Jamie Raskin: Trump's Resistance Of Congress Is 'Blatantly Unconstitutional' | NBC News

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Published: 12/17/2019 07:47 PM

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Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. delivered his opening statement as a witness in the House Rules Committee's impeachment markup hearing. » Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnews.to/SubscribeToNBC » Watch more NBC video: http://bit.ly/MoreNBCNews NBC News is a leading source of global news and information.



Transcript
It is my solemn responsibility this morning to present for your consideration house resolution 755 and the accompanying house judiciary committee report concerning the impeachment of donald john trump, president of the united states, for high crimes and misdemeanors committed against the people of the united states. I'M appearing, as you said mr. chairman this morning, in place of chairman nabber, ...
who could not be with us. I am sure i speak for all the members of both the judiciary committee and the rules committee and sending strength, love and prayers to chairman others, wife, joyce and all of our hopes for a speedy recovery. The judiciary committee, along with the other committees which investigated president trump's offenses the permanentselect committee on intelligence, the committee on foreign affairs and the committee on oversight and reform, bring these articles with a solemn purpose in a heavy heart but inactive faith with the constitutional oath of Office that we have all sworn the investigating committees conducted 100 hours of deposition, testimony with 17 sworn witnesses and 30 hours of public testimony with 12 witnesses. The judiciary committee is now in possession of overwhelming evidence that the president of the united states has committed high crimes and misdemeanors violated his constitutional oath. To faithfully execute the office of the president of the united states and to the best of his ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states, andviolated his constitutional duty to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. We present two articles of impeachment, supported by hundreds of pages of detailed evidence and meticulous analysis. The evidence and analysis lead inescapably to the conclusions embodied in these articles of impeachment. First, president trump is committed to high crime and misdemeanor of abuse of office. He abused the awesome powers of the presidency by using his office to corruptly demand that a foreign government interfere in our american presidential election in order to promote his own political campaign in 2020, he corruptly conditioned the release of three 91 million dollars in foreign security assistance That he held back from the ukrainian government along with a longhope for a white house presidential meeting mm-hmm. He conditioned those on ukrainian presidents olinsky's agreement to go public with two statements.

One statement was announcing a criminal investigation into former vice president joe biden, a leading presidential candidate and rival of the president. The other statement was announcing an investigation that would rehabilitate a discredited pro-russian conspiracy theory by showing that it was ukraine and not putin's russia. That tried to disrupt the last american presidential election in 2016, this scheme to corrupt an american presidential election, subordinated the democratic sovereignty of the people to the private political ambitions of one man, the president himself. It immediately placed the national security interests of the united states of america atrisk, and it continues to embroil the nation in our government in conflict. Second, after this corrupt scheme came to light and numerous public servants with knowledge of key events surfaced to testify. In our committee investigations about the president's actions, president trump directed the wholesale categorical and indiscriminate obstruction of this congressional impeachment investigation. He did so by ordering a blockade of administration witnesses by trying to muzzle and intimidate witnesses who did come forward and by refusing to produce even a single subpoenaed document in the history of the republic. No president, other than this one has ever claimed and exercised the unilateral right and power to thwart and defeat a house presidential impeachment inquiry. Yet that wouldhave been the final and unavoidable result of the president's outrageous defiance of congress had 17 brave witnesses not come forward in the face of the president's threats and testified about the ukraine shakedown and it's scandalous effects on our national, secure our democracy and our constitutional System of government, but make no mistake, while this investigation was saved by the courage and old-fashioned patriotism of witnesses like ambassador, william taylor, ambassador maria yovanovich, lieutenant colonel alexander veeneman and dr. fiona hill. The president's aggressive and unprecedented resistance to congressional subpoenas for witnesses and documents is blatantly and dangerously unconstitutional if accepted and normalized. Now it will undermine perhaps for all time the congressional impeachment power itself, which is thepeople's last instrument of constitutional self-defense against a sitting president who behaves like a king and tramples the rule of law by obstructing an impeachment inquiry with impunity.

The president will have the power to actively destroy the people's final check on his own corrupt misconduct and abuse of power. The framers insisted that we have impeachment in the constitution precisely to protect ourselves from a president becoming a tyrant and a despot, and we cannot and we will not allow the impeachment power itself to be destroyed. Hmm, these articles charge that president trump is engaged in systemic abuse of his powers, obstructed congress and realized the worst fears of the framers by subordinating our national security and draggingforeign powers into american politics to corrupt our elections. All for the greater cause of his own personal gain and ambition. Article 1, section 4 of the constitution, provides that the president shall be impeached for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. This is the essential check that the people's representatives maintain over the executive branch. As our constitutional expert witnesses testified, the framers sought to capture a broad range of presidential misconduct in wrongdoing through this provision. But the commanding and comprehensive impulse for including the impeachment power in the constitution was to prevent the president's abuse of power, which the framers saw as the very essence of impeachable conduct in federalist number, 65 hamilton wrote, thatimpeachable offenses are defined by abuse of some public trust From the federalist papers and the records of the constitutional convention and the ratifying conventions, we find that the framers feared principally three kinds of betrayal of office by abuse of power, abuse of power by exploiting public office for private, political or financial gain number. One number: two abuse of power by betraying the national interest in the public trust, do entanglement with foreign governments and number three abuse of power by corrupting democratic elections in denying the people proper agency through self-government accorded in the framers any one of these violations of the Public trust would be enough to justify presidential impeachment for abuse of power. However, presidenttrump's conduct has realized all three of the framers worst fears of presidential abuse of power. Never before in american history has an impeachment investigation, crystallized in findings of conduct that implicate all of the major reasons that the framers built impeachment into our constitution. Mr.

chairman, the conduct we set before you today is not some kind of surprising aberration or deviation in the president's behavior for which he is remorseful. On the contrary, the president is completely unrepentant and defiantly declares his behavior here perfect. Indeed, absolutely perfect. He says that article 2 of the constitution gives him the power to do whatever he wants, conveniently forgetting article 2 section 4, which gives us the power to checkhis misconduct with the instrument of impeachment. We believe this conduct is impeachable and should never take place again under our constitutional system. He believes his conduct is perfect and we know, therefore, that it will take place again and again. Indeed, our report points out that this pattern of showing spectacular disrespect for the rule of law by inviting and welcoming foreign powers into our elections was in plain view. In the 2016 presidential election, america remembers when then candidate donald trump uttered the imperishable infamous words russia. If you're listening, i hope you're able to find the thirty thousand emails that are missing and just five hours later, russian agents moved to hack his political opponents, computers, aspart of their continuing effort to upend the 2016 presidential campaign, as identified by the justice department. The trump campaign had more than 100 contacts with russian operatives over the course of that campaign, and none of them were reported by the trump campaign to law enforcement or national security agencies. Moreover, during the special counsel investigation into the sweeping and systematic russian campaign to subvert our election, president trump engaged in another systematic campaign of obstruction of the investigative process to obscure his own involvement. Mr.

president, mr. chairman, we present you not just with high crimes and misdemeanors, but a constitutional crime in progress up to this very minute, mayor giuliani, the president's private lawyer, fresh from hisoverseas travel, looking to rehabilitate once again the discredited conspiracy theories at the heart of the President'S defense admitted that he participated directly in the smear campaign to oust ambassador jovanovic from her job. According to the new yorker magazine giuliani said, i believe that i needed you voinovich out of the way she was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody, and here, of course, mr. giuliani refers to the president's sought after investigations into joe biden and the remnants of The discredited conspiracy theory pushed by russia as propaganda that it was ukraine and not russia, that interfered in the 2016 american presidential election. Given that an unrepentant president considers his behavior perfect, given that he thinksthe constitution empowers him to do whatever he wants, given that he and his team are still awaiting president zalenski statement about investigating joe biden, given that he has already invited china to perform an investigation of Its own, we can only ask what the 2020 election will be like or indeed what any future election in america will be like if we just let this misconduct go and authorised and licensed presidents to coerce, cajole pressure and entice foreign powers to enter our election campaigns. On behalf of the presidents, who will be invited in next, the president's continuing course of conduct constitutes a clear and present danger to democracy in america. We cannot allow this misconduct to passit would be a sellout of our constitution, our foreign policy, our national security and our democracy. Thank you. Mr. chairman, i yield back hey nbc news fans, thanks for checking out our youtube channel subscribe by clicking on that button down here and click on any of the videos over here to watch. The latest interviews show highlights and digital exclusives thanks for watching.


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