Impeachment Articles are here - Oh Boy!
If I was a cynical person, I'd say the Dems apparent decision to vote on two articles of impeachment of Trump (i.e.,his abuse of power in Ukraine in order to subvert democratic elections in the USA, and Obstruction of Congress) is purely a political gambit to keep media attention focused on the grand spectacle of a trial in the Senate rather than on the Democratic Party's primary. Actually, now that I think about it, I am that cynical.
You can read the draft articles of impeachment at this website. They're pretty clear cut. The first alleges Trump abused his office by withholding military aid to Ukraine until the Ukraine government opened an investigation into the corruption of the Biden's family's involvement regarding corruption by Burisma, an energy company for which Hunter Biden was a director and received millions of dollars. Here's how The Nation reported on Biden's activity that lies at the heart of Trump's alleged abuse of power in demanding Ukraine re-open an investigation into corruption involving Burisma:
In March 2016, then-vice president Biden successfully strong-armed Ukraine to fire prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. Biden, who flew into Kiev dangling the promise of a one billion dollar loan guarantee, told Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko the loan wouldn’t be authorized unless Shokin was ousted.
Here’s how Biden himself recounted it: “I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”
At the time, Shokin was allegedly investigating corruption at Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company. Joe Biden’s son Hunter happened to sit on Burisma’s board, a lucrative position which was netting him millions of dollars.
The other proposed article of impeachment alleges that Trump obstructed the congressional impeachment inquiry by refusing to comply with its subpoenas.
I could take a deep dive into the legality of these charges under Article II, Section 4 of the the Constitution, which requires any impeachment of the President to be based upon "Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." However, the reality is that as Gerald Ford so succinctly put it:
"[A]n impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."
I'll leave it to law professors to argue whether this should be the case, but as we saw in the prior impeachments of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, Ford essentially nailed it. The US Supreme Court has never formally defined what constitutes a "high Crime or Misdemeanor" justifying a President's removal from office. And while it's true that articles of impeachment generally try to tie the conduct alleged to be an impeachable offense to violations of specific US laws (see, e.g., the Articles of Impeachment against Bill Clinton), at its core, a vote to impeach a President is a political act, one for which the Supreme Court has never provided a specific interpretation. This is likely based on the "Separation of Powers" doctrine, and the historical debate over the meaning of that phrase during and after the Constitutional Convention, where many founders and later commentators indicated impeachment need not be limited to a specific crime, but to any abuse of power granted to an official under the Constitution.
In any case, the two proposed articles of impeachment against Trump that the House is likely to vote upon, can be boiled down to the following: (1) Trump abused his powers as President when he allegedly withheld $400 million in foreign military aid to Ukraine (aid he ultimately provided) in order to coerce Ukraine to re-investigate the role of Joe and Hunter Biden in obtaining favors for Burisma, thus endangering national security in order to obtain a domestic political benefit and subvert the 2020 election; and (2) Obstruction of Congress by not complying fully with Congressional investigations into said abuse. Neither draft article of impeachment references a specific statute or law Trump allegedly violated other than vague references to the Constitution itself.
It's ironic, in that there are countless other matters that do justify impeachment proceedings, from Trump's violations of the emoluments clause to war crimes to international treaty violations regarding the human rights of refugees at our borders seeking asylum. Congress, or should I say the Democratic leadership, only saw fit to pursue impeachment, however, when Trump allegedly sought to get Ukraine to re-open former investigations into corruption charges against Burisma and Joe Biden's role in squashing those investigations. But that's politics in America. Major crimes committed by the Executive branch and the President go ignored, because few in Congress really object to those crimes, since the same crimes have been committed by past administrations of both parties.
Instead, we'll see another chapter in the ongoing propaganda campaign to deflect and distract the American public from our Government's failures to address significant matters, both foreign and domestic, in order to provide Cable News with non-stop coverage of what is at heart a political reality television show. Everyone in Congress fully knows that if impeachment articles are passed by the House, and a trial is held in the Senate, it will not end with Trump's removal from office. There simply are not enough votes in the Senate to meet the two thirds majority required to do so, just as was the case in 1998 when Clinton was impeached.
What will happen is that all media coverage of politics will be focused on the impeachment and trial of Trump, and any coverage of the contenders in the Democratic primary will be limited, even more than is the case at present, to its purely "horse race" aspects. Little to no attention will focus on the differing policy proposals and political agendas of the competing candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination. And while this may serve the interests of the centrist/neoliberal wing of the Democratic party and their corporate and wealthy donors, it will prove detrimental to the country as a whole. In the end, it's quite likely any trial of Trump will backfire on the Democrats, just as the trial of Clinton in 1998 backfired on the GOP. In other words, impeachment will hurt the ability of any progressive candidate to win the Democratic nomination, and of progressives in general, while also helping to re-elect Trump to a 2nd term.
Not that the Democratic Leadership in the House give a damn about another term in office for Trump, so long as they can maintain control of the apparatus of the Democratic party, and the flow of billions of dollars in legalized bribes that will continue to come their way regardless of whether they capture the Oval Office or not. Impeachment is a sideshow meant to derail any progressive gains within the current configuration of our so-called bipartisan political system. Anyone who thinks otherwise has either been brainwashed by the corporate media, or has a stake in maintaining the status quo.