Photo: Speaker of US House of Representative Nancy Pelosi announces the drafting of articles of impeachment this morning
By Mike Talavera
This morning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House Judiciary Committee would begin drafting articles of impeachment for President Donald Trump. The move follows a hearing yesterday when four constitutional lawyers were summoned before the committee to testify as to whether Trump had committed an impeachable offense.
Two days ago, the House Intelligence Committee released a damning report based on the testimony of its own hearings last month. That investigative period quickly transitioned to the next phase of the process this week.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Professor Pamela Karlan said in her opening statement that “the essence of an impeachable offense is a president’s decision to sacrifice the national interest for his own private ends.”
Trump’s impeachment has exposed the complex inter-imperialist conflict between the US and Russia, with the “national interest” at stake being US imperialism’s continuing dominance of Eastern Europe. The Democrats have obscured this underlying competition in the course of the proceedings, preferring instead to focus on Trump and his individual misconduct.
“The president’s serious misconduct, including bribery, soliciting a personal favor from a foreign leader in exchange for his exercise of power, and obstructing justice and Congress are worse than the misconduct of any prior president,” said Professor Michael Gerhardt in his opening statement.
The “foreign leader” referenced is Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who Trump asked to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the frontrunners in the 2020 Democratic Primary, during a July phone call. This conversation was the basis for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially launching the impeachment inquiry in September, and it was the main subject of the House Intelligence investigation.
“President Trump’s scheme subverted US foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign,” the opening lines of the House Intelligence report read. “To compel the Ukrainian President to do his political bidding, President Trump conditioned two official acts on the public announcement of the investigations: a coveted White House visit and critical U.S. military assistance Ukraine needed to fight its Russian adversary.”
While Trump’s Ukrainian dealings have previously been characterized as “bribery,” Wednesday’s hearing showed Democrats pivoting towards the broader allegation of “abuse of office.” Professor Jonathan Turley, however, cautioned against this approach in his written statement.
“The principle problem with proving an abuse of power theory is the lack of direct evidence due to the failure to compel key witnesses to testify or production of key documents,” Turley writes. “The failure to seek this foundation seems to stem from an arbitrary deadline at the end of December. Meeting that deadline appears more important than building a viable case for impeachment.”
Democrats have justified their urgency in moving forward with an impeachment trial to prevent Trump from interfering with the next election.
“If we do not act to hold him in check now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal, political benefit,” said Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler at the hearing.
Republicans have denounced this reasoning as an excuse by Democrats to use the impeachment process for their own electoral gains. “The clock and the calendar are what’s driving impeachment,” Republican Representative Doug Collins said.
Although Democrats are rushing the impeachment process to preserve the “legitimacy” of the US electoral farce, the majority of US residents do not vote in presidential elections. While the theatrics on display throughout the course of Trump’s impeachment have dominated the headlines, the outcome will do little to rehabilitate faith in an increasingly reactionary bourgeois democracy.
The fight over Trump’s impeachment does not change the shared imperialist interests of the Republicans and Democrats. Both parties helped pass the immigration bill earlier this year and worked together to impose sanctions on countries like Venezuela and Iran, as just a few examples.
As both parties continue to accuse each other of political opportunism, the corruption at the heart of bourgeois democracy itself comes into focus.