Major civil rights group calls for impeachment for first time in 70-year history

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'No one is above the law,' the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, calling on Congress to impeach Trump.

For the first time in its 70-year history, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has called on Congress to impeach a sitting president.

"Protecting our democracy is our elected leaders' most important responsibility," Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference, said in a Monday statement. "But the facts are clear: our president has failed to do that. Instead, he has threatened the heart of our democracy by demanding foreign interference in our elections and obstructing Congress. That is illegal."

Gupta added that "'We the people' need to trust that our vote matters — and that it can't be bought or stolen."

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The Leadership Conference is a coalition of more than 220 national organizations focused on promoting and protecting the rights of all people, according to its website. The group's board of directors is made up of representatives from groups such as the National Women's Law Center, NAACP, Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, National Urban League, ACLU, AFL-CIO, and AAUW.

One of the major goals of the Leadership Conference is to promote "a just, inclusive, and fair democracy," according to its website. However, the group sees Trump's actions as having betrayed the very core of a representative democracy by inviting Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election through opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for "a favor" during a July 25 phone call, requesting the Ukrainian government open investigations into both Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory related to the Democratic National Committee. In the course of an investigation, House committees heard from numerous current and former Trump administration officials who confirmed that Trump was withholding critical military aid from Ukraine in hopes of pressuring the country into opening the investigations.

It is illegal to solicit or accept foreign assistance in a campaign, according to the Federal Elections Commission.

"Every member of Congress has sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution," Gupta said in her statement about impeachment, adding that members "must fulfill their solemn duty and vote to impeach."

Gupta declared that "No one is above the law, not even the president," warning that inaction by Congress means "they are declaring that anyone in elected office can hurt our country to secure personal gain."

The coalition did not call for President Nixon's impeachment in 1974, nor did it call for President Bill Clinton to be impeached in 1997. Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives voted on articles of impeachment, and Clinton was impeached by the House, but the Senate refused to remove him from office.

In the case of Trump, the House Judiciary Committee have recommended two articles of impeachment to the full House. The first article of impeachment focuses on Trump's actions related to Ukraine, discussed above. The second article outlines Trump's obstruction of Congress, highlighting his refusal to cooperate with the congressional investigation.

In addition to the Leadership Conference, numerous national and local newspaper editorial boards have also called on Congress to impeach Trump. The list includes the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, and Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Leadership Conference statement echoed some of the same themes brought up by the editors of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote about the "overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain," saying such conduct "is outrageous and corrosive of democracy."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.