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What the Democrats Left Out

December 10, 2019 in Economics

By Josh Blackman

Josh Blackman

Today the House Judiciary Committee announced two articles of impeachment. The first article alleges that President Donald Trump abused his power by asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce investigations into one of his political opponents, Joe Biden, and into a “discredited theory” that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the most recent presidential election. The second article charges that President Trump obstructed Congress by refusing to comply with impeachment-related subpoenas. In opting for these two offenses—and in excluding three others that had all been plausible—House Democrats have narrowed their charges to the allegations that are the easiest to see, if you see the world, and this presidency, as they do.


What didn’t make the cut? First, Congress chose not to include articles of impeachment based on the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses. Democratic members of Congress have long alleged that President Trump is illegally profiting from his business entities that cater to foreign and state governments. Indeed, more than 200 members of Congress have sued the president in federal court, arguing that his conduct is unconstitutional. (I have filed a series of amicus briefs arguing that Trump’s conduct amounts to poor policy, but is lawful.) Yet, the House has not even held a hearing on these once obscure provisions of the Constitution. It would have been very difficult to make the case for impeachment based on a nonexistent record.

Second, Congress chose not to include articles of impeachment based on allegations in the Mueller report. For nearly two years, the special counsel titillated the Beltway with the prospect of potentially impeachable conduct. Robert Mueller’s voluminous report dispelled allegations of Russian collusion, but strongly hinted that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice—that the President used his official power to stymie the investigation. Attorney General Bill Barr disagreed, and independently concluded that there was no criminal activity worth charging.



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