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Issue Report: Impeachment of Trump

Should President Trump be impeached for his Ukraine dealings?

An impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump began after a whistleblower alleged that President Trump abused the power of the presidency by secretly pressuring the president of Ukraine to undertake investigations to damage political-opponent Joe Biden and help Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. Much of the debate surrounds the transcript of a call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. In this call, President Trump arguably indicated that certain aid and potentially a white house meeting may be conditioned on Ukraine conducting certain investigations, including of Ukrainian-company Burisma. The allegation is that Trump was trying to dig up dirt on Joe Biden’s son, who sat on the board of Burisma, and potentially damage Joe Biden’s political prospects in the 2020 election against Trump. Testimony from witnesses have indicated that Trump and top government officials may have aimed to pressure the leaders of Ukraine and other foreign nations to publicly announce investigations, including of Burisma and implicitly the Bidens. Central questions in the debate include: What does the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelenskyy indicate as far a direct conditioning of aid and a White House meeting to a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens?; What do subsequent conversations and witnesses indicate or corroborate regarding the conditioning of aid or a White House meeting to a statement of an investigation?; Did any conditioning constitute high crimes and misdemeanors, bribery, or extortion as required for impeachment?; Was Trump’s intent to damage his political rival Joe Biden? Is it possible aid and a meeting was withheld over an honest effort to protect American interests against Ukrainian corruption, corrupt Americans dealing in Ukraine, or related to 2016 election interference? The debate surrounding these and other questions and whether Trump should be impeached for his dealings with Ukraine are covered below.

Abuse of Power: Did Trump engage in an abuse of power?

Trump abused power by conditioning aid on reelection favor

Articles of Impeachment:

“Using the powers of his high office, President Trump solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election. He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage. President Trump also sought to pressure the Government of Ukraine to take these steps by conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations. President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit. In so doing, President Trump used the powers of the Presidency in a manner that compromised the national security of the United States and undermined the integrity of the United States democratic process. He thus ignored and injured the interests of the Nation. President Trump engaged in this scheme or course of conduct through the following means: (1) President Trump — acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government — corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into — (A) a political opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.; and (B) a discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine — rather than Russia — interfered in the 2016 United States Presidential election. (2) With the same corrupt motives, President Trump — acting both directly and through his agents within and outside the United States Government — conditioned two official acts on the public announcements that he had requested – (A) the release of $391 million of United States taxpayer funds that Congress had appropriated on a bipartisan basis for the purpose of providing vital military and security assistance to Ukraine to oppose Russian aggression and which President Trump had ordered suspended; and (B) a head of state meeting at the White House, which the President of Ukraine sought to demonstrate continued United States support for the Government of Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. (3) Faced with the public revelation of his actions, President Trump ultimately released the military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine, but has persisted in openly and corruptly urging and soliciting Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit… Wherefore President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

Trump's abuse of power is ongoing threat to national security

Ezra Klein, "The most important argument for impeachment," Vox, December 18, 2019:

“the most important clause is on page five, in the second paragraph: ‘President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office,’ it reads. This is the core of the case against Trump and why the Senate cannot shirk its duty… Impeachment’s most important role is preventive, not retributive. It is to make sure that neither Trump nor any future president tries to abuse their power to amass more power in this way again. But if Senate Republicans abdicate their constitutional duty and, as Graham promised, do everything they can to make this die quickly, they’ll be unleashing Trump and his successors to abuse the power of the presidency even more flagrantly in the future.”

Abuse of power is a proxy for Trump's unfitness for office

Andrew Sullivan, "What We Know About Trump Going Into 2020," New York Magazine, December 21, 2019:

“The impeachment was inevitable because this president is so profoundly and uniquely unfit for the office he holds, so contemptuous of the constitutional democracy he took an oath to defend, and so corrupt in his core character that a crisis in the conflict between him and the rule of law was simply a matter of time. When you add to this a clear psychological deformation that can produce the astonishing, deluded letter he released this week in his own defense or the manic performance at his Michigan rally Wednesday night, it is staggering that it has taken this long. The man is clinically unwell, preternaturally corrupt, and instinctively hostile to the rule of law. In any other position, in any other field of life, he would have been fired years ago and urged to seek medical attention with respect to his mental health.”

If this abuse of power is not impeachable, none is

Professor Michael Gerhardt, who teaches law at the University of North Carolina, said to USA Today: “If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable.”

Dems could only come up with two articles of impeachment

"The incredible shrinking impeachment," Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, Dec 11, 2019:

“So that’s it? That’s all there is? After all the talk of obstruction of justice, collusion with Russia, bribery, extortion, profiting from the Presidency, and more, House Democrats have reduced their articles of impeachment against President Trump to two: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Honey, we shrunk the impeachment.”

President acted within his foreign policy powers in Ukraine

John Yoo, "Beware of Impeaching Trump. It Could Hurt the Presidency," New York Times, Sept. 24, 2019:

“we should beware that rushing into an impeachment may do long-term harm to the presidency and our national security.  The Constitution vests the president with the authority to conduct foreign policy and the responsibility to protect the nation’s security. A president, even one who is possibly engaging in wrongdoing, must have confidence in the confidentiality of his communications or he will be unable to perform his constitutional duties and our international relations will fall victim to government by committee. Congressional interference into presidential conversations with foreign leaders would violate Article II. According to Mr. Trump’s critics, the inspector general for the intelligence community can forward any whistle-blower complaint to Congress if it involves a matter of “urgent concern.” But Congress cannot subject the president to the supervision, control or review of a subordinate officer. As the Supreme Court made clear in a 1926 case, all executive branch officials exist to assist the president in the performance of his constitutional duties. An intelligence officer cannot file a whistle-blower complaint against the president, because the president is not a member of the intelligence community; nor does a presidential phone call with a foreign leader qualify as an intelligence operation. The intelligence community works for the president, not the other way around. Democrats may regret again wounding the presidency when Mr. Trump’s successors grapple with the rise of China as a global power, Russia’s revanchism, Iran’s quest for regional hegemony and North Korea’s nuclear proliferation.”

Democrats are ones engaged in abuse of power

Trump's Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment, December 17, 2019:

“By proceeding with your invalid impeachment, you are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy. You dare to invoke the Founding Fathers in pursuit of this election-nullification scheme — yet your spiteful actions display unfettered contempt for America’s founding and your egregious conduct threatens to destroy that which our Founders pledged their very lives to build.”

Abuse of power is a meaningless term under the Constitution

Floor statements in the U.S. House of Representatives by Republicans included the argument that abuse of power is constitutionally meaningless, that it is not one of the explicitly defined grounds for impeachment in the Constitution.

Mere abuse of power is low standard; criminality is better bar

Robert Ray said on CNN.com, December 12, 2019:
“I find it constitutionally awkward to be arguing on the one hand, as many have — including me when it comes to presidential misconduct — that no president is above the law, and then on the other hand, that this President should be impeached without an allegation contained in an article of impeachment that he actually violated the law. It seems like failing to allege criminality weakens the case for impeachment. And it sets a dangerous precedent for future impeachments by a majority of the House of Representatives that any abuse of power will do, irrespective of the rule of law. I don’t see how that would, or should, be in the best interests of the country.”

Obstruction of Congress: Did Trump Obstruct Congress?

Trump obstructed Congress investigation into Ukraine matter

Articles of Impeachment:

“Donald J. Trump has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its ‘sole Power of Impeachment.’ President Trump has abused the powers of the Presidency in a manner offensive to, and subversive of, the Constitution, in that: The House of Representatives has engaged in an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump’s corrupt solicitation of the Government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 United States Presidential election. As part of this impeachment inquiry, the Committees undertaking the investigation served subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the inquiry from various Executive Branch agencies and offices, and current and former officials. In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives. President Trump abused the powers of his high office through the following means: (1) Directing the White House to defy a lawful subpoena by withholding the production of documents sought therein by the Committees. (2) Directing other Executive Branch agencies and offices to defy lawful subpoenas and withhold the production of documents and records from the Committees — in response to which the Department of State, Office of Management and Budget, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense refused to produce a single document or record. (3) Directing current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the Committees — in response to which nine Administration officials defied subpoenas for testimony, namely John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney, Robert B. Blair, John A. Eisenberg, Michael Ellis, Preston Wells Griffith, Russell T. Vought, Michael Duffey, Brian McCormack, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl.”

Trump stonewalling amounts to monarchical immunity

"Impeach Donald Trump," New York Times Editorial, December 14, 2019:

“When caught in the act, he rejected the very idea that a president could be required by Congress to explain and justify his actions, showing ‘unprecedented, categorical and indiscriminate defiance’ in the face of multiple subpoenas. He made it impossible for Congress to carry out fully its constitutionally mandated oversight role, and, in doing so, he violated the separation of powers, a safeguard of the American republic. To quote from the articles, ‘President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.’…By stonewalling as no previous president has, Donald Trump has left Congress with no choice but to press ahead to a Senate trial. The president insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing, yet he refuses to release any administration documents or allow any administration officials to testify — though, if his assertions are in fact true, those officials would presumably exonerate him. He refused to present any defense before the House whatsoever, asserting a form of monarchical immunity that Congress cannot let stand.”

If evidence is incomplete it's due to Trump obstruction

"We've seen enough. Trump should be impeached," Los Angeles Times Editorial, December 7, 2019:

“Trump’s defenders argue that the evidence against him on Ukraine is incomplete and thus inconclusive. They’re correct that some potentially important witnesses — including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who reportedly put the hold on the Ukrainian aid, and former national security advisor John Bolton, who reportedly objected to the efforts to persuade Ukraine to conduct the investigations — haven’t testified. But that is because Trump has objected to such testimony. Delaying impeachment because of no-show witnesses would reward Trump’s obstructionism.”

Level of Trump's obstruction in unprecedented and dangerous

"The case for impeachment," Washington Post Editorial, December 10, 2019:

“unlike any previous president, Mr. Trump has refused all cooperation with the congressional inquiry. He has prevented the testimony of a dozen present or former senior officials and the release of documents by the White House, the Office of Management and Budget and three Cabinet departments. The House intelligence Committee’s report rightly warns that ‘this unprecedented campaign of obstruction’ poses a serious threat to U.S. democracy.”

No obligation to abide by partisan impeachment proceeding

"The Benality of Impeachment," Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, November 13, 2019:

“House Democrats went public Wednesday with what the media are calling ‘historic’ impeachment hearings, but what strikes us is the pre-cooked nature of the exercise. This isn’t a search for truth. It’s a set-piece production to promote a foregone conclusion. Democrats are turning impeachment into another partisan banality, and the country won’t be better for it.”

“The incredible shrinking impeachment,” Wall Street Journal Editorial, December 11, 2019: “Democrats wrap these charges in high-toned rhetoric about ‘this solemn day’ and quotes from Benjamin Franklin. But they are essentially impeaching Mr. Trump because they despise him and the way he governs. This is the classic standard of “maladministration,’ which the Founders explicitly considered but excluded from the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. They did so because they feared that partisan Congresses would too easily impeach presidents of the opposite political faction on this subjective basis, rather than for serious offenses. In their wisdom, the American people seem to have figured all this out. Despite one-sided lobbying by the impeachment press, the polls show that a majority opposes removing Mr. Trump from office. This may be the real explanation behind the Democratic move to shrink impeachment. Democrats now want a fast and furious vote to satisfy their most anti-Trump partisans, dump the mess on the Senate, and campaign on something else.”

Articles of impeachment are too narrowly focused on Ukraine

Danny Westneat, "How the Democrats blew it on impeachment," Seattle Times, December 18, 2019:

“The case is just too small… the Trump impeachment case has been so tightly confined to this one episode with Ukraine, it has lowered the stakes. It all but invites a shrug: Ukraine got its aid eventually, and they aren’t investigating rival Joe Biden’s son anyway, so … whatever… the point of this entire exercise should have been to make the best argument possible for why he’s unfit for office. But Democrats left out too much of the story. They should have focused on three separate abuses of power by Trump… The first is that when the Russians were meddling in the 2016 election and offering up dirt on Trump’s political opponent, his campaign welcomed it… The second episode was when Trump directed his personal attorney to buy the silences of a porn star and a Playboy bunny, again in an attempt to swing the last election… The last one is Ukraine… Politics in the end is about narratives, about telling a big story. Trump sure gets that. The Democrats left too much out of this one to really make it stick.”

President validly asserted executive privilege, which could be fought in courts

Trump's Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment, December 17, 2019:

“The second claim, so-called ‘Obstruction of Congress,’ is preposterous and dangerous. House Democrats are trying to impeach the duly elected President of the United States for asserting Constitutionally based privileges that have been asserted on a bipartisan basis by administrations of both political parties throughout our Nation’s history. Under that standard, every American president would have been impeached many times over. As liberal law professor Jonathan Turley warned when addressing Congressional Democrats: ‘I can’t emphasize this enough…if you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts, it is an abuse of power. It’s your abuse of power. You’re doing precisely what you’re criticizing the President for doing.'”

Zelenskyy call: Does transcript of Trump-Zelenskyy call show impeachable offense?

Transcript shows conditioning of aid on Biden investigation

The transcript of the call between Trump and President Zelenskyy shows discussion of aid, conditioning of continued aid on the favor of an investigation into the Bidens. Trump says “the United States has been very very good to Ukraine…” President Zelenskyy agrees: “…the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine… I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.” President Trump immediately responds to that request for continued support by conditioning that support on doing a favor: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” And includes the ask to investigate the Bidens: “The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”

Listeners interepreted aid/meeting as conditioned on investigation

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the White House’s National Security Council, listened in on the Trump-Zelensky call. He later testified that based on the “vast” power disparity between the two leaders, Trump’s request would have been interpreted as “a demand” and that Zelensky would need to “fulfill this particular prerequisite in order to get the meeting.”

Trump confirmed intention in Zelensky call was investigations of Bidens

"Impeach Donald Trump," New York Times Editorial, December 14, 2019:

“Asked as recently as October what he hoped the Ukrainians would do in response to his infamous July 25 call with their president, Mr. Trump declared: ‘Well, I would think that, if they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens. It’s a very simple answer.'”

No clear evidence Trump intended to weaken Joe Biden politically

"The case against impeaching Trump," CNN, November 12, 2019:

“Limited insight into Trump’s state of mind. To prove that Trump is guilty, Democrats will need to show that he had corrupt intentions when he directed his diplomats to work with Giuliani and when he asked for the “favor” from Zelensky. Nobody has testified that Trump explicitly told them he was pushing the quid pro quo because he wanted to weaken Biden’s campaign or boost his own chances of getting reelected. Trump’s defenders have said witnesses who confirmed the quid pro quo were giving their own “opinions” or making “presumptions.” Two of those witnesses, Taylor and Vindman, never spoke to Trump. “I don’t know what was in the President’s mind,” Taylor said during his closed-door deposition.”

Trump may have intended to investigate legitimate corruption

"The case against impeaching Trump," CNN, November 12, 2019:

“One possibility is that Trump genuinely believes the discredited theories he and Giuliani have been promoting. That means Trump was acting in good faith when he asked Zelensky to check whether Ukraine framed Russian hackers, even though the US government firmly believes the Russian military was responsible. The Justice Department is reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation, and Mulvaney said Trump just wanted Zelensky to “cooperate” with that review. Trump was “clearly irritated by the 2016 election” and has “heard stories for a long time” about supposed Ukrainian meddling to help Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, said former Rep. Bill McCollum, who was one of the GOP House managers for Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. “Trump is very bright, but he doesn’t read a lot, and buys into a lot of conspiracy theories,” McCollum said. “Some of those theories could be correct, and he wants to find out what really happened in 2016. I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with that. Is that in the national interest, or is it purely political? That’s the rub. It’ll be difficult for the Democrats to separate those two.””

Investigating Bidens could legitimately be in national interest

Investigating Joe Biden’s son and Joe Biden himself for, allegedly, trying to stop the prosecution of his son for conflicts related to his involvement with Burisma could be in the national security interest of the country. Such an investigation need not be for mere political advantage, but rather as a means to root out corruption.

Trump asked Ukraine to do "us"/American a favor

Trump's Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment, December 17, 2019:

“Fortunately, there was a transcript of the conversation taken, and you know from the transcript (which was immediately made available) that the paragraph in question was perfect. I said to President Zelensky: “I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” I said do us a favor, not me, and our country, not a campaign. I then mentioned the Attorney General of the United States. Every time I talk with a foreign leader, I put America’s interests first, just as I did with President Zelensky.”

Trump did not pressure Zelensky or Ukraine

Trump Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment, December 17, 2019:

“President Zelensky has repeatedly declared that I did nothing wrong, and that there was No Pressure. He further emphasized that it was a ‘good phone call,’ that ‘I don’t feel pressure,’ and explicitly stressed that ‘nobody pushed me.’ The Ukrainian Foreign Minister stated very clearly: ‘I have never seen a direct link between investigations and security assistance.’ He also said there was ‘No Pressure.’ Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a supporter of Ukraine who met privately with President Zelensky, has said: ‘At no time during this meeting…was there any mention by Zelensky or any Ukrainian that they were feeling pressure to do anything in return for the military aid.’ Many meetings have been held between representatives of Ukraine and our country. Never once did Ukraine complain about pressure being applied — not once!”

Bidens: Was an investigation of the Bidens unjustifiable?

Bidens merely called for ouster of corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor general

New York Times footnotes and fact-checks to Trump's letter to Pelosi protesting impeachment, December 17, 2019

“Mr. Biden did call for the dismissal of Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general and threatened to hold assistance, but his actions were in line with United States foreign policy as well as the stated positions of Senate Republicans, European Union leaders and the International Monetary Fund, all of whom were calling for the ouster of the prosecutor general… [moreover, when Biden said ‘it looked bad’], Mr. Biden was not speaking about his role in pushing for the prosecutor’s ouster. He was paraphrasing his son’s comments about joining the board of Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian company.”

Trump rightly sought investigation of Biden firing prosecutor to protect son

Trump's Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment, December 17, 2019:

“You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion dollars of U.S. aid money to coerce Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his son millions of dollars. You know this because Biden bragged about it on video. Biden openly stated: ‘I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars’…I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.’ Even Joe Biden admitted just days ago in an interview with NPR that it “looked bad.’ Now you are trying to impeach me by falsely accusing me of doing what Joe Biden has admitted he actually did.”

Bribery: Did President Trump engage in bribery?

Trump's withholding of aid for personal favor was bribery

Neal Katyal, "Impeaching Trump Is Imperative to Preserving Our Democracy," Time, November 7, 2019:

“He’s also guilty of a second paradigmatic impeachable offense: bribery. And all of the evidence we need to prove Trump partook in quid pro quo (“something for something”) exchanges is in the edited summary of the phone call released by his own White House–in which our Commander in Chief offers up Javelin antitank missiles and a White House meeting in exchange for the “favor” of Ukraine’s opening investigations into Biden and the 2016 election. Trump Administration officials have testified that the President also held back $391 million in security assistance from Ukraine, which Congress had already appropriated, as part of his effort to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into announcing an investigation of Biden. Most strikingly, Trump ambassador Gordon Sondland, a donor whom the President has referred to as “a great American,” reversed his testimony this month and told Congress there was a quid pro quo.”

Quid pro quo illegal when for personal not state gain

Neal Katyal, "Impeaching Trump Is Imperative to Preserving Our Democracy," Time, November 7, 2019:

“Of course, quid pro quo arrangements are aboveboard when the President is asking for a favor on behalf of the people. If, for instance, Trump asked England to share intelligence on a terrorist organization with the CIA in exchange for U.S. intelligence, that would be allowed. The problem arises when the President asks a foreign power for a personal favor–one that doesn’t align with the interests of those he represents. Because when a President abdicates his duty witnessed by another country, he leaves himself vulnerable to blackmail.”

Founders defined bribery broadly to include acts like Trump's

Ben Berwick, Justin Florence, John Langford, "The Constitution Says ‘Bribery’ Is Impeachable. What Does That Mean?" Lawfare, October 3, 2019:

“the Founders had a broader conception of bribery than what’s in the criminal code. Their understanding was derived from English law, under which bribery was understood as an officeholder’s abuse of the power of an office to obtain a private benefit rather than for the public interest. This definition not only encompasses Trump’s conduct—it practically defines it.”

Trump's actions meet even modern statutory standard for bribery

Ben Berwick, Justin Florence, John Langford, "The Constitution Says ‘Bribery’ Is Impeachable. What Does That Mean?" Lawfare, October 3, 2019:

“In fact, Trump’s conduct almost certainly satisfies the modern statutory standard for bribery. As Randall Eliason has explained, a quid pro quo “need not be stated in express terms; corrupt actors are seldom so clumsy, and the law may not be evaded through winks and nods.” We have little doubt that a prosecutor would be able to establish a quid pro quo based on what was said on the call and the surrounding facts and context. (As an aside, Trump’s conduct also likely qualifies as extortion. As James Lindgren has explained at length, historically there has been a substantial overlap between the concepts of extortion and bribery, and around the time of the Founding, the terms were often used to describe the same conduct.)”

Ukraine ultimately received the military aid

"The case against impeaching Trump," CNN, November 12, 2019:

“Republicans will have political cover to vote against Trump’s impeachment, or to acquit him in the Senate, because they can say Ukraine ultimately got the money, and Trump got nothing. The White House released the congressionally appropriated $391 million aid package on September 11, after news reports revealed the unexplained holdup and after getting tipped off about the whistleblower complaint. Zelensky never bowed to Trump’s demands, though it now appears he was reluctantly willing to, based on the call summary and press reports.”

Zelenskyy unaware aid was on hold, couldn't be bribery

Jonathan Turley, "The Legal Case for Impeachment," NPR, November 14, 2019:

“the Republicans noted that and established a timeline of their own. And the most important, in my view, was that it’s clear that the Ukraine did not know about the hold on the aid until around August 29, when a political article ran. And Taylor pretty much confirmed that by saying that as soon as that article ran talking about the hold, he got a virtually immediate call from the Ukraine. Now, the aid was released only about 10 or 11 days after that. So the question for a lot of people is going to be, how significant, really, is that? They didn’t really know about the quid pro quo, if there was one. And more importantly, the aid got to them. And so the argument is sort of like – you know, in Watergate, they made it into the office. You know, they actually did a criminal act.”

High-Crimes and Misdemeanors: Did Trump commit high-crimes and misdemeanors?

Trump breached public trust by using office for personal gain

Neal Katyal, "Impeaching Trump Is Imperative to Preserving Our Democracy," Time, November 7, 2019:

“there is no choice but to impeach and remove Trump: because he was willing to undermine our democracy to help his prospects of re-election; because he has stated, unapologetically, that he would do it again; and most important, because he wielded the powers of his office for personal benefit instead of for the benefit of the people. And a President like that–a President who puts himself over his country–is exactly the kind of Commander in Chief our founders included impeachment in our Constitution to remove.”

Trump invited Ukraine interference into US democratic process

Neal Katyal, "Impeaching Trump Is Imperative to Preserving Our Democracy," Time, November 7, 2019:

“Trump’s first abuse of trust is the one our founders feared most: inviting a foreign power to interfere with our democracy. As George Washington said in his farewell address: “Foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.” James Madison, meanwhile, proposed including impeachment in the Constitution for the explicit purpose of ensuring that no President could “betray his trust to foreign powers.”

Framer's designed impeachment for Ukraine-type situation

“The Ukraine situation encapsulates almost exactly what impeachment was created to address,” said CNN legal analyst Michael Gerhardt, who was called as a nonpartisan expert witness on impeachment during the Clinton hearings. “When the Framers talked about impeachable offenses, they mentioned the President engaging in a corrupt relationship with a foreign power.”

Trump's actions over Ukraine show hostility toward democratic norms

Stephen Walt, "The realist case for impeachment," Foreign Policy, September 27, 2019:

“Trump isn’t a dictator (though he might like to be), but he has consistently shown a deep hostility toward the core institutions that make democracy work. He denounces journalists with the Stalinist phrase “enemies of the people,” directs his aides to ignore lawful congressional subpoenas, and now hints that the whistleblower who reported his malfeasance was “close to a spy” and might deserve execution. This worldview is well suited to a dysfunctional dictatorship, but not to a republic whose decisions about war and peace could affect the lives of millions of people.”

Trump was too incompetent to form a quid pro quo

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, made this argument last week, when he said Trump’s policy toward Ukraine was “incoherent” and that The Trump administration was therefore “incapable of forming a quid pro quo.”

Trump sought legitimate investigation of Ukrainian corruption

Andrew McCarthy, "Fiona Hill (and Dems) ignore the serious evidence of Ukrainian 2016 meddling," New York Post, November 21, 2019:

“there is a second theory of Ukrainian collusion in the 2016 election. The second theory has nothing to do with Russia. It is supported by significant evidence. It includes public professions of support for Clinton and opposition to Trump by Ukrainian officials. It includes acknowledgments by Ukrainian investigators that their Obama administration counterparts encouraged them to investigate Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Bolstering this theory is the fact that Ukrainian officials leaked information damaging to Manafort (a ledger of payments, possibly fabricated) that forced Manafort’s ouster from the Trump campaign, triggering waves of negative publicity for the campaign. A Ukrainian court, in late 2018, concluded that two Ukrainian officials meddled in the election. And in 2018 House testimony, Nellie Ohr — who worked for Fusion GPS, the Clinton campaign opposition research firm that produced the lurid and discredited Steele dossier — conceded that a pro-Clinton Ukrainian legislator was a Fusion informant. When Republicans and most Trump supporters refer to evidence of Ukrainian collusion in the 2016 election, it is this collusion theory that they are speaking about. This theory is in no way mutually exclusive with the finding that Russia hacked the DNC accounts — it has nothing to do with the hacking.”

Dems failed to find crime; abuse of power is too vague

Daniel McCarthy, "How Democrats lost the Impeachment War" Spectator, December 11, 2019:

“After weeks of testimony, Democrats have not been able to come up with any charges more concrete than ‘abuse of power’ and ‘obstruction of Congress.’ Abuse of power is certainly a serious thing — but only if it’s real. Partisans think that almost anything a president from the opposing party does amounts to an abuse of power. For impeachment to amount to anything more than partisan harassment, an actual crime ought to be found somewhere along the line: an act of wrongdoing objectively contrary to the law. Otherwise, any procedural or policy disagreement — or any pretext whatsoever — can be construed by a party out to get an enemy president as an ‘abuse of power.’ Adam Schiff discovered that ‘bribery’ was a crime that polled well in focus groups. But Democrats fell so far short of the mark of proving that bribery took place in President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine that they dared not even make the accusation in their articles of impeachment. Instead, they used abuse of power simply to refer to actions they didn’t like, and they whipped up a new non-crime, ‘obstruction of Congress’, in an act of desperation.”

Testimony: What do testimonies show?

Diplomat testimony corroborates conditoning of aid on investigation

“The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival,” Nancy Pelosi said on November 12 at her weekly news conference.

Taylor testimony indicates Trump fixated on investigating bidens

In his testimony Wednesday, Taylor quoted the embassy staffer saying that after he overheard Trump inquire about “the investigations” on a phone call with Sondland, he heard Sondland tell the president “that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.” The aide also said Sondland later described Trump as more interested in “the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing,” than Ukraine policy, Taylor testified.

Most all testimony corroborates conditioning of aid on investigation

Zack Beauchamp, "Tuesdays impeachment hearings were a disaster for Republicans," Vox, November 19, 2019:

“All four of the witnesses confirmed key parts of the overall case against the president — that he twisted US foreign policy into a tool of his reelection campaign by using military aid in an effort force Ukraine into opening an investigation into the Biden family. In one particularly striking example, Volker — one of the GOP witnesses — amended his earlier closed-door deposition to clarify that the administration’s behavior was shadier than he had previously thought. Meanwhile, the Republicans on the intelligence committee, from ranking member Devin Nunes on down, did not present a consistent and compelling counternarrative. They did little to contest the facts, preferring instead to attack the media, the whistleblower whose complaint kicked off this saga, or the witnesses themselves. The day underscored the fundamental fact of the situation: Trump did what Democrats are accusing him of doing. The only issue is whether congressional Republicans are willing to punish him for it.”

“Impeach President Trump,” USA Today Editorial, December 11, 2019: “Testimony before the House Intelligence Committee produced overwhelming evidence that Trump wanted Ukraine’s new president to announce investigations into the Bidens and a debunked theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. election…To former national security adviser John Bolton, the months-long scheme was the equivalent of a ‘drug deal.’ To Bolton’s former aide Fiona Hill, it was a ‘domestic political errand” that “is all going to blow up.’ To Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, ‘it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.'”

Testimony offers only second-hand information for impeachment

“Their understanding, which is the foundation of the case for the Democrats, was based on secondhand information,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters Thursday.

Sondland: What about the Sondland call and testimony?

Sondland-Trump call a smoking gun on bribery

Stephen Collinson, "This could be the defining moment of America's entire impeachment drama," CNN, November 21, 2019:

“The call’s content is even more stunning than the circumstances in which it unfolded — within earshot of diners and staff in a city and on a phone system penetrated by Russian intelligence — because Trump was heard asking Sondland if Ukraine was ready to launch the political probes he demanded. Sondland responded yes, adding that President Volodymyr Zelensky “loves your ass.” Four months later, this may be Democrat’s smoking phone call: evidence that the President personally directed a scheme to manipulate foreign policy to pressure Kiev to investigate his political opponents, including Joe Biden.”

Sondland only "presumed" quid pro quo, never heard it from Trump

Sondland testified that he never heard himself from Trump that the President was conditioning aid or a meeting on Ukraine announcing an investigation into the Bidens.

Sondland presumed quid pro quo, but for appropriate investigations

Sondland did testify that there was a quid pro quo, but legitimate quid pro quo’s occur all the time in US foreign policy. The question is whether the investigations Trump was seeking were legitimate or not. And, in this case, it is possible the investigations were all legitimate, centered around the 2016 elections and potential corruption involving the son of an American politician.

Sondland shared evidence Trump "wanted nothing from Ukraine"

President Donald Trump said following the Sondland hearing: “I’m going to go very quickly, just a quick comment on what is going on in terms of testimony with Ambassador Sondland. I just noticed one thing that means it is all over. “What do you want from Ukraine?” he asks me. “What do you want from Ukraine? I keep hearing all these different ideas and theories,” this is Ambassador Sondland speaking to me, just happened. And then I turned off the television… “What do you want? What do you want?” It was a very short and abrupt conversation he had with me, he said I was not in a good mood. (I’m always in a good mood, so I don’t know what that is.) He just said, now he’s talking about what my response was. He’s going “What do you want? What do you want? I hear all these theories. What do you want?” Here’s my response that he just gave. Ready? You have the cameras rolling? “I want nothing.” That’s what I want from Ukraine. That’s what I said. “I want nothing.” I said it twice…”

Frozen aid: What does the freezing of aid demonstrate?

The fact that aid was frozen indicates conditioning of aid

Military aid was, in fact, frozen during the time that no investigation into the Bidens had been launched. Only after the whistleblower came forward was the aid unfrozen.

Initial Ukrainian unawareness that aid was frozen is unimportant

Zack Beauchamp, "Tuesday’s impeachment hearings were a disaster for Republicans," Vox, November 19, 2019:

“Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), for example, got the witnesses to say that the Ukrainians did not seem aware at first that aid was being withheld, suggesting this means there could not have been a quid pro quo exchange between aid and investigations. This line of question is deeply misleading: Once the Ukrainians were made aware of the aid being withheld, it quickly became clear to them that it was being blocked as part of a quid pro quo for a Biden investigation. What’s more, aid wasn’t the only thing: There was also a clear offer of a White House visit, which Zelensky very much wanted, in exchange for investigations.”

Zelensky criticized Trump's decision to suspend aid

Mr. Zelensky said in an interview: “I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand: We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”

Zelenskyy unaware aid was on hold or conditional for some time

Jonathan Turley, "The Legal Case for Impeachment," NPR, November 14, 2019:

“the Republicans noted that and established a timeline of their own. And the most important, in my view, was that it’s clear that the Ukraine did not know about the hold on the aid until around August 29, when a political article ran. And Taylor pretty much confirmed that by saying that as soon as that article ran talking about the hold, he got a virtually immediate call from the Ukraine. Now, the aid was released only about 10 or 11 days after that. So the question for a lot of people is going to be, how significant, really, is that? They didn’t really know about the quid pro quo, if there was one. And more importantly, the aid got to them. And so the argument is sort of like – you know, in Watergate, they made it into the office. You know, they actually did a criminal act.”

The aid was delivered ultimately; no harm no foul

The aid was ultimately delivered to Ukraine without any public announcement of an investigation, so ultimately no quid pro quo occurred.

Zelensky said he was never pressured, and there were no conditions

“I was never pressured, and there were no conditions being imposed,” Zelensky said in October to Kyodo, a Japanese news service, adding that “Ukraine must not be embroiled in scandals connected with the presidential election.”

Political objectives: Did Trump have political objectives or policy objectives?

Request to make announcements public indicates political goals

Marshall Cohen, "The case for impeaching Trump," CNN, November 12, 2019:

“Diplomats appointed by Trump later told Ukrainian officials that Zelensky needed to publicly announce the probes, which is very rarely done in legitimate criminal investigations. This strongly suggests the plan was designed to maximize political damage to Biden’s presidential campaign and was not motivated a by a sincere effort to root out corruption, as Trump claimed.”

Trump was clearly focused on hurting Biden politically

"Impeach Donald Trump," New York Times Editorial, December 14, 2019:

“The argument that Mr. Trump cared about anything other than hurting Joe Biden and helping himself is undercut by several facts. Even though calling on the Ukrainians to fight corruption was part of his prepared talking points, he never mentioned the subject in his calls with Mr. Zelensky; he also didn’t hold up the military aid in 2017 or 2018, even though everyone knew about Hunter Biden’s Ukraine connection at the time. (What changed this year? Joe Biden emerged as his leading Democratic opponent.) By the time Mr. Trump intervened to block the money for Ukraine, the Defense Department had already certified that Ukraine had made enough progress fighting corruption to qualify for this year’s funds.”

Trump's goal was to investigate Biden corruption, not political rival

Mark Hemingway, "Obama administration knew Hunter Biden was shady, witness admits," New York Post, November 15, 2019:

“Of all the supposedly shocking revelations that have emerged from the impeachment hearings this week, here’s one that the Democrats in Congress hope you don’t hear about: The Obama White House knew that Hunter Biden’s extremely lucrative appointment to the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which occurred the month after his father was named the administration’s “point person” on Ukraine, reeked of corruption — and they didn’t do anything about it.”

State visit: Was white house visit conditioned on investigation?

Trump conditioned White House visit on Ukraine investiging Bidens

Volker texted Yermak right before Trump called Zelensky. He said: “Heard from White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck! See you tomorrow.”

While aid was ultimately delivered, White House visit was not

While some defenders of Trump claim that the aid was ultimately delivered, so “no harm no foul”, a White House visit was not granted as the condition on Ukraine to announce an investigation was not met.

Process: Has the process been fair?

The process of the inquiry has been fatally flawed

"The case against impeaching Trump," CNN, November 12, 2019:

“Trump and congressional Republicans have complained about the process from the very beginning, and they’re likely to continue raising these procedural concerns until the bitter end. Trump tweeted on Sunday that his “due process” rights were being trampled. Primary among their concerns is the fact that Trump’s lawyers don’t have a guaranteed role in the private depositions and public hearings, which means his legal team can’t cross-examine witnesses. Republicans are also upset that they don’t have unilateral power to issue subpoenas. “They are going to say that the process was not designed to get to the truth,” Garber said, noting that Clinton’s lawyers were given the right to participate in his impeachment proceedings.”

 

In a 5-page letter released Sunday evening, Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, declined an offer extended by Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y, for the president or his lawyers to take part in this week’s public proceeding.

Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, wrote in 5-page letter to Chairman Nadler: “We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the President a fair process through additional hearings.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: “House Democrats’ impeachment has been an illegitimate sham from the start as it lacked any proper authorization by a House vote. [The resolution] does nothing to change the fundamental fact that House Democrats refuse to provide basic due process rights to the administration… [the White House is barred from participating at all until after the intelligence panel] conducts two rounds of one-sided hearings to generate a biased report for the Judiciary Committee.”

Politics: Should he be impeached as a political matter?

Pursue Trump impeachment on principle regardless of result

Robin Abcarian, "Six arguments against impeaching Trump — and why they are dead wrong," Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2019:

“[Opponents of impeachment say:] The Republican-dominated Senate will never vote to convict him, and, as a result he will not be forced out of office. So what? This argument presumes that there is only one possible outcome for a legitimate impeachment: removal. Not so. The American people deserve answers, regardless of where they lead. Trump has engaged in what appears to be an abuse of power. Impeachment hearings — witnesses, evidence, testimony — will shine a light on how he may have co-opted his position as the most powerful man in the world for personal gain. They will also tell us who helped him along the way. Who, for instance, were the White House officials who were “deeply disturbed” by the president’s conduct, according to the whistleblower complaint, but tried to hide it rather than expose it?”

“The case for impeachment,” Washington Post Editorial, December 10, 2019: “We take no pleasure in recommending the president’s impeachment and are aware of the considerable costs and risks: further dividing and inflaming our politics; turning impeachment into one more tool of partisan warfare; perhaps giving Mr. Trump unwarranted aid in his reelection effort. But the House must make its decision based on the facts and merits, setting aside unpredictable second-order effects.”

Trump subverted voters by attempting to sabotage opponent

Thomas Friedman, "Impeach Trump. Save America," New York Times, December 11, 2019:

“Generally speaking, I believe presidents should be elected and removed by the voters at the polls. But when I hear Trump defenders scream, “Impeachment subverts the will of the people,” I say: “Really? What the hell do you think Trump was doing in Ukraine?” He was subverting the will of the people by scheming to use our tax dollars to knock out his most feared opponent in the coming election — rather than trusting voters to do that.”

Not impeaching Trump would put presidency above the law

Thomas Friedman, "Impeach Trump. Save America," New York Times, December 11, 2019:

“If Congress were to do what Republicans demand — forgo impeaching this president for enlisting a foreign power to get him elected, after he refused to hand over any of the documents that Congress had requested and blocked all of his key aides who knew what happened from testifying — we would be saying that a president is henceforth above the law. We would be saying that we no longer have three coequal branches of government. We would be saying that we no longer have a separation of powers. We would be saying that our president is now a king.”

Impeaching Trump to preserve democracy worth political risks

"We've seen enough. Trump should be impeached," Los Angeles Times Editorial, December 7, 2019:

“The Times’ editorial board was a reluctant convert to the impeachment cause. We worried that impeaching Trump on essentially a party-line vote would be divisive. It is also highly likely that Trump would be — will be — acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, and that, rightly or wrongly, he would point to that in his reelection campaign as exoneration. But those concerns must yield to the overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain. That sort of misconduct is outrageous and corrosive of democracy. It can’t be ignored by the House, and it merits a full trial by the Senate on whether to remove him from office.”

GOP placing party over truth in Trump impeachment

"Impeach President Trump," USA Today Editorial, December 11, 2019:

“The president’s GOP enablers continue to place power and party ahead of truth and country. Had any Democratic president behaved the way Trump has — paying hush money to a porn star, flattering dictators and spewing an unending stream of falsehoods — there’s no doubt congressional Republicans would have tried to run him out of the White House in a New York minute. Twenty-seven Republicans who voted to impeach or convict Clinton remain in Congress. If they continue to defend Trump, history will record their hypocrisy.”

Impeachment denies voters chance to determine Trump's fate

Jonah Goldberg, "The Case Against Impeaching President Trump," NPR, October 7, 2019:

“I think it is a prudential question about whether or not it is worth putting the country through this when an election is so close. The impeachment clause was first created primarily as a check on runaway tyranny before they had term limits. And we’ve never had an elected president in his first term in this situation. And so I think it’s eminently impeachable. There’s plenty of stuff Donald Trump has done that it’s impeachable. The question is whether it’s worth doing, particularly if you don’t think he’s going to be removed by the Senate.”

John Yoo, “Beware of Impeaching Trump. It Could Hurt the Presidency,” New York Times, Sept. 24, 2019: “Democratic presidential candidates are calling for impeachment. But they should realize that they themselves remain the framers’ primary remedy for presidential abuses of power. The Constitution trusts the American people, acting through the ballot box, to render judgment on President Trump. Democrats should trust the framers’ faith in the American people, too.”

Impeachment in House will be followed by acquittal in Senate

Jonah Goldberg, "The Case Against Impeaching President Trump," NPR, October 7, 2019:

“if I were a Democrat and I knew that you weren’t going to flip at least 20 Senate Republicans, do you want to impeach the president and then have him not convicted in the Senate, removed in the Senate, and him take away from that vindication and exoneration? And then if it makes his chances of getting reelected stronger, is that worth doing for your own political priorities? And that’s an interesting question.”

Democrats want to impeach Trump to overturn election

Jonah Goldberg, "The Case Against Impeaching President Trump," NPR, October 7, 2019:

“I think the Democrats have behaved very badly. They burnt a lot of trust in capital by talking about wanting to impeach him from Day 1. So they’ve lost – they have a cry wolf problem.”

“Mr. Schiff’s Impeachment Opus,” Wall Street Journal Editorial, December 3, 2019: “These columns warned that once the machinery of impeachment was up and running, it would be impossible to stop. And so on Tuesday Adam Schiff released his House Intelligence Committee report on Ukraine that finds President Trump guilty of playing domestic politics with foreign policy. But it’s clear the President’s real sin is being the willful, undisciplined Donald Trump voters elected.”

Trump Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment, December 17, 2019: “Everyone, you included, knows what is really happening. Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016, in an Electoral College landslide (306-227), and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat. You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it! You are unwilling and unable to accept the verdict issued at the ballot box during the great Election of 2016. So you have spent three straight years attempting to overturn the will of the American people and nullify their votes. You view democracy as your enemy!”

Democrats have been seeking to impeach Trump since day 1

Trump Letter to Pelosi Protesting Impeachment, December 17, 2019:

“Speaker Pelosi, you admitted just last week at a public forum that your party’s impeachment effort has been going on for two and a half years, long before you ever heard about a phone call with Ukraine. Nineteen minutes after I took the oath of office, the Washington Post published a story headlined, ‘The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun.’ Less than three months after my inauguration, Representative Maxine Waters stated, ‘I’m going to fight every day until he’s impeached.’ House Democrats introduced the first impeachment resolution against me within months of my inauguration, for what will be regarded as one of our country’s best decisions, the firing of James Comey (see Inspector General Reports) — who the world now knows is one of the dirtiest cops our Nation has ever seen. A ranting and raving Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib, declared just hours after she was sworn into office, ‘We’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherf****r.’ Representative Al Green said in May, ‘I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected.’ Again, you and your allies said, and did, all of these things long before you ever heard of President Zelensky or anything related to Ukraine. As you know very well, this impeachment drive has nothing to do with Ukraine, or the totally appropriate conversation I had with its new president. It only has to do with your attempt to undo the election of 2016 and steal the election of 2020!”

Vs. censure: Is censure an inadequate alternative?

Trump needs removal because will abuse power again

"We've seen enough. Trump should be impeached," Los Angeles Times Editorial, December 7, 2019:

“if the president was willing in this case to subvert U.S. foreign policy for personal and political gain, why wouldn’t he feel emboldened to do it again? The president, after all, continues to maintain that his call with Zelensky was ‘perfect.‘”

Not impeaching Trump would legitimize his conduct

"What is the alternative to impeachment?" SF Chronicle, December 12, 2019:

“Consider what it would mean not to impeach the president — to leave him in the company of the vast majority of presidents who faced no such rebuke. The pernicious effect would be to elevate the conduct memorialized in the articles of impeachment to the status of acceptable presidential behavior. Refraining from impeachment would license Trump and every president after him to bully foreign governments into assisting their political campaigns and undermining our elections. “

Censor fits petty crimes, impeachment fits Trump's high crimes

"The case for impeachment over censure for President Trump," Chicago Sun Times, December 1, 2019:

“In 1998, we argued that President Clinton should be censured but not impeached. The Tribune argued the same. We wrote that Clinton’s transgressions were ‘petty, personal crimes’ that brought ‘disgrace and dishonor on him,’ but they were not ‘high crimes’ of the kind envisioned by our nation’s Founding Fathers. That argument doesn’t fly this time. If extorting an ally to gain an advantage in the 2020 election doesn’t rise to the level of impeachable conduct, what does? If playing games with our nation’s global security to score personal political favors does not amount to ‘treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,’ what else did the writers of the Constitution have in mind?”

Censure cannot work with Trump because he cannot be shamed

"The case for impeachment over censure for President Trump," Chicago Sun Times, December 1, 2019:

“But even if, for the sake of argument, censure rather than impeachment might normally be appropriate and sufficient punishment, it would be pointless given this president. Censure is a form of shaming, but this president cannot be shamed. That would require an ability for honest self-appraisal. Trump would turn censure on its head in his usual way — ‘I know you are but what am I’ — and revel in the fact that he was not even impeached. He would misrepresent every factual finding and judgment and pick up where he never left off, un-chastised.”

Trump's misdeeds warrant censure, but not impeachment

"The case for censure over impeachment," Chicago Tribune Editorial, November 25, 2019:

“In our view, Trump’s Ukraine misdeeds are a serious abuse of his office. But they do not meet those tests of an impeachable offense. The option we see more fitting to address Trump’s abuse of power is for both houses of Congress to censure him. We do not envision a weak-kneed admonishment that Trump can dismiss. A resolution of censure would spell out in detail the president’s betrayal of trust and his failure of responsibilities by placing his personal political interests above his obligations to the nation. This resolution could adopt the language that could otherwise appear in articles of impeachment.”

Other offenses: Aside from Ukraine has Trump committed other impeachable offenses?

Trump committed many impeachable offenses beyond Ukraine

"Impeach Donald Trump," New York Times Editorial, December 14, 2019:

“Mr. Trump has been committing arguably impeachable offenses since the moment he entered the Oval Office, including his acceptance of foreign money at his many businesses; his violations of campaign-finance law in paying hush money to a woman who claimed to have had a sexual affair with him; and, of course, his obstructions of justice in the Russia investigation, which were documented extensively by the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Democrats could have pursued impeachment in any or all of these cases, but for various reasons decided not to. That changed in September, when a whistle-blower’s complaint, initially suppressed by the Justice Department, revealed the outline of Mr. Trump’s Ukraine scheme. That made it impossible to ignore the president’s lawlessness because it sounded an alarm that he was seeking to subvert the next election, depriving the voters of their right to check his behavior.”

Crimes: Did Trump commit a crime and does it matter?

Impeachment does not require commission of a "crime"

"Impeach Donald Trump," New York Times Editorial, December 14, 2019:

“Without any substantive defense of Mr. Trump’s behavior, several Republicans have taken to arguing that he committed no actual crime, and so can’t be impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Putting aside a strong case that Mr. Trump has, in fact, broken at least one law, this isn’t how impeachment works. “High crimes” refers to severe violations of the public trust by a high-ranking official, not literal crimes. A president can commit a technical crime that doesn’t violate the public trust (say, jaywalking), and he can commit an impeachable offense that is found nowhere in the federal criminal code (like abuse of power).”

Founders: Would the founders impeach Trump?

Trump's behavior is what founders thought impeachable

"Impeach President Trump," USA Today Editorial, December 11, 2019:

“It is precisely the type of misconduct the framers had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton supported a robust presidency but worried about ‘a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper’ coming to power. Impeachment, Hamilton wrote, was a mechanism to protect the nation ‘from the abuse or violation of some public trust.'”

Founder envisioned need for removal of president

"Impeach the President," Boston Globe, December 5, 2019:

“the Founders would never have written an impeachment clause into the Constitution if they did not foresee scenarios where their descendants might need to remove an elected president before the end of his term in order to protect the American people and the nation.”

Mueller: Would impeachment over Mueller report be justified?

"We've seen enough. Trump should be impeached," Los Angeles Times Editorial, December 7, 2019:

“we continue to believe that the House should consider an article of impeachment addressing the actions Trump took to thwart or hobble special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation. Mueller did not conclude that Trump committed obstruction of justice, but neither did he exonerate the president. Atty. Gen. William Barr and then-Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein subsequently concluded that the evidence developed by Mueller was “not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” But in deciding whether Trump’s attempted interference amounted to an impeachable offense, Congress could well come to a different conclusion. And the allegation that Trump obstructed justice in the Mueller investigation involves the same sort of disrespect for legal norms as his defiant actions toward Congress’ inquiry into the Ukraine matter.”

Vs. other impeachments: How does this one compare?

Trump's conduct, like Nixon's, corrupts elections

"Impeach President Trump," USA Today Editorial, December 11, 2019:

“In his thuggish effort to trade American arms for foreign dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, Trump resembles not so much Clinton as he does Richard Nixon, another corrupt president who tried to cheat his way to reelection. This isn’t partisan politics as usual. It is precisely the type of misconduct the framers had in mind when they wrote impeachment into the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton supported a robust presidency but worried about ‘a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper’ coming to power. Impeachment, Hamilton wrote, was a mechanism to protect the nation “from the abuse or violation of some public trust.”