On Tuesday, December 10, the House of Representatives announced their plan to impeach President Donald Trump on two charges: abusing his power and obstructing Congress.
Both articles of impeachment relate to Trump's actions with respect to Ukraine. For the past several months, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has investigated Trump's efforts to strongarm Ukraine into acceding to his political demands while freezing military aid.
What the first article of impeachment says
Congress' first article of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing his power said he "engaged in this scheme or course of conduct for corrupt purposes in pursuit of personal political benefit."
"In doing so, 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," the document said. "He thus ignored and injured the interests of the Nation."
It continued to say that the president engaged in his conduct both directly and through "agents within and outside the United States government." This was a reference to Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the US's ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, and others who have been implicated in Trump's pressure campaign.
Ultimately, the document said, Trump released the hold on military aid when the public learned of his actions, but he "has persisted in openly and corruptly urging and soliciting Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit."
What the second article of impeachment says
The second article of impeachment, which accuses the president of obstructing Congress, focuses on his efforts to stonewall House investigators as they sought evidence of his alleged misconduct.
Trump "has directed the unprecedented, categorical, and indiscriminate defiance of subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives pursuant to its 'sole Power of Impeachment,'" the document said.
It added that in response to Congress' subpoenas for documents and witness testimony, "without lawful cause of excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas."
He 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," it continued.
The document laid out a slew of ways in which Congress claims Trump abused his office:
- Directing the White House to defy congressional subpoenas for documents.
- Directing other executive branch agencies and personnel to defy subpoenas for documents.
- Directing current and former officials not to comply with subpoenas for testimony.
"These actions were consistent with President Trump's previous efforts to undermine United States Government investigations into foreign interference in United States elections," the document said, referencing the former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference in 2016.
Read the House resolution outlining the articles of impeachment against Trump here:
The impeachment inquiry began with an anonymous whistleblower complaint from a member of the US intelligence community. The complaint zeroed in on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which the president used "the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election."
During the call, Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over baseless allegations of corruption. He also asked Zelensky to look into a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.
Trump made his demands right after Zelensky told him Ukraine was ready to purchase more javelins, a type of missile defense system, from the US to help it fend off Russian aggression. Trump replied with, "I would like you do us a favor, though," and broached the subject of politically motivated investigations.
A cascade of witness testimony from nonpartisan, career officials in the impeachment inquiry revealed that the phone call was just one data point in a months-long effort to force Ukraine to accede to Trump's demands, and that the administration deliberately conditioned a nearly $400 million military-aid package and a White House meeting that Zelensky desperately sought on the public announcement of investigations.
SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Trump's impeachment process: What's happened, who the players are, and what comes next