Following a week of revelations regarding a whistleblower complaint against President Trump for allegedly pressuring Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to produce incriminating evidence against current Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the House is launching a formal impeachment inquiry against the president.
Reports indicate that Trump improperly used his position as U.S. president on multiple occasions to compel the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s position on the board of the country’s largest gas company, Burisma – by withholding $400 million in U.S. military aid until Zelensky agreed.
Although the House issued a subpoena to obtain the whistleblower complaint, acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire blocked Congress from receiving the complaint. Now, the whistleblower who filed the complaint, wants to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with John Bonifaz, co-founder of Free Speech For People, who explains why he believes these new revelations about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine, adds momentum to an already strong case for impeachment.
JOHN BONIFAZ: The most important thing that American people need to know is that this president in the Oval Office is actively soliciting a foreign power to assist in his re-election campaign, which is a high crime, clearly an impeachable offense. And this is after, of course, a lengthy investigation into the role that the Russian government played in assisting him with his willing acceptance of that assistance for his election in 2016. Now we have after all that , this president doing it again, but this time as president of the United States. And then the additional information that’s critical is that there are reports that he may have withheld $250 million in aid that Congress had approved and authorized for the Ukraine and had done so as a form of bribery and/or extortion to get that assistance he wanted for his personal interests in his re-election campaign. All of this is clearly impeachable behavior and it is why Congress needs to move swiftly to get the whistleblower complaint that has emerged. But if it doesn’t get that whistleblower complaint, to move forward with impeachment articles against this president on this basis alone.
BETWEEN THE LINES: What is the power of the Judiciary Committee to move things forward — and repeat if you would, the deadlines that you think are important to put down as a marker immediately.
JOHN BONIFAZ: Yes. The House Judiciary Committee is where impeachment processes begin. They are empowered to start impeachment inquiry as they have now done — and the vote that they took on Sept. 12th was a procedural vote to set out the processes by which they would engage in questioning witnesses and involving staff members in the questioning of witnesses and other items included in that resolution. And so it’s been formalized through that vote that there is an impeachment inquiry underway. But the problem is that the House Judiciary Committee has had overwhelming evidence of this president’s high crimes for many months now. The Mueller report was delivered to them in late April.
It took four months from the time of materials delivered from the Watergate prosecution, to the House Judiciary Committee in February of 1974 to the vote in July of 1974 of the House Judiciary Committee on articles impeachment against then (President) Richard Nixon. It took three months approximately from the Starr report being presented to Congress for the House Judiciary committee to vote out articles of impeachment against then President Clinton.
So the House Judiciary Committee has had more than enough time to look at the evidence before and even before the Mueller report came out, there was overwhelming evidence of this president’s high crimes including the emoluments violations that began on day one of this presidency. And the deadline is crucial because there are many within the camp who are trying to stop this impeachment process who suggest that we should just impeach him at the ballot. There is no such thing as impeaching at the ballot. The framers designed the impeachment clause specifically to deal with an official of the government, such as the president, who posed a direct and serious threat to the republic and this president on nearly a daily basis attacks our Constitution, attacks our democracy and attacks the rule of law. He is a present and direct threat to our republic and he needs to face accountability through the impeachment process. We don’t wait for elections to address that kind of constitutional crisis. We address it through the impeachment proceedings.
BETWEEN THE LINES: John, this most recent whistleblower complaint that has been leaked into the press is often spoken of as a smoking gun that will be a slam dunk for those who advocate impeachment. What is your view of the facts as we know it right now and we don’t know all the facts about this whistleblower and the complaint about attempting to extort dirt on presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son pressuring the Ukrainian government by threatening to withhold aid to Ukraine. What is it that this particular set of facts tells us to date about how that would figure in with impeachment?
JOHN BONIFAZ: Well, I think we first have to address what we already know that’s in the public record and what the president himself has already admitted and that is that he discussed this matter dealing with Joe Biden and his son with the president of the Ukraine. His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has gone on television also admitting to that, that they did in fact seek the assistance of the Ukrainian government. So separate and apart from whether there was bribery or extortion, we already have open admissions by the president and his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, that this is in fact what they did, that they solicited illegal foreign assistance for the presidential re-election campaign.
John Bonifaz is also the co-author of “The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump.”
For more information, visit Free Speech for People at freespeechforpeople.org.