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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Trump's jeering at impeachment helps Democrats justify its use 

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Dec. 7. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday explicitly accused President Donald Trump of committing several specific crimes.

The committee finds in its latest report that Trump committed bribery by soliciting, from Ukraine's president, "a public announcement that he would conduct two politically motivated investigations" into discredited claims.

The report also calls his actions wire fraud, saying the president's telephone calls on July 25 and July 26 "lay bare the final element to find him criminally liable for his failure to provide 'honest services' to the American people."

More significantly, the panel led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) condemns Trump for unheard-of obstruction of a constitutional impeachment process.

That's important because it appears to be the least partisan of the charges, a generic abuse of power.

Even the corrupt and disgraced President Richard Nixon, while refusing to turn over key tape recordings, had his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman, his special counsel Charles Colson and personal attorney Herbert Kalmbach testify before the judiciary committee.

By contrast, the report notes, "President Trump’s categorical blockade of the House impeachment inquiry has no analogue in the history of the Republic."

Still, in this case, the committee managed to piece together their case in quick order on voluntary testimony from U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Fiona Hill, formerly of the National Security Council, among others. 

The simple argument goes that in this case, the cover up isn't worse than the crime but a key part of it. The committee castigates Trump for giving the impression that his cooperation would depend on the panel extending extraordinary privileges regarding the procedure.

Trump's longtime refusal to play by the rules and practices that apply to others have made his jeering defiance of congressional subpoenas part of his pattern.

During his last campaign he did not take part in the routine release of tax information. Later it was proven that he and siblings took part long ago in tax-avoidance schemes that skirted the law.

Trump refused to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's staff regarding the Russia scandal that sent a number of his campaign cohorts to jail.

He cannot be bothered to avoid apparent conflicts between the Trump Organization and his government, as advised by ethics experts. His hotel properties serve foreign players seeking benefits in the U.S.

He declines to supply evidence when making serious accusations against rivals. He has far exceeded his predecessors in making claims to special constitutional powers, such as saying Article II allows him to do whatever he wants. 

He's pursuing his signature project, a border wall, without congressional authorization for the billions of dollars required, which is also a break from established practice.

He refuses to even have his communications director conduct news conferences, let alone do so himself.

Given the partisan nature of this impeachment, Trump has his own blithe defiance to blame. After all, he might not even be in this Ukraine mess if he hadn't let his personal attorney conduct his foreign policy and his campaign skulduggery at the same time.

Who told Trump that was a good idea?

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