House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against President Donald Trump.
In just over eight pages, the articles summarize the impeachment case that has developed out of President Trump’s Ukraine scandal.
Impeachment scholar Frank Bowman said the articles form a contrast to some of the impeachment articles against President Richard Nixon, which were much more lengthy and detailed.
He said that, in criminal law terms, the articles unveiled Tuesday could be likened more to a “notice pleading" that is “short and straight to the point” in laying out charges against a defendant, rather than a “speaking indictment” that offers a roadmap to all the evidence in a case.
The articles “essentially say what the essence of the charge is and with very few exceptions don’t get into details," said Bowman, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Law who is the author of “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump.”
Bowman also noted that, while Democrats opted not to include specific mentions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, there are telltale lines in each article that could open the door for discussion of the Mueller case in a future Senate trial of Trump.
The first article refers to Trump’s actions in pressuring Ukraine as being “consistent with President Trump’s previous invitations of foreign interference in United States elections.” The second article refers to Trump’s stonewalling of the Ukraine probe as being consistent with “previous efforts to undermine United States Government investigations into foreign interference in United States elections.”
The two articles are mostly an easy read, with content familiar to those who have kept up with the news. One long parenthetical in each article makes for a long slog as it charges that Trump violated “his constitutional oath faithfully to 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” and violated his “constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The idea, Bowman said, is that Congress is alleging: “You’re unsuited to remain in the office that you hold."
“If there’s one thing that’s clear about impeachment back to the 1300s, an executive branch official who is unfaithful to the Constitution, British or American, is someone who should be removed,” Bowman said.
Read the articles of impeachment here:
Martin finucane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.