A group of 17 former Watergate special prosecutors are coming together to lend their support to the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
As the former prosecutors explained in a Washington Post piece, there is “compelling facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses.” They said that it is sufficient enough evidence for impeachment unless it can be disproved by similarly compelling evidence.
While the decision on impeachment belongs to the House of Representatives, the former prosecutors believe the House should move forward, “fairly, openly and promptly.”
“The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty,” said the letter.
The went on to say that they looked at five specific things that helped them reach the conclusions on impeachment.
1) the public statements by Trump himself;
2) the findings of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation;
3) the readout that the president released of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky;
4) the president’s continuing refusal to produce documents or allow testimony by current and former government employees for pending investigations, as well as for oversight matters; and
5) other information now publicly available, including State Department text messages indicating that the release of essential military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to commence a criminal investigation designed to further the president’s political interests.
When the group of prosecutors investigated the abuses of power by President Richard Nixon in the 1970s, the crimes they looked into involved obstruction of justice, concealment of government records and misuse of government agencies to punish his political enemies. While the attorneys didn’t say it, the allegations from the 1970s seem remarkably similar to what some have criticized Trump for.
“We prosecuted many of Nixon’s aides for their complicity in Nixon’s offenses,” the prosecutors wrote. “Rather than indicting the president, the grand jury named him an unindicted co-conspirator, delivered to the House a ‘road map’ of the evidence implicating him in wrongdoing and deferred to the House’s constitutional responsibility to address such presidential wrongdoing through the impeachment process.”
While the president has claimed that impeachment is unconstitutional, the Constitution outlines the process clearly. In a letter to Congress, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said attacked the inquiry by the House, and suggested that Trump should be able to call witnesses to his defense. The impeachment inquiry is not a trial, though I’m sure officials wouldn’t mind putting Trump on trial.
“President Trump and his Administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process,” Cipollone writes. “Your unprecedented actions have left the President with no choice.”
“The Constitution provides for the elected representatives of the people to resort to impeachment in extraordinary circumstances showing that this drastic remedy is necessary to restrain, and possibly remove, a president who has engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors,” the prosecutors explained. “Proper regard for reestablishing and protecting the rule of law requires firm and resolute action by the House. Lawmakers should not allow any refusal by the president to cooperate in its process to frustrate the performance of its constitutional duties.”