President Donald Trump should be impeached because "we have undisputed evidence that he abused his power" regarding Ukraine and the congressional inquiry on his actions, retired Judge Andrew Napolitano said Wednesday.
"We have undisputed evidence that he abused his power by inviting a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 presidential election and then compounded this by directing subordinates to refrain from giving congressionally commanded evidence of his behavior," Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Times.
"It is undisputed that Mr. Trump withheld the delivery of the $391 million in military aid to Ukraine that Congress authorized and ordered and that Mr. Trump himself signed into law.
"He said he withheld that aid because he first wanted 'a favor' from the president of Ukraine," Napolitano said. "The favor, requested by others on Mr. Trump’s behalf, was the announcement of a Ukrainian government criminal investigation of Mr. Trump's potential political adversary, former Vice President Joe Biden.
"In the language of the streets," Napolitano said, "this is a shakedown," arguing that Trump's move sought to enhance the president's "personal political needs and bears no relationship to American foreign policy."
President Trump's action "implicates two crimes," Napolitano said.
The first is the federal ban on "soliciting campaign aid from a foreign government — whether the aid arrives or not. It did not.
"The other crime is bribery, which is the exploitation of public duties for personal gain.
"The crime of bribery is complete when the thing of value is solicited, whether it arrives or not," he said. "It did not."
But President Trump's "other crimes" occurred afterward, the retired judge argued, when he "directed his subordinates to disregard congressional subpoenas, lawfully issued and validly served, which sought testimony, documents and electronic records of the president's behavior.
"Obstructing the constitutional duty of Congress is impeachable," Napolitano argued, citing the Nixon and Clinton cases.
Further, since Trump declined to participate in the House probe — "except for his tweets and bluster and the Republicans' personal attacks on House Democratic committee chairs" — the facts supporting the impeachment charges are "essentially uncontested," he said.
"Everyone who believes in the rule of law should be terrified of a president who thinks and behaves as if it does not apply to him," Napolitano said, noting that the Justice Department "has stated repeatedly [that] impeachment is the proper constitutional remedy for that."
The Founding Fathers' "greatest fear was a president who would unlawfully put his own needs above the nation's or who would drag a foreign government into our domestic affairs," he concluded.
"Trump has tried to do both and threatened to repeat those attempts," Napolitano added. "That's why the remedy of impeachment is acutely needed."
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