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Former Rep. Liz Holtzman On Trump: 'A Threat To Our Democracy'

Rep. Holtzman also called this administration "a presidency run amok" in her discussion with Ali Velshi about current impeachment proceedings and Trump's legacy from Day 1.

Everyone has advice for the Democrats about how impeachment should proceed. It's not a question of "if" anymore, nor even "when," so much as "NOW." Truth be told, it's been openly happening ever since at least early August, when Rep. Nadler tried to compel Don McGahn to testify. Most guidance seems to be saying, "Focus on Ukraine. Keep it simple and narrow."

Well, when Ali Velshi spoke to former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the House Judiciary Committee during Nixon's impeachment, she had very different advice.

REP. HOLTZMAN: Well, I don't think that the American people are going to have any problem understanding the problems with Donald Trump. They already get it. The polls show that they're getting it in increasing numbers. The House Judiciary Committee and the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon had its first article, you call it obstruction of justice. We never said he had to commit a crime so we didn't call it that but it was a coverup. Then we also had a second article. Abuse of power, which included everything in the coverup because he used the power of his office for political gain, not for the benefit of the United States. So that was an abuse of power. But then you had illegal wire taps. You had the enemies -- audits of enemies list. You had breaking into Ellsburg's psychiatrist's office. So there were a lot of things in the second article of impeachment. I think that the Democrats should focus actually this whole Ukraine business goes back to the Mueller inquiry. So maybe there's some way of picking that up in this. I think it's important for the American people to see that we're not talking about a one-off with Donald Trump. We're not talking about how he's just done one really, really bad thing. He's a threat to our democracy because we have a presidency run amok. We have a presidency that's off the rails whether it comes to Ukraine and bullying a foreign country. But it also went off the rails in terms of the effort to obstruct the investigation by Robert Mueller into the -- whether there was collusion with Russia. So we're talking about a presidency that's a threat to our democracy. And that picture has to be presented to the American people. Not just one really bad act but a presidency that is a bad act.

If Democrats follow THAT model, Impeachment Article Two is going to be extremely long. But it *IS* an appealing prospect to prosecute the entire damn presidency, isn't it? Going back to the campaign itself, as Rachel Maddow so brilliantly pointed out in Wednesday's show, the single thread has been criminal ties to Russia. Lies everywhere. Backroom deals. Obstruction. Witness intimidation. Perjury. Refusal to answer subpoenas. Barr's lies about the Mueller Report. On and on. Why not do the whole shebang? Do we really not think the American people can grasp it all? Ukraine is just the latest, most blatant, and not to mention evidence that appeasement makes things worse, not better.

Velshi and Rep. Holtzman talked through some other procedural matters, and she shredded the GOP on their hypocrisy, particularly regarding precedent:

REP. HOLTZMAN: [I]f the Republicans are so concerned about precedent here, then why don't they keep their mouth shut about the hearings that are being held, the depositions that are being held behind closed door because the precedent is well established too. You can't have it one way and not the other way.

She finished, though, with the perspective and wisdom of someone who has been through this before, and has studied and learned her history. In discussing the shameful, dangerous SCIF stunt from yesterday, Rep. Holtzman reminded us all what the purpose of a Congress in a democracy truly is.

REP. HOLTZMAN: No. I mean, actually, I'm not supposed to be shocked at my age but it's shocking because what a parliament, what a Congress is about is using reason to talk. To resolve problems, not with your fists, not with your personal might. But by reason, by discussion, by debate. And when you shut something down like that, you're standing up against and you're fighting against the very basis of democracy. And it's -- it's appalling what they were doing. And they should be censured, penalized and so forth for that. But it's a distraction. We know that's what it's about. They can't deal with the facts of the -- the -- the clear facts about President Trump's abuse of power. And trying to bully a small foreign country into helping him get re-elected.
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