A group of 17 former Justice Department special prosecutors who investigated the Watergate scandal said Thursday that they believe President Donald Trump has committed multiple impeachable offenses, drawing clear parallels between Trump’s behavior and that of the late President Richard Nixon.
In a Washington Post op-ed, the group wrote that there is already “compelling” evidence that Trump’s actions warrant impeachment. They pointed to public statements made by the president and the White House’s summary of his call with the leader of Ukraine, both of which are driving the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry.
“The Constitution establishes impeachment as the proper mechanism for addressing these abuses; therefore, the House should proceed with the impeachment process, fairly, openly and promptly,” the group wrote. “The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty.”
Read the full commentary here.
The Watergate prosecutors repeatedly compared Trump to Nixon, who resigned after the House Judiciary Committee adopted three articles of impeachment against him: one for obstruction, one for abuse of power and one for contempt of Congress.
“In our considered view, the same three articles of impeachment could be specified against Trump, as he has demonstrated serious and persistent abuses of power that in our view satisfy the constitutional standard of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’” the op-ed reads.
House Democrats opened a formal impeachment inquiry last month following a whistleblower complaint about a call Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July. Also last month, the White House released a reconstruction of that conversation, during which Trump repeatedly pressed his counterpart to investigate a top political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden.
The call took place days after Trump ordered his administration to withhold millions in American military aid that Congress had appropriated for Ukraine. Trump has denied stalling the funding in exchange for a political favor, but critics say his demand for a Biden investigation in the context of that withheld aid represents a clear quid pro quo.
The members of the Watergate team also pointed to text messages released by the chairs of three House committees last week that appear to show Trump administration officials pressuring a Ukrainian official for political favors in exchange for cooperation from the U.S. government.
The former prosecutors wrote that recent efforts by the White House to stonewall Democrats’ inquiries should not deter lawmakers, arguing that any impropriety by the president “requires firm and resolute action.”
“The Constitution provides for the elected representatives of the people to resort to impeachment in extraordinary circumstances showing that this drastic remedy is necessary to restrain, and possibly remove, a president who has engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors,” the group wrote. “Lawmakers should not allow any refusal by the president to cooperate in its process to frustrate the performance of its constitutional duties.”