President Donald Trump on Tuesday sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi voicing several complaints regarding his impending impeachment in the House of Representatives.
The House vote is slated to take place on Wednesday. Trump, in his letter, wrote to express his “strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade being pursued by the Democrats…”
But a number of points Trump made in his letter didn’t fit with reality. Here are nine points that Trump made in his letter to Pelosi that are easily debunked…
The impeachment is unprecedented and unconstitutional
Trump argued to Pelosi that the way he was being treated was without precedent — and that Democrats were abusing their power in Congress to attack him.
“This impeachment represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history,” he wrote.
Later in his letter, Trump added that claims that he abused his own power as president were “completely disingenuous, meritless, and baseless invention of your imagination.”
But Trump’s actions, specifically within the Ukraine scandal, do seem to be an abuse of his office — and Democrats aren’t the only ones saying so. Several within his administration, including former officials like J.W. Verret, have said as much, and have described his abuses as being even worse than Nixon’s.
“People have made the analogy to the Nixon-era scandals and Nixon’s resignation, but this is a lot worse than that,” Verret said, per reporting from Newsweek.
The Constitution lays out the means by which an impeachment may or may not begin. A president can be impeached for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors (we’ll get to that last point next).
No crimes, no misdemeanors
Trump claimed that there was no merit to impeachment, as no actual crime was alleged by Democrats.
“They include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever,” he wrote. “You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!”
In truth, a crime isn’t necessary for impeachment to happen. The term “high crimes and misdemeanors” was understood, by the framers of the Constitution, not to be read as literal crimes or misdemeanors broken by the president, but rather viewed as abuses of office that occurred within the executive branch.
Indeed, at the time it was adopted, the term was used in Great Britain to justify removal of an executive branch member (that is, an appointee of the monarch) who may not have committed a real crime, but who used their office in inappropriate or illicit ways to benefit themselves. The founders adopted the term themselves as a means to impeach executive branch officials in the U.S. — including the president — for doing the same.
Trump accuses Pelosi of lying about her faith
At many points in the impeachment saga, Pelosi stated that she reflected in prayer before making major decisions. She also lambasted a member of the conservative press, who asked her if she hated the president, by telling him she doesn’t hate anyone — she was brought up not to hate, she said.
Trump doubted Pelosi’s words. “Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying ‘I pray for the President,’ when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. It is a terrible thing you are doing, but you will have to live with it, not I!”
Trump doesn’t provide any proof for his claim here. He’s merely conjecturing on Pelosi’s beliefs, assuming that she’s not religious.
While Pelosi’s religion and beliefs have been fodder for critics at many points, she has referred to her Catholic faith before, and it’s not something she’s suddenly brought about. Trump’s assumptions are just that — assumptions, based on nothing more than his opinion of the Speaker.
This Trump letter is… something… https://t.co/bEjZdi6rDm
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) December 17, 2019
Trump calls Ukraine call “perfect” (based on memo he calls a transcript)
The president derided Pelosi many times for making accusations against him he said were false. “Fortunately, there was a transcript of the conversation taken, and you know from the transcript (which was immediately made available) that the paragraph in question was perfect,” he wrote.
Unfortunately for Trump, that transcript isn’t a transcript at all — the document he cites even says as much within a footnote. What’s more, it’s an incomplete version of events, according to witnesses, such as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who listened into the call.
Furthermore, the memo details exactly what Democrats are accusing Trump of having done — the memo shows Trump asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for a “favor,” that includes investigating Joe Biden and his son. Very little is mentioned of the importance of investigating for the sake of rooting out corruption.
Trump says Dems’ impeachment is based on “policy disagreement”
The president doesn’t say which policy led Democrats to impeachment, but argued that the impeachment saga was based on a “policy disagreement” in his letter. He further argues that the impeachment charges laid out against him is “no more legitimate than the Executive Branch charging members of Congress with crimes for the lawful exercise of legislative power.”
Pelosi has differentiated between her policy disagreements and the charges of impeachment in recent statements. But the argument Trump makes here is odd for another reason — he has suggested that members of Congress have acted criminally, and has accused Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff of having committed acts of treason.
Trump says impeachment is a response to losing in 2016
“Everyone, you included, knows what is really happening,” Trump wrote in his letter. “Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016, in an Electoral College landslide (306-227), and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat…You are unwilling and unable to accept the verdict issued at the ballot box during the great Election of 2016.”
Impeachment is not an attempt to undo an election — it rarely comes about, and even this Congress was reluctant to make charges against Trump until nine months after Democrats took control of the House. Trump’s comments ignore two other key points: 1) that he didn’t win a mandate in 2016 from a popular vote of the citizenry, and 2) that the election of 2018, which put Democrats in power, was in part a response from the citizenry to put a legislative “check” on his administration.
The “do-nothing” Democrats
Trump has been deriding Democrats on social media constantly, calling them “Do-Nothing Democrats.” He reiterated the point in his letter to Pelosi.
“here is nothing I would rather do than stop referring to your party as the Do-Nothing Democrats. Unfortunately, I don’t know that you will ever give me a chance to do so,” he said.
Trump’s use of the term is inappropriate — Democrats in the House have passed more than 400 bills since they took power in that chamber in January, and not just insignificant bills either. They’ve passed a background check bill for guns, re-authorization for the Violence Against Women Act, and a bill that would raise the minimum wage. Senate Republicans have blocked those bills, and scores more, from being considered.
Trump says he hasn’t been given “due process”
Trump accused Pelosi and Dems of failing to grant him “due process,” claiming that he’s been “deprived” of it since the beginning of the impeachment saga. “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials,” he said.
Besides being an obvious callback to his calling any investigation into his actions a “witch hunt,” Trump is wrong: the Salem Witch trials didn’t give much due process at all to its victims, accepting hearsay evidence and putting to death those who were accused of conducting witchcraft without evidence demonstrating any wrongdoing.
Constitutional scholars have also noted that the impeachment process — particularly the impeachment inquiry — is more akin to a grand jury process, where prosecutors lay out the case for why a trial should happen, and no defense attorneys are present. In that sense, they say, Trump has been given MORE due process than grand jury sessions, as Republican lawmakers have been involved during the inquiry and beyond, defending him against allegations made by direct witnesses who said Trump had acted improperly.
Trump says impeachment will hurt Dems
“This is nothing more than an illegal, partisan attempted coup that will, based on recent sentiment, badly fail at the voting booth,” Trump wrote.
The coup comment is false — impeachment is a constitutionally-granted right that every session of Congress has, to provide a check on the president. But the idea that impeachment will hurt Dems at the polling booth is circumspect as well. Polls actually show Congress’ approval rating spiked up several points after announcing the impeachment inquiry in September, and recent polls also show Democrats are in a better position than Trump is right now with the American public.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released this month, the American public gave Trump a dismal 39 percent approval rating in terms of how he’s handled the impeachment saga so far. Democrats, meanwhile, received a 44 percent approval rating of how they’ve conducted themselves during impeachment — and 49 percent, a plurality, want to see Trump impeached and removed.