'Slowest-moving coup in history': Republicans react to House Democrats' impeachment articles against Donald Trump
House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump: Abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — After House Democrats announced the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump that came out of their investigation into his dealings with Ukraine, his Republican allies were quick to attack them as "baseless."
Republicans maintain that the articles, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are the result of a Democratic-led campaign for impeachment since Trump took office, and that Democrats are seeking to overturn Trump's election using a partisan process.
They previously wrote in a draft report that the evidence presented during the investigation does not support these allegations and that Trump was justified in his actions.
What's in the articles of impeachment
After weeks of private and public testimony across several House committees, Democrats made the announcement Tuesday morning that they are pursuing impeachment based on two charges: abuse of power and the obstruction of Congress.
Trump is accused of using the power of his office to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce the opening of an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, and leveraging Congressionally approved military aid to do so.
In a July 25 phone call, Trump urged Zelensky to investigate Biden, and his son, Hunter, who worked for the Ukraine energy company Burisma Holdings. The request for a "favor," as Trump described it, was made despite a lack of evidence that Biden or his son had engaged in corrupt activities, according to the House Intelligence report.
Democrats say Trump sought personal gain by pressuring Ukraine and stood to benefit in the 2020 election from an investigation into the Bidens.
The obstruction allegation is due to Trump's lack of cooperation with the inquiry. Trump and the White House blocked several witnesses from testifying and did not release requested documents related to the investigation. Republicans have said throughout the inquiry that the proceedings led by Democrats were unfair and did not afford the president due process.
Each article of impeachment will be voted on separately by the House Judiciary Committee this week, and pending their passage through the panel will go before a full House vote, where the Democratic-controlled body needs a simple majority.
How Republicans are reacting to the impeachment articles
Trump did nothing wrong
Trump and his allies have long maintained that the president was acting within his authority when he withheld the aid money from Ukraine, which was ultimately released, and that he was concerned with the country's reputation for corruption.
"The people who are guilty of ‘Abuse of Power’ are the House Democrats who are pushing impeachment -- not President @realDonaldTrump," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Trump went on the defensive in a series of tweets after the announcement Tuesday, tweeting that the impeachment is a "WITCH HUNT" and accusing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., of corruption.
Responding to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., who said that Trump had asked Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election, Trump said that was "Ridiculous, and he knows that is not true."
He said that Ukrainian officials have maintained they were not put under any pressure. "Nadler and the Dems know this, but refuse to acknowledge!" Trump tweeted.
"They have no case for impeachment. No bribery. No quid pro quo. No abuse of power. The facts aren't on their side. This is a pathetic political mission to try to rig 2020 against @realDonaldTrump," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., tweeted.
Democrats have been pushing for impeachment since 2016
In a press conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said this effort is one that the founders worried about. "This is not a day that America will be proud about," he said, calling it an "embarrassment" to Congress.
Trump's allies have said that Democrats are seeking to impeach Trump in an effort to overturn the results of the 2016 election and prevent his re-election in 2020.
Impeaching a U.S. president might not be the be-all-end-all for their career. We explain why this is the case. USA TODAY
"This is the culmination of three years of the Democrats' stated goal: to impeach and remove this president from office," said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., a prominent Trump ally on the House Judiciary Committee.
Biggs called impeachment the "slowest-moving coup in history."
"It is a coup, and the Democrats are going to keep trying to push this, and we'll see how they do on the floor vote and getting this through committee," Biggs said.
Impeachment inquiry comes at the expense of other issues
The articles came the same day Trump and Democrats reached an agreement for a revised trade deal with Mexico and Canada, after Republicans have repeatedly criticized their counterparts for focusing on impeachment instead of the trade agreement and other legislative issues.
"House Democrats announce they're impeaching the President and then try to claim credit for his trade deal—all within a span of about 30 minutes. Really amazing," Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., tweeted after the two announcements.
McCarthy also said in the press conference that the only reason Pelosi announced a deal on USMCA today was because of "unpopularity of impeachment itself," explaining that Pelosi has "held it up for over a year" which made "America weaker.”
"The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the President, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our Nation," Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. "The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong."
Contributing: Ledyard King, Christal Hayes, Bart Jansen