Full House votes to approve Trump impeachment roadmap
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the Capitol. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images

WASHINGTON—The full U.S. House voted to approve today, 232 to 196, an impeachment roadmap, making the inquiry an official one and detailing the next steps, including open public hearings. The vote maker almost inevitable the day the full House will make Trump the fourth president in U.S. history impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The roadmap calls for the Select Committee on Intelligence to hold open hearings and gather evidence on the charge the Democrats are concentrating on: Trump’s quid pro quo with the new president of Ukraine: You dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential contender, and we’ll release $391 million in security aid already approved by Congress.

That panel and others probing Trump will then turn over their evidence and conclusions to the House Judiciary Committee, which will use the data to construct articles of impeachment against the current Oval Office occupant. It too will hold open hearings on the charge and the Trump case.

That charge, of selling U.S. influence for personal gain, is being corroborated by a parade of non-partisan witnesses, many of them from the military and the State Department, who are familiar with Trump’s dealings with the Ukraine, or who listened and took notes on Trump’s key July 25 telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

And through all of this, Trump’s White House will be able to send lawyers, defend him before all investigating committees, seek to call witnesses and otherwise make Trump’s case. It should be noted that this is actually a more than generous offer to the president. The Senate is actually the place where the Constitution requires the fair trial. The Constitution only assigns the House the role of prosecutor in these proceedings. Allowing the President and his supporters to challenge and cross-examine witnesses is not something that the House is required to do. It can be expected nevertheless that the president and his supporters will continue to call the process “unfair.”

But, unlike other hearings involving Trump’s misdeeds, the Intelligence and Judiciary panels’ questioning of witnesses and analysis of the evidence will be left largely to attorneys and professional staffers.

Women protesting President Donald Trump’s visit to Pittsburgh stand at the intersection of Commonwealth and Liberty in Pittsburgh on Oct. 23. Several people blocking the exit ramp from the Fort Pitt Bridge were arrested. Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

That roadmap decision does limit, however, the time pro-Trumpite GOP Trumpsters will have to pontificate, or lie, to defend the president.

The House vote and the hearings will concentrate on the Ukraine mess, leaving aside – for now – Trump’s other misdeeds and violations of the U.S. Constitution.

Prominent among the omissions so far: the ten or more instances of Trump’s obstruction of justice during and after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of his complicity and participation in foreign manipulation of the 2016 presidential election in his own favor. Trump repeatedly tried and schemed to derail the probe and, at least once, to cover up the fact he did so.

Those omissions are rampant abuses of power. Mueller, a former FBI director, told lawmakers that if Trump was not president, he’d be indicted for obstruction of justice.

Also prominent by omission so far: whether Trump violated the U.S. Constitution’s “emoluments clause,” which bans federal officials, including the president, from using public office for personal gain.

The key case there revolves around boosts in business from lobbyists, foreign governments and other special interests at the Trump Organization’s D.C. hotel just blocks from the White House. Trump owns and controls the business, including the hotel, though he’s technically put it in the hands of his kids.

After an uproar, Trump had to drop another looming emoluments violation: Hosting next year’s Group of Seven summit of the leaders of the world’s top industrial nations at his country club near Miami Airport. Typical of Trump, he did so after calling the emoluments clause “fake.”

Trump’s other abuses of power, on everything from emasculating worker rights for federal employees to letting environmental lawbreakers and other corporate capitalist criminals run amok, are not expected to come up.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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