John Bonifaz discusses impeachment on “Counterpoint”

On Monday, Free Speech For People President John Bonifaz sat down with Scott Harris on “Counterpoint” to discuss the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Following the first week of public hearings, John weighed in on the key takeaways from the current investigation, why the scope of the inquiry should be expanded, and how citizens can play a role in the movement to impeach Trump.

“What I think is most important to focus on, with respect to what’s been revealed in this current impeachment inquiry, is that the president of the United States engaged in extortion and bribery of a foreign government to assist his reelection campaign,” John said. “He used hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money in foreign assistance as a means to commit that extortion and bribery, and these are clearly high crimes for which the president should be held accountable.”

John was quick to point out that the current impeachment inquiry, while informative, fails to prosecute Trump for numerous additional impeachable offenses. This has led Free Speech For People and its allies to publish “Impeachment For The People,” which calls on Congress to expand the scope of the inquiry to include: obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation, racist abuses of power, violation of the Emoluments Clause, corruption of the electoral process, and abuse of office to target political adversaries.

“It’s a serious constitutional and strategic mistake to go forward with only a narrow set of articles that does not address the full range of Donald Trump’s abuses of power,” John told Harris. “Impeachment is about patterns, patterns of abuse of power. Even in the Watergate scandal, the focus wasn’t solely on the break-in of the Watergate and the DNC headquarters; it was about the pattern of abuse of power that Richard Nixon was engaged in. He faced three articles of impeachment, one of which was his obstruction of Congress in the impeachment inquiry and another which dealt with misusing the powers of the government to attack his political adversaries…and I think that’s what’s significant here. We have a series of abuses of power this president has committed, from the moment he took the oath of office leading to today, and we need to establish the serious precedent for the future.”

John’s top advice for people who believe Trump must be held accountable for his abuses of power is the make their voices heard. Call Members of Congress and later Senators, write letters to the editor, and mobilize the night before the House votes on articles of impeachment (see for a list of events across the country).

“We have to stay vigilant. This is a direct threat to our democracy coming out of the Oval Office in President Trump. We are at a critical threshold in American history, and the question is whether we’re all going to stand up to defend and protect our democracy at this moment in history.”

You can hear the full “Counterpoint” interview on Between the Lines.

#WeCantWait: Next Steps on Impeachment

Free Speech For People was proud to support CREDO Action which led a demonstration of activists Wednesday evening demanding Nancy Pelosi begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump now.

Protestors confronted the Speaker during a fundraiser hosted by the San Francisco Democratic Party honoring her with a “lifetime achievement award” for her “commitment to fighting for the people.” The activists disrupted her speech to chastise the Speaker for shirking her Congressional duty to hold a president accountable for impeachable offenses. Watch below:

Reminder: Speaker Pelosi’s refusal to open an impeachment inquiry now places her in the minority of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. With Rep. Bradley Scheider (D-IL), Rep. William Keating (D-MA), and Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) announcing yesterday their support for an impeachment inquiry, the current number of House Democrats on record as in favor of impeachment now stands at 130. 

We must continue putting the pressure on Speaker Pelosi get on the right side of history and impeach President Trump for subverting the Constitution. To continue building momentum, CREDO Action is hosting a mass call for activists to learn more about next steps we can take in the fight for impeachment. You can use this link to RSVP for the #WeCantWait call on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 6:00pm PT.

Finally, we wanted to share these press clippings and videos for people who were unable to attend Wednesday’s protest in person.

Your August Impeachment Brief

The House Judiciary Committee made a major announcement in a federal court filing at the end of July. The Committee is officially investigating whether to recommend articles of impeachment against President Trump. The House rules authorize the Judiciary Committee to begin the impeachment process this way–in fact, it’s exactly how the Nixon impeachment inquiry began. While this is a major development, the Committee’s investigation does not go far enough.

Free Speech For People authored a letter, co-signed by many of our allies, to Reps. Jerry Nadler and Mary Gay Scanlon, respectively the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. The letter expressed concerns with the timeline, scope, and public strategy regarding the Committee’s impeachment inquiry. You can read the letter here.

The letter recommends the Committee set a concrete date for its final vote, as well as schedule a series of preparatory hearings leading up to it. It urges the Committee to “stick to its schedule in the face of delay or obstinacy from the White House, Justice Department, or President Trump.”

Meanwhile, the support for impeachment has continued to grow in the House of Representatives. Rep. Al Green of Texas forced a vote on articles of impeachment following President Trump’s series of racist and xenophobic statements attacking Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Ayanna Pressley (MA). Rep. Green and Free Speech For People’s Legal Director, Ron Fein, wrote an op-ed for The Hill describing why the president’s racist abuses of power are grounds for impeachment. Although Rep. Green’s resolution forcing a House floor vote was tabled via a procedural motion, his action brought the supporter total to 95 Members of Congress. That number grew following Robert Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on July 24th. More than 120 Members of Congress — a majority of the Democratic caucus in the House — now support an impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

On the grassroots front, two major projects are currently underway. August 5th was the first session of Impeachment University, a six-week series of weekly webinars designed to educate and engage everyday citizens on the urgent necessity of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Free Speech For People Legal Director Ron Fein was a featured speaker during the first webinar (you can watch that here). For more information and to register for the next webinar in the series, go to Offline, activists across the country are attending town halls and district office meetings with their representatives for Impeachment August, a national month of action to demand that Congress do its job and uphold the Constitution by impeaching President Trump. To learn more and RSVP to an event near you, click here.

This is your monthly Impeachment Project Brief — stay tuned for more updates!

Impeachment Coalition Issues Letter to House Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 30, 2019) – A broad coalition of advocacy groups submitted a letter to the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon expressing concerns with the timeline, scope, and public strategy regarding its impeachment inquiry. 

Last week, the Judiciary Committee explained in a federal court filing that the committee “is conducting an investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment”–i.e., an impeachment inquiry.  No floor vote of the House is needed for the Committee to open an impeachment inquiry; the Nixon impeachment inquiry was also initiated at the Committee level. 

The letter, written by the nonprofit legal advocacy organization Free Speech For People, was delivered to Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler and Vice Chair Mary Gay Scanlon this afternoon. It is co-signed by allied groups By The People, Courage Campaign, CREDO Action, Democracy For America, Empire State Indivisible, Indivisible, Lawyers For Good Government, Mainers For Accountable Leadership, March For Truth, Progressive Democrats of America, and Women’s March. The coalition said that while the House Judiciary Committee’s announcement is an important step in the impeachment process, the Committee’s timeline, scope, and public strategy appear insufficient to the gravity of the task. 

“Based on what we understand of the Committee’s plans, the impeachment inquiry risks taking far too long. That is in large part because the Committee appears to be unnecessarily creating complex schedule dependencies,” the coalition letter says. 

The letter recommends the Committee set a concrete date for its final vote, as well as schedule a series of preparatory hearings leading up to it. It urges the Committee to “stick to its schedule in the face of delay or obstinacy from the White House, Justice Department, or President Trump.”

The coalition also recommended the Committee broaden the scope of its investigation beyond the offenses outlined in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. “Impeachment is not primarily about the punishment of crimes, but rather the prevention of tyranny,” the letter says. “President Trump has repeatedly engaged in autocratic abuses of power that are outside the purview of the Mueller report. And while the evidence for some of this misconduct might benefit from confirmatory witness testimony, most of it has occurred in public—from the president’s own mouth or Twitter feed.”

The letter details four categories of impeachable offenses not covered in the report: (1) abuse of power by directing law enforcement to investigate and prosecute political adversaries and critics, and to undermine the freedom of the press, (2) corruption of the electoral process, (3) abuse of office to propagate racial hostility, and (4) corruption and self-enrichment in violation of the Constitution. 

The coalition also insisted the Committee make a clear public statement that it has officially begun an impeachment inquiry, free of qualification or contradiction. The letter says: “Preparing the American public for the impeachment process—to understand what the Committee is already doing, and where it is going—is critical. But due to the muddled rollout, many Americans may not even realize that the Committee has, in fact, begun an impeachment inquiry. When Chairman Peter Rodino launched an impeachment inquiry regarding President Richard Nixon on October 30, 1973, there was no ambiguity; it was reported exactly as such on the front page of the next day’s New York Times.”

Read the full letter here. 

What Did the Mueller Hearings Accomplish? Ron Fein Breaks It Down.

Following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s televised testimony to Congress, Free Speech For People Legal Director Ron Fein appeared on Rising Up With Sonali to discuss what these hearings accomplished, as well as the ongoing Constitutional argument for the impeachment of President Trump.

“The evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors has been staring us in the face for the entirety of Trump’s Presidency,” he said.

Fein, who coauthored “The Constitution Demands It: The Case for The Impeachment of Donald Trump” with John Bonifaz and Ben Clements, clarified that, of the eleven Constitutional grounds for impeachment, only two overlap with the Mueller investigation.

“That was a narrow investigation,” Fein said. “Many of the impeachable offenses that Trump has committed weren’t part of the Mueller investigation. Within that investigation, though, Mueller laid out a convincing case for ten different instances where Trump committed obstruction of justice.”

The other grounds include:

  1. Violation of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution, which Trump committed “the moment he took office.”
  2. Undermining the freedom of the press.
  3. Recklessly threatening nuclear war with foreign nations.
  4. Abuse of the pardon power.
  5. Directing law enforcement to persecute political adversaries.

Contrary to his repeated claims to the media, the President has not been exonerated from either of the counts covered in the Mueller investigation. Mueller’s report cites multiple instances of the President obstructing justice during an investigation into Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle inundated Mueller with questions on the credibility of his report. The Congressional hearings come at a time when calls for President Trump’s impeachment have continued to intensify. A few weeks back, Representative Al Green filed articles of impeachment against the President and saw 95 Members of Congress vote to advance the process.

“Although [Mueller] was not willing to come out plainly and say Trump committed obstruction of justice, he laid out a roadmap for exactly that,” Fein said. “It is a roadmap for impeachment.”

We must stay focused and remember that the Mueller report did not cover the full extent of Trump’s sins against the republic. No matter what happens from here, as the dust settles from the Mueller hearings, it is important to note there remain many other Constitutional grounds for this criminal President. Take a moment and watch the above interview to hear Ron Fein expertly explain them.

We’ve heard from Mueller. Impeach Trump Now.

Forty-five years ago today, as President Nixon was on the brink of resignation, a freshman congresswoman from Texas delivered one of the most resounding speeches in the history of U.S. politics. Barbara Jordan, an African American member of the House Judiciary Committee, was tasked with determining the fate of a president under heavy scrutiny for obstructing justice amid the Watergate investigation.

“A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution,” Jordan argued, quoting James Madison. She said that if Nixon’s sins against the republic did not warrant impeachment, “then perhaps that 18th-century Constitution should be abandoned to a 20th-century paper shredder.”

Today, as we celebrate the courage of Congresswoman Jordan, we are reminded that the American republic faces even more dire circumstances than it did in 1974.

The Mueller report identifies ten potential obstruction of justice charges against President Trump. These are the same grounds that ultimately drove Nixon to resignation, just two weeks after Jordan’s powerful speech to Congress.

We’ve heard from Mueller. Congress must begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump immediately. Will you call, email, or meet in person with your representative to urge them to support an impeachment inquiry? 

    • Call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or 202-224-3091 (TTY)to be connected to your representative’s office.
    • Find your representative’s email in their contact information on the House of Representatives website.
    • You can look up your next Town Hall meeting and access materials to organize one by visiting the Town Hall Project.

We’ve come a long way since we launched our campaign in 2017 with over 1 million people joining our call to defend the Constitution. Ninety-five members of Congress now support our call for impeachment proceedings against this lawless president. But we need your help to keep pushing our representatives to stand up and do the right thing.

National Advocacy Groups Deliver Letter to Reps Cohen and Raskin Urging Them to Initiate an Impeachment Inquiry

The letter details a procedural path for Rep. Steve Cohen and Rep. Jamie Raskin to begin an impeachment inquiry without further action by the full House or full Committee on the Judiciary.

Representing millions of Americans, the letter is cosigned by: Free Speech For People, By the People, Common Defense, Courage Campaign, CREDO Action, Democracy for America, Lawyers for Good Government, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, March for Truth, MoveOn, Progressive Democrats of America, Revolving Door Project, and Women’s March

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 18, 2019) — A coalition of national advocacy organizations delivered a letter to Reps. Steve Cohen (TN) and Jamie Raskin (MD), respectively Chair and Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, urging them to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The letter argues that the subcommittee may use California Rep. Brad Sherman’s H. Res. 13 (“Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors”) to begin an impeachment inquiry without prior approval from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the other members of the House of Representatives. The February 2019 referral of the resolution empowers the subcommittee to conduct a full impeachment investigation, including to meet, hold hearings, issue subpoenas, receive evidence, consider amendments to the resolution, and submit recommendations to the full Committee as to whether impeachment is warranted.

“There is already overwhelming publicly available evidence of impeachable offenses committed by this president, including obstruction of the administration of justice, accepting unconstitutional emoluments from foreign governments, abuse of emergency powers, and others,” the letter reads. “In the face of this evidence and the ongoing dangers posed by this president, Congress has a constitutional duty to begin an impeachment inquiry and that inquiry should begin now in your subcommittee.”

The letter was authored by attorneys at Free Speech For People, and organizational signatories of the letter include: Free Speech For People, By the People, Common Defense, Courage Campaign, CREDO Action, Democracy for America, Lawyers for Good Government, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, March for Truth, MoveOn, Progressive Democrats of America, Revolving Door Project, and Women’s March.

Government Watchdogs Call on the New York Attorney General to Dissolve Trump’s Company and Revoke Its Corporate Charter

(NEW YORK, NY) – Free Speech For People (FSFP), a non-partisan legal advocacy organization, delivered today a letter to New York Attorney General Letitia James, calling for an investigation into whether to revoke the corporate charter of the Trump Organization under a New York law that authorizes her to dissolve a corporation for persistently illegal conduct or abuse of its powers. These alleged activities, detailed in the letter and in previous correspondence, include money launderingtax evasionfraudfacilitating unconstitutional foreign government payments (emoluments) to the presidenthelping Iran’s Revolutionary Guard evade international sanctions, and concealing a political slush fund by invoicing bogus “legal services.”

“For too long, the Trump Organization has acted as if following the law is only for suckers. The Trump Organization’s corruption and impunity need to end now. The New York attorney general should use her legal authority to file a lawsuit to dissolve the company and revoke its corporate charter,” said Ron Fein, Legal Director for Free Speech For People.

The Trump Organization has served as Donald Trump’s criminal enterprise for decades and in the last several years has been used by Trump to help illegally secure the presidency through an unlawful campaign finance hush money scheme, and to turn the presidency into a profiteering venture for Trump and his family through a continuous course of corrupt dealings and violations of the constitutional emoluments clauses.  The use of the Trump Organization to facilitate this criminality and corruption is contrary to New York law and it is incumbent on the Attorney General to investigate and take appropriate action,” said Ben Clements, Free Speech For People Board Chair, partner in the Boston law firm of Clements & Pineault, former federal prosecutor, and former Chief Legal Counsel to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

“The integrity of our democracy and public institutions are at risk,” said Jonathan Abady, co-counsel on Free Speech For People’s letters issued today and a founding partner of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. “The overwhelming evidence of criminal conduct involving the Trump Organization demands an immediate and thorough investigation by the New York attorney general.”

“The New York Business Corporation Law is quite clear,” said Jennifer Taub, Professor of Law at Vermont Law School, Board Member of Free Speech For People, and co-counsel on the letter to the New York attorney general.  “The attorney general can dissolve any New York corporation that conducts its business in a persistently fraudulent or illegal manner. A corporate charter is a privilege, not a right. It’s time to explore dissolution.”

“New York gives its Attorney General special powers for cases of rampant corporate fraud. Those powers go back centuries in England, and New York attorneys general have used them recently. They are especially appropriate for this case. We have more and more evidence that the Trump Organization is built on a foundation of fraud. The question is just how far that fraud goes, and we need the New York Attorney General to help the public find out through civil investigation,” said Jed Shugerman, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law and co-counsel on the letter.

“The Trump Organization must be held accountable for its repeated violations of the law. The evidence is overwhelming that this corporation is acting as a criminal enterprise. And, the time is now for the New York Attorney General to open an investigation into whether to revoke the Trump Organization’s corporate charter,” said John Bonifaz, the Co-Founder and President of Free Speech For People.

Free Speech For People sent previous letters to Acting Attoney General of New York Barbara Underwood, and former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, detailing the long history of alleged illegal conduct by the Trump Organization, both before and after President Trump’s inauguration. This new letter provides new updated information for that investigation. (As a New York state court held in a previous case, violations of federal law can be grounds for corporate charter revocation because “[f]ederal law is as much a law of [New York] State as any specific law enacted by the State Legislature.”).

The letter is publicly available on Free Speech For People’s website. It is signed by Ron Fein, John Bonifaz, and Ben Clements of Free Speech For People; Jonathan Abady and Andrew Celli, Jr. of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP; Jed Shugerman, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law; and Jennifer Taub, Professor Law at Vermont Law School.

Free Speech For People is encouraging members of the public to sign a petition urging the Attorney General to pursue this investigation, and to contact her office to voice support.

Call Your Representative and Ask Them to Support Rep. Al Green’s Articles of Impeachment

Representative Al Green of Texas just filed articles of impeachment against President Trump and plans to force a Floor vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on these articles in the next 48 hours.

Will you call your representative at (202) 224-3121 right now and urge them to vote to impeach Donald Trump? 

In a series of tweets on Sunday and Monday, President Trump made racist and xenophobic statements attacking Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Ayanna Pressley (MA).

Condemnation by the House of Trump’s racist actions is not enough. The president has a constitutional obligation to protect the citizenry against “domestic Violence” and “Insurrections,” to guarantee “equal protection of the laws,” and to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Instead, the president, through his actions, is giving aid and comfort to white supremacists and neo-Nazis and he is undermining the constitutional promise of equal protection.


Trump’s racists attacks against four members of Congress this week is part of a dangerous pattern of providing aid and comfort to white supremacists in the United States. In August 2017, the president gave a statement after the white supremacist rallies and terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he criticized violence “on many sides,” equating violent white supremacists with counter-protesters. He insisted that there were “very fine people” amongst the marching white supremacists. He bemoaned the firing of CNN commentator Jeffrey Lord for tweeting the Nazi salute “sieg heil.” This pattern of statements has been widely understood, particularly by the white supremacists and neo-Nazis themselves, as an expression of support.

Please call your representative today and urge them to stand with Representative Al Green and hold this president accountable through the impeachment process.

Congressman Al Green To Force Vote on Impeachment of Donald Trump

(Houston, TX) – On Monday, July 15, 2019, Congressman Al Green released the following press release addressing his plans to bring articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump:

“The President of the United States is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, as well as an invidious prevaricator. To say that Donald John Trump is unfit for the Office of the President of the United States is an understatement. He is unfit for public office, and if he displayed any of these behaviors in most private companies, he would be summarily terminated with haste. How long will we stand idly by as he denigrates his constituents, decimates our democracy, and damages America’s global standing?

“I was not told to speak out on the bigotry emanating from the White House. I was compelled to speak out. I believe there is a moral imperative to look racism, bigotry, misogyny, and hate in the face and rebuke it; to convey to our children that this type of behavior is unacceptable and that these beliefs are not welcome in the United States of America.

“I forced a vote on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in December 2017 not to give myself a voice, but to give a voice to those who are voiceless as they are being assaulted by the policies and rhetoric of this Administration. I forced a vote on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2018 not to highlight myself, but to highlight the vitriolic rhetoric of ‘s***hole countries’ and ensure that these types of comments are not normalized in our discourse. I refuse to back down, sit down, or shut down in the face of this assault on the most marginalized in our communities.

“On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, I called for the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. I was the first to make a formal call for impeachment on the House Floor.

“On Wednesday, December 6, 2017, I introduced a resolution to impeach President Trump and forced a vote using a privileged resolution. The resolution is H. Res. 646. The vote total was 364 for tabling the resolution, 58 for proceeding with debate, 4 voted present, 6 did not vote. Eight ranking members voted for the resolution.

“On Friday, January 19, 2018, I introduced a resolution to impeach President Trump and forced a vote using a privileged resolution. The resolution is H. Res. 705. The vote total was 355 for tabling the resolution, 66 for proceeding with debate, 3 voted present, 6 did not vote. Ten ranking members voted for the resolution.

“I will again this month bring impeachment to a vote on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for bigotry in policy, harmful to our society.”

Order The Constitution Demands It Today!