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Rep. Ro Khanna Urges “Universal Condemnation” of Trump as Democrats File Impeachment Charges

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House Democrats have unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump that formally charge him with high crimes and misdemeanors after more than two months of investigation. On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined chairs of the impeachment inquiry committees to announce the charges of “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.” Democrats allege Trump withheld congressionally directed taxpayer funding for Ukraine’s military until the Ukrainian president agreed to do what Trump called a “favor” by announcing Ukraine was investigating his potential 2020 political rival Joe Biden. Democrats say Trump then tried to block attempts by Congress to investigate the move. We speak with Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California and a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from inside the U.N. climate summit here in Madrid, Spain, but we’re turning now to the major story making headlines back in the United States: impeachment. On Tuesday, House Democrats formally announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The move brings a sitting president to the brink of impeachment for the fourth time in American history. The impeachment inquiry centers on how President Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Democratic lawmakers say Trump then tried to cover up his actions. This is House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler.

REP. JERROLD NADLER: A president who declares himself above accountability, above the American people and above Congress’s power of impeachment, which is meant to protect against threats to our democratic institutions, is a president who sees himself as above the law. We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we go to Washington, D.C., to speak with Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California.

Ro Khanna, thanks for joining us here at the U.N. climate summit. You’re a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Welcome back to Democracy Now! We’re here at the U.N. climate summit. You’re in Washington, where history is being made. Talk about the articles of impeachment that have just been released and their significance.

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, Amy, first of all, let me thank you for covering the climate summit. It was a historic day in Washington yesterday. Two articles of impeachment were released. First, the president clearly abused his office by pressuring Zelensky to manufacture dirt on his political opponent Joe Biden. And second, the president has obstructed justice, instructing people not to testify in front of Congress, stonewalling and not giving Congress evidence. And these were the two articles that Chairman Nadler released yesterday.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the significance, the historic significance of this moment.

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, this is the fourth time in American history that articles of impeachment have been drawn up. And it’s very sad to see this president ride roughshod over the Constitution and the rule of law. What I have said to my Republican friends is, we see around the world, at times, that dictators or authoritarian tendencies can emerge from the left or the right. What protects America is the rule of law and the Constitution, and there should be a universal condemnation for any president that violates the rule of law.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you expect to happen at this point?

REP. RO KHANNA: I expect the House to take a vote to impeach the president. I believe that that will be an overwhelming vote on the Democratic side. And then it goes to the Senate, and we’re are going to have a trial in the Senate. The key is, for me, that we get a few Republican senators, hopefully, to look at the evidence and find the president guilty, and so we can say that the majority of the American people believe he should be impeached, the majority of the House impeached him, and the majority of the Senate voted to convict him, even though that may not rise to 67 votes.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Khanna, I have to tell you, right behind me, hundreds of activists have gathered in front of the plenary. At 3:00, the former Ireland President Mary Robinson, very active on the issue of climate change, will be holding a fireside chat with the head of Santander Bank. We’ll be talking about that in a moment. But right now people are clanging their cutlery. They are chanting. They’re about to unfurl a banner in front of the main plenary. I am sitting right next to this. The plenary is called “Baker.” It looks like “Baker.” There are big signs that say “Time for action is now.” Baker is one of the major rivers in Chile. Chile is the head of this U.N. climate summit. We’re going to go to that in a minute, but before we do, I wanted to ask you about your opposition to the current Pentagon budget.

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, it’s appalling, Amy. The budget is $738 billion, one of the largest in American history, I mean, especially considering we’re trying to wind down these wars. The bill also has stripped any amendments to stop the war in Yemen. It has stripped any amendments to stop a war in Iran. Right when you’ve seen Saudi nationals actually attack Americans on bases in Florida, the bill does nothing to hold the Saudis accountable or restrict our arms sales there. So, it was an act, as Senator Sanders and I put it, of moral cowardice to basically allow the White House to draft the defense authorization.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ro Khanna, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Democratic congressmember from California, member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, as the House has just released the articles of impeachment against President Trump.

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