The Impeachment of President Trump

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland had this to say:“Madam Speaker, I’ve had the honor of serving in this House for over thirty-eight years. I’ve served during six presidencies. I’ve been here through moments of tremendous progress and terrible tragedy. I’ve seen periods of rank partisanship and patriotic bipartisanship. I’ve seen our two-party system work, and I’ve seen it break down.

“Never, in all my years serving in this great institution and the people of my district, did I ever expect to encounter such obvious wrongdoing by a President of the United States. Nor did I expect to witness such craven rationalization of presidential actions, which have put our national security at risk, undermined the integrity of our elections, and defied the Constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct oversight.

“We’ve heard from Republicans that this impeachment really has to do with policy differences or concerns about the President’s temperament or that we simply dislike the President. They’ve alleged that Democrats have been itching to impeach him since he first took office. The facts say otherwise.“Throughout the Trump presidency, Democrats have resisted pursuing impeachment even as we watched with dismay and disgust at a pattern of wrongdoing. That pattern included ordering federal agencies to lie to the public, firing the FBI Director for refusing to end an investigation of his campaign, siding with Vladimir Putin over our intelligence agencies, taking funding away from the military to put toward an ineffective border wall, and setting policies that have led to the separation of families and the caging of children. We have, to be sure, deep disagreements with the policies and actions taken by this president. But they are not reasons to pursue what Chairman Schiff has called, ‘a wrenching process for the nation.

’“In fact, Democrats rejected that process emphatically in three specific votes. In December of 2017, Democrats overwhelmingly voted against pursuing articles of impeachment, including the Speaker and myself. We did so again in 2018, with over sixty percent of Democrats rejecting that path. Again, in July 2019, just days before the infamous July 25 telephone call, we did the same, with sixty percent of Democrats voting not to proceed.

“It was not until there was clear evidence that the President was abusing his power to serve his own interests – at the expense of our democracy, our national security, and the safeguarding of our elections from foreign interference – that we were compelled to consider articles of impeachment. Credible witnesses, many of whom were appointed to office by President Trump, have corroborated the details and timeline of his abuse of presidential power, which forms the basis of the first article of impeachment in this resolution.

I will not recount them here. They have been laid out fully in the articles before us and by colleagues in their remarks.“What I will do is remind Americans that the House provided President Trump every opportunity to prove his innocence. Instead, he ignored Congressional subpoenas for documents and for testimony by White House officials and ordered his subordinates not to cooperate. This itself is unprecedented. When Presidents Nixon and Clinton were asked to hand over documents and allow officials to testify, ultimately both complied. Because it is the law. Such actions of the President can be taken as further evidence of his obstruction and abuse of power. It is itself impeachable conduct, the subject of the second article in this resolution.“These two articles before us concern two very profound Constitutional issues about the abuse of power in our republic. First, whether it is acceptable for the President of the United States to solicit foreign interference in our elections, undermining our national security and the integrity of our democracy. And second, whether it is permissible for the president to obstruct Congress and act as if he is above the law and immune from Constitutional oversight.

“On December 4, the Judiciary Committee heard the testimony of Constitutional law experts who weighed in on these points. One of them, Professor Noah Feldman, cautioned: ‘If we cannot impeach a president who abuses his office for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy. We live in a monarchy, or we live under a dictatorship.’

“The votes we are about to take concern the rule of law and our democracy itself. Let us not forget the words of the philosopher John Locke, so influential to the Founders of our republic. He warned: ‘Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.

’“This impeachment asks whether we are still a republic of laws, as our Founders intended – or whether we will accept that one person can be above the law. In America, no one is above the law, but only as long as we hold every person accountable for breaking the law – even a president. Especially a president.”

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Jim Daly

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