The Ukraine scandal that prompted a House impeachment inquiry aimed at President Trump was a “shakedown, sellout and coverup” according to Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who spoke to PFAW members via a telebriefing on the impeachment process on Oct. 8. Rep. Raskin is a former Senior Fellow at PFAW who now serves on the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. A constitutional scholar, Raskin has served as something of an “Explainer-in-Chief” when it comes to the myriad constitutional threats posed by the Trump administration, explaining details of constitutional law in an accessible manner in press and public appearances.
Rep. Raskin started the call by stating that Trump’s attempts to solicit Ukraine’s aid in digging up dirt on rival Joe Biden, and the subsequent attempt at a cover-up, are “hardly an Agatha Christie novel.” The evidence is clear and overwhelmingly points in favor of impeachment proceedings, he said.
Calling on his expertise on the Constitution, Rep. Raskin went on to explain to PFAW members the significance of the word ‘bribery’ in the Impeachment Clause, Article 2 Section 4. The clause states that “The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Under Constitutional law, bribery in this clause does not necessitate a “quid pro quo,” Raskin said, but refers to any scenario in which the president has mobilized the office for private or personal gain. As such, Rep. Raskin argued that Trump has repeatedly been in violation of this clause and can be impeached.
During the Q&A session several PFAW members pressed Rep. Raskin as to why the House Judiciary Committee would not be holding individuals such as Cory Lewandowski and Attorney General William Barr in contempt of court for their stonewalling and refusal to cooperate during the impeachment proceedings. As Rep. Raskin explained, the House does have the legal right to hold individuals in contempt, as was decided by the Supreme Court in the case of Anderson v. Dunn. However, while the House has that following through on that entails a lengthy legal process. Right now, therefore, the House has chosen to focus their efforts on moving the overall impeachment proceedings forward in a timely manner and drawing appropriate inferences from the Trump Administration’s stonewalling that their failure to bring facts forward that disprove the claims against them, suggests the accuracy of those claims.
Rep. Raskin spoke for ten minutes followed by a twenty-minute Q&A. Also on the call were PFAW President Michael Keegan, Executive Vice President for Policy and Programs Marge Baker, and Public Policy Senior Fellow Elliot Minchberg. Communications Director Laurie Kinney moderated the call.
Rep. Raskin ended the call by comparing the situation to the ending scenes from the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher. “Trump has already lost.” Raskin stated, “He just doesn’t see it yet.”