Judiciary Committee releases report on grounds for impeachment

Grace Segers

The House Judiciary Committee on Saturday released a report explaining the constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment, written by Democratic staff on the Judiciary Committee for the committee's use. "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 report says in its introduction.

Committee staff had previously written reports on the grounds for impeachment in 1974 and 1998, during impeachment proceedings for Presidents Nixon and Clinton. However, Committee chairman Jerry Nadler wrote in the preface to the report that the "earlier reports remain useful points of reference, but no longer reflect the best available learning on questions relating to presidential impeachment."

"Further, they do not address several issues of constitutional law with particular relevance to the ongoing impeachment inquiry respecting President Donald J. Trump," Nadler wrote about earlier reports.

In the report, counsels for the majority outline the purpose of impeachment, as well as what they consider to constitute impeachable offenses. The staff wrote that impeachment "exists not to inflict punishment for past wrongdoing, but rather to save the Nation from misconduct that endangers democracy and the rule of law."

The report also attempted to explain what the founders meant by making "high crimes and misdemeanors" a threshold for impeachment. The staff identifies abuse of power, betrayal involving foreign powers and corruption as being encompassed in the constitutional interpretation of "high crimes and misdemeanors."

The report is likely to be referenced by Democratic leaders during the process of drafting articles of impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called on Democratic committee chairmen to begin drafting the articles of impeachment.

The report also comes after the committee heard testimony from legal scholars on Wednesday. Three of the constitutional legal experts said that they believed impeachment was justified, although a fourth expert, called by Republicans, disagreed.

The Judiciary Committee will hold a second hearing on Monday, where counsel for the majority and the minority on the Intelligence Committee will present their cases for or against impeaching President Trump.

In a letter on Friday, the White House rejected an invite by Nadler to participate in any impeachment proceedings by the Judiciary Committee.

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