty. The President’s oath of office appears to mean very little to him, but the articles put forward today give us a chance to show that we will defend the Constitution, and that our oath means something to us.

Bolding added. Full transcript below.

Transcript of Speaker Pelosi, Committee Chairs Announcing Articles of Impeachment

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters and Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney to announce articles of impeachment of President Trump.Below is a full transcript:

Speaker Pelosi. Good morning, everyone.

On this solemn day, I recall that the first order of business for Members of Congress is the solemn act to take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

It’s with great respect and gratitude that I thank the Chairs of the committees, the six committees who have been working to help us honor our oath of office. I also want to thank the staff of those committees and the committee Members for all of their work over this period of time to help us protect and defend.

I want to thank the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler; the Chair of the Intelligence Committee, Mr. Schiff; Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, chairman – all these chairmen – Chairman Richie Neal; the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel of New York; the Chair of the Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters of California; the Chair of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

I also want to acknowledge the important work that was done by our dear and departed, may he rest in peace, Elijah Cummings as Chair of the Oversight Committee.

Now, pleased to yield to the distinguished Chair of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Nadler.

Chairman Nadler. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Over the last several months, the investigative committees of the House have been engaged in an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s efforts to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 elections – efforts that compromised our national security and threatened the integrity of our elections. Throughout this inquiry, he has attempted to conceal the evidence from Congress and from the American people.

Our President holds the ultimate public trust. When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security. The Framers of the Constitution prescribed a clear remedy for presidents who so violate their oath of office. That is the power of impeachment.

Today, in service to our duty to the Constitution and to our country, the House Committee on the Judiciary is introducing two articles of impeachment charging the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, with committing high crimes and misdemeanors.

The first article is for abuse of power. 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. These actions, moreover, are consistent with President Trump’s previous invitations of foreign interference in our 2016 presidential election.

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. 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, as the president who sees himself as above the law.

We must be clear, no one, not even the president, is above the law.

I want to recognize the great contributions of the investigative Chairs, particularly Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, Committee on Oversight and Reform former Chairman the late Elijah Cummings and its new Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, who helped lay the foundation for the articles we are introducing today. I also want to thank my Judiciary Committee colleagues, who are critical in our work to hold the President accountable and in the drafting of these articles.

Later this week, the Judiciary Committee will meet to consider these articles of impeachment and to make a recommendation to the full House of Representatives. We do not take this action lightly, but we have taken an oath to defend the Constitution. And unlike President Trump, we understand that our duty first and foremost is to protect the Constitution and to protect the interests of the American people. That is why we must take this solemn step today.

Elections are the cornerstone of democracy and are foundational to the rule of law. But the integrity of our next election is at risk from a president who has already sought foreign interference in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and who consistently puts himself above country.

That is why we must act now.

I want to turn now to Chairman Schiff, who will explain the evidence that supports these articles and the need for us to act with such urgency today.

Chairman Schiff. The Framers of the Constitution recognized that someday, a president might come to office who would abuse that office, betray the public trust and undermine national security to secure foreign help in his re-election and who would seek to abrogate of the power of Congress to hold him accountable. They recognize this danger and they prescribed a remedy and that remedy is impeachment.

It is an extraordinary remedy and one that I have been reluctant to recommend until the actions of President Trump gave Congress no alternative. We stand here today because the President’s continuing abuse of power left us no choice. To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the President’s abuse of his high office, the public trust, and our national security.

The President’s misconduct is as simple and as terrible as this: President Trump solicited a foreign nation, Ukraine, to publicly announce investigations into his opponent and a baseless theory promoted by Russia, to help his re-election campaign. President Trump abused the power of his office by conditioning two official acts to get Ukraine to help his re-election: the release of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid that nation desperately needed and a White House meeting with an ally trying to fend off Russian aggression.

In so doing, he undermined our national security and jeopardized the integrity of our next election. And he does so still.

The evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming and uncontested. And how could it not be when the President’s own words on July 25th, ‘I would like you to do us a favor, though,’ laid so bare his intentions, his willingness to sacrifice the national security for his own personal interest.

And when the President got caught, he committed his second impeachable act: obstruction of Congress, the very ability to make sure that no one is above the law, not even the President of the United States.

The evidence is every bit as strong that President Trump has obstructed Congress fully, without precedent and without basis in law. If allowed to stand, it would decimate Congress’s ability to conduct oversight of this President or any other in the future, leaving this President and those who followed to be free to be as corrupt, malfeasant or incompetent as they would like, with no prospect of discovery or accountability.

Now, some would argue, why don’t you just wait? Why don’t you just wait until you get the witnesses the White House refuses to produce? Why not just wait until you get the documents the White House refuses to turn over?

People should understand what that argument really means. It has taken us eight months to get a lower court ruling that Don McGahn has no absolute right to defy Congress. Eight months for one court decision. If it takes us another eight months to get a second court or maybe a Supreme Court decision, people need to understand that is not the end of the process. It comes back to us and we ask questions because he no longer has absolute immunity and he claims something else, that his answers are privileged and we have to go back to court for another eight or sixteen months.

The argument, ‘Why don’t you just wait?’ amounts to this: Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time? That is what that argument amounts to.

The President’s misconduct goes to the heart of whether or not we can conduct a free and fair election in 2020. It is bad enough for a candidate to invite foreign interference in our political process, but it is far more corrosive for a president to do so and to abuse his power to make it so.

Despite everything we have uncovered, the President’s misconduct continues to this day, unapologetically and right now. As we saw when he stood on the White House lawn and he was asked, ‘What did you want in that July 25th call?’ and he said the answer was a simple one. And not just a simple one on July 25th, but a simple one today, and that is, he still wants Ukraine to interfere in our election to help his campaign. Even this week, the President’s lawyer was back in Ukraine seeking to revive the same debunked conspiracy theory promoted at the President’s behest.

Which gets us to the final and most pernicious of the arguments that we have heard in the President’s defense. That the President thinks he can do whatever he wants under Article II, including get foreigners involved in our elections and we should just, to quote the President’s Chief of Staff, ‘get over it.’

Ben Franklin said we have a republic, if we can keep it. The President and his men say you can’t keep it and Americans should just get over it. Americans don’t get to decide American elections any more, not by themselves, not without foreign help.

For the Members of Congress, this is not a question of fact because the facts are not seriously contested; it is rather a question of duty. The President’s oath of office appears to mean very little to him, but the articles put forward today give us a chance to show that we will defend the Constitution, and that our oath means something to us.

Link to PDF Articles of Impeachment: Articles-of-Impeachment

  9 comments for “Preserving and Protecting: “This is a question of duty – we will honor our oath of office and defend the Constitution”

  1. bfitzinAR
    December 11, 2019 at 9:30 am

    Thank you, Jan. As Hillary said, “Hard Choices” are what you’re faced with when there isn’t a good one. When no matter what you do there will be severe and negative consequences – so you try for the one that does the most good and causes the least damage. I hope that’s what we’ve done.

  2. JanF
    December 14, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press conference from Thursday:

    Transcript: Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference

    Speaker Pelosi. Good morning. Good morning.

    So, here we are. We just came off a brisk bit of fresh air with our Freshman Members on the steps of Capitol as they put forth H.R. 3, the Elijah [E.] Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, led by our Freshmen who joined the campaign.

    We talked about For The People, our For The People agenda, to lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now on the Floor of the House, again led by our Freshmen in the debate.

    They participated fully in the work of their committees, the Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Frank Pallone; the Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Richie Neal; and the Education and Labor Committee, chaired by Bobby Scott.

    We thank them, those Chairmen and Members of their committee, our Freshman class, for giving us this historic opportunity to lower the cost of drugs now, and in doing so, to use the benefits of that, the money saved, to expand and enhance Medicare in a larger way than it has ever done since its inception.

    And, that is to have hundreds of billions of dollars to provide benefits for hearing, for vision and for dental for our seniors, to again help poorer seniors meet their financial needs by lowering their out-of-pocket, to have funding in the billions of dollars to fight the opioid epidemic, millions of dollars to invest in our community health centers – all of it coming out of the profits that Pharma has been reaping all these years at the expense of America’s families. It’s about addressing the health care, but also the financial health of America’s families.

    People talk about having a seat at the table in Washington, D.C. The most important table to us is America’s kitchen table where families sit down, be a family, enjoy each other, but then sometimes have to address the financial challenges that they face. One of the most important ones is the cost of prescription drugs.

    More at the link including questions from reporters.

  3. JanF
    December 14, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Democratic Party Weekly Address by Congresswoman Kim Schrier of Washington:

    Congresswoman Kim Schrier Delivers Weekly Democratic Address

    Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Kim Schrier of Washington delivered the Weekly Democratic Address. In this week’s address, the Congresswoman discussed the life-saving benefits of H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which passed through the House of Representatives on a bipartisan 230 – 192 vote.

    “Hi, I’m Congresswoman Kim Schrier. I’m proud to represent the 8th District in Washington. I am the first pediatrician elected to Congress, and currently the only female doctor in Congress. I am also a patient with Type 1 Diabetes. My life depends on insulin, so the high cost of prescription drugs affects me and people like me every day.

    “That’s why I’m so excited about H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, and am thrilled it passed the House.

    “I represent a really big, really ‘purple’ district. I have driven over 7,300 miles this year, traversing my district and talking with people about the issues that matter to them. In my district, it’s not impeachment, it’s not what is on the front page of the newspapers in Washington, D.C. It’s ‘what are you going to do to bring down the cost of prescription drugs?’ […]

    “I understand this issue, both as a doctor and as a patient. Because it is not theoretical for me, or for my patients.

    “When we talk about the cost of insulin, I have felt that personally. I have seen the price of my insulin go from $40 twenty years ago, to $300 today. That is the price for a bottle that holds 10 mL – two teaspoons.

    “This is not a medication you can choose not to take. If you don’t take insulin, you die. It’s that simple. And so it is unconscionable that the price has jumped seven fold in 20 years. Nothing else sees that kind of inflation.

    Full transcript at link.

  4. JanF
    December 18, 2019 at 6:01 am

    Speaker Pelosi’s Dear Colleague Letter to her members in advance of the impeachment vote:

    December 17, 2019

    Dear Democratic Colleague,

    Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will exercise one of the most solemn powers granted to us by the Constitution, as we vote to approve two articles of impeachment against the President of the United States.

    No Member came to Congress to impeach a President. But every one of us, as our first act as a Member of Congress, stood on the House Floor, raised our hand and took a sacred oath: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath makes us Custodians of the Constitution. If we do not act, we will be derelict in our duty.

    I salute the Chairs of the Committees for the great seriousness and solemnity with which they have proceeded down this path, and for conducting all hearings in a manner that was fair, transparent and deliberative, so that the American people could see the truth for themselves. Very sadly, the facts have made clear that the President abused his power for his own personal, political benefit and that he obstructed Congress as he demanded that he is above accountability, above the Constitution and above the American people. In America, no one is above the law.

    When the House convenes to take the impeachment vote tomorrow morning, I urge each of you to join me on the Floor. Our constituents look to us to be respectful of the Constitution and Defenders of our Democracy, and to proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    During this very prayerful moment in our nation’s history, we must honor our oath to support and defend our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    With allegiance to our Founders, with our hearts full of love for America, I salute the moral courage of our Democratic Members to Defend our Democracy For The People.

    God Bless America!

    (Bolding added)

  5. JanF
    December 18, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Article II passed also.

  6. JanF
    December 19, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Post-impeachment press conference:

    • JanF
      December 19, 2019 at 6:47 am

      You go, Nancy!

      THE MAJORITY LEADER IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE SAYS IT IS OK FOR THE FOREMAN OF THE JURY TO BE IN CAHOOTS WITH THE LAWYERS OF THE ACCUSED. THAT DOESN’T SOUND RIGHT TO US

    • JanF
      December 21, 2019 at 5:55 am

      Transcript of Wednesday night’s press availability is here. Chairman Adam Schiff:

      The President of the United States has been impeached for now only the third time in history. The President of the United States should be tried. And the question is now whether Senator McConnell will allow a fair trial in the Senate, whether the Majority Leader will allow a trial that involves witnesses and testimony and documents, a trial that should be fair to the President, yes, but should be fair also to the American people.

      The American people want to hear from people like John Bolton. The American people want to hear from people like Mick Mulvaney. The American people want to see what is in those documents that the President has been hiding at the State Department, in the Office of Management and Budget, in the White House itself.

      We have done our duty here in the House. We have upheld the Constitution. We have done as the Framers would have us do when a president abuses his office and obstructs a coequal branch of government.

      The question is now, will the Senate uphold its duty? Will the Senators uphold their oath? Do the Senators want to hear from the witnesses? Do they want a real trial? We have to hope that they do.

      The reason we undertook this extraordinary step is because the President not only abused his office, but threatens to abuse it again, threatens to interfere again by inviting foreign interference in our election. The remedy is incomplete as long as the President is free to continue to invite foreign interference in our affairs.

  7. JanF
    December 21, 2019 at 5:51 am

    The Speaker’s press conference from Thursday, December 19th:

    Full Transcript – highlights, lightly edited:

    We’ve been hearing from people all over the country since last night and this morning. It seems like people have a spring in their steps because the President was held accountable for his reckless behavior. No one is above the law, and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

    I, myself, want to say I have a spring in my step because of the moral courage of our Caucus. To see them all, so many of them, 100 Members go to the Floor – that’s all we had time for – to go to the Floor, and speak about our Constitution, about the facts of the case so clearly, so patriotically, so prayerfully and so solemnly, but so definitely. […]

    We would hope there would be a fair process [in the Senate], just as we would hope they would honor the Constitution.

    I heard some of what Mitch McConnell said today, and it reminded me that our Founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected that there could be a rogue President. I don’t think they suspected that we could have a rogue President and a rogue Leader in the Senate at the same time.

    Thank you, Speaker Pelosi!

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