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Opinion

Op-Ed: Kamala Harris: Why the articles of impeachment against Trump deserve a yes vote

A protester in front of the Capitol on Feb. 1.
A protester holds a sign in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 1.
(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP/Getty Images)

This week I have faced one of the most important decisions that I will make as your senator: whether to vote to remove President Trump from office for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. After weighing the evidence made available to us and applying the facts of this case to the law and to the principle that no one is above the law, I will vote to convict Donald Trump on both articles of impeachment.

The Senate will almost certainly not reach the two-thirds threshold to render a guilty verdict in this trial. President Trump will likely spend the rest of his term in office claiming that he has been exonerated. Let me be absolutely clear: A true exoneration can only result from a fair trial — and the Senate has not conducted a fair trial. Not even close.

Instead of directly addressing incriminating facts and evidence, the president’s lawyers offered red herrings and misinformation. And sadly, Republican senators voted time and again to reject seeing or hearing additional evidence related to the charges. The Republican-led Senate claims to have conducted a trial, but it has rejected two of the most fundamental components of any trial in America, components that have always been part of impeachment trials: firsthand witnesses and relevant documents.

The House managers — including Rep. Adam B. Schiff ( D-Burbank) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) — presented the Senate with a compelling, fact-based case that the president violated the law and the Constitution by withholding aid to Ukraine to advance his own political interests against the security interests of the United States. Trump made it known to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that U.S. military aid and an invitation to the White House were contingent on Ukraine announcing an investigation into Trump’s political opponent Joe Biden and his son.

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In other words, the president was afraid he was going to lose the next election, so he decided to cheat. This is a clear abuse of power, a misuse of the office of the presidency.

After the trial began, we learned about new evidence that would shed further light on the president’s conduct. A book by former national security advisor John Bolton will include his firsthand knowledge of the president directly linking the withholding of military aid to Ukraine to a political investigation. We also now know about a recording in which Trump calls for the sudden removal of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, a career public servant and noted anti-corruption warrior in Ukraine. Yet my Republican colleagues voted to block this evidence from being considered.

Senate Republicans haven’t been alone in blocking firsthand witnesses and evidence from coming forward. The president himself issued an order forcing administration officials to ignore lawfully issued subpoenas from Congress, preventing the House from seeing crucial documents and hearing from crucial witnesses during its investigation.

In sum: The first article of impeachment is about Trump’s scheme to abuse the power of his office for personal and political benefit, and the second article of impeachment is about covering it up.

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Donald Trump thinks he is above the law. He’s told us that multiple times. Before he was elected president, he said, “If you’re a star, they let you do it,” when talking about sexually assaulting women. He told a group of young people that Article II of the Constitution gives him the power to do anything he wants. He has declared himself to be someone who should be free from accountability, and it’s the Senate’s job to tell him no.

If — when — the Senate fails to hold this president accountable, it will represent a serious risk to the integrity of our system of justice. It will continue a shameful history of two systems of justice: one for powerful people like Trump and one for everyone else.

To defend the rule of law and the heart of our democracy, I will vote to remove Donald Trump from office. I hope all my fellow senators have the courage to join me on the right side of history and remove this lawless president.

Kamala Harris is the junior senator from California.


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