×

Stefanik: Schiff, not Trump, abused power and obstructed Congress

Cobb doesn't take position on articles of impeachment

Rep. Elise Stefanik (Official congressional photo)

PLATTSBURGH — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow House Democratic leaders announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Tuesday morning: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“We must be clear: no one, not even the president, is above the law,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York City, said in a prepared statement.

“Corruptly solicited”

The first article, abuse of power, contends that the president, directly and through his agents, “corruptly solicited the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations” into former Vice President Joe Biden and the discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election, according to the draft resolution.

It further alleges that the president conditioned the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine and a head of state meeting at the White House on those investigations.

On grounds for the “obstruction of Congress” article, the resolution said the president directed the White House and other Executive Branch agencies and offices to defy lawful subpoenas, and directed current and former Executive Branch officials not to cooperate with the House committees, leading them to defy subpoenas.

The Judiciary Committee is expected to have its vote on the articles in the coming days ahead of a full House vote next week.

Accused Schiff

Throughout the inquiry, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, has repeatedly echoed the president’s assertions that he sought the investigations to address corruption.

She has also argued there was “no quid pro quo” since the aid to Ukraine was released and no investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter resulted.

Stefanik spokeswoman Madison Anderson pointed to a tweet from the congresswoman as her statement on the articles.

“The impeachment obsessed Democrats are determined to overturn the 2016 election & ignore the vote of the American People,” Stefanik wrote.

“The partisan Articles include abuse of power & obstruction of Congress.

“But it is Adam Schiff who has repeatedly abused his power & obstructed Congress.”

Asked which of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s actions the congresswoman was referring to, Anderson listed, among other things, previous claims Stefanik has made that Schiff coordinated with the whistleblower, refused to take questions about it and set out partisan rules for the hearings.

Anderson said Stefanik plans to vote no on the articles.

Cobb weighs in

Stefanik’s Democratic opponent, Tedra Cobb, did not say whether or not she agreed with the articles of impeachment.

“This is a serious matter of national security and Members of Congress have a Constitutional duty to examine all the evidence, weigh the facts and vote based on those alone,” she said in a statement.

Cobb claimed Stefanik has pre-determined the outcome and used the hearings to bolster her career.

Prediction

At a SUNY Plattsburgh panel on impeachment last week, political science professor Dr. Raymond Carman correctly predicted that the articles would include obstruction of Congress and address the withholding of Ukraine aid.

He spoke about how the Democrats’ language describing the president’s actions has evolved from quid pro quo to bribery to extortion.

Carman told the Press-Republican Tuesday that he was not surprised by the use of the more vague “abuse of power” phrase, since it captures the Democrat’s accusations and keeps the argument from getting bogged down by terminology.

“And it follows the language used during the Nixon impeachment investigation.”

Evidence supports

Carman said the facts of the House investigation are not in dispute, only whether Trump’s actions constitute an impeachable offense or warrant impeachment.

“The president has admitted to asking for an investigation of the Bidens while the military aid was being held up at the White House’s direction.”

While Trump has said the purpose was to investigate corruption, Democrats contend it was for electoral advantage, Carman continued.

By contrast, evidence brought forth by the Mueller investigation, which Democrats might have sought to incorporate into the articles, presents a less clear picture, he said.

“Moreover, it is not clear that the president, while he may have benefited from the Russian effort, did anything to aid their efforts.”

Carman added that the articles presented are well-supported by the evidence.

“That said, the value call about whether the President’s conduct constitutes an impeachable offense and whether the president should be impeached is up to the members of the House of Representatives.”

Impact

On Stefanik’s tweet, Carman said he has not seen any evidence that Schiff abused his power or obstructed Congress.

“I suspect, based on Republicans’ messaging thus far, that much of the Republican response to what unfolds will be more of these types of claims.”

The proceedings are already impacting the Stefanik-Cobb race, with Cobb’s campaign raising significant amounts of money immediately following Stefanik’s involvement in the Intelligence Committee hearings, Carman said.

“Moreover, Congresswoman Stefanik’s actions will likely turn off some number of moderate or independent voters who might have otherwise — or who might have previously — supported her.

“That said, money does not equal votes. The Cobb campaign will need to effectively message on the congresswoman’s actions/votes and mobilize voters.”