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A title.

116th Congress. 1st Session.

House of Representatives.

Impeachment of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States.

Report of the.

Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives.

Jerrold Nadler, Chairman.

To Accompany.

H. Res. 755.

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
JERROLD NADLER, New York, Chairman

ZOE LOFGREN,
California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE,
Texas
STEVE COHEN,
Tennessee
HENRY C. “HANK
JOHNSON, JR.,
Georgia
THEODORE E. DEUTCH,
Florida
KAREN BASS, California
CEDRIC L. RICHMOND,
Louisiana
HAKEEM S. JEFFRIES,
New York
DAVID N. CICILLINE,
Rhode Island
ERIC SWALWELL,
California
TED LIEU, California
JAMIE RASKIN,
Maryland
PRAMILA JAYAPAL,
Washington
VAL BUTLER DEMINGS,
Florida
J. LUIS CORREA,
California
MARY GAY SCANLON,
Pennsylvania,
Vice-Chair
SYLVIA R. GARCIA,
Texas
JOE NEGUSE, Colorado
LUCY MCBATH, Georgia
GREG STANTON,
Arizona
MADELEINE DEAN,
Pennsylvania
DEBBIE MUCARSEL-
POWELL, Florida
VERONICA ESCOBAR,
Texas
DOUG COLLINS, Georgia,
Ranking Member
F. JAMES
SENSENBRENNER, JR.
Wisconsin
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
JIM JORDAN, Ohio
KEN BUCK, Colorado
JOHN RATCLIFFE, Texas
MARTHA ROBY, Alabama
MATT GAETZ, Florida
MIKE JOHNSON,
Louisiana
ANDY BIGGS, Arizona
TOM MCCLINTOCK,
California
DEBBIE LESKO, Arizona
GUY RESCHENTHALER,
Pennsylvania
BEN CLINE, Virginia
KELLY ARMSTRONG,
North
Dakota
W. GREGORY STEUBE,
Florida

Majority Staff

Amy Rutkin, Chief of Staff
Perry Apelbaum, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
John Doty, Senior Advisor
Aaron Hiller, Deputy Chief Counsel and Chief Oversight Counsel
Shadawn Reddick-Smith, Communications Director
Daniel Schwarz, Director of Strategic Communications
Moh Sharma, Director of Member Services and Outreach and Policy Advisor
David Greengrass, Senior Counsel
John Williams, Parliamentarian and Senior Counsel
Arya Hariharan, Deputy Chief Oversight Counsel
Barry Berke, Special Counsel
Norman Eisen, Special Counsel
Ted Kalo, Special Counsel
James Park, Chief Counsel of Constitution Subcommittee

Sophia Brill, Counsel
Milagros Cisneros, Counsel
Charles Gayle, Counsel
Maggie Goodlander, Counsel
Benjamin Hernandez-Stern, Counsel
Sarah Istel, Counsel
Danielle Johnson, Counsel
Joshua Matz, Counsel
Matthew Morgan, Counsel
Matthew N. Robinson, Counsel
Kerry Tirrell, Counsel

Madeline Strasser, Chief Clerk
Rachel Calanni, Professional Staff
Jordan Dashow, Professional Staff
William S. Emmons, Professional Staff
Julian Gerson, Professional Staff
Priyanka Mara, Professional Staff

Jessica Presley, Director of Digital Strategy
Kayla Hamedi, Deputy Press Secretary

Minority Staff

Brendan Belair, Staff Director, Counsel
Bobby Parmiter, Deputy Staff Director, Chief Counsel
Ashley Callen, Chief Oversight Counsel
Danny Johnson, Oversight Counsel
Jake Greenberg, Oversight Counsel
Paul Taylor, Chief Counsel, Constitution Subcommittee
Daniel Flores, Counsel
Ryan Breitenbach, Counsel
Jon Ferro, Parliamentarian, Counsel

Erica Barker, Deputy Parliamentarian
Ella Yates, Member Services Director
Andrea Woodard, Professional Staff Member
Jess Andrews, Communications Director
Amy Hasenberg, Press Secretary
Annie Richardson, Digital Director

116TH CONGRESS
1st Session
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
REPORT
116–

IMPEACHMENT OF DONALD JOHN TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

DECEMBER --, 2019.—Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed

Mr. NADLER, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following

R E P O R T

together with

DISSENTING VIEWS

[To accompany H. Res. 755]

The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the resolution (H. Res. 755) impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon pursuant to H. Res. 660 with an amendment and recommends that the resolution as amended be agreed to.

The amendment is as follows:

Strike all that follows after the resolving clause and insert the following:

That Donald John Trump, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States of America, against Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.

ARTICLE I: ABUSE OF POWER

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives ‘‘shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the President ‘‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. In his conduct of the office of President of the United States—and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed—Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency, in that:

Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage. President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations. President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interests of the Nation.

President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct through the following means:

(1) President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government—corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into—

(A) a political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; and

(B) a discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine—rather than Russia—interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.

(2) With the same corrupt motives, President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government—conditioned two official acts on the public announcements that he had requested—

(A) the release of $391 million of United States taxpayer funds that Congress had appropriated on a bipartisan basis for the purpose of providing vital military and security assistance to Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression and which President Trump had ordered suspended; and

(B) a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine sought to demonstrate continued United States support for the Government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

(3) Faced with the public revelation of his actions, President Trump ultimately released the military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine, but has persisted in openly and corruptly urging and soliciting Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit.

These actions were consistent with President Trump’s previous invitations of foreign interference in United States elections.

In all of this, President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit. He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.

Wherefore President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

ARTICLE II: OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives ‘‘shall have the sole Power of Impeachment’’ and that the President ‘‘shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’’. In his conduct of the office of President of the United States—and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed—Donald J. Trump has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its ‘‘sole Power of Impeachment’’. President Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency in a manner offensive to, and subversive of, the Constitution, in that:

The House of Representatives has engaged in an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump’s corrupt solicitation of the Government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 United States Presidential election. As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.

In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ‘‘sole Power of Impeachment” vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.

President Trump abused the powers of his high office through the following means:

(1) Directing the White House to defy a lawful subpoena by withholding the production of documents sought therein by the Committees.

(2) Directing other Executive Branch agencies and offices to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of documents and records from the Committees—in response to which the Department of State, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense refused to produce a single document or record.

(3) Directing current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees—in response to which nine Administration officials defied subpoenas for testimony, namely John Michael ‘‘Mick’’ Mulvaney, Robert B. Blair, John A. Eisenberg, Michael Ellis, Preston Wells Griffith, Russell T. Vought, Michael Duffey, Brian McCormack, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl.

These actions were consistent with President Trump’s previous efforts to undermine United States Government investigations into foreign interference in United States elections.

Through these actions, President Trump sought to arrogate to himself the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry into his own conduct, as well as the unilateral prerogative to deny any and all information to the House of Representatives in the exercise of its ‘‘sole Power of Impeachment’’. In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate ‘‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’’. This abuse of office served to cover up the President’s own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment—and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.

In all of this, President Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

CONTENTS

Introduction

The Impeachment Inquiry

Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment

Article I: Abuse of Power

Article II: Obstruction of Congress

Hearings

Committee Consideration

Committee Votes

Committee Oversight Findings

New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

Duplication of Federal Programs

Performance Goals and Objectives

Advisory on Earmarks

Dissenting Views

Appendix

Introduction

The House Committee on the Judiciary has completed the consideration of two articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump. The first article charges that the President used the powers of his office to solicit and pressure a foreign government, Ukraine, to investigate his domestic political rival and interfere in the upcoming United States Presidential elections. The second article charges that the President categorically obstructed the Congressional impeachment inquiry into his conduct. Taken together, the articles charge that President Trump has placed his personal, political interests above our national security, our free and fair elections, and our system of checks and balances. He has engaged in a pattern of misconduct that will continue if left unchecked. Accordingly, President Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

This report proceeds in four parts.

First, it describes the process by which the Committee came to recommend that the House impeach the President of the United States. From start to finish, the House conducted its inquiry with a commitment to transparency, efficiency, and fairness. The Minority was present and able to participate at every stage. From September to November of this year, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in coordination with the Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, collected evidence related to the charges against President Trump. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held public hearings to develop the evidence and share it with the American people. The committees then transmitted their evidence to the Judiciary Committee, together with a nearly 300-page public report and 123 pages of Minority views.

Consistent with House precedent, after the evidence arrived at the Judiciary Committee, the Committee invited President Trump and his counsel to participate in the process. Notably, and unlike past Presidents, President Trump declined to attend any hearings, question any witnesses, or recommend that the Committee call additional witnesses in his defense.

Second, the report discusses the standard for impeachment under the Constitution. The Framers were careful students of history and knew that threats to democracy could take many forms. Therefore, they adopted a standard for impeachment that captured a range of misconduct: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” A clear theme unified these constitutional wrongs: officials who abused, abandoned, or sought personal benefit from their public trust—and who threatened the rule of law if left in power—faced impeachment and removal. The Framers principally intended “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” to include three forms of Presidential wrongdoing: (1) abuse of power, (2) betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements, and (3) corruption of office and elections. Any one of these violations of the public trust justifies impeachment. When combined in a single course of conduct, as is the case here, they state a powerful case for impeachment and removal from office.

Third, the report examines the facts underlying the first charge against President Trump: abuse of power. On July 25, 2019, when he spoke by telephone to President Zelensky of Ukraine, President Trump had the upper hand. President Zelensky had been recently elected. Ukraine was locked in an existential battle with Russia, which had invaded and illegally occupied eastern Ukraine more than five years earlier. The conflict was continuing and Ukraine needed our help—both in the form of vital military aid, which had already been appropriated by Congress because of our security interests in the region, and also in the form of an Oval Office meeting, to show the world that the United States continues to stand with our ally in resisting the aggression of our adversary.

On that July 25 call, President Zelensky expressed gratitude for past American defense support and indicated that he was ready to buy more anti-tank weapons from the United States. In response, President Trump immediately asked President Zelensky to “do us a favor, though.” He asked Ukraine to announce two bogus investigations: one into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., then his leading opponent in the 2020 election, and another to advance a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked our elections in 2016. One investigation was designed to help him gain an advantage in the 2020 election. The other was intended to help President Trump conceal the truth about the 2016 election. Neither investigation was supported by the evidence or premised on any legitimate national security or foreign policy interest.

After the call with President Zelensky, President Trump ratcheted up the pressure. He continued to dangle the offer of the Oval Office meeting and to withhold the $391 million in military aid. The evidence shows that, on the same day that the call took place, Ukrainian officials became aware that funding had been withheld. The President also deployed his private attorney and other agents, some acting outside the official and regular channels of diplomacy, to make his desires known.

These facts establish impeachable abuse of power. To the founding generation, abuse of power was a specific, well-defined offense. It occurs when a President exercises the powers of his office to obtain an improper personal benefit while injuring and ignoring the national interest. The evidence shows that President Trump leveraged his office to solicit and pressure Ukraine for a personal favor.

This unquestionably constitutes an impeachable offense, but the first article of impeachment also identifies two aggravating factors. When President Trump asked President Zelensky for a favor, he did so at the expense of both our national security and the integrity of our elections. As to the first, America has a vital national security interest in countering Russian aggression, and our strategic partner Ukraine is quite literally at the front line of resisting that aggression. When the President weakens a partner who advances American security interests, the President weakens America. As to election integrity, American democracy above all rests upon elections that are free and fair. When the President demands that a foreign government announce investigations targeting his domestic political rival, he corrupts our elections. To the Founders, this kind of corruption was especially pernicious, and plainly merited impeachment. American elections should be for Americans only.

Fourth and finally, the report describes the second charge against President Trump: obstruction of Congress. President Trump did everything in his power to obstruct the House’s impeachment inquiry. Following his direction not to cooperate with the inquiry, the White House and other agencies refused to produce a single document in response to Congressional subpoenas. President Trump also attempted to muzzle witnesses, threatening to damage their careers if they agreed to testify, and even attacked one witness during her live testimony before Congress. To their great credit, many witnesses from across government-including from the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense-ignored the President’s unlawful orders and cooperated with the inquiry. In the end, however, nine senior officials followed President Trump’s direction and continue to defy duly authorized Congressional subpoenas. Other Presidents have recognized their obligation to provide information to Congress under these circumstances. President Trump’s stonewall, by contrast, was categorical, indiscriminate, and without precedent in American history.

The Constitution grants the “sole Power of Impeachment” to the House of Representatives. Within our system of checks and balances, the President may not decide what constitutes a valid impeachment inquiry. Nor may he ignore lawful subpoenas for evidence and testimony or direct others to do so. If a President had such authority, he could block Congress from learning facts bearing upon impeachment in the House or trial in the Senate and could thus control a power that exists to restrain his own abuses. The evidence shows clearly that President Trump has assumed this power for himself and, left unchecked, the President will continue to obstruct Congress through unlawful means.

Although the 2020 election is less than a year away, Congress cannot wait for the next election to address the President’s misconduct. President Trump has fallen into a pattern of behavior: this is not the first time he has solicited foreign interference in an election, been exposed, and attempted to obstruct the resulting investigation. He will almost certainly continue on this course. Indeed, in the same week that the Committee considered these articles of impeachment, the President’s private attorney was back in Ukraine to promote the same sham investigations into the President’s political rivals and, upon returning to the United States, rapidly made his way to the White House. We cannot rely on the next election as a remedy for presidential misconduct when the President is seeking to threaten the very integrity of that election. We must act immediately.

The Committee now transmits these articles of impeachment to the full House. By his actions, President Trump betrayed his office. His high crimes and misdemeanors undermine the Constitution. His conduct continues to jeopardize our national security and the integrity of our elections, presenting great urgency for the House to act. His actions warrant his impeachment and trial, his removal from office, and his disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

The Impeachment Inquiry

I. Introduction

The House of Representatives conducted a fair, thorough, and transparent impeachment inquiry under extraordinary circumstances. For the first time in modern history, committees of the House acted as original factfinders in a Presidential impeachment. Unlike in the previous impeachment inquiries into Presidents Richard M. Nixon and William J. Clinton, the House did not significantly rely on evidence obtained from other investigative bodies. Rather, committees of the House gathered evidence themselves. They did so fairly and efficiently, despite President Trump’s concerted efforts to obstruct their work.

From September through November of this year, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), together with the Committees on Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs (collectively, “the Investigating Committees”), collected evidence that President Trump abused his office in soliciting and inducing foreign interference in the 2020 United States Presidential election. Despite the President’s efforts to obstruct the Congressional investigation that followed, the Investigating Committees questioned seventeen current and former Trump Administration officials. In addition, although Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials continue to defy subpoenas for documents at President Trump’s direction, the Investigating Committees obtained from certain witnesses hundreds of text messages in their personal possession that corroborated their testimony, as well as reproductions of contemporaneous emails exchanged as the President’s offenses were unfolding. Minority Members and their counsel participated equally in witness questioning, and the Investigating Committees released public transcripts of every deposition and interview, as well as significant documentary evidence upon which they relied. HPSCI then transmitted that evidence to the Judiciary Committee, together with a nearly 300-page public report documenting the Investigating Committees’ findings, and a 123-page report containing the Minority’s views.

The Judiciary Committee, consistent with House precedent, afforded ample opportunities for President Trump and his attorneys to participate as it considered articles of impeachment. Those opportunities were offered not as a matter of right, but as privileges typically afforded to Presidents pursuant to House practice. Article I of the Constitution vests the House with full discretion to structure impeachment proceedings, assigning to it both the “sole Power of Impeachment” and the authority to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”1 The purpose of such proceedings is not to conduct a full trial of offenses; it is “to gather evidence to determine whether the president may have committed an impeachable offense” and whether he ought to stand trial for that offense in the Senate.2 In accordance with that purpose and House practice, President Trump was offered procedural privileges that were equivalent to or exceeded those afforded to Presidents Nixon and Clinton.

II. Background: Conduct of the House’s Inquiry and Privileges Afforded to President Trump

A. Proceedings Leading to Adoption of House Resolution 660

In early 2019, the Judiciary Committee began investigating potential abuses of office by President Trump, including obstruction of law enforcement investigations relating to Russia’s interference in the 2016 United States Presidential election.3 That investigation, which came to include consideration of whether to recommend articles of impeachment, was conducted in full public view and through public hearings. To the extent the Committee reviewed or obtained materials that it did not make available to the public, it did so in order to accommodate specific requests by the Executive Branch. The Committee also obtained responses to written questions from one fact witness and made those responses available to the public;4 and it conducted one closed-door transcribed interview of a fact witness during which White House attorneys were present, then released a transcript of the interview the following day.5 During this period, HPSCI also continued to investigate foreign intelligence and counterintelligence risks arising from efforts by Russia and other foreign powers to influence the United States political process during and since the 2016 election.6

Beginning in the spring and summer of 2019, evidence came to light that President Trump and his associates might have been seeking the assistance of another foreign government, Ukraine, to influence the upcoming 2020 election.7 On September 9, 2019, the Investigating Committees announced they were launching a joint investigation and requested documents and records from the White House and the Department of State. In parallel, evidence emerged that the President may have attempted to cover up his actions and prevent the transmission of information to which HPSCI was entitled by law.8 Given the gravity of these allegations and the immediacy of the threat to the next Presidential election, Speaker Nancy P. Pelosi announced on September 24, 2019 that the House would proceed with “an official impeachment inquiry,” under which the Investigating Committees, the Judiciary Committee, and the Committees on Financial Services and Ways and Means would continue their investigations of Presidential misconduct.9

Following that announcement, the Investigating Committees issued additional requests and subpoenas for witness interviews and depositions and for documents in the possession of the Executive Branch.10 The three committees “made clear that this information would be ‘collected as part of the House’s impeachment inquiry and shared among the Committees, as well as with the Committee on the Judiciary as appropriate.’”11 However, as detailed further in the portion of this Report discussing obstruction of Congress, White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone sent a letter on October 8, 2019 to Speaker Pelosi and Chairmen Adam B. Schiff, Eliot L. Engel, and Elijah E. Cummings stating that “President Trump and his Administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry.”12 As a result, the Administration refused—and continues to refuse—to produce any documents subpoenaed by the Investigating Committees as part of the impeachment inquiry, and nine current or former Administration officials remain in defiance of subpoenas for their testimony.13

Nevertheless, many other current and former officials complied with their legal obligations to appear for testimony, and the Investigating Committees conducted depositions or transcribed interviews of seventeen witnesses.14 These depositions and interviews were conducted consistent with the Rules of the House and with longstanding procedures governing investigations by HPSCI and the other committees.15 Members of the Minority previously advocated expanding these authorities, explaining that “[t]he ability to interview witnesses in private allows committees to gather information confidentially and in more depth than is possible under the five-minute rule governing committee hearings. This ability is often critical to conducting an effective and thorough investigation.”16

All Members of the Investigating Committees were permitted to attend these depositions and interviews, along with Majority and Minority staff. Members and counsel for both the Majority and Minority were permitted equal time for questioning witnesses. Transcripts of all depositions and interviews were publicly released and made available through HPSCI’s website on a rolling basis, subject to minimal redactions to protect classified or sensitive information.

B. House Resolution 660 and Subsequent Proceedings

On October 31, 2019, the House voted to approve H. Res. 660, which directed the Judiciary Committee as well as HPSCI and the Committees on Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, and Ways and Means to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing . . . inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump.”17 As the accompanying report by the Committee on Rules explained, HPSCI, in coordination with the Committees on Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs, was conducting an investigation that focused on three interrelated questions:

1. Did the President request that a foreign leader and government initiate investigations to benefit the President’s personal political interests in the United States, including an investigation related to the President’s political rival and potential opponent in the 2020 U.S. presidential election?

2. Did the President—directly or through agents—seek to use the power of the Office of the President and other instruments of the federal government in other ways to apply pressure on the head of state and government of Ukraine to advance the President’s personal political interests, including by leveraging an Oval Office meeting desired by the President of Ukraine or by withholding U.S. military assistance to Ukraine?

3. Did the President and his Administration seek to obstruct, suppress or cover up information to conceal from the Congress and the American people evidence about the President’s actions and conduct?18

The report explained that although a full House vote was by no means legally necessary, H. Res. 660 “provides a further framework for the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry.”19 That framework would be “commensurate with the inquiry process followed in the cases of President Nixon and President Clinton”—during which the House undertook various investigatory steps before voting to authorize and structure proceedings for an impeachment inquiry.20

One significant difference, however, was that in this instance the House was conducting and would continue to conduct its own factfinding and collection of evidence through its investigative committees. As HPSCI has explained, “[u]nlike in the cases of Presidents Nixon and Clinton, the House conducted a significant portion of the factual investigation itself because no independent prosecutor was appointed to investigate President Trump’s conduct.”21 Nevertheless, H. Res. 660 set forth detailed procedures that resulted in maximal transparency during the ongoing factfinding stage of the investigation and provided numerous privileges for President Trump and his counsel. The procedures entailed two stages for the public-facing phase of the impeachment inquiry: the first before HPSCI and the second before the Judiciary Committee.

First, HPSCI was authorized to conduct open hearings during which the Chairman and Ranking Member had extended equal time to question witnesses or permit their counsels to do so.22 The Ranking Member was also permitted to identify and request witnesses and to issue subpoenas for documents and witness testimony with the concurrence of the Chairman, with the option to refer subpoena requests for a vote before the full Committee if the Chairman declined to concur.23 H. Res. 660 further directed HPSCI to issue a report describing its findings and to make that report available to the public, and to transmit that report along with any supplemental materials and Minority views to the Judiciary Committee.24

Pursuant to H. Res. 660, HPSCI held five days of public hearings during which twelve current or former Trump Administration officials testified. These witnesses spoke in extensive detail about President Trump’s repeated and prolonged efforts to pressure Ukraine into announcing and conducting baseless investigations into the President’s political rival and into a discredited conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. They also testified regarding United States policy interests regarding Ukraine, the value and strategic importance of the military and security assistance and the diplomatic visit to the White House that the President withheld from Ukraine, and the actions taken by individuals on the President’s behalf in aid of his misconduct. In addition, the Investigating Committees received from certain witnesses hundreds of text messages as well as contemporaneous emails corroborating their testimony. The majority of witnesses maintained, however, that because they were government employees their documents and communications remained the property of Executive Branch offices and agencies. These offices and agencies, based on the President’s direction, instructed officials not to provide any materials pursuant to the Investigating Committees’ subpoenas.

Three of the witnesses who testified during the public hearings—Ambassador Kurt D. Volker, Undersecretary of State David M. Hale, and former National Security Council official Timothy A. Morrison—did so at the request of the Minority. As Chairman Schiff explained, however, the impeachment inquiry would not be permitted to serve as a means for conducting “the same sham investigations . . . that President Trump pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit.”25 Chairman Schiff likewise made clear that he would not “facilitate efforts by President Trump and his allies in Congress to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm.”26

HPSCI’s public hearings concluded on November 21, 2019. On December 3, 2019, in consultation with the Committees on Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs, HPSCI released and voted to adopt a report of nearly 300 pages detailing its extensive findings about the President’s abuse of his office and obstruction of Congress. Chairman Schiff noted that although the investigation would continue, “[t]he evidence of the President’s misconduct is overwhelming,” and the need to submit an impeachment referral was too urgent to delay.27 On December 6, 2019, and pursuant to H. Res. 660, the Investigating Committees transmitted a final version of that report, together with a report documenting the Minority’s views and evidence upon which the report relied, to the Judiciary Committee.28 The Committees on the Budget and Foreign Affairs transmitted certain materials to the Judiciary Committee as well.29 In addition, HPSCI subsequently made a classified supplemental submission provided by one of its witnesses available for Judiciary Committee Members to review in a secure facility.30

With respect to proceedings before the Judiciary Committee, pursuant to H. Res. 660, the Rules Committee established “Impeachment Inquiry Procedures in the Committee on the Judiciary” that provided a host of procedural privileges for President Trump.31 Those procedures required that President Trump’s counsel be furnished with copies of all materials transferred to the Judiciary Committee by HPSCI and the other committees investigating the President’s misconduct.32 They afforded President Trump numerous opportunities to participate in the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings through counsel. Those opportunities included the ability to present evidence orally or in writing; to question committee counsels presenting evidence; to attend all hearings of the Judiciary Committee, including those held in executive session; to raise objections during examinations of witnesses; to cross-examine any witness called before the Committee; and to request that additional witnesses be called.33 In addition, as was the case for HPSCI, H. Res. 660 permitted the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee to issue subpoenas for documents and witness testimony with the concurrence of the Chairman, or to refer any such decision for a vote by the full Committee.34

On November 26, 2019, Chairman Nadler wrote to President Trump informing him of these procedures and the Committee’s intention to hold a hearing the following week, on December 4, regarding constitutional grounds for impeachment. Chairman Nadler explained the purpose of the hearing and requested that President Trump indicate whether he and his counsel wished to participate and question the witness panel.35 On November 29, 2019, Chairman Nadler wrote to President Trump further requesting that his counsel indicate whether he planned to participate in any of the Committee’s upcoming proceedings and, if so, which privileges his counsel would seek to exercise.36 On December 1, 2019, Mr. Cipollone responded that counsel for the President would not participate in the December 4 hearing, characterizing that process as “an after-the-fact constitutional law seminar.”37 On December 6, 2019, Mr. Cipollone sent Chairman Nadler another letter indicating the President would not avail himself of any other opportunities to participate in the Committee’s proceedings, urging the Committee to “end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings.”38 Mr. Cipollone quoted President Trump’s recent statement that “if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate.”39

On December 4, 2019, the Judiciary Committee held its public hearing on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment and heard testimony from four constitutional experts, including one called by the Minority.40 Consistent with the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings during the impeachment of President Clinton, these experts discussed the kinds of conduct that amounts to “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” under the Constitution and whether the President’s conduct met that standard.41 The Chairman and Ranking Member were allotted equal periods of extended time for questioning, along with Majority and Minority counsel. On December 7, 2019, the Committee Majority staff released its report on this topic, outlining the grounds for impeachment as contemplated by the Founders and addressing certain arguments raised by the President.42 The Minority staff published its own views as well, including the written testimony of its witness during the December 4 hearing.43

On December 9, 2019, in accordance with the “Impeachment Inquiry Procedures” promulgated pursuant to H. Res. 660, the Judiciary Committee conducted another public hearing to evaluate the evidence gathered by HPSCI.44 Majority and Minority counsel for the Judiciary Committee presented opening statements, followed by presentations of the evidence from Majority and Minority counsel for HPSCI. The Chairman and Ranking Member were again allotted equal periods of extended time for questioning, with the ability to yield time for questioning by Majority and Minority counsels. The Majority counsel for HPSCI presented HPSCI’s findings in detail and was subject to extensive questioning throughout the hearing’s nine-hour duration. Minority counsel for HPSCI presented the Minority’s views and was subject to questioning as well.

On December 10, 2019, Chairman Nadler introduced a resolution containing two articles of impeachment against President Trump for abuse of office and obstruction of Congress.45 The Committee began debate the following evening and resumed debate throughout the day of December 12. On December 13, 2019, the Committee voted to report both articles of impeachment favorably to the House.

III. The House’s Inquiry Was Fully Authorized by House Rules and Precedent

The House’s conduct of its impeachment inquiry—through which Committees of the House began investigating facts prior to a formal vote by the House—was fully consistent with the Constitution, the Rules of the House, and House precedent. The House’s autonomy to structure its own proceedings for an impeachment inquiry is rooted in two provisions of Article I of the Constitution. First, Article I vests the House with the “sole Power of Impeachment.”46 It contains no other requirements as to how the House must carry out that responsibility. Second, Article I further states that the House is empowered to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”47 Taken together, these provisions give the House sole discretion to determine the manner in which it will investigate, deliberate, and vote upon grounds for impeachment.

The Rules of the House do not prescribe any particular manner in which the House or any of its committees must conduct impeachment inquiries. Although the Judiciary Committee has traditionally been “responsible for considering and potentially recommending articles of impeachment to the full House,”48 it is not the exclusive factfinding body through which all evidence bearing on impeachment must be collected. To the contrary, as discussed further below, in the last two modern Presidential impeachments the Judiciary Committee relied on evidence obtained through prosecutors, grand juries, and (in the case of President Nixon) a committee of the Senate. In addition, the House Rules provide HPSCI and the standing committees with robust investigative authorities, including the power to issue subpoenas and take depositions.49 Each of the three committees indisputably has oversight jurisdiction to investigate these matters.50

Throughout 2019, HPSCI continued to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election as well as ongoing efforts by Russia and other adversaries to interfere in upcoming elections. As allegations emerged that President Trump and his personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, were acting to solicit and pressure Ukraine to launch politically motivated investigations, the Investigating Committees announced publicly on September 9, 2019, that they were conducting a joint investigation of the President’s conduct toward Ukraine.51

The principal objection by the President has consisted of a claim that no committee of the House was permitted to investigate Presidential misconduct for impeachment purposes unless or until the House enacted a resolution fully “authorizing” the impeachment inquiry.52 That claim has no basis in the Constitution, any statutes, the House Rules, or House precedent. As already noted, the Constitution says nothing whatsoever about any processes or prerequisites governing the House’s exercise of its “sole Power of Impeachment.” To the contrary, the Constitution’s Impeachment and Rulemaking Clauses indicate that it is only for the House itself to structure its impeachment investigations and proceedings. Yet the House Rules do not preclude committees from inquiring into potential grounds for impeachment. As a federal district court recently confirmed, the notion that a full House vote is required to authorize an impeachment inquiry “has no textual support in the U.S. Constitution [or] the governing rules of the House.”53

Furthermore, House precedent makes manifestly clear that the House need not adopt a resolution authorizing or structuring an impeachment inquiry before such an inquiry can proceed. As Jefferson’s Manual notes, “[i]n the House various events have been credited with setting an impeachment in motion,” including charges made on the floor, resolutions introduced by members, or “facts developed and reported by an investigating committee of the House.”54 As Chief Judge Howell explained, the House has “[i]ndisputably initiated impeachment inquiries of federal judges without a House resolution ‘authorizing’ the inquiry.”55 One such inquiry involved a lengthy investigation of a sitting Supreme Court Justice.56 Indeed, several “federal judges have been impeached by the House without a House resolution ‘authorizing’ an inquiry.”57 For example, the Judiciary Committee investigated grounds for the impeachment of Judge Walter Nixon following a referral by the United States Judicial Conference and the introduction of a resolution for his impeachment.58 The Committee—without any direct authorization or instruction from the full House—subsequently adopted articles of impeachment, which were approved by a vote of the full House. The Senate later voted to convict Judge Nixon and remove him from office.59 Similar proceedings occurred in impeachments of two other judges.60 Indeed, as recently as the 114th Congress, the Judiciary Committee considered impeachment of the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service following a referral from another committee and absent a full vote of the House for an impeachment inquiry.61

In addition, in many prior instances in which the full House adopted resolutions authorizing and directing the Judiciary Committee to undertake impeachment inquiries, the resolutions served in part to provide the Committee with authorities it did not already have. For example, the 1974 resolution authorizing and directing the impeachment inquiry into President Nixon served to clarify the scope of the Committee’s subpoena authority and authorized the Committee and its counsel to take depositions.62 Today, the House Rules for standing committees and for HPSCI already provide these authorities.63 Thus, as a practical matter, a full vote of the House is no longer needed to provide investigating committees with the kinds of authorities needed to conduct their investigations. Here, of course, the House did ultimately adopt H. Res. 660, which explicitly directed HPSCI and the Committees on the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, and Ways a nd Means to “continue their ongoing investigations” as part of the House’s “existing” impeachment inquiry. Although the House was not obligated to enact such a resolution, H. Res. 660 affirmed the authority of the House and these committees to continue their investigations and provided further structure to govern the inquiry moving forward.

This sequence of events in the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump bears substantial resemblance to the development of the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Nixon. The Judiciary Committee’s consideration of impeachment resolutions against President Nixon began in October 1973, when various resolutions calling for President Nixon’s impeachment were introduced in the House and referred to the Judiciary Committee.64 Over the next several months, the Committee investigated the Watergate break-in and coverup (among other matters) using its existing investigatory authorities.65 The Committee also hired a special counsel and other attorneys to assist in these efforts, and the House adopted a resolution in November 1973 to fund the Committee’s investigations.66 As the Committee explained in a February 1974 staff report, its work up through that time included forming multiple task forces within the staff to gather evidence organized around various subjects of interest.67 All of this occurred before the House approved a resolution directing the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether sufficient grounds existed to impeach President Nixon.68

So too here, committees of the House began investigating allegations of misconduct by President Trump before the House voted to approve H. Res. 660. That course of events is consistent not only with the House’s impeachment inquiry against President Nixon but with common sense. After all, before voting to conduct an impeachment inquiry, the House must have some means of ascertaining the nature and seriousness of the allegations and the scope of the inquiry that may follow. It defies logic to suggest that House committees have no authority to begin examining the President’s potentially impeachable misconduct unless or until the full House votes to conduct an impeachment inquiry.

IV. President Trump Received Ample Procedural Protections

A. General Principles

As Chairman Rodino observed during this Committee’s impeachment proceedings against President Nixon, “it is not a right but a privilege or a courtesy” for the President to participate through counsel in House impeachment proceedings.69 An impeachment inquiry is not a trial; rather, it entails a collection and evaluation of facts before a trial occurs in the Senate. In that respect, the House acts analogously to a grand jury or prosecutor, investigating and considering the evidence to determine whether charges are warranted. Federal grand juries and prosecutors, of course, conduct their investigations in secret and afford little or no procedural rights to targets of investigations.70 This type of confidentiality is necessary to (among other things) ensure freedom in deliberations, “prevent subornation of perjury or tampering with the witnesses who may testify,” and “encourage free and untrammeled disclosures by persons who have [relevant] information.”71

Nonetheless, in light of the gravity of the decision to impeach the President and the ramifications that such a decision has for the Nation as a whole, the House has typically provided a level of transparency in impeachment inquiries and has afforded the President certain procedural privileges. Although President Trump has at times invoked the notion of “due process,” “an impeachment inquiry is not a criminal trial and should not be confused with one.”72 Rather, the task of the House—as part of the responsible exercise of its “sole Power of Impeachment”—is to adopt procedures that balance the need to protect the integrity of its investigations, the public interest in a full and fair inquiry, and the President’s interest in telling his side of the story.

As discussed below, in past impeachment inquiries this has typically meant that the principal evidence relied upon by the Judiciary Committee is disclosed to the President and to the public—though some evidence in past proceedings has remained confidential. The President has also typically been afforded an opportunity to participate in the proceedings at a stage when evidence has been fully gathered and is presented to the Judiciary Committee. In addition, the President has been entitled to present his own evidence and to request that witnesses be called. He has not, however, been entitled to have counsel present during all interviews of witnesses. The procedures employed by the House here were tailored to these considerations and provided ample protections for President Trump.

B. Processes Used in Modern Presidential Impeachments

The processes used in the House’s impeachment inquiries into Presidents Nixon and Clinton shared certain common features that informed the House’s consideration of how to structure its proceedings with respect to President Trump. In both the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, the House relied substantially on factual evidence collected through prior investigations. These prior investigations did not afford the President any particular procedural rights, such as the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, and many portions were conducted outside public view. At a later stage, when evidence was formally presented to the Judiciary Committee, the President’s counsel was permitted to attend, present evidence and call witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses before the Committee.

1. President Nixon

Impeachment proceedings in the House against President Nixon were conducted almost entirely behind closed doors, with the President’s counsel afforded certain procedural privileges in later stages of the inquiry. As noted above, the Judiciary Committee began considering impeachment resolutions against President Nixon in October 1973, including by examining evidence in the public domain obtained from other investigations.73 On February 6, 1974, the House adopted H. Res. 803, which authorized and directed the Committee to investigate “whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Richard M. Nixon.”74 H. Res. 803 gave the Committee authority to subpoena documents and witnesses, to take depositions, and to issue interrogatories. This authority could be exercised by the Chairman or the Ranking Member, with each having the right to refer disagreements to the full Committee.75 The Committee subsequently adopted procedures imposing tight restrictions on access to materials gathered during the course of its investigation, restricting access to the Chairman, the Ranking Member, and authorized staff.76 In February and March 1974, the Committee met three times in closed executive sessions—without President Nixon’s counsel in attendance—to hear updates from Committee staff.77 In addition to reviewing information produced in other investigations, Committee staff conducted private interviews of fact witnesses.78

Much of the evidence relied upon by the Committee and gathered by staff was obtained through other investigations, including the investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities. Indeed, the Senate Select Committee’s televised hearings are what typically come to mind when one thinks of Congress’s investigation of Watergate. The Senate, of course, does not conduct impeachment inquiries; its constitutional function is “to try all Impeachments” if an officer of the United States is impeached by the House.79 The Senate Select Committee was instead established pursuant to the Senate’s general oversight and legislative authorities.80 In the spring of 1973—before those televised hearings occurred—Select Committee staff interviewed hundreds of witnesses in informal private settings or closed-door executive sessions of the Committee.81 The Select Committee also met in numerous executive sessions to receive progress updates from staff.82 Only later, beginning in May 1973 and lasting through the summer, did the Select Committee call witnesses to testify in public hearings.83 Those hearings were not impeachment proceedings, President Nixon was not afforded any procedural privileges, such as the right to have counsel present and to question witnesses.

On February 7, 1974—the day after the House adopted its resolution directing an impeachment inquiry—the Senate Select Committee voted to transmit all of its files, including voluminous non-public files, to the House Judiciary Committee.84 The Judiciary Committee relied on those non-public materials as it gathered evidence. For example, a March 1, 1974 progress report by Judiciary Committee staff noted that its “basic sources” included “the closed files of the [Senate Select Committee], including executive session testimony.”85 In March 1974, the Judiciary Committee also famously received the Watergate grand jury’s “roadmap” describing evidence of potential offenses committed by President Nixon.86 That report—which was not disclosed to the public until nearly 45 years later—described and appended evidence gathered through months of secret grand jury proceedings, during which counsel for defendants were not permitted to appear or question witnesses.

In the course of the Judiciary Committee’s investigation, Committee staff also conducted interviews of witnesses in private settings in which no counsel for President Nixon was present. During a closed-door briefing in February 1974, Special Counsel John A. Doar made clear to members that counsel for the Minority would not necessarily be present for all interviews either, depending upon the circumstances.87 In an effort to develop appropriate procedures governing the inquiry, Committee staff reviewed in detail the proceedings used in prior impeachment inquiries dating back to the eighteenth century. In a memorandum describing their findings, Committee staff noted they had found “[n]o record . . . of any impeachment inquiry in which the official under investigation participated in the investigation stage preceding commencement of Committee hearings.”88 Nor had Committee staff found any instance in which “the official under investigation . . . was granted access to the Committee’s evidence before it was offered at a hearing.”89

Later in the spring and early summer of 1974, the Committee held a series of closed-door meetings for formal presentations of evidence by Committee counsel. As relevant here, the procedures it adopted for those presentations allowed the President’s counsel to attend strictly as an observer, to be provided with evidence as it was presented, and to present evidence orally or in writing afterward.90 It was only in the final stages of the Judiciary Committee’s inquiry—in late June and July 1974—that President Nixon’s counsel was permitted to present evidence and to call and question witnesses.91 These proceedings also occurred in closed executive sessions of the Committee, as did the questioning of additional witnesses called by the Committee.92 In total, the Committee heard testimony from nine witnesses in these closed-door hearings, with the transcripts made available to the public afterward.93 The sole public portions of the Committee’s proceedings in which it considered the evidence were several days of debate between members about whether to recommend articles of impeachment.94 The Committee ultimately voted on July 27, July 29, and July 30, 1974 to adopt three articles of impeachment,95 and President Nixon resigned from office shortly afterward.

2. President Clinton

The Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry concerning President Clinton occurred over a relatively brief period in late 1998 and relied almost entirely upon evidence collected by Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr. On September 9, 1998, Independent Counsel Starr notified the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House that his office had transmitted an impeachment referral and 36 sealed boxes of evidence to the Sergeant-at-Arms.96 Two days later, the House approved H. Res. 525, requiring the Committee to review these materials and determine whether to recommend that the House proceed with an impeachment inquiry.97 H. Res. 525 further directed that Independent Counsel Starr’s report be published as a House document and called for all supporting documents and evidence to be released in the coming weeks, unless determined otherwise by the Committee.98 Many of those materials, including grand jury materials, were released publicly on September 18 and 28, 1998; some, however, were withheld from the public and the President.99

On October 8, 1998, the House adopted H. Res. 581, which authorized and directed the Judiciary Committee to investigate “whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach William Jefferson Clinton.”100 H. Res. 581 contained express authorization for the Committee to subpoena documents and witnesses and to issue interrogatories. As with the resolution governing the Nixon impeachment inquiry, H. Res. 581 specified that this authority could be exercised by the Chairman or Ranking Member, with each having the right to refer disagreements to the full Committee.101

The Committee’s proceedings unfolded rapidly afterward. As in the Nixon impeachment proceedings, the Committee relied substantially during its investigation of President Clinton on evidence gathered from a prior investigation—that conducted by Independent Counsel Starr. Committee staff also conducted a limited number of depositions during which counsel for President Clinton was not present; additionally, Committee Majority staff conducted interviews which neither Minority staff nor counsel for the President attended. On two occasions in October and November 1998, White House attorneys wrote to Chairman Hyde and Committee Majority counsel expressing concern about their lack of an opportunity to participate in these depositions and interviews.102 Majority counsel for the Committee responded by pointing to the Nixon-era staff memorandum as proof that counsel for the President has no right to attend depositions or interviews of witnesses. The President’s contrary view, Committee counsel stated, was “on the wrong side of history.”103

On November 19, 1998, Independent Counsel Starr testified in a public hearing before the Committee. He was the sole witness who presented factual evidence before the Committee, and his testimony consisted primarily of descriptions of evidence his office had gathered in the course of its investigation.104 That evidence included tens of thousands of pages of grand jury testimony,105 which by definition was taken in secret and without the opportunity for adversarial questioning. In addition, in November and December 1998, the Subcommittee on the Constitution and the full Committee, respectively, held open hearings on the background and history of impeachment and on the offense of perjury.106 Finally, on December 8 and 9, 1998, President Clinton’s legal counsel called multiple panels of outside legal experts and elicited testimony primarily on whether the President’s alleged conduct rose to the level of impeachable offenses.107

Between December 10 to 12, 1998, the Committee debated and voted to adopt four articles of impeachment.108 The following week, the articles were debated on the floor of the House over the course of two days. On December 19, 1998, the House voted to approve two of the articles and voted against two others.109 Shortly after that vote, Ranking Member Conyers wrote to Chairman Hyde expressing concerns that Majority staff had conducted witness interviews without informing the Minority and provided summaries of those interviews to certain members while withholding them from the Minority. Chairman Conyers also raised concerns that members of the Majority had encouraged Members whose votes were still undecided to review certain evidence that had been withheld from the President and the public in an effort to sway those Members’ decision-making.110

C. The Procedural Protections Afforded to President Trump Met or Exceeded Those Afforded in Past Presidential Impeachment Inquiries

The House’s impeachment inquiry provided President Trump procedural protections that were consistent with or in some instances exceeded those afforded to Presidents Nixon and Clinton. The House’s inquiry was conducted with maximal transparency: transcripts of all interviews and depositions were made public, and HPSCI and the Judiciary Committee held seven days of public hearings. All documentary evidence relied on in HPSCI’s report has been made available to President Trump, and much of it has been made public. Furthermore, during proceedings before the Judiciary Committee, President Trump was offered numerous opportunities to have his counsel participate, including by cross-examining witnesses and presenting evidence. The President’s decision to reject these opportunities to participate affirms that his principal objective was to obstruct the House’s inquiry rather than assist in its full consideration of all relevant evidence.

1. The House’s Inquiry Was Conducted with Maximal Transparency

The House’s impeachment inquiry against President Trump was unique in its lack of reliance on the work of another investigative body. Instead, the Investigating Committees performed their own extensive investigative work—and they did so with abundant transparency. Twelve key witnesses critical to the Committees’ investigation testified in publicly televised hearings. All transcripts for each of the seventeen witnesses interviewed or deposed have been made public and posted on HPSCI’s website, subject to minimal redactions to protect classified or sensitive information. All documentary evidence relied on in HPSCI’s report has been made available to the President and to the Judiciary Committee, and significant portions have been released to the public as well.

Those facts alone render this inquiry more transparent than those against Presidents Nixon and Clinton. As noted previously, during the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Nixon, not a single evidentiary hearing took place in public. And although transcripts of closed-door witness hearings were subsequently released, notes or transcripts from private witness interviews were not. In addition, the Judiciary Committee relied on voluminous evidence that was obtained through other investigations, including investigations by prosecutors, a grand jury, and the Senate Select Committee. The Judiciary Committee amassed a collection of files from those investigations and maintained them under strict confidentiality procedures. With respect to President Clinton, the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry was based almost solely upon evidence transmitted by Independent Counsel Starr. That evidence was collected in secret grand jury proceedings or through other law enforcement mechanisms. Even after the evidence was transmitted to the Judiciary Committee, not all of it was disclosed publicly. Furthermore, Committee staff conducted non-public depositions and interviews.

As the Majority counsel for HPSCI explained in his presentation to the Judiciary Committee, conducting witness interviews in a manner that does not allow witnesses to “line up their stories” is a “[b]est investigative practice.”111 Closed-door depositions in the present inquiry were necessary during earlier stages of the investigation to prevent witnesses from reviewing one another’s testimony and tailoring their statements accordingly.112 Indeed, the Judiciary Committee is unaware of any factfinding process—whether in criminal investigations or administrative proceedings—in which all witnesses are interviewed in full view of each other and of the person under investigation. Nevertheless, HPSCI released transcripts of the depositions it conducted on a rolling basis within weeks of their occurrence. In addition, the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings were conducted in full public view.

2. The President Was Afforded Meaningful Opportunities to Participate

At the investigative stage before HPSCI and the Committees on Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs, President Trump made concerted efforts to ensure that his closest advisors would not be heard from, including by ordering an across-the-board blockade of the House’s inquiry and by directing multiple White House and other Executive Branch officials not to appear. Nonetheless, President Trump was offered—but declined—numerous opportunities to participate in the House’s proceedings when they reached the Judiciary Committee.

Pursuant to the “Impeachment Inquiry Procedures in the Committee on the Judiciary” described above, the President was given the opportunity to: have counsel attend any presentations of evidence before the Committee; have counsel ask questions during those presentations; respond orally or in writing to any evidence presented; request that additional witnesses be called; have counsel attend all other hearings in which witnesses were called; have counsel raise objections during those hearings; have counsel question any such witnesses; and have counsel provide a concluding presentation. For example, President Trump’s counsel could have questioned counsel for HPSCI during his detailed presentation of evidence at the Committee’s December 9 hearing. The President’s counsel could also have questioned any of the four legal scholars who appeared during the Committee’s December 4 hearing. The President could have submitted a statement in writing explaining his account of events—or he could have had his counsel make a presentation of evidence or request that other witnesses be called. President Trump did none of those things.

These privileges were equivalent to or exceeded those afforded to Presidents Nixon and Clinton. As noted previously, the Judiciary Committee conducted numerous closed-door briefings and took substantial investigative steps before affording any opportunities for President Nixon’s counsel to participate, including conducting private interviews of witnesses. In addition, when President Nixon’s counsel was later granted permission to attend closed-door presentations of evidence by Committee counsel, he could do so only as a passive observer. President Trump, by contrast, could have had his attorney cross-examine HPSCI’s counsel during his presentation of evidence. That opportunity was also equivalent to the opportunity afforded to President Clinton to have his counsel cross-examine Independent Counsel Starr—which he did, at length.113

Furthermore, although President Trump has complained that his counsel was not afforded the opportunity to participate during HPSCI’s proceedings, the proceedings against Presidents Nixon and Clinton demonstrate that in neither case was the President permitted to have counsel participate in the initial fact-gathering stages of the impeachment inquiry. As Committee staff explained during the Nixon impeachment inquiry—and then reiterated during the Clinton impeachment inquiry—there were no records from any prior impeachment inquiry of an “official under investigation participat[ing] in the investigation stage preceding commencement of committee hearings” or being offered access to Committee evidence “before it was offered at a hearing.”114 That is doubly true for the investigative proceedings that took place before the House began its impeachment inquiries against Presidents Nixon and Clinton. President Nixon certainly had no attorney present when prosecutors and grand juries began collecting evidence about Watergate and related matters, nor did he have an attorney present when the Senate Select Committee began interviewing witnesses and holding public hearings. Nor did President Clinton have an attorney present when prosecutors from the Office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr deposed witnesses and elicited their testimony before a grand jury.

Indeed, the proceedings before the Investigating Committees can be most closely analogized to the Senate Select Committee proceedings during Watergate. In both instances, Congressional bodies other than the House Judiciary Committee engaged in fact-finding investigations of grave Presidential misconduct. Those investigations included private interviews and depositions followed by public hearings—after which all investigative files were provided to the House Judiciary Committee. The only difference is that in this case, transcripts of all interviews and depositions have been made public; all documentary evidence relied on by HPSCI in its report has been made available to the President; and the President’s counsel could have participated and raised questions during presentations of evidence but chose not to.

3. The President Was Not Entitled to Additional Procedural Rights

White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone suggested in his October 8 letter on behalf of President Trump that the President was entitled to a host of additional due process rights during the House’s impeachment inquiry, including “the right to see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses, to make objections . . . , and to respond to evidence and testimony.”115 He also indicated that the President was entitled to review all favorable evidence and all evidence bearing on the credibility of witnesses. 116

These are the types of procedural protections, however, typically afforded in criminal trials—not during preliminary investigative stages.117 As HPSCI explained in its report, “there is no requirement that the House provide these procedures during an impeachment inquiry.”118 Rather, as Chairman Rodino stated during the Nixon impeachment inquiry, the President’s participation “is not a right but a privilege or a courtesy.”119

In any event, the core privileges described in Mr. Cipollone’s letter were in fact offered to President Trump as courtesies during the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings. The President was able to review “all evidence” relied on by the Investigating Committees, including evidence that the Minority’s public report identified as favorable to him. During the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings, the President had opportunities to present evidence, call witnesses, have counsel present to raise objections and cross-examine witnesses, and respond to the evidence raised against him. As the Rules Committee report accompanying H. Res. 660 noted, these privileges are “commensurate with the inquiry process followed in the cases of President Nixon and President Clinton.”120 President Trump simply chose not to avail himself of the procedural opportunities afforded to him.

D. The Minority Was Afforded Full and Adequate Procedural Rights

Members of the Minority have also contended that they were not afforded the full procedural rights provided to the Minority in prior impeachment inquiries and have raised a host of related objections to the proceedings. These claims lack merit.

First, the Minority has contended that it was deprived of the ability to subpoena witnesses and documentary evidence. However, the rules governing both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment inquiries rendered the Minority’s subpoena authority equally contingent on the Majority. Under H. Res. 803 (governing the Nixon proceedings) and H. Res. 581 (governing the Clinton proceedings), the Chairman could refer a subpoena request by the Ranking Member for a vote by the full Committee if the Chairman disagreed with such a request.121 So too here, H. Res. 660 authorized the Ranking Member to issue subpoenas with the Chairman’s concurrence, or to refer such requests for a vote by the full Committee if the Chairman declined to concur.122

Second, the Minority has contended that the Committee should have heard testimony from additional witnesses they requested, including the whistleblower, various individuals with whom the whistleblower spoke, and even Chairman Schiff.123 As an initial matter, during HPSCI’s proceedings, the Minority called three witnesses of its choosing—Ambassador Volker, Undersecretary Hale, and Mr. Morrison. Ambassador Volker and Mr. Morrison testified on their own panel at length; and their testimony only served to corroborate other witnesses’ accounts of the President’s misconduct.124 As to proceedings before the Judiciary Committee, the Minority called a witness of its choosing to present views during the Committee’s December 4 hearing on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment. Furthermore, Minority counsel had equal time to present arguments and evidence during the Committee’s December 9 hearing. However, as Chairman Schiff stated and as Chairman Nadler reiterated, Congress has an imperative interest in protecting whistleblowers. And in this particular instance, Congress has an especially critical need to prevent the House’s impeachment inquiry from being used to “facilitate the President’s effort to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower,” which placed his or her personal safety at grave risk.125 Furthermore, the whistleblower’s allegations were not relied upon by HPSCI or the Judiciary Committee in reaching their conclusions, making his or her testimony “redundant and unnecessary.”126 Rather, HPSCI adduced independent and more direct evidence.127

In addition, the Ranking Member and all other Committee Members had the full opportunity to question HPSCI’s lead investigative counsel during the Committee’s December 9 hearing. Presentation of evidence by Committee counsel is consistent with the procedures followed during the Nixon impeachment inquiry—and in no impeachment inquiry has the House relied upon evidentiary presentations from another Member. Finally, the Ranking Member’s request to hear testimony from other witnesses such as Hunter Biden was well outside the scope of the impeachment inquiry and would have allowed the President and his allies in Congress to propagate exactly the same kinds of misinformation that President Trump corruptly pressured Ukraine to propagate for his own political benefit. Such witnesses were entirely irrelevant to the question of whether President Trump abused his power for his personal gain.

Third, the Minority requested that it be entitled to a day of hearings pursuant to House Rule XI.2(j)(1), which entitles the Minority, upon request, to call witnesses to testify regarding any “measure or matter” considered in a committee hearing “during at least one day of hearing thereon.” The Minority requested a hearing day on the subject of constitutional grounds for impeachment, as discussed at the Committee’s December 4 hearing. However, as Chairman Nadler explained in ruling against the Ranking Member’s point of order, this Rule does not require the Chairman “to schedule a hearing on a particular day,” nor is the Chairman required “to schedule the hearing as a condition precedent to taking any specific legislative action.”128 Indeed, a report accompanying this provision when it was first promulgated stated that its purpose was not “an authorization for delaying tactics.”129 Chairman Nadler further explained that the Minority had been afforded the opportunity to have its views represented through its witness during the December 4 hearing, who testified at length. Additionally, the Chairman said he was willing to work with the Minority to schedule a Minority day for a hearing at an appropriate time.130

Fourth, the Minority has contended that the proceedings before the Judiciary Committee were inadequate because the Committee did not hear from “fact witnesses.” The evidence in the House’s impeachment inquiry consists of more than one hundred hours of deposition or interview testimony by seventeen witnesses, followed by five days of live televised hearings with twelve fact witnesses.131 At bottom, the Minority’s objection instead amounts to a claim that fact hearings do not count unless they occur before this Committee. That notion is inconsistent with both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment inquiries, in which the Judiciary Committee relied on, inter alia, public and private testimony before the Senate Select Committee in the case of President Nixon, and transcripts of grand jury proceedings in the case of President Clinton. In this instance, HPSCI and the Committees on Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs conducted their witness examinations ably and transparently, working within their subject matter areas of expertise. Furthermore, to the extent Judiciary Committee members wished to probe the evidentiary record, they had opportunities to do so when HPSCI’s Majority and Minority counsels presented evidence before the Committee.

Finally, the Minority has repeatedly suggested that the House’s impeachment inquiry has been rushed. The House’s investigation of the President’s conduct regarding Ukraine began in early September and has proceeded for more than three months. In addition, that investigation followed extensive investigations into the President’s having welcomed foreign assistance from Russia during the 2016 United States Presidential election and then obstructing the law enforcement investigation that ensued. President Trump’s efforts to enlist the assistance of another foreign government for the 2020 United States Presidential election therefore raised immediate alarm and required prompt action. As HPSCI’s report states, “[w]ith this backdrop, the solicitation of new foreign intervention was the act of a president unbound.”132

The House’s investigation of President Trump’s misconduct—which occupied a time frame commensurate with that for the impeachment inquiry against President Clinton—was fair and thorough. The Investigating Committees assembled a comprehensive record that was more than sufficient to provide them with a thorough picture of the facts. To the extent gaps remained, they resulted from President Trump’s obstruction of Congress. The urgency posed by the President’s abuse of his office, his invitation of foreign interference in the 2020 United States Presidential election, and his disregard for any mechanisms of accountability required concerted action by the House, not further delay.

V. Conclusion

The House conducted a thorough and fair inquiry regarding President Trump’s misconduct, notwithstanding the unique and extraordinary challenges posed by the President’s obstruction. The Investigating Committees amassed thorough and irrefutable evidence that the President abused his office by pressuring a foreign government to interfere in the next election. When committees of the House—rather than a grand jury, a Senate committee, or an Independent Counsel—must serve as primary investigators in an impeachment inquiry, they have an obligation to balance investigative needs and best practices for collecting evidence with the President’s interest in telling his story and the public interest in transparency. But that does not entitle the President to inject himself at each and every stage of the proceedings, thus confounding the House’s inquiry.

Here, consistent with historical practice, the House divided its impeachment inquiry into two phases, first collecting evidence and then bringing that evidence before the Judiciary Committee for its consideration of articles of impeachment. The Judiciary Committee then evaluated the evidence in a process that afforded President Trump the same or more privileges of his predecessors who have faced impeachment inquiries. The President’s refusal to comply with or participate in these proceedings only confirmed his intent to obstruct Congress in the performance of its essential constitutional functions.

Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment

I. Introduction

Our President holds the ultimate public trust. He is vested with powers so great that they frightened the Framers of our Constitution; in exchange, he swears an oath to faithfully execute the laws that hold those powers in check. This oath is no formality. The Framers foresaw that a faithless President could destroy their experiment in democracy. As George Mason warned at the Constitutional Convention, held in Philadelphia in 1787, “if we do not provide against corruption, our government will soon be at an end.”133 Mason evoked a well-known historical truth: when corrupt motives take root, they drive an endless thirst for power and contempt for checks and balances. It is then only the smallest of steps toward acts of oppression and assaults on free and fair elections. A President faithful only to himself—who will sell out democracy and national security for his own personal advantage—is a danger to every American. Indeed, he threatens America itself.

Impeachment is the Constitution’s final answer to a President who mistakes himself for a monarch. Aware that power corrupts, our Framers built other guardrails against that error. The Constitution thus separates governmental powers, imposes an oath of faithful execution, prohibits profiting from office, and guarantees accountability through regular elections. But the Framers were not naïve. They knew, and feared, that someday a corrupt executive might claim he could do anything he wanted as President. Determined to protect our democracy, the Framers built a safety valve into the Constitution: A President can be removed from office if the House of Representatives approves articles of impeachment charging him with “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and if two-thirds of the Senate votes to find the President guilty of such misconduct after a trial.134

As Justice Joseph Story recognized, “the power of impeachment is not one expected in any government to be in constant or frequent exercise.”135 When faced with credible evidence of extraordinary wrongdoing, however, it is incumbent on the House to investigate and determine whether impeachment is warranted. On October 31, 2019, the House approved H. Res. 660, which, among other things, confirmed the preexisting inquiry “into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.”136

The Judiciary Committee now faces questions of extraordinary importance. In prior impeachment inquiries addressing allegations of Presidential misconduct, the staff of the Judiciary Committee has prepared reports addressing relevant principles of constitutional law.137 Consistent with that practice, and to assist the Committee and the House in working toward a resolution of the questions before them, the majority staff prepared the following report to explore the meaning of the words in the Constitution’s Impeachment Clause: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The report also describes the impeachment process and addresses several mistaken claims about impeachment that have recently drawn public notice.

II. Summary of Principal Conclusions

Our principal conclusions are as follows.

The purpose of impeachment. As the Framers deliberated in Philadelphia, Mason posed a profound question: “Shall any man be above justice?”138 By authorizing Congress to remove Presidents for egregious misconduct, the Framers offered a resounding answer. As Mason elaborated, “some mode of displacing an unfit magistrate is rendered indispensable by the fallibility of those who choose, as well as by the corruptibility of the man chosen.”139 Unlike Britain’s monarch, the President would answer personally—to Congress and thus to the Nation—if he engaged in serious wrongdoing. Alexander Hamilton explained that the President would have no more resemblance to the British king than to “the Grand Seignior, to the khan of Tartary, [or] to the Man of the Seven Mountains.”140 Whereas “the person of the king of Great Britain is sacred and inviolable,” the President of the United States could be “impeached, tried, and upon conviction . . . removed from office.”141 Critically, though, impeachment goes no further. It results only in loss of political power. This speaks to the nature of impeachment: it exists not to inflict punishment for past wrongdoing, but rather to save the Nation from misconduct that endangers democracy and the rule of law. Thus, the ultimate question in an impeachment is whether leaving the President in our highest office imperils the Constitution.142

Impeachable offenses. The Framers were careful students of history and knew that threats to democracy can take many forms. They feared would-be monarchs, but also warned against fake populists, charismatic demagogues, and corrupt kleptocrats. The Framers thus intended impeachment to reach the full spectrum of Presidential misconduct that menaced the Constitution. Because they could not anticipate and prohibit every threat a President might someday pose, the Framers adopted a standard sufficiently general and flexible to meet unknown future circumstances: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” This standard was proposed by Mason and was meant, in his words, to capture all manner of “great and dangerous offenses” against the Constitution.143

Treason and bribery. Applying traditional tools of interpretation puts a sharper point on this definition of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” For starters, it is useful to consider the two impeachable offenses that the Framers identified for us. “Treason” is an unforgiveable betrayal of the Nation and its security. A President who levies war against the government, or lends aid and comfort to our enemies, cannot persist in office; a President who betrays the Nation once will most certainly do so again. “Bribery,” in turn, sounds in abuse of power. Impeachable bribery occurs when the President offers, solicits, or accepts something of personal value to influence his own official actions. By rendering such bribery impeachable, the Framers sought to ensure that the Nation could expel a leader who would sell out the interests of “We the People” for his own personal gain.

In identifying “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” we are guided by the text and structure of the Constitution, the records of the Constitutional Convention and state ratifying debates, and the history of impeachment practice. These sources demonstrate that the Framers principally intended impeachment for three overlapping forms of Presidential wrongdoing: (1) abuse of power, (2) betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements, and (3) corruption of office and elections. Any one of these violations of the public trust justifies impeachment; when combined in a single course of conduct, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office.

Abuse of power. There are at least as many ways to abuse power as there are powers vested in the President. It would thus be an exercise in futility to attempt a list of every abuse of power constituting “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” That said, impeachable abuse of power can be roughly divided into two categories: engaging in official acts forbidden by law and engaging in official action with motives forbidden by law. As James Iredell explained, “the president would be liable to impeachments [if] he had … acted from some corrupt motive or other.”144 This warning echoed Edmund Randolph’s teaching that impeachment must be allowed because “the Executive will have great opportunitys of abusing his power.”145 President Richard Nixon’s conduct has come to exemplify impeachable abuse of power: he acted with corrupt motives in obstructing justice and using official power to target his political opponents, and his decision to unlawfully defy subpoenas issued by the House impeachment inquiry was unconstitutional on its face.

Betrayal involving foreign powers. As much as the Framers feared abuse, they feared betrayal still more. That anxiety is shot through their discussion of impeachment—and explains why “Treason” heads the Constitution’s list of impeachable offenses. James Madison put it simply: the President “might betray his trust to foreign powers.”146 Although the Framers did not intend impeachment for good faith disagreements on matters of diplomacy, they were explicit that betrayal of the Nation through schemes with foreign powers justified that remedy. Indeed, foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our Nation and the Framers of our Constitution. In his farewell address, George Washington thus warned Americans “to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”147 And in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams wrote: “You are apprehensive of foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence. So am I.—But, as often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs.”148

Corruption. Lurking beneath the Framers’ discussion of impeachment was the most ancient and implacable foe of democracy: corruption. The Framers saw no shortage of threats to the Republic, and sought to guard against them, “but the big fear underlying all the small fears was whether they’d be able to control corruption.”149 As Madison put it, corruption “might be fatal to the Republic.”150 This was not just a matter of thwarting bribes; it was a far more expansive challenge. The Framers celebrated civic virtue and love of country; they wrote rules to ensure officials would not use public power for private gain.

Impeachment was seen as especially necessary for Presidential conduct corrupting our system of political self-government. That concern arose in multiple contexts as the Framers debated the Constitution. The most important was the risk that Presidents would place their personal interest in re-election above our bedrock national commitment to democracy. The Framers knew that corrupt leaders concentrate power by manipulating elections and undercutting adversaries. They despised King George III, who “resorted to influencing the electoral process and the representatives in Parliament in order to gain [his] treacherous ends.”151 That is why the Framers deemed electoral treachery a central ground for impeachment. The very premise of the Constitution is that the American people govern themselves, and choose their leaders, through free and fair elections. When the President concludes that elections might threaten his grasp on power and abuses his office to sabotage opponents or invite inference, he rejects democracy itself and must be removed.

Conclusions regarding the nature of impeachable offenses. In sum, history teaches that “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” referred mainly to acts committed by public officials, using their power or privileges, that inflicted grave harm on our political order. Such great and dangerous offenses included treason, bribery, serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements, and corruption of office and elections. They were unified by a clear theme: officials who abused, abandoned, or sought personal benefit from their public trust—and who threatened the rule of law if left in power—faced impeachment. Each of these acts, moreover, should be plainly wrong to reasonable officials and persons of honor. When a political official uses political power in ways that substantially harm our political system, Congress can strip them of that power.

Within these parameters, and guided by fidelity to the Constitution, the House must judge whether the President’s misconduct is grave enough to require impeachment. That step must never be taken lightly. It is a momentous act, justified only when the President’s full course of conduct, assessed without favor or prejudice, is “seriously incompatible with either the constitutional form and principles of our government or the proper performance of constitutional duties of the presidential office.”152 But when that high standard is met, the Constitution calls the House to action—and the House, in turn, must rise to the occasion. In such cases, a decision not to impeach can harm democracy and set an ominous precedent.

The criminality issue. It is occasionally suggested that Presidents can be impeached only if they have committed crimes. That position was rejected in President Nixon’s case, and then rejected again in President Clinton’s, and should be rejected once more. Offenses against the Constitution are different than offenses against the criminal code. Some crimes, like jaywalking, are not impeachable. And some forms of misconduct may offend both the Constitution and the criminal law. Impeachment and criminality must therefore be assessed separately—even though the President’s commission of indictable crimes may further support a case for impeachment and removal. Ultimately, the House must judge whether a President’s conduct offends and endangers the Constitution itself.

Fallacies about impeachment. In the final section, we briefly address six falsehoods about impeachment that have recently drawn public notice.

First, contrary to mistaken claims otherwise, we demonstrate that the current impeachment inquiry has complied in every respect with the Constitution, the Rules of the House, and historic practice and precedent of the House.

Second, we address several evidentiary matters. The House impeachment inquiry has compiled substantial direct and circumstantial evidence bearing on the issues at hand. Nonetheless, President Trump has objected that some of the evidence gathered by the House comes from witnesses lacking first-hand knowledge of his conduct. But in the same breath, he has unlawfully ordered many witnesses with first-hand knowledge to defy House subpoenas. As we show, President Trump’s assertions regarding the evidence before the House are misplaced as a matter of constitutional law and common sense.

Third, we consider President Trump’s claim that his actions are protected because of his right under Article II of the Constitution “to do whatever I want as president.”153 This claim is wrong, and profoundly so, because our Constitution rejects pretensions to monarchy and binds Presidents with law. That is true even of powers vested exclusively in the chief executive. If those powers are invoked for corrupt reasons, or wielded in an abusive manner harming the constitutional system, the President is subject to impeachment for “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” This is a core premise of the impeachment power.

Fourth, we address whether the House must accept at face value President Trump’s claim that his motives were not corrupt. In short, no. When the House probes a President’s state of mind, its mandate is to find the facts. That means evaluating the President’s account of his motives to see if it rings true. The question is not whether the President’s conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the President’s real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate. Where the House discovers persuasive evidence of corrupt wrongdoing, it is entitled to rely upon that evidence to impeach.

Fifth, we explain that attempted Presidential wrongdoing is impeachable. Mason himself said so at the Constitutional Convention, where he described “attempts to subvert the Constitution” as a core example of “great and dangerous offenses.”154 Moreover, the Judiciary Committee reached the same conclusion in President Nixon’s case. Historical precedent thus confirms that ineptitude and insubordination do not afford the President a defense to impeachment. A President cannot escape impeachment just because his scheme to abuse power, betray the nation, or corrupt elections was discovered and abandoned.

Finally, we consider whether impeachment “nullifies” the last election or denies voters their voice in the next one. The Framers themselves weighed this question. They considered relying solely on elections—rather than impeachment—to remove wayward Presidents. That position was firmly rejected. No President is entitled to persist in office after committing “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and no one who voted for him in the last election is entitled to expect he will do so. Where the President’s misconduct is aimed at corrupting elections, relying on elections to solve the problem is no safeguard at all.

III. The Purpose of Impeachment

Freedom must not be taken for granted. It demands constant protection from leaders whose taste of power sparks a voracious need for more. Time and again, republics have fallen to officials who care little for the law and use the public trust for private gain.

The Framers of the Constitution knew this well. They saw corruption erode the British constitution from within. They heard kings boast of their own excellence while conspiring with foreign powers and consorting with shady figures. As talk of revolution spread, they objected as King George III used favors and party politics to control Parliament, aided by men who sold their souls and welcomed oppression.

The Framers risked their freedom, and their lives, to escape that monarchy. So did their families and many of their friends. Together, they resolved to build a nation committed to democracy and the rule of law—a beacon to the world in an age of aristocracy. In the United States of America, “We the People” would be sovereign. We would choose our own leaders and hold them accountable for how they exercised power.

As they designed our government at the Constitutional Convention, however, the Framers faced a dilemma. On the one hand, many of them embraced the need for a powerful chief executive. This had been cast into stark relief by the failure of the Nation’s very first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, which put Congress in charge at the federal level. The ensuing discord led James Madison to warn, “it is not possible that a government can last long under these circumstances.”155 The Framers therefore created the Presidency. A single official could lead the Nation with integrity, energy, and dispatch—and would be held personally responsible for honoring that immense public trust.

Power, though, is a double-edged sword. “The power to do good meant also the power to do harm, the power to serve the republic also meant the power to demean and defile it.”156 The President would be vested with breathtaking authority. If corrupt motives took root in his mind, displacing civic virtue and love of country, he could sabotage the Constitution. That was clear to the Framers, who saw corruption as “the great force that had undermined republics throughout history.”157 Obsessed with the fall of Rome, they knew that corruption marked a leader’s path to abuse and betrayal. Mason thus emphasized, “if we do not provide against corruption, our government will soon be at an end.” This warning against corruption—echoed no fewer than 54 times by 15 delegates at the Convention—extended far beyond bribes and presents. To the Framers, corruption was fundamentally about the misuse of a position of public trust for any improper private benefit. It thus went to the heart of their conception of public service. As a leading historian recounts, “a corrupt political actor would either purposely ignore or forget the public good as he used the reins of power.”158 Because men and women are not angels, corruption could not be fully eradicated, even in virtuous officials, but “its power can be subdued with the right combination of culture and political rules.”159

The Framers therefore erected safeguards against Presidential abuse. Most famously, they divided power among three branches of government that had the means and motive to balance each other. “Ambition,” Madison reasoned, “must be made to counteract ambition.”160 In addition, the Framers subjected the President to election every four years and established the Electoral College (which, they hoped, would select virtuous, capable leaders and refuse to re-elect corrupt or unpopular ones). Finally, the Framers imposed on the President a duty to faithfully execute the laws—and required him to accept that duty in a solemn oath.161 To the Framers, the concept of faithful execution was profoundly important. It prohibited the President from taking official acts in bad faith or with corrupt intent, as well as acts beyond what the law authorized.162

A few Framers would have stopped there. This minority feared vesting any branch of government with the power to end a Presidency; as they saw it, even extreme Presidential wrongdoing could be managed in the normal course (mainly by periodic elections).

That view was decisively rejected. As Professor Raoul Berger writes, “the Framers were steeped in English history; the shades of despotic kings and conniving ministers marched before them.”163 Haunted by those lessons, and convening in the shadow of revolution, the Framers would not deny the Nation an escape from Presidents who deemed themselves above the law. So they turned to a mighty constitutional power, one that offered a peaceful and politically accountable method for ending an oppressive Presidency.

This was impeachment, a legal relic from the British past that over the preceding century had found a new lease on life in the North American colonies. First deployed in 1376—and wielded in fits and starts over the following 400 years—impeachment allowed Parliament to charge royal ministers with abuse, remove them from office, and imprison them. Over time, impeachment helped Parliament shift power away from royal absolutism and encouraged more politically accountable administration. In 1679, it was thus proclaimed in the House of Commons that impeachment was “the chief institution for the preservation of government.”164 That sentiment was echoed in the New World. Even as Parliamentary impeachment fell into disuse by the early 1700s, colonists in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts laid claim to this prerogative as part of their English birthright. During the revolution, ten states ratified constitutions allowing the impeachment of executive officials—and put that power to use in cases of corruption and abuse of power.165 Unlike in Britain, though, American impeachment did not result in fines or jailtime. It simply removed officials from political power when their conduct required it.

Familiar with the use of impeachment to address lawless officials, the Framers offered a clear answer to Mason’s question at the Constitutional Convention, “Shall any man be above justice”?166 As Mason himself explained, “some mode of displacing an unfit magistrate is rendered indispensable by the fallibility of those who choose, as well as by the corruptibility of the man chosen.”167 Future Vice President Elbridge Gerry agreed, adding that impeachment repudiates the fallacy that our “chief magistrate could do no wrong.”168 Benjamin Franklin, in turn, made the case that impeachment is “the best way” to assess claims of serious wrongdoing by a President; without it, those accusations would fester unresolved and invite enduring conflict over Presidential malfeasance.169

Unlike in Britain, the President would answer personally—to Congress and thus to the Nation— for any serious wrongdoing. For that reason, as Hamilton later explained, the President would have no more resemblance to the British king than to “the Grand Seignior, to the khan of Tartary, [or] to the Man of the Seven Mountains.”170 Whereas “the person of the king of Great Britain is sacred and inviolable,” the President could be “impeached, tried, and upon conviction ... removed from office.”171

Of course, the decision to subject the President to impeachment was not the end of the story. The Framers also had to specify how this would work in practice. After long and searching debate they made three crucial decisions, each of which sheds light on their understanding of impeachment’s proper role in our constitutional system.

First, they limited the consequences of impeachment to “removal from Office” and “disqualification” from future officeholding.172 To the extent the President’s wrongful conduct also breaks the law, the Constitution expressly reserves criminal punishment for the ordinary processes of criminal law. In that respect, “the consequences of impeachment and conviction go just far enough, and no further than, to remove the threat posed to the Republic by an unfit official.”173 This speaks to the very nature of impeachment: it exists not to inflict personal punishment for past wrongdoing, but rather to protect against future Presidential misconduct that would endanger democracy and the rule of law.174

Second, the Framers vested the House with “the sole Power of Impeachment.”175 The House thus serves in a role analogous to a grand jury and prosecutor: it investigates the President’s misconduct and decides whether to formally accuse him of impeachable acts. As James Iredell explained during debates over whether to ratify the Constitution, “this power is lodged in those who represent the great body of the people, because the occasion for its exercise will arise from acts of great injury to the community.”176 The Senate, in turn, holds “the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”177 When the Senate sits as a court of impeachment for the President, each Senator must swear a special oath, the Chief Justice of the United States presides, and conviction requires “the concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.”178 By designating Congress to accuse the President and conduct his trial, the Framers confirmed—in Hamilton’s words—that impeachment concerns an “abuse or violation of some public trust” with “injuries done immediately to the society itself.”179 Impeachment is reserved for offenses against our political system. It is therefore prosecuted and judged by Congress, speaking for the Nation.

Last, but not least, the Framers imposed a rule of wrongdoing. The President cannot be removed based on poor management, general incompetence, or unpopular policies. Instead, the question in any impeachment inquiry is whether the President has engaged in misconduct justifying an early end to his term in office: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”180 This phrase had a particular legal meaning to the Framers. It is to that understanding, and to its application in prior Presidential impeachments, that we now turn.

IV. Impeachable Offenses

As careful students of history, the Framers knew that threats to democracy can take many forms. They feared would-be monarchs, but also warned against fake populists, charismatic demagogues, and corrupt kleptocrats. In describing the kind of leader who might menace the Nation, Hamilton offered an especially striking portrait:

When a man unprincipled in private life[,] desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper . . . known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty — when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense [sic] of the zealots of the day — It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.181

This prophesy echoed Hamilton’s warning, in Federalist No. 1, that “of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”182

The Framers thus intended impeachment to reach the full spectrum of Presidential misconduct that threatened the Constitution. They also intended our Constitution to endure for the ages. Because they could not anticipate and specifically prohibit every threat a President might someday pose, the Framers adopted a standard sufficiently general and flexible to meet unknown future circumstances. This standard was meant—as Mason put it—to capture all manner of “great and dangerous offenses” incompatible with the Constitution. When the President uses the powers of his high office to benefit himself, while injuring or ignoring the American people he is oath-bound to serve, he has committed an impeachable offense.

Applying the tools of legal interpretation, as we do below, puts a sharper point on this definition of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It also confirms that the Framers principally aimed the impeachment power at a few core evils, each grounded in a unifying fear that a President might abandon his duty to faithfully execute the laws. Where the President engages in serious abuse of power, betrays the national interest through foreign entanglements, or corrupts his office or elections, he has undoubtedly committed “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” as understood by the Framers. Any one of these violations of the public trust is impeachable. When combined in a scheme to advance the President’s personal interests while ignoring or injuring the Constitution, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office.

A. Lessons from British and Early American History

As Hamilton recounted, Britain afforded “[t]he model from which the idea of [impeachment] has been borrowed.”183 That was manifestly true of the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The Framers could have authorized impeachment for “crimes” or “serious crimes.” Or they could have followed the practice of many American state constitutions and permitted impeachment for “maladministration” or “malpractice.”184 But they instead selected a “unique phrase used for centuries in English parliamentary impeachments.”185 To understand their choice requires a quick tour through history.

That tour offers two lessons. The first is that the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” was used only for parliamentary impeachments; it was never used in the ordinary criminal law.186 Moreover, in the 400-year history of British impeachments, the House of Commons impeached many officials on grounds that did not involve any discernibly criminal conduct. Indeed, the House of Commons did so yet again just as the Framers gathered in Philadelphia. That same month, Edmund Burke—the celebrated champion of American liberty—brought twenty-two articles of impeachment against Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India. Burke charged Hastings with offenses including abuse of power, corruption, disregarding treaty obligations, and misconduct of local wars. Historians have confirmed that “none of the charges could fairly be classed as criminal conduct in any technical sense.”187 Aware of that fact, Burke accused Hastings of “[c]rimes, not against forms, but against those eternal laws of justice, which are our rule and our birthright: his offenses are not in formal, technical language, but in reality, in substance and effect, High Crimes and High Misdemeanors.”188

Burke’s denunciation of Hastings points to the second lesson from British history: “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” were understood as offenses against the constitutional system itself. This is confirmed by use of the word “high,” as well as Parliamentary practice. From 1376 to 1787, the House of Commons impeached officials on seven general grounds: (1) abuse of power; (2) betrayal of the nation’s security and foreign policy; (3) corruption; (4) armed rebellion [a.k.a. treason]; (5) bribery; (6) neglect of duty; and (7) violating Parliament’s constitutional prerogatives.189 To the Framers and their contemporaries learned in the law, the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” would have called to mind these offenses against the body politic.

The same understanding prevailed on this side of the Atlantic. In the colonial period and under newly-ratified state constitutions, most impeachments targeted abuse of power, betrayal of the revolutionary cause, corruption, treason, and bribery.190 Many Framers at the Constitutional Convention had participated in drafting their state constitutions, or in colonial and state removal proceedings, and were steeped in this outlook on impeachment. Further, the Framers knew well the Declaration of Independence, “whose bill of particulars against King George III modeled what [we would] now view as articles of impeachment.”191 That bill of particulars did not dwell on technicalities of criminal law, but rather charged the king with a “long train of abuses and usurpations,” including misuse of power, efforts to obstruct and undermine elections, and violating individual rights.192

History thus teaches that “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” referred mainly to acts committed by public officials, using their power or privileges, that inflicted grave harm on society itself. Such great and dangerous offenses included treason, bribery, abuse of power, betrayal of the nation, and corruption of office. They were unified by a clear theme: officials who abused, abandoned, or sought personal benefit from their public trust—and who threatened the rule of law if left in power—faced impeachment and removal.

B. Treason and Bribery

For the briefest of moments at the Constitutional Convention, it appeared as though Presidential impeachment might be restricted to “treason, or bribery.”193 But when this suggestion reached the floor, Mason revolted. With undisguised alarm, he warned that such limited grounds for impeachment would miss “attempts to subvert the Constitution,” as well as “many great and dangerous offenses.”194 Here he invoked the charges pending in Parliament against Hastings as a case warranting impeachment for reasons other than treason. To “extend the power of impeachments,” Mason initially suggested adding “or maladministration” after “treason, or bribery.”195 Madison, however, objected that “so vague a term will be equivalent to a tenure during the pleasure of the Senate.”196 In response, Mason substituted “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”197 Apparently pleased with Mason’s compromise, the Convention accepted his proposal and moved on.

This discussion confirms that Presidential impeachment is warranted for all manner of great and dangerous offenses that subvert the Constitution. It also sheds helpful light on the nature of impeachable offenses: in identifying “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” we can start with two that the Framers identified for us, “Treason” and “Bribery.”

1. Impeachable Treason

Under Article III of the Constitution, “treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”198 In other words, a person commits treason if he uses armed force in an attempt to overthrow the government, or if he knowingly gives aid and comfort to nations (or organizations) with which the United States is in a state of declared or open war. At the very heart of “Treason” is deliberate betrayal of the nation and its security. Such betrayal would not only be unforgivable, but would also confirm that the President remains a threat if allowed to remain in office. A President who has knowingly betrayed national security is a President who will do so again. He endangers our lives and those of our allies.

2. Impeachable Bribery

The essence of impeachable bribery is a government official’s exploitation of his or her public duties for personal gain. To the Framers, it was received wisdom that nothing can be “a greater Temptation to Officers [than] to abuse their Power by Bribery and Extortion.”199 To guard against that risk, the Framers authorized the impeachment of a President who offers, solicits, or accepts something of personal value to influence his own official actions. By rendering such “Bribery” impeachable, the Framers sought to ensure that the Nation could expel a leader who would sell out the interests of “We the People” to achieve his own personal gain.

Unlike “Treason,” which is defined in Article III, “Bribery” is not given an express definition in the Constitution. But as Justice Joseph Story explained, a “proper exposition of the nature and limits of this offense” can be found in the Anglo-American common law tradition known well to our Framers.200 That understanding, in turn, can be refined by reference to the Constitution’s text and the records of the Constitutional Convention.201

To start with common law: At the time of the Constitutional Convention, bribery was well understood in Anglo-American law to encompass offering, soliciting, or accepting bribes. In 1716, for example, William Hawkins defined bribery in an influential treatise as “the receiving or offering of any undue reward, by or to any person whatsoever … in order to incline him to do a thing against the known rules of honesty and integrity.”202 This description of the offense was echoed many times over the following decades. In a renowned bribery case involving the alleged solicitation of bribes, Lord Mansfield agreed that “[w]herever it is a crime to take, it is a crime to give: they are reciprocal.”203 Two years later, William Blackstone confirmed that “taking bribes is punished,” just as bribery is punishable for “those who offer a bribe, though not taken.”204 Soliciting a bribe—even if it is not accepted—thus qualified as bribery at common law. Indeed, it was clear under the common law that “the attempt is a crime; it is complete on his side who offers it.”205

The Framers adopted that principle into the Constitution. As Judge John Noonan explains, the drafting history of the Impeachment Clause demonstrates that “‘Bribery’ was read both actively and passively, including the chief magistrate bribing someone and being bribed.”206 Many scholars of Presidential impeachment have reached the same conclusion.207 Impeachable “Bribery” thus covers— inter alia—the offer, solicitation, or acceptance of something of personal value by the President to influence his own official actions.

This conclusion draws still more support from a closely related part of the common law. In the late-17th century, “bribery” was a relatively new offense, and was understood as overlapping with the more ancient common law crime of “extortion.”208 “Extortion,” in turn, was defined as the “abuse of public justice, which consists in any officer’s unlawfully taking, by colour of his office, from any man, any money or thing of value, that is not due to him, or more than is due, or before it is due.”209 Under this definition, both bribery and extortion occurred when an official used his public position to obtain private benefits to which he was not entitled. Conduct which qualified as bribery was therefore “routinely punished as common law extortion.”210 To the Framers, who would have seen bribery and extortion as virtually coextensive, when a President acted in his official capacity to offer, solicit, or accept an improper personal benefit, he committed “Bribery.”211

Turning to the nature of the improper personal benefit: because officials can be corrupted in many ways, the benefit at issue in a bribe can be anything of subjective personal value to the President. This is not limited to money. Indeed, given their purposes, it would have made no sense for the Framers to confine “Bribery” to the offer, solicitation, or acceptance of money, and they expressed no desire to impose that restriction. To the contrary, in guarding against foreign efforts to subvert American officials, they confirmed their broad view of benefits that might cause corruption: a person who holds “any Office of Profit or Trust,” such as the President, is forbidden from accepting “any present, Office or Tile, of any kind whatever, from … a foreign State.”212 An equally pragmatic (and capacious) view applies to the impeachable offense of “Bribery.” This view is further anchored in the very same 17th and 18th century common law treatises that were well known to the Framers. Those authorities used broad language in defining what qualifies as a “thing of value” in the context of bribery: “any undue reward” or any “valuable consideration.”213

To summarize, impeachable “Bribery” occurs when a President offers, solicits, or accepts something of personal value to influence his own official actions. Bribery is thus an especially egregious and specific example of a President abusing his power for private gain. As Blackstone explained, bribery is “the genius of despotic countries where the true principles of government are never understood”—and where “it is imagined that there is no obligation from the superior to the inferior, no relative duty owing from the governor to the governed.”214 In our democracy, the Framers understood that there is no place for Presidents who would abuse their power and betray the public trust through bribery.

Like “Treason,” the offense of “Bribery” is thus aimed at a President who is a continuing threat to the Constitution. Someone who would willingly assist our enemies, or trade public power for personal favors, is the kind of person likely to break the rules again if they remain in office. But there is more: both “Treason” and “Bribery” are serious offenses with the capacity to corrupt constitutional governance and harm the Nation itself; both involve wrongdoing that reveals the President as a continuing threat if left in power; and both offenses are “plainly wrong in themselves to a person of honor, or to a good citizen, regardless of words on the statute books.”215 Looking to the Constitution’s text and history—including the British, colonial, and early American traditions discussed earlier—these characteristics also define “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

C. Abuse, Betrayal & Corruption

With that understanding in place, the records of the Constitutional Convention offer even greater clarity. They demonstrate that the Framers principally intended impeachment for three forms of Presidential wrongdoing: serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements, and corruption of office and elections. When the President engages in such misconduct, and does so in ways that are recognizably wrong and injurious to our political system, impeachment is warranted. That is proven not only by debates surrounding adoption of the Constitution, but also by the historical practice of the House in exercising the impeachment power.

1. Abuse of Power

As Justice Robert Jackson wisely observed, “the purpose of the Constitution was not only to grant power, but to keep it from getting out of hand.”216 Nowhere is that truer than in the Presidency. As the Framers created a formidable chief executive, they made clear that impeachment is justified for serious abuse of power. Edmund Randolph was explicit on this point. In explaining why the Constitution must authorize Presidential impeachment, he warned that “the Executive will have great opportunitys of abusing his power.”217 Madison, too, stated that impeachment is necessary because the President “might pervert his administration into a scheme of … oppression.”218 This theme echoed through the state ratifying conventions. Advocating that New York ratify the Constitution, Hamilton set the standard for impeachment at an “abuse or violation of some public trust.”219 In South Carolina, Charles Pinckney agreed that Presidents must be removed who “behave amiss or betray their public trust.”220 In Massachusetts, Reverend Samuel Stillman asked, “With such a prospect [of impeachment], who will dare to abuse the powers vested in him by the people.”221 Time and again, Americans who wrote and ratified the Constitution confirmed that Presidents may be impeached for abusing the power entrusted to them.

There are at least as many ways to abuse power as there are powers vested in the President. It would thus be an exercise in futility to attempt a list of every conceivable abuse constituting “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” That said, abuse of power was no vague notion to the Framers and their contemporaries. It had a very particular meaning to them. Impeachable abuse of power can take two basic forms: (1) the exercise of official power in a way that, on its very face, grossly exceeds the President’s constitutional authority or violates legal limits on that authority; and (2) the exercise of official power to obtain an improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest. In other words, the President may commit an impeachable abuse of power in two different ways: by engaging in forbidden acts, or by engaging in potentially permissible acts but for forbidden reasons (e.g., with the corrupt motive of obtaining a personal political benefit).

The first category involves conduct that is inherently and sharply inconsistent with the law— and that amounts to claims of monarchical prerogative. The generation that rebelled against King George III knew what absolute power looked like. The Framers had other ideas when they organized our government, and so they placed the chief executive within the bounds of law. That means the President may exercise only the powers expressly or impliedly vested in him by the Constitution, and he must also respect legal limits on the exercise of those powers (including the rights of Americans citizens). A President who refuses to abide these restrictions, thereby causing injury to society itself and engaging in recognizably wrongful conduct, may be subjected to impeachment for abuse of power.

That principle also covers conduct grossly inconsistent with and subversive of the separation of powers. The Framers knew that “[t]he accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, ... may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”222 To protect liberty, they wrote a Constitution that creates a system of checks and balances within the federal government. Some of those rules are expressly enumerated in our founding charter; others are implied from its structure or from the history of inter-branch relations.223 When a President wields executive power in ways that usurp and destroy the prerogatives of Congress or the Judiciary, he exceeds the scope of his constitutional authority and violates limits on permissible conduct. Such abuses of power are therefore impeachable. That conclusion is further supported by the British origins of the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”: Parliament repeatedly impeached ministers for “subvert[ing] its conception of proper constitutional order in favor of the ‘arbitrary and tyrannical’ government of ambitious monarchs and their grasping minions.”224

The Supreme Court advanced similar logic in Ex Parte Grossman, which held the President can pardon officials who defy judicial orders and are held in criminal contempt of court.225 This holding raised an obvious concern: what if the President used “successive pardons” to “deprive a court of power to enforce its orders”?226 That could fatally weaken the Judiciary’s role under Article III of the Constitution. On behalf of a unanimous Court, Chief Justice William Howard Taft—who had previously served as President—explained that “exceptional cases like this … would suggest a resort to impeachment.”227

Two impeachment inquiries have involved claims that a President grossly violated the Constitution’s separation of powers. The first was in 1868, when the House impeached President Andrew Johnson, who had succeeded President Abraham Lincoln following his assassination at Ford’s Theatre. There, the articles approved by the House charged President Johnson with conduct forbidden by law: in firing the Secretary of War, he had allegedly violated the Tenure of Office Act, which restricted the President’s power to remove cabinet members during the term of the President who had appointed them.228 President Johnson was thus accused of a facial abuse of power. In the Senate, though, he was acquitted by a single vote—largely because the Tenure of Office Act was viewed by many Senators as likely unconstitutional (a conclusion later adopted by the Supreme Court in an opinion by Chief Justice Taft, who described the Act as “invalid”229).

Just over 100 years later, this Committee accused a second chief executive of abusing his power. In a departure from prior Presidential practice—and in contravention of Article I of the Constitution— President Nixon had invoked specious claims of executive privilege to defy Congressional subpoenas served as part of an impeachment inquiry. His obstruction centered on tape recordings, papers, and memoranda relating to the Watergate break-in and its aftermath. As the House Judiciary Committee found, he had interposed “the powers of the presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to exercise the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.”230 Put simply, President Nixon purported to control the exercise of powers that belonged solely to the House and not to him—including the power of inquiry that is vital to any Congressional judgments about impeachment. In so doing, President Nixon injured the constitutional plan: “Unless the defiance of the Committee’s subpoenas under these circumstances is considered grounds for impeachment, it is difficult to conceive of any President acknowledging that he obligated to supply the relevant evidence necessary for Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility in an impeachment proceeding.”231 The House Judiciary Committee therefore approved an article of impeachment against President Nixon for abuse of power in obstructing the House impeachment inquiry.

But that was only part of President Nixon’s impeachable wrongdoing. The House Judiciary Committee also approved two additional articles of impeachment against him for abuse of power, one for obstruction of justice and the other for using Presidential power to target, harass, and surveil his political opponents. These articles demonstrate the second way in which a President can abuse power: by acting with improper motives.

This understanding of impeachable abuse of power is rooted in the Constitution’s text, which commands the President to “faithfully execute” the law. At minimum, that duty requires Presidents “to exercise their power only when it is motivated in the public interest rather than in their private self-interest.”232 A President can thus be removed for exercising power with a corrupt purpose, even if his action would otherwise be permissible. As Iredell explained at the North Carolina ratifying convention, “the president would be liable to impeachments [if] he had … acted from some corrupt motive or other,” or if he was “willfully abusing his trust.”233 Madison made a similar point at Virginia’s ratifying convention. There, he observed that the President could be impeached for abuse of the pardon power if there are “grounds to believe” he has used it to “shelter” persons with whom he is connected “in any suspicious manner.”234 Such a pardon would technically be within the President’s authority under Article II of the Constitution, but it would rank as an impeachable abuse of power because it arose from the forbidden purpose of obstructing justice. To the Framers, it was dangerous for officials to exceed their constitutional power, or to transgress legal limits, but it was equally dangerous (perhaps more so) for officials to conceal corrupt or illegitimate objectives behind superficially valid acts.

Again, President Nixon’s case is instructive. After individuals associated with his campaign committee committed crimes to promote his reelection, he used the full powers of his office as part of a scheme to obstruct justice. Among many other wrongful acts, President Nixon dangled pardons to influence key witnesses, told a senior aide to have the CIA stop an FBI investigation into Watergate, meddled with Justice Department immunity decisions, and conveyed secret law enforcement information to suspects. Even if some of this conduct was formally within the scope of President Nixon’s authority as head of the Executive Branch, it was undertaken with illegitimate motives. The House Judiciary Committee therefore included it within an article of impeachment charging him with obstruction of justice. Indeed, following President Nixon’s resignation and the discovery of additional evidence concerning obstruction, all eleven members of the Committee who had originally voted against that article joined a statement affirming that “we were prepared to vote for his impeachment on proposed Article I had he not resigned his office.”235 Of course, several decades later, obstruction of justice was also the basis for an article of impeachment against President Clinton, though his conduct did not involve official acts.236

Yet obstruction of justice did not exhaust President Nixon’s corrupt abuse of power. He was also accused of manipulating federal agencies to injure his opponents, aid his friends, gain personal political benefits, and violate the constitutional rights of American citizens. For instance, President Nixon improperly attempted to cause income tax audits of his perceived political adversaries; directed the FBI and Secret Service to engage in targeted (and unlawful) surveillance; and formed a secret investigative unit within the White House—financed with campaign contributions—that utilized CIA resources in its illegal covert activities. In explaining this additional article of impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee stated that President Nixon’s conduct was “undertaken for his personal political advantage and not in furtherance of any valid national policy objective.”237 His abuses of executive power were thus “seriously incompatible with our system of constitutional government” and warranted removal from office.238

With the benefit of hindsight, the House’s decision to impeach President Johnson is best understood in a similar frame. Scholars now largely agree that President Johnson’s impeachment was motivated not by violations of the Tenure of Office Act, but on his illegitimate use of power to undermine Reconstruction and subordinate African-Americans following the Civil War.239 In that period, fundamental questions about the nature and future of the Union stood unanswered. Congress therefore passed a series of laws to “reconstruct the former Confederate states into political entities in which black Americans enjoyed constitutional protections.”240 This program, however, faced an unyielding enemy in President Johnson, who declared that “white men alone must manage the south.”241 Convinced that political control by African-Americans would cause a “relapse into barbarism,” President Johnson vetoed civil rights laws; when Congress overrode him, he refused to enforce those laws.242 The results were disastrous. As Annette Gordon-Reed writes, “it would be impossible to exaggerate how devastating it was to have a man who affirmatively hated black people in charge of the program that was designed to settle the terms of their existence in post-Civil War America.”243 Congress tried to compromise with the President, but to no avail. A majority of the House finally determined that President Johnson posed a clear and present danger to the Nation if allowed to remain in office.

Rather than directly target President Johnson’s faithless execution of the laws, and his illegitimate motives in wielding power, the House resorted to charges based on the Tenure of Office Act. But in reality, “the shaky claims prosecuted by [the House] obscured a far more compelling basis for removal: that Johnson’s virulent use of executive power to sabotage Reconstruction posed a mortal threat to the nation—and to civil and political rights—as reconstituted after the Civil War … [T]he country was in the throes of a second founding. Yet Johnson abused the powers of his office and violated the Constitution to preserve institutions and practices that had nearly killed the Union. He could not be allowed to salt the earth as the Republic made itself anew.”244 Viewed from that perspective, the case for impeaching President Johnson rested on his use of power with illegitimate motives.

Pulling this all together, the Framers repeatedly confirmed that Presidents can be impeached for grave abuse of power. Where the President engages in acts forbidden by law, or acts with an improper motive, he has committed an abuse of power under the Constitution. Where those abuses inflict substantial harm on our political system and are recognizably wrong, they warrant his impeachment and removal.245

2. Betrayal of the National Interest Through Foreign Entanglements

It is not a coincidence that the Framers started with “Treason” in defining impeachable offenses. Betrayal was no abstraction to them. They had recently waged a war for independence in which some of their fellow citizens remained loyal to the enemy. The infamous traitor, Benedict Arnold, had defected to Britain less than a decade earlier. As they looked outward, the Framers saw kings scheming for power, promising fabulous wealth to spies and deserters. The United States could be enmeshed in such conspiracies: “Foreign powers,” warned Elbridge Gerry, “will intermeddle in our affairs, and spare no expense to influence them.”246 The young Republic might not survive a President who schemed with other nations, entangling himself in secret deals that harmed our democracy.

That reality loomed over the impeachment debate in Philadelphia. Explaining why the Constitution required an impeachment option, Madison argued that a President “might betray his trust to foreign powers.”247 Gouverneur Morris, who had initially opposed allowing impeachment, was convinced: “no one would say that we ought to expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate in foreign pay, without being able to guard against it by displacing him.”248 In the same vein, Franklin noted “the case of the Prince of Orange during the late war,” in which a Dutch prince reneged on a military treaty with France.249 Because there was no impeachment power or other method of inquiry, the prince’s motives were secret and untested, drastically destabilizing Dutch politics and giving “birth to the most violent animosities and contentions.”250

Impeachment for betrayal of the Nation’s interest—and especially for betrayal of national security and foreign policy—was hardly exotic to the Framers. “The history of impeachment over the centuries shows an abiding awareness of how vulnerable the practice of foreign policy is to the misconduct of its makers.”251 Indeed, “impeachments on this ground were a constant of parliamentary practice,” and “a string of British ministers and royal advisors were impeached for using their official powers contrary to the country’s vital foreign interests.”252 Although the Framers did not intend impeachment for genuine, good faith disagreements between the President and Congress over matters of diplomacy, they were explicit that betrayal of the Nation through plots with foreign powers justified removal.

In particular, foreign interference in the American political system was among the gravest dangers feared by the Founders of our Nation and the Framers of our Constitution. For example, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams wrote: “You are apprehensive of foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence. So am I.—But, as often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs.”253 And in Federalist No. 68, Hamilton cautioned that the “most deadly adversaries of republican government” may come “chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.254

The President’s important role in foreign affairs does not disable the House from evaluating whether he committed impeachable offenses in that field. This conclusion follows from the Impeachment Clause itself but is also supported by the Constitution’s many grants of power to Congress addressing foreign affairs. Congress is empowered to “declare War,” “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” “define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations,” “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal,” and “make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.”255 Congress also has the power to set policy, define law, undertake oversight and investigations, create executive departments, and authorize government funding for a slew of national security matters.256 In addition, the President cannot make a treaty or appoint an ambassador without the approval of the Senate.257 In those respects and many others, constitutional authority over the “conduct of the foreign relations of our Government” is shared between “the Executive and Legislative [branches].”258 Stated simply, “the Executive is not free from the ordinary controls and checks of Congress merely because foreign affairs are at issue.”259 In these realms, as in many others, the Constitution “enjoins upon its branches separateness but interdependence, autonomy but reciprocity.”260

Accordingly, where the President uses his foreign affairs power in ways that betray the national interest for his own benefit, or harm national security for equally corrupt reasons, he is subject to impeachment by the House. Any claims to the contrary would horrify the Framers. A President who perverts his role as chief diplomat to serve private rather than public ends has unquestionably engaged in “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”—especially if he invited, rather than opposed, foreign interference in our politics.

3. Corruption of Office or Elections

As should now be clear, the Framers feared corruption most of all, in its many and shifting manifestations. It was corruption that led to abuse of power and betrayal of the Nation. It was corruption that ruined empires, debased Britain, and menaced American freedom. The Framers saw no shortage of threats to the Republic, and fought valiantly to guard against them, “but the big fear underlying all the small fears was whether they’d be able to control corruption.”261 This was not just a matter of thwarting bribes and extortion; it was a far greater challenge. The Framers aimed to build a country in which officials would not use public power for personal benefits, disregarding the public good in pursuit of their own advancement. This virtuous principle applied with special force to the Presidency. As Madison emphasized, because the Presidency “was to be administered by a single man,” his corruption “might be fatal to the Republic.”262

The Framers therefore sought to ensure that “corruption was more effectually guarded against, in the manner this government was constituted, than in any other that had ever been formed.”263 Impeachment was central to that plan. At one point the Convention even provisionally adopted “treason, bribery, or corruption” as the standard for impeaching a President. And no fewer than four delegates— Morris, Madison, Mason, and Randolph—listed corruption as a reason why Presidents must be subject to removal. That understanding followed from history: “One invariable theme in [centuries] of Anglo- American impeachment practice has been corruption.”264 Treason posed a threat of swift national extinction, but the steady rot of corruption could destroy us from within. Presidents who succumbed to that instinct, serving themselves at the Nation’s expense, forfeited the public trust.

Impeachment was seen as especially necessary for Presidential conduct corrupting our system of political self-government. That concern arose in two contexts: the risk that Presidents would be swayed to prioritize foreign over domestic interests, and the risk that they would place their personal interest in re-election above our abiding commitment to democracy. The need for impeachment peaks where both threats converge at once.

First was the risk that foreign royals would use wealth, power, and titles to seduce American officials. This was not a hypothetical problem. Just a few years earlier, and consistent with European custom, King Louis XVI of France had bestowed on Benjamin Franklin (in his capacity as American emissary) a snuff box decorated with 408 diamonds “of a beautiful water.”265 Magnificent gifts like this one could unconsciously shape how American officials carried out their duties. To guard against that peril, the Framers adopted the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which prohibits Presidents—among other federal officials—from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State” unless Congress affirmatively consents.266

The theory of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, based in history and the Framers’ lived experience, “is that a federal officeholder who receives something of value from a foreign power can be imperceptibly induced to compromise what the Constitution insists be his exclusive loyalty: the best interest of the United States of America.”267 Rather than scrutinize every exchange for potential bribery, the Framers simply banned officials from receiving anything of value from foreign powers. Although this rule sweeps broadly, the Framers deemed it central to American self-governance. Speaking in Philadelphia, Charles Pinckney “urged the necessity of preserving foreign ministers, and other officers of the United States, independent of external influence.”268 At Virginia’s convention, Randolph elaborated that “[i]t was thought proper, in order to exclude corruption and foreign influence, to prohibit any one in office from receiving or holding any emoluments from foreign states.”269 Randolph added that if the President violated the Clause, “he may be impeached.”270

The Framers also anticipated impeachment if a President placed his own interest in retaining power above the national interest in free and fair elections. Several delegates were explicit on this point when the topic arose at the Constitutional Convention. By then, the Framers had created the Electoral College. They were “satisfied with it as a tool for picking presidents but feared that individual electors might be intimidated or corrupted.”271 Impeachment was their answer. William Davie led off the discussion, warning that a President who abused his office might seek to escape accountability by interfering with elections, sparing “no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected.”272 Rendering the President “impeachable whilst in office” was thus “an essential security for the good behaviour of the Executive.”273 The Constitution thereby ensured that corrupt Presidents could not avoid justice by subverting elections and remaining in office.

George Mason built on Davie’s position, directing attention to the Electoral College: “One objection agst. Electors was the danger of their being corrupted by the Candidates; & this furnished a peculiar reason in favor of impeachments whilst in office. Shall the man who has practised corruption & by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment, by repeating his guilt?”274 Mason’s concern was straightforward. He feared that Presidents would win election by improperly influencing members of the Electoral College (e.g., by offering them bribes). If evidence of such wrongdoing came to light, it would be unthinkable to leave the President in office— especially given that he might seek to avoid punishment by corrupting the next election. In that circumstance, Mason concluded, the President should face impeachment and removal under the Constitution. Notably, Mason was not alone in this view. Speaking just a short while later, Gouverneur Morris emphatically agreed that “the Executive ought therefore to be impeachable for … Corrupting his electors.”275 Although not articulated expressly, it is reasonable to infer that the concerns raised by Davie, Mason, and Morris were especially salient because the Constitution—until ratification of the Twenty-Second Amendment in 1951—did not limit the number of terms a President could serve in office.276 A President who twisted or sabotaged the electoral process could rule for life, much like a king.

This commitment to impeaching Presidents who corruptly interfered with elections was anchored in lessons from British rule. As historian Gordon Wood writes, “[t]hroughout the eighteenth century the Crown had slyly avoided the blunt and clumsy instrument of prerogative, and instead had resorted to influencing the electoral process and the representatives in Parliament in order to gain its treacherous ends.”277 In his influential Second Treatise on Civil Government, John Locke blasted such manipulation, warning that it serves to “cut up the government by the roots, and poison the very fountain of public security.”278 Channeling Locke, American revolutionaries vehemently objected to King George III’s electoral shenanigans; ultimately, they listed several election-related charges in the Declaration of Independence. Those who wrote our Constitution knew, and feared, that the chief executive could threaten their plan of government by corrupting elections.

The true nature of this threat is its rejection of government by “We the People,” who would “ordain and establish” the Constitution.279 The beating heart of the Framers’ project was a commitment to popular sovereignty. At a time when “democratic self-government existed almost nowhere on earth,”280 the Framers imagined a society “where the true principles of representation are understood and practised, and where all authority flows from, and returns at stated periods to, the people.”281 That would be possible only if “those entrusted with [power] should be kept in dependence on the people.”282 This is why the President, and Members of Congress, must stand before the public for re-election on fixed terms. It is through free and fair elections that the American people protect their right to self-government, a right unforgivably denied to many as the Constitution was ratified in 1788 but now extended to all American citizens over the age of 18. When the President concludes that elections threaten his continued grasp on power, and therefore seeks to corrupt or interfere with them, he denies the very premise of our constitutional system. The American people choose their leaders; a President who wields power to destroy opponents or manipulate elections is a President who rejects democracy itself.

In sum, the Framers discussed the risk that Presidents would improperly conspire with foreign nations; they also discussed the risk that Presidents would place their interest in retaining power above the integrity of our elections. Both offenses, in their view, called for impeachment. That is doubly true where a President conspires with a foreign power to manipulate elections to his benefit—conduct that betrays American self-governance and joins the Framers’ worst nightmares into a single impeachable offense.283

D. Conclusion

Writing in 1833, Justice Joseph Story remarked that impeachable offenses “are of so various and complex a character” that it would be “almost absurd” to attempt a comprehensive list.284 Consistent with Justice Story’s wisdom, “the House has never, in any impeachment inquiry or proceeding, adopted either a comprehensive definition of ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ or a catalog of offenses that are impeachable.”285 Rather than engage in abstract, advisory or hypothetical debates about the precise nature of conduct that calls for the exercise of its constitutional powers, the House has awaited a “full development of the facts.”286 Only then has it weighed articles of impeachment.

In making such judgments, however, each Member of the House has sworn an oath to follow the Constitution, which sets forth a legal standard governing when Presidential conduct warrants impeachment. That standard has three main parts.

First, as Mason explained just before proposing “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” as the basis for impeachment, the President’s conduct must constitute a “great and dangerous offense” against the Nation. The Constitution itself offers us two examples: “Treason” and “Bribery.” In identifying “other” offenses of the same kind, we are guided by Parliamentary and early American practice, records from the Constitutional Convention and state ratifying conventions, and insights from the Constitution’s text and structure. These sources prove that “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” involve misconduct that subverts and injures constitutional governance. Core instances of such misconduct by the President are serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements, and corruption of office and elections. The Framers included an impeachment power in the Constitution specifically to protect the Nation against these forms of wrongdoing.

Past practice of the House further illuminates the idea of a “great and dangerous offense.” President Nixon’s case is most helpful. There, as explained above, the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment on three grounds: (1) obstruction of an ongoing law enforcement investigation into unlawful acts by his presidential re-election campaign; (2) abuse of power in targeting his perceived political opponents; and (3) improper obstruction of a Congressional impeachment inquiry into his obstruction of justice and abuse of power. These articles of impeachment, moreover, were not confined to discrete acts. Each of them accused President Nixon of undertaking a course of conduct or scheme, and each of them supported that accusation with a list of discrete acts alleged to comprise and demonstrate the overarching impeachable offense.287 Thus, where a President engages in a course of conduct involving serious abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements, or corruption of office and elections, impeachment is justified.

Second, impeachable offenses involve wrongdoing that reveal the President as a continuing threat to the constitutional system if he is allowed to remain in a position of political power. As Iredell remarked, impeachment does not exist for a “mistake.”288 That is why the Framers rejected “maladministration” as a basis for impeachment, and it is why “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” are not simply unwise, unpopular, or unconsidered acts. Like “Treason” and “Bribery,” they reflect decisions by the President to embark on a course of conduct—or to act with motives—inconsistent with our plan of government. Where the President makes such a decision, Congress may remove him to protect the Constitution, especially if there is reason to think that he will commit additional offenses if left in office (e.g., statements by the President that he did nothing wrong and would do it all again). This forward-looking perspective follows from the limited consequences of impeachment. The question is not whether to punish the President; that decision is left to the criminal justice system. Instead, the ultimate question is whether to bring an early end to his four-year electoral term. In his analysis of the Constitution, Alexis de Tocqueville thus saw impeachment as “a preventive measure” which exists “to deprive the ill-disposed citizen of an authority which he has used amiss, and to prevent him from ever acquiring it again.”289 That is particularly true when the President injures the Nation’s interests as part of a scheme to obtain personal benefits; someone so corrupt will again act corruptly.

Finally, “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” involve conduct that is recognizably wrong to a reasonable person. This principle resolves a potential tension in the Constitution. On the one hand, the Framers adopted a standard for impeachment that could stand the test of time. On the other hand, the structure of the Constitution—including its prohibition on bills of attainder and the Ex Post Facto Clause—implies that impeachable offenses should not come as a surprise.290 Impeachment is aimed at Presidents who believe they are above the law, and who believe their own interests transcend those of the country and Constitution. Of course, as President Nixon proved, Presidents who have committed impeachable offenses may seek to confuse the public through manufactured ambiguity and crafty pretexts. That does not shield their misconduct from impeachment. The principle of a plainly wrong act is not about academic technicalities; it simply focuses impeachment on conduct that any person of honor would recognize as wrong under the Constitution.

To summarize: Like “Treason” and “Bribery,” and consistent with the offenses historically considered by Parliament to warrant impeachment, “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” are great and dangerous offenses that injure the constitutional system. Such offenses are defined mainly by abuse of power, betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements, and corruption of office and elections. In addition, impeachable offenses arise from wrongdoing that reveals the President as a continuing threat to the constitutional system if allowed to remain in a position of power. Finally, they involve conduct that reasonable officials would consider to be wrong in our democracy.

Within these parameters, and guided by fidelity to the Constitution, the House must judge whether the President’s misconduct is grave enough to require impeachment. That step must never be taken lightly. It is a momentous act, justified only when the President’s full course of conduct, assessed without favor or prejudice, is “seriously incompatible with either the constitutional form and principles of our government or the proper performance of constitutional duties of the presidential office.”291 When that standard is met, however, the Constitution calls the House to action. In such cases, a decision not to impeach has grave consequences and sets an ominous precedent. As Representative William Cohen remarked in President Nixon’s case, “It also has been said to me that even if Mr. Nixon did commit these offenses, every other President … has engaged in some of the same conduct, at least to some degree, but the answer I think is that democracy, that solid rock of our system, may be eroded away by degree and its survival will be determined by the degree to which we will tolerate those silent and subtle subversions that absorb it slowly into the rule of a few.”292

V. The Criminality Issue

It is occasionally suggested that Presidents can be impeached only if they have committed crimes. That position was rejected in President Nixon’s case, and then rejected again in President Clinton’s, and should be rejected once more.293

Offenses against the Constitution are different in kind than offenses against the criminal code. Some crimes, like jaywalking, are not impeachable. Some impeachable offenses, like abuse of power, are not crimes. Some misconduct may offend both the Constitution and the criminal law. Impeachment and criminality must therefore be assessed separately—even though the commission of crimes may strengthen a case for removal.

A “great preponderance of authority” confirms that impeachable offenses are “not confined to criminal conduct.”294 This authority includes nearly every legal scholar to have studied the issue, as well as multiple Supreme Court justices who addressed it in public remarks.295 More important, the House itself has long treated “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” as distinct from crimes subject to indictment. That understanding follows from the Constitution’s history, text, and structure, and reflects the absurdities and practical difficulties that would result were the impeachment power confined to indictable crimes.

A. History

“If there is one point established by … Anglo-American impeachment practice, it is that the phrase ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’ is not limited to indictable crimes.”296 As recounted above, impeachment was conceived in Parliament as a method for controlling abusive royal ministers. Consistent with that purpose, it was not confined to accusations of criminal wrongdoing. Instead, it was applied to “many offenses, not easily definable by law,” such as abuse of power, betrayal of national security, corruption, neglect of duty, and violating Parliament’s constitutional prerogatives.297 Many officials were impeached for non-criminal wrongs against the British system of government; notable examples include the Duke of Buckingham (1626), the Earl of Strafford (1640), the Lord Mayor of London (1642), the Earl of Orford and others (1701), and Governor General Warren Hastings (1787).298 Across centuries of use, the phrase “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” thus assumed a “special historical meaning different from the ordinary meaning of the terms ‘crimes’ and ‘misdemeanors.’”299 It became a term of art confined to impeachments, without “relation to whether an indictment would lie in the particular circumstances.”300

That understanding extended to North America. Here, the impeachment process was used to address diverse misconduct by public officials, ranging from abuse of power and corruption to bribery and betrayal of the revolutionary cause.301 As one scholar reports, “American colonists before the Revolution, and American states after the Revolution but before 1787, all impeached officials for non-criminal conduct.”302

At the Constitutional Convention itself, no delegate linked impeachment to the technicalities of criminal law. On the contrary, the Framers invoked an array of broad, adaptable terms as grounds for removal—and when the standard was temporarily narrowed to “treason, or bribery,” Mason objected that it must reach “great and dangerous” offenses against the Constitution. Here he cited Burke’s call to impeach Hastings, whose acts were not crimes, but instead violated “those eternal laws of justice, which are our rule and our birthright.”303 To the Framers, impeachment was about abuse of power, betrayal of nation, and corruption of office and elections. It was meant to guard against these threats in every manifestation—known and unknown—that might someday afflict the Republic

That view appeared repeatedly in the state ratifying debates. Delegates opined that the President could be impeached if he “deviates from his duty” or “dare[s] to abuse the power vested in him by the people.”304 In North Carolina, Iredell noted that “the person convicted [in an impeachment proceeding] is further liable to a trial at common law, and may receive such common-law punishment … if it be punishable by that law” (emphasis added).305 Similarly, in Virginia, George Nicholas declared that the President “will be absolutely disqualified [by impeachment] to hold any place of profit, honor, or trust, and liable to further punishment if he has committed such high crimes as are punishable at common law” (emphasis added).306 The premise underlying this statement—and Iredell’s—is that some Presidential “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” were not punishable by common law.

Leading minds echoed that position through the Nation’s early years. In Federalist No. 65, Hamilton argued that impeachable offenses are defined by “the abuse or violation of some public trust.”307 In that sense, he reasoned, “they are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”308 A few years later, Constitutional Convention delegate James Wilson reiterated Hamilton’s point: “Impeachments, and offences and offenders impeachable, come not ... within the sphere of ordinary jurisprudence. They are founded on different principles, are governed by different maxims, and are directed to different objects.”309 Writing in 1829, William Rawle described impeachment as reserved for “men whose treachery to their country might be productive of the most serious disasters.”310 Four years later, Justice Story emphasized that impeachable offenses ordinarily “must be examined upon very broad and comprehensive principles of public policy and duty.”311

The American experience with impeachment confirms that lesson. A strong majority of the impeachments voted by the House since 1789 have included “one or more allegations that did not charge a violation of criminal law.”312 Several officials, moreover, have subsequently been convicted on non-criminal articles of impeachment. For example, Judge Robert Archbald was removed in 1912 for non-criminal speculation in coal properties, and Judge Halsted Ritter was removed in 1936 for the non-criminal offense of bringing his court “into scandal and disrepute.”313 As House Judiciary Committee Chairman Hatton Sumners stated explicitly during Judge Ritter’s case, “We do not assume the responsibility … of proving that the respondent is guilty of a crime as that term is known to criminal jurisprudence.”314 The House has also applied that principle in Presidential impeachments. Although President Nixon resigned before the House could consider the articles of impeachment against him, the Judiciary Committee’s allegations encompassed many non-criminal acts.315 And in President Clinton’s case, the Judiciary Committee report accompanying articles of impeachment to the House floor stated that “the actions of President Clinton do not have to rise to the level of violating the federal statute regarding obstruction of justice in order to justify impeachment.”316

History thus affords exceptionally clear and consistent evidence that impeachable “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” are not limited to violations of the criminal code.

B. Constitutional Text and Structure

That historical conclusion is bolstered by the text and structure of the Constitution. Starting with the text, we must assign weight to use of the word “high.” That is true not only because “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” was a term of art with its own history, but also because “high” connotes an offense against the State itself. Thus, “high” treason in Britain was an offense against the Crown, whereas “petit” treason was the betrayal of a superior by a subordinate. The Framers were aware of this when they incorporated “high” as a limitation on impeachable offenses, signifying only constitutional wrongs.

That choice is particularly noteworthy because the Framers elsewhere referred to “crimes,” “offenses,” and “punishment” without using this modifier—and so we know “the Framers knew how to denote ordinary crimes when they wanted to do so.”317 For example, the Fifth Amendment requires a grand jury indictment in cases of a “capital, or otherwise infamous crime.”318 The Currency Clause, in turn, empowers Congress to “provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States.”319 The Law of Nations Clause authorizes Congress to “define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations.”320 And the Interstate Extradition Clause provides that “[a] Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime” who flees from one state to another shall be returned upon request.321 Only in the Impeachment Clause did the Framers refer to “high” crimes. By adding “high” in this one provision, while excluding it everywhere else, the Framers plainly sought to capture a distinct category of offenses against the state.322

That interpretation is also most consistent with the structure of the Constitution. This is true in three respects.

First, as explained above, the Impeachment Clause restricts the consequences of impeachment to removal from office and disqualification from future federal officeholding. That speaks to the fundamental character of impeachment. In Justice Story’s words, it is “a proceeding purely of a political nature. It is not so much designed to punish an offender, as to secure the state against gross official misdemeanors. It touches neither his person, nor his property; but simply divests him of his political capacity.”323 Given that impeachment exists to address threats to the political system, applies only to political officials, and responds only by stripping political power, it makes sense to infer that “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” are offenses against the political system rather than indictable crimes.

Second, if impeachment were restricted to crimes, impeachment proceedings would be restricted to deciding whether the President had committed a specific crime. Such a view would create tension between the Impeachment Clause and other provisions of the Constitution. For example, the Double Jeopardy Clause protects against being tried twice for the same crime. Yet the Impeachment Clause contemplates that an official, once removed, can still face “Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.” It would be strange if the Framers forbade double jeopardy, yet allowed the President to be tried in court for crimes after Congress convicted him in a proceeding that necessarily (and exclusively) decided whether he was guilty of those very same crimes.324 That oddity is avoided only if impeachment proceedings are seen “in noncriminal terms,” which occurs if impeachable offenses are understood as distinct from indictable crimes.325

Finally, the Constitution was originally understood as limiting Congress’s power to create a federal law of crimes. It would therefore be strange if the Framers restricted impeachment to criminal offenses, while denying Congress the ability to criminalize many forms of Presidential wrongdoing that they repeatedly described as requiring impeachment.

To set this point in context, the Constitution expressly authorizes Congress to criminalize only a handful of wrongful acts: “counterfeiting, piracy, ‘offenses against the law of nations,’ and crimes that occur within the military.”326 Early Congresses did not tread far beyond that core category of crimes, and the Supreme Court took a narrow view of federal power to pass criminal statutes. It was not until much later—in the twentieth century—that the Supreme Court came to recognize that Congress could enact a broader criminal code. As a result, early federal criminal statutes “covered relatively few categories of offenses.”327 Many federal offenses were punishable only when committed “in special places, and within peculiar jurisdictions, as, for instance, on the high seas, or in forts, navy-yards, and arsenals ceded to the United States.”328

The Framers were not fools. They authorized impeachment for a reason, and that reason would have been gutted if impeachment were limited to crimes. It is possible, of course, that the Framers thought the common law, rather than federal statutes, would define criminal offenses. That is undeniably true of “Bribery”: the Framers saw this impeachable offense as defined by the common law of bribery as it was understood at the time. But it is hard to believe that the Framers saw common law as the sole measure of impeachment. For one thing, the common law did not address itself to many wrongs that could be committed uniquely by the President in our republican system. The common law would thus have been an extremely ineffective tool for achieving the Framers’ stated purposes in authorizing impeachment. Moreover, the Supreme Court held in 1812 that there is no federal common law of crimes.329 If the Framers thought only crimes could be impeachable offenses, and hoped common law would describe the relevant crimes, then they made a tragic mistake—and the Supreme Court’s 1812 decision ruined their plans for the impeachment power.330

Rather than assume the Framers wrote a Constitution full of empty words and internal contradictions, it makes far more sense to agree with Hamilton that impeachment is not about crimes. The better view, which the House itself has long embraced, confirms that impeachment targets offenses against the Constitution that threaten democracy.331

C. The Purpose of Impeachment

The distinction between impeachable offenses and crimes also follows from the fundamentally different purposes that impeachment and the criminal law serve. At bottom, the impeachment power is “the first step in a remedial process—removal from office and possible disqualification from holding future office.”332 It exists “primarily to maintain constitutional government” and is addressed exclusively to abuses perpetrated by federal officeholders.333 It is through impeachment proceedings that “a President is called to account for abusing powers that only a President possesses.”334 The criminal law, in contrast, “sets a general standard of conduct that all must follow.”335 It applies to all persons within its compass and ordinarily defines acts forbidden to everyone; in our legal tradition, the criminal code “does not address itself [expressly] to the abuses of presidential power.”336

Indeed, “the early Congresses—filled with Framers—didn’t even try to create a body of criminal law addressing many of the specific abuses that motivated adoption of the Impeachment Clause in the first place.”337 This partly reflects “a tacit judgment that it [did] not deem such a code necessary.”338 But that is not the only explanation. The Constitution vests “the sole Power of Impeachment” in the House; it is therefore doubtful that a statute enacted by one Congress (and signed by the President) could bind the House at a later date.339 Moreover, any such effort to define and criminalize all impeachable offenses would quickly run aground. As Justice Story cautioned, impeachable offenses “are of so various and complex a character, so utterly incapable of being defined, or classified, that the task of positive legislation would be impracticable, if it were not almost absurd to attempt it.”340

There are also general characteristics of the criminal law that make criminality inappropriate as an essential element of impeachable conduct. For example, criminal law traditionally forbids acts, rather than failures to act, yet impeachable conduct “may include the serious failure to discharge the affirmative duties imposed on the President by the Constitution.”341 In addition, unlike a criminal case focused on very specific conduct and nothing else, a Congressional impeachment proceeding may properly consider a broader course of conduct or scheme that tends to subvert constitutional government.342 Finally, the application of general criminal statutes to the President may raise constitutional issues that have no bearing on an impeachment proceeding, the whole point of which is to assess whether the President has abused power in ways requiring his removal from office.343

For all these reasons, “[a] requirement of criminality would be incompatible with the intent of the framers to provide a mechanism broad enough to maintain the integrity of constitutional government. Impeachment is a constitutional safety valve; to fulfill this function, it must be flexible enough to cope with exigencies not now foreseeable.”344

D. The Limited Relevance of Criminality

As demonstrated, the President can commit “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” without violating federal criminal law. “To conclude otherwise would be to ignore the original meaning, purpose and history of the impeachment power; to subvert the constitutional design of a system of checks and balances; and to leave the nation unnecessarily vulnerable to abusive government officials.”345 Yet the criminal law is not irrelevant. “Our criminal codes identify many terrible acts that would surely warrant removal if committed by the chief executive.”346 Moreover, the President is sworn to uphold the law. If he violates it while grossly abusing power, betraying the national interest through foreign entanglements, or corrupting his office or elections, that weighs in favor of impeaching him.

VI. Addressing Fallacies About Impeachment

Since the House began its impeachment inquiry, a number of inaccurate claims have circulated about how impeachment works under the Constitution. To assist the Committee in its deliberations, we address six issues of potential relevance: (1) the law that governs House procedures for impeachment; (2) the law that governs the evaluation of evidence, including where the President orders defiance of House subpoenas; (3) whether the President can be impeached for the abuse of his executive powers; (4) whether the President’s claims regarding his motives must be accepted at face value; (5) whether the President is immune from impeachment if he attempts an impeachable offense but is caught before he completes it; and (6) whether it is preferable to await the next election when a President has sought to corrupt that very same election.

A. The Impeachment Process

It has been argued that the House has not followed proper procedure in its ongoing impeachment inquiry. We have considered those arguments and find that they lack merit.

To start with first principles, the Constitution vests the House with the “sole Power of Impeachment.”347 It also vests the House with the sole power to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”348 These provisions authorize the House to investigate potential “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” to draft and debate articles of impeachment, and to establish whatever rules and procedures it deems proper for those proceedings.349

When the House wields its constitutional impeachment power, it functions like a grand jury or prosecutor: its job is to figure out what the President did and why he did it, and then to decide whether the President should be charged with impeachable offenses. If the House approves any articles of impeachment, the President is entitled to present a full defense at trial in the Senate. It is thus in the Senate, and not in the House, where the President might properly raise certain protections associated with trials.350

Starting in May 2019, the Judiciary Committee undertook an inquiry to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against President Trump. The Committee subsequently confirmed, many times, that it was engaged in an impeachment investigation. On June 11, 2019, the full House approved a resolution confirming that the Judiciary Committee possessed “any and all necessary authority under Article I of the Constitution” to continue its investigation; an accompanying Rules Committee Report emphasized that the “purposes” of the inquiry included “whether to approve ‘articles of impeachment with respect to the President.’”351 As the Judiciary Committee continued with its investigation, evidence came to light that President Trump may have grossly abused the power of his office in dealings with Ukraine. At that point, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees, began investigating potential offenses relating to Ukraine. On September 24, 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed these committees, as well as the House Judiciary, Financial Services and Ways and Means Committees, to “proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of [an] impeachment inquiry.”352 Finally, on October 31, 2019, the full House approved H. Res. 660, which directed the six committees “to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.”353

This approach to investigating potential impeachable offenses adheres to the Constitution, the Rules of the House, and historical practice.354 House Committees have frequently initiated and made substantial progress in impeachment inquiries before the full House considered a resolution formalizing their efforts. That is what happened in the cases of Presidents Johnson and Nixon, as well as in many judicial impeachments (which are subject to the same constitutional provisions).355 Indeed, numerous judges have been impeached without any prior vote of the full House authorizing a formal inquiry.356 It is both customary and sensible for committees—particularly the Judiciary Committee—to investigate evidence of serious wrongdoing before decisions are made by the full House.

In such investigations, the House’s initial task is to gather evidence. As is true of virtually any competent investigation, whether governmental or private, the House has historically conducted substantial parts of the initial fact-finding process out of public view to ensure more accurate and complete testimony.357 In President Nixon’s case, for instance, only the Judiciary Committee Chairman, Ranking Member, and Committee staff had access to material gathered by the impeachment inquiry in its first several months.358 There was no need for similar secrecy in President Clinton’s case, but only because the House did not engage in a substantial investigation of its own; it largely adopted the facts set forth in a report by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who had spent years investigating behind closed doors.359

When grand juries and prosecutors investigate wrongdoing by private citizens and public officials, the person under investigation has no right to participate in the examination of witnesses and evidence that precedes a decision on whether to file charges. That is black letter law under the Constitution, even in serious criminal cases that threaten loss of life or liberty. The same is true in impeachment proceedings, which threaten only loss of public office. Accordingly, even if the full panoply of rights held by criminal defendants hypothetically were to apply in the non-criminal setting of impeachment, the President has no “due process right” to interfere with, or inject himself into, the House’s fact-finding efforts. If the House ultimately approves articles of impeachment, any rights that the President might hold are properly secured at trial in the Senate, where he may be afforded an opportunity to present an evidentiary defense and test the strength of the House’s case.

Although under no constitutional or other legal obligation to do so, but consistent with historical practice, the full House approved a resolution—H. Res. 660—that ensures transparency, allows effective public hearings, and provides the President with opportunities to participate. The privileges afforded under H. Res. 660 are even greater than those provided to Presidents Nixon and Clinton. They allow the President or his counsel to participate in House Judiciary Committee proceedings by presenting their case, responding to evidence, submitting requests for additional evidence, attending hearings (including non-public hearings), objecting to testimony, and cross-examining witnesses. In addition, H. Res. 660 gave the minority the same rights to question witnesses that the majority has, as has been true at every step of this impeachment proceeding.

The impeachment inquiry concerning President Trump has thus complied in every respect with the Constitution, the Rules of the House, and historic practice of the House.

B. Evidentiary Considerations and Presidential Obstruction

The House impeachment inquiry has compiled substantial direct and circumstantial evidence bearing on the question whether President Trump may have committed impeachable offenses. President Trump has objected that some of this evidence comes from witnesses lacking first-hand knowledge of his conduct. In the same breath, though, he has ordered witnesses with first-hand knowledge to defy House subpoenas for testimony and documents—and has done so in a categorical, unqualified manner. President Trump’s evidentiary challenges are misplaced as a matter of constitutional law and common sense.

The Constitution does not prescribe rules of evidence for impeachment proceedings in the House or Senate. Consistent with its sole powers to impeach and to determine the rules of its proceedings, the House is constitutionally authorized to consider any evidence that it believes may illuminate the issues before it. At this fact-finding stage, “no technical ‘rules of evidence’ apply,” and “[e]vidence may come from investigations by committee staff, from grand jury matter made available to the committee, or from any other source.”360 The House may thus “subpoena documents, call witnesses, hold hearings, make legal determinations, and undertake any other activities necessary to fulfill [its] mandate.”361 When deciding whether to bring charges against the President, the House is not restricted by the Constitution in deciding which evidence to consider or how much weight to afford it.

Indeed, were rules of evidence to apply anywhere, it would be in the Senate, where impeachments are tried. Yet the Senate does not treat the law of evidence as controlling at such trials.362 As one scholar explains, “rules of evidence were elaborated primarily to hold juries within narrow limits. They have no place in the impeachment process. Both the House and the Senate ought to hear and consider all evidence which seems relevant, without regard to technical rules. Senators are in any case continually exposed to ‘hearsay’ evidence; they cannot be sequestered and kept away from newspapers, like a jury.”363

Instead of adopting abstract or inflexible rules, the House and Senate have long relied on their common sense and good judgment to assess evidence in impeachments. When evidence is relevant but there is reason to question its reliability, those considerations affect how much weight the evidence is given, not whether it can be considered at all.

Here, the factual record is formidable and includes many forms of highly reliable evidence. It goes without saying, however, that the record might be more expansive if the House had full access to the documents and testimony it has lawfully subpoenaed from government officials. The reason the House lacks such access is an unprecedented decision by President Trump to order a total blockade of the House impeachment inquiry.

In contrast, the conduct of prior chief executives illustrates the lengths to which they complied with impeachment inquiries. As President James Polk conceded, the “power of the House” in cases of impeachment “would penetrate into the most secret recesses of the Executive Departments,” and “could command the attendance of any and every agent of the Government, and compel them to produce all papers, public or private, official or unofficial, and to testify on oath to all facts within their knowledge.”364 Decades later, when the House conducted an impeachment inquiry into President Johnson, it interviewed cabinet officials and Presidential aides, obtained extensive records, and heard testimony about conversations with Presidential advisors.365 Presidents Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt each confirmed that Congress could obtain otherwise-shielded executive branch documents in an impeachment inquiry.366 And in President Nixon’s case—where the President’s refusal to turn over tapes led to an article of impeachment—the House Judiciary Committee still heard testimony from his chief of staff (H.R. Haldeman), special counsel (Charles Colson), personal attorney (Herbert Kalmbach), and deputy assistant (Alexander Butterfield). Indeed, with respect to the Senate Watergate investigation, President Nixon stated: “All members of the White House Staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee. They will testify under oath, and they will answer fully all proper questions.”367 President Trump’s categorical blockade of the House impeachment inquiry has no analogue in the history of the Republic.368

As a matter of constitutional law, the House may properly conclude that a President’s obstruction of Congress is relevant to assessing the evidentiary record in an impeachment inquiry. For centuries, courts have recognized that “when a party has relevant evidence within his control which hefails to produce, that failure gives rise to an inference that the evidence is unfavorable to him.”369 Moreover, it is routine for courts to draw adverse inferences where a party acts in bad faith to conceal or destroy evidence or preclude witnesses from testifying.370 Although those judicial rules do not control here, they are instructive in confirming that parties who interfere with fact-finding processes can suffer an evidentiary sanction. Consistent with that commonsense principle, the House has informed the administration that defiance of subpoenas at the direction or behest of the President or the White House could justify an adverse inference against the President. In light of President Trump’s unlawful and unqualified direction that governmental officials violate their legal responsibilities to Congress, as well as his pattern of witness intimidation, the House may reasonably infer that their testimony would be harmful to the President—or at least not exculpatory. If this evidence were helpful to the President, he would not break the law to keep it hidden, nor would he engage in public acts of harassment to scare other witnesses who might consider coming forward.371

One noteworthy result of President Trump’s obstruction is that the House has been improperly denied testimony by certain government officials who could have offered first-hand accounts of relevant events. That does not leave the House at sea: there is still robust evidence, both documentary and testimonial, bearing directly on his conduct and motives. But especially given the President’s obstruction of Congress, the House is free under the Constitution to consider reliable testimony from officials who overheard—or later learned about—statements by the President to witnesses whose testimony he has blocked.372

To summarize: just like grand jurors and prosecutors, the House is not subject to rigid evidentiary rules in deciding whether to approve articles. Members of the House are trusted to fairly weigh evidence in an impeachment inquiry. Where the President illegally seeks to obstruct such an inquiry, the House is free to infer that evidence blocked from its view is harmful to the President’s position. It is also free to rely on other relevant, reliable evidence that illuminates the ultimate factual issues. The President has no right to defy an impeachment inquiry and then demand that the House turn back because it lacks the very evidence he unlawfully concealed. If anything, such conduct confirms that the President sees himself as above the law and may therefore bear on the question of impeachment.373

C. Abuse of Presidential Power is Impeachable

The powers of the President are immense, but they are not absolute. That principle applies to the current President just as it applied to his predecessors. President Nixon erred in asserting that “when the President does it, that means it is not illegal.”374 And President Trump was equally mistaken when he declared he had “the right to do whatever I want as president.”375 The Constitution always matches power with constraint. That is true even of powers vested exclusively in the chief executive. If those powers are invoked for corrupt reasons, or in an abusive manner that threatens harm to constitutional governance, the President is subject to impeachment for “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

This conclusion follows from the Constitution’s history and structure. As explained above, the Framers created a formidable Presidency, which they entrusted with “the executive Power” and a host of additional authorities. For example, the President alone can confer pardons, sign or veto legislation, recognize foreign nations, serve as Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and appoint or remove principal officers. The President also plays a significant (though not exclusive) role in conducting diplomacy, supervising law enforcement, and protecting national security. These are daunting powers for any one person to wield. If put to nefarious ends, they could wreak havoc on our democracy.

The Framers knew this. Fearful of tyranny in all its forms, they saw impeachment as a necessary guarantee that Presidents could be held accountable for how they exercised executive power. Many delegates at the Constitutional Convention and state ratifying conventions made this point, including Madison, Randolph, Pinckney, Stillman, and Iredell. Their view was widely shared. As James Wilson observed in Pennsylvania, “we have a responsibility in the person of our President”—who is “possessed of power”—since “far from being above the laws,” he is “amenable to them … by impeachment.”376 Hamilton struck the same note. In Federalist No. 70, he remarked that the Constitution affords Americans the “greatest securities they can have for the faithful exercise of any delegated power,” including the power to discover “with facility and clearness” any misconduct requiring “removal from office.”377 Impeachment and executive power were thus closely intertwined in the Framers’ constitutional plan: the President could be vested with awesome power, but only because he faced removal from office for grave abuses.

The architects of checks and balances meant no exceptions to this rule. There is no power in the Constitution that a President can exercise immune from legal consequence. The existence of any such unchecked and uncheckable authority in the federal government would offend the bedrock principle that nobody is above the law. It would also upend the reasons why our Framers wrote impeachment into the Constitution: the exact forms of Presidential wrongdoing that they discussed in Philadelphia could be committed through use of executive powers, and it is unthinkable that the Framers left the Nation defenseless in such cases. In fact, when questioned by Mason in Virginia, Madison expressly stated that the President could be impeached for abuse of his exclusive pardon power—a view that the Supreme Court later echoed in Ex Parte Grossman.378 By the same token, a President could surely be impeached for treason if he fired the Attorney General to thwart the unmasking of an enemy spy in wartime; he could impeached for bribery if he offered to divulge state secrets to a foreign nation, conditioned on regulatory exemptions for his family business.379 Simply put, “the fact that a power is exclusive to the executive—that is, the president alone may exercise it—does not mean the power cannot be exercised in clear bad faith, and that Congress cannot look into or act upon knowledge of that abuse.”380

The rule that abuse of power can lead to removal encompasses all three branches. The Impeachment Clause applies to “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States,” including Article III judges.381 There is no exception to impeachment for misconduct by federal judges involving the exercise of their official powers. In fact, the opposite is true: “If in the exercise of the powers with which they are clothed as ministers of justice, [judges] act with partiality, or maliciously, or corruptly, or arbitrarily, or oppressively, they may be called to an account by impeachment.”382 Similarly, if Members of Congress exercise legislative power abusively or with corrupt purposes, they may be removed pursuant to the Expulsion Clause, which permits each house of Congress to expel a member “with the Concurrence of two thirds.”383 Nobody is entitled to wield power under the Constitution if they ignore or betray the Nation’s interests to advance their own.

This is confirmed by past practice of the House. President Nixon’s case directly illustrates the point. As head of the Executive Branch, he had the power to appoint and remove law enforcement officials, to issue pardons, and to oversee the White House, IRS, CIA, and FBI. But he did not have any warrant to exercise these Presidential powers abusively or corruptly. When he did so, the House Judiciary Committee properly approved multiple articles of impeachment against him. Several decades later, the House impeached President Clinton. There, the House witnessed substantial disagreement over whether the President could be impeached for obstruction of justice that did not involve using the powers of his office. But it was universally presumed—and never seriously questioned—that the President could be impeached for obstruction of justice that did involve abuse of those powers.384 That view rested firmly on a correct understanding of the Constitution.

Our Constitution rejects pretensions to monarchy and binds Presidents with law. A President who sees no limit on his power manifestly threatens the Republic.

D. Presidential Pretexts Need Not Be Accepted at Face Value

Impeachable offenses are often defined by corrupt intent. To repeat Iredell, “the president would be liable to impeachments [if] he had … acted from some corrupt motive or other,” or if he was “willfully abusing his trust.”385 Consistent with that teaching, both “Treason” and “Bribery” require proof that the President acted with an improper state of mind, as would many other offenses described as impeachable at the Constitutional Convention. Contrary to occasional suggestions that the House may not examine the President’s intent, an impeachment inquiry may therefore require the House to determine why the President acted the way he did. Understanding the President’s motives may clarify whether he used power in forbidden ways, whether he was faithless in executing the laws, and whether he poses a continuing danger to the Nation if allowed to remain in office.

When the House probes a President’s state of mind, its mandate is to find the facts. There is no room for legal fictions or lawyerly tricks that distort a clear assessment of the President’s thinking. That means evaluating the President’s explanations to see if they ring true. The question is not whether the President’s conduct could have resulted from innocent motives. It is whether the President’s real reasons—the ones actually in his mind as he exercised power—were legitimate. The Framers designed impeachment to root out abuse and corruption, even when a President masks improper intent with cover stories.

Accordingly, where the President’s explanation of his motives defies common sense, or is otherwise unbelievable, the House is free to reject the pretextual explanation and to conclude that the President’s false account of his thinking is itself evidence that he acted with corrupt motives. The President’s honesty in an impeachment inquiry, or his lack thereof, can thus shed light on the underlying issue.386

President Nixon’s case highlights the point. In its discussion of an article of impeachment for abuse of power, the House Judiciary Committee concluded that he had “falsely used a national security pretext” to direct executive agencies to engage in unlawful electronic surveillance investigations, thus violating “the constitutional rights of citizens.”387 In its discussion of the same article, the Committee also found that President Nixon had interfered with the Justice Department by ordering it to cease investigating a crime “on the pretext that it involved national security.”388 President Nixon’s repeated claim that he had acted to protect national security could not be squared with the facts, and so the Committee rejected it in approving articles of impeachment against him for targeting political opponents.

Testing whether someone has falsely characterized their motives requires careful attention to the facts. In rare cases, “some implausible, fantastic, and silly explanations could be found to be pretextual without any further evidence.”389 Sifting truth from fiction, though, usually demands a thorough review of the record—and a healthy dose of common sense. The question is whether “the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation.”390

Because courts assess motive all the time, they have identified warning signs that an explanation may be untrustworthy. Those red flags include the following:

First, lack of fit between conduct and explanation. This exists when someone claims they were trying to achieve a specific goal but then engaged in conduct poorly tailored to achieving it.391 For instance, imagine the President claims that he wants to solve a particular problem—but then he ignores many clear examples of that problem, weakens rules meant to stop it from occurring, acts in ways unlikely to address it, and seeks to punish only two alleged violators (both of whom happen to be his competitors). The lack of fit between his punitive conduct and his explanation for it strongly suggests that the explanation is false, and that he invented it as a pretext for corruptly targeting his competitors.

Second, arbitrary discrimination. When someone claims they were acting for a particular reason, look to see if they treated similarly-situated individuals the same.392 For example, if a President says that people doing business abroad should not engage in specific practices, does he punish everyone who breaks that rule, or does he pick and choose? If he picks and chooses, is there a good reason why he targets some people and not others, or does he appear to be targeting people for reasons unrelated to his stated motive? Where similarly-situated people are treated differently, the President should be able to explain why; if no such explanation exists, it follows that hidden motives are in play.

Third, shifting explanations. When someone repeatedly changes their story, it makes sense to infer that they began with a lie and may still be lying.393 That is true in daily life and it is true in impeachments. The House may therefore doubt the President’s account of his motives when he first denies that something occurred; then admits that it occurred but denies key facts; then admits those facts and tries to explain them away; and then changes his explanation as more evidence comes to light. Simply stated, the House is “not required to exhibit a naiveté from which ordinary citizens are free.”394

Fourth, irregular decisionmaking. When someone breaks from the normal method of making decisions, and instead acts covertly or strangely, there is cause for suspicion. As the Supreme Court has reasoned, “[t]he specific sequence of events leading up the challenged decision” may “shed some light on the decisionmaker’s purposes”—and “[d]epartures from the normal procedural sequence” might “afford evidence that improper purposes are playing a role.”395 There are many personnel and procedures in place to ensure sound decisionmaking in the Executive Branch. When they are ignored, or replaced by secretive irregular channels, the House must closely scrutinize Presidential conduct.

Finally, explanations based on falsehoods. Where someone explains why they acted a certain way, but the explanation depends on demonstrably false facts, then their explanation is suspect.396 For example, if a President publicly states that he withheld funds from a foreign nation due to its failure to meet certain conditions, but the federal agencies responsible for monitoring those conditions certify that they were satisfied, the House may conclude that the President’s explanation is only a distraction from the truth.

When one or more of these red flags is present, there is reason to doubt that the President’s account of his motives is accurate. When they are all present simultaneously, that conclusion is virtually unavoidable. Thus, in examining the President’s motives as part of an impeachment inquiry, the House must test his story against the evidence to see if it holds water. If it does not, the House may find that he acted with corrupt motives—and that he has made false statements as part of an effort to stymie the impeachment inquiry.

E. Attempted Presidential Misconduct Is Impeachable

As a matter of settled constitutional law, and contrary to recent suggestions otherwise, attempted Presidential wrongdoing can be impeachable. This is clear from the records of the Constitutional Convention. In the momentous exchange that led to adoption of the “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” standard, Mason championed impeaching Presidents for any “great and dangerous offenses.” It was therefore necessary, he argued, to avoid a narrow standard that would prevent impeachment for “attempts to subvert the Constitution” (emphasis added). Then, only minutes later, it was Mason himself who suggested “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” as the test for Presidential impeachment. The very author of the relevant constitutional text thus made clear it must cover “attempts.”

The House Judiciary Committee reached this conclusion in President Nixon’s case. Its analysis is compelling and consistent with Mason’s reasoning:

In some of the instances in which Richard M. Nixon abused the powers of his office, his unlawful or improper objective was not achieved. But this does not make the abuse of power any less serious, nor diminish the applicability of the impeachment remedy. The principle was stated by Supreme Court Justice William Johnson in 1808: “If an officer attempt[s] an act inconsistent with the duties of his station, it is presumed that the failure of the attempt would not exempt him from liability to impeachment. Should a President head a conspiracy for the usurpation of absolute power, it is hoped that no one will contend that defeating his machinations would restore him to innocence.” Gilchrist v. Collector of Charleston, 10 F. Cas. 355, 365 (No. 5, 420) (C.C.D.S.C. 1808).

Adhering to this legal analysis, the Committee approved articles of impeachment against President Nixon that encompassed acts of attempted wrongdoing that went nowhere or were thwarted. That includes President Nixon’s attempt to block an investigation by the Patman Committee into the Watergate break-ins,397 his attempt to block testimony by former aides,398 his attempt to “narrow and divert” the Senate Select Committee’s investigation,399 and his attempt to have the IRS open tax audits of 575 members of George McGovern’s staff and contributors to his campaign, at a time when McGovern was President Nixon’s political opponent in the upcoming 1972 presidential election.400 Moreover, the article of impeachment against President Nixon for abuse of power charged that he “attempted to prejudice the constitutional right of an accused to a fair trial.”401

History thus confirms that defiance by his own aides do not afford the President a defense to impeachment. The Nation is not required to cross its fingers and hope White House staff will persist in ignoring or sidelining a President who orders them to execute “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Nor can a President escape impeachment just because his corrupt plan to abuse power or manipulate elections was discovered and abandoned. It is inconceivable that our Framers authorized the removal of Presidents who engage in treason or bribery, but disallowed the removal of Presidents who attempt such offenses and are caught before they succeed. Moreover, a President who takes concrete steps toward engaging in impeachable conduct is not entitled to any benefit of the doubt. As one scholar remarks in the context of attempts to manipulate elections, “when a substantial attempt is made by a candidate to procure the presidency by corrupt means, we may presume that he at least thought this would make a difference in the outcome, and thus we should resolve any doubts as to the effects of his efforts against him.”402

Common sense confirms what the law provides: a President may be impeached where he attempts a grave abuse of power, is caught along the way, abandons his plan, and subsequently seeks to conceal his wrongdoing. A President who attempts impeachable offenses will surely attempt them again. The impeachment power exists so that the Nation can remove such Presidents from power before their attempts finally succeed.

F. Impeachment is Part of Democratic Governance

As House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino emphasized in 1974, “it is under our Constitution, the supreme law of our land, that we proceed through the sole power of impeachment.”403 Impeachment is part of democratic constitutional governance, not an exception to it. It results in the President’s removal from office only when a majority of the House, and then a super-majority of the Senate, conclude that he has engaged in sufficiently grave misconduct that his term in office must be brought to an early end. This process does not “nullify” the last election. No President is entitled to persist in office after committing “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” and no voter is entitled to expect that their preferred candidate will do so. Under the Constitution, when a President engages in great and dangerous offenses against the Nation—thus betraying their Oath of Office—impeachment and removal by Congress may be necessary to protect our democracy.

The Framers considered relying solely on elections, rather than impeachment, to remove wayward Presidents. But they overwhelmingly rejected that position. As Madison warned, waiting so long “might be fatal to the Republic.”404 Particularly where the President’s misconduct is aimed at corrupting our democracy, relying on elections to solve the problem is insufficient: it makes no sense to wait for the ballot box when a President stands accused of interfering with elections and is poised to do so again. Numerous Framers spoke directly to this point at the Constitutional Convention. Impeachment is the remedy for a President who will do anything, legal or not, to remain in office. Allowing the President a free pass is thus the wrong move when he is caught trying to corrupt elections in the final year of his first four-year term—just as he prepares to face the voters.

Holding the President accountable for “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” not only upholds democracy, but also vindicates the separation of powers. Representative Robert Kastenmeier explained this well in 1974: “The power of impeachment is not intended to obstruct or weaken the office of the Presidency. It is intended as a final remedy against executive excess … [a]nd it is the obligation of the Congress to defend a democratic society against a Chief Executive who might be corrupt.”405 The impeachment power thus restores balance and order when Presidential misconduct threatens constitutional governance.

VII. Conclusion

As Madison recognized, “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it control itself.”406 Impeachment is the House’s last and most extraordinary resort when faced with a President who threatens our constitutional system. It is a terrible power, but only “because it was forged to counter a terrible power: the despot who deems himself to be above the law.”407 The consideration of articles of impeachment is always a sad and solemn undertaking. In the end, it is the House—speaking for the Nation as a whole—that must decide whether the President’s conduct rises to the level of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” warranting impeachment.

Article I: Abuse of Power

I. The First Article of Impeachment

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. In his conduct of the office of President of the United States—and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed—Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency, in that:

Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage. President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations. President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interests of the Nation.

President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct through the following means:

(1) President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government—corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into—

(A) a political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; and

(B) a discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine—rather than Russia—interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election.

(2) With the same corrupt motives, President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government—conditioned two official acts on the public announcements that he had requested—

(A) the release of $391 million of United States taxpayer funds that Congress had appropriated on a bipartisan basis for the purpose of providing vital military and security assistance to Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression and which President Trump had ordered suspended; and

(B) a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine sought to demonstrate continued United States support for the Government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

(3) Faced with the public revelation of his actions, President Trump ultimately released the military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine, but has persisted in openly and corruptly urging and soliciting Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit.

These actions were consistent with President Trump’s previous invitations of foreign interference in United States elections.

In all of this, President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit. He has also betrayed the Nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.

Wherefore President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

II. Introduction

The President is entrusted with extraordinary power and commanded to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” At minimum, that means the President must use his office to serve and protect the American people. It is thus a grave violation of the Constitution for a President to betray the public by exercising power for his own personal gain while injuring and ignoring vital national interests. As the Framers confirmed, such abuse of power warrants impeachment.

President Donald J. Trump used the power of his office to solicit and pressure a foreign nation to interfere in the 2020 United States Presidential election. He did so not for any legitimate United States policy objective, but to obtain a personal political advantage and to harm a political opponent. His scheme involved directly soliciting the announcement of investigations related to former Vice President Joseph Biden and the 2016 United States Presidential election. It also involved leveraging military and security assistance to a fragile foreign ally, as well as a valuable White House meeting, as part of a pressure campaign to induce that sought-after announcement.

These corrupt efforts by President Trump to manipulate the next election in his favor harmed the national security of the United States and imperiled the integrity of our democratic system. But when President Trump was caught, he did not apologize or cease his misconduct. He instead persisted in urging foreign nations to investigate an American citizen who dared to oppose him politically. If President Trump is allowed to remain in office, he will unquestionably continue to pursue personal political benefits at the direct expense of our security and self-governance.

This conduct, and the risk posed by President Trump’s pattern of misconduct, is the very definition of an impeachable offense. It captures the Framers’ worst fears about how Presidents might someday abuse the powers of their office. To protect democracy and safeguard national security, the Committee on the Judiciary has no choice but to recommend that President Trump be impeached.

III. President Trump Committed “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” by Abusing the Powers of his Office

A. Abuse of Power is an Impeachable “High Crime and Misdemeanor”

“[A]buse of power was no vague notion to the Framers and their contemporaries. It had a very particular meaning to them.”408 This meaning encompassed the use of official powers in a way that “on its very face grossly exceeds the President’s constitutional authority or violates legal limits on that authority.”409 As relevant here, it also included “the exercise of official power to obtain an improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest.”410 This understanding is rooted in the Constitution’s Take Care Clause, which commands the President to “faithfully execute” the law.411 That duty requires Presidents “to exercise their power only when it is motivated in the public interest rather than in their private self-interest.”412

Numerous Framers confirmed that a President can be impeached for exercising power with a corrupt purpose. As James Iredell explained, “the president would be liable to impeachments [if] he had … acted from some corrupt motive or other,” or if he was “willfully abusing his trust.”413 Alexander Hamilton deemed impeachment proper for “offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”414 In a similar vein, James Madison reasoned that the President could be impeached if there were “grounds to believe” he used his pardon power for the corrupt purpose of obstructing justice by “shelter[ing]” persons with whom he is connected “in any suspicious manner.”415 As these and many other historical authorities show, “to the Framers, it was dangerous for officials to exceed their constitutional power, or to transgress legal limits, but it was equally dangerous (perhaps more so) for officials to conceal corrupt or illegitimate objectives behind superficially valid acts.”416

The proceedings against President Nixon confirm and exemplify the point. Two of the three articles against him—Article I (obstruction of justice) and Article II (abuse of power)—accused President Nixon of using his executive power for corrupt ends.417 The second article principally addressed President Nixon’s use of power, including powers vested solely in the Presidency, to aid political allies, harm political opponents, and gain improper personal political advantages. In explaining this article of impeachment, the House Committee on the Judiciary (the “Committee”) stated that President Nixon’s conduct was “undertaken for his personal political advantage and not in furtherance of any valid national policy objective.”418 His abuses of Presidential power were therefore “seriously incompatible with our system of constitutional government” and warranted removal from office.419

It is occasionally suggested that a President cannot be impeached for the use (or abuse) of powers vested in him by the Constitution. As the Framers made clear, and as President Nixon’s case proves, that interpretation is plainly incorrect and, moreover, would eviscerate our system of checks and balances. The fact that a President is vested with powers does not mean he can exercise them with impunity. Nor does it mean he is free to set his own personal gain as the de facto policy of the United States. To the contrary, when the President wields power entrusted to him by the people of this Nation, he must honor and serve that public trust. Where a President betrays that obligation by corrupting his office, he is subject to impeachment.

B. The Framers Feared Presidents Would Abuse Their Power to Betray National Interests Through Foreign Entanglements and to Corrupt Elections

In warning against abuse of power, the Framers repeatedly returned to two very specific risks: betrayal of the national interest and corruption of elections. Informed by history, the Framers perceived these abuses as existential threats to the Republic. The United States could not survive if Presidents used their high office to conspire with foreign nations in pursuit of personal gain. And democracy would be in grave danger if Presidents used their powers to subvert elections. As John Adams warned in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, these risks were unavoidable and might sometimes overlap: “You are apprehensive of foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence. So am I. … [A]s often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs.”420 In Federalist No. 68, Hamilton cautioned that the “most deadly adversaries of republican government” may come “chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.”421 The Framers sought to guard against this threat in the Impeachment Clause. If a President succumbed to temptation, placing his own personal interests above our national security and commitment to domestic self-governance, he faced impeachment and removal from his position of power.

Betrayal of national security was not an abstraction to the Framers, who had just waged a war for independence and knew the peril of corrupt foreign entanglements. “Foreign powers,” warned Elbridge Gerry, “will intermeddle in our affairs, and spare no expense to influence them.”422 In explaining why the Constitution required an impeachment option, Madison argued that a President “might betray his trust to foreign powers.”423 Benjamin Franklin, in turn, referenced the Prince of Orange, who had reneged on a military treaty with France under suspicious circumstances, inciting “the most violent animosities and contentions” in Dutch politics.424 These and other Framers made clear that impeachment was a safeguard against Presidents who betrayed vital national interests through plots with foreign powers. The President’s broad authority in conducting foreign affairs makes it more important, not less, that he display unswerving loyalty to the United States.425 “Accordingly, where the President uses his foreign affairs power in ways that betray the national interest for his own benefit, or harm national security for equally corrupt reasons, he is subject to impeachment by the House … A President who perverts his role as chief diplomat to serve private rather than public ends has unquestionably engaged in ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’—especially if he invited, rather than opposed, foreign interference in our politics.”426

This last point speaks to a distinct but related fear: that Presidents would improperly use the vast power of their office to ensure their own re-election. William Davie saw impeachment as “an essential security for the good behaviour of the Executive,” who might otherwise spare “no efforts or means whatever to get himself re-elected.”427 George Mason agreed that the threat of electoral treachery “furnished a peculiar reason in favor of impeachments whilst in office”: “Shall the man who has practised corruption & by that means procured his appointment in the first instance, be suffered to escape punishment, by repeating his guilt?”428 Gouverneur Morris later added that “the Executive ought therefore to be impeachable for … Corrupting his electors.”429 Based in their own experience under King George III, as well as the writings of John Locke and other luminaries, “those who wrote our Constitution knew, and feared, that the chief executive could threaten their plan of government by corrupting elections.”430 They included impeachment in the Constitution largely to thwart such treachery. As explained above, “The true nature of this threat is its rejection of government by ‘We the People,’ who would ‘ordain and establish’ the Constitution … When the President concludes that elections threaten his continued grasp on power, and therefore seeks to corrupt or interfere with them, he denies the very premise of our constitutional system. The American people choose their leaders; a President who wields power to destroy opponents or manipulate elections is a President who rejects democracy itself.”431

These authorities make clear that a President commits “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” where he exercises official power to obtain an improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest. Such an abuse is especially abhorrent where it involves a betrayal of the national interest through foreign entanglements or an effort to corrupt our democracy. “Any one of these violations of the public trust justifies impeachment; when combined in a single course of conduct, they state the strongest possible case for impeachment and removal from office.”432

C. Key Findings of Fact

The complete evidentiary record bearing on President Trump’s abuse of power is set forth in the Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report, (the “Ukraine Report”), and we rely on that Report and its findings here. Because we do not restate all of the facts contained in that Report which support the Committee’s conclusions, we fully incorporate the Ukraine Report by reference here.433. On the basis of that full record, it is indisputable that President Trump engaged in abuse of power. The essential facts bearing on that judgment include the following:434

  • Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States—acting personally and through his agents within and outside of the U.S. government—solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage. In so doing, the President placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the
  • United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.
  • In furtherance of this scheme, President Trump—directly and acting through his agents within and outside the U.S. government—sought to pressure and induce Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to publicly announce unfounded investigations that would benefit President Trump’s personal political interests and reelection effort. To advance his personal political objectives, President Trump encouraged the President of Ukraine to work with his personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani.
  • As part of this scheme, President Trump, acting in his official capacity and using his position of public trust, personally and directly requested from the President of Ukraine that the government of Ukraine publicly announce investigations into (1) the President’s political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and his son, Hunter Biden, and (2) a baseless theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine—rather than Russia—interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. These investigations were intended to harm a potential political opponent of President Trump and benefit the President’s domestic political standing.
  • To create additional leverage against Ukraine and force them to open these investigations, President Trump ordered the suspension of $391 million in vital military assistance urgently needed by Ukraine, a strategic partner, to resist Russian aggression. Because the aid was appropriated by Congress, on a bipartisan basis, and signed into law by the President, its expenditure was required by law. Acting directly and through his subordinates within the U.S. government, the President withheld from Ukraine this military assistance without any legitimate foreign policy, national security, or anticorruption justification. The President did so despite the longstanding bipartisan support of Congress, uniform support across federal departments and agencies for the provision to Ukraine of the military assistance, and his obligations under the Impoundment Control Act.
  • President Trump used the power of the Office of the President and exercised his authority over the Executive Branch, including his control of the instruments of the federal government, to apply increasing pressure on the President of Ukraine and the Ukrainian government to announce the politically-motivated investigations desired by President Trump. Specifically, to advance and promote his scheme, the President withheld official acts of value to Ukraine and conditioned their fulfillment on actions by Ukraine that would benefit his personal political interests:
    • President Trump—acting through agents within and outside the U.S. government—conditioned a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine desperately sought to demonstrate continued United States support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression, on Ukraine publicly announcing the investigations that President Trump believed would aid his reelection campaign.
    • To increase leverage over the President of Ukraine, President Trump, acting through his agents and subordinates, conditioned release of the vital military assistance he had suspended to Ukraine on the President of Ukraine’s public announcement of the investigations that President Trump sought.
    • President Trump’s closest subordinates and advisors within the Executive Branch, including Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and other senior White House and Executive Branch officials had knowledge of, in some cases facilitated and furthered the President’s scheme, and withheld information about the scheme from the Congress and the American public.
  • In directing and orchestrating this scheme to advance his personal political interests, President Trump did not implement, promote, or advance U.S. anti-corruption policies. In fact, the President sought to pressure and induce the government of Ukraine to announce politically-motivated investigations lacking legitimate predication that the U.S. government otherwise discourages and opposes as a matter of policy in that country and around the world. In so doing, the President undermined U.S. support of anticorruption reform and the rule of law in Ukraine, and undermined U.S. national security.
  • By withholding vital military assistance and diplomatic support from a strategic foreign partner government engaged in an ongoing military conflict illegally instigated by Russia, President Trump compromised national security to advance his personal political interests.
  • Faced with the revelation of his actions, President Trump publicly and repeatedly persisted in urging foreign governments, including Ukraine and China, to investigate his political opponent. This continued solicitation of foreign interference in a U.S. election, as well as President Trump’s other actions, present a clear and present danger that the President will continue to use the power of his office for his personal political gain.

D. President Trump’s Conduct Meets Each Element of Abuse of Power

The conduct set forth in the First Article of Impeachment unquestionably constitutes an “abuse of power” as that term was understood by the Framers. Indeed, it is falls within the heartland of the concerns raised at the Constitutional Convention as necessitating Presidential impeachment. It is the judgment of the Committee that President Trump has therefore committed “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

1. President Trump Exercised Official Power in Soliciting and Pressuring the Government of Ukraine to Publicly Announce Two Investigations

As explained above, a President commits an impeachable abuse of power where he exercises official power to obtain an improper personal benefit, while ignoring or injuring the national interest. The first requirement is satisfied here: President Trump exercised official power, entrusted to him by the Constitution, in soliciting and pressuring the Government of Ukraine to announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage.

This conclusion is straightforward. On his July 25, 2019 call with President Zelensky, President Trump was acting as our Nation’s head of state and chief diplomat.435 The call was itself an official act rooted in President Trump’s powers under Article II of the Constitution. So, too, were many of the President’s other acts throughout this scheme. It was only by virtue of his supervisory powers over the Executive Branch, as well as his power to appoint and remove certain officials,436 that President Trump could order the Office of Management and Budget to block or allow the release of Congressionally-appropriated military and security assistance to Ukraine. Similarly, it was only by virtue of his executive powers—including his authority to “receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers”437—that President Trump could offer and then withhold a White House meeting (as well as the many other official governmental acts involved in such a high-stakes diplomatic visit). And it was only by virtue of his executive authority that President Trump could fire U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch (whom he knew would have stood in the way of his corrupt scheme), direct other administration officials in the execution of his agenda relating to Ukraine, and instruct United States officials to cooperate with his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The scheme or course of conduct described in the first Article of Impeachment is shot through with official acts.438

The official acts comprising the First Article of Impeachment, moreover, had the natural and foreseeable effect of obtaining a personal political benefit for President Trump. On January 20, 2017, President Trump filed initial paperwork to launch his re-election campaign with the Federal Election Commission.439 On April 25, 2019, former Vice President Biden publicly announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States and launched his effort to unseat President Trump in the 2020 election.440 President Trump and former Vice President Biden were widely recognized as political opponents for the 2020 United States Presidential election. In using the powers of his office to solicit and pressure the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation related to former Vice President Biden and his son—and into a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered with the 2016 United States Presidential election—President Trump sought an announcement that would help him politically. By its very nature, and on its face, the President’s conduct thus involved an exercise of power to obtain a personal political benefit.

Although there can be no doubt that the abuse of power set forth in Article I involved the exercise of official power, it is helpful to closely consider the scheme at issue, as well as two of the means by which President Trump pursued it: specifically, his solicitation and pressuring of the Government of Ukraine to announce investigations that would result in a personal political benefit.

a. The Scheme

Beginning in the Spring of 2019, President Trump and his agents undertook a scheme to pressure the newly-elected President of Ukraine to announce politically-motivated investigations related to former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 United States Presidential election. That scheme included extensive efforts by the President’s personal attorney Mr. Giuliani, who sought to tarnish former Vice President Biden and pressed Ukrainian officials to initiate the investigations. Mr. Giuliani publicly confirmed that the President was aware of his efforts, which were undertaken not as part of official U.S. foreign policy but to help the President personally.441

But the task of carrying out this scheme was not limited to the President’s personal attorney. On May 23, 2019, following the inauguration of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the President met with United States officials, including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Ambassador Kurt Volker, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.442 These three officials, who would later dub themselves the “Three Amigos,” reported their favorable impressions of Ukraine’s new president, who had been elected on an anti-corruption platform, and recommended that President Trump invite President Zelensky to the White House.443 President Trump reacted negatively. He expressed the view that Ukraine “tried to take [him] down” in 2016, and told the Three Amigos to “Talk to Rudy”—not U.S. diplomats and experts—about Ukraine.444 Ambassador Sondland testified that “he understood the President’s instruction to be a directive to work with Mr. Giuliani if [the delegation] hoped to advance relations with Ukraine.”445 Following that May 23 meeting, Mr. Giuliani made clear to Ambassadors Sondland and Volker, “who were directly communicating with the Ukrainians, that a White House meeting would not occur until Ukraine announced its pursuit of the two political investigations.”446

With these directives in mind, Ambassadors Sondland and Volker “worked to obtain the necessary assurance from President Zelensky that he would personally commit to initiate the investigations in order to secure both” the White House call and meeting.447 On July 10, for example, “Ambassador Bolton hosted a meeting in the White House with two senior Ukrainian officials, several American officials, including Ambassadors Sondland and Volker, Secretary Perry, Dr. Fiona Hill, Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the NSC, and Lt. Col. Vindman.”448 When, as had become customary, the Ukrainians asked about the “long-delayed White House meeting,” Ambassador Sondland revealed “an arrangement with Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to schedule the White House visit after Ukraine initiated the ‘investigations.’”449 Despite Ambassador Bolton ending that meeting, Ambassador Sondland “ushered many of the attendees to the Ward Room downstairs to continue their discussion” and, at that meeting, Ambassador Sondland explained again “that he had an agreement with Mr. Mulvaney that the White House visit would come only after Ukraine announced the Burisma/Biden and 2016 Ukraine election interference investigations.”450

Over the next two weeks, “Ambassadors Sondland and Volker worked closely with Mr. Giuliani and senior Ukrainian and American officials to ensure that,” on the telephone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, President Zelensky would promise to undertake the investigations that Mr. Giuliani had been pushing on the President’s behalf.451 As Ambassador Sondland testified, “Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to the President.”452 The Ukrainians were reluctant to get involved, noting that they did not want to be “an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”453 Mr. Giuliani and the American officials made clear, however, that there would be no White House meeting without the investigations.

b. The Solicitation

President Trump’s official act of soliciting the investigations is apparent on the face of the transcript of his July 25 call with President Zelensky.454 On that call, he requested that President Zelensky investigate the widely debunked conspiracy theory that the Ukrainian government—and not Russia—was behind the hack of Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer network in 2016. According to this conspiracy theory, the American cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike moved a DNC server to Ukraine to prevent United States law enforcement from examining them. Here is how President Trump presented his solicitation:

I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.455

Shortly thereafter, on the same phone call, President Trump expressly solicited an investigation into former Vice President Biden and his son. In so doing, he referenced former Vice President’s Biden involvement in the removal of a corrupt former Ukrainian prosecutor:

The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.456

c. The Pressure Campaign

As set forth in the First Article of Impeachment, “President Trump—acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government—conditioned two official acts on the public announcements that he had requested.”457 These two official acts were: (1) the release of vital military and security assistance to Ukraine that President Trump had ordered suspended; and (2) a valuable, strategically important head of state meeting with President Trump at the White House.

There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump made these official acts conditional on his sought-after announcements in order to pressure Ukraine. It is also clear that Ukrainian officials came to understand that they were being pressured in this manner. That evidence is comprehensively explained in the Ukraine Report; we will briefly summarize it here.

i. The Military and Security Assistance

On July 18, 2019, OMB notified the agencies that President Trump had directed a hold on military and security assistance funding for Ukraine. No explanation was provided for that hold.458 This was exceedingly irregular, given that the assistance had bipartisan Congressional support, was supported by the President’s national security agencies and advisors (including the State Department, Department of Defense, and National Security Council), and was widely perceived as crucial to both Ukrainian and American security. Moreover, there were substantial concerns about the legality of the hold under the Impoundment Control Act.459 Adding to the irregularity, a career civil servant at OMB with decades of experience in this arena (Mark Sandy) was deprived of sign off authority, which was shifted to a political appointee of President Trump (Michael Duffey) who had virtually no relevant experience or expertise and no history or stated interest in managing such issues.460

As early as July 25—the day that President Trump spoke by phone to President Zelensky— Ukrainian officials recognized and grew nervous about the delay in receiving their military and security assistance. That same day, Ukrainian officials contacted their American counterparts in Washington, D.C. to express those concerns.461 Specifically, the Department of Defense received two e-mails from the State Department revealing that the Ukrainian Embassy was “asking about the security assistance” and knew about the “[security assistance] situation to an extent.”462 Former Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister, Olena Zerkal, also reported that her office, and the Ukrainian Presidential Administration, received a diplomatic cable from Ukrainian officials in Washington the week of the July 25 call, stating that the Trump administration had frozen military aid for Ukraine; she elaborated: “We had this information. … It was definitely mentioned there were some issues.”463

In the weeks that followed, President Trump’s top officials came to understand and communicated to Ukrainian officials that release of the assistance was in fact conditioned on President Zelensky publicly announcing the two investigations that President Trump had requested on his July 25 call. For example, on August 22, Ambassador Sondland e-mailed Secretary Pompeo, copying the State Department’s Executive Secretary, Lisa Kenna, that to break the “logjam” on the assistance, President Zelensky should “look [President Trump] in the eye” and tell him he would “move forward publicly and with confidence on those issues of importance to Potus and to the U.S.”464 Ambassador Sondland testified that the “issues of importance to Potus” were the two investigations.465

Around this time, according to his testimony, Lt. Col. Vindman “was getting questions from Ukrainians about the status of the hold on security assistance.”466 By August 28, after Politico “first reported that President Trump had implemented a hold on nearly $400 million of U.S. military assistance to Ukraine that had been appropriated by Congress,”467 Ukrainian officials “expressed alarm to their American counterparts.”468 Ambassador Taylor states that the Ukrainians were “just desperate” to receive the assistance, and that “American officials could provide little reassurance.”469

On September 1, Ambassador Sondland stated to President Zelensky’s aide, Mr. Yermak, that “the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine took some kind of action on the public statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”470 National Security Council senior director Timothy Morrison also testified that he recalled this interaction. According to Mr. Morrison, he saw Ambassador Sondland and Mr. Yermak have a private conversation and, immediately after their conversation ended, Ambassador Sondland walked over to Mr. Morrison and reported that he had communicated to Mr. Yermak that a statement about the investigations was needed “to obtain release of the aid.”471 That same day, Ambassador Taylor texted Ambassador Sondland: “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Ambassador Sondland then confirmed to Ambassador Taylor over the phone that President Trump wanted President Zelensky “in a public box,” making a “public statement” about the investigations that President Trump had requested on July 25. Ambassador Sondland agreed that the United States position was that if President Zelensky did not announce those investigations, Ukraine was not “going to get” the assistance.472

On September 5, the Washington Post published an editorial exposing President Trump’s scheme, entitled “Trump Tries to Force Ukraine to Meddle in the 2020 Election.”473 Two days later, on September 7, Ambassador Sondland called Mr. Morrison to report on a call he had just concluded with President Trump. Ambassador Sondland told Mr. Morrison that “there was no quid pro quo, but President Zelensky must announce the opening of the investigations and he should want to do it.”474 The following day, on September 8, Ambassador Sondland conveyed via text message to Ambassadors Volker and Taylor, too, that he had spoken with President Trump: “Guys multiple convos with Ze, Potus. Lets talk.”475 On the phone with Ambassador Taylor, Ambassador Sondland then “confirmed that he had talked to President Trump” and that “President Trump was adamant that President Zelensky himself had to clear things up and do it in public. President Trump said it was not a quid pro quo.”476 Ambassador Sondland added that, following his call with President Trump, he had told President Zelensky and Mr. Yermak that, “although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate.” In response, President Zelensky agreed to make a public statement announcing the investigations in an interview on CNN.477 Both Ambassadors Taylor and Sondland confirmed that the term “stalemate” referred to the hold on the security assistance to Ukraine.478 Early the next morning on September 9, Ambassador Taylor texted Ambassadors Sondland and Volker: “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Ultimately, the connection between the assistance and the announcements was apparent to the relevant parties—including United States officials working with Ukraine and senior Ukrainian officials. Ambassador Sondland and Mr. Holmes both testified that President Trump’s use of military and security assistance to secure his sought-after announcements became as clear as “two plus two equals four.”479 Moreover, at a press conference on October 17, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed this equation. According to Mr. Mulvaney, President Trump “[a]bsolutely” mentioned “corruption related to the DNC server” in connection with the security assistance. Mr. Mulvaney also stated that the server was part of “why we held up the money.” After a reporter attempted to clarify this explicit acknowledgement of a quid pro quo, Mr. Mulvaney replied: “We do that all the time with foreign policy.” He added, “I have news for everybody: get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy.”480

ii. The White House Visit

Turning to the White House visit, documentary evidence and testimony from multiple witnesses confirms that this official act—like the release of assistance—was conditional on Ukraine announcing investigations into former Vice President Biden and interference in the 2016 election.

As discussed above, prior to the July 25 call, President Trump’s personal attorney repeatedly urged Ukraine to pursue investigations into “two matters of intense interest” to his client, President Trump: the “involvement of the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son” on the board of a Ukrainian gas company and 2016 election interference.481 In those statements, Mr. Giuliani clarified that “my only client is the President of the United States,” and that this wasn’t “foreign policy,” but rather “information that will be very, very helpful” to President Trump.482 Ambassadors Sondland and Volker were also enlisted by President Trump to work with Mr. Giuliani and “obtain the necessary assurance from President Zelensky that he would personally commit to initiate the investigations,”483 and each had delivered their messages to the Ukrainians prior to the call. On July 2 in Toronto, Ambassador Volker “conveyed the message directly to President Zelensky, specifically referencing the ‘Giuliani factor.’”484 On July 19, Ambassador Sondland emailed several top Administration officials, confirming that Ambassador Sondland had “talked to Zelensky just now,” and that President Zelensky was “prepared to receive Potus’ call” and “assure [President Trump] that he intends to run a fully transparent investigation and will ‘turn over every stone.’”485 On the morning of the July 25 call, Ambassador Volker texted President Zelensky’s aide: “Heard from White House—assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck!”486

On the July 25 call itself, when President Zelensky thanked President Trump for “great support in the area of defense” and raised the matter of purchasing anti-tank missiles from the United States, President Trump responded, “I would like you to do us a favor though.” That “favor,” President Trump then made clear, was for Ukraine to investigate the 2016 United States Presidential election, as well as former Vice President Biden and his son. These were the same two investigations that Mr. Giuliani had repeatedly, publicly stated in the preceding months were of “intense interest” to President Trump. President Zelensky understood what President Trump meant about the connection between a meeting and these investigations: “I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington D.C. On the other hand, I also want to ensure [sic] you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation.”487 President Zelensky also confirmed that his staff assistant had spoken to Mr. Giuliani, and President Trump reaffirmed that Mr. Giuliani “very much knows what’s going on.”

The pressure for the investigations continued after the call, as well. Several weeks later, on August 9, when discussing possible dates for a White House visit, Ambassador Sondland wrote to Ambassador Volker: “I think potus really wants the deliverable.” The next day, President Zelensky’s aide texted Ambassador Volker about setting a date for the meeting before making a statement announcing the investigations, stating: “I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things. Which we discussed yesterday. But it will be logic [sic] to do after we receive a confirmation of date. We inform about date of visit and about our expectations and our guarantees for future visit.” Ambassador Volker replied: “Let’s iron out statement and use that to get date and then PreZ [Zelensky] can go forward with it?” President Zelensky’s aide responded, “[o]nce we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations.”488 The day after that, Ambassador Sondland emailed Secretary of State Pompeo: “Kurt & I negotiated a statement from Ze [Zelensky] to be delivered for our review in a day or two. The contents will hopefully make the boss [i.e., President Trump] happy enough to authorize an invitation.”489

Based on this and other evidence, it is clear that Ambassador Sondland spoke truthfully when he stated: “Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.”490

By making military and security assistance and a White House meeting conditional on announcing investigations that would benefit him politically, President Trump used official power to pressure Ukraine to make those announcements. Ukraine is at war with Russia and more than 13,000 Ukrainians have died in that conflict.491 Ukraine relies heavily on the United States for military and security assistance and support on the global stage.492 But as Ambassador Taylor described in his deposition, Ukraine is also “a young nation struggling to break free of its past, hopeful their new government will finally usher in a new Ukraine, proud of independence from Russia eager to join Western institutions and enjoy a more secure and prosperous life.”493 That is why, for weeks, Ukrainian officials expressed concern about President Trump’s demands, advising United States officials that they did not want to be an “instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”494 As Ukrainian Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka stated, in an apparent reference to President Trump’s demand for Ukrainian interference in United States elections, “[i]t’s critically important for the west not to pull us into some conflicts between their ruling elites, but to continue to support so that we can cross the point of no return.”495 Nonetheless, as President Trump’s pressure campaign continued, and as Ukraine contemplated the loss of military and security assistance necessary to defend itself in active hostilities with Russia, the Ukrainians became desperate.496 So desperate, in fact, that, as Ambassador Sondland told the President, President Zelensky was willing to do anything that President Trump asked of him.497 And, as set forth above, President Zelensky capitulated, and ultimately agreed to publicly announce the investigations in an interview on CNN.498 President Zelensky canceled that interview only after President Trump’s scheme was exposed and the assistance was released.499

To be sure, President Zelensky has subsequently denied that President Trump pressured him.500 But although President Zelensky did not publicly announce the investigations, the power disparity between the United States and Ukraine remains unchanged, and President Zelensky thus remains under pressure from President Trump to this day. As Mr. Holmes testified, there are still things the Ukrainians want and need from President Trump, including a meeting with the President in the Oval Office; for these reasons, Mr. Holmes explained,

I think [the Ukrainians are] being very careful. They still need us now going forward. In fact, right now, President Zelensky is trying to arrange a summit meeting with President Putin in the coming weeks, his first face to face meeting with him to try to advance the peace process. He needs our support. He needs President Putin to understand that America supports Zelensky at the highest levels. So this doesn’t end with the lifting of the security assistance hold. Ukraine still needs us, and as I said, still fighting this war this very day.501

Ambassador Taylor likewise confirmed that, as President Zelensky is currently engaging in negotiations with President Putin concerning the war on their border, Russia is “watching closely to gauge the level of American support” for Ukraine.502 The United States’ public and unwavering support is therefore critical to Ukraine in approaching those negotiations from a position of strength. Indeed, just last week on December 9, President Zelensky met with President Putin to discuss and negotiate an end to the war. President Zelensky’s team was “discouraged by the absence of expected support” from President Trump in advance of that meeting, “as well as the lack of follow-through from the White House on a promised Oval Office meeting.503 Moreover, the next day, on December 10, President Trump hosted the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office.504

In addition, although the majority of the military and security assistance was ultimately released, certain of the funds to Ukraine remain unobligated,505 and, moreover, in order to ensure that Ukraine “did not permanently lose $35 million of the critical military assistance frozen by the White House,” Congress had to pass a provision to ensure that the military assistance could be spent.506 “As of November 2019, Pentagon officials confirmed that the $35 million in security assistance originally held by the President and extended by Congress had still yet to be disbursed,” and would not provide an explanation for the delay.507

The evidence thus demonstrates that President Trump used the powers of his office to make Ukraine an offer it had no real choice but to accept: Help me get re-elected or you will not get the military and security assistance and diplomatic support you desperately need from the United States of America. In other words, under these circumstances, it is understandable that President Zelensky has sought to serve his national interest by avoiding any statement or confession that might offend President Trump and also demonstrate his own weakness in dealings with the United States and on the world stage. But the record supports only one conclusion. President Trump took advantage of Ukraine’s vulnerability and used his high office to solicit and pressure Ukraine to announce criminal investigations into a United States citizen. These investigations would clearly help President Trump’s re-election campaign and harm a political opponent.

2. President Trump Exercised the Powers of his Office with the Corrupt Motive of Obtaining a Personal Political Benefit

In exercising official power to obtain a personal benefit, the President acted with motives forbidden by the Constitution. The first article of impeachment thus states: “President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit.”508

To evaluate whether President Trump acted in pursuit of personal political advantage, the Committee has carefully considered the full evidentiary record, as well as arguments put forth by the Minority in its “Report of Evidence in the Democrats’ Impeachment Inquiry in the House of Representatives” (the “Minority” or the “Minority Report”) seeking to demonstrate that the President acted in pursuit of legitimate policy goals.509 Consistent with past practice and constitutional requirements, the Committee has focused not on reasons that could have motivated the President’s conduct, but rather on what the record shows about his actual motives. After all, “[t]he Framers designed impeachment to root out abuse and corruption, even when a President masks improper intent with cover stories.”510 The question is therefore whether “the evidence tells a story that does not match the [asserted] explanation.”511

a. The July 25 Call and its Background

On President Trump’s July 25 phone call with President Zelensky, President Trump referenced two very specific investigations. 512 Then, in describing who he wanted Ukraine to investigate, President Trump mentioned only two people by name: former Vice President Biden and his son.513 He also referred more generally to investigating the 2016 United States Presidential election, but reserved specificity for the Bidens. 514He used their name three times on the call.

Any presumptions of good faith that the President might normally enjoy must be suspended when he calls a foreign leader and asks that leader to investigate a United States citizen who is also an announced candidate in the primaries for the next Presidential election. To be sure, the call summary “contains no reference to 2020 or President Trump’s reelection bid.”515 But for good reason, multiple officials on the call immediately understood that President Trump was soliciting President Zelensky to announce an investigation into his political opponent. As Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman testified, “I thought it was wrong. I thought it was wrong for the President of the United States to call for an investigation of -- call a foreign power to investigate a U.S. citizen.”516 Jennifer Williams, an advisor to Vice President Michael Pence, similarly testified that “it struck me as unusual and inappropriate.”517 She later added, “the references to specific individuals and investigations, such as former Vice President Biden and his son, struck me as political in nature.”518

Events leading up to the July 25 call strongly support Ms. Williams’s concern that President Trump’s request was “political in nature.” On May 2, 2019, President Trump retweeted a New York Times article entitled Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies.519 That article concluded that Mr. Giuliani’s efforts underscored “the Trump campaign’s concern about the electoral threat from the former vice president’s presidential campaign” and noted that “Mr. Giuliani’s involvement raises questions about whether Mr. Trump is endorsing an effort to push a foreign government to proceed with a case that could hurt a political opponent at home.”520 On May 9, 2019, it was reported that President Trump’s private lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, planned to meet with President Zelensky “to urge him to pursue inquiries that allies of the White House contend could yield new information about two matters of intense interest to Mr. Trump.”521 Those matters were the same two investigations that President Trump raised on his July 25 call.522 And as Mr. Giuliani stated in early May, “this isn’t foreign policy.”523 Instead, Mr. Giuliani was seeking information that “will be very, very helpful to my client,” namely “the President of the United States.”524 Again on May 9, Mr. Giuliani stated on Fox News, “I guarantee you, Joe Biden will not get to election day without this being investigated.”525 The next day, in an interview, upon learning that Mr. Giuliani was traveling to Ukraine to pursue investigations, President Trump responded, “I will speak to him about it before he leaves.”526

Over the months that followed, Mr. Giuliani aggressively pursued his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden. During these efforts—and subsequently—he claimed to act on behalf of his client, President Trump. On October 30, 2019, he tweeted, “All of the information I obtained came from interviews conducted as … private defense counsel to POTUS, to defend him against false allegations.”527 On November 6, 2019, he tweeted, “The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption, was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges …”528 The Ukraine Report observes, “Numerous U.S. officials, including Ambassadors Sondland, Volker, and Bolton, as well as Lt. Col. Vindman and others, were well aware of Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to push Ukraine to pursue these political investigations.”529

As Mr. Giuliani worked hard to advance his client’s personal and political interests—and not “foreign policy”—President Trump also required United States officials responsible for Ukraine to “talk with Rudy.”530 For example, Ambassador Sondland recalled that during a meeting in the Oval Office on May 23 with the U.S. officials who had attended the Ukrainian inauguration, President Trump “just kept saying: Talk to Rudy, talk to Rudy.”531 Ambassador Sondland explained that they “understood that talk with Rudy meant talk with Mr. Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer,” and “if we did not talk to Rudy, nothing would move forward on Ukraine.”532 President Trump thus directed key U.S. officials to coordinate with and carry out the requests of his private lawyer, who was acting “solely” as President Trump’s “defense attorney,” regarding Ukraine.533

Mr. Giuliani’s importance was not lost on the Ukrainians. By July 10, 2019, President Zelensky’s top aide came to appreciate “that the key for many things is Rudi [sic] and I ready to talk with him at any time,”534 and, as set forth above, key U.S. officials worked with Mr. Giuliani to convey messages to the Ukrainians and prepare President Zelensky for his July 25 call. Thus, on the July 25 call, President Zelensky preemptively mentioned that “we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine.”535 President Trump replied, “I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.”536 Two sentences later, President Trump turned directly to his request that President Zelensky announce an investigation into the Bidens—and then, later in their discussion, confirmed that “I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call …”537 The call transcript thus confirms that President Trump saw Mr. Giuliani as his point person for organizing an investigation into the Bidens and the 2016 election, and that President Zelensky knew of Mr. Giuliani’s role. Once again, it is therefore noteworthy that Mr. Giuliani has stated emphatically that he acted “solely” to advance his client’s own interests—and that he was not engaged in “foreign policy.”538

b. Additional Evidence of Corrupt Intent

Many other considerations support the conclusion that President Trump’s concerns had nothing to do with the legitimate foreign policy interests of the United States and everything to do with the President’s personal political interests. First, after the removal of Ambasador Yovanovitch, President Trump’s primary focus relating to Ukraine throughout this period was the announcement of two investigations that would benefit him politically. The day after the July 25 call, President Trump called Ambassador Sondland to ask whether President Zelensky “was going to do the investigation.”539 Ambassador Sondland stated that President Zelensky was “going to do it” and would do “anything you ask him to.”540 According to David Holmes, who overheard the conversation, Ambassador Sondland and President Trump spoke only about the investigation in their discussion about Ukraine.541 The President made no mention of other major issues of importance in Ukraine, including President Zelensky’s aggressive anti-corruption reforms and the ongoing war it was fighting against Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine.542 After Ambassador Sondland hung up the phone, he told Mr. Holmes that President Trump “did not give a shit about Ukraine.”543 Rather, he explained, the President cared only about “big stuff” that benefitted him personally, like “the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pitching.”544

Second, in pursuit of these investigations, President Trump made it clear to Ambassador Sondland—who conveyed this message to Ambassador Taylor—that “everything was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.”545 Ambassador Sondland’s admission confirms that President Trump’s actions were motivated only by the announcement of investigations. Ukraine is a key strategic partner of the United States. It had just elected a promising new leader who ran on an anti-corruption platform and was making strong progress in his reform agenda. But it had been invaded by Russia and depended heavily on United States support and assistance. The United States had provided such assistance on a bipartisan basis, with an overwhelming consensus in Congress and the national security community that this was vital to our own national interests.546 To be sure, the President has broad latitude for certain policy judgments in foreign affairs in order to advance the national security interests of the country as a whole, but no witness interpreted the President’s request for these investigations to be a change in policy, nor did his cabinet or Vice President.547 This further supports the alternative and only plausible explanation that the President pressed for the public announcement of those investigations because they were of great personal political value to him.548

Third, the President’s request for these investigations departed from established channels for making such a request. On the July 25 call, President Trump told President Zelensky that he should speak to Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General Barr.549 But after the July 25 transcript was released, the Department of Justice publicly stated as follows:

The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son. The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine—on this or any other matter. The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine—on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.550

Ukraine’s current Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who assumed his new position in late August 2019, has since confirmed the Justice Department’s account. He told The Financial Times in late November 2019 that Attorney General Barr had made no formal request regarding a potential investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by former Vice President Biden.551

Many Administration officials have also confirmed that there was no formal investigation into these matters within the Department of Justice or formal request to Ukraine for information in connection to the investigations and, moreover, that without going through the official process, the investigations were not proper. As Ambassador Volker testified, “[Mr. Yermak] said, and I think quite appropriately, that if they [Ukraine] are responding to an official request, that’s one thing. If there’s no official request, that’s different. And I agree with that.”552 When Ambassador Volker discovered that no official request for investigations had been conveyed by the Department of Justice, he recalls thinking, “let’s just not go there.”553

In his testimony, Ambassador Taylor corroborated this account. He told the Committees that, on August 16, in a text message exchange with Ambassador Volker, he “learned that Mr. Yermak had asked that the United States submit an official request for an investigation into Burisma’s alleged violations of Ukrainian law, if that is what the United States desired.”554 Ambassador Taylor noted that “a formal U.S. request to the Ukrainians to conduct an investigation based on violations of their own law” was “improper” and advised Ambassador Volker to “stay clear.”555 Mr. Kent similarly testified that on August 15, Ambassador Volker’s special assistant asked him whether there was any precedent for the United States asking Ukraine to conduct investigations on its behalf. Mr. Kent replied: “[I]f you’re asking me have we ever gone to the Ukrainians and asked them to investigate or prosecute individuals for political reasons, the answer is, I hope we haven’t, and we shouldn’t because that goes against everything that we are trying to promote in post-Soviet states for the last 28 years, which is the promotion of the rule of law.”556

Fourth, the President’s decision disregarded United States foreign policy towards Ukraine and did so abruptly and without explanation. To make a demand that benefits him personally, while endangering the rights of a United States citizen and political opponent is a bright red flag that supports only one conclusion—that the President was putting his own personal and political interests over the Nation’s foreign policy interests. There is no dispute that President Trump’s requested investigations were not part of any U.S. policy objectives relating to Ukraine, including its anti-corruption policies. Mr. Morrison, Lt. Col. Vindman, Mr. Kent, and Ambassador Taylor all confirmed that an investigation into the Bidens, or the 2016 election, was not a stated or recognized United States foreign policy objective.557 Notably, President Trump was briefed on official policy prior to both calls that he had with President Zelensky—on April 21 and July 25.558 Yet he chose not to follow talking points about corruption reform,559 and instead decided on the July 25 call to go off-book and seek the criminal investigation of his political opponent.

Finally, President Trump’s request was almost universally viewed by key United States and Ukrainian officials as improper, unusual, problematic, and, most importantly, purely political:

  • Mr. Holmes: “I was shocked the requirement was so specific and concrete. While we had advised our Ukrainian counterparts to voice a commitment to following the rule of law and generally investigating credible corruption allegations, this was a demand that President Zelensky personally commit on a cable news channel to a specific investigation of President Trump’s political rival.”560
  • Dr. Hill: “[Ambassador Sondland] was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged.”561
  • Lt. Col. Vindman: “What I was trying to do . . . was express my concerns about something that I viewed to be problematic.”562
  • Ambassador Taylor: “The Ukrainians did not owe President Trump anything. And holding up security assistance for domestic political gain was crazy.”563

Other officials also voiced alarm. For example, Dr. Hill testified that Ambassador Bolton told her to “go and tell the [NSC Legal Advisor] that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this”; Dr. Hill explained that “drug deal” referred to Ambassador Sondland stating in a July 10 meeting, which included Ukrainian officials, that he had an agreement with Mr. Mulvaney for a White House meeting “if [Ukraine would] go forward with investigations.”564 On July 11, Dr. Hill “enlisted another NSC official who was present at the July 10 meeting” to attend a longer discussion with the NSC Legal Advisor about her concerns.565 Similarly, although the Minority holds up his reaction as proof that nothing improper happened, Mr. Morrison immediately reported the July 25 call to the NSC legal advisor “to make sure that the package was reviewed by the appropriate senior level attention.”566 Further, Mr. Morrison tried to stay away from President Trump’s requests because these investigations were not related to “the proper policy process that I was involved in on Ukraine,” and “had nothing to do with the issues that the interagency was working on.”567

Ukrainian officials, too, expressed similar reservations. On July 20, Ambassador Taylor spoke with Oleksandr Danyliuk, the Ukrainian national security advisor, who conveyed that President Zelensky “did not want to be used as a pawn in a U.S. reelection campaign.”568 As Ambassador Taylor testified, the “whole thrust” of the activities undertaken by Mr. Giuliani and Ambassador Sondland “was to get these investigations, which Danyliuk and presumably Zelensky were resisting because they didn’t want to be seen to be interfering but also to be a pawn.”569 Further, as noted above, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka later stated—in apparent reference to President Trump’s demands—that “it’s critically important for the west not to pull us into some conflicts between their ruling elites, but to continue to support so that we can cross the point of no return.”570 In short, experienced officials on both sides of President Trump’s scheme saw it for what it was: an effort to solicit Ukraine to assist his reelection campaign.

c. Alternative Explanations for President Trump’s Course of Conduct Are Implausible and Inconsistent with the Evidence

Although the President has declined to participate in these proceedings, the Minority Report offers three alternative justifications for President Trump’s conduct. The implausibility of these justifications, which are inconsistent with the evidence, only further proves that President Trump’s motives were constitutionally improper.

i. Anti-Corruption

The Minority’s principal contention is that President Trump denied a White House visit, withheld military and security assistance, and demanded these two investigations due to his “deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine” for “pervasive corruption.”571 This after-the-fact contention is not credible.

To start, it is inconsistent with President Trump’s own prior conduct respecting Ukraine. Under the previous Ukrainian administration of President Petro Poroshenko, which suffered from serious concerns about corruption issues, President Trump approved $510 million in aid in 2017 and $359 million in 2018; he also approved the sale of Javelin missiles to Ukraine in December 2017.572 It was not until 2019, after Ukraine elected President Zelensky, who ran on a strong anti-corruption platform, that President Trump suddenly punished Ukraine by refusing a White House meeting and military and security assistance. If his goal were to fight corruption, President Trump would have withheld assistance from a corrupt leader and provided it to a reformer. Instead, he did the opposite, just a few months after former Vice President Biden announced his candidacy.

Nor did President Trump take any other steps one would expect to see if his concern were corruption. He was given extensive talking points about corruption for his April 21 and July 25 calls, yet ignored them both times and did not mention corruption on either call.573 President Trump’s staff uniformly agreed that President Zelensky was a credible anti-corruption reformer, yet President Trump suspended a White House meeting that his entire policy team agreed would lend support and cache to President Zelensky’s anti-corruption agenda in Ukraine.574 He withheld military and security assistance without any stated explanation, yet his own Department of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, had certified in May that Ukraine satisfied all anti-corruption benchmarks necessary for that assistance to be released.575 He continued to withhold the assistance, yet the White House never requested or independently conducted any subsequent review of Ukraine’s anti-corruption policies— and the Defense Department adhered to its view that all anti-corruption benchmarks had already been satisfied.576 He persisted in denying the public and his own staff any explanation, even though Congress and every agency other than OMB (headed by the President’s Acting Chief of Staff) supported the provision of military and security assistance to Ukraine and strongly objected to President Trump’s hold.577 Tellingly, the President’s purported concerns about corruption in Ukraine as a reason for placing the hold on security assistance were not conveyed at the time of the hold or any time prior to lifting the hold.

Moreover, as numerous United States officials observed, it would be squarely inconsistent with advancing an anti-corruption agenda for an American President to avoid official channels and demand that a foreign leader embroil themselves in our politics by investigating a candidate for President.578 Yet President Trump made that very same demand. He also fired, without any explanation, an ambassador widely recognized as a champion in fighting corruption,579 praised a corrupt prosecutor general in Ukraine,580 and oversaw efforts to “cut foreign programs tasked with combating corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere overseas.”581

Nothing about President Trump’s conduct in the relevant period supports the theory that he was motivated by a “deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine” for “pervasive corruption.” He gave Ukraine hundreds of millions of dollars under a regime that ultimately lost power because of mounting concerns about corruption and then punitively withheld funds when a reformer came to power. He launched a general attack on anti-corruption programs while growing closer with Vladimir Putin and other corrupt despots. His Administration cut anti-corruption programs in Ukraine during the relevant period.582 And he ignored, defied, and confounded every office and agency within the Executive Branch seeking to promote anti-corruption programs, while demanding that Ukraine investigate his own domestic political rival. Even in the May 23 White House meeting with other U.S. officials, President Trump equated corruption in Ukraine with the false allegations that Ukraine tried to “take [him] down” in 2016, and directed his three senior U.S. government officials to assist “Mr. Giuliani’s efforts, which, it would soon become clear, were exclusively for the benefit of the President’s reelection campaign.”583

In short, there is overpowering evidence that President Trump acted with corrupt intent. The after-the-fact claim that he asked for foreign investigations of his political rivals and withheld military aid because of a generalized concern about corruption defies all the evidence before us and common sense. The President's actions were unexplained and inexplicable, contradicted legal and factual findings reached by credible experts, and are indefensible given they involved soliciting a foreign power to open an investigation into an American citizen and rival political candidate.

ii. Burden Sharing

We next consider the second justification proposed in the Minority Report: that President Trump has “been vocal about his skepticism of U.S. foreign aid and the need for European allies to shoulder more of the financial burden for regional defense.”584 This explanation is based largely on the fact that President Trump told President Zelensky on the July 25 call that European countries should be doing more to help Ukraine. But there is no evidence that this concern was the actual reason why he withheld a White House meeting, blocked the release of Congressionally approved military and security assistance, and requested the announcement of two investigations; in fact, the evidence available is inconsistent with that offered explanation.

To this day, President Trump has not explained why he withheld the valuable White House meeting. And until the whistleblower complaint was filed, there was no explanation for why President Trump had blocked release of the military and security assistance.585 This was extremely unusual. OMB Deputy Associate Director Mark Sandy, the senior budget official responsible for the Department of Defense portion of the aid to Ukraine, testified that he could not recall another instance in which a significant amount of assistance was held with no rationale provided.586 Deputy Assistant George Kent testified that, upon learning of the hold on July 18, there was “great confusion” among representatives from the Department of Defense, State Department, and National Security Council because they “didn’t understand why” the aid had been frozen.587

If the President’s reason for ordering a hold was concern about Europe’s contributions, he had no reason to keep that fact a secret from his own administration. Moreover, if that was his concern, the normal response would be to undertake a review process at the time of the hold. Yet, while Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper and other witnesses testified that they received some inquiries in late June about Ukraine security assistance, Ms. Cooper testified that there was no policy or interagency review process that she “participated in or knew of” in August 2019.588 Ms. Cooper further testified that she had “no recollection of the issue of allied burden sharing coming up” in the three meetings she attended about the freeze on security assistance, or hearing about a lack of funding from Ukraine’s allies as a reason for the freeze.589 Under Secretary of State David Hale also testified that he did not hear about the lack of funding from Ukraine’s allies as a reason for the security assistance hold.590 And Ambassador Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, testified that he was never asked to reach out to European countries to get them to contribute more.591 Finally, President Trump ultimately released the military and security assistance without any further contributions from Europe. According to Lt. Col. Vindman, none of the “facts on the ground” had changed when this occurred.592

If the President’s concern were genuinely about burden-sharing, it is implausible that he kept his own administration in the dark about that issue, never made any public statements about it, never ordered a review process focused on the question of burden sharing, never ordered his officials to push Europe to increase their contribution, and then released the aid without any change in Europe’s contributions.

To be sure, after the whistleblower complaint was filed and the President became aware he had been caught, Mr. Sandy began receiving questions in September about burden sharing.593 But that sequence only underscores the fact that this explanation was an after-the-fact justification to cover his tracks, as the hold had been in place for nearly two months without burden-sharing provided as a reason. Moreover, after Congress began investigating President Trump’s conduct, the White House Counsel’s Office reportedly conducted an internal review of “hundreds of documents,” which “reveal[ed] extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification” for the hold on assistance for Ukraine ordered by President Trump.594 These documents reportedly included “early August email exchanges between acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House budget officials seeking to provide an explanation for withholding the funds after the president had already ordered a hold in mid-July on the nearly $400 million in security assistance.”595 Given the substantial evidence of irregular conduct at OMB—including, according to Mr. Sandy, the resignation of two OMB officials partly based on their objection to OMB’s handling and rationale for the hold on assistance to Ukraine596—this effort to manufacture a pretext cannot reasonably be credited.

It also bears mention that European countries do, in fact, contribute substantial assistance to Ukraine. Since 2014, the European Union and European financial institutions have provided more than $16 billion in grants and loans to Ukraine, making the EU the largest donor to Ukraine.597 This far exceeds the approximately $1.95 billion in assistance that the United States has provided during the same period, according to USAID.598 Although the United States is the largest donor of military assistance to Ukraine, European countries also provide military aid to Ukraine through a NATO assistance package. For example, the United Kingdom has sent more than 1,300 soldiers to Ukraine since 2015 and has trained approximately 10,000 Ukrainian troops.599

iii. Legitimate Investigations

The third and final justification that the Minority Report offers to explain President Trump’s conduct is that he had a legitimate basis to request investigations into his political rival and the 2016 United States Presidential election.600 Like the others conjectured by the Minority, this explanation is contradicted by the facts, the President’s own statements, and common sense.

First, this theory presumes that the President was motivated by an overriding concern about events that occurred in 2015 and 2016—and that were widely reported at the time. Yet it was not until 2019 that the President requested these investigations and placed a hold on assistance to Ukraine. In other words, President Trump requested the investigations only after Vice President Biden had entered the 2020 presidential race and began beating him in the polls—thus giving him a personal and political motive to harm Vice President Biden publicly—and only after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation affirmed the Intelligence Community Assessment’s finding that Russia interfered in our election, and that it did so in a “sweeping and systematic” fashion in order to benefit President Trump.601 The timing of President Trump’s solicitation and pressure campaign, so shortly after Vice President Biden announced his candidacy and the Special Counsel Mueller’s report was released, is powerful proof of the President’s true motives for seeking the investigations.

Second, as explained above, had President Trump genuinely believed there was a legitimate basis to request Ukraine’s assistance in law enforcement investigations, there are specific formal processes that he should have followed. Specifically, he could have instructed DOJ to make an official request for assistance through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).602 But even though the United States and Ukraine have entered into an MLAT, multiple witnesses and DOJ itself have confirmed that there was never an official United States investigation into the Bidens’ conduct in Ukraine, nor was there an official request to Ukraine for an investigation into its alleged interference in the 2016 United States Presidential election.603 The President’s failure to follow legitimate procedures is further proof that he was acting improperly.604

Third, the role of Mr. Giuliani also belies the suggestion that this was about legitimate United States investigations. Mr. Giuliani is not a representative of the United States government and had no formal role in facilitating Ukraine’s involvement in United States criminal investigations. His involvement, as well as the lack of formal, official involvement by DOJ, provide ever more evidence that President Trump’s actions were unrelated to legitimate United States criminal investigations, but rather about Giuliani’s effort to “meddle in investigations” on behalf of his client, President Trump, as Giuliani told the New York Times in May.

Indeed, the record makes clear that President Trump was not seeking Ukrainian assistance in United States criminal investigations; rather, he wanted Ukraine to announce its own investigations of Vice President Biden and the 2016 United States Presidential election. This is clear from DOJ’s non-involvement, as well as the President’s public comments that Ukraine should “start a major investigation into the Bidens.”605 Multiple witnesses testified that it is extremely inappropriate and irregular for the United States to ask Ukraine to investigate a United States citizen—particularly when that citizen is a former Vice President and current political candidate.606 For example, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman testified that he reported President Trump’s July 25 call to legal counsel because he “did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen.”607 Ambassador Taylor echoed this concern, stating that “[a] formal U.S. request to the Ukrainians to conduct an investigation based on violations of their own law struck me as improper, and I recommended to Ambassador Volker that we stay clear.”608 Ambassador Volker, too, testified that “[t]o investigate the Vice President of the United States or someone who is a U.S. official. I don’t think we should be asking foreign governments to do that. I would also say that’s true of a political rival.”609 The President’s improper request that Ukraine announce investigations varied from standard rules and norms; further demonstrating that it marked a dangerous abuse of power by the President.

Finally, both theories asserted by President Trump have been proven false. None of the 17 witnesses who appeared as part of this inquiry testified that they were aware of any factual basis to support the allegation that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election; rather, multiple witnesses confirmed that these were false, debunked conspiracy theories.610 As Dr. Fiona Hill testified, “[t]his is a fictional narrative that is being perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.”611 Further, on December 9, 2019, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated, “We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election.”612 The Republican-led Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded the same.613 It is therefore entirely not credible to suggest that the President’s actions were based on a sincere belief that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 United States election or that the so-called “Crowdstrike theory” had any validity.614

Similarly, there is no legitimate basis for President Trump to claim former Vice President Biden behaved improperly in calling for the removal of Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. When he called for Mr. Shokin’s removal, then-Vice President Biden acted in accordance with and in furtherance of an official United States policy and the broad consensus of various European countries and the International Monetary Fund.615 Indeed, in late 2015, the International Monetary Fund threatened Ukraine that it would not receive $40 billion in international assistance unless Mr. Shokin was removed.616 Vice President Biden was subsequently enlisted by the State Department to call for Mr. Shokin’s removal—and in late 2015 and early 2016, he announced that the United States would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless Mr. Shokin was dismissed.617 Ultimately, in March 2016, Ukraine’s parliament voted to dismiss Mr. Shokin.618 Moreover, multiple witnesses confirmed that the removal of Mr. Shokin would have increased the likelihood that Burisma would be investigated for corruption, not the opposite, given that Mr. Shokin was widely considered to be both ineffective and corrupt.619 Any suggestion that former Vice President Biden called for Mr. Shokin’s removal in order to stop an investigation of Burisma, the company whose board Hunter Biden sat on, is inconsistent with these facts.620

iv. Conclusion

The Committee does not lightly conclude that President Trump acted with corrupt motives. But the facts, including the uncontradicted and corroborated testimony and documents, as well as common sense once again, all support that inescapable conclusion. President Trump exercised his official powers to solicit and pressure Ukraine to launch investigations into former Vice President Biden and the 2016 election. He did so not for any legitimate reason, but to obtain an improper personal political benefit by aiding his reelection, harming the election prospects of a political opponent, and influencing the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage. In so doing, President Trump violated his Oath of Office and abused his public trust. The Framers could not have been clearer that Presidents who wield power for their own personal advantage are subject to impeachment, particularly when their private gain comes at the expense of the national interest.

3. President Trump Ignored and Injured Vital National Interests

President Trump’s abuse of power harmed the United States. It undermined our national security and weakened our democracy. There is no indication that the President attended to these concerns in pursuing his own political errand—and there is every indication that he purposely ignored them. This is exactly what the Framers feared, and it is why they authorized Presidential impeachment.

a. National Security

While carrying out his corrupt scheme in Ukraine, President Trump ignored and injured the national security of the United States. He did so by threatening our safety and security, weakening democracy at home and abroad, undermining our efforts to promote the rule of law on a global stage, and tarnishing our reputation with allies. This is not a matter of policy disagreement. It is an objective assessment of the consequences of President Trump’s conduct—an assessment that the House is entitled and required to make in these circumstances.

First, when he withheld military and security assistance from Ukraine (and did so for his own personal political benefit), President Trump threatened the safety and security of the United States. Ukraine is a “strategic partner of the United States.”621 By contrast, United States “national security policy” correctly identifies Russia as an adversary.622 As multiple witnesses affirmed, the United States therefore has an interest in supporting Ukraine, to ensure it remains an independent and democratic country that can deter Russian influence, expansion, and military aggression. For example, Ambassador Yovanovitch explained in her testimony that “[s]upporting Ukraine is the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do. If Russia prevails and Ukraine falls to Russia dominion, we can expect to see other attempts by Russia to expand its territory and influence.”623 Mr. Morrison elaborated: “Russia is a failing power, but it is still a dangerous one. The United States aids Ukraine and her people so that they can fight Russia over there, and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”624

The military and security assistance that the United States has approved with bipartisan support to Ukraine since 2014 is critical to preventing Russia’s expansion and aggression. Ukraine is on the front line of conflict with Russia; its forces defend themselves against Russian aggression every day, in an ongoing war.625 When the United States provides assistance that allows Ukraine to equip itself with “radar and weapons and sniper rifles, that saves lives. It makes the Ukrainians more effective. It might even shorten the war. That’s what our hope is, to show that the Ukrainians can defend themselves and the Russians, in the end, will say ‘Okay, we’re going to stop.’”626 In addition, as Ambassador Taylor explained, the delay occurred “at a time when hostilities were still active in the east and when Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian Government.”627

Above and beyond the security assistance itself, public support from the United States demonstrates to Russia that “we are Ukraine’s reliable strategic partner.”628 In withholding not only assistance, but also a White House meeting, the President denied Ukraine a show of strength that could deter further Russian aggression and help Ukraine negotiate an end to its five-year war with Russia (a war that has already killed over 13,000 Ukrainians).629 Indeed, the very fact of delayed assistance quite certainly emboldened our enemies and weakened our partner. President Trump’s conduct continues to exacerbate these dynamics; for example, the day after Presidents Zelensky and Putin met to negotiate an end to the war in their border region, on December 10, President Trump met with Russia’s top envoy in the Oval Office, but has yet to schedule a White House meeting with President Zelensky.630

Second, our national security goals in support of Ukraine are part of a “broader strategic approach to Europe,” whereby we seek to facilitate negotiation of conflicts in Europe, maintain peace and order in that region, and prevent further Russian aggression not just in Ukraine but in Europe and elsewhere.631 Ambassador Taylor explained the importance of Ukraine to these policy goals in his testimony:

Russians are violating all of the rules, treaties, understandings that they committed to that actually kept peace in Europe for nearly 70 years. Until they invaded Ukraine in 2014, they had abided by sovereignty of nations, of inviolability of borders. That rule of law, that order that kept the peace in Europe and allowed for prosperity as well as peace in Europe was violated by the Russians. And if we don’t push back on that, on those violations, then that will continue. … [This] affects the kind of world that we want to see abroad. So that affects our national interests very directly. Ukraine is on the front line of that conflict.632

Third, President Trump’s actions diminished President Zelensky’s ability to advance his anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine—and, in turn, to help the United States promote our ideals abroad.

President Zelensky, who ran on a strong anti-corruption platform, was elected by a large majority of Ukrainians; subsequent to that election, Ukrainians voted to replace 80% of their Parliament to endorse a “platform consistent with our democratic values, our reform priorities, and our strategic interests.”633 Mr. Kent thus emphasized that President Zelensky’s anti-corruption efforts could ensure that “the Ukrainian Government has the ability to go after corruption and effectively investigate, prosecute, and judge alleged criminal activities using appropriate institutional mechanisms, that is, to create and follow the rule of law.”634 Of course, it is always in our national security interest to help advance such democratic and anti-corruption platforms. At a time of shifting alliances, “Ukrainians and freedom loving people everywhere are watching the example we set here of democracy and rule of law.”635 “If Ukraine is able to enforce that anti-corruption agenda, it can serve as an example to other post-Soviet countries and beyond, from Moscow to Hong Kong.”636 “A secure, democratic, and free Ukraine [thus] serves not just the Ukrainian people, but the American people as well. That’s why it was our policy and continues to be our policy to help the Ukrainians achieve their objectives. They match our objectives.”637

As Mr. Holmes testified, a White House visit and U.S. support was “critical” to President Zelensky implementing his platform.638 President Zelensky was a new leader, “looking to establish his bona fides as a regional and maybe even a world leader.” In that context, a meeting with the United States—the most “powerful country in the world and Ukraine’s most significant benefactor”—would have gone a long way in ensuring that President Zelensky had the credibility to implement his reforms.639 Yet, to this day and as a result of President Trump’s desire to obtain a personal political advantage in the upcoming election, no such meeting has occurred. This surely has not gone unnoticed by Ukraine, our democratic allies, or countries struggling to enforce similar democratic ideals. Indeed, Zelensky administration officials already are reportedly “now reconsidering their strategy on communication with and about the Trump administration.”640

Fourth, President Trump’s brazen use of official acts to pressure Ukraine to announce a politically motivated investigation undermined our credibility in promoting democratic values and the rule of law in Ukraine and elsewhere. As Ambassador Taylor underscored, “[o]ur credibility is based on a respect for the United States,” and “if we damage that respect, then it hurts our credibility and makes it more difficult for us to do our jobs.”641 Mr. Kent, too, agreed that the President’s request for investigations “went against U.S. policy” and “would’ve undermined the rule of law and our longstanding policy goals in Ukraine, as in other countries, in the post-Soviet space.”642

Ukrainian officials’ reaction to American requests following President Trump’s demand illuminates this concern. When Ambassador Volker advised Mr. Yermak about “potential problems” with investigations that the Zelensky administration was contemplating into former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Mr. Yermak retorted, “what, you mean like asking us to investigate Clinton and Biden?”643 Ambassador Volker did not respond.644

Finally, President Trump’s conduct threatened to harm America’s alliances more broadly. “The U.S. is the most powerful country in the history of the world in large part because of our values, and our values have made possible the network of alliances and partnerships that buttresses our own strength.”645 Yet President Trump’s scheme—using Ukraine’s desperation for military assistance and support to pressure our ally to announce an investigation into his political rival—shook Ukraine’s “faith in us.”646 Even worse, it sent a message to our allies that the United States may withhold critical military and security assistance for our President’s personal political benefit; if such conduct is allowed to stand, our allies will “constantly question the extent to which they can count on us.”647

President Trump ignored and injured our national security when he corruptly abused the powers of his office for personal political gain. As Ambassador Yovanovitch summarized in her testimony, President Trump’s “conduct undermines the U.S., exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for autocrats like President Putin. Our leadership depends on the power of our example and the consistency of our purpose. Both have now been opened to question.”648

b. Free and Fair Elections

As explained at the outset, the Framers of our Constitution were particularly fearful that a President might someday abuse the powers of his office to undermine free and fair elections. The heart of the Framers’ project was a commitment to popular sovereignty. In an age when “democratic self-government existed almost nowhere on earth,”649 the Framers imagined a society “where the true principles of representation are understood and practi[c]ed, and where all authority flows from, and returns at stated periods to, the people.”650 But that would be possible only if “those entrusted with [power] should be kept in dependence on the people.”651 This is why the President, and Members of Congress, must stand before the public for re-election on fixed terms. Through free and fair democratic elections the American people protect their system of political self-government.

President Trump’s conduct ignored and injured the Nation’s fundamental interest in self-governance and free and fair elections. As Professor Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford Law School explained in her testimony before this Committee, “[t]he very idea that a President might seek the aid of a foreign government in his reelection campaign would have horrified [the Framers].”652 Professor Karlan added:

[O]ur elections become less free when they are distorted by foreign interference. What happened in 2016 was bad enough: there is widespread agreement that Russian operatives intervened to manipulate our political process. But that distortion is magnified if a sitting President abuses the powers of his office actually to invite foreign intervention … That is not politics as usual—at least not in the United States or any other mature democracy. It is, instead, a cardinal reason why the Constitution contains an impeachment power. Put simply, a candidate for president should resist foreign interference in our elections, not demand it.653

When asked to elaborate on her view that President Trump’s conduct endangered the right to vote, which ranks among our most precious rights, Professor Karlan observed: “The way that it does it is exactly what President Washington warned about, by inviting a foreign government to influence our elections. It takes the right away from the American people and it turns that into a right that foreign governments decide to interfere for their own benefit. Foreign governments don't interfere in our elections to benefit us; they intervene to benefit themselves.”654

Ultimately, the Constitution does not care whether President Trump, former Vice President Biden, or any other candidate wins the 2020 United States Presidential election. It is indifferent to political parties and individual candidates.655 But it does care that we have free and fair elections. That is why foreigners can be excluded from activities of democratic self-government, including voting and contributing to political candidates.656 And it is why a President who uses the powers of his office to invite foreign government interference in an election, all for his own personal political gain, is a President who has abandoned our constitutional commitment to democracy.657

4. President Trump’s Abuse of Power Encompassed Impeachable “Bribery” and Violations of Federal Criminal Law

The first Article of Impeachment charged President Trump with an abuse of power as that constitutional offense has long been understood. While there is no need for a crime to be proven in order for impeachment to be warranted, here, President Trump’s scheme or course of conduct also encompassed other offenses, both constitutional and criminal in character, and it is appropriate for the Committee to recognize such offenses in assessing the question of impeachment.

a. Constitutional Bribery

“Bribery” under the Impeachment Clause occurs where a President corruptly offers, solicits, or accepts something of personal value to influence his own official actions.658 In that respect, “Bribery is . . . an especially egregious and specific example of a President abusing his power for private gain.”659 Based on their lived experience, the Framers had good cause to view such conduct as grounds for impeachment. Bribery was considered “so heinous an Offence, that it was sometimes punished as High Treason.”660 And it was received wisdom in the late-17th century that nothing can be “a greater Temptation to Officers [than] to abuse their Power by Bribery and Extortion.”661

Since the Founding, “[a] number of impeachments in the United States have charged individuals with misconduct that was viewed as bribery.”662 However, “the practice of impeachment in the United States has tended to envelop charges of bribery within the broader standard of ‘other high Crimes and Misdemeanors’”663 and, for the most part, “the specific articles of impeachment were framed as ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ or an ‘impeachable offense’” without ever “explicitly referenc[ing] bribery.”664 Here, the First Article of Impeachment alleges what is, among other things, a bribery scheme, whereby President Trump corruptly solicited things of value from a foreign power, Ukraine, to influence his own official actions—namely, the release of $391 million in Congressionally-authorized assistance and a head of state meeting at the White House.

The elements of impeachable bribery under the Constitution are not expressly set forth in our founding document. As Justice Joseph Story and other authorities have made clear, however, the Anglo-American common law tradition supplies a complete and “proper exposition of the nature and limits of the offense.”665 This Committee has reaffirmed for more than a century that “[t]he offense of bribery had a fixed status in the parliamentary law as well as the criminal law of England when our Constitution was adopted, and there is little difficulty in determining its nature and extent in the application of the law of impeachments in this country.”666 Indeed, the four legal experts who testified before this Committee agreed on the basic definition of common law bribery: it occurs where a President (1) offers, solicits, or accepts (2) something of personal value (3) to influence the official duties he is entrusted with exercising by the American people; (4) corruptly.667 The experts also agreed that an impeachable offense need not be a crime.668

Two aspects of this definition merit special note. First, at the time of the Constitutional Convention, bribery was well understood in Anglo-American law to encompass soliciting bribes. As Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. explains, the drafting history of the Impeachment Clause demonstrates that “‘Bribery’ was read both actively and passively, including the chief magistrate bribing someone and being bribed.”669 In a renowned bribery case involving the alleged solicitation of bribes, Lord Mansfield explained that “[w]herever it is a crime to take, it is a crime to give: they are reciprocal.”670 William Blackstone likewise confirmed that “taking bribes is punished,” just as bribery is punishable for “those who offer a bribe, though not taken.”671 In addition, at common law, soliciting a bribe—even if it is not accepted—completes the offense of bribery.672 “[T]he attempt is a crime; it is complete on his side who offers it.”673

Second, under common law, bribery occurred when the thing offered or solicited was of personal value to the recipient. Common law treatises explained that a bribe broadly encompassed “any undue Reward,” “valuable thing,” or valuable consideration, even where “the things were small.”674 The value of the thing was measured by its value to the public official who was offering, soliciting or receiving it.675 Accordingly, as Professor Turley recognized in his testimony, the common law encompassed non-pecuniary things of value—even including, in the case of King Charles II (as would have been well known to the Framers), “a young French mistress.”676 Consistent with this broad understanding, in guarding against foreign efforts to corrupt American officials, the Constitution forbids any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust,” from accepting “any present, Office or Title, of any kind whatever, from . . . a foreign State,” unless Congress consents.677 An equally capacious view applies to the impeachable offense of “Bribery.”

Applying the constitutional definition of “Bribery” here, there can be little doubt that it is satisfied. President Trump solicited President Zelensky for a “favor” of great personal value to him678; he did so corruptly679; and he did so in a scheme to influence his own official actions respecting the release of military and security assistance and the offer of a White House meeting.680

b. Criminal Bribery, 18 U.S.C. § 201

Although President Trump’s actions need not rise to the level of a criminal violation to justify impeachment, his conduct here was criminal. In this section we address the federal statute banning bribery; in the next section we address the wire fraud statute. Both of these laws underscore the extent to which Congress and the American people have broadly condemned the use of a public position of trust for personal gain. As this Committee observed decades ago, “[n]othing is more corrosive to the fabric of good government than bribery.”681 The federal anti-bribery statute imposes up to fifteen years’ imprisonment for public officials who solicit or obtain bribes.682 The wire fraud statute, in turn, imposes up to twenty years imprisonment for public officials who breach the public trust by depriving them of their honest services.683 President Trump’s violation of both statutes is further evidence of the egregious nature of his abuse of power.

Starting with the federal anti-bribery statute, criminal bribery occurs when a public official (1) “demands [or] seeks” (2) “anything of value personally,” (3) “in return for being influenced in the performance of any official act.”684 Additionally, the public official must carry out these actions (4) “corruptly.”685 We address the four statutory elements in turn.

i. “Demands” or “Seeks”

The evidence before the Committee makes clear that the President solicited from the President of Ukraine a public announcement that he would undertake two politically motivated investigations. That conduct satisfies the actus reus element of bribery under the federal criminal code.686 Section 201 prohibits a wide variety of solicitations, including solicitations that are “indirect[].”687 Courts have concluded that a bribe was solicited, for example, where a public official with authority to award construction contracts requested that a contractor “take a look at the roof” of the official’s home.688 Notably, where the other elements are met, the statutory offense of bribery is complete upon the demand—even if the thing of value is not provided.689 That is because “the purpose of the statute is to discourage one from seeking an advantage by attempting to influence a public official to depart from conduct deemed essential to the public interest.”690

President Trump solicited from President Zelensky a public announcement that he would conduct two politically motivated investigations into President Trump’s political rival and into discredited claims about election interference in 2016. These demands easily constitute solicitation under federal law. To begin with, the President’s improper solicitation is apparent in the record of his July 25 phone call with President Zelensky. As the record makes clear, after President Zelensky raised the issue of United States military assistance to Ukraine, President Trump immediately responded: “I would like you to do us a favor though[.]”691 President Trump then explained the “favor,” which involved the two demands for baseless investigations. In addition, the July 25 call “was neither the start nor the end” of these demands.692 In the weeks leading up to it, for example, Ambassadors Volker and Sondland had both personally informed President Zelensky and his staff of the President’s demands and advised the Ukrainian leader to agree to them.693 These and other related actions by the President’s subordinates were taken in coordination with Rudolph Giuliani, who was understood to be “expressing the desires of the President of the United States.”694 There can thus be no doubt that President Trump’s conduct constituted a solicitation.

ii. “Anything of Value Personally”

The next question is whether any of the “things” that President Trump solicited from President Zelensky count as a “things of value.” Section 201 makes clear that bribery occurs when the thing offered or solicited is “anything of value personally” to the recipient695—and in this instance, President Trump placed significant personal value on the “favor[s]” demanded.

“The phrase ‘anything of value’ has been interpreted broadly to carry out the congressional purpose of punishing the abuse of public office.”696 It “is defined broadly to include ‘the value which the defendant subjectively attaches to the items received.’”697 For example, it has been held to include shares of stock that had “no commercial value” where the official receiving the bribe expected otherwise.698 As the court in that case explained, “[c]orruption of office occurs when the officeholder agrees to misuse his office in the expectation of gain, whether or not he has correctly assessed the worth of the bribe.”699 The term “thing of value” encompasses intangible things of value as well. As used throughout the criminal code, it has been held to include (among other things): research work product,700 conjugal visits for a prison inmate,701 confidential government files about informants,702 information about the location of a witness,703 a promise of future employment,704 a promise to contact a public official,705 “the amount of a confidential, competitive bid” for a government contract,706 copies of grand jury transcripts provided to the target of an investigation,707 and the testimony of a witness at a criminal trial.708

In this case, President Trump indisputably placed a subjective personal value on the announcement of investigations that he solicited from President Zelensky. The announcement of an investigation into President Trump’s political rival would redound to President Trump’s personal benefit; and the announcement of an investigation into purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election would vindicate the President’s frequent denials that he benefitted from Russia’s assistance. Mr. Giuliani recognized as much many times as he pursued his client’s own interests in Ukraine.709 Furthermore, Ambassador Sondland and others testified that President Trump’s true priority was the public announcement of these investigations more than the investigations themselves.710 This fact makes clear that “the goal was not the investigations, but the political benefit [President] Trump would derive from their announcement and the cloud they might put over a political opponent.”711 The promotion of these investigations and the political narratives behind them thus “served the [President’s] personal political interests . . . because they would help him in his campaign for reelection in 2020.”712

iii. “In Return for Being Influenced in the Performance of any Official Act”

In Return for Being Influenced: This element of the criminal anti-bribery statute requires showing “a specific intent to give or receive something of value in exchange for an official act.”—i.e., a quid pro quo.713 As detailed above, the evidence satisfies this standard. President Trump sought an announcement of these investigations in return for performing two official acts. First, the President “conditioned release of [] vital military assistance . . . on [President Zelensky’s] public announcement of the investigations.”714 Second, he “conditioned a head of state meeting at the White House . . . on Ukraine publicly announcing the investigations.”715

Official Act: Federal anti-bribery law defines an “official act” as “any decision or action on any question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy” that may be pending or brought before a public official in that person’s official capacity.716 Both of the acts in question—releasing $391 million in approved military and security assistance, and hosting an official head-of-state diplomatic visit at the White House—plainly qualify as “official act[s]” within the meaning of the statute.

First, the release of much-needed assistance to Ukraine was unquestionably an official act. Release of these funds, totaling $391 million, involved a formal certification process by the Department of Defense regarding certain preconditions and an official notification to Congress, among other things.717 In addition, President Trump’s placement of a hold on the funds precipitated “a series of policy meetings involving increasingly senior officials” across numerous federal agencies.718 These processes unmistakably involved “formal exercise[s] of government power” as defined by the Supreme Court in McDonnell v. United States.719 Indeed, McDonnell confirmed that a decision to allocate funds obviously qualifies as an “official act.”720

Second, when the President hosts a foreign head of state for an official diplomatic visit, he performs an official act specifically assigned to him by Article II of the Constitution. The President’s official functions include the duty to “receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers.”721 By receiving ambassadors and foreign heads of state under that authority, the President recognizes the legitimacy of their governments.722 Furthermore, an official diplomatic visit by a head of state is an extensive governmental undertaking. During the type of visit sought here (an official “working” visit723), the visiting official is typically hosted at Blair House for several days, during which time the official meets with the President and attends a working luncheon at the White House, along with the Secretary of State.724 Such engagements usually involve weeks of preparation and agenda-setting, at the end of which significant new policy initiatives may be announced.

For these reasons, it is beyond question that official White House visits constitute a “formal exercise of governmental power” within the meaning of McDonnell. In that case, the Supreme Court held that the former governor of Virginia did not perform “official acts” when he arranged meetings and hosted events for a benefactor. There, however, the actions in question were frequent and informal in nature. Official diplomatic visits to the White House, by contrast, are conducted pursuant to the President’s express Article II authority, involve significant use of government resources, and entail extensive preparation. Indeed, the visiting official must even obtain a special kind of visa—a process that itself involves the performance of an official act.725

The context addressed by the Supreme Court in McDonnell also bears emphasis. The governor in that case “referred thousands of constituents to meetings with members of his staff and other government officials” and routinely hosted events for state businesses.726 His arrangement of meetings was commonplace and casual, and the Court expressed deep concern about “chill[ing] federal officials’ interactions with the people they serve” by bringing those interactions within the scope of anti-bribery laws.727 The context here could not be more different, and there is no risk that applying anti-bribery laws to this context would chill diplomatic relations. Foreign nationals are already prohibited from donating to United States political campaigns728—or, for that matter, from giving any sorts of “presents” or “emoluments” to the President or other officials without Congress’s express consent.729 Application of anti-bribery laws in this context—i.e., making it unlawful for the President to exchange official diplomatic visits for personal benefits—is therefore consistent with and compelled by the plain text of federal law.

iv. “Corruptly”

President Trump behaved corruptly throughout this course of conduct because he offered to perform official acts “in exchange for a private benefit,” rather than for any public policy purpose.730 Policymakers may of course trade support or assistance, and that type of “logrolling” does not constitute an exchange of bribes.731 But that is entirely different from the President seeking an announcement of investigations to serve his personal and political interests, as he did here.732 Indeed, and as detailed above, the record is clear that President Trump acted with corrupt motives, including that:

• President Trump’s request for investigations on the July 25 call was not part of any official briefing materials or talking points he received in preparation for the call; nor were the investigations part of any U.S. official policy objective.

• President Trump’s primary focus relating to Ukraine during the relevant period was the announcement of these two investigations that were not part of official U.S. policy objectives.

• There is no evidence that the President’s request for the investigations was part of a change in official U.S. policy; that fact further supports the alternative and only plausible explanation that President Trump pressed the public announcements because there were of great personal, political value to him.

• President Trump’s requests departed from established channels, including because he used his personal attorney, Mr. Giuliani, to press the investigations and never contacted the Department of Justice or made a formal request.

• President Trump’s request was viewed by key United States and Ukrainian officials as improper, unusual, problematic, and, most importantly, purely political.

For all these reasons, President Trump’s conduct satisfies the fourth and final element of the federal anti-bribery statute.

c. Honest Services Fraud, 18 U.S.C § 1346

In addition to committing the crime of bribery, President Trump knowingly and willfully orchestrated a scheme to defraud the American people of his honest services as President of the United States. In doing so, he betrayed his position of trust and the duty he owed the citizenry to be an honest fiduciary of their trust. That offense is codified in the federal criminal code, which imposes up to twenty years’ imprisonment for public officials who (by mail or wire fraud) breach the public trust by participating in a bribery scheme.733 In Skilling v. United States, the Supreme Court confirmed that the statute governing “honest services fraud” applies to “bribes and kickbacks,” and noted that this concept “draws content from” the federal anti-bribery statute.734 As such, public officials who engage in bribery may also be charged with honest services fraud.735

Fundamentally, the President has deprived the American people of the honorable stewardship that the Nation expects and demands of its chief executive. Since Skilling, federal courts have looked to federal bribery statutes, paying particular attention to Section 201, to assess what constitutes willful participation in a scheme to defraud in the provision of “honest services.”736 As described above, President Trump engaged in conduct that constitutes a violation of Section 201. President Trump conditioned specific “official acts”—the provision of military and security assistance and a White House meeting—on President Zelensky announcing investigations that benefitted him personally, while harming national interests. In doing so, President Trump willfully set out to defraud the American people, through bribery, of his “honest services.”

The underlying wire fraud statute, upon which the “honest services” crime is based, requires a transmission by “wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce any writings . . . for the purpose of executing [a] . . . scheme or artifice.”737 President Trump’s July 25 call to President Zelensky, as well as his July 26 call to Ambassador Gordon Sondland both were foreign wire communications made in furtherance of an ongoing bribery scheme. Thus, the President’s telephone calls on July 25th and July 26th lay bare the final element to find him criminally liable for his failure to provide “honest services” to the American people.

d. Conclusion

For the reasons given above, President Trump’s abuse of power encompassed both the constitutional offense of “Bribery” and multiple federal crimes. He has betrayed the national interest, the people of this Nation, and should not be permitted to be above the law. It is therefore all the more vital that he be removed from office.

5. President Trump Poses a Continuing Threat if Left in Office

Impeachment exists “not to inflict personal punishment for past wrongdoing, but rather to protect against future Presidential misconduct that would endanger democracy and the rule of law.”738 By virtue of the conduct encompassed by the First Article of Impeachment, President Trump “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.” That is true in at least two respects: first, he has shown no remorse or regret, but rather insists that his conduct was “perfect” and continues to engage in misconduct; and second, the egregiousness and complexity of his scheme confirm his willingness to abuse the powers of his office for private gain.

a. Lack of Remorse and Continued Misconduct

“It is true that the President has expressed regret for his personal misconduct. But he has never—he has never—accepted responsibility for breaking the law. He has never taken that essential step … He has stubbornly resisted any effort to be held accountable for his violations of the law, for his violations of his constitutional oath, and his violation of his duty as President. To this day, he remains adamantly unrepentant.”739

Representative Charles Canady, serving as a House Manager, spoke those words while urging the Senate to uphold articles of impeachment against President Clinton. They apply here with full force and only one modification: it is not true “that the President has expressed regret for his personal misconduct.” When President Trump, for his own personal political gain, asked for a favor from President Zelensky, he did exactly what our Framers feared most. He invited the influence of a foreign power into our elections—and used the powers of his office to secure that advantage at the direct expense of our national security. Yet President Trump has admitted to no wrongdoing. He maintains that he was always in the right and that his July 25 call with President Zelensky was “perfect.”740 President Trump has made it clear that he believes he is free to use his Presidential powers the same way, to the same ends, whenever and wherever he pleases.

Any doubt on that score is resolved by his conduct since the scheme came to light. He has made repeated false statements. He has stonewalled Congressional investigators and ordered others to do the same. He has argued that it is illegitimate for the House to investigate him. He has stayed in contact with Mr. Giuliani, his private lawyer, who remains hard at work advancing his client’s personal interests in Ukraine. He has attacked Members of the House, as well as witnesses in House proceedings, who questioned his conduct. He has asserted and exercised the prerogative to urge foreign nations to investigate citizens who dare to challenge him politically.741

Indeed, even after the Speaker announced the impeachment inquiry, President Trump stated on October 2, “And just so you know, we’ve been investigating, on a personal basis—through Rudy and others, lawyers—corruption in the 2016 election.”742 The next day, President Trump went further: he not only acknowledged that he wanted Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden, but also publicly suggested that China should do the same. When asked what he hoped President Zelensky would do about the Bidens, he stated as follows:

Well, I would think that, if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer. They should investigate the Bidens, because how does a company that’s newly formed — and all these companies, if you look at — And, by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with — with Ukraine. So, I would say that President Zelensky — if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens. Because nobody has any doubt that they weren’t crooked. That was a crooked deal — 100 percent. He had no knowledge of energy; didn’t know the first thing about it. All of a sudden, he is getting $50,000 a month, plus a lot of other things. Nobody has any doubt. And they got rid of a prosecutor who was a very tough prosecutor. They got rid of him. Now they’re trying to make it the opposite way. But they got rid — So, if I were the President, I would certainly recommend that of Ukraine.743

President Trump added that asking President Xi of China to investigate the Bidens “is certainly something we can start thinking about.”744 And the day after that, on October 4, in remarks before he departed on Marine One, the President stated:

When you look at what Biden and his son did, and when you look at other people—what they’ve done. And I believe there was tremendous corruption with Biden, but I think there was beyond—I mean, beyond corruption—having to do with the 2016 campaign, and what these lowlifes did to so many people, to hurt so many people in the Trump campaign—which was successful, despite all of the fighting us. I mean, despite all of the unfairness.745

President Trump then once again reiterated his willingness to solicit foreign assistance related to his personal interests: “Here’s what’s okay: If we feel there’s corruption, like I feel there was in the 2016 campaign—there was tremendous corruption against me—if we feel there’s corruption, we have a right to go to a foreign country.”

b. The Egregiousness of the President’s Conduct Confirms His Willingness to Abuse His Power for Personal Political Gain

The first Article of Impeachment does not seek President Trump’s removal for an isolated error of judgment on the July 25 phone call, or for a mere series of related misjudgments in his public statements since then. The President’s abuse of power involved a course of conduct in which he willfully chose, time and again, to place his own personal political gain above our national security and commitment to free and fair elections. He did so in ways large and small, using many Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officers to advance his corrupt agenda throughout 2019. Some may have joined knowingly; others, including several witnesses who testified before the Investigating Committees, only recognized the impropriety of the activity once the White House released the record of the President’s July 25 call with President Zelensky or were dragooned against their will and resisted within the bounds of professional propriety. In the end, President Trump relied on a network of agents within and beyond the United States government to bend our Ukraine policy to use the powers of the presidency to harm a prominent political opponent, all at the expense of our security and democracy.

No private citizen could do this. Ordinary citizens cannot deny White House meetings, block Congressionally-appropriated military and security assistance, or condition such official acts on an agreement to sabotage their political opponents. These powers reside in the Office of the President. It was thus solely by virtue of powers entrusted to his office that President Trump could distort our foreign policy, and weaken our national security, to his own personal political gain. His conduct is thus an “abuse or violation of … public trust” and evokes the Framers’ fear that “the Executive will have great opportunitys [sic] of abusing his power.”746 It also demonstrates that he will continue to engage in such abuses unless he is removed from office.

The Minority has objected that there is no such risk because the assistance to Ukraine was eventually released. But that is irrelevant. The fact that the President’s scheme was discovered and disrupted does not cure his abuse of power or suggest that he will honor his Oath of Office in the future. That is true as a matter of law and as a matter of fact.

Starting with the law, as this Committee made clear in President Nixon’s case, a President who tries and fails to abuse power remains subject to removal for his underlying wrong.747 George Mason confirmed this principle at the Constitutional Convention, where he declared that “attempts to subvert the Constitution” rank as “great and dangerous offenses.”748 That is because attempts can still reveal the President as a threat to our society. Impeachment exists to save the Nation from such threats; we need not wait for harm to befall, or for the President to try again, before deeming his conduct impeachable.749 This principle applies with added force where the President has insisted that he did nothing wrong and has unrepentantly continued his pattern of misconduct.

Turning to the facts, the military and security assistance was released to Ukraine only after President Trump got caught. On August 12, 2019, a whistleblower filed a complaint concerning the President’s July 25 call and his actions towards Ukraine.750 In late August, the President’s counsel reportedly briefed President Trump about the complaint.751 On September 5, The Washington Post published an editorial alleging that President Trump had withheld aid to Ukraine in an attempt “to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.”752 On September 9, several House Committees launched an investigation into “reported efforts by President Trump, the President’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and possibly others to pressure the government of Ukraine to assist the President’s reelection campaign.”753 On September 10, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff requested that the complaint be provided to the Committee, as required by law.754 Finally, on September 11, without any public explanation, President Trump abruptly ordered that the assistance be released to Ukraine; remarkably, he still has not held a White House meeting with President Zelensky.

This delay in releasing the assistance had significant real-world consequences. By the time the President ordered the release of security assistance to Ukraine, the Department of Defense was unable to spend approximately 14 percent of the funds appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Year 2019; as a result, Congress had to pass a new law to extend the funding in order to ensure the full amount could be used by Ukraine to defend itself.755 Moreover, by delaying the assistance for purposes understood by United States and Ukrainian officials as corrupt, President Trump harmed our relationship with Ukraine, signaled vulnerability to Russia, and more broadly injured American credibility and national security. As Ambassador Taylor testified, President Vladimir Putin of Russia would “love to see the humiliation of President Zelensky at the hands of the Americans,”756 which “would give the Russians a freer hand.”757 Ambassador Taylor further emphasized that the Ukrainians “counted on . . . the assurance of U.S. support” and so the hold on assistance had “shaken their faith in us.”758 President Zelensky echoed a similar sentiment in a recent interview with Time: “I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand, we’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us.”759

The bottom line is that President Trump used for personal political gain the powers entrusted to his office. He did so knowingly, deliberately, and repeatedly. He involved parts of the Executive Branch in his scheme. He undermined American security and democracy to help ensure his re-election—and did not care. And after he was caught, President Trump not only insisted his conduct was acceptable and did everything in his power to obstruct Congress’s investigation into his misconduct, he also sought to normalize and justify his behavior by publicly soliciting foreign powers to investigate a citizen who is challenging him in next year’s election.

A President who acts this way believes he stands above the law. That belief is itself a guarantee that allowing him to remain in our highest office, vested with our mightiest political powers, poses a continuing threat to the Constitution. Unless he is stopped, President Trump will continue to erode our democracy and the fundamental values on which the Nation was founded.

6. Consistency with Previous Conduct

The First Article of Impeachment impeaches President Trump for abuse of power relating to Ukraine. Yet, as noted in that Article, President Trump’s conduct is “consistent with President Trump’s previous invitations of foreign interference in United States elections.” An understanding of those previous efforts, and the pattern of misconduct they represent, sheds light on the particular conduct set forth in that Article as sufficient grounds for the impeachment of President Trump.

These previous efforts include inviting and welcoming Russian interference in the 2016 United States Presidential election. On July 27, 2016, then-candidate Trump declared at a public rally: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”760 The referenced emails were stored on a personal server used by then-candidate Trump’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton. And Russia was listening. Within approximately five hours of Trump’s statement, Russian hackers targeted Clinton’s personal office and the referenced emails for the very first time.761

In the fall of 2016, as Election Day approached, WikiLeaks began publishing stolen emails that were damaging to the Clinton Campaign. WikiLeaks received these e-mails from the GRU, a Russian military group. Rather than condemn this interference in our elections, then-candidate Trump repeatedly praised and encouraged Wikileaks. For instance, he said on October 10, 2016: “This just came out. WikiLeaks! I love WikiLeaks!”762 Two days later, he said: “This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart, you gotta read it.”763 Similar statements from then-Candidate Trump continued over the following weeks. As the Special Counsel testified before House Committees, to call these statements “problematic” would be an “understatement” because they gave “hope or some boost to what is and should be illegal activity.”764

During this period, senior members of the Trump Campaign were maintaining significant contacts with Russian nationals and seeking damaging information on candidate Hillary Clinton.765 Among other evidence of such contacts, the Special Counsel’s Report notes that President Trump somehow knew in advance about upcoming releases of stolen emails;766 that the Trump Campaign’s foreign policy adviser met repeatedly with Russian officials who claimed to have “dirt” on Clinton “in the form of thousands of emails”;767 and that Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort caused internal campaign polling data to be shared with a Russian national.768 There is no indication that anyone from the Trump Campaign, including the candidate, reported any of these contacts or offers of foreign assistance to U.S. law enforcement.769

A redacted version of the Special Counsel’s Report was released to the public on April 18, 2019. The evidence obtained by the Special Counsel relating to this conduct, including Russia’s attack on our elections, resulted in the criminal indictment of more than a dozen defendants.770 It also indicated that the President had sought to thwart rather than advance the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference. When this Committee conducted its own investigation, President Trump similarly sought to thwart rather than advance those fact-finding efforts.

Since the release of the Special Counsel’s report, President Trump has confirmed his willingness to welcome and invite foreign interference in our elections. For example, two months after the report was released and while President Trump was under congressional investigation, he admitted on live television that he would still welcome foreign interference. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, President Trump disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided information on a political opponent—as Russia had done in 2016—it would be considered interference in our elections: “[I]t’s not an interference, they have information—I think I’d take it if I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI—if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it.”771

On July 24, 2019, the Special Counsel testified before HPSCI and this Committee.772 He affirmed his Report’s evidence, which showed that—despite over 100 contacts between individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and Russian nationals or their agents while Russia was attacking our elections—no one from the Trump Campaign reported those contacts to law enforcement.773 The Special Counsel emphasized to the Committees that reporting such information is something that Presidential campaigns “would and should do,” not least because “knowingly accepting foreign assistance during a Presidential campaign” is a crime.774

The next day, however, President Trump did the opposite: he did not just accept and fail to report foreign interference in our elections, he demanded it on his July 25 call with President Zelensky. Moreover, this time he leveraged the powers of his presidential office, including military and security assistance and a White House visit, against a vulnerable foreign ally.

The Constitution creates a democracy that derives its power from the American people. Elections are crucial to that system of self-government. But the Framers knew that elections alone could “not guarantee that the United States would remain a republic” if “unscrupulous officials” rigged the process. President Trump has done just that. He has done it before, he has done it here, and he has made clear he will do it again. As Professor Karlan observes, what happened in “2016 was bad enough: there is a widespread agreement that Russian operatives intervened to manipulate our political process.”775 But “that distortion is magnified” when the President uses his official powers to procure and induce foreign intervention, all as part of a scheme to ensure his own re-election.776

Although the First Article of Impeachment addresses President Trump’s solicitation and pressuring of Ukraine to announce two investigations for his own personal political benefit, as well as his persistence in such conduct since the scheme came to light, the consistency of this scheme with his broader pattern of welcoming and inviting foreign interference into our elections is relevant and striking.

E. It is Necessary to Approve Articles of Impeachment Without Delay

There is an instinct in any investigation to seek more evidence, interview more witnesses, and turn over every remaining stone. But there also comes a point when the evidence is powerful enough, and the danger of delay is great enough, that inaction is irresponsible. We have reached that point here. For all the reasons given above, President Trump will continue to threaten the Nation’s security, democracy, and constitutional system if he is allowed to remain in office. That threat is not hypothetical. As noted above, President Trump has persisted during this impeachment inquiry in soliciting foreign powers to investigate his political opponent. The President steadfastly insists that he did nothing wrong and is free to do it all again. Every day that this Committee fails to act is thus another day that the President might use the powers of his office to rig the election while ignoring or injuring vital national interests. In Chairman Schiff’s words: “The argument ‘Why don’t you just wait?’ amounts to this: ‘Why don’t you just let him cheat in one more election? Why not let him cheat just one more time? Why not let him have foreign help just one more time?’”777

Members of the Minority have objected that the evidence is too thin; that it rests entirely on hearsay, speculation, and presumptions. That accusation is false. The evidentiary record developed by the Investigating Committees is extensive. The Committees heard more than 100 hours of deposition testimony from 17 witnesses with personal knowledge of key events. HPSCI heard an additional 30 hours of public testimony from 12 of those witnesses.778 In addition, the Committees considered the records of President Trump’s phone calls with President Zelensky. They obtained hundreds of text messages, which navigate the months-long efforts by Mr. Giuliani and United States officials to push Ukraine to make a public statement announcing the politically-motivated investigations sought by President Trump. They relied on hundreds of public statements, interviews, and tweets by the President and Mr. Giuliani, his personal attorney, unabashedly describing efforts to pursue investigations into former Vice President Biden prior to the 2020 election. And they relied on the press briefing by Mr. Mulvaney, who confirmed why the military and security assistance was withheld and then told Americans to “get over” it.779

The record contains extensive direct evidence—powerfully corroborated by circumstantial evidence—rendering the key facts indisputable. Most critically, the record includes the President’s own words on the July 25 call, which by itself reveals his corrupt scheme. It includes testimony and contemporaneous text messages from Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, who were directed by the President to “Talk to Rudy,”780 and who pushed Ukrainian officials to publicly announce the two investigations to “break the logjam” on assistance and a White House visit.781 It includes the testimony of three first-hand witnesses to the July 25 phone call. It includes the testimony of Mr. Holmes, who overheard President Trump ask Ambassador Sondland whether President Zelensky was “going to do the investigation,”782 and who was then told by Ambassador Sondland that President Trump cared only about the “big stuff” (namely, the investigations and nothing else relating to Ukraine).783 It includes the testimony of Ambassador Sondland, a political appointee of the President who had multiple discussions with him—and who confirmed that there was a “quid pro quo” relating to the potential White House visit for President Zelensky, and that, in light of President Trump’s statements and conduct, it became clear that assistance was also conditioned on an announcement of the investigations.784

Collectively, the evidence gathered by the Investigating Committees is consistent, reliable, well-corroborated, and derived from diverse sources. It paints a detailed picture of President Trump’s scheme. To the extent that the Committees did not obtain additional documents—or additional testimony from witnesses with personal knowledge of the relevant events—that is a direct consequence of the President’s unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate order that the entire Executive Branch unlawfully defy duly authorized Congressional subpoenas. As explained in the discussion of the Second Article of Impeachment, the President’s obstruction of Congress is not cured by the possibility of judicial review, which, among other difficulties, would undoubtedly last well beyond the very election that President Trump seeks to corrupt. Given the President’s unlawful cover up, and given the powerful evidence of a looming Presidential threat to the next election, this Committee cannot stand silent. Nor can it agree that the record is insufficient just because it could be broader. The record stands firmly on its own two feet. Indeed, President Trump has not stonewalled the entire impeachment inquiry so that he can protect a hidden trove of exculpatory evidence.

Put simply, President Trump’s own words reveal that he solicited a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The President did so for his own political gain, rather than for foreign policy reasons. The testimony of experienced, expert officials in his own administration—including several of his own appointees—reveal that the President used his official powers as leverage to pressure a vulnerable strategic partner to do his bidding. And every indication, every piece of evidence, supports that the President will abuse his power again. Under these circumstances, Congress is duty-bound to invoke its “sole Power of Impeachment.”

IV. Conclusion

To the Framers of our Constitution, tyranny was no abstraction. They had suffered under King George III. They had studied republics that faltered when public virtue fell to private vice. They knew that freedom demands constant protection from leaders whose taste of power sparks a voracious need for more. So even as they created a powerful Presidency, they authorized Congress to impeach and remove Presidents whose persistence in office threatened the Constitution. As they designed this impeachment power, they turned repeatedly to three risks: corrupt abuse of power; betrayal of the nation through foreign entanglements; and corruption of free and fair elections.

President Trump has realized the Framers’ worst nightmare. He has abused his power in soliciting and pressuring a vulnerable foreign nation to corrupt the next United States Presidential election by sabotaging a political opponent and endorsing a debunked conspiracy theory promoted by our adversary, Russia. President Trump has done all this for his own personal gain, rather than for any legitimate reason, and has compromised our national security and democratic system in the process. After he was caught, President Trump defiantly insisted his conduct was “perfect.”

Democracy is fragile. Men and women have fought and died to protect ours—and for the right to participate in it. The President of the United States is a steward of that system, in which “We the People” are sovereign. His duty is to uphold the Constitution and protect our lives and liberty. But President Trump has betrayed that trust. He has placed his own interest in retaining power above our national security and commitment to self-governance. He has done so before, he has done so here, and he will undoubtedly do so again. To protect the Nation, and preserve our freedom, President Trump must be impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power.

Article II: Obstruction of Congress

I. The Second Article of Impeachment

The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives “shall have the sole Power of Impeachment” and that the President “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” In his conduct of the office of President of the United States—and in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed—Donald J. Trump has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its “sole Power of Impeachment”. President Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency in a manner offensive to, and subversive of, the Constitution, in that:

The House of Representatives has engaged in an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump’s corrupt solicitation of the Government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 United States Presidential election. As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials.

In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the “sole Power of Impeachment” vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.

President Trump abused the powers of his high office through the following means:

(1) Directing the White House to defy a lawful subpoena by withholding the production of documents sought therein by the Committees.

(2) Directing other Executive Branch agencies and offices to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of documents and records from the Committees—in response to which the Department of State, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense refused to produce a single document or record.

(3) Directing current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees—in response to which nine Administration officials defied subpoenas for testimony, namely John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney, Robert B. Blair, John A. Eisenberg, Michael Ellis, Preston Wells Griffith, Russell T. Vought, Michael Duffey, Brian McCormack, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl.

These actions were consistent with President Trump’s previous efforts to undermine United States Government investigations into foreign interference in United States elections.

Through these actions, President Trump sought to arrogate to himself the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry into his own conduct, as well as the unilateral prerogative to deny any and all information to the House of Representatives in the exercise of its “sole Power of Impeachment”. In the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”. This abuse of office served to cover up the President’s own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment—and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.

In all of this, President Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

II. Introduction

This Nation has no kings. Unlike a monarch, whose every word is law, the President of the United States answers to the Constitution and the American people. He ordinarily does so through elections, legislative oversight, judicial review, and public scrutiny. In truly extraordinary cases, however, the Constitution empowers the House of Representatives to hold the President accountable through its “sole Power of Impeachment.”785 This power is not to be exercised lightly. It is one of the greatest powers in the Constitution. But when the House, in its own independent judgment, has cause to suspect the President of committing “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” it has the constitutional right and duty to investigate his conduct.786 As Presidents, legislators, and judges have long recognized, that authority inheres in the “sole Power of Impeachment,” which would be undermined if the House lacked a thorough power of inquiry.

In the history of the Republic, no President has ever claimed the unilateral prerogative to categorically and indiscriminately defy a House impeachment inquiry. Nor has any President ever directed his administration to do so. On the contrary, every President to address the issue has acknowledged that Congress possesses a broad and penetrating power of inquiry when investigating grounds for impeachment. Even President Richard M. Nixon, who resisted full personal compliance with House subpoenas, instructed his staff to testify voluntarily in the Senate Watergate inquiry: “All members of the White House Staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee. They will testify under oath, and they will answer fully all proper questions.”787

Presidents wield extraordinary power, but they do so under law. That law provides the House with sole authority to impeach Presidents. It does not allow Presidents to dictate the terms on which they will be impeached or investigated for impeachable offenses, to order subordinates to break the law by ignoring subpoenas, or to use executive power to orchestrate a cover up. The Constitution confirms that the House alone, and not the President, determines what documents and testimony are relevant to its exercise of the impeachment power.

If allowed to stand, President Trump’s actions will undermine the Constitution’s defenses against a tyrannical President. Over the past months, the House has engaged in an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump’s corrupt solicitation and inducement of Ukrainian interference in the 2020 United States Presidential Election. As part of this inquiry, the Investigating Committees served subpoenas on various Executive Branch agencies and offices, as well as current and former officials, seeking documents and testimony relevant to the investigation. President Trump responded by directing all Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. In so doing, he arrogated to himself the power to determine when and how an impeachment inquiry should be carried out. President Trump’s direction has no precedent in American history. His order to the Executive Branch was categorical and indiscriminate. It did not allow for any case-by-case weighing of privacy or national security interests, nor did it permit any efforts at accommodation or compromise. Through his order, the President slammed the door shut.

Following President Trump’s direction, and at his behest, the White House, the Department of State under Secretary Michael R. Pompeo, the Office of Management and Budget under Acting Director Russell T. Vought, the Department of Energy under Secretary James Richard “Rick” Perry, and the Department of Defense under Secretary Mark T. Esper refused to produce a single document or record in response to Congressional subpoenas. Moreover, adhering to President Trump’s direction, nine Administration officials defied subpoenas for testimony, namely John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney, Robert B. Blair, John A. Eisenberg, Michael Ellis, Preston Wells Griffith, Russell T. Vought, Michael Duffey, Brian McCormack, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl. In directing these agencies, offices, and officials to disobey subpoenas, President Trump prevented Congress from obtaining additional evidence highly pertinent to the House’s impeachment inquiry. He did so, moreover, through an official direction lacking any valid cause or excuse—and that strikingly reflected his previous pattern of obstructing United States government investigations into foreign interference in our elections. By engaging in this conduct, President Trump grossly abused his power and sought to arrogate to himself the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry into his own wrongdoing.

Despite President Trump’s obstruction, the Investigating Committees gathered overwhelming evidence of his misconduct from courageous public servants who were willing to follow the law, comply with subpoenas, and tell the truth. On the basis of that formidable body of evidence, the House Committee on the Judiciary recommends the adoption of the First Article of Impeachment.

Yet there can be no doubt that President Trump’s blanket defiance of Congressional subpoenas, and his direction that many others defy such subpoenas, substantially interfered with the House’s efforts to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities. “If left unanswered, President Trump’s ongoing effort to thwart Congress’ impeachment power risks doing grave harm to the institution of Congress, the balance of power between our branches of government, and the Constitutional order that the President and every Member of Congress have sworn to protect and defend.”788

President Trump’s obstruction of Congress does not befit the leader of a democratic society. It calls to mind the very claims of royal privilege against which our Founders rebelled. Nor is President Trump’s obstruction mitigated by a veneer of legal arguments. Some conclusions are so obviously wrong that their premises cannot be taken seriously; that is true of President Trump’s theory that he sets the terms of his own impeachment. Through this conduct, President Trump has shown his rejection of checks and balances. A President who will not abide legal restraint or supervision is a President who poses an ongoing threat to our liberty and security.

The Second Article of Impeachment reflects the judgment of the Committee that President Trump committed “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” in directing the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House pursuant to its “sole Power of Impeachment.” As the Article explains: “This abuse of office amounts to an effort by the President to seize and control the power of impeachment—and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.”789

III. President Trump Committed “High Crimes and Misdemeanors” in Directing Categorical and Indiscriminate Defiance of the House Impeachment Inquiry

Under our Constitution, the House is empowered to investigate grounds for impeachment and the President is required to cooperate with such investigations. Given the impeachment power’s central role in protecting the Nation from Presidential wrongdoing—and as confirmed by historical practice and precedent—Congressional investigative authority is at its constitutional zenith during an impeachment inquiry. When the House takes up its “sole Power of Impeachment,” the overwhelming presumption is that its subpoenas must be and will be obeyed, including by the President and all other recipients in the Executive Branch. In such cases, the House acts not only pursuant to its ordinary legislative powers, but also serves as a “grand inquest of the nation.’”790 It is therefore presumed that “all the archives and papers of the Executive Departments, public or private, would be subject to . . . inspection” and “every facility in the power of the Executive [would] be afforded to enable [the House] to prosecute the investigation.”791

In contravention of those settled principles, and in violation of the assignment of powers under the Constitution, President Trump has defied a subpoena served on the White House. He has also directed other agencies, offices, and officials across the Executive Branch to violate their own obligations under the law. His direction has been complete and wholly unqualified in nature. Rather than undertake a process of dialogue and accommodation, the President has stonewalled all investigative prerogatives and interests held by the House in an impeachment inquiry. Although the Justice Department and individual Executive Branch officials have additionally raised specific objections to certain subpoenas—none of which have merit—President Trump’s general direction that the Executive Branch obstruct Congress has rendered those objections practically irrelevant. President Trump’s unprecedented conduct thus raises a single question: Is it an impeachable offense under the Constitution for the President to direct the categorical and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued pursuant to a House impeachment inquiry?

The Committee has undertaken a thorough survey of relevant authorities and concludes that the answer is plainly “yes.” This is not a close case. President Trump has asserted and exercised the unilateral prerogative to direct complete defiance of every single impeachment-related subpoena served on the Executive Branch. He has purported to justify this obstruction by attacking the motives, procedures, and legitimacy of the House impeachment inquiry—in overt violation of our Constitution, which vests the House (and not the President) with the “sole Power of Impeachment.”

Simply stated, these are not judgments for the President to make. His position would place Presidents in control of a power meant to restrain their own abuses. That is not what the Constitution provides. As Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter W. Rodino correctly explained to President Nixon in May 1974, “[u]nder the Constitution it is not within the power of the President to conduct an inquiry into his own impeachment, to determine which evidence, and what version or portion of that evidence, is relevant and necessary to such an inquiry. These are matters which, under the Constitution, the House has the sole power to determine.”792

President Trump’s direction to obstruct the House impeachment inquiry is thus grossly incompatible with, and subversive of, the Constitution. It marks a dangerous step toward debilitating the Impeachment Clause and unraveling the Framers’ plan. This claim of Presidential power is also recognizably wrong—as every President in American history, except President Trump, has in fact recognized. Through his conduct, President Trump’s has revealed himself as a continuing threat to constitutional governance if he remains in office. It is one thing for a President to use harsh rhetoric in criticizing an impeachment inquiry. It is something else entirely for that President to declare such an inquiry “illegitimate” and use his official powers to stonewall the House.793 A President who declares himself above impeachment is a President who sees himself as above the law. That President is a monarch in all but name and imperils our democracy.794

To explain our judgment that President Trump’s conduct constitutes “high Crimes and Misdemeanors,” we first describe the House’s power of inquiry, as well as its power to investigate grounds for impeachment. We next confirm the Committee’s assessment from President Nixon’s case that obstruction of a House impeachment inquiry is an impeachable offense. Finally, we apply the law to President Trump’s conduct, consider his various excuses, and assess whether he remains a continuing threat to constitutional governance and democracy if allowed to remain in office.

A. The House’s Power of Inquiry

“[L]egislative subpoenas are older than our country itself.”795 They originated in the English Parliament, “when that body, as part of its campaign to ‘challenge the absolute power of the monarch,’ asserted ‘plenary authority’ to hold offending parties in contempt.”796 By the late 17th century, “[t]he privileges and powers of the [House of] Commons”—which include the linked powers of contempt and inquiry—“were naturally assumed to be an incident of the representative assemblies of the Thirteen Colonies.”797 In part for that reason, “[a]fter the Revolutionary War and the Constitutional Convention, the U.S. Congress wasted little time in asserting its power to use compulsory process to investigate matters of national—and potentially legislative—importance.”798 Such Congressional oversight activity was grounded in Article I of the Constitution, which grants Congress “[a]ll legislative Powers,”799 and authorizes “[e]ach House [to] determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”800 Through these provisions, the Constitution vests the House with a “power of inquiry,” including “process to enforce it,” as an “essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function.”801

“So long as the [House] is investigating a matter on which Congress can ultimately propose and enact legislation, the [House] may issue subpoenas in furtherance of its power of inquiry.”802 And the House’s constitutional authority “to conduct investigations” is “broad.”803 “It encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes,” “[i]t includes surveys of defects in our social, economic or political system for the purpose of enabling the Congress to remedy them,” and “[i]t comprehends probes into departments of the Federal Government to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste.”804 Congress may not usurp the constitutional functions of other branches of government, violate individual rights, engage in law enforcement, or investigate topics over which it cannot legislate.805 But apart from these narrow limitations, “[a] legislative inquiry may be as broad, as searching, and as exhaustive as is necessary to make effective the constitutional powers of Congress.”806 Moreover, the ultimate outcome of oversight need not be apparent from the outset for it to be proper: “The very nature of the investigative function—like any research—is that it takes the searchers up some ‘blind alleys’ and into nonproductive enterprises. To be a valid legislative inquiry there need be no predictable end result.”807

Consistent with Congress’s role in checking the Executive Branch, “Presidents, too, have often been the subjects of Congress’s legislative investigations.”808 “Historical examples stretch far back in time and broadly across subject matters,” ranging from investigations of contract fraud under President Andrew Jackson, to allegations that President Abraham Lincoln was mishandling military strategy during the Civil War, to charges that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had incited the Japanese into bombing Pearl Harbor, to President Nixon and the Watergate scandal, to President Ronald W. Reagan’s involvement in the Iran-Contra Affair, to President William J. Clinton and Whitewater, to the Benghazi investigation under President Barack H. Obama.809

As the Supreme Court has observed, “[w]ithout the power to investigate—including of course the authority to compel testimony, either through its own processes or through judicial trial—Congress could be seriously handicapped in its efforts to exercise its constitutional function wisely and effectively.”810 Presidential obstruction of legislative subpoenas thus undermines Congress’s constitutional function, offends the separation of powers, and effectively places the President above the law.

B. The House’s Power to Investigate Grounds for Impeachment

In light of the impeachment power’s central role in our system of checks and balances, the House’s investigative authority is at its peak during an impeachment inquiry. All three branches of the federal government have repeatedly confirmed this point.

When the Framers authorized the House to impeach Presidents, they necessarily empowered it to obtain and examine evidence deemed necessary to the exercise of that constitutional responsibility. This understanding follows directly from the Constitutional Convention. There, several delegates opposed including an impeachment power in the Constitution. They warned that it would be “destructive of [the executive’s] independence.”811 The majority of delegates agreed that allowing impeachment would affect the separation of powers—but welcomed that result. As George Mason declared, “[n]o point is of more importance than that the right of impeachment should be continued.”812 Alexander Hamilton, in turn, later observed that “the powers relating to impeachments” are “an essential check in the hands of [Congress] upon the encroachments of the executive.”813 Many Americans in this period agreed that impeachment played an important role; it would keep Presidents in line and protect the Nation from abuse, betrayal, or corruption. Thus, even as the Constitution created a powerful presidency, it included a safety valve for emergencies.

Yet the impeachment power could not serve that role if the House were unable to investigate the facts necessary to make an informed impeachment determination, or if the President could liberally obstruct such efforts. This was recognized early on. In 1796, the House requested that President George Washington provide it with sensitive diplomatic materials relating to the Jay Treaty. President Washington famously declined this request on the ground that it exceeded the House’s role and intruded upon his executive functions. But in that same letter, President Washington agreed that impeachment would change his calculus: “It does not occur that the inspection of the papers asked for can be relative to any purpose under the cognizance of the House of Representatives, except that of an impeachment, which the resolution has not expressed.”814 In the ensuing House debates, one Member noted that President Washington had “admitted, by implication, that where the House expresses an intention to impeach, the right to demand from the Executive all papers and information in his possession belongs to it.”815 And President Washington was right, because “the sole Power” of impeachment includes “a right to inspect every paper and transaction in any department, otherwise the power of impeachment could never be exercised with any effect.”816

In 1833, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story emphasized the House’s broad investigatory power in impeachments—and the importance of not permitting the President to obstruct such inquiries. In his influential Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Justice Story addressed the interaction between impeachment and Presidential pardons. While doing so, he pointedly observed that “[t]he power of impeachment will generally be applied to persons holding high offices under the government; and it is of great consequence that the President should not have the power of preventing a thorough investigation of their conduct, or of securing them against the disgrace of a public conviction by impeachment.”817

In 1842, amid ongoing strife between the House and President John Tyler, the House took substantial steps toward an impeachment inquiry.818 During a dispute with President Tyler over the production of documents—which he ultimately provided—a Committee of the House confirmed its robust understanding of the power to investigate impeachable offenses:

The House of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment. The President himself in the discharge of his most independent functions, is subject to the exercise of this power which implied the right of inquiry on the part of the House to the fullest and most unlimited extent. … If the House possess the power to impeach, it must likewise possess all the incidents of that power—the power to compel the attendance of all witnesses and the production of all such papers as may be considered necessary to prove the charges on which impeachment is founded. If it did not, the power of impeachment conferred upon it by the Constitution would be nugatory. It could not exercise it with effect.819

Consistent with this precedent, President James K. Polk “cheerfully admitted” in 1846 the right of the House to investigate the conduct of all government officers with a view to exercising its impeachment power.820 “In such a case,” he wrote:

[T]he safety of the Republic would be the supreme law, and the power of the House in the pursuit of this object would penetrate into the most secret recesses of the Executive Departments. It could command the attendance of any and every agent of the Government, and compel them to produce all papers, public or private, official or unofficial, and to testify on oath to all facts within their knowledge.821

President Andrew Johnson conducted himself in accordance with this understanding when the Judiciary Committee undertook an initial inquiry into grounds for impeachment. During that investigation, which occurred in 1867, the Committee obtained executive and Presidential records; interviewed cabinet officers and Presidential aides about cabinet meetings and conversations with the President; and examined a number of Presidential decisions, including Presidential pardons, the issuance of executive orders, the implementation of Congressional Reconstruction, and the vetoing of legislation.822 Multiple witnesses, moreover, answered questions about the opinions of the President, statements made by the President, and advice given to the President.823 Significantly, as this Committee has previously summarized, “[t]here is no evidence that [President] Johnson ever asserted any privilege to prevent disclosure of presidential conversations to the Committee, or failed to comply with any of the Committee’s requests.”824

With only a few exceptions, invocations of the impeachment power largely subsided from 1868 to 1972.825 Yet even in that period, while objecting to acts of ordinary legislative oversight, Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, S. Grover Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt each noted that Congress could obtain a broader set of Executive Branch documents in an impeachment inquiry.826

In 1973 and 1974, this Committee investigated whether President Nixon had committed “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” During that period, the Senate also investigated events relating to the Watergate break-in and its aftermath. Faced with these inquiries, President Nixon allowed senior administration officials to testify voluntarily in the Senate. As a result, many senior White House officials testified, including White House Counsel John W. Dean III, White House Chief of Staff H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, Deputy Assistant to the President Alexander P. Butterfield, and Chief Advisor to the President for Domestic Affairs John D. Ehrlichman.827 President Nixon also produced numerous documents and records in response to Congressional subpoenas, including more than 30 transcripts of White House recordings and notes from meetings with the President.828 This was consistent with prior practice. As the Judiciary Committee explained at the time: “Before the current inquiry, sixty-nine Federal officials had been the subject of impeachment investigations. With the possible exception of one minor official who invoked the privilege against self-incrimination, not one of them challenged the power of the committee conducting the investigation to compel the production of evidence it deemed necessary.”829

However, President Nixon’s production of records was incomplete in a very important respect: he did not produce key tape recordings of Oval Office conversations, and some of the transcripts of such recordings that he produced were heavily edited or inaccurate.830 President Nixon claimed that his noncompliance with House subpoenas was necessary to protect the confidentiality of Presidential conversations. But as we explain further in the next section, this Committee rejected his arguments and approved an article of impeachment against President Nixon for obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry.831

Twenty-four years later, the House undertook impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. Consistent with precedent, he “pledged to cooperate fully with the [impeachment] investigation.”832 And although the House engaged in very little independent fact-finding, President Clinton substantially cooperated, providing written responses to 81 interrogatories from the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment inquiry—as well as his own DNA.833

Thus, Presidents have long recognized that the House enjoys a nearly plenary power of inquiry while investigating grounds for impeachment. This conclusion is further supported by an additional Executive Branch policy. In the current view of the Department of Justice (DOJ)—the accuracy of which we do not here opine upon—the President cannot be indicted or face criminal prosecution while in office.834 As support for that view, DOJ has reasoned that a President “who engages in criminal behavior falling into the category of ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors’” is “always subject to removal from office upon impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate.”835 DOJ adds that “the constitutionally specified impeachment process ensures that the immunity [of a sitting President from prosecution] would not place the President ‘above the law.’”836 Given DOJ’s refusal to indict or prosecute a sitting President, impeachment and removal may be one of the few available mechanisms to hold a President immediately accountable for criminal conduct also constituting “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” On that view, the House must have broad access to evidence supporting or refuting allegations of impeachable misconduct, since an unduly narrow view of the House’s authority would place the President beyond all legal constraint.

The Judiciary has similarly concluded that the House enjoys broad investigative power in an impeachment setting. In Kilbourn v. Thompson, for example, the Supreme Court invalidated a contempt order by the House, but emphasized that “the whole aspect of the case would have changed” were it an impeachment proceeding, since “[w]here the question of such impeachment is before either [House of Congress] acting in its appropriate sphere on that subject, we see no reason to doubt the right to compel the attendance of witnesses, and their answer to proper questions, in the same manner and by the use of the same means that courts of justice can in like cases.”837

More recently, Judge John J. Sirica’s influential opinion on the Watergate “road map” likewise emphasized the special and substantial weight assigned to legislative interests in an impeachment context: “[I]t should not be forgotten that we deal in a matter of the most critical moment to the Nation, an impeachment investigation involving the President of the United States. It would be difficult to conceive of a more compelling need than that of this country for an unswervingly fair inquiry based on all the pertinent information.”838 Sitting en banc, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit further recognized that the House has enhanced legal powers to obtain material from the President in an impeachment inquiry because “[t]he investigative authority of the Judiciary Committee with respect to presidential conduct has an express constitutional source.”839

A spate of decisions from the 1980s further support the House’s robust investigative powers during impeachment. In Nixon v. Fitzgerald, the Supreme Court announced a rule of absolute Presidential immunity from civil damages.840 In so doing, it emphasized that this rule “will not leave the Nation without sufficient protection against misconduct on the part of the Chief Executive,” since “there remains the constitutional remedy of impeachment.”841 The Court pointedly added that “[v]igilant oversight by Congress also may serve to deter Presidential abuses of office, as well as to make credible the threat of impeachment.”842 This statement constituted a recognition by the Court that the House cannot effectively exercise its impeachment power without the ability to undertake “vigilant oversight.”843

Over the following years, several federal courts agreed. In 1984, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit emphasized that impeachment inquiries require courts to place a heavy thumb on the scale in favor of turning over materials to Congressional investigators.844 Three years later, a district judge elaborated that courts have limited power to constrain legislative investigations in an impeachment setting: “Ancillary to the sole power of impeachment vested in the House by the Constitution is the power to disclose the evidence that it receives as it sees fit. Again, recognition of the doctrine of separation of powers precludes the judiciary from imposing restrictions on the exercise of the impeachment power.”845 In affirming this decision, the Eleventh Circuit noted that “[p]ublic confidence in a procedure as political and public as impeachment is an important consideration justifying disclosure” of grand jury materials to Congress. 846

More recent opinions have echoed these points. As one judge observed, when “subpoenas [are] issued in connection with an impeachment proceeding . . . . Congress’s investigatory powers are at their peak.”847 Other judges have more broadly emphasized the public interest in obtaining Executive Branch records that may be relevant to an ongoing impeachment inquiry.848

“Long settled and established practice is a consideration of great weight in a proper interpretation of constitutional provisions regulating the relationship between Congress and the President.”849 Viewed together, the practices and express statements set forth above confirm that the House enjoys an exceedingly expansive power of inquiry when investigating grounds for impeachment. Because the House’s interests in any such inquiry evoke the interests underlying the impeachment power itself, subpoenas issued by a House impeachment inquiry should overcome nearly any countervailing interest or privilege. Finally, by virtue of the plain language of Article I of the Constitution, which vests the House with the “sole Power of Impeachment” as a check against the Presidency, it is for the House—and not the President—to determine what documents and testimony are needed for its exercise of the impeachment power.

C. Obstruction of Congress Is an Impeachable Offense

Impeachment is a cornerstone of the Constitution. When the House wields the impeachment power, it serves as a grand inquest of the Nation on behalf of the American people, charged with protecting our democracy. Because the premise of the Impeachment Clause is that the House must be able to act when the President has abused his power, betrayed the national interest, or corrupted elections, a President who obstructs House investigators has attacked the Constitution itself. Even when the President strenuously disagrees with the impeachment inquiry—and even when he doubts its motives—he must obey the law and allow others to meet their legal obligations. The absurdity of allowing Presidents to dictate the terms of impeachment inquiries is obvious. The danger of allowing Presidents to do so is manifest. For that reason, Presidential obstruction of an impeachment inquiry is itself an impeachable abuse of power under the Constitution.850

To be sure, Presidents may still raise privacy, national security, and other concerns in the course of an impeachment inquiry, to the extent they apply. There is room for inter-branch negotiation and accommodation—though there is an overwhelming presumption in favor of full disclosure and compliance with House subpoenas. But when a President abuses his office to defy House investigators on matters that they deem pertinent to their inquiry, and does so without lawful cause or excuse, his conduct may constitute an unconstitutional effort to seize and break the impeachment power vested solely in the House. In that respect, obstruction of Congress involves “the exercise of official power in a way that, on its very face, grossly exceeds the President’s constitutional authority or violates legal limits on that authority.”851

This is illustrated by President’s Nixon case. As explained above, President Nixon allowed senior administration officials to testify and produced many documents. He did not direct anything approximating a categorical and indiscriminate blockade of the House’s impeachment inquiry. But in response to the Judiciary Committee’s eight subpoenas for recordings and materials related to 147 conversations, he produced only limited documents and edited transcripts of roughly 30 conversations; many of those transcripts were inaccurate or incomplete.852 President Nixon claimed that his non-compliance was legally defensible, invoking the doctrine of executive privilege.853

The Judiciary Committee rejected these arguments and deemed President Nixon’s conduct to be impeachable. It observed that his “statements that the institution of the Presidency is threatened when he is required to comply with a subpoena in an impeachment inquiry exaggerate both the likelihood of such an inquiry and the threat to confidentiality from it.”854 The Committee also emphasized that “the doctrine of separation of powers cannot justify the withholding of information from an impeachment inquiry.”855 After all, “[t]he very purpose of such an inquiry is to permit the House, acting on behalf of the people, to curb the excesses of another branch, in this instance the Executive.”856 Therefore, “[w]hatever the limits of legislative power in other contexts—and whatever need may otherwise exist for preserving the confidentiality of Presidential conversations—in the context of an impeachment proceeding the balance was struck in favor of the power of inquiry when the impeachment provision was written into the Constitution.”857

Because “the refusal of [President Nixon] to comply with the subpoenas was an interference by him with the efforts of the Committee and the House of Representatives to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities,” the Judiciary Committee deemed it impeachable.858 The Committee reached that determination even though it had “been able to conduct an investigation and determine that grounds for impeachment exist,” despite “the President’s refusal to comply.”859 On that point, the Committee observed that President Nixon’s obstruction “was not without practical import,” since “[h]ad it received the evidence sought by the subpoenas, the Committee might have recommended articles structured differently or possible ones covering other matters.”860

President Nixon’s obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry featured in two of the three articles approved by the Judiciary Committee. Article II charged President Nixon with abuse of power, including “failing to act when he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates endeavored to impede and frustrate lawful inquiries by duly constituted executive, judicial and legislative entities concerning the unlawful entry into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and the cover-up thereof, and concerning other unlawful activities . . . .”861

More directly, Article III charged President Nixon with abusing his power by interfering with the discharge of the Judiciary Committee’s responsibility to investigate fully and completely whether sufficient grounds existed to impeach him:

In refusing to produce these papers and things, Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States . . . .862

President Nixon’s case is thus persuasive authority that Presidential defiance of a House impeachment inquiry may constitute “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

This Committee took the same view in President Clinton’s case. The fourth article of impeachment against President Clinton charged that he had “impaired the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries, and contravened the authority of the legislative branch and the truth seeking purpose of a coordinate investigative proceeding.”863 Specifically, it accused him of failing to respond to certain written requests and making false and misleading statements to Congress. To justify impeaching President Clinton on that basis, the Committee reasoned as follows:

In responding in such a manner, the President exhibited contempt for the constitutional prerogative of Congress to conduct an impeachment inquiry. The impeachment duty is a solemn one vested exclusively in the House of Representatives as a check and balance on the President and the Judiciary. The Committee reached the unfortunate conclusion that the President, by giving perjurious, false, and misleading answers under oath to the Committee’s requests for admission, chose to take steps to thwart this serious constitutional process.864

Ultimately, the House declined to approve this article. That decision, however, did not constitute a determination that obstruction of a House impeachment inquiry cannot be impeachable. Instead, it appears to reflect a judgment by the full House that President Clinton’s conduct was not substantial, malicious, or obstructive enough to warrant an article of impeachment.

Applying these principles, a President commits “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” when he abuses his office to substantially obstruct House impeachment investigators on matters that it deems pertinent to its inquiry, and does so without lawful cause or excuse.

D. President Trump Has Committed “[H]igh Crimes and Misdemeanors”

1. President Trump Substantially Obstructed the Impeachment Inquiry

The evidentiary record bearing on President Trump’s obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry is set forth in the Ukraine Report and incorporated by reference here.865 On the basis of that record, it is indisputable that President Trump substantially obstructed the House impeachment inquiry. The essential facts bearing on that judgment include the following:

  • From September through November 2019, the Investigating Committees served subpoenas on numerous Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials. These subpoenas sought evidence and testimony regarding President Trump’s efforts to solicit and pressure the Government of Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and a discredited conspiracy theory alleging Ukrainian interference in the 2016 United States Presidential election.866
  • At the time the Investigating Committees served these subpoenas, and continually since then, they were acting pursuant to a House impeachment inquiry under Article I of the Constitution.867
  • Even before the House launched its Ukraine inquiry, President Trump rejected the authority of Congress to investigate his actions, stating, “We’re fighting all the subpoenas,”868 and “I have an Article [II], where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.”869
  • Writing “on behalf of President Donald J. Trump,” White House Counsel Pat A. Cipollone sent a letter to senior House officials on October 8, 2019, confirming that President Trump had directed his entire Administration to defy the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Cipollone wrote: “President Trump cannot permit his Administration to participate in this partisan inquiry under these circumstances.”870
  • Two days later, President Trump agreed that Mr. Cipollone was conveying the President’s direction in the October 8 letter. President Trump stated: “As our brilliant White House Counsel wrote to the Democrats yesterday, he said their highly partisan and unconstitutional effort threatens grave and lasting damage to our democratic institutions, to our system of free elections, and to the American people. That’s what it is. To the American people. It’s so terrible. Democrats are on a crusade to destroy our democracy. That’s what’s happening. We will never let it happen. We will defeat them.”871
  • President Trump’s direction was categorical and indiscriminate: he directed all agencies, offices, and officials not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. In other words, President Trump directed officials throughout the Executive Branch to violate their own independent legal obligations.
  • President Trump’s direction was unprecedented: no President has ever issued such direction—or anything even approximating it—in response to an impeachment inquiry.
  • President Trump’s direction had the natural and foreseeable consequence of obstructing—and did, in fact, obstruct—the House impeachment inquiry:
    • Defying a subpoena, the White House refused to produce any information or records to the Investigating Committees as part of this inquiry.872
    • Defying subpoenas, the Department of State, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense refused to produce a single record to the Investigating Committees as part of this inquiry.873
    • Defying subpoenas, nine Administration officials refused to testify before the Investigating Committees, namely Mick Mulvaney (Acting White House Chief of Staff), Robert B. Blair (Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff), John A. Eisenberg (Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs and Legal Advisor, National Security Council), Michael Ellis (Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Deputy Legal Advisor, National Security Council), Preston Wells Griffith (Senior Director for International Energy and Environment, National Security Council), Russell T. Vought (Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget), Michael Duffey (Associate Director for National Security Programs, Office of Management and Budget), Brian McCormack (Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science, Office of Management and Budget, and former Chief of Staff to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry), and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl (Counselor, Department of State).874
  • The Investigating Committees concluded—with ample reason—that this defiance of their subpoenas resulted in the denial of evidence relevant to the inquiry. Numerous witnesses identified specific relevant documents that have been withheld, and there is substantial evidence that officials who followed President Trump’s direction not to appear could have offered testimony bearing on President Trump’s course of conduct regarding Ukraine.875
  • President Trump lacked lawful cause or excuse for issuing his direction that all Executive Branch officials defy their legal obligations in response to Congressional subpoenas.876

Despite President Trump’s direction that the Executive Branch blockade the impeachment inquiry, the Investigating Committees found clear and overwhelming evidence of his misconduct. This includes powerful direct evidence, strengthened and supported by compelling circumstantial evidence, of President Trump’s course of conduct and corrupt motivations in soliciting and pressuring the Government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 Presidential election. Some of the evidence before the Committee consists of testimony from officials who properly complied with their Congressional subpoenas, notwithstanding the President’s contrary direction.877 In response to such testimony, President Trump used the world’s most powerful bully pulpit to attack, threaten, and intimidate numerous witnesses and potential witnesses.878

Ultimately, as in President Nixon’s case, House Committees have “been able to conduct an investigation and determine that grounds for impeachment exist—even in the face of the President’s refusal to comply.”879 But here, as there, the President’s obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry was not “without practical import.”880 It may have prevented the House from learning the full extent of the President’s misdeeds.

The President thus inflicted concrete harm on the House, which is duty-bound to inquire when it has cause to believe the President may have committed “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The House made that judgment here when evidence emerged that President Trump had solicited and pressured a foreign power to interfere in our elections for his own personal political benefit. To discharge its constitutional obligations, the House—acting through its Committees—pursued an impeachment inquiry and subpoenaed relevant Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials. In seeking to thwart the House in the faithful performance of that constitutional function, President Trump committed a gross abuse of power. Most immediately, this abuse involved ordering the defiance of Congressional subpoenas. That stands as “an affront to the mechanism for curbing abuses of power that the Framers carefully crafted for our protection.”881

More fundamentally, President Trump’s direction to defy House subpoenas constituted an assault on the Impeachment Clause itself—and thus on our Constitution’s final answer to corrupt Presidents. As explained above, the “sole Power of Impeachment” authorizes the House to review information that resides within the very branch of government it is empowered to scrutinize. By engaging in substantial obstruction of a House impeachment inquiry, the President could effectively seek to control a check on his own abuses. That is exactly what happened here.

In President Nixon’s case, this Committee concluded that “[u]nless the defiance of the [House] subpoenas … is considered grounds for impeachment, it is difficult to conceive of any President acknowledging that he is obligated to supply the relevant evidence necessary for Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility in an impeachment proceeding.”882 The same lesson applies now, but with exponentially greater force. President Nixon authorized other officials and agencies to honor their legal obligations.883 He also turned over many of his own documents, failing only to respond fully to eight subpoenas.884 President Trump, in contrast, directed his entire Administration—every agency, office, and official in the Executive Branch—not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, including by disobeying duly authorized subpoenas. If this does not qualify as impeachable obstruction of Congress, then nothing does, and the House will have sent a dangerous invitation to future Presidents to defy impeachment inquiries.

2. President Trump’s Obstruction of Congress Lacked Lawful Cause or Excuse and Involved Recognizably Wrongful Conduct

President Trump and his lawyers have offered various arguments to justify the President’s complete defiance of the House impeachment inquiry. Those arguments are indefensible as a matter of law and come nowhere close to excusing the President’s unprecedented obstruction of Congress. They amount to a claim that the President has the power to dictate the terms on which he is investigated for “high Crimes and Misdemeanors”—a claim that is fundamentally at odds with the Constitution.

The President’s excuses consist mainly of complaints about the procedures adopted by the House and its Committees. For example, the President asserts that the full House needed to vote to authorize the impeachment inquiry at an earlier date; that the Investigating Committees were required to afford him a broad array of rights to intervene and participate in their proceedings as they engaged in fact finding; that the Investigating Committees were forbidden to conduct portions of their fact-finding investigations behind closed doors; that the Investigating Committees were required to allow agency attorneys to attend depositions; that the Minority was entitled to certain subpoena powers; and that the House engaged in “threats and intimidation” by informing Executive Branch subpoena recipients of the legal consequences of their failure to comply with duly authorized Congressional subpoenas.885

The President has asserted many procedural arguments, but they all fail for similar reasons. First, the House—not the President—has the “sole Power of Impeachment”886 and the sole power “to determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”887 President Trump’s process complaints thus concern matters entrusted to the exclusive discretion of the House. His disagreement with how the House has organized its hearings and carried out its investigations offers no excuse for breaking the law and directing others to do so. Second, as already described, impeachment proceedings are not criminal in character and involve only the charging-style decision on whether to accuse the President of “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”888 Thus, although President Trump has described his demands as seeking “due process,” none of these procedures are “due” to him under the Constitution here. Third, President Trump’s demands have no basis in history or prior practice, which cut against him.889 Finally, in passing H. Res. 660, the House implemented procedural protections for the President that exceed (or are consistent with) those afforded to Presidents Nixon and Clinton.890 The fact that President Trump declined to take advantage of these protections does not excuse his across-the-board stonewalling of the House.891

President Trump’s remaining arguments fare no better. Through Mr. Cipollone’s letter, he asserts the prerogative to defy all House subpoenas because he has unilaterally decided that he did not do anything wrong.892 He adds that the House must be acting with “partisan” and “illegitimate” motives.893 Notably, the President did not simply make these points at a press conference or on Twitter. He had the White House Counsel include them in a letter to the House as part of his formal legal basis for directing obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry.894

To state the obvious, a President cannot obstruct a House impeachment inquiry because he believes his conduct was proper and sees no need for his acts to be investigated. Nor can he do so by impugning the House’s motives or attacking its legitimacy. Once again, the Constitution vests the House with the “sole Power of Impeachment.” These are judgments for the House alone to make, guided always by the Constitution. Otherwise, in contravention of the entire Anglo-American legal tradition, Presidents would truly be the judge of their own case.895 That is why the Framers gave the impeachment power to Congress, not the President, and it is why the House and Senate, respectively, have “sole Power” to impeach and to adjudicate articles of impeachment.896

On this score, the Supreme Court’s decision in Walter Nixon v. United States is instructive: “Judicial involvement in impeachment proceedings, even if only for purposes of judicial review, is counterintuitive because it would eviscerate the important constitutional check placed on the Judiciary by the Framers. [Judge] Nixon’s argument would place final reviewing authority with respect to impeachments in the hands of the same body that the impeachment process is meant to regulate.”897 In practice, President Trump would do what the Supreme Court has clearly warned against: place vital constitutional judgments about exercises of the impeachment power “in the hands of the same [President] that the impeachment process is meant to regulate.”898 Thus, while President Trump merely erred in asserting that the impeachment inquiry was unfounded, partisan, and “illegitimate,” he moved from error to “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” in declaring that his self-determined innocence somehow justifies his scorched-earth obstruction campaign.

Throughout our history, impeachments—particularly of Presidents—have been rare. Moreover, in Judge Walter Nixon’s case, the Supreme Court made clear its extreme wariness of intruding on powers of impeachment entrusted solely to Congress. As a result, impeachment proceedings against a President will inevitably raise questions of constitutional law that have not been definitively, specifically resolved by judicial precedent or past practice of the House. This leaves room for inter-branch negotiation. But it does not allow the President to seize on specious arguments, cobble them together, and use them in an effort to justify the unjustifiable: a Presidential direction that all House subpoenas be entirely defied under all circumstances. Such unyielding Presidential obstruction of an impeachment inquiry is plainly wrong. When the House investigates impeachable offenses, the President cannot cover up his misconduct by holding hostage all evidence contained within the Executive Branch. The Judiciary Committee made this clear in President Nixon’s case and reaffirms that principle today.

Simply put, there are lines that a President cannot cross in an impeachment inquiry. Those lines exist to ensure that the Impeachment Clause can serve its fundamental purpose as a safeguard for the people of the United States. In comprehensively obstructing this House impeachment inquiry, President Trump crossed every one of these lines. He did so without any valid cause or excuse. He must therefore be impeached, lest future Presidents follow his example and persist in corruption, oppression, and abuse of power with little risk of discovery or accountability.

3. Judicial Review is Unnecessary and Impractical Here

It has been suggested that the House cannot impeach President Trump for obstruction of Congress without seeking judicial enforcement of the subpoenas that he has ordered be defied. This claim is mistaken as a matter of constitutional law, precedent, and common sense.

As already explained, the Constitution vests the House—rather than the President or Judiciary—with “the sole Power of Impeachment.” That “sole Power” includes the investigatory powers that the House has invoked in serving subpoenas as part of the current impeachment inquiry. This Committee therefore concluded in President Nixon’s case that it would frustrate the constitutional plan for the House to depend entirely on the Judiciary to enforce subpoenas in impeachment proceedings.899 That would risk making the House subservient to courts in matters where the Constitution gives the House the final word.900 It would also raise complexities in the case of a President who directed Executive Branch officials to defy House subpoenas—and then used his pardon power to immunize them from contempt orders if instructed by the Judiciary to honor those subpoenas.901

To be sure, judicial review may at first blush seem desirable because “it would be an independent determination by an entity with no interest in the proceedings.”902 But as this Committee has noted: “[T]he impeachment process itself provides an opportunity for such a determination— initially by the House in deciding whether to prosecute the Article of Impeachment, and, ultimately, by the Senate, the tribunal for an impeachment trial. Neither the Committee nor the House would be the final judge of the validity of the Committee’s subpoenas. Whether noncompliance with the subpoenas is a ground for impeachment would ultimately be adjudicated in the Senate.”903

Consistent with this understanding of the constitutional plan, the House has never before relied on litigation to compel witness testimony or the production of documents in a Presidential impeachment proceeding.904 Some members of the Minority have suggested otherwise, but there is no law or practice to support such a theory.905 As explained above, the history of House impeachment inquiries teaches a single lesson: compliance with subpoenas is the rule, defiance the exceedingly rare (and impeachable) exception. No President has ever issued a blanket ban on compliance with House subpoenas and challenged the House to find a way around his unlawful order. Under these strange and unprecedented circumstances, it is appropriate for the House to reach its own independent judgment that the President is obstructing the exercise of its constitutional impeachment power, rather than seeking judicial review.

Indeed, whereas the Minority suggests that recourse to litigation is required, President Trump has repeatedly argued that the House is forbidden to seek judicial enforcement of its subpoenas. In pending lawsuits filed by the House or its Committees, the Justice Department has raised jurisdictional arguments on behalf of President Trump that, if accepted, would hamper or negate the House’s ability to enforce subpoenas in court.906 Those arguments are mistaken and have already been rejected several times,907 but reflect the President’s sustained and unwavering view that it is legally impermissible for the House to obtain judicial relief. Where the President orders total defiance of House subpoenas and vigorously argues that the courthouse door is locked, it is clear that he seeks to obstruct the House in the exercise of its impeachment power.

This conclusion comports with common sense. The President is under investigation for soliciting and pressuring a foreign power to interfere in an election that is less than a year away. The House has already received compelling evidence of his misconduct. Waiting any longer would thus be an abdication of duty—particularly given the extreme implausibility that litigation would soon bring new evidence to light. Consider three lawsuits filed by House Committees over the past two decades seeking to enforce subpoenas against senior Executive Branch officials:

  • In Committee on the Judiciary v. Miers, this Committee sought to enforce a subpoena requiring former White House Counsel Harriet Miers to give testimony about the contentious firing of nine United States Attorneys. The Committee served that subpoena in June 2007, filed suit in March 2008, and won a favorable district court order in July 2008, but did not receive testimony from Miers until June 2009 due to the entry of a stay by the Court of Appeals and further negotiations between the parties.908
  • In Committee on Oversight and Reform v. Holder, the Committee on Oversight and Reform (COR) sought to compel Attorney General Eric Holder to produce documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious. The committee served that subpoena in October 2011 and filed suit in August 2012. It then won a series of orders requiring the production of documents, but the first such order did not issue until August 2014.909
  • In Committee on the Judiciary v. McGahn, this Committee seeks to enforce a subpoena requiring White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II to give testimony regarding matters relating to the Special Counsel’s investigation. The Committee served that subpoena in April 2019, filed suit in August 2019, and won a favorable district court order in November 2019, but the Court of Appeals has stayed that ruling and will not hear oral argument until January 2020.910

Even when the House urges expedition, it usually takes years—not months—to obtain documents or testimony through judicial subpoena enforcement proceedings. It would be unwise, indeed dangerous, to allow Presidents to defy all subpoenas in an impeachment inquiry and then assert that the House cannot impeach without exhausting judicial remedies. Particularly in a case like this one, where the President’s misconduct is a constitutional crime in progress, waiting for the courts is the practical equivalent of inaction. This Committee will not stand idly by while the President abuses power by asking and pressuring foreign powers to corrupt the upcoming election.

4. President Trump Poses a Continuing Threat if Left in Office

Impeachment exists “not to inflict personal punishment for past wrongdoing, but rather to protect against future Presidential misconduct that would endanger democracy and the rule of law.”911 By virtue of the conduct encompassed by Article II, President Trump “has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”912 That is true in at least three respects: first, he has debased the impeachment remedy; second, he has broadly argued that no government entity in the United States has the legal power to investigate his official misconduct except on terms of his choosing; and third, his obstruction reflects a pattern of misconduct.

a. Debasement of the Impeachment Remedy

The impeachment power exists for a reason. It is the Framers’ final and most definitive answer to a fundamental question: “Shall any man be above Justice?”913 Urging the necessity of allowing impeachments, Elbridge T. Gerry thus emphasized: “A good magistrate will not fear them. A bad one ought to be kept in fear of them.”914 In Federalist Papers No. 69, Alexander Hamilton affirmed that the Impeachment Clause separates Presidents from kings and khans.915 Where a President abuses his power, betrays the public through foreign entanglements, or corrupts his office or elections, impeachment is our Nation’s last line of defense against conduct “fatal to the Republic.”916 It was partly by virtue of this limit on malfeasance that the Framers entrusted Presidents with sweeping executive authority. A President who seeks to sabotage the impeachment power thus disorders our system of checks and balances, tilting it toward executive tyranny.

That is what President Trump did here. The point bears repetition: his conduct is unlike anything this Nation has ever seen. Other Presidents have disapproved of impeachments. Other Presidents have criticized the House and doubted its motives. Other Presidents have insisted they did nothing wrong. But no President before this one has declared himself and his entire branch of government exempt from subpoenas issued by the House under its “sole Power of Impeachment.” No President has made compliance with his every demand a condition of even considering whether to honor subpoenas. No President has directed his senior officials to violate their own legal obligations because an impeachment was “illegitimate.” Indeed, every President in our Nation’s history but one has done the opposite—and that President, Richard M. Nixon, faced an article of impeachment in this Committee for withholding key evidence from the House.

b. Denial of Any Mechanism of Legal Oversight or Accountability

Approval of the Second Article of Impeachment is further supported by President Trump’s apparent view that nobody in the United States government has the lawful authority to investigate any misconduct in which he engages. This view is evident in the legal positions he has taken while in office. To start, President Trump maintains that he is completely immune from criminal indictment and prosecution while serving as President.917 He also claims that he cannot be investigated—under any circumstance—by state or federal law enforcement while in office.918 He asserts the authority to terminate and control federal law enforcement investigations for any reason (or none at all), including when he is the subject of an investigation.919 He insists that unfounded doctrines, such as absolute immunity, preclude testimony by many current and former officials who might shed light on any Presidential abuses.920 He defies binding Congressional subpoenas on topics of national importance based on his own determination that they lack a legitimate purpose,921 and then he sues to block third parties from complying with such subpoenas.922 Even as he pursues his own interests in court, his administration simultaneously argues that Congress is barred from obtaining judicial enforcement when Executive Branch officials disregard its subpoenas.923

Perhaps most remarkably, President Trump claims that the House cannot investigate his misconduct outside of an impeachment inquiry924—but also claims that it cannot investigate his misconduct as part of an impeachment inquiry if he deems it “illegitimate.”925 And an inquiry ranks as “illegitimate,” in President Trump’s view, if he thinks he did nothing wrong, doubts the motives of the House, or prefers a different set of Committee procedures. It is not hyperbole to describe this reasoning as better suited to George Orwell or Franz Kafka than the Office of the President.

Viewed in their totality, President Trump’s positions amount to an insistence that he is above the law; that there is no governmental entity in the United States outside his direct control that can investigate him for official misconduct and hold him accountable for any wrongdoing. Even the House, wielding one of the mightiest powers in the Constitution—a power that exists specifically to address a rogue President—has no authority at all to investigate his official acts if he decides otherwise.

That is not our law. It never has been. The President is a constitutional officer. Unlike a despot, he answers to a higher legal authority. It is disconcerting enough that the President has attacked and resisted the House’s explicit oversight authority in unprecedented ways. But it is worse, much worse, that he now claims the further prerogative to ignore a House impeachment inquiry.926 The continuing threat posed by President Trump’s conduct, as set forth in the Second Article of Impeachment, is thus exacerbated by his public and legal assertions that it is illegitimate and unlawful for anyone to investigate him for abuse of office except on his own terms.

c. Consistency with Previous Conduct

The Second Article of Impeachment impeaches President Trump for obstructing Congress with respect to the House impeachment inquiry relating to Ukraine. Yet, as noted in that Article, President Trump’s obstruction of that investigation is “consistent with [his] previous efforts to undermine United States Government investigations into foreign interference in United States elections.”927 An understanding of those previous efforts, and the pattern of misconduct they represent, sheds light on the particular conduct set forth in that Article as sufficient grounds for the impeachment of President Trump.928

These previous efforts include, but are not limited to, President Trump’s endeavor to impede the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 United States Presidential election, as well as President Trump’s sustained efforts to obstruct the Special Counsel after learning that he was under investigation for obstruction of justice.929 There can be no serious doubt that the Special Counsel’s investigation addressed an issue of extraordinary importance to our national security and democracy. As the Special Counsel concluded, “[t]he Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”930 This assessment accords with the consensus view of the United States intelligence community.931

Ultimately, although the Special Counsel “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” he did conclude that “the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”932 Yet there is no indication in the Special Counsel’s report that anyone from the Trump Campaign, including President Trump, reported to law enforcement any contacts or offers of foreign assistance. Instead, President Trump openly welcomed and invited Russian interference in the election.933

Rather than aid the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference, President Trump sought to thwart it—and used the powers of his office as part of that scheme.934 Most notably, after learning that he was himself under investigation, President Trump among other things ordered the firing of the Special Counsel,935 sought to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation in a manner exempting his own prior conduct,936 instructed the White House Counsel to create a false record and make false public statements,937 and tampered with at least two key witnesses in the Special Counsel’s investigation.938 Based on the Special Counsel’s report, these acts were obstructive in nature, and there is evidence strongly supporting that President Trump acted with the improper (and criminal) purpose of avoiding potential liability and concealing information that he viewed as personally and politically damaging.939

The pattern is as unmistakable as it is unnerving. There, President Trump welcomed and invited a foreign nation to interfere in a United States Presidential election to his advantage; here, President Trump solicited and pressured a foreign nation to do so. There, Executive Branch law enforcement investigated; here, the House impeachment inquiry investigated. There, President Trump used the powers of his office to obstruct and seek to fire the Special Counsel; here, President Trump used the powers of his office to obstruct and embargo the House impeachment inquiry. There, while obstructing investigators, the President stated that he remained free to invite foreign interference in our elections; here, while obstructing investigators, President Trump in fact invited additional foreign interference. Indeed, President Trump placed his fateful July 25 call to President Zelensky just one day after the Special Counsel testified in Congress about his findings.

Viewed in this frame, it is apparent that President Trump sees no barrier to inviting (or inducing) foreign interference in our elections, using the powers of his office to obstruct anyone who dares to investigate such misconduct, and engaging in the same conduct with impunity all over again. Although the Second Article of Impeachment focuses on President Trump’s categorical and indiscriminate obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry, the consistency of this obstruction with his broader pattern of misconduct is relevant and striking.940

IV. Conclusion

As the Investigating Committees concluded, “it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the President since the [impeachment] inquiry began.”941 In the history of our Republic, no President has obstructed Congress like President Trump. If President Nixon’s obstruction of Congress raised a slippery slope concern, we now find ourselves at the bottom of the slope, surveying the damage to our Constitution.

That damage is extraordinary. As explained above, and as set forth in Article II, President Trump has “sought to arrogate to himself the right to determine the propriety, scope, and nature of an impeachment inquiry into his own conduct, as well as the unilateral prerogative to deny any and all information to the House of Representatives in the exercise of its ‘sole Power of Impeachment.’”942 This abuse of the Presidential office, moreover, “served to cover up the President’s own repeated misconduct and to seize and control the power of impeachment—and thus to nullify a vital constitutional safeguard vested solely in the House of Representatives.”943 If President Trump is left unchecked, we will send an alarming message to future Presidents.

In word and deed, President Trump has sought to write the Impeachment Clause out of the Constitution. If his excuses for that conduct are accepted, then every future President can choose to ignore House subpoenas, and a bulwark against tyranny will be undone. This time, courageous and patriotic public servants defied the President’s direction and offered testimony about his corrupt solicitation and inducement of foreign interference in our elections. Next time, we may not be so fortunate, and a President may perpetrate abuses that remain unknown or unprovable. That is exactly what the Framers feared most as they designed the Office of the President. It is what they warned against in their deliberations, and what they sought to prevent by authorizing impeachments. We are the inheritors of that legacy—of a Republic, if we can keep it.

1 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 2, cl. 5; § 5, cl. 2.

2 Directing Certain Committees to Continue Their Ongoing Investigations as Part of the Existing House of Representatives Inquiry Into Whether Sufficient Grounds Exist for the House of Representatives to Exercise its Constitutional Power to Impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for Other Purposes, H. Rep. No. 116-266 at 4 (2019) (hereinafter “Rules Committee Report”); see also Staff of H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment 39 (Comm. Print 2019) (hereinafter “Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019)”).

3 See, e.g., Resolution Recommending that the House of Representatives Find William P. Barr, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, in Contempt of Congress for Refusal to Comply with a Subpoena Duly Issued by the Committee on the Judiciary, H. Rep. No. 116-105, at 13 (June 6, 2019).

4 See Responses by Ann Donaldson to Questions from the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives (July 5, 2019).

5 See Interview of Hope Hicks Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (June 19, 2019).

6 See App. of the Comm. on the Judiciary at 14 n.8, In re App. of the Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Reps., for an Order Authorizing the Release of Certain Grand Jury Materials, -- F. Supp. 3d --, 2019 WL 5485221 (D.D.C. Oct. 25, 2019) (hereinafter “In re Rule 6(e) Application”), appeal pending, No. 19-5288 (D.C. Cir.). In addition, in August 2019, Chairman Nadler requested that the chairs of five other committees investigating potential misconduct by President Trump share any materials with the Judiciary Committee that would be relevant to its consideration of impeachment. Letter from Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Adam Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, Maxine Waters, Chairwoman, H. Comm. on Financial Services, Elijah E. Cummings, Chairman, H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform, and Eliot L. Engel, Chairman, H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs (Aug. 22, 2019).

7 See Kenneth P. Vogel, Rudy Giuliani Plans Ukraine Trip to Push for Inquiries That Could Help Trump, N.Y. TIMES, May 9, 2019.

8 See, e.g., Letter from Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, to Joseph Maguire, Acting Dir. of Nat’l Intelligence (Sept. 10, 2019).

9 Press Release, Pelosi Remarks Announcing Impeachment Inquiry (Sept. 24, 2019).

10 See The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report: Report for the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence Pursuant to H. Res. 660 in Consultation with the H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform and the H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs at 208, 116th Cong. (2019) (hereinafter “Ukraine Report”).

11 Id. (quoting Letter from Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, Chairman, H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform, Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, and Eliot L. Engel, H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs, to Mick Mulvaney, Acting Chief of Staff, The White House (Oct. 4, 2019)).

12 Letter from Pat A. Cipollone, Counsel to the President, to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, Eliot L. Engel, Chairman, H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs, and Elijah E. Cummings, Chairman, H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform (Oct. 8, 2019) (hereinafter “Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter”).

13 Ukraine Report at 30-31. Ten witnesses defied subpoenas for testimony, but the Investigating Committees subsequently withdrew their subpoena to one of the officials. Id. at 236.

14 Depositions of four of the witnesses postdated the House’s approval of H. Res. 660 on October 31.

15 Rules governing the use of deposition authorities were issued at the beginning of the current Congress, just as they have been during previous Congresses. See H. Res. 6 § 103(a), 116th Cong. (2019) (providing authority for chairs of standing committees and chair of HPSCI to order the taking of depositions); Regulations for Use of Deposition Authority, 165 Cong. Rec. H1216-17 (daily ed. Jan. 25, 2019) (setting forth regulations pursuant to this provision).

16 Final Report of the H. Select Comm. on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, H. Rep. No. 114-848 at 404-05 (2016) (footnote omitted).

17 H. Res. 660, 116th Cong. (2019).

18 Rules Committee Report at 2.

19 Id. at 7.

20 Id.

21 Ukraine Report at 212-13.

22 H. Res. 660 § 2(2).

23 Id. § 2(4). In addition, the House’s standing rules entitle committees of the House to issue subpoenas and to delegate subpoena authority to Committee chairs. See House Rule XI.2(m).

24 H. Res. 660 § 2(6).

25 Letter from Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, to Devin Nunes, Ranking Member, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence (Nov. 9, 2019).

26 Id.

27 Ukraine Report at 9 (preface from Chairman Schiff).

28 Letter from Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman, H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform, and Eliot L. Engel, Chairman, H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs, to Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 6, 2019); see H. Res. 660 §§ 2(6), 3.

29 Letter from John Yarmuth, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Budget, to Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 6, 2019); Letter from Eliot L. Engel, Chairman, H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs, to Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 6, 2019).

30 See Letter from Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, to Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 11, 2019).

31 Impeachment Inquiry Procedures in the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record, 165 Cong. Rec. E1357 (daily ed. October 29, 2019) (hereinafter “Impeachment Inquiry Procedures”).

32 Accordingly, after receiving these materials from the Investigating Committees, the Judiciary Committee transmitted them to the President on December 8, 2019, with limited exceptions for materials containing sensitive information. The Committee has made the materials containing sensitive information available for the President’s counsel’s review in a secure facility. See Letter from Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Pat A. Cipollone, Counsel to the President (Dec. 8, 2019).

33 Impeachment Inquiry Procedures at (A)(3), (B)(2)-(3), (C)(1)-(2), (4).

34 H. Res. 660 § 4(c)(2).

35 Letter from Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Donald J. Trump, President of the United States (Nov. 26, 2019).

36 Letter from Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Donald J. Trump, President of the United States (Nov. 29, 2019).

37 Letter from Pat A. Cipollone, Counsel to the President, to Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 1, 2019).

38 Letter from Pat A. Cipollone, Counsel to the President, to Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 6, 2019).

39 Id.

40 The Impeachment Inquiry Into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (Dec. 4, 2019) (hereafter “Constitutional Grounds Hearing (2019)”). This ratio of one Minority witness for every three Majority witnesses is consistent with other hearings conducted in the Judiciary Committee and in other committees.

41 Cf. Background and History of Impeachment: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on the Constitution, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. (1998).

42 See Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019).

43 See id. at 53 (Minority Views).

44 The Impeachment Inquiry Into President Donald J. Trump: Presentations from H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence and H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (Dec. 9, 2019) (hereinafter “Presentation of Evidence Hearing (2019)”).

45 H. Res. 755, 116th Cong. (2019).

46 U.S. CONST. art I, § 2, cl. 5.

47 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 5, cl. 2.

48 Rules Committee Report at 7.

49 House Rule XI.2(m); H. Res. 6 § 102(a).

50 See House Rule X.1(i)(1), (10) (Committee on Foreign Affairs has jurisdiction regarding “[Relations of the United States with foreign nations generally” and “[diplomatic service”); House Rule X.3(i), X.4(c)(2) (Committee on Oversight and Reform “shall review and study on a continuing basis the operation of Government activities at all levels, including the Executive Office of the President,” and “may at any time conduct investigations of any matter” before other committees of the House); House Rule X.11(b)(1)(B) (HPSCI has jurisdiction regarding “[intelligence and intelligence- related activities” of all “departments and agencies of the government”).

51 Press Release, Three House Committees Launch Wide-Ranging Investigations into Trump-Giuliani Ukraine Scheme (Sept. 9, 2019).

52 See Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter.

53 In re Rule 6(e) Application, 2019 WL 5485221, at *26.

54 Constitution, Jefferson’s Manual, Rules of the House of Representatives of the United States, H. Doc. No. 115-177 § 603 (2019 ed.) (hereinafter Jefferson’s Manual”).

55 In re Rule 6(e) Application, 2019 WL 5485221 at *26 (providing four examples).

56 Id. (citing 3 Deschler’s Precedents of the United States House of Representatives ch. 14 § 5 (1994) (hereinafter “Deschler”).

57 In re Rule 6(e) Application, 2019 WL 5485221 at *26 (emphasis in original).

58 Report of the Committee on the Judiciary, Impeachment of Walter L. Nixon, Jr., H. Rep. No. 101-36, at 13-16 (1989).

59 See Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S. 224, 227-28 (1993).

60 See In re Rule 6(e) Application, 2019 WL 5485221 at *26.

61 See Examining the Allegations of Misconduct Against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen (Part I): Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 114th Cong. 3 (2016) (statement by Rep. Darrell Issa describing the hearing as “an inquiry into the recommendation of impeachment” made by another committee).

62 H. Res. 803 § 2(a)(1); see 3 Deschler ch. 14 § 6.2.

63 See H. Res 6, 116th Cong. § 103(a), (2019); Jefferson’s Manual § 805 (describing gradual expansion of these authorities).

64 3 Deschler ch. 14 § 15.1.

65 See id. ch. 14 § 15.2 (Parliamentarian’s Note); Report of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Impeachment of Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, H. Rep. No. 93-1305 at 6 (1974) (hereinafter “Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974)”).

66 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 6.

67 Work of the Impeachment Inquiry Staff As of February 5, 1974: Report by the Staff of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary at 2-3, 93d Cong. (1974) (hereinafter “February 5, 1974 Progress Report”).

68 H. Res. 803 § 1, 93d Cong. (1974).

69 Impeachment Inquiry: Hearings Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 93d Cong. 497 (1974) (hereinafter “Nixon Impeachment Hearings”).

70 See Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e).

71 United States v. Procter & Gamble Co., 356 U.S. 677, 681 n.6 (1958).

72 Rules Committee Report at 8.

73 February 5, 1974 Progress Report at 2.

74 H. Res. 803 § 1, 93d Cong. (1974).

75 Id. § 2(b)(1).

76 Procedures for Handling Impeachment Inquiry Material: H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 93d Cong. (Comm. Print 1974); see Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 8.

77 Nixon Impeachment Hearings at 53-78 (Feb. 5, 1974 briefing by staff); id. at 79-100 (Feb. 14, 1974 briefing by staff); id. at 131-59 (Mar. 5, 1974 briefing by staff).

78 See id. at 96, 105, 206.

79 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 3, cl. 6.

80 See Final Report of the S. Select Comm. on Presidential Campaign Activities, S. Rep. No. 93-981, xxiii-xxiv (1974) (hereinafter “Senate Select Committee Report”).

81 Id. at xxx.

82 Id. at xviii.

83 Id. at xxix.

84 Nixon Impeachment Hearings at 95; see also Senate Select Committee Report at xxx.

85 Work of the Impeachment Inquiry Staff as of March 1, 1974 at 4, 93d Cong. (Comm. Print 1974).

86 See Haldeman v. Sirica, 501 F.2d 714 (D.C. Cir. 1974).

87 Nixon Impeachment Hearings at 96.

88 Impeachment Inquiry Staff, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Memorandum: Presentation Procedures for the Impeachment Inquiry at 11, 93d Cong. (Apr. 3, 1974).

89 Id. at 18.

90 See Nixon Impeachment Hearings App. VI, “Impeachment Inquiry Procedures”; e.g., id. at 1189 (Chairman prohibited President Nixon’s counsel from introducing a response to Committee’s presentations at this stage).

91 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 9.

92 See Nixon Impeachment Hearings at 1719-1866 (presentations by President Nixon’s counsel); id. at 1867-79 (voting to conduct witness testimony in executive session).

93 See generally Testimony of Witnesses: Hearings Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 93d Cong. (1974).

94 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 9-10.

95 Id. at 10.

96 See Impeachment of William J. Clinton, President of the United States: Report of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, H. Rep. No. 105-830, at 123 (hereinafter “Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998)”). Independent Counsel Starr submitted this referral pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 595(c), a provision of the now-expired Independent Counsel Act that required independent counsels to “advise the House of Representatives of any substantial and credible information . . . that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.” See id. at 123-24.

97 Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998) at 125; see H. Res. 525, 105th Cong. (1998).

98 H. Res. 525 § 2, 105th Cong. (1998).

99 Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998) at 125-26.

100 H. Res. 581, 105th Cong. (1974).

101 Id. § 2(b).

102 Letter from Charles F.C. Ruff, Counsel to the President, Gregory B. Craig, Special Counsel to the President, and David E. Kendall, Special Counsel to the President, to Henry Hyde, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Oct. 23, 1998); Letter from Charles F.C. Ruff, Counsel to the President, to Thomas E. Mooney, Chief of Staff – General Counsel, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, and David P. Schippers, Chief Investigative Counsel, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Nov. 20, 1998).

103 Letter from Thomas E. Mooney, Chief of Staff – General Counsel, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, and David P. Schippers, Chief Investigative Counsel, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Charles F.C. Ruff, Counsel to the President, Gregory B. Craig, Special Counsel to the President, and David E. Kendall, Special Counsel to the President, at 2-3 (Nov.9, 1998) (hereinafter “Mooney Letter”).

104 See generally Impeachment Inquiry: William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States: Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. (Nov. 19, 1998) (hereinafter “Starr Hearing”). President Clinton’s counsel was permitted to question Independent Counsel Starr following questioning by Committee counsel and Members. Id. at 170-89.

105 See Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998) at 200 (Minority Views); see also Starr Hearing at 170.

106 See Background and History of Impeachment: Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Subcomm. on the Constitution, 105th Cong. (Nov. 9, 1998); The Consequences of Perjury and Related Crimes: Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. (Dec. 1, 1998).

107 Impeachment Inquiry: William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States: Presentation on Behalf of the President: Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. (1998). President Clinton’s counsel also called White House Counsel Charles F.C. Ruff to testify. Id. at 405-58.

108 Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998) at 128.

109 144 Cong. Rec. 28, 110-12 (1998).

110 Letter from John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Henry J. Hyde, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 22, 1998).

111 The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Presentations from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee: Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (2019) (testimony by Daniel Goldman).

112 Id.

113 Starr Hearing at 170-89.

114 Mooney Letter at 3 (quoting Memorandum from Impeachment Inquiry Staff at 11, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Apr. 3, 1974)); Memorandum from Impeachment Inquiry Staff, H. Comm. on the Judiciary at 18 (Apr. 3, 1974).

115 Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter.

116 Id.

117 Cf., e.g., United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 350 (1974) (rejecting procedural protections that would “saddle a grand jury with minitrials and . . . assuredly impede its investigation”).

118 Ukraine Report at 212.

119 Nixon Impeachment Hearings at 497.

120 Rules Committee Report at 7.

121 H. Res. 803 § 2(b), 93d Cong. (1974); H. Res. 581 § 2(b), 105th Cong. (1998).

122 H. Res. 660 § 4(c). The only distinction is that H. Res. 660 did not reciprocally allow the Ranking Member to refer subpoena requests by the Chairman for a full Committee vote. But that is because contemporary House Rules already permit the Judiciary Committee and other committees to delegate their subpoena authority to their chairs. House Rule XI.2(m)(3)(A)(i). It makes little sense to suggest that the subpoena authority of the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee should be reduced during an impeachment inquiry.

123 See Letter from Doug Collins, Ranking Member, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 6, 2019).

124 Impeachment Inquiry: Ambassador Kurt Volker and Timothy Morrison: Hearing Before the H. Perm. Select Comm. On Intelligence, 116th Cong. (2019); see, e.g., Ukraine Report at 123 (Ambassador Volker testified that Department of Justice did not make an official request for Ukraine’s assistance in law enforcement investigations).

125 Letter from Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to Doug Collins, Ranking Member, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 9, 2019).

126 Letter from Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, to Devin Nunes, Ranking Member, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence (Nov. 9, 2019).

127 Id.

128 H. Res. 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump: Markup Before H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (Dec. 11, 2019) (ruling on point of order by Chairman Nadler) (hereinafter “H. Res. 755 Markup”).

129 Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970, H. Rep. No. 91-1215, at 6 (1970).

130 H. Res. 755 Markup (ruling on point of order by Chairman Nadler).

131 Ukraine Report at 7.

132 Id. at 10.

133 1 Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 392 (1911) (hereinafter, “Records of the Federal Convention”).

134 U.S. CONST. art. II, § 4; id. art. I, § 5, cl. 5; id. art. I, § 3, cl. 6.

135 2 Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 221 (1833).

136 H.Res. 660, 116th Cong. (2019).

137 Staff of H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment 93d Cong., 4 (Comm. Print 1974) (hereinafter “Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974)”); Staff of H. Comm. on the Judiciary, Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment: Modern Precedents, 105th Cong. (Comm. Print 1998) (hereinafter “Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment: Modern Precedents (1998)”).

138 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 65.

139 1 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 86.

140 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 69, 444 (Benjamin Fletcher Wright ed., 2004).

141 Id

142 See Laurence H. Tribe, American Constitutional Law 155 (3d ed. 2000).

143 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 550.

144 Quoted in Background and History of Impeachment: Hearing before the Subcomm. On the Constitution of the H. Comm on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. 49 (1999) (hereinafter “1998 Background and History of Impeachment Hearing”).

145 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 67.

146 Id. at 65-66.

147 George Washington Farewell Address (1796), George Washington Papers, Series 2, Letterbooks 1754-1799: Letterbook 24, April 3, 1793 - March 3, 1797, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

148 To Thomas Jefferson from John Adams, 6 December 1787, Founders Online, NATIONAL ARCHIVES.

149 Zephyr Teachout, Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United 57 (2014).

150 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 66.

151 Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 33 (1998).

152 Report of the Committee on the Judiciary, Impeachment of Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, H.. Rep. No. 93-1305 8 (1974) (hereinafter “Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974)”).

153 Remarks by President Trump at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit 2019, July 23, 2019, THE WHITE HOUSE.

154 Cass R. Sunstein, Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide 47 (2017).

155 Quoted in id. at 27.

156 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Imperial Presidency 415 (1973).

157 Elizabeth B. Wydra & Brianne J. Gorod, The First Magistrate in Foreign Pay, THE NEW REPUBLIC, Nov. 11, 2019.

158 Teachout, Corruption in America at 48.

159 Id. at 47.

160 James Madison, Federalist No. 51 at 356.

161 U.S. CONST. art. II, § 1, cl. 8.

162 See Andrew Kent, Ethan J. Leib & Jed Handelsman Shugerman, Faithful Execution and Article II, 132 HARV. L. REV. 2111- 2121 (2019).

163 Raoul Berger, Impeachment: The Constitutional Problems 4 (1974).

164 Id. at 1 n.2.

165 Frank O. Bowman, III, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump 72 (2019).

166 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 65-67.

167 1 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 66.

168 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 66.

169 James Madison, Notes on Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 332 (1987).

170 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 69 at 444.

171 Id.

172 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 43, cl. 7.

173 John O. McGinnis, Impeachment: The Structural Understanding, 67 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 650, 650 (1999).

174 See Tribe, American Constitutional Law at 155.

175 U.S. CONST. tart. I, § 2, cl. 5.

176 4 Jonathan Elliot, ed., The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution 113 (1861) (hereinafter “Debates in the Several State Conventions”).

177 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 3, cl. 6.

178 Id.

179 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 65 at 426.

180 U.S. CONST. art. II, § 4.

181 Alexander Hamilton, “Objections and Answers respecting the Administration of the Government,” Founders Online, NATIONAL ARCHIVES.

182 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1 at 91.

183 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 65 at 427.

184 Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 65-72.

185 Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 4.

186 See id.

187 Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 41.

188 Id

189 Id. at 46; Berger, Impeachment at 70.

190 See Peter Charles Hoffer & N. E. H. Hull, Impeachment in America, 1635-1805 1-106 (1984).

191 Laurence H. Tribe & Joshua Matz, To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment 7 (2018).

192 The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, et al, July 4, 1776, Copy of Declaration of Independence, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

193 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 550.

194 Id

195 Id

196 Id

197 Id

198 U.S. CONST. art. III, § 3, cl. 1.

199 William Hawkins, A Treatise of Pleas to the Crown, ch. 67, § 3 (1716).

200 2 Story, Commentaries at 263; see also H. Rep. No. 946 at 19 (1912).

201 For example, while the English common law tradition principally addressed itself to judicial bribery, the Framers repeatedly made clear at the Constitutional Convention that they intended to subject the President to impeachment for bribery. They confirmed this intention in the Impeachment Clause, which authorizes the impeachment of “[t]he President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States” for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” U.S. CONST., art. 2, § 4. It is therefore proper to draw upon common law principles and to apply them to the office of the Presidency.

202 Hawkins, A Treatise of Pleas to the Crown, ch. 67, § 2 (1716).

203 Rex v. Vaughan, 98 Eng. Rep. 308, 311 (K.B. 1769).

204 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Vol. 2, Book 4, Ch. 10, § 17 (1771).

205 Rex v. Vaughan, 98 Eng. Rep. 308, 311 (K.B. 1769). American courts have subsequently repeated this precise formulation. See, e.g., State v. Ellis, 33 N.J.L. 102, 104 (N.J. Sup. Ct. 1868) (“The offence is complete when an offer or reward is made to influence the vote or action of the official.”); see also William O. Russell, A Treatise on Crimes and Misdemeanors 239-240 (1st American Ed) (1824) (“The law abhors the least tendency to corruption; and up on the principle which has been already mentioned, of an attempt to commit even a misdemeanor, being itself a misdemeanor, (f) attempts to bribe, though unsuccessful, have in several cases been held to be criminal.”).

206 John T. Noonan, Jr., Bribes: The Intellectual History of a Moral Idea 430 (1984).

207 As Professor Bowman writes, bribery was “a common law crime that developed from a narrow beginning” to reach “giving, and offering to give, [any] improper rewards.” Bowman, High Crimes & Misdemeanors at 243; see also, e.g., Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 33 (“The corrupt exercise of power in exchange for a personal benefit defines impeachable bribery. That’s self-evidently true whenever the president receives bribes to act a certain way. But it’s also true when the president offers bribes to other officials—for example, to a federal judge, a legislator, or a member of the Electoral College… In either case, the president is fully complicit in a grave degradation of power, and he can never again be trusted to act as a faithful public servant.”).

208 See James Lindgren, The Elusive Distinction Between Bribery and Extortion: From the Common Law to the Hobbs Act, 35 UCLA L. REV. 815, 839 (1988).

209 Blackstone, Commentaries, Vol. 2, Book 4, Ch. 10, § 22 (1771) (citing 1 Hawk. P. C. 170); accord Giles Jacob, A New Law-Dictionary 102 (1782) (defining “Extortion” as “an unlawful taking by an officer, &c. by colour of his office, of any money, or valuable thing, from a person where none at all is due, or not so much is due, or before it is due”).

210 Lindgren, The Elusive Distinction, 35 UCLA L. REV. at 839.

211 For all the reasons given below in our discussion of the criminality issue, impeachable “Bribery” does not refer to the meaning of bribery under modern federal criminal statutes. See also Bowman, High Crimes & Misdemeanors at 243-44; Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 31-33.

212 U.S. CONST, art. I, § 9, cl.8.

213 Hawkins, A Treatise of Pleas to the Crown, ch. 67, § 2 (1716).

214 Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book 4, ch. 10 “Of Offenses Against Public Justice” (1765-1770).

215 Charles L. Black Jr. & Philip Bobbitt, Impeachment: A Handbook, New Edition 34 (2018).

216 Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 640 (Jackson, J., concurring).

217 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 67.

218 Id. at 65-66.

219 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 65 at 426.

220 Berger, Impeachment at 94.

221 2 Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions at 169.

222 James Madison, Federalist No. 47 at 336.

223 See generally National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, et al., 573 U.S. 513 (2014).

224 Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 109.

225 Ex Parte Grossman, 267 U.S. 87 (1925).

226 Id. at 121.

227 Id

228 Articles of Impeachment Exhibited By The House Of Representatives Against Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, 40th Cong. (1868).

229 Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 108 (1926).

230 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 188.

231 Id. at 213.

232 Kent et al., Faithful Execution at 2120, 2179.

233 1998 Background and History of Impeachment Hearing at 49.

234 3 Elliott, Debates in the Several State Conventions at 497-98.

235 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 361.

236 In President Clinton’s case, the House approved the article of impeachment for obstruction of justice. There was virtually no disagreement in those proceedings over whether obstructing justice can be impeachable; scholars, lawyers, and legislators on all sides of the dispute recognized that it can be. See Daniel J. Hemel & Eric A. Posner, Presidential Obstruction of Justice, 106 CAL. L. REV 1277, 1305-1307 (2018). Publicly available evidence does not suggest that the Senate’s acquittal of President Clinton was based on the view that obstruction of justice is not impeachable. Rather, Senators who voted for acquittal appear to have concluded that some of the factual charges were not supported and that, even if Presidential perjury and obstruction of justice might in some cases justify removal, the nature and circumstances of the conduct at issue (including its predominantly private character) rendered it insufficiently grave to warrant that remedy.

237 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 139.

238 Id.

239 See generally Michael Les Benedict, The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson (1999).

240 Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali, & Peter Baker, Impeachment: An American History 48 (2018).

241 Id. at 49.

242 Id.

243 See Annette Gordon-Reed, Andrew Johnson: The American Presidents Series: the 17th President, 1865-1869 12 (2011).

244 Tribe & Matz, To End a Presidency at 55.

245 In President Clinton’s case, it was debated whether Presidents can be impeached for acts that do not involve their official powers. See Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment: Modern Precedents (1998) at 6-7; Minority Staff of H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 105th Cong., Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment: Modern Precedents Minority Views 3-4, 8-9, 13-16 (Comm. Print 1998). Many scholars have taken the view that such private conduct may be impeachable in extraordinary circumstances, such as where it renders the President unviable as the leader of a democratic nation committed to the rule of law. See, e.g., Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 10, 51; Black & Bobbitt, Impeachment at 35. It also bears mention that some authority supports the view that Presidents might be subject to impeachment not for abusing their official powers, but by failing to use them and thus engaging in gross dereliction of official duty. See, e.g., Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 50; Akhil Reed Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography 200 (2006); Black & Bobbitt, Impeachment at 34.

246 Wydra & Gorod, The First Magistrate in Foreign Pay.

247 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 65.

248 Id. at 68.

249 Id. at 67-68.

250 Id

251 Frank O. Bowman, III, Foreign Policy Has Always Been at the Heart of Impeachment, FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Nov 2019).

252 Bowman, High Crimes & Misdemeanors at 48, 106.

253 To Thomas Jefferson from John Adams, 6 December 1787, Founders Online, NATIONAL ARCHIVES.

254 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 68 at 441.

255 U.S. CONST., art. I, § 8.

256 See Lawrence Friedman & Victor Hansen, There Is No Constitutional Impediment to an Impeachment Inquiry that Concerns National Security, JUST SECURITY, Oct. 1, 2019.

257 U.S. CONST., art. II, §2, cl. 2.

258 Medellin v. Texas, 552 U.S. 491, 511 (2008).

259 Zivotofsky v. Kerry, 135 S. Ct. 2076 (2015).

260 Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 635 (1952) (Jackson, J., concurring).

261 Teachout, Corruption in America at 57.

262 Jonathan Elliot ed., Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution in the Convention Held at Philadelphia, in 1787 341 (1861) (hereinafter “Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution”).

263 4 Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions at 302.

264 Bowman, High Crimes & Misdemeanors at 277.

265 Teachout, Corruption in America at 1.

266 U.S. CONST., art. I, § 9, cl. 8.

267 Norman L. Eisen, Richard Painter & Laurence H. Tribe, The Emoluments Clause: Its Text, Meaning, And Application To Donald J. Trump, BROOKINGS, Dec. 16, 2016.

268 Elliot, Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution at 467.

269 3 Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions at 465.

270 Id. at 201.

271 Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 4.

272 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 64.

273 id

274 Id. at 65.

275 Id. at 69.

276 U.S. CONST. Amend. XXII.

277 Wood, The Creation of the American Republic at 33.

278 John Locke, Second Treatise of Government 112 (C.B. Macpherson ed. 1980).

279 U.S. CONST. Pmbl.

280 Amar, America’s Constitution at 8.

281 4 Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions at 331; see also James Madison, Federalist No. 14.

282 James Madison, Federalist No. 37 at 268.

283 In fact, the Framers were so concerned about improper foreign influence in the Presidency that they restricted that position to natural born citizens. U.S. CONST. art. II, § 1. As one commentator observed, “Considering the greatness of the trust, and that this department is the ultimately efficient power in government, these restrictions will not appear altogether useless or unimportant. As the President is required to be a native citizen of the United States, ambitious foreigners cannot intrigue for the office, and the qualification of birth cuts off all those inducements from abroad to corruption, negotiation, and war, which have frequently and fatally harassed the elective monarchies of Germany and Poland, as well as the pontificate at Rome.” 1 James Kent, Commentaries on American Law 255 (1826).

284 2 Story, Commentaries at 264.

285 1998 Background and History of Impeachment Hearing at 2.

286 Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 2.

287 Consistent with that understanding, one scholar remarks that it is the “repetition, pattern, [and] coherence” of official misconduct that “tend to establish the requisite degree of seriousness warranting the removal of a president from office.” John Labovitz, Presidential Impeachment 129-130 (1978); see also, e.g., McGinnis, Impeachment at 659 (“[I]t has been well understood that the official’s course of conduct as a whole should be the subject of judgment.”); Debate On Articles Of Impeachment: Hearing before the H. Comm. On the Judiciary, 93rd Cong. (1974) (hereinafter “Debate on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974)”) (addressing the issue repeatedly from July 24, 1974 to July 30, 1974).

288 Sunstein, Impeachment at 59.

289 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America and Two Essays on America 124-30 (2003).

290 See Black & Bobbitt, Impeachment at 29-30.

291 Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 27.

292 Debate on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 79.

293 Impeachment of William J. Clinton, President of the United States: Report of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, H. Rep. No. 105-830 at 64 (1998) (hereinafter “Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998)”) Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998) at 64 (“Although, the actions of President Clinton do not have to rise to the level of violating the federal statute regarding obstruction of justice in order to justify impeachment.”); Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 22-26.

294 Berger, Impeachment at 58.

295 See, e.g., Black & Bobbitt, Impeachment at 33-37, 559-565; Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 244-252; Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 43-53; Sunstein, Impeachment at 117-134; Amar, America’s Constitution at 200-20; Charles J. Cooper, A Perjurer in the White House?: The Constitutional Case for Perjury and Obstruction of Justice as High Crimes and Misdemeanors, 22 HARV. J. L. & PUB. POL’Y 619, 620 (1998-1999); Michael J. Gerhardt, The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis 105-113 (2019); Berger, Impeachment at 58 (collecting sources); Merrill Otis, A Proposed Tribunal: Is It Constitutional?, 7 KAN. CITY. L. REV. 3, 22 (1938) (quoting Chief Justice Taft); Charles E. Hughes, The Supreme Court of the United States 19 (1928); 2 Henry Adams, History of the United States of America 223 (1962).

296 Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 44.

297 2 Story, Commentaries at 268.

298 See Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 44-47.

299 Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 22.

300 Berger, Impeachment at 62.

301 Hoffer & Hull, Impeachment in America at 1-95.

302 Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 244.

303 Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France and Other Writings 409 (2015).

304 Quoted in Michael J. Gerhardt, Impeachment: What Everyone Needs to Know 60 (2018).

305 Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 23.

306 Id.

307 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 65 at 426.

308 Id.

309 James Wilson, Collected Works of James Wilson 736 (Kermit L. Hall and Mark David hall ed. 2007).

310 William Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States of America 218 (1829).

311 2 Story, Commentaries at 234.

312 Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 24.

313 REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, ROBERT W. ARCHBALD, JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES COMMERCE COURT, H. REP. NO. 62-946 (1912); H. Res. 422, 74th Cong. (1936).

314 Berger, Impeachment at 60.

315 See generally Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974).

316 Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998) at 66.

317 Tribe & Matz, To End a Presidency at 40.

318 U.S. CONST. amend. V, § 1.

319 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 8, cl. 6.

320 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 8, cl. 10.

321 U.S. CONST. art. IV, § 2, cl. 2.

322 One might object that since “Treason” and “Bribery” are indictable crimes, the same must be true of “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But this argument would fail. Although it is true that “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors” share

certain characteristics with “Treason” and “Bribery,” the key question is which characteristics unify them. And for all the reasons given here, it is wrong to conclude that criminality is the unifying principle of impeachable offenses. Moreover, if the Framers’ goal was to limit impeachment to violations of the criminal law, it is passing strange that the Impeachment Clause uses a term of art—“high Crimes and Misdemeanors”—that appears neither in the criminal law itself nor anywhere else in the Constitution (which does elsewhere refer both to “crimes” and “offenses”). It would have been easy to write a provision limiting the impeachment power to serious crimes, and yet the Framers pointedly did not do so.

323 2 Story, Commentaries at 272.

324 See Berger, Impeachment at 80.

325 Id.

326 William J. Stuntz, The Collapse of American Criminal Justice 99 (2011).

327 Tribe & Matz, To End a Presidency at 48.

328 2 Story, Commentaries at 264.

329 United States v. Hudson and Goodwin, 11 U.S. 32 (1812).

330 In the alternative, one might say that “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” occur when the president violates state criminal law. But that turns federalism upside down: invoking state criminal codes to supply the content of the federal Impeachment Clause would grant states a bizarre and incongruous primacy in the constitutional system. Especially given that impeachment is crucial to checks and balances within the federal government, it would be nonsensical for states to effectively control when this power may be wielded by Congress.

331 Article III of the Constitution provides that “the Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury.” Article III, §2. This provision recognizes that impeachable conduct may entail criminal conduct—and clarifies that in such cases, the trial of an impeachment still occurs in the Senate, not by jury.

332 Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 24.

333 Id.

334 Id.

335 Id.

336 Id.

337 Tribe & Matz, To End a Presidency at 48-49.

338 Berger, Impeachment at 78.

339 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 25.

340 2 Story, Commentaries at 264.

341 Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974) at 24

342 Id. at 24-25.

343 Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, Vol. II at 170-181 (March 2019).

344 Staff Report on Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment (1974), at 25.

345 Keith E. Whittington, Must Impeachable Offenses Be Violations of the Criminal Code?, LAWFARE, Nov. 19, 2019.

346 Tribe & Matz, To End a Presidency at 51.

347 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 2, cl. 5.

348 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 5, cl. 2.

349 See David Pozen, Risk-Risk Tradeoffs in Presidential Impeachment, TAKE CARE, Jun. 6, 2018 (“Both chambers of Congress enjoy vast discretion in how they run impeachment proceedings.”).

350 Contra Letter from Pat A. Cipollone, Counsel to the President, to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, Eliot L. Engel, Chairman, H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs, and Elijah E. Cummings, Chairman, H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform (Oct. 8, 2019); Leader McCarthy Speech Against the Sham Impeachment Vote, Kevin McCarthy, Republican Leader, Oct. 31, 2019.

351 H. Res. 430, 116th Cong. (2019); Authorizing the Committee on the Judiciary to Initiate or Intervene in Judicial Proceedings to Enforce Certain Subpoenas and for Other Purposes To Accompany H. Res. 430, H. Rep. 116-108 at 21 (2019).

352 Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, Pelosi Remarks Announcing Impeachment Inquiry, Sep. 24 2019,.

353 H. Res. 660, 116th Cong. (2019).

354 See generally H. Rep. No. 116-108.

355 See 3 Hinds Ch. 75 § 2400 (President Johnson); 3 Deschler Ch. 14, § 15 (President Nixon); H. Rep. No. 101-36, at 13–16 (1988) (Judge Walter Nixon); H. Res. 320, 100th Cong. (Judge Alcee Hastings); H. Rep. No. 99-688, at 3–7 (1986) (Judge Harry Claiborne); 3 Deschler Ch. 14 § 5 (Justice William O. Douglas).

356 See H. Res. 87, 101st Cong. (1989) (impeaching Judge Nixon); H. Res. 499, 100th Cong. (1988) (impeaching Judge Hastings); H. Res. 461, 99th Cong. (1986) (impeaching Judge Claiborne).

357 See Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 92 (“Historically, the House and Senate have investigated through their committees … Critically, although they may involve occasional public hearings, most investigatory activities must be kept secret until they have nearly reached an end.”).

358 Debate on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 86.

359 Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998) at 300.

360 Black & Bobbitt, Impeachment at 9.

361 Tribe & Matz, To End a Presidency at 129.

362 Gerhardt, The Federal Impeachment Process at 42 (“[E]ven if the Senate could agree on such rules for impeachment trials, they would not be enforceable against or binding on individual senators, each of whom traditionally has had the discretion in an impeachment trial to follow any evidentiary standards he or she sees fit.”).

363 Black & Bobbitt, Impeachment at 18. see also Gerhardt, The Federal Impeachment Process at 117 (“Both state and federal courts require special rules of evidence to make trials more efficient and fair or to keep certain evidence away from a jury, whose members might not understand or appreciate its reliability, credibility, or potentially prejudicial effect.”).

364 H.R. Jour., 29th Cong., 1st Sess. 693 (1846); 4 James D. Richardson ed., Messages and Papers of Presidents 434-35 (1896).

365 See generally Reports of Committees, Impeachment Investigation, 40th Cong., 1st Sess. 183-578 (1867).

366 See Jonathan David Shaub, The Executive’s Privilege: Rethinking the President’s Power to Withhold Information, LAWFARE (Oct. 31, 2019).

367 The White House, Remarks by President Nixon (Apr. 17, 1973) President Nixon initially stated that members of his “personal staff” would “decline a request for a formal appearance before a committee of the Congress,” but reversed course approximately one month later., The White House, Statement by the President, Executive Privilege ( Mar. 12, 1973).

368 See Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 129 (“Congress’s investigatory powers are at their zenith in the realm of impeachment. They should ordinarily overcome almost any claim of executive privilege asserted by the president.”).

369 Int’l Union, United Auto., Aerospace & Agr. Implement Workers of Am. (UAW) v. N. L. R. B., 459 F.2d 1329, 1336 (D.C. Cir. 1972); see also Interstate Circuit v. United States, 306 U.S. 208, 225–26 (1939); Rossi v. United States, 289 U.S. 89, 91–92 (1933); Mammoth Oil Co. v. United States, 275 U.S. 13, 51–53 (1927); Burdine v. Johnson, 262 F.3d 336, 366 (5th Cir. 2001) (collecting cases); United States v. Pitts, 918 F.2d 197, 199 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (holding that, where a missing witness has “so much to offer that one would expect [him] to take the stand,” and where “one of the parties had some special ability to produce him,” the law allows an inference “that the missing witness would have given testimony damaging to that party”).

370 See, e.g., Bracey v. Grondin, 712 F.3d 1012, 1018 (7th Cir. 2013); Residential Funding Corp. v. DeGeorge Fin. Corp., 306 F.3d 99, 107 (2d Cir. 2002); Nation-Wide Check Corp. v. Forest Hills Distributors, Inc., 692 F.2d 214, 217 (1st Cir. 1982); see also 2 Jones on Evidence § 13:12 & § 13:15 (7th ed. 2019 update).

371 If the President could order all Executive Branch agencies and officials to defy House impeachment inquiries, and if the House were unable to draw any inferences from that order with respect to the President’s alleged misconduct, the impeachment power would be a nullity in many cases where it plainly should apply.

372 Under the Federal Rules of Evidence—which, again, are not applicable in Congressional impeachment proceedings— judges sometimes limit witnesses from offering testimony about someone else’s out-of-court statements. They do so for reasons respecting reliability and with an eye to the unique risks presented by unsophisticated juries that may not properly evaluate evidence. But because hearsay evidence can in fact be highly reliable, and because it is “often relevant,” Tome v. United States, 513 U.S. 150, 163 (1995), there are many circumstances in which such testimony is admissible in federal judicial proceedings. Those circumstances include, but are by no means limited to, recorded recollections, records of regularly conducted activity, records of a public office, excited utterances, and statements against penal or other interest. Moreover, where hearsay evidence bears indicia of reliability, it is regularly used in many other profoundly important contexts, including federal sentencing and immigration proceedings. See, e.g., Arrazabal v. Barr, 929 F.3d 451, 462 (7th Cir. 2019); United States v. Mitrovic, 890 F.3d 1217, 1222 (11th Cir. 2018); United States v. Woods, 596 F.3d 445, 448 (8th Cir. 2010). Ironically, although some have complained that hearings related to the Ukraine affair initially occurred out of public sight, one reason for that measure was to ensure the integrity of witness testimony. Where multiple witnesses testified to the same point in separate, confidential hearings, that factual conclusion may be seen as corroborated and more highly reliable.

373 The President has advanced numerous arguments to justify his across-the-board defiance of the House impeachment inquiry. These arguments lack merit. As this Committee recognized when it impeached President Nixon for obstruction of Congress, the impeachment power includes a corresponding power of inquiry that allows the House to investigate the Executive Branch and compel compliance with its subpoenas.

374 Document: Transcript of David Frost’s Interview with Richard Nixon, TEACHING AMERICAN HISTORY. (1977).

375 Michael Brice-Saddler, While Bemoaning Mueller Probe, Trump Falsely Says the Constitution Gives Him ‘The Right To Do Whatever I Want”, THE WASHINGTON POST, July 23, 2019..

376 2 Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions at 480.

377 Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 70 at 456.

378 3 Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions at 497-98; Ex Parte Grossman, 267 U.S. at 121. Madison adhered to this understanding after the Constitution was ratified. In 1789, he explained to his colleagues in the House that the President would be subject to impeachment for abuse of the removal power—which is held by the President alone—“if he suffers [his appointees] to perpetrate with impunity High crimes or misdemeanors against the United States, or neglects to superintend their conduct, so as to check their excesses.” 1 Annals of Congress 387 (1789).

379 Scholars have offered many examples and hypotheticals that they see as illustrative of this point. See Bowman, High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 258; Black & Bobbitt, Impeachment at 115; Hemel & Posner, Presidential Obstruction of Justice at 1297; Tribe & Matz, To End a Presidency at 61.

380 Jane Chong, Impeachment-Proof? The President’s Unconstitutional Abuse of His Constitutional Powers, LAWFARE, Jan. 2, 2018.

381 U.S. CONST. art. II, § 4.

382 Bradley v. Fisher 80 U.S. 335, 350 (1871).

383 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 5, cl. 2.

384 See generally 1998 Background and History of Impeachment Hearing.

385 Id. at 49.

386 See Tribe & Matz, To End A Presidency at 92 (“Does the president admit error, apologize, and clean house? Does he prove his innocence, or at least his reasonable good faith? Or does he lie and obstruct until the bitter end? Maybe he fires investigators and stonewalls prosecutors? … These data points are invaluable when Congress asks whether leaving the president in office would pose a continuing threat to the nation.”).

387 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 146.

388 Id. at 179.

389 Purkett v. Elem, 514 U.S. 765, 776–77 (1995) (Stevens, J., dissenting).

390 Dep’t of Commerce v. N.Y., No. 18-966, at 27 (U.S. Jun. 27, 2019).

391 See Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 632 (1996); Albemarle Paper Co. v. Moody, 422 U.S. 405, 425 (1975); Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 260 (2005).

392 Flowers v. Mississippi, 139 S. Ct. 2228, 2249 (2019); Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 345 (2003).

393 See Foster v. Chatman, 136 S. Ct. 1737, 1754 (2016); Evans v. Sebelius, 716 F.3d 617, 620–21 (D.C. Cir. 2013); Geleta v. Gray, 645 F.3d 408, 413–14 (D.C. Cir. 2011); EEOC v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 243 F.3d 846, 853 (4th Cir.2001); Domínguez–Cruz v. Suttle Caribe, Inc., 202 F.3d 424, 432 (1st Cir. 2000); Thurman v. Yellow Freight Sys., Inc., 90 F.3d 1160, 1167 (6th Cir. 1996).

394 United States v. Stanchich, 550 F.2d 1294, 1300 (2nd Cir. 1977) (Friendly, J.) (making a similar point about federal judges).

395 See Vill. of Arlington Heights v. Metro. Hous. Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 267 (1977).

396 See, e.g., Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, 530 U.S. 133, 147 (2000); Geleta v. Gray, 645 F.3d 408, 414 (D.C. Cir. 2011); Czekalski v. Peters, 475 F.3d 360, 366 (D.C. Cir. 2007); Murray v. Gilmore, 406 F.3d 708, 716 (D.C. Cir. 2005); Salazar v. Wash. Metro. Transit Auth., 401 F.3d 504, 511–12 (D.C. Cir. 2005); Anderson v. Zubieta, 180 F.3d 329, 348 (D.C. Cir. 1999).

397 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 64.

398 Id. at 120.

399Id.

400 Id. at 143.

401 Id. at 3.

402 Black & Bobbitt, Impeachment at 93.

403 Debate on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 2.

404.Elliot, Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution at 341.

405 Debate on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 16.

406 James Madison, Federalist No. 51 at 356.

407 Jill Lepore, The Invention - And Reinvention – Of Impeachment, THE NEW YORKER Oct. 21, 2019

408 See Staff of H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment 18 (Comm. Print 2019) (hereinafter “Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019)”).

409 Id.

410 Id. at 8.

411 U.S. CONST., art. II, § 3, cl. 5.

412 Andrew Kent et al., Faithful Execution and Article II, 132 HARV. L. REV. 2111, 2120, 2179 (2019).

413 Background and History of Impeachment: Hearing Before the Subcomm. On the Constitution of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. 49 (1999) (statement of Michael J. Gerhardt).

414 The Federalist No. 65, at 426 (Alexander Hamilton) (Benjamin Fletcher Wright ed., 2004).

415 3 Jonathan Elliot, ed., The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution 497-98 (1861) (hereinafter “Debates in the Several State Conventions”).

416 Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019), at 20. Many other Framers agreed that abuse of power is an impeachable offense. In explaining why the Constitution must authorize Presidential impeachment, Edmund Randolph warned that “the Executive will have great opportunit[ies] of abusing his power.” 2 Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 67 (1911). Charles Pinckney agreed that Presidents must be removed who “behave amiss or betray their public trust.” 4 Debates in the Several State Conventions, at 281. Reverend Samuel Stillman asked, “With such a prospect [of impeachment], who will dare to abuse the powers vested in him by the people?” 2 Debates in the Several State Conventions, at 169.

417 Report of the Committee on the Judiciary, Impeachment of Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, H. Rep. No. 93-1305, at 1-4 (1974) (hereinafter “Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974)”). Obstruction of justice was also the basis for an article of impeachment against President Clinton, though his conduct did not involve official acts. See H. Res. 611, 105th Cong. (1998).

418 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 139.

419 Id.

420 Papers of Thomas Jefferson, To Thomas Jefferson from John Adams, 6 December 1787, National Archives, Founders Online.

421 The Federalist No. 68, at 441 (Alexander Hamilton).

422 Brianne Gorod & Elizabeth Wydra, The First Magistrate in Foreign Pay, THE NEW REPUBLIC, Nov. 11, 2019.

423 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention, at 66.

424 Id. at 68.

425 Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019), at 45.

426 Id. at 24. Thus, “[a]lthough the Framers did not intend impeachment for genuine, good faith disagreements between the President and Congress over matters of diplomacy, they were explicit that betrayal of the Nation through plots with foreign powers justified removal.” Id. at 23.

427 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention, at 64.

428 Id. at 65.

429 Id. at 69.

430 See Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019), at 27.

431 Id.

432 Id. at 11.

433 The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report: Report for the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence Pursuant to H. Res. 660 in Consultation with the H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform and the H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs at 208, 116th Cong. (2019) (hereinafter “Ukraine Report”).

434 The facts that follow constitute the “key findings of fact” set forth in the Ukraine Report. Id. at 34-36.

435 See, e.g., Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Kerry, 135 S. Ct. 2076, 2086 (2015); see also id. at 2099 (finding that the “[e]arly practice of the founding generation also supports th[e] understanding of the President’s “role of chief diplomat”).

436 See id. art. II, § 2 (“The President shall . . . appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.”).

437 U.S. CONST. art. II, § 3.

438 Those official acts include the President’s public statements openly and corruptly urging and soliciting Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit (which were made in his capacity as President and expressly directed to a foreign nation), as well as conduct undertaken by Mr. Giuliani while acting as the President’s agent and facilitated by the President’s implied or express direction that United States officials facilitate Mr. Giuliani’s efforts.

439 Donald J. Trump, FEC Form 99 Miscellaneous Text, Image No. 201701209041436569, filed January 20, 2017.

440 Alexander Burns & Jonathan Martin, Joe Biden Announces 2020 Run for President, After Months of Hesitation, N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 25, 2019.

441 Kenneth P. Vogel, Rudy Giuliani Plans Ukraine Trip to Push for Inquiries That Could Help Trump, N.Y. TIMES, May 9, 2019 (hereinafter “Vogel Giuliani”) (reporting on interview with Giuliani) (“Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”).

442 Ukraine Report at 16-17.

443 Id.

444 Id.

445 Id. at 17

446 Id. at 19

447 Id. at 19.

448 Id.

449 Id.

450 Id. “Following these discussions, Dr. Hill reported back to Ambassador Bolton, who told her to ‘go and tell [the NSC Legal Advisor] that I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up on this.’ Both Dr. Hill and Lt. Col. Vindman separately reported the incident to the NSC Legal Advisor.” Id.

451 Id. at 18-20.

452 Sondland Hearing Tr. at 18.

453 Ukraine Report at 94.

454 The White House, Memorandum of Telephone Conversation: Telephone Conversation with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine 3 (July 25, 2019) (hereinafter “July 25 Call Record”). That said, President Trump’s solicitation was not to the July 25 call, but rather was reiterated and conveyed continuously by his agents within and outside the United States Government (including Mr. Giuliani). See, e.g., Ukraine Report at 34-35, 147-49.

455 July 25 Call Record at 3.

456 Id. at 4.

457 H. Res. 755, 116th Cong. (2019).

458 Ukraine Report at 72.

459 Id. at 67-70.

460 Id. at 78-80.

461 Id. at 22.

462 Id. at 81, 173 n.451.

463 Andrew E. Kramer, Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze in July, Says Ex-Top Official in Kyiv, N.Y. TIMES, Dec. 3, 2019.

464 Ukraine Report at 127, 190 n.843 (quoting from written statement of Ambassador Sondland in Impeachment Inquiry: Gordon Sonland: Hearing Before the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. (Nov. 20, 2019)).

465 Id. at 127; see also Sondland Hearing Tr. at 104.

466 Ukraine Report at 82.

467 Caitlin Emma & Connor O’Brien, Trump Holds Up Ukraine Military Aid Meant to Confront Russia, POLITICO, Aug.

468 Ukraine Report at 129.

469 Id.

470 Id. at 132.

471 Id. at 180-81.

472 Id. at 133-34.

473 Editorial, Trump Tries to Force Ukraine to Meddle in the 2020 Election, WASH. POST, Sept. 5, 2019.

474 Ukraine Report at 134

475 Id. at 135.

476 Id. at 135. Ambassador Sondland’s recitation of his call with President Trump is the only evidence that President Trump suggested this was “not a quid pro quo.” Moreover, Ambassador Sondland testified that President Trump made that statement, unprompted, on September 7—only after the White House had learned of a whistleblower complaint regarding the July 25 call and President Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine, and the Washington Post had reported about the President’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. In addition, President Trump immediately followed his stated denial of a quid pro quo by demanding that President Zelensky still make a public announcement, while the military assistance remained on an unexplained hold. For these reasons, and those detailed in the Ukraine Report, President Trump’s self-serving denial of conditionality after he had been caught is not credible.

477 Id. at 135.

478 Id.

479 Ukraine Report at 23; Sondland Hearing Tr. at 58.

480 Ukraine Report at 139; The White House, Press Briefing by Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (Oct. 17, 2019).

481 Vogel Giuliani

482 Id.

483 Id. at 18.

484 Id. at 19.

485 Sondland Opening Statement at 21, Ex. 4.

486 Ukraine Report at 20.

487 July 25 Call Record at 5.

488 Text Message from Yermak to Ambassador Volker (Aug. 10, 2019, 5:42 PM).

489 E-mail from Ambassador Sondland to Thomas Brechbuhl and Lisa Kenna (Aug. 11, 2019, 10:31 AM) (forwarded to Secretary of State Pompeo).

490 Sondland Hearing Tr. at 26. While President Trump and President Zelensky met at the U.N. General Assembly on September 25, no White House visit date has been set. The fact of the White House visit, as confirmed in the Ukraine Report, is “critical” to President Zelensky, to show “U.S. support at the highest levels.” Ukraine Report at 84 & n.456 (quoting Holmes Dep. Tr. at 18).

491 John M. Donnelly, Ukrainian Lives Hung in Balance as Trump Held Up Aid, ROLL CALL, Oct. 24, 2019.

492 See id.

493 Taylor Dep. Tr. at 42-43.

494 See Text Message from Ambassador William Taylor to Ambassador Sondland (July 20, 2019, 1:45 AM).

495 Roman Olearchyk, Cleaning Up Ukraine in the Shadow of Trump, FIN. TIMES, Nov. 27, 2019 (interview with Ruslan Ryaboshapka) (hereinafter “Olearchyk”).

496 See Taylor Dep. Tr. at 137-38 (“Mr. Yermak and others were trying to figure out why this was . . . . They thought that there must be some rational reason for this being held up, and they just didn’t—and maybe Washington they didn’t understand how important this assistance was to their fight and to their armed forces. And so maybe they could figure–so they were just desperate.”).

497 Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. 24, 54.

498 Impeachment Inquiry: Ambassador William Taylor and Mr. George Kent: Hearing Before the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. 41 (Nov. 13, 2019).

499 Andrew E. Kramer, Ukraine’s Zelensky Bowed to Trump’s Demands, Until Luck Spared Him, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 7, 2019.

500 Tara Law, “Nobody Pushed Me.” Ukrainian President Denies Trump Pressured Him to Investigate Biden’s Son, TIME, Sept. 25, 2019.

501 Ukraine Report at 146-47.

502 Id. at 129.

503 Kenneth P. Vogel & Andrew E. Kramer, Ukraine’s Leader, Wiser to Washington, Seeks New Outreach to Trump, N.Y. TIMES (Dec. 13, 2019).

504 Id.

505 Molly O’Toole & Sarah D. Wire, $35 Million in Pentagon Aid hasn’t Reached Ukraine, Despite White House Assurances, LOS ANGELES TIMES, Nov. 11, 2019.

506 Ukraine Report at 145. Notably, “Ms. Cooper testified that such an act of Congress was unusual—indeed, she had never heard of funding being extended in this manner.” Id.

507 Id.

508 H. Res. 755, 116th Cong. art. I (2019).

509 See Ukraine Report at 47-49.

510 Id. at 47.

511 Dep’t of Com. v. New York, 139 S. Ct. 2551, 2575 (2019).

512 July 25 Call Record at 3.

513 Id. at 3-4.

514 Id.

515 Republican Staff of the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong., Rep. on Evidence in the Democrats’ Impeachment Inquiry in the House of Representatives 12 (Comm. Print 2019) (hereinafter “Minority Report”).

516 Vindman Dep. Tr. at 152; see also Impeachment Inquiry: Jennifer Williams and Alexander Vindman: Hearing Before the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. 19 (Nov. 19, 2019) (“On July 25th, 2019, the call occurred. I listened in on the call in the Situation Room with White House colleagues. I was concerned by the call. What I heard was inappropriate, and I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and a political opponent. I was also clear that if Ukraine pursued an investigation -- it was also clear that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the 2016 elections, the Bidens and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play.”).

517 Williams Dep. Tr. at 149.

518 Vindman-Williams Hearing Tr. at 34.

519 Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump), Twitter (May 2, 2019, 6:21 AM) (retweeting Kenneth P. Vogel & Iuliia Mendel, Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump and Allies, N.Y. TIMES, May 1, 2019) (online and searchable at http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com/archive).

520 Vogel & Mendel, Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions.

521 See Kenneth P. Vogel, Rudy Giuliani Plans Ukraine Trip to Push for Inquiries That Could Help Trump, N.Y. TIMES, May 9, 2019.

522 See id.

523 Id.

524 In this interview, Mr. Giuliani stated: “My only client is the president of the United States . . . He’s the only one I have an obligation to report to.” Id. He also stated that the information he sought to gather “may turn out to be helpful to my government”—confirming that advancing his client’s interests was all that mattered, and any incidental relation to United States public policy was secondary and incidental. See id.

525 Ian Schwartz, Giuliani: “Massive Collusion” Between DNC, Obama Admin, Clinton People & Ukraine to Create False Info About Trump, REAL CLEAR POLITICS, May 10, 2019.

526 Andrew Restuccia et al., Transcript: POLITICO Interviews President Donald Trump on Joe Biden, Impeachment, Bill Barr, North Korea, POLITICO, May 10, 2019.

527 Rudolph Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani), Twitter (Oct. 30, 2019, 3:15 PM), https://twitter.com/RudyGiuliani/status/1189667099871981573; Rudolph Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani), Twitter (Oct. 30, 2019, 3:15 PM), https://twitter.com/RudyGiuliani/status/1189667101079932928.

528 Rudolph Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani), Twitter (Nov. 6, 2019, 12:43 PM), https://twitter.com/RudyGiuliani/status/1192180680391843841.

529 Ukraine Report at 90.

530 See Sondland Hearing Tr. at 4.

531 Sondland Dep. Tr. at 61-62.

532 Sondland Hearing Tr. at 21, 71.

533 Jordan Fabian, Giuliani Says Ukraine Efforts ‘Solely’ for Trump’s Legal Defense, BLOOMBERG, Nov. 6, 2019.

534 Text Message from Yermak to Ambassador Volker (July 10, 2019, 4:06 PM).

535 July 25 Call Record at 3.

536 Id. at 3-4.

537 Id. at 4.

538 See Vogel Giuliani. In the months following the July 25 call, as President Trump through his agents continued to apply pressure on Ukraine to announce the investigations, call records confirm that Mr. Giuliani was in regular communication with the White House, Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, and members of President Zelensky’s administration. Ukraine Report at 114-21 & nn.719-804.

539 See Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 29.

540 Id.

541 See id. at 29-30, 52.

542 See generally July 25 Call Record.

543 Holmes Dep. Tr. at 25; see also Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 29.

544 Holmes Dep. Tr. at 25; see also Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 29-30.

545 Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 42.

546 Ukraine Report at 68-70.

547 Id. at 132 (describing Ms. Williams’ testimony that during the September 1 meeting, the Vice President “assured President Zelensky that there was no change in U.S. policy in turns of our … full-throated support for Ukraine and its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”); Williams Dep. Tr. at 83.

548 That point is especially noteworthy given testimony indicating that President Trump did not actually care if the investigations occurred, but just wanted them to be announced. When asked by Chairman Schiff if President Zelensky “had to get those two investigations if [the White House meeting] was going to take place,” Ambassador Sondland responded: “[President Zelensky] had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.” Sondland Hearing Tr. at 43.

The Minority Report claims that there is no evidence of corrupt intent because the U.S. “government did not convey the pause to the Ukrainians.” Minority Report at ii. But, as explained above, this argument rests on a faulty premise. Ukraine did learn that the assistance had been withheld. And Ukrainian officials came to understand through their communications with United States officials that both the meeting and the military assistance depended on bowing to President Trump’s demand for investigations.

549 July 25 Call Record at 3-5.

550 Statement of Kerri Kupec, Dep’t of Just. (Sept. 25, 2019).

551 See Olearchyk; see also Ukraine Report at 123. Moreover, with respect to election interference, the President’s entire intelligence community had already concluded that Russia was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election and, as President Trump’s former Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert made clear, the idea of Ukraine hacking the DNC server was “not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked.” Id. at 42.

552 Volker Dep. Tr. at 198.

553 Id. at 197.

554 Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 39.

555 Id.

556 Kent Dep. Tr. at 26.

557 Impeachment Inquiry: Kurt Volker and Tim Morrison: Hearing Before the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. 147 (Nov. 19, 2019) (confirming that he did not follow-up on the President’s request to “investigate the Bidens” because he did “not understand it as a policy objective”); Vindman Hearing Tr. at 119 (confirming that he prepared the talking points for the call, that those talking points did not “contain any discussion of investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, or Burisma,” and that he was not “aware of any written product from the National Security Council” suggesting those investigations were part of “the official policy of the United States”); Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 179 (“Mrs. Demings[:] Was Mr. Giuliani promoting U.S. national interests or policy in Ukraine . . .? Ambassador Taylor[:] I don’t think so, ma’am. . . . Mr. Kent[:] No, he was not. . . . Mrs. Demings[:] . . . What interest do you believe he was promoting. . . ? Mr. Kent[:] “I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle. . . . Ambassador Taylor[:] I agree with Mr. Kent.”).

558 Vindman-Williams Hearing Tr. at 119.

559 Ukraine Report at 52 (citing Deb Riechmann et al., Conflicting White House Accounts of 1st Trump-Zelenskiy Call, ASSOCIATED PRESS, Nov. 15, 2019).

560 Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 32.

561 Id. at. 92.

562 Vindman Dep. Tr. at 98.

563 Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 45 (statement of Ambassador Taylor).

564 Ukraine Report at 89.

565 Id. at 90.

566 Morrison Dep. Tr. at 61; see Volker-Morrison Hearing Tr. at 38.

567 Ukraine Report at 106.

568 Id. at 20.

569 Taylor Dep. Tr. at 177.

570 Ukraine Report at 55.

571 Minority Report at ii.

572 USAID, U.S. Foreign Aid by Country (last updated Sept. 23, 2019); Ukraine Report at 100.

573 Ukraine Report at 42 (“[C]ontrary to a public readout of the call originally issued by the White House, President Trump did not mention corruption in Ukraine, despite the NSC staff preparing talking points on that topic. Indeed, ‘corruption’ was not mentioned once during the April 21 conversation, according to the official call record.”); Vindman-Williams Hearing Tr. at 24-25; see July 25 Call Record.

574 Ukraine Report at 38 (“A new president [of Ukraine] had just been elected on an anti-corruption platform.”); id. at 52 (“Mr. Zelensky’s victory in April 2019 reaffirmed the Ukrainian people’s strong desire to overcome an entrenched system of corruption and pursue closer partnership with the West.”); id. at 63 (“Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Volker, Secretary Perry, and Senator Johnson ‘took turns’ making their case ‘that this is a new crowd, it’s a new President’ in Ukraine who was ‘committed to doing the right things,’ including fighting corruption. . . . They recommended that President Trump once again call President Zelensky and follow through on his April 21 invitation for President Zelensky to meet with him in the Oval Office.”); id. at 65 (“On June 18, Ambassador Volker, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Philip T. Reeker, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Sondland, and State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl participated in a meeting at the Department of Energy to follow up to the May 23 Oval Office meeting. Ambassador William Taylor . . . participated by phone from Kyiv. The group agreed that a meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky would be valuable.”); Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 23 (“We at the Embassy also believed that a meeting was critical to the success of President Zelensky’s administration and its reform agenda, and we worked hard to get it arranged.”).

575 Kent Dep. Tr. at 304-05 (“There was great confusion among the rest of us because we didn’t understand why that had happened. . . . Since there was unanimity that this [aid] was in our national interest, it just surprised all of us.”); Croft Dep. Tr. at 15 (“The only reason given was that the order came at the direction of the President.”); Letter from John C. Rood, Under Sec’y of Defense for Policy, Dep’t of Defense, to Eliot L. Engel, Chairman, House Comm. on Foreign Affairs (May 23, 2019) (“Ukraine has taken substantial actions to make defense institutional reforms for the purposes of decreasing corruption. . . . [N]ow that this defense institution reform has occurred, we will use the authority provided…to support programs in Ukraine further.”); Ukraine Report at 67.

576 Cooper Dep. Tr. at. 92-93 (“Q: But DOD did not conduct any sort of review following this statement about whether Ukraine was making any sort of progress with regard to its anticorruption efforts in July or August or beginning of September. Is that right? A: That is correct. Q: Okay. And that's because, as a matter of process and law, all of those events took place precertification, pre-May? A: That is correct. And in the interagency discussions, DOD participants affirmed that we believed sufficient progress has been made. Q: Okay. And it wasn't just DOD participants who believed that these funds should flow to Ukraine during these interagency meetings, correct? A: That's correct. It was unanimous with the exception of the statements by OMB representatives, and those statements were relaying higher level guidance.”).

577 Ukraine Report at 67 (“In a series of interagency meetings, every represented agency other than OMB (which is headed by Mick Mulvaney, who is also the President’s Acting Chief of Staff) supported the provision of assistance to Ukraine and objected to President Trump’s hold. Ukraine experts at DOD, the State Department, and the National Security Council (NSC) argued that it was in the national security interest of the United States to continue to support Ukraine.”); -Vindman-Williams Hearing Tr. at 125 (“Q. And from what you witnessed, did anybody in the National Security community support withholding the assistance? A. No.”); Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 35 (“I and others sat in astonishment. The Ukrainians were fighting Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons but also the assurance of U.S. support.”).

578 Ukraine Report at 149 (“When it became clear that President Trump was pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival, career public servants charged with implementing U.S. foreign policy in a non-partisan manner, such as Lt. Col. Vindman and Ambassador Taylor, communicated to President Zelensky and his advisors that Ukraine should avoid getting embroiled in U.S. domestic politics.”); Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 46 (“[O]ur longstanding policy is to encourage them [Ukraine] to establish and build rule of law institutions that are capable and that are independent and that can actually pursue credible allegations. That’s our policy. We’ve been doing that for quite some time with some success. So focusing on particular[] cases, including [] cases where there is an interest of the President, it’s just not part of what we’ve done. It’s hard to explain why we would do that.”); Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 164 (concluding that President Trump’s request “went against U.S. policy” and “would’ve undermined the rule of law and our longstanding policy goals in Ukraine, as in other countries, in the post-Soviet space”).

579 Ukraine Report at 38-50; see also id. at 49 (“There was a broad consensus that Ambassador Yovanovitch was successful in helping Ukraine combat pervasive and endemic corruption.”); Holmes Dep. Tr. at 142; Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 18-19.

580 July 25 Call Record at 3.

581 Erica Werner, Trump Administration Sought Billions of Dollars in Cuts to Programs Aimed at Fighting Corruption in Ukraine and Elsewhere, WASH. POST, Oct. 23, 2019 (hereinafter “Werner”).

582 See Werner.

583 Ukraine Report at 17.

584 Minority Report at ii.

585 See, e.g., Ukraine Report at 71-74; Vindman Dep. Tr. at 304-06; Hale Dep. Tr. at 105; Croft Dep. Tr. at 15; Holmes Dep. Tr. at 21; Kent Dep. Tr. at 304, 310; Sondland Hearing Tr. at 56, 80; Cooper Dep. Tr. at 44-45; Sandy Dep. Tr. at 91, 97; Morrison Dep. Tr. at 162-63. Mr. Morrison testified that, during a deputies’ meeting on July 26, OMB stated that the “President was concerned about corruption in Ukraine, and he wanted to make sure that Ukraine was doing enough to manage that corruption.” Morrison Dep. Tr. at 165. Mr. Morrison did not testify that concerns about Europe’s contributions were raised during this meeting. In addition, Mr. Sandy testified that, as of July 26, despite its own statement, OMB did not actually have an understanding of the reason for the hold. See Sandy Dep. Tr. at 55-56.

586 Sandy Dep. Tr. at 49.

587 Kent Dep. Tr. at 304.

588 Cooper Dep. Tr. at 91.

589 Impeachment Inquiry: Laura Cooper and David Hale: Hearing Before the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. 75-76 (Nov. 20, 20190.

590 Id. at 76.

591 Sondland Dep. Tr. at 338.

592 Vindman Dep. Tr. at 306.

593 Sandy Dep. Tr. at 44-45.

594 Josh Dawsey et al., White House Review Turns Up Emails Showing Extensive Effort to Justify Trump’s Decision to Block Ukraine Military Aid, WASH. POST, Nov. 24, 2019.

595 Id. Because the White House has withheld these documents from Congress, the Committee is unable to verify the accuracy of the press reporting.

596 Sandy Dep. Tr. at 149-56.

597 European Union, EU-Ukraine Relations – Fact Sheet (Sept. 30, 2019).

598 USAID, U.S. Foreign Aid by Country (last updated Sept. 23, 2019). According to Mr. Holmes, the United States has provided military and security assistance of about $3 billion since 2014. Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 97.

599 Ctr. for Strategic & Int’l Studies, Not Contributing Enough? A Summary of European Military and Development Assistance to Ukraine Since 2014 (Sept. 26, 2019).

600 Minority Report at 78-85.

601 See Robert S. Mueller, III, Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, Vol. I, 1 (March 2019) (hereinafter, “Mueller Report”); see also Washington Post-ABC News poll, June 28-July 1, 2019, WASH. POST, July 11, 2019 (poll showing Biden at 55, Trump at 41).

602 See U.S. Dep’t of Just., Criminal Resource Manual §§ 266-277 (describing the formal process for seeking international assistance in criminal investigations); see also Kent Dep. Tr. at 110-11, 158, 261; Yovanovitch Dep. Tr. at 192, 212; Holmes Dep. Tr. at 201-02; Taylor Dep. Tr. at 136.

603 Kent Dep. Tr. at 111; Yovanovitch Dep. Tr. at 192; see also Matt Zapotosky et al., Trump Wanted Barr to Hold News Conference Saying the President Broke No Laws in Call with Ukrainian Leader, WASH. POST, Nov. 6, 2019.

604 Although the President’s supporters have noted that some Ukrainian officials made critical statements about President Trump during his campaign, as witnesses testified, witnesses explained that mere public comments are dramatically different than an orchestrated attempt to interfere in the level of election interference by the Ukrainian government. Moreover, those statements—which the Minority asserts became public in 2016 and early 2017—were not publicly raised by President Trump prior to 2019 nor during his call with President Zelensky, nor is there any evidence that President Trump was concerned about them. Rather, and quite irresponsibly, they have been raised by the President’s political supporters in what appears to be an after-the-fact effort to manufacture a pretextual justification for the President’s course of conduct.

605 The White House, Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure, Oct. 3, 2019.

606 See, e.g., Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 159 (“it is not role of politicians to be involved in directing the judicial systems of … other countries”); Taylor Dep. Tr. at 32 (“A formal U.S. request to the Ukrainians to conduct an investigation based on violations of their own law struck me as improper, and I recommended to Ambassador Volker that we stay clear.”); Volker- Morrison Hearing Tr. at 156 (“I don’t believe it is appropriate for the President to [ask a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen]. If we have law enforcement concerns with a U.S. citizen generally, there are appropriate channels for that.”).

607 Vindman Dep. Tr. at 18.

608 Taylor Dep. at 32.

609 Volker Hearing Tr. at 103.

610 Hill Dep. Tr. at 173, 175; Kent Dep. Tr. at 198; Vindman Dep. Tr. at 330-31; Hale Dep. Tr. at 121; Holmes Dep. Tr. at 128.

611 Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 40.

612 Luke Barr & Alexander Mallin, FBI Director Pushes Back on Debunked Conspiracy Theory About 2016 Election Interference, ABC NEWS, Dec. 9, 2019.

613 Natasha Bertrand, Senate Panel Look into Ukraine Interference Comes Up Short, POLITICO, Dec. 2, 2019.

614 In fact, what President Trump raised on his call was a false conspiracy theory that Russia did not hack the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) servers in 2016 and that there is a DNC server hidden in Ukraine. As President Trump’s own former Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert confirmed and previously advised President Trump, this theory has “no validity” and is “completely debunked.” See Sheryl Gay Stolberg et al., Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was ‘Completely Debunked’, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 29, 2019. The theory appears to stem in part from an inaccurate suggestion by the President that Crowdstrike, an American cybersecurity firm retained by the DNC in 2016 to investigate the origins of Russia’s hack on DNC servers, is owned by a Ukrainian. It is not. The intelligence communities have unanimously concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and the President has been repeatedly advised that the Crowdstrike theory is illegitimate. Dr. Hill testified that Mr. Bossert and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster “spent a lot of time” in 2017 “trying to refute” the Crowdstrike theory and advised the President that the theory of Ukrainian interference was false. Hill Dep. Tr. at 234

615 Multiple witnesses thus testified that Mr. Shokin was corrupt and failing to fulfill his duties as Prosecutor General. Mr. Kent, an expert on Ukraine and anti-corruption matters, described “a broad-based consensus” among the United States, European allies, and international financial institutions that Mr. Shokin was “a typical Ukraine prosecutor who lived a lifestyle far in excess of his government salary, who never prosecuted anybody known for having committed a crime” and who “covered up crimes that were known to have been committed.” Kent Dep. Tr. at 45. In addition, Ukraine’s former prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko who had perpetuated this allegation of wrongdoing by the Bidens has since recanted and stated that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Vice President Biden or his son. See Ukraine Report at 42.

616 Courtney Subramanian, Explainer: Biden, Allies Pushed Out Ukrainian Prosecutor Because He Didn't Pursue Corruption Cases, USA TODAY, Oct. 3, 2019; Neil Buckley, Roman Olearchyk, & Shawn Donnan, IMF Warning Sparks Ukraine Pledge on Corruption and Reform, FIN. TIMES, Feb. 10, 2016.

617 Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 93; Matt Viser & Paul Sonne, Inside Joe Biden’s Brawling Efforts to Reform Ukraine — Which Won Him Successes and Enemies, WASH. POST, Oct. 19, 2019.

618 Andrew E, Kramer, Ukraine Ousts Viktor Shokin, Top Prosecutor, and Political Stability Hangs in the Balance, N.Y. TIMES, Mar. 29, 2016.

619 Ukraine Report at 42.

620 Because Mr. Shokin failed to prosecute corruption in Ukraine, his removal made it more—not less—likely that Ukrainian authorities might investigate any allegations of wrongdoing at Burisma. In addition, Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko who had perpetuated this allegation of wrongdoing by the Bidens has since recanted and stated that there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Vice President Biden or his son. See Tracy Wilkinson & Sergei L. Loiko, Former Ukraine Prosecutor Says He Saw No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Biden, L.A. TIMES, Sept. 29, 2019. For these reasons, the allegations that Vice President Biden inappropriately pressured Ukraine to remove Mr. Shokin in order to protect his son are baseless.

621 Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 28.

622 Id. at 53; see also Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community Before S. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. (Jan. 29, 2019) (testimony by Director Daniel R. Coats, Office of the Director of National Intelligence) (“We assess that Russia poses a cyber espionage, influence, and attack threat to the United States and our allies.”).

623 Impeachment Inquiry: Marie Yovanovitch: Hearing Before the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. 18 (Nov. 15, 2019). Mr. Holmes elaborated on the importance of Ukraine to our policy goals: “It’s been said that without Ukraine, Russia is just a country, but with it, it’s an empire.” Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 162.

624 Ukraine Report at 69; Morrison-Volker Hearing Tr. at 11.

625 See, e.g., Ukraine Report at 67-69; Kent. Dep. Tr. at 202, 338-339.

626 Ukraine Report at 68; Taylor Dep. Tr. at 153.

627 Ukraine Report at 129; Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 40.

628 See Ukraine Report at 83. Mr. Kent also testified to this point, explaining that a White House meeting was “also important for U.S. national security because it would have served to bolster Ukraine’s negotiating position in peace talks with Russia. It also would have supported Ukraine as a bulwark against further Russian advances in Europe.” Id. at 83-84.

629 Ukraine Report at 68, 83-84.

630 John Hudson & Anne Gearan, Trump Meets Russia’s Top Diplomat Amid Scrap Over Election Interference, WASH. POST, Dec. 10, 2019.

631 Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 169-70.

632 Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 52-53.

633 Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 35.

634 Ukraine Report at 149; Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 24.

635 Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 36.

636 Id. at 35.

637 Yovanovitch Hearing Tr. at 17.

638 Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 23.

639 Id. at 38-39.

640 Betsy Swan, Ukrainians: Trump Just Sent Us ‘a Terrible Signal’, DAILY BEAST, Dec. 11, 2019; see also Michael Birnbaum, Ukraine Desperately Wants the U.S. on its Side. They Just Don’t Know who has Trump’s Ear Anymore, WASH. POST, Nov. 22, 2019 (quoting a Zelensky ally who noted that the U.S. delay in military aid is “making us rethink how U.S. policy is operating”).

641 Ukraine Report at 150; Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 165.

642 Ukraine Report at 150; Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 164.

643 Ukraine Report at 150; Volker-Morrison Hearing Tr. at 139.

644 Id., at 139. President Trump’s removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch following a discredited smear campaign on her character, and subsequent comments attacking her and telling a foreign leader that she would “go through some things,” contributed to this harm, as well. As she explained, “[i]f our chief representative is kneecapped it limits our effectiveness to safeguard the vital national security interests of the United States.” Ukraine Report at 49; Yovanovitch Hearing Tr. at 22.

645 Yovanovitch Hearing Tr. at 17.

646 Ukraine Report at 136; Text Message from Ambassador Taylor to Ambassador Sondland (Sept. 9, 2019, 12:31 AM).

647 Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 175.

648 Yovanovitch Hearing Tr. at 19.

649 Akhil Reed Amar, America’s Constitution: A Biography 8 (2006).

650 4 Debates in the Several State Conventions, at 331; see also James Madison, Federalist No. 14.

651 James Madison, Federalist No. 37, at 268.

652 The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (Dec. 4, 2019) (written testimony of Professor Pamela S. Karlan).

653 Id.

654 Id. (testimony by Professor Pamela S. Karlan in response to question by Chairman Jerrold Nadler).

655 The sole exception is a provision that restricts the Presidency to natural born citizens. U.S. CONST. art. II, § 1. As relevant here, this provision is intended to guard against improper foreign influence in American politics. See 1 James Kent, Commentaries on American Law 255 (1826).

656 See Bluman v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 800 F. Supp. 2d 281 (D.D.C. 2011), aff’d, 565 U.S. 1104 (2012).

657 See Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019) at 24-28.

658 Id. at 3.

659 Id. at 16.

660 Giles Jacob, A New Law-Dictionary 95 (1729) (hereinafter “A New Law-Dictionary”); see also 1 W. Hawkins, A Treatise of Pleas of the Crown, ch. 67, § 6 (1716) (hereinafter “Pleas of the Crown”) (noting that bribery “was sometimes viewed as High Treason”).

661 Pleas of the Crown, ch. 67, § 3.

662 Cong. Research Serv., Impeachment and the Constitution 45 & n. 475 (Nov. 20, 2019).

663 Id. at 46.

664 Id. at 36 (describing impeachment proceedings against Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. and Judge Alcee L Hastings).

665 2 Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution § 794 (1833).

666 Proceedings of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives in the Trial of Impeachment of Robert W. Archbald, S. Doc. No. 1140, 62nd Cong., at 1695 (1913).

I. 667 See The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment Before H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (2019) (hereinafter “Constitutional Grounds Hearing (2019)”) (written testimony of Professor Jonathan Turley) (“Under the common law definition, bribery remains relatively narrow and consistently defined among the states. ‘The core concept of a bribe is an inducement improperly influencing the performance of a public function meant to be gratuitously exercised.’”) (quoting John T. Noonan, Jr., Bribes: The Intellectual History of a Moral Idea xi (1984)); id. (testimony by Professor Noah R. Feldman in response to question by Representative Jerrold L. Nadler) (“Bribery had a clear meaning to the Framers, it was -- when the President, using the power of his office, solicits or receives something of personal value from someone affected by his official powers.”); see also id. (written testimony of Professor Pamela S. Karlan); id. (written testimony of Professor Michael J. Gerhardt) (similar).

668 See Constitutional Grounds Hearing (2019) (written testimony of Professor Jonathan Turley); id. (written testimony of Professor Noah R. Feldman); id. (testimony by Professor Michael J. Gerhardt in response to question by Special Counsel Norman L. Eisen); id. (testimony by Professor Pamela S. Karlan in response to question by Special Counsel Norman L. Eisen); see also Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019), at 31-38.

669 Noonan, Bribes, at 430; Pleas of the Crown, ch. 67, § 2.

670 Rex v. Vaughan, 98 Eng. Rep. 308, 311 (K.B. 1769).

671 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol. 2, Book 4, ch. 10, § 17 (1771); A New Law-Dictionary, at 95 (defining “Bribery” as “the Receiving, or Offering, any undue Reward . . . to act contrary to his Duty.”).

672 See 4 William Blackstone, Commentaries *139; Rex v. Plympton, 2 Ld. Raym. 1377, 1379 (1724); Rex v. Higgins, 102 Eng. Rep. 269, 276 (1801) (“A solicitation or inciting of another, by whatever means it is attempted, is an act done”); see also John Marshall Gest, The Writings of Sir Edward Coke, 18 YALE L.J. 504, 522 (1909) (“Of bribery: ‘They that buy will sell.’”) (quoting Coke, C.J.) (citing 3 Inst. 148); Francis B. Sayre, Criminal Attempts, 41 HARV. L. REV. 821 (1928) (citing additional cases).

673 Vaughan, 98 Eng. Rep. at 311. American courts subsequently repeated this principle; see, e.g., State v. Ellis, 33 N.J.L. 102, 103-04 (N.J. Sup. Ct. 1868) (importing the common law definition of bribery to include attempts); see also William O. Russell, A Treatise on Crimes and Misdemeanors 239-40 (1st U.S. ed. 1824).

674 Pleas of the Crown, ch. 67, § 2; Edward Coke, The Third Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England: Concerning High Treason, and Other Pleas of the Crown, and Criminal Causes 147 (1644).

675 A New Law-Dictionary, at 734 (defining the “Value” of a thing to turn on “the valuation of the owner on it.”); see also Com. v. Callaghan, 2 Va. Cas. 460 (1825) (holding that the “corrupt agreement” between two Justices of the Peace to trade votes qualified as a misdemeanor at Common Law).

676 Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019) (written testimony of Professor Jonathan Turley). This case was discussed on multiple occasions at the Constitutional Convention. See, e.g., id. (“Louis XIV bribed Charles II to sign the secret Treaty of Dover of 1670 with the payment of a massive pension and other benefits . . . . In return, Charles II not only agreed to convert to Catholicism, but to join France in a wartime alliance against the Dutch.”) (citing George Clark, The Later Stuarts (1660-1714) 86-87, 130 (2d ed. 1956)); 5 Debates in the Several State Conventions, at 343 (recounting Morris’s argument that the President should be removable through the impeachment process, noting concern that the President might “be bribed by a greater interest to betray his trust,” and pointed to the example of Charles II receiving a bribe from Louis XIV).

677 U.S. CONST., art. I, § 9, cl. 8 (emphasis added).

678 July 25 Call Record at 3.

679 Ukraine Report at 140 (referring to President Trump’s “scheme” to condition release of military aid and White House meeting on favors to benefit his reelection campaign); see supra at Section III.D.2.

680 Id.; see supra at Section III.D.1.c.

681 Bribery, Graft, and Conflicts of Interest, H. Rep. No. 87-748, at 6 (1961).

682 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2).

683 18 U.S.C §§ 1343, 1346.

684 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2).

685 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)(A).

686 As a threshold matter, the President is plainly a “public official” within the meaning of the criminal anti-bribery statute. See 18 U.S.C. § 201(a)(1) (“public official” includes “an officer . . . acting for or on behalf of the United States”).

687 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2).

688 United States v. Repak, 852 F.3d 230, 238 (3d Cir. 2017); see also id. at 251-52, 254.

689 United States v. Jacobs, 431 F.2d 754, 759-60 (2d Cir. 1970) (reaffirming that statute “is violated even though the official offered a bribe is not corrupted, or the object of the bribe could not be attained, or it could make no difference if after the act were done it turned out that there had been actually no occasion to seek to influence any official conduct”).

690 Id. At 759

691 July 25 Call Record at 3.

692 Ukraine Report at 9.

693 Id. at 85-86.

694 Id. at 19 (quoting Ambassador Sondland).

695 18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2) (emphasis added).

696 United States v. Renzi, 769 F.3d 731, 744 (9th Cir. 2014) (emphasis added) (quoting United States v. Williams, 705 F.2d 603, 623 (2d Cir. 1983)).

697 Id. (quoting United States v. Gorman, 807 F.2d 1299, 1305 (6th Cir. 1986)).

698 Williams, 705 F.2d at 622-23.

699 Id. at 623.

700 United States v. Croft, 750 F.2d 1354, 1361-62 (7th Cir. 1984) (holding labor of government employee, whose research work product was appropriated by defendant for private gain, was “thing of value” under theft statute, 18 U.S.C. § 641). Courts have also explained that “‘Congress’s frequent use of the term ‘thing of value’ in various criminal statutes has evolved the phrase into a term of art’” and have therefore applied it broadly and consistently across various federal statutes. United States v. Petrovic, 701 F.3d 849, 858 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting United States v. Nilsen, 967 F.2d 539, 542 (11th Cir. 1992) (per curiam)).

701 United States v. Marmolejo, 89 F.3d 1185, 1191-93 (5th Cir. 1996).

702 United States v. Girard, 601 F.2d 69, 71 (2d Cir. 1979) (holding that information was “thing of value” under federal theft statute, and listing cases in which the term was held to encompass “amusement,” “the testimony of a witness,” “the promise of sexual intercourse,” “an agreement not to run in a primary election,” and “a promise to reinstate an employee”).

703 United States v. Sheker, 618 F.2d 607, 608-09 (9th Cir. 1980) (per curiam).

704 Gorman, 807 F.2d at 1305.

705 United States v. Scruggs, 916 F. Supp. 2d 670 (N.D. Miss. 2012) (holding promise to contact public official constituted “anything of value” under bribery theory of honest services fraud, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, 1346).

706 United States v. Matzkin, 14 F.3d 1014, 1020 (4th Cir. 1994).

707 United States v. Jeter, 775 F.2d 670, 680 (6th Cir. 1985).

708 Nilsen, 967 F.2d at 543; see also Off. of the Chair of the Fed. Election Comm’n, The Law of a ‘Thing of Value: Summary of the Sorts of Tangible and Intangible Goods and Services that Have Been Found to Have ‘Value’ by the Commission and Other U.S. Government Entities 1 (2019) (“Federal courts have consistently applied an expansive reading to the term ‘thing of value’ in a variety of statutory contexts to include goods and services that have tangible, intangible, or even merely perceived benefits, for example: promises, information, testimony, conjugal visits, and commercially worthless stock.”).

709 See Vogel Giuliani (Giuliani acknowledging that investigations would produce “information [that] will be very, very helpful to my client”).

710 See Ukraine Report at 21.

711 Id.; see also id. at 134 (Ambassador Taylor testified that according to information he had received, President Trump “insist[ed] that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference”).

712 Id. at 42.

713 United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers of Cal., 526 U.S. 398, 404-05 (1999) (emphasis in original).

714 Ukraine Report at 35.

715 Id.

716 18 U.S.C. § 201(a)(3).

717 Ukraine Report at 17-18.

718 Id. at 18.

719 136 S. Ct. 2355, 2368-70, 2372 (2016).

720 Id. at 2370.

721 U.S. CONST., art. II, § 3.

722 See Zivotofsky, 135 S. Ct. at 2086.

723 See Sondland Deposition Tr. at 25; Sondland Hearing Tr. at 42.

724 Julie Moffett, World: How the U.S. Ranks the Visits of Foreign Heads of State, RADIO FREE EUROPE, Aug. 6, 1997.

725 United States v. Jefferson, 289 F. Supp. 3d 717, 738 (E.D. Va. 2017); see 9 Foreign Affairs Manual § 402.3-5 (2019) (explaining that diplomats and other foreign government officials traveling to the United States to engage solely in official duties or activities on behalf of their national government must obtain A-1 or A-2 visas prior to entering the United States).

726 McDonnell, 136 S. Ct. at 2361-62.

727 Id. at 2372 (internal quotation marks omitted).

728 See 52 U.S.C. § 30121.

729 U.S. CONST., art. I, § 9, cl. 8.

730 United States v. Blagojevich, 794 F.3d 729, 735 (7th Cir. 2015) (emphasis added).

731 Id.

733 See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341, 1343, 1346.

734 561 U.S. 358, 412 (2010); see also id. at 404.

735 Governor McDonnell, for example, was also charged for honest services fraud. See McDonnell, 136 S. Ct. at 2365. See also, e.g., United States v. Nagin, 810 F.3d 348, 351 (5th Cir. 2016).

736 See, e.g., United States v. Suhl, 885 F.3d 1106, 1111 (8th Cir. 2018), cert. denied, 139 S. Ct. 172 (2018); Woodward v. United States, 905 F.3d 40, 44 (1st Cir. 2018).

737 18 U.S.C. § 1343.

738 Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019) at 10.

739 Proceedings of the U.S. Senate in the Impeachment Trial of President William Jefferson Clinton Vol. II: Floor Trial Proceedings, 106th Cong. 1471 (1999) (statement of Rep. Charles Canady).

740 Ukraine Report at 10.

741 See Ukraine Report at 140-50; 207-60.

742 The White House, Remarks by President Trump and President Niinistö of the Republic of Finland in Joint Press Conference (Oct. 2, 2019).

743 The White House, Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure (Oct. 3, 2019).

744 Id.

745 The White House, Remarks by President Trump Before Marine One Departure (Oct. 4, 2019).

746 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention, at 67 (statement of Edmund Randolph).

747 See Nixon Impeachment Report at 82-136.

748 Cass R. Sunstein, Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide 47 (2017).

749 As Professor Feldman testified, “If the President of the United States attempts to abuse his office, that is a complete impeachable offense. The possibility that the President might get caught in the process of attempting to abuse his office and then not be able to pull it off does not undercut in any way the impeachability of the act . . . . The attempt itself is the impeachable act.” Constitutional Grounds Hearing (2019).

750 Letter from Michael K. Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, to Adam Schiff, Chairman, H. Permanent Select Comm. on Intelligence, and Devin Nunes, Ranking Member, H. Permanent Select Comm. on Intelligence (Sept. 9, 2019).

751 Michael S. Schmidt et al., Trump Knew of Whistleblower Complaint When He Released Aid to Ukraine, N.Y. TIMES, Nov. 26, 2019.

752 Editorial, Trump Tries to Force Ukraine to Meddle in the 2020 Election, WASH. POST, Sept. 5, 2019.

753 H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, Three House Committees Launch Wide-Ranging Investigation into Trump-Giuliani Ukraine Scheme (Sept. 9, 2019).

754 Letter from Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, to Joseph Maguire, Acting Director of Nat’l Intelligence (Sept. 10, 2019).

755 Cooper-Hale Hearing Tr. at 13, 69; see also Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, and Health Extenders Act of 2019, H.R. 4378, 116th Cong (2019).

756 Taylor-Kent Hearing Tr. at 40.

757 Taylor Dep. Tr. at 210.

758 Id. at 28, 39.

759 Simon Shuster, ‘I Don’t Trust Anyone at All.’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Speaks Out on Trump, Putin and a Divided Europe, TIME, Dec. 2, 2019.

760 Mueller Report, Vol. I at 49.

761 Id.

762 Former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election: Hearing Before the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. 49 (July 24, 2019) (hereinafter “HPSCI Mueller Hearing”).

763 Id. at 48-49.

764 Id.

765 Mueller Report, Vol. I at 5-7, 66-144.

766 Id. at 54.

767 Id.at 5-6. This individual—George Papadopoulos has since been sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with Russian intermediaries during the 2016 presidential race. See Mark Mazzetti & Sharon LaFraniere, George Papadopoulos, Ex-Trump Adviser, Is Sentenced to 14 Days in Jail, N.Y. TIMES, Sept. 7, 2018.

768 Mueller Report, Vol. I at 129. Mr. Manafort has since been sentenced to over 7 years in prison for various federal crimes, including conspiracy against the United States and obstruction of justice. See id., Vol I at 129 n.838.

769 See HPSCI Mueller Hearing Tr. at 29.

770 Mueller Report, Vol. I at 14 n.4; see also id., Vol. I at 174-75.

771 Interview by George Stephanopoulos of President Donald Trump, ABC NEWS, Jun. 13, 2019.

772 Oversight of the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election: Former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III: Before the H. Comm. On the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (July 24, 2019); see also HPSCI Mueller Hearing.

773 See Karen Yourish & Larry Buchanan, Mueller Report Shows Depth of Connections Between Trump Campaign and Russians, N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 19, 2019.

774 HPSCI Mueller Hearing Tr. at 30.

775 Constitutional Grounds Hearing (2019) (written testimony of Professor Pamela S. Karlan).

776 Id.

777 Allan Smith & Rebecca Shabad, House Leaders Unveil Two Articles of Impeachment, Accusing Trump of ‘High Crimes and Misdemeanors,NBC NEWS, Dec. 10, 2019 (quoting Chairman Schiff).

778 Ukraine Report at 7.

779 Id. at 12; The White House, Press Briefing by Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (Oct. 17, 2019).

780 Sondland Dep. Tr. at 62; Volker Dep. Tr. 305; Morrison-Volker Hearing Tr. at 39.

781 Sondland Hearing Tr. at 29.

782 Hill-Holmes Hearing Tr. at 29.

783 Id.

784 Sondland Hearing Tr. at 26.

785 U.S. CONST., art. I, § 2, cl. 5.

786 U.S. CONST., art. II, § 4.

787 The White House, Remarks by President Nixon (Apr. 17, 1973).

788 The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report: Report for the H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence Pursuant to H. Res. 660 in Consultation with the H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform and the H. Comm. on Foreign Affairs at 28, 116th Cong. (2019) (hereinafter “Ukraine Report”).

789 H. Res. 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump, 116th Cong. (Dec. 11, 2019).

790 Report of the Committee on the Judiciary, Impeachment of Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, H. Rep. No. 93-1305 at 207 (1974) (quoting President Polk) (citations omitted) (hereinafter “Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974)”).

791 Id.

792 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974), at 194.

793 Letter from Pat A. Cipollone, Counsel to the President, The White House, to Hon. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, Hon. Adam B. Schiff, Chairman, H. Perm. Select Comm. on Intelligence, Hon. Eliot L. Engel, Chairman, H. Foreign Affairs Comm., and Hon. Elijah E. Cummings, Chairman, H. Comm. on Oversight and Reform, at 8 (Oct. 8, 2019) (hereinafter, “Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter”).

794 See THE FEDERALIST NO. 69, at 444-45 (Alexander Hamilton) (Benjamin Fletcher Wright ed. 1961) (“The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried, and, upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors, removed from office; and would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law. The person of the king of Great Britain is sacred and inviolable; there is no constitutional tribunal to which he is amenable; no punishment to which he can be subjected without involving the crisis of a national revolution.”).

795 Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, 940 F.3d 710, 718 (D.C. Cir. 2019), cert. granted, No. 19-715, 2019 WL 6797734 (U.S. Dec. 13, 2019) (“Mazars”).

796 Id. (quoting Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 188 (1957)).

797 Id. (citations omitted).

798 Id.; see also M’Culloch v. State, 17 U.S. 316, 401 (1819) (“[A] doubtful question . . . if not put at rest by the practice of the government, ought to receive a considerable impression from that practice.”).

799 U.S. CONST., art. I, § 1.

800 Id. at § 5.

801 McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135, 174 (1927).

802 Comm. on Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives v. Miers, 558 F. Supp. 2d 53, 77 (D.D.C. 2008).

803 Watkins, 354 U.S. at 187; accord Eastland v. U.S. Servicemen’s Fund, 421 U.S. 491, 504 n.15 (1975) (“[T]he power to investigate is necessarily broad.”); Barenblatt v. United States, 360 U.S. 109, 111 (1959) (describing Congress’s investigative power as “broad”); Quinn v. United States, 349 U.S. 155, 161 (1955) (same); McGrain, 273 U.S., at 173-74 (same).

804 Watkins, 354 U.S. at 187.

805 See Mazars, 940 F.3d at 723.

806 Townsend v. United States, 95 F.2d 352, 361 (D.C. Cir. 1938); accord Mazars, 940 F.3d at 723.

807 Eastland, 421 U.S. at 509.

808 Mazars, 940 F.3d at 721.

809 See id. at 721-22; see also Ukraine Report, at 205-206.

810 Quinn, 349 U.S. at 160-61 (citations omitted).

811 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention, at 67.

812 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention, at 65.

813 THE FEDERALIST NO. 66, at 431 (Alexander Hamilton) (Benjamin Fletcher Wright ed., 1961).

814 George Washington, Message to the House Regarding Documents Relative to the Jay Treaty (Mar. 30, 1796) (emphasis added), (hereinafter “Message on Jay Treaty”); see also Laurence H. Tribe & Joshua Matz, To End A Presidency: The Power of Impeachment 153-155 (2018) (hereinafter “To End A Presidency”) (discussing scattered calls in local newspapers for the impeachment of President Washington over his handling of the Jay Treaty).

815 Frauds Upon Indians – Right of the President to Withhold Papers, H.R. Rep. No. 27-271, at 12 (1843); see also Message on Jay Treaty (“It does not occur that the inspection of the papers asked for can be relative to any purpose under the cognizance of the House of Representatives, except that of an impeachment, which the resolution has not expressed.”).

816 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 206 (citing 5 Annals of Congress 601 (1796)).

817 3 Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 1495 at 352 (1833) (emphasis added).

818 Tribe and Matz, To End A Presidency at 19-20.

819 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 206 (internal citations omitted).

820 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 207.

821 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 207 (internal citations omitted).

822 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 206 (internal citations omitted).

823 When asked to disclose a conversation between himself and President Johnson regarding the preparation of a veto message, an advisor named Jeremiah Black thus agreed he was “bound in conscience to answer a question which that tribunal declares he ought to answer; that he is himself not the judge of what he ought to answer and what he ought not.” Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 207.

824 Id.

825 Tribe and Matz, To End A Presidency at 156-169.

826 See Staff of H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment 42 (Comm. Print 2019) (citing Jonathan David Shaub, The Executive’s Privilege: Rethinking the President’s Power to Withhold Information, LAWFARE (Oct. 31, 2019)) (hereinafter “Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019)”).

827 See, e.g., Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, Testimony of John Dean, Watergate and Related Activities, Phase I: Watergate Investigation, 93d Cong. (June 25, 1973); Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, Testimony of H.R. Haldeman, Watergate and Related Activities, Phase I: Watergate Investigation, 93d Cong. (July 30, 1973); Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, Testimony of Alexander Butterfield, Watergate and Related Activities, Phase I: Watergate Investigation, 93d Cong. (July 16, 1973); Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, Testimony of John Ehrlichman, Watergate and Related Activities, Phase I: Watergate Investigation, 93d Cong. (July 24, 1973); see also Ukraine Report at 206.

828 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 196.

829 Id. at 206 (footnote omitted).

830 Id. at 203.

831 Id. at 382-83.

832 Andrew Miga, White House in Crisis, BOSTON HERALD, Oct. 9, 1998.

833 Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States: Report of the Committee on the Judiciary, H. Rep. No. 105-830 at 77 (1998) (“On November 5, 1998, the Committee presented President Clinton with 81 requests for admission.”) (hereinafter “Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998)”). The Judiciary Committee nevertheless concluded that President Clinton’s failure to respond to certain written requests for admission, and his alleged perjurious, false, and misleading sworn statements in response to other requests, warranted impeachment. Id. at 76 (Article IV). This proposed article of impeachment, however, was voted down on the House floor. 144 Cong. Rec. H11975, 12042 (1998).

834 See A Sitting President’s Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution, 24 Op. O.L.C. 222, 260 (2000).

835 Id. at 257.

836 Id.

837 Kilbourn v. Thompson, 103 U.S. 168, 190, 194 (1880); see also Barry v. U.S. ex rel. Cunningham, 279 U.S. 597, 616 (1929) (recognizing that the Senate would have added power to compel witness testimony in an impeachment trial).

838 In re Report & Recommendation of June 5, 1972 Grand Jury Concerning Transmission of Evidence to House of Representatives, 370 F. Supp. 1219, 1230 (D.D.C. 1974).

839 Senate Select Comm. on Presidential Campaign Activities v. Nixon, 498 F.2d 725, 732 (D.C. Cir. 1974).

840 Nixon v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 731, 749 (1982) (“[W]e hold that petitioner, as a former President of the United States, is entitled to absolute immunity from damages liability predicated on his official acts.”).

841 Id. at 757.

842 Id.

843 Id.

844 See In re Petition to Inspect & Copy Grand Jury Materials, 735 F.2d 1261, 1269–71 (11th Cir. 1984) (“Moreover, the question under investigation—whether an Article III judge should be recommended for impeachment by the Congress, otherwise disciplined, or granted a clean bill of health—is a matter of great societal importance. Given the character of an investigating committee and what is at stake—the public confidence in the judiciary, the independence and reputation of the accused judge—paragraph (c)(5) must in our view be read, with very few strings, as conferring authority to look into whatever is material to a determination of the truth or falsity of the charges.”).

845 In re Grand Jury Proceedings of Grand Jury No. 81-1, 669 F. Supp. 1072, 1078 (S.D. Fla. 1987).

846 In re Request for Access to Grand Jury Materials Grand Jury No. 81-1, Miami, 833 F.2d 1438, 1445 (11th Cir. 1987).

847 Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG, No. 19-1540, 2019 WL 6482561 at *38 n.1 (2d Cir. Dec. 3, 2019) (Livingston, J., concurring part and dissenting in part); see also Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives v. Donald F. McGahn II, No. 19 Civ. 2379, 2019 WL 6463406 at *6 (D.D.C. Dec. 2, 2019) (emphasizing “the public’s interest in thorough and well-informed impeachment proceedings.”); In re Application of Comm. on Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, for an Order Authorizing Release of Certain Grand Jury Materials, No. 19-48, 2019 WL 5608827 at *3 (D.D.C. Oct. 29, 2019) (“‘[A]n impeachment investigation involving the President of the United States is a matter of the most critical moment to the Nation’ . . . Both HJC itself and the public, therefore, have an interest in HJC gaining immediate access to this grand jury material.”) (citations and quotation marks omitted)).

848 See, e.g., Ctr. for Pub. Integrity v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., No. 19 Civ. 3265, 2019 WL 6270921 at *3 (D.D.C. Nov. 25, 2019) (“Currently, the [House] is in the process of conducting impeachment proceedings concerning the same subject matter as the documents requested by Plaintiff. As such, the requested documents are sought in order to inform the public on a matter of extreme national concern. Only an informed electorate can develop its opinions and persuasively petition its elected officials to act in ways which further the aims of those opinions.”); Am. Oversight v. U.S. Dep’t of State, No. 19 Civ. 2934, 2019 WL 5665930 at *4 (D.D.C. Oct. 25, 2019) (“This is the extraordinary case where the public interest favors placing American Oversight’s requests ahead of other requests in the State Department's FOIA queue. Presidential impeachment investigations are solemn affairs, which Congress thankfully has seen fit to undertake only a few times in the Nation’s history. The records American Oversight seeks, if they exist, could directly inform the present investigation and the surrounding public debate. The public’s interest in disclosure of responsive, non-exempt records is therefore high and outweighs any harm to other FOIA requesters that might result from a temporary diversion of the State Department’s FOIA resources to accelerate processing of this request.”).

849 N.L.R.B. v. Noel Canning, 573 U.S. 513, 524 (2014) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

850 See, e.g., Frank O. Bowman III, High Crimes & Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump 199 (2019) (“The subpoena power in impeachment cases arises directly from an explicit constitutional directive that the House conduct an adjudicative proceeding akin to a grand jury, the success of which is necessarily dependent on the availability of relevant evidence. Without the power to compel compliance with subpoenas and the concomitant right to impeach a president for refusal to comply, the impeachment power would be nullified.”).

851 Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019) at 18; see also id. (explaining that impeachable abuse of power was understood by the Framers as encompassing, inter alia, “conduct that is inherently and sharply inconsistent with the law— and that amounts to claims of monarchical prerogative”).

852 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974), at 203.

853 Id. at 207-208.

854 Id. at 210.

855 Id. at 208.

856 Id.

857 Id. at 209.

858 Id. at 188.

859 Id. at 189.

860 Id.

861 Id. at 3-4 (emphasis added).

862 Id. at 4.

863 Committee Report on Clinton Articles of Impeachment (1998) at 4.

864 Id. at 77.

865 Ukraine Report at 201-260 & nn.1-441.

866 Id. at 216-42.

867 See supra The Impeachment Inquiry.

868 Jeremy Diamond & Allie Malloy, Trump at war with Democrats: ‘We're fighting all the subpoenas’, CNN, Apr. 24, 2019.

869 Remarks by President Trump at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit 2019, THE WHITE HOUSE, July 23, 2019.

870 Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter at 1, 4.

871 Speech: Donald Trump Holds a Political Rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, FACTBASE VIDEOS, Oct. 10, 2019. Consistent with these statements, President Trump never negotiated in good faith with the Investigating Committees. He simply made one demand after another—each of them unjustified as a matter of law—and asserted that he would completely blockade the Investigating Committees if they did not concede. By no definition of the term is that a good faith negotiation. As Chief Judge Beryl Howell has observed in a related context, “The reality is that DOJ and the White House have been openly stonewalling the House’s efforts to get information by subpoena and by agreement, and the White House has flatly stated that the Administration will not cooperate with congressional requests for information.” In re Application of Comm. on Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, for an Order Authorizing Release of Certain Grand Jury Materials, 2019 WL 5485221, at *36 (citing the Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter).

872 See Ukraine Report at 217. The White House has not produced a single document in response to the subpoena. Instead, it has released to the public only two documents: call records from the President’s phone calls with President Zelensky on April 21 and July 25, 2019. The public release of a mere two documents comes nowhere close to satisfying President Trump’s obligations, or to mitigating the sheer scope and scale of his Administration-wide obstruction of Congress.

873 See Ukraine Report at 219 227.

874 See Ukraine Report at 231-244. “In addition to the President’s broad orders seeking to prohibit all Executive Branch employees from testifying, many of these witnesses were personally directed by senior political appointees not to cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry. These directives frequently cited or enclosed copies of Mr. Cipollone’s October 8 letter conveying the President’s order not to comply.” Id. at 31, 243.

875 See Ukraine Report at 216-227, 229.

876 See Ukraine Report at 211-215.

877 See Watkins, 354 U.S. at 187-88 (“It is unquestionably the duty of all citizens to cooperate with the Congress in its efforts to obtain the facts needed for intelligent legislative action. It is their unremitting obligation to respond to subpoenas, to respect the dignity of the Congress and its committees and to testify fully with respect to matters within the province of proper investigation.”).

878 See Ukraine Report at 255-60. The Minority’s dissenting views on the nature of impeachable offenses consist almost exclusively of testimony by Professor Turley, who contends that the President did not obstruct the inquiry because “many officials opted to testify, despite the orders from the President that they should decline.” Minority Views, Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019), attaching Written Statement of Jonathan Turley, Dec. 4, 2019, at 42. This is a curious argument. When the House issues subpoenas in an impeachment inquiry and the President orders total defiance, it is hardly a point in the President’s favor that a handful of his subordinates disobey that unlawful order (even as most officials comply, and even as all agencies and offices comply). Professor Turley further notes that the officials who violated President Trump’s directive “remain in federal service in good standing.” Id. But the fact that President Trump has not (yet) fired or disciplined the witnesses who came forward in no respect ameliorates his unlawful order. His attempts at thwarting their testimony is itself grounds for impeachment—and, significantly, he succeeded in substantially obstructing the House impeachment inquiry as to the strong majority of documents and testimony sought.

879 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974 at 189.

880 Id.

881 McGahn, 2019 WL 6312011, at *28 (D.D.C. Nov. 25, 2019), appeal docketed, No. 19-5331 (D.C. Cir. Nov. 26, 2019).

882 Nixon Impeachment Report (1974), at 213.

883 The President’s Remarks Announcing Developments and Procedures to be Followed in Connection with the Investigation, THE WHITE HOUSE, Apr. 17, 1973 (“All members of the White House Staff will appear voluntarily when requested by the committee. They will testify under oath, and they will answer fully all proper questions.”).

884 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 478-82.

885 See Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter. President Trump also raised arguments relating to “confidentiality interests” and the so-called doctrine of “absolute immunity.” Id.; see also, e.g., McGahn, 2019 WL 6312011, at *34-45. As to the first argument, “[t]here is no basis in the law of executive privilege for declaring a categorical refusal to respond to any House subpoena. In an impeachment inquiry the House’s need for information and its Constitutional authority are at their greatest, and the Executive’s interest in confidentiality must yield.” Ukraine Report, at 214. Moreover, although executive privilege could not excuse or justify the President’s categorical and indiscriminate defiance, it bears notice that the President has not actually asserted executive privilege in the House’s impeachment inquiry. Turning to the second argument, the House has never recognized the fictional theory of “absolute immunity” as a valid ground for defying an impeachment inquiry, and every federal court to consider the doctrine of “absolute immunity” has rejected it. See McGahn, 2019 WL 6312011, at *45; Comm. on Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives v. Miers, 558 F. Supp. 2d 135-36 (D.D.C. 2008). It is inconceivable that this doctrine has lurked, in hiding, for centuries as a hidden excuse for Presidents to block untold numbers of current and former Executive Branch officials from giving any testimony whatsoever to the House. In any event, President Trump’s direction that the Executive Branch undertake a total blockade of the House impeachment inquiry extends well beyond even the most extreme view of “absolute immunity,” and so this doctrine neither excuses nor explains the President’s position as articulated in Mr. Cipollone’s letter.

886 U.S. CONST. art. I, § 2.

887 Id. at § 5.

888 See supra The Impeachment Inquiry.

889 See supra The Impeachment Inquiry.

890 See supra The Impeachment Inquiry.

891 President Trump’s process objections are addressed individually, and at much greater length, in the Ukraine Report. We incorporate its reasoning and conclusions by reference. The October 8 letter from Mr. Cipollone raises two additional arguments, both of which fail for the reasons set forth above. First, the President cannot defy an impeachment inquiry just because he concludes that the minority has not been afforded sufficient subpoena rights in House committees; the House has both the “sole Power of Impeachment” and the sole power to “determine the Rules of its Proceedings.” Nor can the President ignore Congressional subpoenas, or direct others to do so, by complaining that the House has informed subpoena recipients that it will treat non-compliance as evidence of obstruction. The House does not somehow forfeit its “sole Power of Impeachment” by pointing out that unlawful defiance of its duly-authorized Congressional subpoenas may have legal consequences or bear on the impeachment inquiry.

892 See Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter at 6 (“It is transparent that you have resorted to such unprecedented and unconstitutional procedures because you know that a fair process would expose the lack of any basis for your inquiry. Your current effort is founded on a completely appropriate call on July 25, 2019, between President Trump and President Zelenskyy of Ukraine [. . .] That record clearly established that the call was completely appropriate, that the President did nothing wrong, and that there is no basis for an impeachment inquiry.”).

893 Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter at 7, 8.

894 See id. at 5 (“In fact, your transparent rush to judgment, lack of democratically accountable authorization, and violation of basic rights in the current proceedings make clear the illegitimate, partisan purpose of this purported ‘impeachment inquiry.’”); see also To End A Presidency at 64-66.

895 See Dr. Bonham’s Case, 8 Co. Rep. 114a, 118b, 77 Eng. Rep. 638, 654 (1610) (Coke, C.J.).

896 U.S. CONST. art. I, §§ 2, 3.

897 Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S. 224, 235 (1993) (quotation marks and citation omitted).

898 Cf. id.

899 Committee Report on Nixon Articles of Impeachment (1974) at 210-212.

900 Id. at 210 (“The Committee concluded that it would be inappropriate to seek the aid of the courts to enforce its subpoenas against the President. This conclusion is based on the constitutional provision vesting the power of impeachment solely in the House of Representatives and the express denial by the Framers of the Constitution of any role for the courts in the impeachment process.”).

901 See id. at 212.

902 Id. at 212.

903 Id.

904 In President Nixon’s case, the Special Prosecutor subpoenaed certain Oval Office tape recordings and then litigated the President’s failure to comply with the subpoena. See United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 686 (1974). The Judiciary Committee did not file suit when the President failed to comply fully with its own subpoenas.

905 H. Res. 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump: Markup Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. (2019) (Statement of Rep. James Sensenbrenner).

906 Brief for Defendant-Appellant at 14-47, Comm. on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives v. Donald F. McGahn II, No. 19-5331 (D.C. Cir. filed Dec. 9, 2019) (arguing courts lack jurisdiction to adjudicate subpoena enforcement suits by the House and that the House is not even injured for purposes of Article III standing when Executive Branch officials defy subpoenas); Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendants’ and Defendants-Intervenors’ Motion to Dismiss, Comm. on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives v. Dep’t of Treasury, No. 19 Civ. 1974 (D.D.C. filed Sept. 6, 2019).

907 See, e.g., United States v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Co., 551 F.2d 384, 391 (D.C. Cir. 1976) (“the House as a whole has standing to assert its investigatory power”); McGahn, 2019 WL 6312011 at *16-34 (D.D.C. Nov. 25, 2019) (rejecting DOJ’s jurisdictional arguments); Comm. on Oversight & Gov’t Reform v. Holder, 979 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2013) (same); Miers, 558 F. Supp. 2d at 65-99 (same).

908 See Miers, 558 F. Supp. 2d 53 (D.D.C. July 31, 2008) (holding Miers was required to testify); 542 F.3d 909 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 6, 2008) (staying decision pending appeal); Unopposed Motion for Voluntary Dismissal by Plaintiff at 3, Miers (D.D.C. filed Oct. 22, 2009) (Miers testified in a transcribed interview in June 2009).

909 The district court rejected DOJ’s motion to dismiss in September 2013, see Holder, 979 F. Supp. 2d 1; ordered production only of documents for which DOJ did not assert any privileges in August 2014, see 2014 WL 12662665 (D.D.C. Aug. 20, 2014); and did not order production of additional documents until January 2016, see 156 F. Supp. 3d 101 (D.D.C. Jan. 19, 2016).

910 McGahn, 2019 WL 6312011; see id. at *4-6 (describing case history); see Order, No. 19-5331 (D.C. Cir. Nov. 27, 2019) (entering “administrative stay” and scheduling argument in January).

911 Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment (2019) at 10.

912 H. Res. 755, 116th Cong. Art. II. (2019).

913 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 65 (George Mason).

914 Id. at 66 (Elbridge Gerry).

915 THE FEDERALIST NO. 69 at 444-45 (Alexander Hamilton) (Benjamin Fletcher Wright ed. 1961).

916 2 Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention at 66 (James Madison).

917 Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff’s Emergency Motion For a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction, Trump v. Vance, Jr. No. 19 Civ. 08694, 2019 WL 5557333 (S.D.N.Y Sept. 20, 2019) (“Under Article II, the Supremacy Clause, and the structure of our Constitution, the President of the United States cannot be ‘subject to the criminal process’ while he is in office.”); Ann E. Marimow & Jonathan O’Connell, In Court Hearing, Trump Lawyer Argues a Sitting President Would be Immune from Prosecution Even If He Were to Shoot Someone, WASH. POST, Oct. 23, 2019.

918 Trump v. Vance, 941 F.3d 631, 640 (2d Cir. 2019) (“The President relies on what he described at oral argument as ‘temporary absolute presidential immunity’ – he argues that he is absolutely immune from all stages of state criminal process while in office, including pre-indictment investigation . . . .”).

919 Letter from John M. Dowd & Jay A. Sekulow to Robert S. Mueller, III (Jan. 29, 2018) (“It remains our position that the President’s actions here, by virtue of his position as the chief law enforcement officer, could neither constitutionally nor legally constitute obstruction because that would amount to him obstructing himself, and that he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”).

920 McGahn, 2019 WL 6312011 at *34 (“DOJ asserts that current and former senior-level presidential aides have ‘absolute testimonial immunity’ from compelled congressional process, as a matter of law; therefore, if the President invokes ‘executive privilege’ over a current or former aides’ testimony—as he has done with respect to McGahn—that aide need not accede to the lawful demands of Congress.”). See also, e.g., Ukraine Report at 230 (President Trump ordered Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to defy a subpoena for his testimony on grounds of “absolute immunity”); id. at 231 (same, with respect to White House advisor Robert Blair); id. at 232 (same, with respect to Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs John Eisenberg).

921 See Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter at 2. See also, e.g., Congressional Committee’s Request for the President’s Tax Returns, 43 Op. O.L.C. __, 2019 WL 2563046 (supporting Department of the Treasury’s decision to override plain statutory text requiring disclosure of the President’s tax returns based on purported absence of a “legitimate legislative purpose”).

922 See, e.g., Mazars, 940 F.3d at 717; Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG, -- F.3d --, 2019 WL 6482561 at *2 (2d Cir. Dec. 3, 2019).

923 McGahn, 2019 WL 6312011, at *26 (“Here, as in Miers, DOJ attempts to shoehorn its emasculating effort to keep House committees from turning to the courts as a means of vindicating their constitutional interests into various categories of established legal arguments, some of which overlap substantially with jurisdictional contentions that the Court has already considered and rejected.”). Compare Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendants’ and Defendant-Intervenors’ Motion to Dismiss at 13, Comm. on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives v. Dep’t of Treasury, No. 19 Civ. 01974 (D.D.C. filed Sept. 6, 2019) (warning against “[t]he exertion of Federal judicial power to declare victors in inter-branch disputes of this nature”), with Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae at 2, Trump v. Deutsche Bank, No. 19-1540 (2d Cir. filed Aug. 19, 2019) (encouraging the court to “engage in a searching evaluation of subpoenas directed at the President”).

924 Mazars, 940 F.3d at 750 (quoting DOJ’s brief, “The House’s impeachment power is an express authority whose exercise does not require a connection to valid legislation. But the Committee has asserted neither jurisdiction over, nor an objective of pursuing impeachment.”).

925 Oct. 8 Cipollone Letter at 8 (“For the foregoing reasons, the President cannot allow your constitutionally illegitimate proceedings to distract him and those in the Executive Branch from their work on behalf of the American people.”).

926 The President has accompanied this conduct with a series of public statements advocating the view that it is illegitimate for the House to investigate him. See Ukraine Report at 28-29 (“He has publicly and repeatedly rejected the authority of Congress to conduct oversight of his actions and has directly challenged the authority of the House to conduct an impeachment inquiry into his actions regarding Ukraine . . . . [President Trump’s] rhetorical attacks appeared intended not just to dispute public reports of his misconduct, but to persuade the American public that the House lacks authority to investigate the President.”).

927 H. Res. 755, 116th Cong. Art. II (2019).

928 This Committee has undertaken an investigation relating to the Special Counsel’s report. That includes inquiring into President Trump’s obstruction of the Special Counsel, as well as a review of other aspects of the Special Counsel’s underlying work that the President obstructed. As part of this investigation, the Committee has sought to compel testimony by former White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II, and to review certain grand jury materials relating to the Special Counsel’s report. Should the Committee obtain the information, it would be utilized, among other purposes, in a Senate trial on these articles of impeachment, if any. The Committee, moreover, has continued and will continue those investigations consistent with its own prior statements respecting their importance and purposes.

929 See generally Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, Vols. I and II (March 2019) (hereinafter, “Mueller Report”).

930 Mueller Report Vol. I at 1.

931 Ukraine Report at 13 (“[T]he U.S. Intelligence Community had unanimously determined that Russia, not Ukraine, interfered in the 2016 election to help the candidacy of Donald Trump.”).

932 Mueller Report Vol. I at 5.

933 See generally Mueller Report Vol. II.

934 See id.

935 See id. at 77-90.

936 See id. at 90-98.

937 See id. at 113-20.

938 See id. at 120-56.

939 See id. at 87-90, 97-98, 118-20, 131-33, 153-56.

940 The same point applies to President Trump’s unjustified and improper obstruction of this Committee’s efforts to investigate the evidence bearing on the question of whether President Trump committed obstruction of justice in his efforts to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation. See, e.g., Nadler Statement on White House Obstruction of Dearborn, Porter & Lewandowski Testimony, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, Sept. 16, 2019 (addressing White House obstruction of witness testimony on grounds of “absolute immunity”). Of course, several matters relating to that issue are currently pending before the courts. See, e.g., McGahn, 2019 WL 6312011, at *28 (D.D.C. Nov. 25, 2019), appeal docketed, No. 19-5331 (D.C. Cir. Nov. 26, 2019).

941 Ukraine Report at 9.

942 H. Res. 755, 116th Cong. Art. II (2019).

943 Id.

HEARINGS

For the purposes of section 103(i) of H. Res. 6 of the 116th Congress and pursuant to H. Res. 660, the following hearings were used to develop H. Res. 755:

  1. “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment,” held before the Judiciary Committee on December 4, 2019. During this hearing, the Committee heard testimony from: Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law and Director, Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law School; Pamela S. Karlan, Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law and Co-Director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford Law School; Michael Gerhardt, Burton Craige Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina School of Law; and Jonathan Turley, J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at the George Washington University Law School. In this hearing, the witnesses testified on the permissible grounds for presidential impeachment.
  2. “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Presentations from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee,” held before the Judiciary Committee on December 9, 2019. During this hearing, the Committee heard presentations from: Barry Berke, Majority Counsel for the House Committee on the Judiciary; Daniel Goldman, Majority Counsel for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and Stephen Castor Minority Counsel for the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Pursuant to H. Res. 660, in this hearing, Majority and Minority Counsels for the House Committee on the Judiciary presented opening statements, followed by presentations of evidence from Majority and Minority Counsels for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

On December 11, 12, and 13, 2019, the Committee met in open session to consider H. Res. 755. On December 13, the Committee ordered the resolution favorably reported to the House with an amendment. Pursuant to clause 5 of Rule XVI, the vote on reporting the resolution was divided into separate votes on the articles. The Committee approved Article I (abuse of power) by a rollcall vote of 23 to 17 and it approved Article II (obstruction of Congress) by a rollcall vote of 23 to 17, in each case a quorum being present.

COMMITTEE VOTES

In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the following rollcall votes occurred during the Committee’s consideration H. Res. 755:

1. A motion by Ms. Lofgren to lay on the table Mr. Collins’ appeal of the ruling of the chair that the Committee was not required to hold a minority hearing day before considering articles of impeachment, was agreed to by a vote of 23 to 17.

A checklist.

The following are the contents of the checklist.

Roll call number: 1.
Date: December 12, 2019.

Committee on the Judiciary. House of Representatives.

One hundred sixteenth congress. Subject: Motion to table.

Representatives who voted aye:
Jerrold Nadler (NY-10).
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19).
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18).
Steve Cohen (TN-09).
Hank Johnson (GA-04).
Ted Deutch (FL-22).
Karen Bass (CA-37).
Cedric Richmond (LA-02).
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08).
David Cicilline (RI-01).
Eric Swalwell (CA-15).
Jamie Raskin (MD-08).
Pramila Jayapal (WA-07).
Val Demings (FL-10).
Lou Correa (CA-46).
Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05).
Sylvia Garcia (TX-29).
Joseph Neguse (CO-02).
Lucy McBath (GA-06).
Greg Stanton (AZ-09).
Madeleine Dean (PA-04).
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26).
Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Representatives who voted no:
Doug Collins (GA-27).
James F Sensenbrenner (WI-05).
Steve Chabot (OH-01).
Louie Gohmert (TX-01).
Jim Jordan (OH-04).
Ken Buck (CO-04).
John Ratcliffe (TX-04).
Martha Roby (AL-02).
Matt Gaetz (FL-01).
Mike Johnson (L0A-04).
Andy Biggs (AZ-05).
Tom McClintock (CA-04).
Debbie Lesko (AZ-08).
Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14).
Ben Cline (VA-06).
Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL).
Greg Steube (FL-17).

Representative who did not vote:
Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Number of Ayes: 23.
Number of Nos: 17.
Passed: checked.
Failed: unchecked.

2. An amendment by Mr. Jordan to strike article I from the resolution, was defeated by a rollcall vote of 17 to 23.

A checklist.

The following are the contents of the checklist.

Roll call number: 2.

Date: December 12, 2019.

Committee on the Judiciary.

House of Representatives.

One hundred sixteenth congress.

Amendment number: 1.

To: ANS H Res 755.

Offered by Rep: Jordan.

Representatives who voted no: Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). Steve Cohen (TN-09). Hank Johnson (GA-04). Ted Deutch (FL-22). Karen Bass (CA-37). Cedric Richmond (LA-02). Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). David Cicilline (RI-01). Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Jamie Raskin (MD-08). Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Val Demings (FL-10). Lou Correa (CA-46). Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05). Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). Joseph Neguse (CO-02). Lucy McBath (GA-06). Greg Stanton (AZ-09). Madeleine Dean (PA-04). Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26). Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Representatives who voted aye: Doug Collins (GA-27). James F Sensenbrenner (WI-05). Steve Chabot (OH-01). Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Jim Jordan (OH-04). Ken Buck (CO-04). John Ratcliffe (TX-04). Martha Roby (AL-02). Matt Gaetz (FL-01). Mike Johnson (L0A-04). Andy Biggs (AZ-05). Tom McClintock (CA-04). Debbie Lesko (AZ-08). Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). Ben Cline (VA-06). Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL). Greg Steube (FL-17).

Representative who did not vote: Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Total number of Ayes: 17.

Total number of Nos: 23.

Passed: unchecked.

Failed: checked.

3. An amendment by Mr. Gaetz to replace a reference to the investigation into Joseph R. Biden with Burisma and Hunter Biden, was defeated by a rollcall vote of 17 to 23.

A checklist.

The following are the contents of the checklist.

Roll call number: 3.

Date: December 12, 2019.

Committee on the Judiciary.

House of Representatives.

One hundred sixteenth congress.

Amendment number: 2.

To: ANS H Res 755.

Offered by Rep: Gaetz.

Representatives who voted no: Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). Steve Cohen (TN-09). Hank Johnson (GA-04). Ted Deutch (FL-22). Karen Bass (CA-37). Cedric Richmond (LA-02). Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). David Cicilline (RI-01). Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Jamie Raskin (MD-08). Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Val Demings (FL-10). Lou Correa (CA-46). Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05). Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). Joseph Neguse (CO-02). Lucy McBath (GA-06). Greg Stanton (AZ-09). Madeleine Dean (PA-04). Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26). Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Representatives who voted aye: Doug Collins (GA-27). James F Sensenbrenner (WI-05). Steve Chabot (OH-01). Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Jim Jordan (OH-04). Ken Buck (CO-04). John Ratcliffe (TX-04). Martha Roby (AL-02). Matt Gaetz (FL-01). Mike Johnson (L0A-04). Andy Biggs (AZ-05). Tom McClintock (CA-04). Debbie Lesko (AZ-08). Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). Ben Cline (VA-06). Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL). Greg Steube (FL-17).

Representative who did not vote: Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Total number of Ayes: 17.

Total number of Nos: 23.

Passed: unchecked.

Failed: checked.

4. An amendment by Mr. Biggs to insert a section asserting foreign aid was released after President Zelensky signed anti-corruption measures into law, was defeated by a rollcall vote of 17 to 23.

A checklist.

The following are the contents of the checklist.

Roll call number: 4.

Date: December 12, 2019.

Committee on the Judiciary.

House of Representatives.

One hundred sixteenth congress.

Amendment number: 3.

To: ANS H Res 755.

Offered by Rep: Biggs.

Representatives who voted no: Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). Steve Cohen (TN-09). Hank Johnson (GA-04). Ted Deutch (FL-22). Karen Bass (CA-37). Cedric Richmond (LA-02). Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). David Cicilline (RI-01). Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Jamie Raskin (MD-08). Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Val Demings (FL-10). Lou Correa (CA-46). Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05). Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). Joseph Neguse (CO-02). Lucy McBath (GA-06). Greg Stanton (AZ-09). Madeleine Dean (PA-04). Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26). Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Representatives who voted aye: Doug Collins (GA-27). James F Sensenbrenner (WI-05). Steve Chabot (OH-01). Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Jim Jordan (OH-04). Ken Buck (CO-04). John Ratcliffe (TX-04). Martha Roby (AL-02). Matt Gaetz (FL-01). Mike Johnson (L0A-04). Andy Biggs (AZ-05). Tom McClintock (CA-04). Debbie Lesko (AZ-08). Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). Ben Cline (VA-06). Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL). Greg Steube (FL-17).

Representative who did not vote: Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Total number of Ayes: 17.

Total number of Nos: 23.

Passed: unchecked.

Failed: checked.

5. An amendment by Mr. Reschenthaler to strike article II from the resolution, was defeated by a rollcall vote of 17 to 23.

A checklist.

The following are the contents of the checklist.

Roll call number: 5.

Date: December 12, 2019.

Committee on the Judiciary.

House of Representatives.

One hundred sixteenth congress.

Amendment Number: 4.

To ANS HRES 755.

Offered by Rep: Reschenthaler.

Representatives who voted no: Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). Steve Cohen (TN-09). Hank Johnson (GA-04). Ted Deutch (FL-22). Karen Bass (CA-37). Cedric Richmond (LA-02). Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). David Cicilline (RI-01). Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Jamie Raskin (MD-08). Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Val Demings (FL-10). Lou Correa (CA-46). Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05). Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). Joseph Neguse (CO-02). Lucy McBath (GA-06). Greg Stanton (AZ-09). Madeleine Dean (PA-04). Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26). Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Representatives who voted aye: Doug Collins (GA-27). James F Sensenbrenner (WI-05). Steve Chabot (OH-01). Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Jim Jordan (OH-04). Ken Buck (CO-04). John Ratcliffe (TX-04). Martha Roby (AL-02). Matt Gaetz (FL-01). Mike Johnson (L0A-04). Andy Biggs (AZ-05). Tom McClintock (CA-04). Debbie Lesko (AZ-08). Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). Ben Cline (VA-06). Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL). Greg Steube (FL-17).

Representative who did not vote: Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Number of Ayes: 17.

Number of Nos: 23.

Passed: unchecked.

Failed: checked.

6. An amendment by Mr. Jordan to strike language asserting President Trump’s conduct has demonstrated that he warrants “impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States,” was defeated by a rollcall vote of 17 to 23.

A checklist.

The following are the contents of the checklist.

Roll call number: 6.

Date: December 12, 2019.

Committee on the Judiciary.

House of Representatives.

One hundred sixteenth congress.

Amendment Number: 5.

To ANS HRES 755.

Offered by Rep: Jordan.

Representatives who voted no: Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). Steve Cohen (TN-09). Hank Johnson (GA-04). Ted Deutch (FL-22). Karen Bass (CA-37). Cedric Richmond (LA-02). Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). David Cicilline (RI-01). Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Jamie Raskin (MD-08). Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Val Demings (FL-10). Lou Correa (CA-46). Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05). Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). Joseph Neguse (CO-02). Lucy McBath (GA-06). Greg Stanton (AZ-09). Madeleine Dean (PA-04). Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26). Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Representatives who voted aye: Doug Collins (GA-27). James F Sensenbrenner (WI-05). Steve Chabot (OH-01). Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Jim Jordan (OH-04). Ken Buck (CO-04). John Ratcliffe (TX-04). Martha Roby (AL-02). Matt Gaetz (FL-01). Mike Johnson (L0A-04). Andy Biggs (AZ-05). Tom McClintock (CA-04). Debbie Lesko (AZ-08). Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). Ben Cline (VA-06). Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL). Greg Steube (FL-17).

Representative who did not vote: Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Number of Ayes: 17.

Number of Nos: 23.

Passed: unchecked.

Failed: checked.

7. Upon demand that the vote to report the resolution, as amended, favorably to the House be divided into two propositions pursuant clause 5 of Rule XVI, Article I of the resolution (abuse of power) was agreed to by a rollcall vote of 23 to 17.

A checklist.

The following are the contents of the checklist.

Roll call number: 7.

Date: December 13, 2019.

Committee on the Judiciary.

House of Representatives.

One hundred sixteenth congress.

Final Passage on H. RES. 755 Article I.

Representatives who voted aye: Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). Steve Cohen (TN-09). Hank Johnson (GA-04). Ted Deutch (FL-22). Karen Bass (CA-37). Cedric Richmond (LA-02). Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). David Cicilline (RI-01). Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Jamie Raskin (MD-08). Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Val Demings (FL-10). Lou Correa (CA-46). Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05). Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). Joseph Neguse (CO-02). Lucy McBath (GA-06). Greg Stanton (AZ-09). Madeleine Dean (PA-04). Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26). Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Representatives who voted no: Doug Collins (GA-27). James F Sensenbrenner (WI-05). Steve Chabot (OH-01). Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Jim Jordan (OH-04). Ken Buck (CO-04). John Ratcliffe (TX-04). Martha Roby (AL-02). Matt Gaetz (FL-01). Mike Johnson (L0A-04). Andy Biggs (AZ-05). Tom McClintock (CA-04). Debbie Lesko (AZ-08). Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). Ben Cline (VA-06). Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL). Greg Steube (FL-17).

Representative who did not vote: Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Number of Ayes: 23.

Number of Nos: 17.

Passed: checked.

Failed: unchecked.

8. Upon demand that the vote to report the resolution, as amended, favorably to the House be divided into two propositions pursuant clause 5 of Rule XVI, Article II of the resolution (obstruction of Congress) was agreed to by a rollcall vote of 23 to 17.

A checklist.

The following are the contents of the checklist.

Roll call number: 8.

Date: December 13, 2019.

Committee on the Judiciary.

House of Representatives.

One hundred sixteenth congress.

Final Passage on H. RES. 755 Article II.

Representatives who voted aye: Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). Steve Cohen (TN-09). Hank Johnson (GA-04). Ted Deutch (FL-22). Karen Bass (CA-37). Cedric Richmond (LA-02). Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). David Cicilline (RI-01). Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Jamie Raskin (MD-08). Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). Val Demings (FL-10). Lou Correa (CA-46). Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05). Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). Joseph Neguse (CO-02). Lucy McBath (GA-06). Greg Stanton (AZ-09). Madeleine Dean (PA-04). Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26). Veronica Escobar (TX-16).

Representatives who voted no: Doug Collins (GA-27). James F Sensenbrenner (WI-05). Steve Chabot (OH-01). Louie Gohmert (TX-01). Jim Jordan (OH-04). Ken Buck (CO-04). John Ratcliffe (TX-04). Martha Roby (AL-02). Matt Gaetz (FL-01). Mike Johnson (L0A-04). Andy Biggs (AZ-05). Tom McClintock (CA-04). Debbie Lesko (AZ-08). Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). Ben Cline (VA-06). Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL). Greg Steube (FL-17).

Representative who did not vote: Ted Lieu (CA-33).

Number of Ayes: 23.

Number of Nos: 17.

Passed: checked.

Failed: unchecked.

COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the descriptive portions of this report.

NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY AND TAX EXPENDITURES AND CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, are inapplicable because this resolution does not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax expenditures. Additionally, the Committee believes that the resolution will have no budget effect

DUPLICATION OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS

No provision of H. Res. 755 establishes or reauthorizes a program of the federal government known to be duplicative of another federal program, a program that was included in any report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.

PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H. Res. 755 recommends articles of impeachment for President Donald J. Trump.

ADVISORY ON EARMARKS

In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H. Res. 755 does not contain any congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of Rule XXI.

DISSENTING VIEWS

DISSENTING VIEWS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Introduction

II. Procedural Background

A. Impeachment Proceedings Without Authorization

B. The Bifurcation of lmpeachment Inquiry Proceedings Under H. Res. 660

C. Committee Proceedings Under H. Res. 660

1. Failure to Schedule a Minority Hearing Day

2. Staff Presentation

3. Rejection of All Republican Witness Requests

III. Factual Background

IV. Article I Fails to Establish an Impeachable Offense

A. Impeachment in the House of Representatives Requires Clear and Convincing Evidence of Specific Impeachable Conduct. The Majority Has Not Met Its Burden

B. Abuse of Power Allegations Are Overbroad and Fail to Allege Specific Impeachable Conduct

1. Claims About the 2020 Election are Hyperbolic and Misleading

2. Prior Presidential Impeachments Were All Based on Criminality

3. This is the First Presidential Impeachment Where the Primary Allegations Have Not Been Proven

C. The Majority Fails to Explain Why Asking About Hunter Biden's Role on Burisma Board of Directors is a High Crime or Misdemeanor

V. Article II Fails to Establish an Impeachable Offense

A. Obstruction of Congress Does Not Constitute a High Crime or High Misdemeanor While Further Recourse is Available

B. An Impeachment Inquiry Does Not Elevate the House of Representatives Above Fundamental Privileges

C. The Majority's Failure to Conduct an Impeachment Inquiry in Accordance with Precedent has Led to Ex Post Facto Characterizations of that Inquiry

D. Assertions of Privilege by Previous Administrations Never Merited Impeachment

VI. Conclusion

I. Introduction1

Impeachment of an American president demands the accuser prioritize legitimacy and thoroughness over expediency. In the impeachment inquiries for Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton, the facts had been established and agreed upon by the time Articles of Impeachment were considered. Due to years-long investigations into the allegations against Nixon and Clinton, the only question to answer was what Congress would do to confront the findings.

The evidence uncovered in this impeachment, by contrast, shows the case is not only weak but dangerously lowers the bar for future impeachments. The record put forth by the Majority is based on inferences built upon presumptions and hearsay. In short, the Majority has failed to make a credible, factually-based allegation against this president that merits impeachment.2

By deciding to pursue impeachment first and build a case second, the Majority has created a challenge for itself. In the face of new information that exculpates or exonerates the President, the Majority must choose: either accept that the impeachment inquiry's findings do not merit impeachment and face the political consequences or, alternatively, ignore those facts. Regrettably, the Majority has chosen the latter.

As detailed in Section III below, since the delivery of the Intelligence Committee’s Reports (both Majority and Minority), new developments have emerged that further undermine the case for impeachment. The Majority’s response to new exculpatory facts, as it has been since the day the President was elected, is to ignore them and press on.

The Majority has not only ignored exculpatory evidence but proclaims the facts are “uncontested.” The facts are contested, and, in many areas, the Majority’s claims are directly contradicted by the evidence. That assertion is further contradicted by the Articles of Impeachment themselves. Not one of the criminal accusations leveled at the President over the past year-including bribery, extortion, collusion/conspiracy with foreign enemies, or obstruction of justice-has found a place in the Articles. Some of these accusations are, in fact, holdovers from an earlier disingenuous attempt by the Majority to weaponize the Russia collusion investigations for political gain. The Majority has not made the case for impeachment in part due to its decision to impeach being rooted less in a concern for the nation than the debasement of the President.

History will record the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump as a signal that even the gravest constitutional remedy is not beyond political exploitation. The Articles of Impeachment alone, drafted by the Majority in haste to meet a self-imposed December deadline, underscore the Majority’s anemic impeachment case. The Majority’s actions are unprecedented, unjustifiable, and will only dilute the significance of the dire recourse that is impeachment. The ramifications for future presidents are not difficult to surmise. If partisan passions are not restrained, the House of Representatives will be thrown into an endless cycle of impeachment, foregoing its duty to legislate and usurping the place of the American people in electing their president.

II. Procedural Background

Apart from those factual and evidentiary shortcomings referenced above, the Majority’s dedication to impeaching the President at any cost was well-reflected by their willful disregard of House Rules and congressional precedent. Throughout the first session of the 116th Congress, Chairman Jerrold Nadler repeatedly violated any Rules that inconvenienced the Committee’s ardent attempts to impeach the President. The Committee's impeachment-related activities during the first session of the 116th Congress should be viewed as a cautionary tale.

In 1974, Chairman Peter Rodino approached the question of presidential impeachment solemnly and with an eye towards fairness and thoroughness. He worked diligently to ensure that such a country-altering process was conducted with not only bipartisan support, but with the support of the American people. What has occurred in the halls of Congress over the final months of 2019 has been a sharp and unfortunate departure from Chairman Rodino’s legacy. The institutional damage done to the House of Representatives by the Majority throughout this impeachment "process" can never be repeated.

A. Impeachment Proceedings Without Authorization

For most of 2019, the House Committee on the Judiciary (the “Committee” or the “Judiciary Committee”) conducted various “impeachment” hearings outside the scope of its authority under Rule X of the Rules of the House. The Chairman’s refusal to seek authorization by a vote of the full House of Representatives-as was done in 1974 and 1998-denied every Member of the House of Representatives the opportunity to determine whether such proceedings should commence.

Not only did the Majority fail to seek authorization from the House of Representatives, they insisted they did not need it. On multiple occasions, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Chairman denied that a vote of the full House of Representatives was necessary prior to conducting an impeachment inquiry, arguing that House committees could conduct oversight pursuant to Rule X of the Rules of the House.3 This is a manipulative reading of the Rules. Rule X prescribes - in list format - the specific topics over which each House committee may exercise jurisdiction. Impeachment is not listed in Rule X. 4 To add-even temporarily-to a committee’s jurisdiction, the full House of Representatives must agree. 5

B. The Bifurcation of Impeachment Inquiry Proceedings Under H. Res. 660

The adoption of H. Res. 660 diverged substantially, and without justification, from prior authorizations agreed to by the House of Representatives in 1974 and 1998. Most notably, it bifurcated impeachment proceedings, allowing the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (the “Intelligence Committee”) to usurp what has traditionally been the Committee’s investigative role in presidential impeachment. To be clear, Members of the House of Representatives will soon have to vote on Articles of Impeachment reported by a Judiciary Committee that has barely reviewed the alleged evidence. After the Intelligence Committee “investigation,” the Judiciary Committee held only one hearing and one presentation from staff on the impeachment inquiry. Not only was the Judiciary Committee almost completely shut out from the impeachment inquiry, it turned down the opportunity to examine all of the evidence collected by the Intelligence Committee or to hear testimony from even one fact witness.

The Majority allowed the entire investigative portion to take place in a committee that denied Minority-requested witnesses, would not allow the participation of the President’s counsel to question fact witnesses, and censored Minority questions.6 After the Intelligence Committee’s one-sided investigation, the Judiciary Committee was unable to conduct a full review, leaving the American people in the dark.

C. Committee Proceedings Under H. Res. 660

1. Failure to Schedule a Minority Hearing Day

The Minority has a right to a minority day of hearings under clause 2(j)(l) of Rule XI of the Rules of the House.7 The Rules set forth that a minority day of hearings must occur on the “measure or matter” under consideration at the time of the demand. On December 4, 2019, the Committee held a hearing titled “The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.”8 It was during that hearing that a demand for a minority day of hearings was made. In fact, a demand for a minority day of hearings was made less than two minutes after the start of the hearing, which was the first Committee hearing designated pursuant to H. Res. 660.9 Given the issue under consideration at the December 4 hearing, the Rules would require that the Chairman schedule a minority day of hearings on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump, the matter under consideration at the time of the demand. Once the articles of impeachment were considered and adopted, the impeachment inquiry ended, and the necessity of the minority hearing day dissipated.

After the Chairman failed to acknowledge his obligation to schedule such a hearing during the December 4 hearing, Ranking Member Doug Collins sent a letter the following day reminding the Chairman that the requested minority hearing day must be scheduled before Committee consideration of any articles of impeachment.

The issue was again raised at the staff presentation hearing on December 9, 2019.10 Each time the issue was raised directly to the Chairman, he said that he was still considering the request.11 At the markup of articles of impeachment, a point of order was made against consideration of the articles for the Chairman’s failure to schedule a minority hearing day. Instead of acknowledging his violation of the Rules, the Chairman ruled against the point of order, depriving Minority Members of their right to a minority day of hearings.

Such a blatant, intentional, and impactful violation of the Rules during consideration of a matter as course-altering as articles of impeachment has never occurred in the history of the House of Representatives.

2. Staff Presentation

The staff ”presentation” hearing held on Monday, December 9, 2019, could only be described as a bizarre, made-for-TV divergence from the precedent set during the impeachments of Presidents Nixon and Clinton. Staff presentations in 1974 and 1998 occurred as a means to assist Members of the Committee in sorting through dense volumes of evidence. The December 9 hearing was set up by the Majority as a means to functionally replace the participation of Members of Congress with paid, outside consultants, not to advise them.

To begin, an outside consultant to the Majority, Barry Berke, was permitted to make a presentation to the Committee without being sworn in or questioned by Members of the Committee.12 He was later permitted forty-five minutes to cross-examine the Minority staff member (after said staffer had been sworn in) that had earlier presented the counter argument to his “presentation,” which was in fact just thirty minutes of opinion.

This aspect of the hearing comported with the procedures of H. Res. 660, but we question any application of the Rules that would permit a private consultant to use Committee proceedings to cross examine a career staff member for forty-five minutes but only allow the majority of Members on the Committee five minutes to ask questions.

Future staff presentations of evidence during impeachment inquiries should be just that - presentations of evidence compiled and reviewed by the Committee. Instead, this Majority chose to prioritize TV ratings over meaningful Member participation and a greater understanding of the facts.

3. Rejection of All Republican Witness Requests

H. Res. 660 provided that the Ranking Member could request that the Chairman subpoena witnesses. While H. Res. 660 provides no time constraints on such a request, the Chairman sent a letter requiring that the Ranking Member submit any such requests by December 6, 2019.13 Despite the unjustifiably short time constraint, the Ranking Member sent a list of witnesses to the Chairman by the deadline. On Monday December 9, the Chairman rejected all of the Ranking Member’s requests without justification beyond the Chairman’s unilateral determination that the witnesses were not relevant.14 Considering that Articles of Impeachment were announced the very next morning, it is clear that the Chairman had no intention to provide the Minority Members with an opportunity to examine additional evidence or call additional witnesses.

III. Factual Background

From a substantive perspective, despite the Minority's efforts,15 this Committee invited no fact witnesses to testify during this impeachment inquiry. Instead, it held one hearing with a panel of four academics, and one presentation with a panel of Congressional staffers.

Rather than conduct its own investigation, this Committee relied on the investigation conducted by the Intelligence Committee. The Intelligence Committee Majority produced a report. However, the Intelligence Committee's Minority Staff Report is the more complete document, describing in significant detail the evidentiary record.16 The Intelligence Committee Minority Staff Report is incorporated into these Minority Views and attached as Appendix A. As that Minority Report shows, the Majority does not have evidence to support the allegations in the Articles of Impeachment.17

Since the conclusion of the Intelligence Committee's investigation and the provision of its reports, significant new facts have come to light that further contradict the Majority's primary allegation that the President conditioned U.S. security assistance on the initiation of Ukrainian investigations into a political rival. The Majority has ignored those facts. First, on December 2, President Zelensky repeated his earlier statements 18 that he was not pressured by President Trump. In fact, he said he was not aware of a quid pro quo involving U.S. security assistance. 19 Second, on December 10, a close aide to President Zelensky, Andriy Yermak, denied discussing a quid pro quo with Gordon Sondland, which, as discussed below, is the linchpin of the Majority's factual case. 20 It is difficult to conceive that a months-long pressure campaign existed when the alleged victims are not aware of it and deny being pressured. These exculpatory facts not only undercut the Majority's primary factual claims, they emphasize the problems with the rushed nature of the process.

IV. Article I Fails to Establish an Impeachable Offense

Impeachment is only warranted for conduct that constitutes "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." 21 For months, the Majority claimed the President was guilty of bribery, extortion, and a host of other common law and penal code crimes,22 but the Articles of Impeachment do not include any of those specific offenses. In fact, the first Article in the resolution sponsored by Chairman Nadler alleges an amorphous charge of “abuse of power.”23

Simply put, the Majority has included the vague "abuse of power" charge because they lack the evidence to prove bribery, extortion, or any other crimes. For example, during the Committee's markup of the articles of impeachment, Members from the Minority explained in detail why the Majority's claims that the President was guilty of bribery were erroneous.24

It is not the Minority's contention that an abuse of power can never form the basis for an impeachment. But an accusation of abuse of power must be based on a higher and more concrete standard than conduct that "ignored and injured the interests of the Nation."25 The people, through elections, decide what constitutes the "interests of the nation." For an abuse of power charge, although "criminality is not required... clarity is necessary."26

Unfortunately, such clarity is utterly lacking in the Majority's articles. This is the first presidential impeachment in American history without the allegation of a crime, let alone a high crime or high misdemeanor. The absence of even an allegation of criminality, after months of claiming multiple crimes had been committed, reveals the Majority's inability to substantiate their claims.27 The abuse of power charge in the first Article is vague, unprovable, and confined only by the impulses of the majority party in the House of Representatives. The Majority has failed to distinguish its definition of "abuse of power" from simple dislike or disagreement with the President's actions because this impeachment is inextricably tied to the Majority's dislike and disagreement with the President. That is not what the Founders intended.

The crux of the factual allegations in the first Article is that the President directed a months-long pressure campaign to force President Zelensky to announce particular investigations in exchange for U.S. security assistance or a White House meeting, in an effort to influence the 2020 election. The Intelligence Committee Minority Report demonstrates that these claims were not only unproven but, in fact, are undermined or contradicted by the primary actors in the alleged scheme.28 Significantly, the alleged victims of the supposed pressure campaign were not even aware of any so-called pressure campaign.29 Indeed, if the Majority had proof of bribery, they would have said so in the Articles.

Because they do not have direct evidence of a pressure campaign against the Ukrainians, the Majority's allegations are based on presumptions, assumptions, hearsay, and inferences.30 And its most critical assumptions and inferences have been contradicted by direct evidence from the primary actors in the alleged scheme.31 It is no surprise the allegations shifted from quid pro quo, bribery, and extortion to settle on an undefined "abuse of power." The facts uncovered by the Intelligence Committee fail to approach the constitutional and historical standard for impeaching a president.32 As Professor Jonathan Turley testified before this Committee, this is the "thinnest evidentiary record" in the history of presidential impeachments.33 The reason the Majority has failed to seek information to substantiate that record, as Professor Turley and the Minority agree, is "an arbitrary deadline at the end of December."34

A. Impeachment in the House of Representatives Requires Clear and Convincing Evidence of Specific Impeachable Conduct. The Majority Has Not Met Its Burden.

Some in the Majority have argued that the House of Representatives is like a grand jury that should vote to impeach based on probable cause. This framing contradicts historical precedent. In the Clinton Impeachment Minority Views, House Democrats stated that the burden of proof, just as it was in the Nixon inquiry, should be "clear and convincing evidence."35 Chairman Nadler elaborated on that standard when he said:

At a bare minimum, [] the president's accusers must go beyond hearsay and innuendo and beyond demands that the president prove his innocence of vague and changing charges. They must provide clear and convincing evidence of specific impeachable conduct.36

The Majority should reflect upon Chairman Nadler's words.

The staff report on Constitutional Grounds for Impeachment filed during the Nixon impeachment further explains the high bar required for impeachment:

Because impeachment of a President is a grave step for the nation, it is to be predicated only upon conduct seriously incompatible with either the constitutional form and principles of our government or the proper performance of constitutional duties of the presidential office.37

As described below, the Majority's case fails to meet the burden of proof required.38

B. Abuse of Power Allegations Are Overbroad and Fail to Allege Specific Impeachable Conduct

Instead of alleging specific impeachable conduct, such as bribery or other high crimes, the Majority has alleged the vague and malleable charge of “abuse of power.” While a consensus of scholars agree it is possible to impeach a president for non-criminal acts, the House of Representatives has never done so based "solely or even largely on the basis of a non-criminal abuse of power allegation."39 That is because "[c]riminal allegations not only represent the most serious forms of conduct under our laws, but they also offer an objective source for measuring and proving such conduct."40 No such objective measure has been articulated by the Majority.

The Majority claims its abuse of power standard is satisfied when a president injures "the interests of the nation" for a personal political benefit.41What constitutes an injury to the national interest has been left undefined. It can mean anything a majority in Congress wants it to mean. The opposition party almost unfailingly disagrees with a president on many issues and can always argue his or her actions injure the national interest. Here, for example, Majority Members have already begun to argue the abuse of power allegations in the first Article encompass conduct totally unrelated to the Ukraine allegations.42 Moreover, nearly any action taken by a politician can result in a personal political benefit. When a certain standard can always be met by virtually all presidents, depending on partisan viewpoints, that standard has no limiting neutral principle and must be rejected. Simply stated, the Majority is advancing an impeachment based on policy differences with the President-a dangerous and slippery slope that our Founders cautioned against during discussions crafting the impeachment clause.

The Founders warned against such a vague and open-ended charge because it can be applied in a partisan fashion by a majority of the House of Representatives against an opposition president. Alexander Hamilton called partisan impeachment "regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt" the "greatest danger."43 Additionally, the Founders explicitly excluded the term "maladministration" from the impeachment clause because they did not want to subject presidents to the whims of Congress.44 James Madison said, "So vague a term will be equivalent to a tenure during pleasure of the Senate."45 As applied here, the Majority's abuse of power standard does precisely what the Founders rejected.

Thus, when the House of Representatives impeaches a president for non-criminal abuses of power, it must state with clarity how the harm to "national interests" is so egregious that it merits usurping the will of the electorate.46 The Majority has attempted to do that by equating a telephone conversation with election tampering. That argument is resoundingly unconvincing.

To prove an abuse of power, the accusation and the evidence against a president must "be sufficiently clear to assure the public that an impeachment is not simply an exercise of partisan creativity in rationalizing a removal of a president."47 Here, specific impeachable conduct was not clearly identified because the Majority failed to prove its initial allegations of a quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, and other statutory crimes.

1. Claims About the 2020 Election are Hyperbolic and Misleading

The injury to the national interest alleged against the President is harm to the integrity of the 2020 election. The Majority claims the President has engaged in a pattern of inviting foreign governments to intervene in American elections, and removal is the only option to preserve American democracy. Chairman Adam Schiff said not impeaching is equivalent to saying, "Why not let him cheat in one more election?"48 That claim is hyperbolic and untrue.

First, the basis for the Majority's claimed pattern of conduct is a statement made in 2016 by then-candidate Trump during a public press conference, when he jokingly and mockingly asked Russia to find former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's infamous 30,000 missing emails.49 That statement has now been used as a basis to impeach the President because, the Majority argues, he invited a foreign power to intervene in the 2016 election and will do it again. This claim is specious for at least three reasons. First, the President was speaking publicly to fellow Americans. The remark was not, for example, caught on a hot microphone during a private conversation with the Russian president.50 Second, the remark was made in jest in response to a question at a public press conference, following the news that 30,000 of Clinton's emails-potentially incriminating evidence-had mysteriously disappeared. Millions of Americans, including then-candidate Trump, were wondering what had happened. Finally, there is no evidence that the President actively sought to conspire with Russia to interfere in the election. The Majority simply does not like the comment.

The last point is particularly relevant. The Majority actively ignores the fact that the FBI and a special counsel spent nearly three years investigating the allegation that the President or his campaign colluded or conspired with the Russian government. Both concluded that the Trump­ Russia collusion narrative was baseless.51The special counsel found no conspiracy and no collusion. 52 Indeed, on December 9 2019 the same day the Committee received testimony from Chairman Schiff’s staff, rather than Schiff himself-the Inspector General released a report outlining a myriad of egregious errors committed by the FBI during its Russia collusion investigation.53 That the Majority included references to the Russia collusion narrative in these Articles of Impeachment illuminates the Majority's disregard for history, trivializes impeachment, and demonstrates an inability by the Majority to accept the inconvenient conclusions of those investigations-which, of course, the Majority previously lauded. It should be noted that the misconduct uncovered by the Department of Justice Inspector General largely occurred during President Obama's administration. As such, there is no basis to suspect President Trump's administration would allow the same election year abuses seen in 2016- which included the wiretapping of then-candidate Trump's campaign worker.54

Second, there was no invitation by President Trump for Ukraine to "intervene" in the 2020 election. By the Majority's standard, any action taken by any president that may affect an election is itself "intervention" in that election. Assuredly, every elected official eligible for reelection gives thought to how their actions will improve or harm their future campaign. Asking the president of Ukraine to "look into" potential corruption involving Hunter Biden's employment at a notoriously corrupt company in Ukraine is not "corrupting democratic elections."55 Any request, however remote, that might benefit a politician politically is not an invitation to corrupt an election. To portray the President's request as corrupting the 2020 election is disingenuous, at best. As explained further below, the President did not ask for false information, and the fact that a key player in a corrupt Ukrainian company is the son of a politician does not transform a legitimate question into election interference.

Finally, the Majority argues that it must act now to prevent an ongoing "crime spree"56 This is a spurious charge since the Articles of Impeachment do not allege any crimes, past or present. The Majority's argument that it must impeach the President to prevent future crimes, on the basis of past crimes not alleged in the Articles, is difficult to comprehend. Though impeachment is conceived of as prophylactic, the Majority would wield it on prognostication alone. The Majority must point to a high crime or other impeachable offense before claiming it is acting to protect future generations. It has completely failed to do so, instead relying on politically-motivated innuendo.

2. Prior Presidential Impeachments Were All Based on Criminality

The Majority's Articles of Impeachment are unprecedented in American history because they are not based on criminality, as were all prior presidential impeachments. President Johnson was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act.57 The House Judiciary Committee approved Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon based on extensive and proven criminal conduct. As Professor Turley explained:

The allegations began with a felony crime of burglary and swept to encompass an array of other crimes involving political slush funds, payments of hush money, maintenance of an enemies list, directing tax audits of critics, witness intimidation, multiple instances of perjury, and even an alleged kidnapping. Ultimately, there were nearly 70 officials charged and four dozen of them found guilty. Nixon was also named as an unindicted conspirator by a grand jury. . . . The claim that the Ukrainian controversy eclipses Watergate is unhinged from history.58

The House of Representatives impeached President Clinton for the federal crime of lying under oath to deny justice to a fellow American. 59 While individual Articles of Impeachment have been passed against prior presidents that do not allege criminality, no president has been impeached solely on non-criminal accusations. This impeachment not only fails to satisfy the standard of past impeachments but would create a dangerous precedent because the alleged conduct is unproven.

3. This is the First Presidential Impeachment Where the Primary Allegations Have Not Been Proven.

The Majority has said repeatedly that the facts in this impeachment inquiry are not in dispute. That is false. Not only are the facts in dispute, the Majority's primary allegations are based on presumptions that are contradicted by direct evidence. Indeed, this is the first presidential impeachment where the primary allegations have not been proven.60 In the Nixon impeachment, the Judiciary Committee had tapes and a host of proven crimes.61 In the Clinton impeachment, there was physical evidence and a well-founded perjury claim that even President Clinton's supporters acknowledged was a felony, leaving them to argue that some felonies are not impeachable.62 Here, all the Majority has presented connecting the hold on foreign security assistance to a request for investigations is a presumption by Ambassador Gordon Sondland.63 But that presumption is contradicted by more credible direct evidence. Specifically, Ambassador Kurt Volker testified that there was no "linkage" between a White House meeting and Ukrainian actions to investigate President Trump's political rival.64 During his public testimony, in an exchange with Rep. Mike Turner, Ambassador Volker reiterated that there was no linkage between foreign security assistance and investigations.65

There are four facts that will never change, making it impossible for the Majority to make any convincing case for the impeachment of the President on these facts. First, the President has publicly released the transcript of the July 25 call, which shows no conditionality for any official act.66 Second, President Zelensky and his advisors did not know the aid was on hold until it was reported publicly at the end of August.67 Third, both President Trump and President Zelensky have said repeatedly there was no pressure, no quid pro quo, and no linkage between the aid and investigations.68 Fourth, the foreign security assistance funds were released without Ukraine announcing or undertaking any investigations.

Additionally, Andriy Yermak, the only Ukrainian who allegedly was told about Ambassador Sondland's presumption, described in great detail his brief encounter with Ambassador Sondland that occurred when they were walking towards an escalator and said Ambassador Sondland never told him that U.S. security assistance was tied to investigations.69 It defies logic to believe the President carefully orchestrated a months-long pressure campaign involving security assistance when the alleged victims of the supposed pressure campaign did not even know about it or about conditionality on any official act. Equally unconvincing is the assertion that everyone who disagrees with Ambassador Sondland's presumption is just lying.

Finally, the President was asked about Ambassador Sondland's presumption on two separate occasions, and both times President Trump said Sondland was wrong. After Ambassador Sondland told Senator Ron Johnson on August 30 about his presumption that U.S. security assistance was linked to investigations, Senator Johnson called the President on August 31 and asked if Ambassador Sondland's presumption was accurate.70 The President said, "No way. I would never do that."71 Senator Johnson and Senator Murphy subsequently met with President Zelensky. They discussed Ukraine's recent anti-corruption efforts and U.S. security assistance, but, not surprisingly, the question of investigations was not raised.72 Likewise, when Ambassador Sondland asked President Trump what he wants from Ukraine, the President said, "I want nothing."73 In fact, the President said he wanted President Zelensky to do what he ran on: root out corruption in Ukraine.74

Ultimately, Ukraine received the U.S. security assistance and a meeting with the President without announcing any investigations. There is no evidence that the President engaged in a pressure campaign or other scheme to condition security assistance on investigations. The Majority's case is built on a presumption that is contradicted by the evidence. The Intelligence Committee Minority Report provides further details about the flaws in the Majority's factual case. If the Majority proceeds with impeachment, it will be based on one presumption from one witness who amended his story multiple times.

C. The Majority Fails to Explain Why Asking About Hunter Biden's Role on Burisma Board of Directors is a High Crime or Misdemeanor

After failing to substantiate the allegations related to the U.S. security assistance, the Majority's remaining allegation is that the President committed the "high crime" of asking President Zelensky to look into potential corruption involving Hunter Biden's role on Burisma's board of directors.75This allegation is not a high crime or misdemeanor.

That question was the same question the American media had been asking for years. For example, on June 20, 2019, ABC News scrutinized Hunter Biden's involvement on the Burisma board of directors on a nationally televised news report.76The reporter asked whether "Hunter Biden profit[ed] off his Dad's work as vice-president, and did Joe Biden allow it?”77 Numerous other publications have asked the same questions, including the Wall Street Journal as far back as 2015.78 Former Vice President Biden himself, in a widely circulated video, explained his role in leveraging foreign aid to get a Ukrainian prosecutor who had investigated Burisma fired during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.79 As the New York Times reported earlier this year, "Among those who had a stake in the outcome was Hunter Biden, Mr. Biden's younger son, who at the time was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had been in the sights of the fired prosecutor general."80 Certainly, the questions surrounding the Bidens' role in Ukraine have been topics of interest for the media for a long time.

There is nothing untoward about a president asking a foreign government to investigate the same questions about potential corruption the American media was asking publicly. In fact, the United States has been party to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with Ukraine since 2001.81 The purpose of that MLAT includes "mutual assistance...in connection with the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of offenses, and in proceedings related to criminal matters."82

Furthermore, being a political campaign participant does not immunize anyone from scrutiny. The President did not ask for the creation of any false information. When Lt. Col. Vindman was asked "Would it ever be U.S. policy, in your experience, to ask a foreign leader to open a political investigation?" he replied,"...Certainly the President is well within his right to do that."83

V. Article II Fails to Establish an Impeachable Offense

The second Article of Impeachment, "Obstruction of Congress," appears to be a simple invective by the Majority against the constitutional reality of separation of powers.84 The Majority's refusal to engage the Executive Branch in the traditional accommodations process, 85 or seek redress from the Judicial Branch, has rendered this Article as baseless as the first. The system of checks and balances is neither theoretical nor dispassionate; the Founders fully intended to put the three branches in conflict, and expected they would argue self-interestedly for their respective powers.86 The inclusion of the second Article may be due to the Majority's reticence to propose only a single unsupported Article.

No president has been impeached for obstruction of Congress. The Majority seeks to impeach the President not for violating the Constitution but, instead, for asserting privileges that are part of its very structure. Though Legislative frustration with Executive resistance has previously inspired calls for impeachment and even the drafting of Articles of Impeachment, in this instance, the Majority is rushing to impeachment without attempting to engage available alternative avenues to obtain information. They have failed to do so because the Majority has set an arbitrary, politically-motivated deadline, by which it believes it must finish impeachment. Quite simply, further negotiations or the courts would take too long for the Majority's liking. This situation is truly unprecedented.

A. Obstruction of Congress Does Not Constitute a High Crime or High Misdemeanor While Further Recourse is Available

The obstruction of Congress allegations in this second Article do not meet the impeachable standard demanded by the Constitution. The Founders intended to create interbranch conflict. The fact that conflict exists here does not mean the President has committed either a high crime or a high misdemeanor. Most significantly, Congress has not pursued any of its many remedies to resolve interbranch disputes.

Congress has legislated remedies for itself to enforce its investigation requests, but it has not pursued those remedies. 87 Congress may also turn to the Judicial Branch to resolve interbranch disputes over subpoenas, as it has done many times in the past. 88 The Majority has neglected to do so. The Majority's claim that the current administration's "total" declination to participate in the effort to unseat him-either by the President himself or other Executive Branch officers-is somehow unprecedented is, simply, incorrect.89 The Majority has engaged in a fundamentally unfair process and created a scenario in which the President's assertion of valid constitutional privileges is being used as a weapon against him.

The Intelligence Committee Majority served numerous subpoenas for documents and testimony. However, in at least one case, when the witness sought judicial review of the subpoena, the Majority withdrew it. Former Deputy National Security Advisor and Assistant to the President Charles Kupperman was one of the few people to listen in on the call between President Trump and President Zelensky on July 25 and received a subpoena to testify. When the White House instructed him to not testify, he asked the court to resolve "irreconcilable commands" from the Legislative and Executive Branches. 90 Inexplicably, the Majority promptly withdrew the subpoena and moved to dismiss the lawsuit.

Additionally, at least three subpoenas authorized and signed by Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff were served prior to the passage of House Resolution 660 ("H. Res. 660").91 Since H. Res. 660 gave Chairman Schiff jurisdiction to pursue this impeachment inquiry, an authorization he did not previously wield, it is likely these subpoenas would be defective and unenforceable since they were issued prior to its passage. Notably, the House of Representatives has chosen not to ask the federal judiciary to opine on such questions, instead rushing straight to impeachment without engaging the courts to resolve this interbranch dispute.

The federal judiciary's recent ruling that White House Counsel Don McGahn must appear before the Judiciary Committee demonstrates that assertions of privileges by the White House do not foreclose the House of Representatives' ability to hear testimony from relevant witnesses.92 For the price of legitimacy, the Majority is only required to pay a small amount of patience and deference to the courts.

The Majority's claim that the courts are too slow or deliberative only demonstrates the Majority's pessimism about the merits of this case.93 The Majority's actions show the American people disdain for working within the constitutional framework. Any case filed pursuant to an impeachment inquiry can be expedited in the courts. In the Nixon litigation, courts moved relevant cases quickly to and through the Supreme Court.94 The decision to adopt an abbreviated schedule for the investigation and not to seek to compel testimony is a strategic choice by the Majority. It is not an appropriate justification for impeachment.

The feebleness of the Obstruction of Congress charge is rooted not only in the Majority's refusal to petition a court for enforcement of its subpoenas, but also the Majority's disregard for the typical process of accommodation that necessarily requires more time than the Majority has allowed. The "gold standard" of impeachment inquiries was with President Nixon.95 But in that case the "Obstruction of Congress" Article of Impeachment authorized by the Judiciary Committee (but not voted on by the full House) was built upon a months-long negotiation with the White House, preceded by a years-long investigation by both houses of Congress.96

B. An Impeachment Inquiry Does Not Elevate the House of Representatives Above Fundamental Privileges

The Majority cites the "sole Power of Impeachment" five times in the two Articles of Impeachment. The recitation of Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 of the Constitution is correct, but it is utterly circular to assert the President deserves to be impeached because he defended himself from impeachment. The Constitution's grant of the impeachment power to the House of Representatives does not temporarily suspend the rights and powers of the other branches established by the Constitution. The initiation of impeachment proceedings does not entitle the House of Representatives automatic license to intrude into all comers of the federal government. For additional information regarding the unfair-and in fact, antagonistic-posture the Majority took during its investigation, refer to Section III of the Minority Views of the Intelligence Committee, attached as Appendix A.

The Majority's Articles also illustrate the risk of appropriating language from previous Articles of Impeachment never brought to a vote before the House of Representatives. Specifically, the Majority appears to have lifted from the Articles of Impeachment of President Nixon the language accusing the President of asserting privileges "without lawful cause or excuse."97 But that is, of course, the heart of the argument in opposition to this Article. It is not for the Legislative Branch to determine unilaterally what is a "lawful cause or excuse." In fact, "[i]t is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is."98 The initiation of an impeachment inquiry does not change this calculus. The advantage an impeachment inquiry bestows to fact gatherers is the greater legitimacy of the Legislative Branch over the Executive Branch before a Judicial Branch judge or magistrate, which the Majority avoided altogether. The House of Representatives has no power to make laws by itself, and it has no mandate to determine to what privileges the Executive Branch is entitled. Though it may draft and pass Articles of Impeachment cloaking itself in the parlance of the judiciary, the House of Representatives is no substitute for the Judicial Branch. The adoption of such terminology further undermines the seriousness of this Article. In fact, it suggests the Majority is either unaware of the Nixon precedent, or seeks to deceive the American public about it.

C. The Majority's Failure to Conduct an Impeachment Inquiry in Accordance with Precedent has Led to Ex Post Facto Characterizations of that Inquiry

As detailed in Section II above, many of the Majority's obstruction allegations are due to the Majority's failure to conduct its inquiry in accordance with precedent. Fundamentally, the Majority has offered conflicting accounts of when the inquiry even began.

On September 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the House of Representatives was "moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry."99 The media generally reported that this was the commencement of impeachment proceedings, and the Majority purported to act pursuant to the Speaker's pronouncement. 100

Nonetheless, over a month later, on October 31, the House of Representatives voted to authorize the impeachment inquiry that preceded these Articles, with the passage of H. Res. 660. This resolution directed the Committees on Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, Oversight and Reform, and Ways and Means "to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States."101

Prior to the formal vote on October 31, serious and legitimate questions were raised as to whether the Executive Branch was being asked to comply with an impeachment inquiry, standard legislative oversight, or a novel hybrid of the two. The White House raised those concerns with the Majority on October 8, but no steps were taken to accommodate reasonable concerns about due process and fundamental fairness.102

The unnecessary confusion caused by the Majority about the status of its investigation calls into question the legitimacy of any subpoena issued prior to October 31 claiming to be part of an impeachment inquiry, because subpoenas issued before that date were not issued pursuant to a formal impeachment inquiry, congressional oversight, or any cognizable legislative purpose. A case addressing the validity of actions taken pursuant to Speaker Pelosi's edict is pending before the D.C. Circuit court. 103

D. Assertions of Privilege by Previous Administrations Never Merited Impeachment

The Executive Branch has resisted congressional requests since the administration of President George Washington.104 Resisting and asserting privileges in response to congressional demands has never formed the basis of impeachment.

For example, President Obama cited executive privilege and barred essential testimony and documents during the investigation of "Fast and Furious," a gunwalking operation in which the government arranged for the illegal sale of weapons to drug cartels in order to track their movement. The Obama administration argued that the courts had no authority over its denial of such witnesses and evidence to Congress. In Committee on Oversight & Government Reform v. Holder, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, ruled that "endorsing the proposition that the executive may assert an unreviewable right to withhold materials from the legislature would offend the Constitution more than undertaking to resolve the specific dispute that has been presented here. After all, the Constitution contemplates not only a separation, but a balance, of powers."105 The position of the Obama Administration was extreme. It was also widely viewed as an effort to run the clock out on the investigation. Nevertheless, President Obama had every right to seek judicial review in the matter.

The subpoena campaign against the Trump Executive Branch began in earnest in September of this year, over a month before the impeachment inquiry had been authorized by the House of Representatives. In a letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, the Committee on Foreign Affairs compelled the production of certain documents from the Department of State. 106 The subpoena issued by the Committee on Oversight and Reform to the White House on October 4, 2019, "compel[led] [the White House] to produce documents set forth in the accompanying schedule by October 18, 2019."107 Any response less than immediate and total acquiescence, the letter stated, "shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President."108 This refrain-a threat by any definition has- accompanied every subpoena issued to the Executive Branch and has needlessly created further tension between the Executive and Legislative Branches. From the commencement of this inquiry-whenever that may be definitively ascertained-the Majority has not been reluctant to voice its goal of impeaching the President.

VI. Conclusion

Before the House of Representatives are two Articles of Impeachment against the President of the United States, Donald John Trump. To these Articles, the Minority dissents. The President has neither abused the power granted to him by the American people nor obstructed Congress. The Majority has failed to prove a case for impeachment. In fact, the paltry record on which the Majority relies is an affront to the constitutional process of impeachment and will have grave consequences for future presidents. The Majority's tactics and behavior-procedurally and substantively-emulate the charade impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, a president impeached because the House of Representatives did not agree with his policies. 109

If President Nixon's impeachment proceedings are the "gold standard" for presidential impeachment inquiries, these proceedings, in stark contrast, will go down in history as the quintessential example of how such proceedings should not be conducted. The Majority Report and attendant documents will be viewed only as maps to the lowest depths of partisanship that no future Congress should follow. The quicker the Majority Report and the Majority's actions are forgotten, the better. As House Judiciary Republicans have repeatedly stated, 110 this institution should move on to working for the American people and forego this exercise of overturning 63 million of the votes cast on November 8, 2016.


A Signature: Doug Collins.

Doug Collins

Ranking Member

House Committee on the Judiciary

1 As an initial matter, the Minority wishes to note for the record its unwavering commitment to security for the people and the nation of Ukraine. Throughout this process, the Minority has been cast variously as against foreign aid, pro-Russia, or unsympathetic to the plight of Ukrainians, who face unimaginable hardship in the face of Russian aggression. To the Ukrainian people, we say we categorically reject these characterizations and apologize that the Ukrainian democracy has been thrust into the spotlight besmirching both of our leaders. We congratulate you on your election of President Zelensky, whose commitment to fighting corruption and the Russian threat are values all decent Americans share with you.

2 See Jonathan Turley, "The Impeachment Inquiry Into President Donald J. Trump: The Constitutional Basis For Presidential Impeachment," House Committee on the Judiciary, Written Statement, Dec. 4, 2019, at 4. ("I am concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. I believe this impeachment not only fails the standard of past impeachments but would create a dangerous precedent for future impeachments.").

3 Nadler: These are 'formal impeachment proceedings', CNN (Aug. 8, 2019); Susan Cornwall, U.S. House Will Hold Off on Vote to Authorize Impeachment Probe: Pelosi, REUTERS, (Oct. 15, 2019).;Lindsey McPherson, McCarthy Asks Pelosi to Suspend Impeachment Inquiry Until She Defines Procedures, ROLLCALL, (Oct. 3, 2019).

4 Rules of the House of Representative, Rule X.

5 Deschler-Brown’s Precedents, Volume 3, Chapter 10. 94th Cong. 2042 (1994).

6 Valerie Richardson, Adam Schiff Rejects Hunter Biden, ‘Whistleblower’ as Impeachment Witnesses, WASHINGTON TIMES (Nov. 10, 2019); Bob Fredericks & Aaron Feis, Adam Schiff Blocks Republicans’ Attempts to Question Impeachment Witnesses, NEW YORK POST (Nov. 19, 2019).

7 Rules of the House of Representative, Clause (2)(j)(l), Rule XI.

8 The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment, Hearing Before the H. Comm. On the Judiciary, ll6th Cong. (2019).

9 Id. at 4.

10 The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Presentations from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee, Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. 12 (2019).

11 The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Presentations from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee, Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. 13 (2019).

12 Id. at 74-5.

13 Letter from the Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to the Honorable Doug Collins, Ranking Member, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Nov. 29, 2019).

14 Letter from the Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to the Honorable Doug Collins, Ranking Member, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (Dec. 9, 2019).

15 See, e.g., Letter from the Honorable Doug Collins, Ranking Member, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, to the Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (December 6, 2019).

16 See Appendix A, Report of Evidence in the Democrats' Impeachment Inquiry in the House of Representatives ("Intel. Comm. Minority Report") (Dec. 2, 2019).

17 Id.

18 Tara Law, 'Nobody Pushed Me. ' Ukrainian President Denies Trump Pressured Him to Investigate Biden's Son, TIME (Sep. 25, 2019).

19 Simon Shuster, 'I Don't Trust Anyone at All, ' Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Speaks Out on Trump, Putin and a Divided Europe, TIME (Dec. 2, 2019).

20 Simon Shuster, Top Ukraine Official Andriy Yermak Casts Doubt on Key Impeachment Testimony, TIME (Dec. 10, 2019).

21 U.S. CONST. Art. II, § 4.

22 See e.g., Mike DeBonis & Toluse Olorunnipa, Democrats sharpen impeachment case, decrying 'bribery' as another potential witness emerges linking Trump to Ukraine scandal, WASHINGTON POST (Nov. 14, 2019).

23 H. Res. 775, 116th Cong. (2019).

24 See Markup of H. Res 755, Articles of Impeachment Against President Donald J. Trump, Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong. 77-78, 167-68 (statements of Reps. Buck and Reschenthaler; specifically, that Democrats lacked the evidence to prove at least three elements of the crime of bribery).

25 Id. at 110 (Article I, charging that the President abused his power because he "ignored and injured the interests of the nation.").

26 Turley, supra note 2, at 11.

27 See Appendix A (Intel. Comm. Minority Report), outlining the evidentiary deficiencies in the Majority's case.

28 Id. at 32-64.

29 Georgi Kantchev, Ukrainian President Denies Trump Pressured Him During July Call, WALL STREET JOURNAL (Oct. 10, 2019) (President Zelensky said, "There was no blackmail."); Matthias Williams, U.S. envoy Sondland did not link Biden probe to aid: Ukraine minister, REUTERS (Nov. 14, 2019) (Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said Ambassador Sondland "did not tell us . . . about a connection between the assistance and the investigations."); Mark Moore, Ukraine's Zelensky again denies quid pro quo during Trump phone call, NY POST (Dec. 2, 2019) (President Zelensky again denies there was a quid pro quo); Simon Shuster, Top Ukraine Official Andriy Yermak Casts Doubt on Key Impeachment Testimony, TIME (Dec. 10, 2019) (Andriy Yermak denies discussing military assistance with Ambassador Sondland).

30 See The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Testimony of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Hearing Before the H. Perm. Sel. Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. 148-51 (2019) (Ambassador Sondland testifying that his testimony about military was a "presumption" and that nobody told him the aid was linked to investigations); see also Appendix A (Intel. Comm. Minority Views) at 32-64.

31 See supra note 29; Intel. Comm. Minority Views, at 43-44 (testimony of Ambassador Kurt Volker, the Special Envoy to Ukraine); Letter from Sen. Ron Johnson to the Honorable Jim Jordan, Ranking Member, H. Comm. on Oversight & Reform, and the Honorable Devin Nunes, Ranking Member, H. Perm. Sel. Comm. on Intelligence (Nov. 18, 2019).

32 See supra note 1 0 (Opening Statement of Stephen R. Castor).

33 Turley, supra note 2, at 4.

34 Id. at 48.

35 See id. at 211.

36 Impeachment Inquiry: William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, 105th Cong., Consideration of Articles of Impeachment 78 (Comm. Print 1998) (statement of Rep. Jerrold Nadler).

37 Staff of H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 93d Cong., Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment 4, at 27 (Comm. Print 1974) ("Nixon Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment").

38 See also Appendix A (Intel Comm. Minority Report).

39 Turley, supra note 2, at 47.

40 Id. at 23.

41 See H. Res. 755, 116th Cong. (2019) (Article I).

42 See, e.g., Rep. Rashida Tlaib, TWITTER, Dec. 10, 2019, 11:14am (stating that "abuse of power" standard includes the allegation that the "President targeted people solely based on their ethic [sic] background, their faith, disability, sexual orientation and even source of income.").

43 THE FEDERALIST NO. 65 (Alexander Hamilton).

44 2 The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, 550 (Max Farrand ed., I 937).

45 Id.

46 Turley, supra note 2, at 11.

47 Id. at 25.

48 Allan Smith & Rebecca Shabad, House leaders unveil two articles of impeachment, accusing Trump of 'high crimes and misdemeanors', NBC NEWS (Dec. 10, 2019) ("Remarks by Chairman Adam Schiff').

49 See Ian Schwartz, Trump to Russia: I Hope You're Able to Find Clinton's 30,000 Missing Email, REAL CLEAR POLITICS (July 27, 2016).

50 J. David Goodman, Microphone Catches a Candid Obama, NY TIMES (March 26, 2012).

51 See Robert S. Mueller Ill, Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election (March 2019) ("Mueller Report"); Michael Horowitz, A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election (June 2018) ("Horowitz Report").

52 See Mueller Report at 1

53 See Horowitz Report at i.

54 Id.

55 H. Res. 755, 116th Cong. (2019) (Article I).

56 See supra note 24, at 62.

57 Turley, supra note 2, at 14-17.

58 Id. at 17-20.

59 See H. Rept. 105-830, 105th Cong. (1998).

60 Turley, supra note 2, at 22.

61 Id.

62 See Staff of H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 105th Cong., Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment: Modem Precedents, Minority Views, at 15 (1998) ("Clinton Impeachment Report").

63 See supra note 30, at 148-151 (Testimony of Gordon Sondland stating that his testimony about security assistance was a "presumption" and that nobody told him the aid was linked to investigations).

64 Transcribed Interview of Ambassador Kurt Volker (Oct. 3, 2019) at 35-36; 40.

65 The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Testimony of Ambassador Kurt Volker and Mr. Timothy Morrison, Hearing Before the H. Perm. Sel. Comm. on Intelligence, 116thCong. 1 06-108; 166 (2019).

66 The White House, Memorandum of Telephone Conversation 1 (July 25, 2019).

67 See Appendix A (Intel Comum. Minority Report), at 50 (citing testimony of Ambassadors Volker and Taylor).

68 See, e.g., Georgi Kantchev, Ukrainian President Denies Trump Pressured Him During July Call, WALL STREET JOURNAL (Oct. 10, 2019) (President Zelensky said "There was no blackmail."); Matthias Williams, U.S. envoy Sand/and did not link Biden probe to aid: Ukraine minister, REUTERS (Nov. 14, 2019) (Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said Ambassador Sondland "did not tell us . . . about a connection between the assistance and the investigations."); Simon Shuster, 'I Don't Trust Anyone at All,' Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Speaks Out on Trump, Putin and a Divided Europe," TIME (Dec. 2, 2019) (President Zelensky again denies there was a quid pro quo).

69 Simon Shuster, Top Ukraine Official Andriy Yermak Casts Doubt on Key Impeachment Testimony, TIME (Dec. 10, 2019).

70 Letter from Sen. Ron Johnson to the Honorable Jim Jordan, Ranking Member, H. Comm. on Oversight & Reform, and the Honorable Devin Nunes, Ranking Member, H. Perm. Sel. Comm. on Intelligence, at 5 (Nov. 18, 2019).

71 Id. at 6.

72 Id. at 6-7.

73 See supra note 30, at 148-151 (Testimony of Ambassador Gordon Sondland stating the President said "I want nothing.").

74 Id.

75 See supra note 69.

76 Biden sidesteps questions about son's foreign work, ABC NEWS (June 20, 2019).

77 Id.

78 Paul Sonne & Laura Mills, Ukrainians See Conflict in Biden's Anticorruption Message, WALL STREET JOURNAL (Dec. 7, 2015) (Quoting Ukrainian corruption expert stating: "If an investigator sees the son of the vice president of the United States is part of the management of a company . . . that investigator will be uncomfortable pushing the case forward."); see also James Risen, Joe Biden, His Son and the Case Against a Ukrainian Oligarch, NY TIMES (Dec. 8, 2015); Kenneth Vogel & Iulia Mendel, Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions that are being Promoted by Trump and Allies, NY TIMES (May 1, 2019).

79 Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs Issue Launch with Former Vice President Joe Biden (Jan. 23, 2018).

80 Kenneth Vogel & Iulia Mendel, Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions that are being promoted by Trump and Allies, NY TIMES (May l, 2019).

81 See Department of State, "Ukraine (12978) - Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters".

82 Id. at art. I cl. I.

83 The Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald J. Trump: Testimony of Ms. Jennifer Williams & Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Hearing Before the H. Perm. Sel. Comm. on Intelligence, 116 th Cong. 120 (2019).

84 See Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat, baron de, 1689-1755. The Spirit of the Laws. The Colonial Press, 1899 (New York). ("But should the legislative power usurp a share of the executive, the latter would be equally undone... Here, then, is the fundamental constitution of the government we are treating of. The legislative body being composed of two parts, they check one another by the mutual privilege of rejecting. They are both restrained by the executive power, as the executive is by the legislative.").

85 Cf U.S. v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 703 (1974) ("In the performance of assigned constitutional duties, each branch of the Government must initially interpret the Constitution, and the interpretation of its power by any branch is due great respect from the others.").

86 THE FEDERALIST No. 51 (James Madison) ("This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public. We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights… As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified.").

87 See, e.g., 2 U.S.C. § 192.

88 See, e.g., H. Comm. on the Judiciary v. Miers, 558 F. Supp. 2d (D.D.C. 2008).

89 Many presidents have instructed Executive Branch officials not to comply with congressional demands. See Theodore Olson, History of Refusals By Executive Branch Officials to Provide Information Demanded by Congress, Part I, December 14, 1982, 6 Op. Off. Legal Counsel 751. The Olson OLC Opinion describes, for example, President Jackson stating, "It is now, however, my solemn conviction that I ought no longer, from any motive nor in any degree, to yield to these unconstitutional demands. Their continued repetition imposes on me, as the representative and trustee of the American people, the painful but imperious duty of resisting to the utmost any further encroachment on the rights of the Executive." President Theodore Roosevelt stated, "[I have] instructed the Attorney General not to respond to that portion of the resolution which calls for a statement of his reasons for nonaction." And President Eisenhower, in a May 17, 1954, letter to the Secretary of Defense said: "[Y]ou will instruct employees of your Department that in all of their appearances before the Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Government Operations regarding the inquiry now before it they are not to testify to any such conversations or communications, or to produce any such documents or reproductions."

90 Brief of Plaintiff, Charles M. Kupperman, Kupperman v. House of Representatives, Case No: I: I9-cv-03224 at 2 (D.D.C. Oct. 25, 20I9).

91 Subpoena of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Sept. 27), Subpoena of Vice President Mike Pence (Oct. 4), and Subpoena of Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney (Oct. 4).

92 H. Comm. on the Judiciary v. McGahn, Opinion of the Court, Case No: I: I9-cv-02379 (D.O.C. Nov. 25, 20I9).

93 See supra note 49.

94 Two months elapsed between the ruling of Judge Sirica of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court's final decision.

95 Turley, supra note 2, at I7.

96 After requests were made to the White House on February 25, 1974, discussions were entered into to attempt to elicit further cooperation with the White House. Only after these negotiations failed was the first subpoena issued on April 11, 1974, authorized on a bipartisan basis by a vote of 33 to 3. President Nixon proceeded to release to the Committee and the public edited transcripts of31 of the 42 subpoenaed recorded conversations. Finding the production insufficient and incompliant with the subpoena, the Committee authorized two additional subpoenas on May 15: the first, approved 37 to 1, demanded production of additional recorded telephone conversations which included President Nixon; the second, approved by separate but overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, demanded the "daily diaries" of President Nixon's calls for four specified periods. In a letter to Chairman Rodino on May 22, the President declined to produce the subject material of the May 15 subpoenas. On May 30, the Committee authorized a fourth subpoena, by a vote of 37 to 1, which demanded additional tape recordings and all papers relating to Watergate. By a vote of28 to 10, the Committee also responded to President Nixon's failure to produce subpoenaed material, which was in turn was replied to by President Nixon on June 9. On June 24, the Committee authorized additional subpoenas into the ITT antitrust litigation and Kleindienst confirmation, domestic surveillance, governmental decisions affecting the dairy industry and campaign contributions, and alleged misuse of the IRS.

97 Cf Third Article Impeaching Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States. Approved by H. Comm. on the Judiciary (July 30, 1974).

98 Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803).

99 See supra note 49 (Remarks by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi).

100 See, e.g., Nicholas Fandos, Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquily of Trump, NY TIMES (Sep. 24, 2019).

101 H. Res. 660, 116th Cong. (2019).

102 Letter from Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel, to the Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, et al. (Oct. 8, 2019).

103 See In re: Application of the H Comm. on the Judiciary, Department of Justice's Notice of Appeal, Case No: 1:19-gj-00048 BAH (D.C.C. Oct. 28, 2019).

104 Washington famously declined to deliver to the House of Representatives documents recording the negotiations with Great Britain in what would be memorialized in the Jay Treaty of 1795.

105 H. Comm. on Oversight & Gov 't Reform v. Holder, 979 F. Supp. 2d 1, 3 (D.D.C. 2013).

106 This subpoena followed requests for documents from the Department of State made on September 9 and September 23 (prior to any vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry).

107 Letter from the Honorable Elijah Cummings, Chairman, H. Comm. on Oversight & Reform, et al. to Pat Cipollone, White House Counsel (Oct. 4, 2019).

108 Id.

109 See generally Association of the Bar of New York, the Committee on Federal Legislation, The Law of Presidential Impeachment (1974).

110 See, e.g., Letter from H. Comm. on the Judiciary Republican Members to the Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, H. Comm. on the Judiciary (December 3, 2019).

REPORT OF EVIDENCE IN THE DEMOCRATS’ IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Republican Staff Report Prepare For

Devin Nunes
Ranking Member
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Jim Jordan
Ranking Member
Committee on Oversight and Reform

Michael T. McCaul
Ranking Member
Committee on Foreign Affairs

December 2, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


On November 8, 2016, nearly 63 million Americans from around the country chose Donald J. Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. Now, less than a year before the next presidential election, 231 House Democrats in Washington, D.C., are trying to undo the will of the American people.* As one Democrat admitted, the pursuit of this extreme course of action is because they want to stop President Trump’s re-election.

Democrats in the House of Representatives have been working to impeach President Trump since his election. Democrats introduced four separate resolutions in 2017 and 2018 seeking to impeach President Trump. In January 2019, on their first day in power, House Democrats again introduced articles of impeachment.§ That same day, a newly elected Congresswoman promised to an audience of her supporters, “we’re going to go in there and we’re going to impeach the [expletive deleted].”** Her comments are not isolated. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Trump “an impostor” and said it is “dangerous” to allow American voters to evaluate his performance in 2020.††

The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is not the organic outgrowth of serious misconduct; it is an orchestrated campaign to upend our political system. The Democrats are trying to impeach a duly elected President based on the accusations and assumptions of unelected bureaucrats who disagreed with President Trump’s policy initiatives and processes. They are trying to impeach President Trump because some unelected bureaucrats were discomforted by an elected President’s telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. They are trying to impeach President Trump because some unelected bureaucrats chafed at an elected President’s “outside the beltway” approach to diplomacy.

The sum and substance of the Democrats’ case for impeachment is that President Trump abused his authority to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, President Trump’s potential political rival, for President Trump’s benefit in the 2020 election. Democrats say this pressure campaign encompassed leveraging a White House meeting and the release of U.S. security assistance to force the Ukrainian President to succumb to President Trump’s political wishes. Democrats say that Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the President’s personal attorney, and a “shadow” group of U.S. officials conspired to benefit the President politically.

The evidence presented does not prove any of these Democrat allegations, and none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor.

The evidence does not support the accusation that President Trump pressured President Zelensky to initiate investigations for the purpose of benefiting the President in the 2020 election. The evidence does not support the accusation that President Trump covered up the summary of his phone conversation with President Zelensky. The evidence does not support the accusation that President Trump obstructed the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

At the heart of the matter, the impeachment inquiry involves the actions of only two people: President Trump and President Zelensky. The summary of their July 25, 2019, telephone conversation shows no quid pro quo or indication of conditionality, threats, or pressure—much less evidence of bribery or extortion. The summary reflects laughter, pleasantries, and cordiality. President Zelensky has said publicly and repeatedly that he felt no pressure. President Trump has said publicly and repeatedly that he exerted no pressure.

Even examining evidence beyond the presidential phone call shows no quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, or abuse of power. The evidence shows that President Trump holds a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption. The President has also been vocal about his skepticism of U.S. foreign aid and the need for European allies to shoulder more of the financial burden for regional defense. Senior Ukrainian officials under former President Petro Poroshenko publicly attacked then-candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign—including some senior Ukrainian officials who remained in their positions after President Zelensky’s term began. All of these factors bear on the President’s state of mind and help to explain the President’s actions toward Ukraine and President Zelensky.

Understood in this proper context, the President’s initial hesitation to meet with President Zelensky or to provide U.S. taxpayer-funded security assistance to Ukraine without thoughtful review is entirely prudent. Ultimately, President Zelensky took decisive action demonstrating his commitment to promoting reform, combatting corruption, and replacing Poroshenko-era holdovers with new leadership in his Administration. President Trump then released security assistance to Ukraine and met with President Zelensky in September 2019—all without Ukraine taking any action to investigate President Trump’s political rival.

House Democrats allege that Ukraine felt pressure to bend to the President’s political will, but the evidence shows a different reality. Ukraine felt good about its relationship with the United States in the early months of the Zelensky Administration, having had several high-level meetings with senior U.S. officials between July and September. Although U.S. security assistance was temporarily paused, the U.S. government did not convey the pause to the Ukrainians because U.S. officials believed the pause would get worked out and, if publicized, may be mischaracterized as a shift in U.S. policy towards Ukraine. U.S. officials said that the Ukrainian government in Kyiv never knew the aid was delayed until reading about it in the U.S. media. Ambassador Kurt Volker, the key American interlocutor trusted by the Ukrainian government, said the Ukrainians never raised concerns to him until after the pause became public in late August.

The Democrats’ impeachment narrative ignores Ukraine’s dramatic transformation in its fight against endemic corruption. President Trump was skeptical of Ukrainian corruption and his Administration sought proof that newly-elected President Zelensky was a true reformer. And after winning a parliamentary majority, the new Zelensky administration took rapid strides to crack down on corruption. Several high-level U.S. officials observed firsthand these anti-corruption achievements in Kyiv, and the security assistance was released soon afterward.

The Democrats’ impeachment narrative also ignores President Trump’s steadfast support for Ukraine in its war against Russian occupation. Several of the Democrats’ witnesses described how President Trump’s policies toward Ukraine to combat Russian aggression have been substantially stronger than those of President Obama—then under the stewardship of Vice President Biden. Where President Obama and Vice President Biden gave the Ukrainians night-vision goggles and blankets, the Trump Administration provided the Ukrainians with lethal defensive assistance, including Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The Democrats nonetheless tell a story of an illicit pressure campaign run by President Trump through his personal attorney, Mayor Giuliani, to coerce Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival by withholding a meeting and security assistance. There is, however, no direct, firsthand evidence of any such scheme. The Democrats are alleging guilt on the basis of hearsay, presumptions, and speculation—all of which are reflected in the anonymous whistleblower complaint that sparked this inquiry. The Democrats’ narrative is so dependent on speculation that one Democrat publicly justified hearsay as “better” than direct evidence.‡‡ Where there are ambiguous facts, the Democrats interpret them in a light most unfavorable to the President. In the absence of real evidence, the Democrats appeal to emotion—evaluating how unelected bureaucrats felt about the events in question.

The fundamental disagreement apparent in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is a difference of world views and a discomfort with President Trump’s policy decisions. To the extent that some unelected bureaucrats believed President Trump had established an “irregular” foreign policy apparatus, it was because they were not a part of that apparatus. There is nothing illicit about three senior U.S. officials—each with official interests relating to Ukraine—shepherding the U.S.-Ukraine relationship and reporting their actions to State Department and NSC leadership. There is nothing inherently improper with Mayor Giuliani’s involvement as well because the Ukrainians knew that he was a conduit to convince President Trump that President Zelensky was serious about reform.

There is also nothing wrong with asking serious questions about the presence of Vice President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on the board of directors of Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian company, or about Ukraine’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election. Biden’s Burisma has an international reputation as a corrupt company. As far back as 2015, the Obama State Department had concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board. Ukrainian anti-corruption activists noted concerns as well. Publicly available—and irrefutable—evidence shows how senior Ukrainian government officials sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election in opposition to President Trump’s candidacy, and that some in the Ukrainian embassy in Washington worked with a Democrat operative to achieve that goal. While Democrats reflexively dismiss these truths as conspiracy theories, the facts are indisputable and bear heavily on the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

* * *

In our system of government, power resides with the American people, who delegate executive power to the President through an election once every four years. Unelected officials and career bureaucrats assist in the execution of the laws. The unelected bureaucracy exists to serve the elected representatives of the American people. The Democrats’ impeachment narrative flips our system on its head in service of their political ambitions.

The Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, is merely the outgrowth of their obsession with re-litigating the results of the 2016 presidential election. Despite their best efforts, the evidence gathered during the Democrats’ partisan and one-sided impeachment inquiry does not support that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rival to benefit the President in the 2020 presidential election. The evidence does not establish any impeachable offense.

But that is not for Democrats’ want of trying.

For the first phase of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Chairman Schiff led the inquiry from his Capitol basement bunker, preventing transparency on the process and accountability for his actions. Because the fact-finding was unclassified, the closed-door process was purely for information control. This arrangement allowed Chairman Schiff—who had already publicly fabricated evidence and misled Americans about his interaction with the anonymous whistleblower—to selectively leak information to paint misleading public narratives, while simultaneously imposing a gag rule on Republican members. From his basement bunker, Chairman Schiff provided no due process protections for the President and he directed witnesses called by the Democrats not to answer Republican questions. Chairman Schiff also ignored Republican requests to secure the testimony of the anonymous whistleblower, despite promising earlier that the whistleblower would provide “unfiltered testimony.”

When the Democrats emerged from the bunker for the public phase of their impeachment inquiry, Chairman Schiff continued to deny fundamental fairness and minority rights. Chairman Schiff interrupted Republican Members and directed witnesses not to answer Republican questions. Chairman Schiff refused to allow Republicans to exercise the limited procedural rights afforded to them. Chairman Schiff rejected witnesses identified by Republicans who would inject some semblance of fairness and objectivity. Chairman Schiff denied Republican subpoenas for testimony and documents, violating the Democrats’ own rules to vote down these subpoenas with no notice to Republicans.

Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Schiff, and House Democrats seek to impeach President Trump—not because they have proof of a high crime or misdemeanor, but because they disagreed with the President’s actions and his policies. But in our system of government, the President is accountable to the American people. The accountability to the American people comes at the ballot box, not in House Democrats’ star chamber.

* H. Res. 660, 116th Cong. (2019) (Roll call vote 604).

Weekends with Alex Witt (MSNBC television broadcast May 5 2019) (interview with Rep. Al Green).

H., Res. 705, 115th Cong. (2018); H. Res. 646, 115th Cong. (2017); H. Res. 621, 115th Cong. (2017); H. Res. 438, 115th Cong. (2017).

§ H. Res. 13, 116th Cong. (2019).

** Amy B. Wong, Rep. Rashida Tlaib profanely promised to impeach Trump. She’s not sorry., Wash. Post, Jan. 4, 2019.

†† Emily Tillett, Nancy Pelosi says Trump’s attacks on witnesses “very significant” to impeachment probe, CBS News, Nov. 15, 2019; Dear Colleague Letter from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Nov. 18, 2019).

‡‡ “Impeachment Inquiry: Ambassador William B. Taylor and Mr. George Kent”: Hearing before the H. Perm. Sel. Comm. on Intelligence, 116th Cong. (2019) (statement of Rep. Mike Quigley).

FINDINGS


Democrats allege that President Trump pressured Ukraine to initiate investigations into his political rival, former Vice President Biden, for the purpose of benefiting the President in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The evidence does not support the Democrats’ allegations. Instead, the findings outlined below are based on the evidence presented and information available in the public realm.

  • President Trump has a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption.
  • President Trump has a long-held skepticism of U.S. foreign assistance and believes that Europe should pay its fair share for mutual defense.
  • President Trump’s concerns about Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board are valid. The Obama State Department noted concerns about Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma in 2015 and 2016.
  • There is indisputable evidence that senior Ukrainian government officials opposed President Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election and did so publicly. It has been publicly reported that a Democratic National Committee operative worked with Ukrainian officials, including the Ukrainian Embassy, to dig up dirt on then-candidate Trump.
  • The evidence does not establish that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings, Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.
  • The evidence does not establish that President Trump withheld a meeting with President Zelensky for the purpose of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings, Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election.
  • The evidence does not support that President Trump withheld U.S. security assistance to Ukraine for the purpose of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings, Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election.
  • The evidence does not support that President Trump orchestrated a shadow foreign policy apparatus for the purpose of pressuring Ukraine to investigate Burisma Holdings, Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, or Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election.
  • The evidence does not support that President Trump covered up the substance of his telephone conversation with President Zelensky by restricting access to the call summary.
  • President Trump’s assertion of longstanding claims of executive privilege is a legitimate response to an unfair, abusive, and partisan process, and does not constitute obstruction of a legitimate impeachment inquiry.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

FINDINGS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TABLE OF NAMES

  1. I. The evidence does not establish that President Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 U.S. presidential election
    1. A. The evidence does not establish that President Trump pressured President Zelensky during the July 25 phone call to investigate the President’s political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.
      1. 1. The call summary does not reflect any improper pressure or conditionality to pressure Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rival.
      2. 2. President Zelensky has publicly and repeatedly said he felt no pressure to investigate President Trump’s political rival.
      3. 3. President Trump has publicly and repeatedly said he did not pressure President Zelensky to investigate his political rival.
      4. 4. Read-outs of the phone call from both the State Department and the Ukrainian government did not reflect that President Trump pressured President Zelensky to investigate his political rival.
      5. 5. The National Security Council leadership did not see the call as illegal or improper.
      6. 6. The anonymous, secondhand whistleblower complaint misstated details about the July 25 call, which has falsely colored the call’s public characterization.
    2. B. The evidence does not establish that President Trump withheld a meeting with President Zelensky to pressure Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.
      1. 1. Ukraine has a long history of pervasive corruption
      2. 2. President Trump has a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption.
      3. 3. Senior Ukrainian government officials publicly attacked President Trump during the 2016 campaign.
      4. 4. U.S. foreign policy officials were split on President Zelensky, a political novice with untested views on anti-corruption and a close relationship with a controversial oligarch.
      5. 5. President Trump extended an invitation to the White House to President Zelensky on three occasions without conditions.
      6. 6. Despite difficulty scheduling a face-to-face presidential meeting, senior Ukrainian officials interacted often with senior American officials between May and September 2019.
      7. 7. The evidence does not establish a linkage between a White House meeting and Ukrainian investigations into President Trump’s political rival.
      8. 8. The evidence does not establish that President Trump directed Vice President Pence not to attend President Zelensky’s inauguration to pressure Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival.
      9. 9. President Trump and President Zelensky met during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019 without any Ukrainian action to investigate President Trump’s political rival.
    3. C. The evidence does not establish that President Trump withheld U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to pressure Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.
      1. 1. President Trump has been skeptical about U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance.
      2. 2. President Trump has been clear and consistent in his view that Europe should pay its fair share for regional defense.
      3. 3. U.S. foreign aid is often conditioned or paused, and U.S. security assistance to Ukraine has been paused before.
      4. 4. Despite President Trump’s skepticism, the Trump Administration’s policies have shown greater commitment and support to Ukraine than those of the Obama Administration.
      5. 5. Although security assistance to Ukraine was paused in July 2019, several witnesses testified that U.S. security assistance was not linked to any Ukrainian action on investigations.
      6. 6. President Trump rejected any linkage between U.S. security assistance and Ukrainian action on investigations
      7. 7. Senior U.S. officials never substantively discussed the delay in security assistance with Ukrainian officials before the July 25 call.
      8. 8. The Ukrainian government denied any awareness of a linkage between U.S. security assistance and investigations.
      9. 9. The Ukrainian government considered issuing a public anti-corruption statement to convey that President Zelensky was “serious and different” from previous Ukrainian regimes.
      10. 10. President Zelensky never raised a linkage between security assistance and investigations in his meetings with senior U.S. government officials.
      11. 11. In early September 2019, President Zelensky’s government implemented several anti-corruption reform measures.
      12. 12. The security assistance was ultimately disbursed to Ukraine in September 2019 without any Ukrainian action to investigate President Trump’s political rival.
    4. D. The evidence does not establish that President Trump set up a shadow foreign policy apparatus to pressure Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.
      1. 1. The President has broad Constitutional authority to conduct the foreign policy of the United States.
      2. 2. President Trump was likely skeptical of the established national security apparatus as a result of continual leaks and resistance from the federal bureaucracy.
      3. 3. The President has the constitutional authority to remove Ambassador Yovanovitch.
      4. 4. Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, and Secretary Perry were all senior U.S. government officers with official interests in Ukraine policy.
      5. 5. Referencing Ukrainian corruption, President Trump told Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, and Secretary Perry to talk to Mayor Giuliani.
      6. 6. At the Ukrainian government’s request, Ambassador Volker connected them with Mayor Giuliani to change his impression about the Zelensky regime
      7. 7. The Ukrainian government understood that Mayor Giuliani was not speaking on behalf of President Trump
      8. 8. Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, and Secretary Perry kept the National Security Council and the State Department informed about their actions.
      9. 9. Although some in the U.S. foreign policy establishment bristled, the roles of Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, and Secretary Perry and their interactions with Mayor Giuliani did not violate the law or harm national security.
    5. E. President Trump is not wrong to raise questions about Hunter Biden’s role with Burisma or Ukrainian government officials’ efforts to influence the 2016 campaign
      1. 1. It is appropriate for Ukraine to investigate allegations of corruption in its country.
      2. 2. There are legitimate concerns surrounding Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma during his father’s term as Vice President of the United States.
      3. 3. There are legitimate questions about the extent to which Ukrainian government officials worked to oppose President Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election.
    6. F. The anonymous whistleblower who served as the basis for the impeachment inquiry has no firsthand knowledge of events and a bias against President Trump.
      1. 1. The anonymous whistleblower acknowledged having no firsthand knowledge of the events in question.
      2. 2. Press reports suggest that the anonymous whistleblower acknowledged having a professional relationship with former Vice President Biden
      3. 3. The anonymous whistleblower secretly communicated with Chairman Schiff or his staff.
  2. II. The evidence does not establish that President Trump engaged in a cover-up of his interactions with Ukrainian President Zelensky.
    1. A. President Trump declassified and released publicly the summary of his July 25 phone call with President Zelensky.
    2. B. President Trump released a redacted version of the classified anonymous whistleblower complaint.
    3. C. President Trump released publicly the summary of his April 21 phone call with President Zelensky.
    4. D. The Trump Administration has experienced a surge in sensitive leaks, including details of the President’s communications with foreign leaders.
    5. E. The evidence does not establish that access to the July 25 call summary was restricted for inappropriate reasons.
  3. III. The evidence does not establish that President Trump obstructed Congress in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
    1. A. Democrats have abandoned long-standing precedent by failing to guarantee due process and fundamental fairness in their impeachment inquiry.
    2. B. Democrats have engaged in an abusive process toward a pre-determined outcome.
    3. C. President Trump may raise privileges and defenses in response to unfair, abusive proceedings.
    4. D. Although declining to submit to the Democrats’ abusive and unfair process, President Trump has released information to help the American public understand the issues.
  4. IV. Conclusion

TABLE OF NAMES


Christopher Anderson Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Michael Atkinson Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (May 2018–present)
Arsen Avakov Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs (February 2014–present)
Hunter Biden Board Member, Burisma Holdings (April 2014–October 2019)
Joseph R. Biden Vice President of the United States (January 2009–January 2017)
Robert Blair Senior Advisor to the White House Chief of Staff (January 2019–
present)
Andriy Bohdan Head of Ukrainian Office of Presidential Administration (May
2019–present)
John Bolton U.S. National Security Advisor (April 2018–September 2019)
T. Ulrich Brechbuhl Counselor to the U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State
(May 2018–present)
Alexandra Chalupa Former contractor, Democratic National Committee
Valeriy Chaly Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States (July 2015–July 2019)
Laura Cooper Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and
Eurasia, U.S. Department of Defense
Catherine Croft Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
Director for European Affairs, National Security Council (July
2017–July 2018)
Oleksandr Danylyuk Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council
(May 2019–September 2019)
Michael Duffey Associate Director for National Security Programs, U.S. Office of
Management and Budget (May 2019–present)
John Eisenberg Legal Advisor, National Security Council (2017–present)
Michael Ellis Deputy Legal Advisor, National Security Council (March 2017–
present)
Rudy Giuliani Mayor of New York City (1994–2001)
Personal Attorney to President Trump (April 2018–present)
Preston Wells Griffith Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy & Science, U.S.
Office of Management and Budget (April 2018–present)
David Hale Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, U.S. Department of
State (August 2018–present)
Fiona Hill Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, National Security
Council (April 2017–July 2019)
David Holmes Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy Kyiv§§ (August 2017–present)
Keith Kellogg National Security Advisor to the Vice President (April 2018–
present)
George Kent Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and
Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State (September 2018–
present)
Igor Kolomoisky Co-owner, PrivatBank
Co-owner, 1+1 Media Group
Charles Kupperman U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor (January 2019–September
2019)
Serhiy Leshchenko Ukrainian Member of Parliament (November 2014–July 2019)
Yuriy Lutsenko Prosecutor General of Ukraine (May 2016–August 2019)
Joseph Maguire Acting U.S. Director of National Intelligence (August 2019–
present)
Brian McCormack Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy & Science, U.S.
Office of Management and Budget (September 2018–present)
Michael McKinley Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Department of
State (November 2018–October 2019)
Tim Morrison Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs, National Security
Council (July 2019–November 2019)
Mick Mulvaney Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (February
2017–present)
Acting Chief of Staff to the President (January 2019–present)
Nellie Ohr Contractor, Fusion GPS
Mike Pence Vice President of the United States (January 2017–present)
Rick Perry U.S. Secretary of Energy (March 2017–present)
Mike Pompeo U.S. Secretary of State (April 2018–present)
Petro Poroshenko President of Ukraine (June 2014–May 2019)
Vadym Prystaiko Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (August 2019–present)
Philip Reeker Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and
Eurasian Affairs, U.S. Department of State (March 2019–present)
Mark Sandy Deputy Associate Director for National Security, U.S. Office of
Management and Budget (December 2013–present)
Viktor Shokin Prosecutor General of Ukraine (February 2015–March 2016)
Oksana Shulyar Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Ukraine to the U.S.
Gordon Sondland U.S. Ambassador to the European Union (July 2018–present)
William Taylor U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (June 2006–May 2009)
U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., U.S. Embassy Kyiv (June 2019–
present)
Andrii Telizhenko Political officer, Embassy of Ukraine to the U.S.
Donald J. Trump President of the United States (January 2017–present)
Alexander Vindman Director for European Affairs, National Security Council (July
2018–present)
Kurt Volker U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, U.S.
Department of State (July 2017–September 2019)
Russell Vought Acting Director, U.S. Office of Management and Budget
Kathryn Wheelbarger Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Affairs, U.S.
Department of Defense (November 2018–present)
Jennifer Williams Special Adviser for Europe and Russia, Office of the Vice President
Viktor Yanukovych President of Ukraine (February 2010–February 2014)
Arseniy Yatsenyuk Prime Minister of Ukraine (February 2014–April 2016)
Andrey Yermak Adviser to President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky
Marie Yovanovitch U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (August 2016–May 2019)
Volodymyr Zelensky*** President of Ukraine (May 2019–present)
Mykola Zlochevsky Co-founder, Burisma Holdings (2002–present)
Ukrainian Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources (July 2010–
April 2012)

I. The evidence does not establish that President Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.


Democrats have alleged that President Trump exerted pressure on Ukrainian President Zelensky to force the Ukrainian government to manufacture “dirt” or otherwise investigate a potential Democrat candidate in the 2020 U.S. presidential election for President Trump’s political benefit.1 Democrats allege that President Trump sought to use the possibility of a White House meeting with President Zelensky and release of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine as leverage to force Ukraine to help the President politically. Democrats allege that President Trump orchestrated a “shadow” foreign policy apparatus that worked to accomplish the President’s political goals.

The evidence obtained in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, however, does not support these Democrat allegations. In fact, witnesses called by the Democrats denied having any awareness of criminal activity or an impeachable offense. Rep. John Ratcliffe asked Ambassador Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent whether they were “assert[ing] there was an impeachable offense in [the July 25] call.”2 Neither said there was.3 Rep. Chris Stewart asked Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch if she had any information about President Trump’s involvement in criminal activity.4 Ambassador Yovanovitch said no.5 Rep. Ratcliffe asked National Security Council (NSC) staff member LTC Alexander Vindman and Office of the Vice President special adviser Jennifer Williams if they have labeled the President’s conduct as “bribery.”6 Both said no.7 Rep. Elise Stefanik asked Ambassador Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, and Tim Morrison, the NSC senior director for Europe, whether they saw any bribery, extortion, or quid pro quo.8 Both said no.9

Contrary to Democrat assertions, the evidence does not show that President Trump pressured President Zelensky to investigate his political rival during the July 25 phone call. The best evidence of the conversation—the call summary—shows no evidence of conditionality, threats, or pressure. President Zelensky and President Trump have both said there was no pressure, the initial read-out from the State Department and the Ukrainian government reflected no concerns, and the NSC leadership saw no illegality or impropriety with the call.

The evidence does not show that President Trump withheld a meeting with President Zelensky to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival. The evidence shows that President Trump has a long-standing, deep-seated skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption. President Zelensky was a political newcomer with untested views on anti-corruption and a close association with a Ukrainian oligarch. Even so, President Trump agreed to invite President Zelensky to the White House, and in the interim, Ukrainian officials had several high-level meetings with U.S. officials. President Trump and President Zelensky met in September 2019 without Ukraine ever taking any action on investigating President Trump’s political rival.

In addition, the evidence does not show that President Trump withheld U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival. The evidence shows that President Trump has a skepticism of U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign aid and believes Europe should carry more financial burden for its regional defense. Although U.S. security assistance was paused temporarily, Democrats’ witnesses denied there being any direct link to investigations of the President’s political rival. Both the Ukrainian government and President Trump separately denied any linkage. U.S. officials did not tell the Ukrainian officials about the delay because they thought it would get worked out. Ambassador Volker, a senior U.S. diplomat and primary interlocutor with senior Ukrainian government officials, testified that the Ukrainians did not raise concerns to him about a delay in aid until after the pause was made public in late August 2019. The U.S. security assistance to Ukraine was ultimately disbursed without Ukraine taking any action to investigate President Trump’s political rival.

The evidence does not show that President Trump established a “shadow” foreign policy apparatus to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival. The President has broad Constitutional authority over U.S. foreign policy, and President Trump is likely suspicious of the national security apparatus due to continual leaks of sensitive information and the resistance within the federal bureaucracy. The three U.S. officials who Democrats accuse of conducting an “irregular” foreign policy channel had legitimate responsibilities for Ukraine policy. They kept the State Department and NSC aware of their actions. To the extent Mayor Giuliani was involved, he was in communication with these officials and the Ukrainians did not see him as speaking on behalf of the President.

Although Democrats reflexively criticize President Trump for promoting “conspiracy theories” about Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board or Ukrainian attempts to influence the 2016 election, evidence suggests there are legitimate questions about both issues. The Democrats’ witnesses testified that it would be appropriate for Ukraine to investigate allegations of corruption in Ukraine.

Finally, there are fundamental flaws with the anonymous whistleblower complaint that initiated the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. The complaint contained inaccurate and misleading information that prejudiced the public understanding of President Trump’s conversation with President Zelensky. The whistleblower had no firsthand knowledge of the events in question and a bias against President Trump. The whistleblower communicated with Chairman Schiff or his staff prior to submitting the whistleblower complaint to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. Several witnesses contradicted assertions made by the anonymous whistleblower. The whistleblower’s complaint did not accurately reflect the tone and substance of the phone call, which is unsurprising given the whistleblower’s reliance on secondhand information that had likely already been colored by biases of the original sources.

A. The evidence does not establish that President Trump pressured President Zelensky during the July 25 phone call to investigate the President’s political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.

On July 25, 2019, President Trump and President Zelensky spoke by telephone.10 This conversation would later serve as the basis for the anonymous whistleblower complaint and the spark for the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Contrary to allegations that President Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival during this call,11 the evidence shows that President Trump did not pressure President Zelensky to investigate his political rival.

The call summary and initial read-outs of the conversation reflect no indication of conditionality, coercion, or intimidation—elements that would have been present if President Trump had used his authority to pressure President Zelensky to investigate his political rival. Importantly, both President Zelensky and President Trump have said publicly there was no pressure or anything inappropriate about their conversation. The anonymous whistleblower complaint—which sparked the impeachment inquiry—contains sensational rhetoric about the July 25 phone conservation that has prejudged subsequent views of the call.

1. The call summary does not reflect any improper pressure or conditionality to pressure Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rival.

The best evidence of the telephone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky is the contemporaneous summary prepared by the White House Situation Room. The Democrats’ witnesses described how National Security Council (NSC) policy staffers and White House Situation Room duty officers typically listen in on presidential conversations with foreign leaders to transcribe the contents of the conversation.12 This process occurred for President Trump’s July 25 phone call with President Zelensky.

As transcribed, the call summary denotes laughter, pleasantries, and compliments exchanged between President Trump and President Zelensky. The summary does not evince any threats, coercion, intimidation, or indication of conditionality. Democrats even acknowledged that the call summary reflected no quid pro quo.13 The summary bears absolutely no resemblance to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s self-described “parody” interpretation of the call, which the Chairman performed at a public hearing on September 26.14

The summary of the July 25 phone call begins by President Trump congratulating President Zelensky on a “great victory,” a “terrific job,” and a “fantastic achievement.”15 President Zelensky reciprocated by complimenting President Trump, saying:

Well, yes, to tell you the truth, we are trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. We brought in many, many new people. Not the old politicians, not the typical politicians, because we want to have a new format and a new type of government. You are a great teacher for us and in that.16

President Trump expressed his concern that European countries were not providing their fair share in terms of assistance to Ukraine17—a topic about which President Trump has been vocal.18 President Zelensky responded that President Trump was “absolutely right” and that he had expressed concerns to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.19 President Zelensky thanked President Trump for U.S. military support and said Ukraine was “almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”20

President Trump then transitioned to discuss the allegation that some Ukrainian officials sought to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Although Democrats have seized on the President’s phrasing—“I would like you to do us a favor though”21—to accuse the President of pressuring President Zelensky to target his 2020 political rival for his political benefit,22 they omit the remainder of his sentence. The full sentence shows that President Trump was not asking President Zelensky to investigate his political rival, but rather asking him to assist in “get[ting] to the bottom” of potential Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election.23 This reading is supported by President Trump’s subsequent reference to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who had testified the day before about his findings,24 and to Attorney General William Barr, who had initiated an official inquiry into the origins of the U.S. government’s 2016 Russia investigation.25

President Zelensky did not express any concern that President Trump had raised the allegations about Ukrainian influence in the 2016 election. In fact, President Zelensky responded by reiterating his commitment to cooperation between Ukraine and the United States and mentioning that he had recalled the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly.26 Ambassador Chaly had authored an op-ed in The Hill during the height of the presidential campaign in 2016 criticizing a statement that President Trump had made by Crimea.27 President Zelensky said he planned to surround himself with “the best and most experienced people” and pledged that “as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly.”28 President Zelensky also raised former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, saying “we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine.”29

The call summary shows that the discussion then intertwined several different topics. In response to President Zelensky’s statement about new personnel, President Trump and President Zelensky discussed the position of prosecutor general.30 President Zelensky did not express any discomfort discussing the prosecutor general position. He said the new prosecutor general would be “100% my person, my candidate” and said the prosecutor would look into the matters raised by President Trump to “mak[e] sure to restore the honesty” of the investigation.31 President Zelensky later said “we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation.”32

In response to President Zelensky’s reference to Mayor Giuliani, President Trump said Mayor Giuliani is “a highly respected man” who “very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy.”33 President Trump said that he would ask Mayor Giuliani to call President Zelensky, along with Attorney General Barr, to “get to the bottom of it.”34 President Zelensky did not express any concern about Mayor Giuliani’s engagement—in fact, President Zelensky, not President Trump, first referenced Mayor Giuliani in the conversation.

President Trump then raised former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, saying that she was “bad news” and “the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news.”35 President Zelensky did not express any hesitancy in discussing the ambassador. Contrary to Democrats’ assertion that he felt obligated to agree with President Trump’s assessment, President Zelensky stated his independent negative assessment of Ambassador Yovanovitch:

Her attitude toward me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.36

President Trump also raised in passing—using the transition phrase “the other thing”—the topic of Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, referring to his position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, known for its corruption.37 President Trump said “a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.”38 President Zelensky did not reply to President Trump’s reference to the Bidens, and the two did not discuss the topic substantively.

The call concluded with President Zelensky raising energy cooperation between Ukraine and the United States and with President Trump reiterating his invitation for President Zelensky to visit the White House.39

Although some later expressed concern about the call, the call summary—the best evidence of the conversation—shows no indication of conflict, intimidation, or pressure. President Trump never conditioned a White House meeting on any action by President Zelensky. President Trump never mentioned U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. President Zelensky never verbalized any disagreement, hostility, or concern about any facet of the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship.

2. President Zelensky has publicly and repeatedly said he felt no pressure to investigate President Trump’s political rival.

Since President Trump declassified and publicly released the content of his July 25 phone conversation with President Zelensky, President Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials have publicly and repeatedly asserted that President Zelensky felt no pressure to investigate President Trump’s political rival. President Zelensky has variously asserted, “nobody pushed . . . me,” “I was never pressured,” and there was no “blackmail.”

On September 25, President Zelensky and President Trump met face-to-face for a bilateral meeting on the margins of the 74th United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly in New York. The presidents jointly participated in a media availability, during which President Zelensky asserted that he felt no pressure.40 President Zelensky said then:

Q. President Zelensky, have you felt any pressure from President Trump to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden?

A. I think you read everything. So I think you read text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections — elections of USA. No, you heard that we had, I think, good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things. And I — so I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed — pushed me.41

President Zelensky again reiterated that he was not pressured to investigate President Trump’s political rival during an interview with a Kyodo News, a Japanese media outlet, published on October 6. Kyodo News quoted President Zelensky as saying, “I was never pressured and there were no conditions being imposed” on a White House meeting or U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.42 President Zelensky denied “reports by U.S. media that [President] Trump’s requests were conditions” for a White House meeting or U.S. security assistance.43

On October 10, during an all-day media availability in Kyiv, President Zelensky again emphasized that he felt no pressure to investigate President Trump’s political rival. President Zelensky said there was “no blackmail” during the conversation, explaining: “This is not corruption. It was just a call.”44

In addition, on September 21—before President Trump had even declassified and released the call summary—Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denied that President Trump had pressured President Zelensky to investigate President Trump’s political rival.45 Foreign Minister Prystaiko said:

I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure. There was talk, conversations are different, leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist. This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on a lot of questions, including those requiring serious answers.46

Similarly, Ambassador Bill Taylor explained that he had dinner with Oleksandr Danylyuk, then-Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, the night of the phone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky.47 He explained that Danylyuk said that the Ukrainian government “seemed to think that the call went fine, the call went well. He wasn’t disturbed by anything. He wasn’t disturbed that he told us about the phone call.”48

President Zelensky’s repeated denials that President Trump pressured him to investigate domestic political rival—corroborated by Foreign Minister Prystaiko’s similar denial—carry significant weight.

3. President Trump has publicly and repeatedly said he did not pressure President Zelensky to investigate his political rival.

Like President Zelensky, President Trump has repeatedly and publicly stated that he did not pressure President Zelensky to investigate his political rival. During the September 25 bilateral meeting with President Zelensky, President Trump said to the assembled members of the media: “There was no pressure. And you know there was—and, by the way, you know there was no pressure. All you have to do it see it, what went on the call.”49 When asked whether he wanted President Zelensky to “do more” to investigate Vice President Biden, President Trump responded: “No. I want him to do whatever he can. This was not his fault; he wasn’t there. He’s just been here recently. But whatever he can do in terms of corruption, because the corruption is massive.”50

Despite the President’s statements, some allege that an overheard conversation the day after President Trump’s conversation with President Zelensky shows that the President sought to pressure President Zelensky. On July 26, following a meeting with President Zelensky, Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, telephoned President Trump from Kyiv.51 According to a subsequent account of David Holmes, a Political Counselor at U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Ambassador Sondland told the President that he was in Ukraine and stated President Zelensky “loves your ass.”52 Holmes recounted that President Trump asked Ambassador Sondland, “So he’s going to do the investigation?”53 Ambassador Sondland allegedly replied, “He’s going to do it.”54

This conversation is not definitive evidence that President Trump pressured President Zelensky to investigate his political rival. First, according to Ambassador Sondland, it was not clear that President Trump meant an investigation into the Bidens. In his closed-door deposition, Ambassador Sondland testified that he only had “five or six” conversations with the President and did not mention this particular conversation.55 In his public testimony, however, Ambassador Sondland suddenly recalled the conversation, saying that it “did not strike me as significant at the time” and that the primary purpose of the call was to discuss rapper A$AP Rocky, who was imprisoned in Sweden.56 Ambassador Sondland testified that he has no recollection of discussing Vice President Biden or his son, Hunter Biden, with President Trump.57

Second, Holmes testified that although he disclosed Ambassador Sondland’s conversation with the President to multiple friends on multiple occasions, he did not feel compelled to disclose it to the State Department or Congress until weeks into the impeachment inquiry.58 Although Holmes testified that he told his boss, Ambassador Taylor, about the call on August 6 and received a “knowing” response, and that he referred to the call often in staff meetings, Ambassador Taylor testified publicly that he was “not aware of this information” at the time of his October 22 deposition, and that he only became aware of the Holmes account on November 8, 2019, two days after his hearing was publicly announced, at which point he referred it (for the first time) to the Legal Adviser for the Department of State.59

4. Read-outs of the phone call from both the State Department and the Ukrainian government did not reflect that President Trump pressured President Zelensky to investigate his political rival.

Immediately following the telephone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky, senior U.S. and Ukrainian government officials provided read-outs of the conversation. According to witness testimony, none of these read-outs indicated that the conversation between the presidents was substantively concerning.

Ambassador Volker testified that he received informal read-outs of the call from both his State Department assistant and his high-level Ukrainian contacts.60 These read-outs did not indicate any concern with the phone call. Ambassador Volker explained:

A. I got an oral readout from the staffer who works for me in the State Department and our chargé, as well as from Andrey Yermak, who had been on the call in Ukraine himself.

Q. So you got two readouts?

A. Yeah.

Q. One from each side?

A. Correct.

Q. What was the top line message you got from the State Department?

A. Well, they were the same, actually, which is interesting. But the message was congratulations from the President to President Zelensky; President Zelensky reiterating that he is committed to fighting corruption and reform in the Ukraine; and President Trump reiterating an invitation for President Zelensky to visit him at the White House. That was it.61

In fact, in his public testimony, Ambassador Volker testified that President Zelensky was “very upbeat about the fact of the call.”62

Ambassador Sondland received a summary of the phone call from his staff.63 Ambassador Sondland testified that he was pleased to learn that it was a “good call.”64 George Kent, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State covering Ukraine, testified that he received a read-out of the call from NSC staffer LTC Alexander Vindman.65 According to Kent, although LTC Vindman said the “atmospherics” of the conversation was cooler and reserved, LTC Vindman did not mention Vice President Biden’s name or anything relating to 2016.66

In addition, the Office of the President of Ukraine issued an official statement following the phone call.67 The official statement also signaled no concern about the call or any indication of coercion, intimidation, or pressure from President Trump. The statement read in full:

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky had a phone conversation with President of the United States Donald Trump. President of the United States congratulated Ukraine on successful holding free and democratic parliamentary elections as well as Volodymyr Zelensky with victory the Servant of the People Party.

Donald Trump is convinced that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve image of Ukraine, complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.

He also confirmed continued support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine by the United States and the readiness of the American side to fully contribute to the implementation of a Large-Scale Reform Program in our country.

Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Donald Trump for US leadership in preserving and strengthening the sanctions pressure on Russia.

The Presidents agreed to discuss practical issues of Ukrainian-American cooperation during the visit of Volodymyr Zelensky to the United States.68

The initial read-outs of the July 25 telephone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky provide compelling evidence that the key message conveyed during the conversation was about fighting corruption in Ukraine—and not about digging up dirt on President Trump’s political rival for the President’s political benefit.

5. The National Security Council leadership did not see the call as illegal or improper.

The evidence shows that the NSC leadership did not see the telephone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky as improper. Timothy Morrison, who served as the Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security, listened in on the conversation.69 He testified that he was concerned information from the call could leak, but he was not concerned that anything discussed on the call was illegal or improper.70

LTG Keith Kellogg, Vice President Pence’s National Security Advisor, also listened in on the July 25 telephone conversation.71 LTG Kellogg stated that like Morrison: “I heard nothing wrong or improper on the call. I had and have no concerns.”72 LTG Kellogg’s subordinate, Jennifer Williams, testified that although she found the call to be “unusual,” she did not raise concerns to LTG Kellogg.73 LTG Kellogg similarly noted that Williams never raised concerns to him.74

Morrison’s subordinate, LTC Vindman, listened in on the conversation.75 At the time of the call, LTC Vindman handled Ukraine policy for the NSC.76 He testified that he was concerned by the conversation and raised his concerns to the NSC’s Legal Advisor, John Eisenberg.77 Eisenberg, according to LTC Vindman, did not share the concern.78 LTC Vindman did not raise any concerns to Morrison, his immediate supervisor.79 In his public testimony, Morrison explained that he had concerns with LTC Vindman’s judgment and deviation from the chain of command.80

The evidence suggests that any wider concerns about the July 25 phone call originated from LTC Vindman. Williams testified that she discussed the call with no one outside the NSC.81 LTC Vindman, on the other hand, testified that he discussed the phone call with two people outside of the NSC, Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent and an unidentified intelligence community employee.82 Deputy Assistant Secretary Kent explained that LTC Vindman felt “uncomfortable” and would not share the majority of the substance of the conversation.83 According to Kent’s recollection, LTC Vindman did not mention that the conversation included any reference to Vice President Biden.84

6. The anonymous, secondhand whistleblower complaint misstated details about the July 25 call, which has falsely colored the call’s public characterization.

The anonymous whistleblower did not listen in on the July 25 call between President Trump and President Zelensky. The whistleblower’s subsequent complaint about the conversation, compiled with secondhand information, misstated key details about the conversation.

The whistleblower sensationally alleged that President Trump “sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid.”85 The call summary, however, contains no reference to 2020 or President Trump’s reelection bid.86

The whistleblower alleged that President Trump “pressured” President Zelensky to “initiate or continue an investigation into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.”87 The call summary, however, shows that President Trump referenced the Bidens only in passing and that the presidents did not discuss the topic substantively.88

The whistleblower alleged that President Trump “pressured” President Zelensky to “locate and turn over servers used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cyber security firm Crowdstrike.”89 The call summary, however, demonstrates that while President Trump mentioned Crowdstrike and “the server,” President Trump never made any request that President Zelensky locate or turn over any material.90

The whistleblower alleged that President Trump “praised Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Mr. Yuriy Lutsenko, and suggested that Mr. Zelensky might want to keep him in his position.”91 The call summary is not clear about which prosecutor general President Trump is referring to—Ambassador Volker testified he believed President Trump was referring to Lutsenko’s predecessor, Viktor Shokin92—and President Trump never specifically referenced Lutsenko.93 President Trump also never suggested or intimated that President Zelensky should “keep [Lutsenko] in his position.”94

The whistleblower also alleged that T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, Counselor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, listened in on the July 25 phone call.95 Subsequent reporting, confirmed by a letter sent by Brechbuhl’s attorney, indicated that Brechbuhl was not on the call.96

* * *

Setting aside the whistleblower’s mischaracterization of President Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky, the best available evidence shows no coercion, threats, or pressure for Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival for the President’s political benefit. The call summary shows no quid pro quo, the initial read-outs relayed no substantive concerns, and both President Zelensky and President Trump have repeatedly said publicly there was no pressure. These facts refute the Democrats’ allegations.

B. The evidence does not establish that President Trump withheld a meeting with President Zelensky to pressure Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.

Democrats allege that President Trump withheld a meeting with President Zelensky as a way of pressuring Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rival.97 Here, too, the evidence obtained during the impeachment inquiry does not support this allegation. President Trump and President Zelensky met without Ukraine ever investigating Vice Present Biden or his son, Hunter Biden.

The evidence strongly suggests, instead, that President Trump was reluctant to meet with President Zelensky for a different reason—Ukraine’s long history of pervasive corruption and uncertainty about whether President Zelensky would break from this history and live up to his anti-corruption campaign platform. The Democrats’ witnesses described how President Trump has a deep-seated and genuine skepticism of Ukraine due to its corruption and that the President’s view was reasonable. Because of President Trump’s skepticism and because President Zelensky was a first-time candidate with relatively untested views, Ukraine and U.S. officials sought to convince President Trump that President Zelensky was the “real deal” on reform. President Trump ultimately signed a letter to President Zelensky on May 29 inviting him to the White House.

Although there were several months between President Trump’s invitation on May 29 and the bilateral meeting on September 25, the evidence does not show the delay was intentional or aimed at pressuring President Zelensky. The Democrats’ witnesses described the difficulty in scheduling high-level meetings and how an anticipated presidential meeting in Poland in early September was cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian. Nonetheless, U.S. foreign policy officials believed that the Ukrainian government felt good about its relationship with the Trump Administration because of several high-level bilateral meetings held between May and September 2019, including President Zelensky’s meeting with Vice President Pence on September 1. Ultimately, of course, President Trump and President Zelensky met during the U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 25, without Ukraine taking steps to investigate President Trump’s political rival.

1. Ukraine has a long history of pervasive corruption.

Since it became an independent nation following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been plagued by systemic corruption. The Guardian has called Ukraine “the most corrupt nation in Europe”98 and Ernst & Young cites Ukraine among the three most-corrupt nations of the world.99

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) explained Ukraine’s history of corruption in a 2006 report:

From the early 1990s, powerful officials in [the Ukrainian] government and politics acquired and privatized key economic resources of the state. As well, shadowy businesses, allegedly close to organized crime, became powerful economic forces in several regions of the country. Over the course of the past decade, these business groupings—or clans—as they became called, grew into major financial-industrial structures that used their very close links with and influence over government, political parties, the mass media and the state bureaucracy to enlarge and fortify their control over the economy and sources of wealth. They used ownership ties, special privileges, relations with government and direct influence over the courts and law enforcement and regulatory organizations to circumvent weaknesses in governmental institutions.100

Corruption is so pervasive in Ukraine that in 2011, 68.8% of Ukrainian citizens reported that they had bribed a public official within the preceding twelve months.101 Bribery and facilitation payments102 are common schemes by which Ukrainian officials demand payment in exchange for ensuring public services are delivered either on time or at all.103 Corruption also presents an obstacle to private and public business in Ukraine.104 In 2011, then-President Petro Poroshenko estimated that 15%, or $7.4 billion, of the state budget “ends up in the pockets of officials” through corrupt public procurement practices.105

Pervasive corruption in Ukraine has been one of the primary impediments to Ukraine joining the European Union.106 Corruption-related concerns also figure prominently in the E.U.- Ukrainian Association Agreement, the document establishing a political and economic association between the E.U. and Ukraine.107 The Agreement was entered into with the intent of Ukraine committing to gradually conform to E.U. technical and consumer standards.

State Department witnesses called by the Democrats during the impeachment inquiry confirmed Ukraine’s reputation for corruption. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent described Ukraine’s corruption problem as “serious” and said corruption has long been “part of the high-level dialogue” between the United States and Ukraine.108 Ambassador Bill Taylor said corruption in Ukraine is a “big issue.”109 Ambassador Kurt Volker testified that “Ukraine has a long history of pervasive corruption throughout the economy[,] throughout the country, and it has been incredibly difficult for Ukraine as a country to deal with this, to investigate it, to prosecute it.”110 He later elaborated:

Ukraine had for decades a reputation of being just a corrupt place. There are a handful of people who own a disproportionate amount of the economy. Oligarchs, they use corruption as kind of the coin of the realm to get what they want, including influencing the Parliament, the judiciary, the government, state-owned industries. And so businessmen generally don’t want to invest in Ukraine, even to this day, because they just fear that it’s a horrible environment to be working in, and they don’t want to put – expose themselves to that risk. I would have to believe that President Trump would be aware of that general climate.111

2. President Trump has a deep-seated, genuine, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine due to its history of pervasive corruption.

Multiple Democrat witnesses offered firsthand testimony of President Trump’s skeptical view of Ukraine, as far back as September 2017. Ambassador Volker explained: “President Trump demonstrated that he had a very deeply rooted negative view of Ukraine based on past corruption. And that’s a reasonable position. Most people who would know anything about Ukraine would think that.”112 He elaborated that the President’s concern about Ukraine was genuine,113 and that this concern contributed to a delay in the meeting with President Zelensky. He explained:

So the issue as I understood it was this deep-rooted, skeptical view of Ukraine, a negative view of Ukraine, preexisting 2019, you know, going back. When I started this, I had one other meeting with President Trump and [then-Ukrainian] President Poroshenko. It was in September of 2017. And at that time he had a very skeptical view of Ukraine. So I know he had a very deep-rooted skeptical view. And my understanding at the time was that even though he agreed in the [May23] meeting that we had with him, say, okay, I’ll invite him, he didn’t really want to do it. And that’s why the meeting kept being delayed and delayed.114

Other testimony confirms Ambassador Volker’s statements. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch confirmed the President’s skepticism, saying that she observed it during President Trump’s meeting with President Poroshenko in September 2017.115 She testified:

Q. Were you aware of the President’s deep-rooted skepticism about Ukraine’s business environment?

A. Yes.

Q. And what did you know about that?

A. That he—I mean, he shared that concern directly with President Poroshenko in their first meeting in the Oval Office.116

Dr. Fiona Hill, NSC Senior Director for Europe, also testified that President Trump was “quite publicly” skeptical of Ukraine and that “everyone has expressed great concerns about corruption in Ukraine.”117 Catherine Croft, a former NSC director, similarly attested to President’s Trump skepticism when she staffed President Trump for two Ukraine matters in 2017, explaining: “Throughout both, I heard, directly and indirectly, President Trump described Ukraine as a corrupt country.”118

3. Senior Ukrainian government officials publicly attacked President Trump during the 2016 campaign.

President Trump’s skepticism about Ukraine was compounded by statements made by senior Ukrainian government officials in 2016 that were critical of then-candidate Trump and supportive of his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Although Democrats have attempted to discredit these assertions as “debunked,” the statements by Ukrainian leaders speak for themselves and shed light on President Trump’s mindset when interacting with President Zelensky in 2019.

In August 2016, less than three months before the election, Valeriy Chaly, then-Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, authored an op-ed in the Washington-based publication The Hill criticizing candidate Trump for comments he made about Russia’s occupation of Crimea.119 Ambassador Chaly wrote that candidate Trump’s comments “have raised serious concerns in [Kyiv] and beyond Ukraine.”120 Although President Zelensky dismissed Ambassador Chaly on July 19, 2019,121 the ambassador’s op-ed remains on the website of the Ukrainian Embassy in the U.S. as of the date of this report.122

Later that month, the Financial Times published an article asserting that Trump’s candidacy led “Kyiv’s wider political leadership to do something they would never have attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a US election.”123 The article quoted Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian Member of Parliament, to detail how the Ukrainian government was supporting Secretary Clinton’s candidacy.124 The article explained:

Though most Ukrainians are disillusioned with the country’s current leadership for stalled reforms and lackluster anti-corruption efforts, Mr. Leshchenko said events of the past two years had locked Ukraine on to a pro-western course. The majority of Ukraine’s politicians, he added, are “on Hillary Clinton’s side.”125

The Financial Times reported that during the U.S. presidential campaign, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had warned on Facebook that candidate Trump “challenged the very values of the free world.”126 On Twitter, Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov called Trump a “clown” who is “an even bigger danger to the US than terrorism.”127 In a Facebook post, Avakov called Trump “dangerous for Ukraine and the US” and said that Trump’s Crimea comments were the “diagnosis of a dangerous misfit.”128 Avakov continues to serve in President Zelensky’s government.

Multiple Democrat witnesses testified that these Ukrainian actions during the 2016 election campaign likely also colored President Trump’s views of President Zelensky. Ambassador Volker said:

Q. And you mentioned that the President was skeptical, had a deep-rooted view of the Ukraine. Is that correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. And that, whether fair or unfair, he believed there were officials in Ukraine that were out to get him in the run-up to his election?

A. That is correct.

Q. So, to the extent there are allegations lodged, credible or uncredible, if the president was made aware of those allegations, whether it was via The Hill or, you know, via Mr. Giuliani or via cable news, if the President was made aware of these allegations, isn’t it fair to say that he may, in fact, have believed they were credible?

A. Yes, I believe so.129

Ambassador Sondland similarly testified:

Q. Did [President Trump] mention anything about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election?

A. I think he said: They tried to take me down. He kept saying that over and over.

Q. In connection with the 2016 election?

A. Probably, yeah.

Q. That was what your understanding was?

A. That was my understanding, yeah.130

4. U.S. foreign policy officials were split on President Zelensky, a political novice with untested views on anti-corruption and a close relationship with a controversial oligarch.

Evidence obtained during the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry shows that the U.S. foreign policy apparatus was divided on the question of whether President Trump should meet with President Zelensky. President Zelensky was a first-time candidate and a newcomer to the Ukrainian political scene. Although President Zelensky ran on an anti-corruption and reform platform, the Democrats’ witnesses explained that the State Department was unsure how he would govern as president. In addition, others in the U.S. government worried about President Zelensky’s association with Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.

President Zelensky won a landslide victory on April 21, 2019, defeating incumbent President Petro Poroshenko by a 73-24 percent margin.131 The win came as a surprise to many.132 At the time of his election, Mr. Zelensky was a comedic television personality. Ambassador Volker testified that “Zelensky kind of came up out of nowhere. . . . When he arose kind of meteorically, as an outside figure and a popular candidate, I think it did take everybody by surprise.”133

Ambassador Yovanovitch also testified that Zelensky’s election came as a surprise. She explained:

And I think that there was, you know, as is true, I think, probably in any country during Presidential elections, a lot of – a lot of concerns among people. This was I think a big surprise for the political elite of Ukraine, which is relatively small. And so, I don’t think they saw it coming really until the very end. And, so, there was surprise and, you know, all the stages of grief, anger, disbelief, how is this happening?134

Ambassador Yovanovitch agreed that President Zelensky was an “untried” politician:

Q. And how did you feel about [Zelensky winning the election]? What were your views of Zelensky? Did you think he was going to be a good advocate for the anticorruption initiatives, as he was campaigning on?

A. We didn’t know. I mean, he was an untried politician. Obviously, he has a background as a comedian, as an actor, as a businessperson, but we didn’t know what he would be like as a President.135

Ambassador Sondland testified that there was a difference in opinion regarding whether to schedule a call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky. Ambassador Sondland recalled that he, Ambassador Volker, and Secretary Perry advocated for a call between the presidents, while NSC officials disagreed.136

Evidence suggests that U.S. officials had concerns about some people surrounding President Zelensky. Ambassador Volker testified that President Zelensky’s chief of presidential administration, Andriy Bohdan, had earlier been an attorney for “a very famous oligarch in Ukraine.”137 Senator Ron Johnson, who attended President Zelensky’s inauguration in May 2019, recalled “concern over rumors that [President] Zelensky was going to appoint Andriy Bohdan, the lawyer for oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, as his chief of staff. The delegation [to the inauguration] viewed Bohdan’s rumored appointment to be contrary to the goal of fighting corruption and maintaining U.S. support.”138 President Zelensky appointed Bohdan to be head of presidential administration in May 2019.139

In addition, Dr. Hill explained that the NSC had a concern about President Zelensky’s relationship with Kolomoisky, an oligarch who had owned the television station on which Zelensky’s comedy show aired.140 Under the Poroshenko regime, the Ukrainian government had accused Kolomoisky of embezzling from PrivatBank, which he co-owned, causing Kolomoisky to flee Ukraine.141 According to Ambassador Volker, “the Ukrainian taxpayer officially is bailing out the bank for the money that Kolomoisky stole. Because the IMF provides budgetary support to Ukraine, we [the U.S. taxpayers] actually ended up bailing out this bank.”142

Ambassador Taylor testified that he discussed these concerns about Kolomoisky directly with President Zelensky:

President Trump a positive impression of President

[T]he influence of one particular oligarch over Mr. Zelensky is of particular concern, and that’s this fellow Kolomoisky, so – and Kolomoisky has growing influence. And this is one of the concerns that I have expressed to President Zelensky and his team on several occasions very explicitly, saying that, you know, Mr. President, Kolomoisky was not elected. You were elected and he, Mr. Kolomoisky, is increasing his influence in your government, which could cause you to fail. So I’ve had that conversation with him a couple of times.143

Kolomoisky returned to Ukraine following President Zelensky’s victory.144

5. President Trump extended an invitation to the White House to President Zelensky on three occasions without conditions.

The evidence demonstrates that President Trump had a deep skepticism of Ukraine based on its history of pervasive corruption. This inherent skepticism, coupled with certain Ukrainian government officials’ criticism of candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign and President Zelensky’s untested views, contributed to President Trump’s reticence to meet with President Zelensky. In spring and summer 2019, however, the President extended an invitation to the White House to President Zelensky on three occasions—without any conditions.

On April 21, 2019, President Trump placed a brief congratulatory call to President-elect Zelensky.145 President Trump said: “When you’re settled in and ready, I’d like to invite you to the White House.”146 The presidents did not discuss any investigations, and President Trump placed no conditions on his invitation.

On May 23, President Trump met with Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary Perry, and Senator Johnson—the senior U.S. officials who had comprised the official U.S. delegation to President Zelensky’s inauguration days before. The delegation sought to convey to President Trump a positive impression of President Zelensky.147 According to Ambassador Volker:

President Trump demonstrated that he had a very deeply rooted negative view of Ukraine based on past corruption. And that’s a reasonable position. Most people who would know anything about Ukraine would think that. That’s why it was important that we wanted to brief him, because we were saying, it’s different, this guy is different. But the President had a very deeply rooted negative view. We urged that he invite President Zelensky to meet with him at the White House. He was skeptical of that. We persisted. And he finally agreed, okay, I’ll do it.148

Later in his transcribed interview, Ambassador Volker provided more context for the May 23 discussion:

What I heard from President Trump in the meeting in the oval office was blanket, like, “this—these are terrible people, this is a corrupt country,” you know, “I don’t believe it.” I made the argument that President Zelensky is the real deal, he is going to try to fix things, and, you know, he just did not believe it. He waved it off. So there’s a general issue there.

He did not mention investigations to me in that meeting, or call for investigations. I was not aware that he did so in the July 25th call later. His attitude towards Ukraine was just general and negative.149

Ambassador Sondland similarly testified that President Trump expressed negative views about Ukraine in this meeting and mentioned how “they tried to take me down” in 2016.150 Although Ambassador Sondland said he was discouraged by the President’s viewpoint, he was pleased and surprised that the President later agreed to invite President Zelensky to the White House.151

Senator Johnson recalled that in this meeting, President Trump “expressed strong reservations about support for Ukraine. He made it crystal clear that he viewed Ukraine as a thoroughly corrupt country both generally and, specifically, regarding rumored meddling in the 2016 election.”152 Senator Johnson further explained:

It was obvious that [the President’s] viewpoint and reservations were strongly held, and that we would have a significant sales job ahead of us in getting him to change his mind. I specifically asked him to keep his viewpoint and reservations private and not to express them publicly until he had a chance to meet [President] Zelensky. He agreed to do so, but he added that he wanted [President] Zelensky to know exactly how he felt about the corruption in Ukraine prior to any future meeting.153

Senator Johnson recounted that he did not recall President Trump mentioning Burisma or the Bidens, but it was “obvious” that President Trump was aware of “rumors that corrupt actors in Ukraine might have played a part in helping create the false Russia collusion narrative.”154

On May 29, President Trump wrote to President Zelensky to invite him to Washington, D.C. “as soon as we can find a mutually convenient time.”155 President Trump’s letter did not mention any investigations and placed no conditions on President Zelensky’s invitation to the White House. On July 25, during their phone conversation, President Trump reiterated his invitation to President Zelensky, again without conditions.156

6. Despite difficulty scheduling a face-to-face presidential meeting, senior Ukrainian officials interacted often with senior American officials between May and September 2019.

By late May 2019, President Trump had formally extended an invitation for President Zelensky to visit the White House. Although the two presidents did not meet face-to-face until September 25, the Democrats’ witnesses testified that presidential meetings can often take time to schedule and that senior Ukrainian officials met frequently with American counterparts in the interim.157 Ambassador Volker explained that the new Zelensky regime was “actually feeling pretty good by then” about its relationship with the Trump Administration.158

On June 4, President Zelensky attended an Independence Day dinner at the U.S. mission to the E.U. hosted by Ambassador Sondland and also attended by White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner.159

On July 3, while in Toronto, Canada, for the Ukraine Reform Conference, President Zelensky met with Ambassador Volker and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent.160

On July 9, Oleksandr Danylyuk, then-Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, and Andrey Yermak, a senior adviser to President Zelensky, met with LTG Keith Kellogg, Vice President Pence’s National Security Advisor; Jennifer Williams, a special advisor covering European issues for Vice President Pence; and NSC staff member LTC Alexander Vindman.161

On July 10, Danylyuk and Yermak met at the White House with National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Dr. Hill, and LTC Vindman.162

On July 25, President Trump and President Zelensky spoke by telephone.163

On July 26, President Zelensky met with Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, and Ambassador Taylor in Kyiv.164 Ambassador Volker testified that the meeting was scheduled before the presidents’ phone call.165 He said President Zelensky was “pleased that the call had taken place . . . . They thought it went well. And they were encouraged again because the President had asked them to pick dates for coming to the White House.”166

On August 27, President Zelensky met with National Security Advisor Bolton in Kyiv.167

On September 1, President Zelensky met with Vice President Pence in Warsaw, Poland, after an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.168 President Trump had been scheduled to attend but was forced to cancel due to Hurricane Dorian.169 According to Ambassador Taylor’s testimony, Vice President Pence reiterated President Trump’s views for “Europeans to do more to support Ukraine and that he wanted the Ukrainians to do more to fight corruption.”170

On September 17, Secretary of State Pompeo had a telephone conversation with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko.171 According to a readout from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Secretary Pompeo “affirmed U.S. support for Ukraine as it advances critical reforms to tackle corruption, strengthen the rule of law, and foster an economic environment that promotes competition and investment. The Secretary expressed unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”172

On September 18, President Zelensky and Vice President Pence spoke by telephone.173 The two discussed President Zelensky’s upcoming meeting with President Trump on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly and Ukraine’s effort to address its corruption challenges.174

7. The evidence does not establish a linkage between a White House meeting and Ukrainian investigations into President Trump’s political rival.

The evidence in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry does not show that a White House meeting was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to investigate President Trump’s political rival. Although the anonymous whistleblower, citing “multiple” secondhand sources, alleged that President Trump sought to withhold a meeting to pressure President Zelensky to “play ball,”175 publicly available information contradicts the whistleblower’s claim. For example, Andrey Yermak, a senior adviser to President Zelensky, admitted in an August 2019 New York Times article that he discussed with Mayor Giuliani both meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky and investigations.176 The Times reported, however, that Yermak and Mayor Giuliani “did not discuss a link between the two.”177

Other firsthand testimony obtained during the impeachment inquiry supports this finding. For example, Ambassador Volker, the key interlocutor with the Ukrainian government, clearly testified that there was no “linkage” between a White House meeting and Ukrainian actions to investigate President Trump’s political rival. He explained:

Q. Did the President ever withhold a meeting with President Zelensky until the Ukrainians committed to investigating those allegations?

A. We had a difficult time scheduling a bilateral meeting between President Zelensky and President Trump.

Q. Ambassador Volker, that was a yes-or-no question.

A. Well, if I – can you repeat the question then?

Q. Sure. Did President Trump ever withhold a meeting with President Zelensky or delay a meeting with President Zelensky until the Ukrainians committed to investigate the allegations that you just described concerning the 2016 Presidential election?

A. The answer to the question is no, if you want a yes-or-no answer. But the reason the answer is no is we did have difficulty scheduling a meeting, but there was no linkage like that.178

* * *

Q. So before we move to the text messages, I want to ask you a clarifying question. You said that you were not aware of any linkage between the delay in the Oval Office meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky and the Ukrainian commitment to investigate the two allegations as you described them, correct?

A. Correct.179

Ambassador Sondland was the only witness to allege a quid pro quo with respect to a White House meeting. However, to the extent that Ambassador Sondland testified that he believed a White House meeting was conditioned on Ukrainian actions, his belief was that a meeting was conditioned on a public statement about anti-corruption—not on investigations into President Trump’s political rival.180 Ambassador Sondland testified in his closed-door deposition that “nothing about the request raised any red flags for me, Ambassador Volker, or Ambassador Taylor.”181 In his public testimony, Ambassador Sondland clarified that he believed there was linkage, but that President Trump had never discussed with him any preconditions for a White House visit by President Zelensky.182

In addition, there is conflicting testimony about what occurred during a July 10 meeting between two senior Ukrainian officials and senior U.S. officials in National Security Advisor John Bolton’s office. Ambassador Volker, Ambassador Sondland, Secretary Perry joined Ambassador Bolton to meet with Oleksandr Danylyuk, then-Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, and Andrey Yermak, an adviser to President Zelensky.183 Dr. Hill and LTC Vindman from the NSC staff attended as well.184

Dr. Hill and LTC Vindman alleged that during the meeting, Ambassador Sondland raised potential Ukrainian actions on investigations, leading Ambassador Bolton to abruptly end the meeting.185 Dr. Hill recounted that Ambassador Bolton told her to brief the NSC Legal Advisor, John Eisenberg, and said he would not be a part of what he termed a “drug deal.”186

Although Dr. Hill testified that she confronted Ambassador Sondland over his discussion of investigations,187 Ambassador Sondland testified in his closed-door deposition that “neither Ambassador Bolton, Dr. Hill, or anyone else on the NSC staff ever expressed any concerns to me about our efforts . . . or, most importantly, any concerns that we were acting improperly.”188 Ambassador Sondland testified in his deposition that he recalled no “unpleasant conversation” with Dr. Hill.189 Likewise, although Ambassador Volker assessed that the meeting was “not good,” he said it was because Danylyuk poorly conveyed the appropriate top-level message to Ambassador Bolton during the meeting.190

In his public testimony, Ambassador Volker acknowledged that Ambassador Sondland made a “general comment about investigations,” but he disputed that the July 10 meeting ended abruptly.191 He also testified that preconditions were not discussed during the meeting.192 Although Ambassador Sondland denied in his closed-door depositions that he raised investigations during July 10 meeting,193 he acknowledged that he did in his public testimony.194 Even still, Ambassador Sondland denied that the July 10 meeting ended abruptly: “I don’t recall any abrupt ending of the meeting or people storming out or anything like that. That would have been very memorable if someone had stormed out of a meeting, based on something I said.”195 He explained that Dr. Hill never raised concerns to him, and that any discussion of investigations did not mention specific investigations.196 He testified:

Q. And, in fact, after the meeting, you went out and you took a picture, right?

A. Yeah. We – Ambassador Bolton – or his assistant indicated that he was out of time, that he needed – he had another meeting to attend. And we all walked out of the White House. Everyone was smiling, everyone was happy, and we took a picture on the lawn on a nice sunny day.

Q. Okay. Then did you retire to the Ward Room?

A. I think Secretary Perry asked to use the Ward Room to continue the conversation. And the real subject that was under debate – and it wasn’t an angry debate, it was a debate – should the call from President Trump to President Zelensky be made prior to the parliamentary elections in Ukraine or after the parliamentary elections? And there was good reason for both. We felt – Ambassador Perry, Ambassador Volker, and I thought it would help President Zelensky to have President Trump speak to him prior to the parliamentary elections, because it would give President Zelensky more credibility, and ultimately he would do better with his people in the parliamentary elections. Others, I believe, pushed back and said, no, it’s not appropriate to do it before. It should be done after. And ultimately, it was done after.

Q. Okay. There was no mention of Vice President Biden in the Ward Room?

A. Not that I remember, no.

Q. Or any specific investigation?

A. Just the generic investigations.197

Contemporaneous evidence contradicts the idea that there was serious discord during the meeting. Following the meeting, Ambassador Bolton retweeted a statement from Secretary Perry about the July 10 meeting, writing it was a “great discussion . . . on U.S. support for Ukrainian reforms and the peaceful restoration of Ukrainian territory.”198 The picture in the tweet of the U.S. and Ukrainian officials—taken immediately after the meeting in Ambassador Bolton’s office199—shows smiling faces and no indication of hostility or discord between Ambassador Bolton and Ambassador Sondland.

Figure 1: Ambassador Bolton tweet following July 10 meeting

A screenshot of a quote-tweet made by John Bolton, (at) Amb John Bolton, with 250 Retweets, 929 likes, and 70 replies.

He quoted a tweet made by Rick Perry, (at) Secretary Perry, on July 10, 2019.

Secretary Rick Perry’s tweet with attached photo:

Productive discussion at the White House with Ambassador John Bolton, Ambassador Sondland, Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker, and Press Service of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksander Danylyuk today about opportunities for increased energy security cooperation with Ukraine under the Zelensky Administration.

John Bolton’s quote tweet in response to Rick Perry:

Great Discussison today with Oleksandr Danylyuk, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, on U.S support for Ukrainian reforms and the peaceful restoration of Ukrainian territory.

Figure 2: Pictures of smiling U.S. and Ukrainian officials following July 10 meeting

A photograph posted by Secretary Rick Perry on July 10, 2019 via Twitter.

U.S and Ukrainian officials are posing in front of the White House.

8. The evidence does not establish that President Trump directed Vice President Pence not to attend President Zelensky's inauguration to pressure Ukraine to investigate the President's political rival.

The evidence also does not establish that President Trump directed Vice President Pence not to attend President Zelensky's inauguration as a means of pressuring Ukraine to investigate the President's political rival. During their initial April 21 phone call, President Trump told President Zelensky that a "great" representative of the U.S. would attend the Zelensky inauguration.200 The anonymous whistleblower alleged that President Trump later "instructed Vice President Pence to cancel his planned travel to Ukraine to attend President Zelensky's inauguration . . . . [I]t was also ‘made clear’ to them that the President did not want to meet with Mr. Zelensky until he saw how Zelensky ‘chose to act’ in office.”201 The evidence in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry does not support this assertion.

Although Jennifer Williams, a special adviser in the Office of the Vice President, testified in her closed-door deposition that a colleague told her that President Trump directed Vice President Pence not to attend the inauguration,202 she had no firsthand knowledge of any such direction or the reasons given for any such direction.203 Williams explained that the Office of the Vice President provided three dates—May 30, May 31 and June 1—during which Vice President Pence would be available to attend the inauguration.204 Williams explained that “if it wasn’t one of those dates it would be very difficult or impossible” for Vice President Pence to attend.205 Neither the Secret Service nor advance teams deployed to Ukraine to prepare for Vice President Pence’s travel.206

During this same period, Vice Present Pence was planning travel to Ottawa, Canada, on May 30 to promote the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).207 Williams acknowledged in her public testimony that the Office of the Vice President had “competing trips . . . for the same window.”208 Williams elaborated that due to international travel by President Trump and Vice President Pence, there was a “narrow window” within which Vice President Pence was able to attend President Zelensky’s inauguration.209 Dr. Hill explained that the President and Vice President cannot travel internationally at the same time, testifying that Vice President Pence’s attendance at President Zelensky’s inauguration was just dependent on scheduling and she had no knowledge that the Vice President was directed not to attend the inauguration.210

Ultimately, on May 16, the Ukrainian Parliament scheduled President Zelensky’s inauguration for only four days later, May 20, which was a date not offered by the Vice President’s Office.211 Williams testified that this scheduling posed a problem: “To be honest, we hadn’t looked that closely at the Vice President’s schedule before the President’s trip [to Japan] at the end of May just because we weren’t expecting the Ukrainians to look at that timeframe.”212 Kent explained that this short notice sent the State Department “scrambl[ing]” to find a U.S. official to lead the delegation.213 Secretary Pompeo was traveling, so the decision was made to ask Secretary Perry to lead the delegation.214 On May 20, the day of President Zelensky’s inauguration, Vice President Pence attended an event in Jacksonville, Florida, to promote the USMCA.215

9. President Trump and President Zelensky met during the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019 without any Ukrainian action to investigate President Trump’s political rival.

On September 25, President Trump and President Zelensky met during the U.N. General Assembly in New York.216 Ambassador Volker said that President Trump and President Zelensky had a “positive” meeting. He testified:

Q. Turning back to President Trump’s skepticism of Ukraine and the corruption there, do you think you made any inroads in convincing him that Zelensky was a good partner?

A. I do. I do. I attended the President’s meeting with President Zelensky in New York on, I guess it was the 25th of September. And I could see the body language and the chemistry between them was positive, and I felt that this is what we needed all along.217

Ambassador Taylor testified that the meeting was “good” and President Trump “left pleased that they had finally met face to face.”218 Ambassador Taylor said there was no discussion about investigations during the September 25 meeting.219

Notably, President Trump and President Zelensky met in New York without Ukraine ever investigating President Trump’s political rival.

* * *

The evidence presented in the impeachment inquiry does not support the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump sought to withhold a White House meeting to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate the President’s political rival. President Trump and President Zelensky met in September 2019 without Ukraine ever investigating Vice President Biden or Hunter Biden.

Contrary to the assertions in the anonymous whistleblower complaint, the evidence shows that President Trump has a genuine, deep-seated, and reasonable skepticism of Ukraine given its history of pervasive corruption. In addition, U.S. foreign policy officials were divided on whether President Trump should meet with President Zelensky, in part due to President Zelensky’s close association with an oligarch accused of embezzlement. In May 2019, President Trump formally invited President Zelensky to the White House. For several months, there were attempts to arrange a meeting between President Trump and President Zelensky. Although President Trump indicated during their July 25 call that they may meet in Warsaw in September, Hurricane Dorian forced President Trump to cancel. Vice President Pence met with President Zelensky instead. President Trump and President Zelensky ultimately met without Ukraine ever investigating any of President Trump’s political rival.

C. The evidence does not establish that President Trump withheld U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to pressure Ukraine to investigate the President’s political rival for the purpose of benefiting him in the 2020 election.

Democrats allege that President Trump conspired to withhold U.S. security assistance to Ukraine as a way of pressuring Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s political rival.220 Here, too, the evidence obtained during the impeachment inquiry does not support this allegation.

The evidence suggests a far less nefarious reality. Just as President Trump holds a deep-seated skepticism about Ukraine, the President is highly skeptical of foreign assistance. Any examination of the President’s actions must consider this factor. President Trump has been vocal about his view that U.S. allies in Europe should contribute a fair share for regional security. As Ukrainian government officials worked with U.S. officials to convince President Trump that President Zelensky was serious about reform and worthy of U.S. assistance, they discussed a public statement conveying that commitment. Although the security assistance was paused in July, it is not unusual for U.S. foreign assistance to become delayed. Assistance to Ukraine has been delayed before. Most telling, the Trump Administration has been stronger than the Obama Administration in providing Ukraine with lethal defensive arms to deter Russian aggression.

The Democrats’ witnesses testified that U.S. security assistance to Ukraine was not conditioned on Ukrainian action on investigations. U.S. officials did not raise the issue of the delay in security assistance with Ukrainian officials because they viewed it as a bureaucratic issue that would be resolved. The Ukrainian government in Kyiv was not even aware that the aid was paused until it was reported publicly, only two weeks before the aid was released, as senior U.S. officials confidently predicted it would be. Ultimately, the U.S. disbursed security assistance to Ukraine without Ukraine ever investigating Vice Present Biden or his son, Hunter Biden.

1. President Trump has been skeptical about U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance.

Evidence suggests that President Trump is generally skeptical of U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance. President Trump’s skepticism of U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance is long-standing. On June 16, 2015, when President Trump announced his candidacy for president, he said:

It is time to stop sending jobs overseas through bad foreign trade deals. We will renegotiate our trade deals with the toughest negotiators our country has… the ones who have actually read “The Art of the Deal” and know how to make great deals for our country.

It is time to close loopholes for Wall Street and create far more opportunities for small businesses.

It is necessary that we invest in our infrastructure, stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us and use that money to rebuild our tunnels, roads, bridges and schools—and nobody can do that better than me.221

During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump continued to express his skepticism of U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign aid. In March 2016, he told the Washington Post, “I do think it’s a different world today and I don’t think we should be nation building anymore. I think it’s proven not to work. And we have a different country than we did then. You know we have 19 trillion dollars in debt. . . . And I just think we have to rebuild our country.”222 That same month, then-candidate Trump told the New York Times, “We’re going to be friendly with everybody, but we’re not going to be taken advantage of by anybody. . . . I think we’ll be very worldview [sic], but we’re not going to be ripped off anymore by all of these countries.”223

As president, President Trump has sought to reduce U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance. In his fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, the President proposed “to reduce or end direct funding for international programs and organizations whose missions do not substantially advance U.S. foreign policy interests. The Budget also renews attention on the appropriate U.S. share of international spending . . . for many other global issues where the United States currently pays more than its fair share.”224 The President’s 2020 budget proposal—submitted in March 2019—likewise “supports America’s reliable allies, but reflects a new approach toward countries that have taken unfair advantage of the United States’ generosity.”225 The President’s Budget specifically sought “greater accountability by international partners along with donor burden sharing that is more balanced.”226

Testimony from the Democrats’ witnesses reinforces the President’s skepticism of foreign assistance. Ambassador Taylor, U.S. chargé a.i. in Kyiv, testified that on August 22, 2019, he had a phone conversation with NSC Senior Director for Europe Tim Morrison in which Morrison said that the “President doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.”227 Morrison testified that President Trump generally does not like giving foreign aid to other countries and believes U.S. “ought not” to be the only country providing security assistance.228 LTC Vindman, the NSC director handling Ukraine policy, similarly testified that President Trump is skeptical of foreign aid.229

In fact, evidence suggests that President Trump sought to review U.S. taxpayer-funded foreign assistance across the board. Ambassador David Hale, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, testified that the Trump Administration was undertaking a “review” of foreign assistance globally.230 He testified:

Q. You mentioned that there was a foreign assistance review undergoing –

A. Yes.

Q. – at that time. What can you tell us about that?

A. Well, it had been going on for quite a while, and the concept, you know, the administration did not want to take a, sort of, business-as-usual approach to foreign assistance, a feeling that once a country has received a certain assistance package, it’s a – it’s something that continues forever. It’s very difficult to end those programs and to make sure that we have a very rigorous measure of why we are providing the assistance.

We didn’t go to zero base, but almost a zero-based concept that each assistance program and each country that receives the program had to be evaluated that they were actually worthy beneficiaries of our assistance; that the program made sense; that we have embarked on, you know, calling everything that we do around the world countering violent extremism, but, rather, that’s actually focused on tangible and proven means to deal with extremist problems; that we avoid nation-building strategies; and that we not provide assistance to countries that are lost to us in terms of policy, to our adversaries.

Q. And do you know if the President also had concerns about whether the allies of Ukraine, in this example, were contributing their fair share?

A. That’s another factor in the foreign affairs review is appropriate burden sharing. But it was not, in the deputies committee meeting, OMB [the U.S. Office of Management and Budget] did not really explain why they were taking the position other than they had been directed to do so.

Q. Okay. You are aware of the President’s skeptical views on foreign assistance? Right?

A. Absolutely.

Q. And that’s a genuinely held belief, correct?

A. It is what guided the foreign affairs review.

Q. Okay. It’s not just related to Ukraine?

A. Absolutely not. It’s global in nature.231

2. President Trump has been clear and consistent in his view that Europe should pay its fair share for regional defense.

Since his 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump has emphasized his view that U.S. foreign assistance should be spent wisely and cautiously. As President, he has continued to be critical of sending U.S. taxpayer dollars to foreign countries and asked our allies to share the financial burden for international stewardship.

In a March 2016 interview with the New York Times, then-candidate Trump said: “Now, I’m a person that—you notice I talk about economics quite a bit [in foreign policy] because it is about economics, because we don’t have money anymore because we’ve been taking care of so many people in so many different forms that we don’t have money.”232 Then-candidate Trump elaborated about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a collective defense alliance between the U.S., Canada, and European countries:

I mean, we defend everybody. (Laughs.) We defend everybody. No matter who it is, we defend everybody. We’re defending the world. But we owe, soon, it’s soon to be $21 trillion. You know, it’s 19 now but it’s soon to be $21 trillion. But we defend everybody. When in doubt, come to the United States. We’ll defend you. In some cases free of charge. And in all cases for a substantially, you know, greater amount. We spend a substantially greater amount than what the people are paying.233

That same month, candidate Trump spoke to CBS News about U.S. spending to NATO. He said then:

NATO was set up when we were a richer country. We’re not a rich country anymore. We’re borrowing, we’re borrowing all of this money . . . NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO but we’re spending a lot of money. Number one, I think the distribution of costs has to be changed.234

As president, President Trump has continued to press European allies to contribute more NATO defense. For example, in a tweet on July 9, 2018, President Trump wrote:

The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable. While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more. Germany is at 1%, the U.S. is at 4%, and NATO benefits…….235

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary-General, acknowledged in an interview that President Trump’s message has “helped” NATO member countries to increase defense spending, commending the President on “his strong message on burden sharing.”236

NSC Senior Director Tim Morrison explained the President’s specific views about burden sharing regarding Ukraine during his public testimony. He testified:

Q. And the President was also interested, was he not, in better understanding opportunities for increased burden sharing among the Europeans?

A. Yes.

Q. And what can you tell us about that?

A. The President was concerned that the United States seemed to – to bear the exclusive brunt of security assistance to Ukraine. He wanted to see the Europeans step up and contribute more security assistance.

Q. And was there any interagency activity, whether it be with the State Department for or the Defense Department, in coordination by the National Security Council, to look into that a little bit for the President?

A. We were surveying the data to understand who was contributing what and sort of in what categories.

Q. And so the President’s evinced concerns, the interagency tried to address them?

A. Yes.237

In his public testimony, LTC Vindman confirmed the President’s concerns about U.S. allies sharing the burden for mutual defense.238

3. U.S. foreign aid is often conditioned or paused, and U.S. security assistance to Ukraine has been paused before.

U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance to foreign governments is not an entitlement. The United States often conditions foreign aid on actions by recipient nations. In addition, foreign aid can, and often does, get delayed for various reasons. The pause of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine in this case is therefore not presumptive evidence of misconduct.

The United States conditions foreign assistance to a number of nations as a result of concerns about corruption, human rights abuses, or other issues. On October 31, 2019, the Trump Administration announced that it would withhold $105 million in security assistance for Lebanon shortly after the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.239 In September 2019, the State Department announced that it was withholding $160 million in aid from Afghanistan, citing corruption.240 In June 2019, the Administration told Congress that it would reallocate $370 million in aid to Central American nations and suspend an additional $180 million in an effort to incentivize those countries to reduce the number of migrants reaching the U.S. border.241 In 2017, President Trump froze $195 million in security assistance to Egypt—one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid—due to frustration with the country’s poor track record on human rights and a recently enacted law regarding nongovernmental organizations.242

The Democrats’ witnesses explained that it is not unusual for foreign aid to be paused or even withheld. Ambassador Taylor testified that U.S. aid to foreign countries can be paused in various instances, such as a Congressional hold.243 Ambassador Volker testified that foreign assistance can be delayed for a multitude of reasons and that “this hold on security assistance [to Ukraine] was not significant.”244 Ambassador Volker elaborated during his public testimony:

Q. Ambassador Volker, you testified during your deposition that aid, in fact, does get held up from time-to-time for a whole assortment of reasons. Is that your understanding?

A. That is true.

Q. And sometimes the holdups are rooted in something at OMB, sometimes it’s at the Defense Department, sometimes it’s at the State Department, sometimes it’s on the Hill. Is that correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. And so, when the aid was held up for 55 days for Ukraine, that didn’t in and of itself strike you as uncommon?

A. No. It’s something that had happened in my career in the past. I had seen holdups of assistance. I just assumed it was part of the decision-making process. Somebody had an objection, and we had to overcome it.245

Ambassador David Hale, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, agreed that U.S. taxpayer-funded aid has been paused from several countries around the world for various reasons and, in some cases, for unknown reasons.246 Ambassador Hale elaborated:

We’ve often heard at the State Department that the President of the United States wants to make sure that foreign assistance is reviewed scrupulously to make sure that it’s truly in U.S. national interests, and that we evaluate it continuously, so that it meets certain criteria that the President has established.247

Ambassador Hale explained that the NSC launched a review of U.S. foreign assistance to ensure U.S. taxpayer money was spent efficiently and to advance “[t]he principle of burden sharing by allies and other like-minded states.”248 Dr. Hill, the NSC’s Senior Director for Europe, testified that as she was leaving NSC in July 2019, “there had been more scrutiny” to assistance:

As I understood them, there had been a directive for whole-scale review of our foreign policy, foreign policy assistance, and the ties between our foreign policy objectives and the assistance. This had been going on actually for many months. And in the period when I was wrapping up my time there, there had been more scrutiny than specific assistance to specific sets of countries as a result of that overall view – review.249

The Democrats’ witnesses also described how U.S. foreign assistance to Ukraine has been de