CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES ON TRUMP: “THIS IS ABOUT BETRAYAL. THIS IS ABOUT ABUSE OF POWER. THIS IS ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION.”
WASHINGTON - In case you missed it, the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace to outline the president’s abuse of power and blatant attack on the United States Constitution.
CHRIS WALLACE: House Democrats have now fast-tracked the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Issuing a subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with promises of more to come. Joining us now is Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and a member of the Judiciary Committee. Congressman, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.
CHAIRMAN JEFFRIES: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.
WALLACE: So let’s start with that subpoena of the State Department documents and witnesses. If President Trump refuses to comply with that subpoena, is that an impeachable offense?
JEFFRIES: Well we hope that the administration will cooperate. That certainly hasn’t been the case up to date. Though there is some reason to believe that moving forward, given the seriousness of these allegations, that we will see cooperation from Secretary Pompeo. We’re going to follow the facts. We’re going to apply the law. We’re going to be guided by the Constitution. We’re going to unearth the truth for the American people, which relates to the fact that the president has betrayed his oath of offices. He’s engaged in serious wrongdoing here. He pressured a foreign government to target an American citizen for political gain. That is classic abuse of power, which undermines our national security. This is as serious as it gets.
WALLACE: To press my point, in previous cases, I certainly know in the Nixon case that one of the things that the House impeached Nixon for was failure to cooperate. He was in contempt of Congress. Would failure to comply with a subpoena be an impeachable offense?
JEFFRIES: We’re going to remain focused on the abuse of power that clearly exists. There’s evidence that is hiding in plain sight of that fact, including the rough transcript of the July 25thphone call between the president of the United States of America and the president of Ukraine. But Chris, to your question, as Adam Schiff indicated in the letter to the extent that there’s continued obstruction, to the extent that there’s a continued coverup, that could provide potential grounds for an obstruction of Congress charge.
WALLACE: Democratic leaders are talking about a tight process focused just on Ukraine with a potential vote on the House floor and articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving. Isn’t that a bit like Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland’s sentence today, verdict afterwards? You’re already deciding when and how you’re going to proceed before you actually conduct the investigation?
JEFFRIES: Speaker Pelosi has been tremendous and strong as she has laid out the focus of the impeachment inquiry moving forward. We’re operating under an umbrella where the Intelligence Committee is going to take the lead. What she has said and the only thing that she has said, publicly or privately about timeline is that we are going to proceed expeditiously. We of course are going to proceed fairly. We are going to proceed comprehensively. We are going to unearth the truth. We are going to provide it to the American people. And then we are going to make some decisions.
WALLACE: You say make some decisions, but you have already laid out a pretty dramatic case about betraying the country, betraying the oath of office. Based on the evidence that you have seen, will the House vote to impeach Donald Trump?
JEFFRIES: That remains to be seen because we are in the middle of a process, but here’s what’s clear and here’s the story that needs to be told to the American people. The Congress, on a bipartisan basis, allocated $391 million in military and State Department aid to the Ukrainian government. Ukraine is an ally. They are under attack by Russian-backed separatists in Crimea. In February, the administration said to the Congress that the aid to Ukraine is on the way, yet it was never sent. Then in May, the administration again said to the Congress that the aid to Ukraine is on the way and that all necessary preconditions, including as it relates to anti-corruption activities has been met, yet the aid never made it. Then comes the July 25th call where the president of the United States pressures the president of Ukraine to commence an investigation against a political opponent, thereby soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election. The president of Ukraine agrees as based on the rough transcript. Sometime thereafter, all of the sudden in September, the aid is released after it is clear that there was a whistleblower complaint. These are very troubling facts here and we are going to bring them to light for the American people.
WALLACE: Alright, I want to pick up on exactly that point. That’s the basic charge of the whistleblower that the president used the leverage of aid to try to get the Ukrainian president to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. Here this week, Ukrainian President Zelensky met with President Trump and here’s what they said.
PRESIDENT ZELENSKY: It was normal. We spoke about many things. So, I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed, pushed me. Yes.
WALLACE: Zelensky says right there that nobody pushed him.
JEFFRIES: He can say nobody pushed him, but understand that the United States is the most powerful country on earth and that we in many ways are the only thing standing between Vladimir Putin and Ukraine being totally overrun by Russia. United States is strong. Ukraine is vulnerable. So when the president of the United States withholds military aid that had been duly authorized by Congress and then on the July 25th phone call says “do us a favor,” four words Chris that will likely live in infamy in terms of the history of our republic, that is what you call a high pressure tactic and of course the Ukrainian president got the message.
WALLACE: What about the argument sir that impeachment is a drastic action? You’re basically talking about the possibility of overturning a democratic election in which Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. We are basically already are in the presidential campaign. Why not wait until next November and let voters decide whether or not they want Donald Trump as their president?
JEFFRIES: Well as the whistleblower has indicated, as the Trump appointed inspector general to the Intelligence Committee has indicated, as the acting director of national intelligence who was himself appointed by Donald Trump has indicated, this is a matter of urgent national security concern. And that is why we are compelled to act. We are going to continue to work with the president on a host of other issues important to the American people like driving down the high cost of lifesaving prescription drugs, enacting a real infrastructure plan that fixes our crumbling bridges, roads and tunnels as well as trying to get to yes on the renegotiated United States-Canada-Mexico trade agreement, but Chris,the House is a separate and coequal branch of government. We don’t work for this president or any president, Democrat or Republican. We work for the American people. We have a constitutional responsibility to serve as a check and balance on the executive branch. That is not the Nancy Pelosi playbook. That is not the Adam Schiff playbook. That is not the House Democratic Caucus playbook. That is the James Madison playbook. He said we should be a rival to the executive branch because the founders didn’t want a monarch. They didn’t want a king. They didn’t want a dictator. They wanted a democracy and these allegations strike at the heart and soul of our democracy.
WALLACE: Finally, and we are running out of time. I want to talk a little politics with you. There are 31 House Democrats, moderates, who won in districts that President Trump had carried in 2016. And the Republican National Committee is already going after them about the possibility of impeachment. Here is an RNC ad targeting New York Congressman Max Rose.
AD: Instead of fixing health care and lowering drug prices, Rose votes with the radicals for endless investigations of President Trump.
WALLACE: Are you putting those moderates and in effect the House majority, by – look for two years you pursued Russian collusion and that fell apart. Now you’re going to spend another few months at least pursuing the president on Ukraine. Are you putting all of them and the House majority in jeopardy?
JEFFRIES: Well we’re going to continue to focus as I indicated on the kitchen table pocketbook issues to make life better for everyday Americans –
WALLACE: But you know this is going to soak everything up Congressman.
JEFFRIES: Well we have this constitutional responsibility and we are going to undertake it with the seriousness and the solemnity that it requires. It’s not about politics. This is about betrayal. This is about abuse of power. This is about national security. This is about the integrity of our elections. And this is about the United States Constitution.
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