Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler delivered the following opening remarks during a markup of a resolution to implement procedures for future hearings related to the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Donald Trump:
“The resolution before us represents the necessary next step in our investigation of corruption, obstruction, and abuse of power.
“This Committee has already covered the central findings of the Special Counsel’s investigation. The President’s 2016 campaign asked for and received the assistance of the Russian government. Key figures from the campaign then lied to federal investigators about it. The Special Counsel found that, at least ten times, the President took steps to interfere with the investigation. In at least five of those incidents, the Special Counsel concluded that all of the elements necessary to charge obstruction of justice had been met.
“Our investigation is not only about obstruction. Our work must also extend beyond the four corners of the Mueller Report. We have a responsibility to consider allegations of federal election crimes, self-dealing, violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and a failure to defend our nation from future attacks by foreign adversaries.
“And, of course, this Committee and others have gone to court to secure evidence that has been withheld from Congress on indefensible legal grounds. Former White House Counsel Donald McGahn is not ‘absolutely immune’ from appearing before this Committee. We require his testimony for our obstruction investigation. But the President has vowed to ‘fight all of the subpoenas,’ and this, too, is conduct that requires a congressional response.
“As Members of Congress—and, in particular, as members of the House Judiciary Committee—we have a responsibility to investigate each of these allegations and to determine the appropriate remedy. That responsibility includes making a judgment about whether to recommend articles of impeachment.
“That judgment cannot be based on our feelings about President Trump. It should not be a personal reaction to misguided policies or personal behavior. It must be a decision based on the evidence before us, and the evidence that keeps coming in.
“Now, there has been a good amount of confusion, in the press and elsewhere, about how we should talk about this work.
“Some have said that, absent some grand moment in which we pass dramatically from ‘concerned about the President’s conduct’ to ‘actively considering articles of impeachment,’ it is hard to know exactly what the Committee is doing here.
“Others have argued that we can do none of this work without first having an authorizing vote on the House floor. But a House vote is not required by the Rules of the House or by the Constitution, and the argument ignores ample precedents in which no such votes were taken.
“There should be no doubt about our purpose. We have been open about our plans in this Committee for many months. The record is recounted in the preamble of the resolution before us now.
“On March 4, 2019, we sought information from many sources related to ‘alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump,’
“On May 8, 2019, we recommended that the House hold Attorney General Barr in contempt. As part of that recommendation, the Committee was clear that our work ‘includes whether to approve articles of impeachment with respect to the President.’
“On June 11, 2019, the House approved H. Res. 430, authorizing this Committee to enforce its subpoenas in court. The Committee report stated explicitly that our work includes whether to approve articles of impeachment with respect to the President.
“Pursuant to that resolution, on July 26, 2019, we asked a federal court for access to grand jury information, and we told the court that it falls to this Committee to ‘exercise . . . a constitutional power of the utmost gravity—approval of articles of impeachment.’
“On August 7, 2019, we filed suit to enforce our subpoena for Mr. McGahn. There again, we told the court that we require his testimony in order to help decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment.
“In each of these documents, we have been explicit about our intentions. This Committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump. Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature.
“But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so.
“Under the procedures outlined in this resolution, we will hold hearings that allow us to further consider the evidence against the President. At those hearings, in addition to Member questioning, we will allow staff counsel to participate for one hour, evenly divided between the Majority and the Minority. This will allow us to develop the record in ways that the five-minute rule does not always permit.
“We will also allow the President to respond to the evidence, in writing and on the record. No matter how we may disagree with him, President Trump is entitled to respond to the evidence in this way. And we will treat certain, sensitive evidence—such as grand jury information—as being received in executive session. Under these procedures, when we have finished these hearings and considered as much evidence we are able to gather, we will decide whether to refer articles of impeachment to the House floor.
“We have a constitutional, historical, and moral obligation to fully investigate these matters. Let us take the next step in that work without delay. I urge my colleagues to adopt this resolution, and I yield back.”
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