2019-11-22 07:09:561 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
From the beginning of the impeachment inquiry in September, it's been difficult to not compare it to Richard Nixon's impeachment 45 years ago. But House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) wants us to know this is different. It's "beyond anything Nixon did."
While it had been thought that Donald Trump would certainly be impeached over receiving foreign election help and obstructing justice, those charges haven't panned out yet. House Democrats jumped on it once it had been learned that a whistleblower turned in an official complaint of the Trump phone call with Ukrainian Vice President Volodymyr Zelensky, where he implied Ukraine would only get necessary military aid and a White House visit if they conducted investigations of Europe.
Concluding the impeachment hearings, Schiff said Trump's abuse of power was clear and more significant than the break-in at Democratic headquarters at the Watergate that led to Nixon resigning when it was clear he was about to be impeached.
"The difference between then and now is not the difference between Nixon and Trump," he said. "It's the difference between that Congress and this one. And so we are asking ... where are the people who are willing to go beyond their party to look at their duty?"
He even compared the catchphrases of Trump's "no quid pro quo" and Nixon's "I am not a crook."
"What we've seen here is far more serious than a third-rate burglary of the Democratic headquarters," Schiff said in his closing remarks. "What we're talking about here is the withholding of recognition in that White House meeting. The withholding of military aid to an ally at war. That is beyond anything Nixon did."
While Democrats remain shocked that Trump could operate in such a manner and have likened his actions to extortion and bribery, Republicans see the entire impeachment inquiry as partisan and a chance to redo the 2016 election.
The chairman dealt with the defenses of Trump's methodically one by one as he recalled the testimony of the witnesses, some of whom were appearing only through subpoena.
He showed the quid pro quo that connected a White House meeting and Trump's investigation request. He addressed the defense that much of the witness testimony was secondhand information by saying multiple witnesses provided direct and credible evidence and that the testimony should not be dismissed just because they weren't in the same room as Trump.
"There is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes they are above the law. And I would just say to people watching at home and around the world ... we are better than that," he said as his final thought, evoking the memory of the late House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings who gaveled meetings to a close with similar thoughts.
If no other witnesses are called, it will sit with the House who will vote on impeachment. If the Democrat-controlled House votes to impeach, then it will move to the Senate to hold a trial, most likely in the early parts of next year.
While Nixon resigned before he got to that point after seeing the writing on the wall, former President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate, allowing him to remain in office.
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