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Rep. Courtney Statement on Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump

December 12, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) released the following statement outlining his position on the two articles of impeachment introduced by the House Judiciary Committee against President Donald Trump:

“The release of two articles of impeachment on December 10, 2019 is the culmination of two and a half months of depositions, public hearings and legal analysis conducted under the House rules, H.Res. 660 passed by the House, and the Constitution. These activities were initiated after President Trump’s Inspector General Michael Atkinson notified Congress of a ‘credible’ and ‘urgent’ complaint that centered around actions taken by President Trump that had serious ramifications to US national security.

“As someone who has voted three times since 2017 against Privileged Motions for impeachment brought in the House, and who had initially opposed commencing an impeachment process based on the Mueller Report, Mr. Atkinson’s report, made pursuant to the law, raised a far different issue than before. It concerned actions by President Trump, not candidate Trump - and thus was not about ‘relitigating the 2016 election’ – and also concerned the suspension of military assistance to Ukraine that the House Armed Services Committee, on which I proudly serve, had directly supported on a bipartisan basis.

“On the committee, we have tracked Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, invasion of the Donbass region, and seizure of three Ukrainian navy vessels along with 20 sailors in international waters in 2018. The desperately needed military assistance that was suspended by President Trump was for an ally who is actively fighting a war against Russian aggression.

“Pages 67 through 82 of the Intelligence Committee’s Impeachment Inquiry report clearly lay out the timeline of the 55-day suspension of aid that the Office of Management and Budget suddenly ordered despite the unanimous objections of the Departments of Defense, State, and NSC. During that time, the Los Angeles Times reported that 25 Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives in combat. The gravity of this feckless decision is clear and stunning. 

“Pages 114 through 134 also make clear that during that 55-day hiatus, President Trump wanted a ‘favor’ before the assistance would be released – namely, a public announcement by a foreign leader, Ukrainian President Zelensky, that he would commence an investigation aimed at former Vice President Biden and the widely de-bunked claims of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election (page 121). Contrary to the President’s assertions, this is not about a single call – but instead reflects a sustained campaign by this President, his aides, and outside actors to use US assistance to solicit foreign involvement in our elections. 

“After having read the 110-page Republican minority views on the intelligence committee impeachment inquiry report a number of times, it is clear that no meaningful rebuttal of those facts exists, partly because the White House indiscriminately barred key officials from testifying before the Intelligence Committee. It is also clear that the delayed release of the support to Ukraine on September 11, 2019 was due to the public revelation of the suspension in late August and the public furor it caused, as well as growing knowledge within the administration and in Congress of the existence of the whistleblower’s complaint. That the aid was ultimately released, as required by the law, is not a compelling defense given all we now know about the events leading up to this decision. 

“Article One of the impeachment resolution states ‘President Trump abused the powers of the Presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital interests to obtain an improper personal benefit.’ Unfortunately, based on uncontested facts, the President’s actions did cause harm to an ally, contradicted the clear bipartisan intent of Congress who approved the military assistance, and did so for his own benefit. This article does not ‘relitigate’ the actions of Candidate Trump in 2016, but is aimed squarely at President Trump’s actions while in office. The Impeachment power of the Congress is reserved in Article One of the Constitution to regulate precisely this type of behavior. As Alexander Hamilton stated in ‘Federalist No. 65,’ the subject of impeachment is for ‘those offences which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, the abuse or violation of the public trust.’ His words describe accurately the situation addressed in Article One, and I intend to vote in support of it. 

“Article Two of the impeachment resolution concerns the indiscriminate refusal of President Trump to recognize the Impeachment powers of the Congress. Article One, Section Two of the Constitution, clearly vests that power ‘solely’ in the House of Representatives. The blanket order of the President to defy the House is unprecedented, and no coherent explanation or defense has ever been offered to justify that decision. All of the President’s aides who brazenly defied the impeachment inquiry could have claimed privilege to individual questions, but are not entitled to just refuse to appear. Once again, it is my intention to support the rule of law and uphold Congress's constitutional role as a coequal branch of our government, and vote in favor of Article Two. 

“Our constitutional system of government relies on the President’s faithful execution of laws duly passed by Congress in service of the national interest, not personal political benefit. Based on the evidence and testimony in the impeachment inquiry, it is clear to me that the President has failed to uphold that constitutional duty. Therefore, I will solemnly support the articles of impeachment introduced this week when they come before me for a vote in the House.”