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House Judiciary Dems Privately Making List of Possible Charges Against Trump and Approve Steps for Impeachment

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House Judiciary Dems Privately Making List of Possible Charges Against Trump and Approve Steps for Impeachment

2019-09-12 21:33:41

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Jerry Nadler (Image source: Screenshot)

While publicly House Democrats may not be talking about a possible impeachment publicly, that does not mean it's off the table.

Democrats in the House Judiciary are privately creating a list of possible charges against Donald Trump and have approved the steps for impeachment.  

Six lawmakers and congressional aides, speaking anonymously, said the charges handed down could be obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and defiance of subpoenas, as well violation of campaign finance law and allegations of self-enrichment.

The Judiciary Committee believes it has identified five potential areas of obstruction from former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. They planned to go into those more fully on Tuesday with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and other former aides.  

Several people who are close to the investigations have warned that the articles of impeachment may never even be drafted, especially if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continues to be against moving forward with impeachment.

However, the movement in this behind the scenes shows that the effort to possibly impeach Trump is growing as they work on building their case, even if they know the Senate will never convict him. It will definitely hamper his reelection efforts, which is what Pelosi is concerned about. She's worried that without a conviction it will actually strengthen Trump's chances of being elected as well as other GOP in the House. 

On Thursday the committee voted along party lines on a new plan the panel will put to use to "determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Donald J. Trump," reads the resolution. Similar tactics were used in the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon and former President Bill Clinton.

The additional tools in the plan will allow the panel to designate certain hearings as impeachment sessions, allow witnesses to be questioned by counsels publicly, allow some evidence to remain private, and allow Trump's counsel to respond in writing to evidence and testimony. 

"There's no public appetite for that," said White House counselor Kellyanne Conway regarding the possibility of impeachment.

Committee member Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) had drafted his own articles of impeachment and threatened to introduce them until he learned the committee was going to craft their own. He said Trump "has trampled the Constitution." 

"There is just so much you could go after," he added. "It's going to be refining it down to the most salient."

Daniel Schwarz, a spokesman for the Judiciary Committee Democrats, minimized discussions regarding the articles of impeachment in a statement and stated again that the public position of the panel is that "the committee is focused on its investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment." 

"The committee's work on its investigation is ongoing, but there have been no decisions made," he furthered. "Any suggestion that such articles have already been drafted or that the committee's work is already concluded is categorically false."

Regardless, some still see impeachment as an unstoppable force, at least some point down the line. 

"I think the train has left the station and at some point there's going to be a vote on articles of impeachment, and that's a concern for members like myself who represent moderate districts," explained Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), who will be seeking reelection. Trump won in that district by 15 points in 2016.

This will be something Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Pelosi need to iron out between them. Those who are close to the committee say it probably would not ever go against the speaker's wishes. 

One of her reasons for wanting to hold off on impeachment is because the majority of the country still opposes that option.

She told reporters on Thursday that the American people "understand that impeachment is a very divisive measure, and if we have to go there, we'll go there. But to go there we have to have the facts." 

"Legislate, investigate, litigate — that's the path we have been on, and that's the path we continue to be on," she added.

With some House Democrats getting nervous about possibly being forced to vote on impeachment, Brindisi admitted that he told Nadler, "Look, over the next six months, I would much rather see the Democrats be the party of lowering prescription drug costs, not the party of impeachment." 

"His message back was that the committee is doing their due diligence right now, and he did not commit one way or the other where the investigation would lead."

Those who are in favor of impeachment remain committed. "I think this is one of those moments where we have to lead, we have to look at the evidence, look at the law, do what the Constitution requires us to do, and the politics will take care of itself," said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI). 

"I don't think you can make a determination because you think it is politically disadvantageous."

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