Bill Weld says the impeachment charges against Donald Trump are ‘way worse’ than the ones against Richard Nixon

"I've never seen such evidence in an obstruction case."

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld speaks at a debate alongside former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., hosted by Business Insider, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in New York. Weld and Walsh are competing to win the Republican nomination over U.S. President Donald Trump, who did not participate in the debate. (AP Photo/Julius Constantine Motal)
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld speaks at a September debate in New York alongside fellow candidate and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh. –Julius Constantine Motal / AP

Bill Weld says the impeachment charges against President Donald Trump are “way worse” than the offenses that forced President Richard Nixon out of office.

“I’ve never seen such evidence in an obstruction case,” Weld told WGBH News on Monday.

And he would know. The former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential primary candidate began his career in government as a lawyer for the House of Representatives’ impeachment staff during the proceedings against Nixon back in 1974. The former Republican president — who was personally implicated in the attempted cover-up of his supporters’ burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972 — eventually resigned, facing near-certain impeachment by the House and removal from office by the Senate.

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Four-and-a-half decades later, Weld called on Trump to do the same: Resign. But in the seemingly likely event that he does not, Weld says Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president and Democratic presidential primary candidate Joe Biden, as well as his administration’s subsequent attempts to obstruct an investigation by Congress, merit impeachment and removal.

“Extorting a foreign leader to come interfere in a U.S. election for the advantage of the person doing the extorting, that’s as bad as it gets in terms of what the framers were afraid of, and what they thought should be grounds for removal,” Weld said.

His comments came less than 24 hours before House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment Tuesday against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Democratic leaders said it was a “solemn” day. Rep. Katherine Clark, a Melrose resident and vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said the decision to draft articles of impeachment came down to protecting the Constitution.

“Today is the day for accountability,” Clark told CNN.

So far, no congressional Republicans have signaled support for impeaching Trump. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, a former Republican who became an independent this past summer, is the only non-Democratic member of the House who has said he plans to vote for impeaching Trump.

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With a 233-seat Democratic majority, the House could impeach Trump without any Republican support. However, the same isn’t true for the Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority and a two-thirds vote is needed to remove the president from office, which has never happened in American history. Still, Clark thinks it shouldn’t be a difficult decision, given the evidence that has emerged against Trump.

“Sometimes I feel like I come to work here in a hall of mirrors, where it’s raining out and Republicans say the sun is shining,” she said.

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