WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee released a report on Saturday that aims to define what the framers of the Constitution meant by an impeachable offense, issuing the document just days before the Democratic-led committee is expected to approve articles of impeachment against President Trump.
Democrats have accused the president of abusing his power by appealing to a foreign government for help in the 2020 presidential election, and of obstructing the congressional investigation by blocking witnesses and refusing to provide documents. Mr. Trump and his allies have denied he did anything wrong or impeachable, and insist that he is the victim of an unfair and illegitimate inquiry.
Saturday’s report comes three days after the committee convened a panel of four constitutional scholars to discuss how to apply the history and legal grounding of impeachment to the evidence collected by the House.
Three of the scholars, invited by Democrats, argued that Mr. Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine as presented by the inquiry clearly rose to the level of impeachable bribery or abuse of power and that his efforts to conceal it from Congress could also be construed as an impeachable offense. A fourth scholar, called by Republicans, said the allegations could be impeachable but argued that they had not been sufficiently proved by Democrats in a rush to complete the process.
The report updates a well-regarded 1974 document prepared by the staff of the Judiciary Committee to inform a debate over the impeachment of Richard M. Nixon. That report, like this one, traced the origins of impeachment from monarchical England, where it was developed to hold the king’s minsters to account, to colonial America, where the framers of the Constitution believed it was a necessary remedy to ensure that the leaders of the new republic did not corrupt it for their personal benefit.
Both reports primarily focus on how to define “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” the offenses enumerated by the Constitution for impeachment.
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