January 3, 2020


Unredacted documents show Trump explicitly broke the law (Quin Hillyer, January 02, 2020, Washington Examiner)

Before examining that evidence, though, please consider that this is only one of three ways in which Trump's actions were so inappropriate as to be impeachable. First, Trump's request for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens was, on its own, wildly out of bounds. As former ambassador Bill Taylor testified, the president has no authority to ask a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen based on that nation's laws rather than our own.

Second, to turn the request into what amounts (in the vernacular) to an extortionary demand, the now-famous issue of a quid pro quo, is to misuse presidential power while unlawfully seeking a "thing of value" from a foreign entity for use in an American campaign. And, yes, as even some of Trump's most learned and eloquent defenders admit, the existence of a quid pro quo was obvious.

Third, as I have argued for months, it was illegal for Trump to withhold the military aid even if he had not asked the Ukrainians for anything of personal and political value in return. By delaying the assistance beyond the point at which it could actually be obligated before the budget year ran out, Trump violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and, probably, the Constitution. That 1974 law provides that once an appropriation has been duly passed and signed into law, the president cannot withhold it for policy reasons without formally notifying Congress. Even then, the money must be spent unless Congress approves the president's request.

Posted by at January 3, 2020 7:40 AM