Chairman McGovern’s Opening Statement as Rules Committee Considers Resolution Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for High Crimes and Misdemeanors
WASHINGTON, DC — Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) yesterday delivered the following opening statement as the Rules Committee began its markup of H. Res. 755, impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Chairman McGovern’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
editor’s note: we’ve made some sentences bold:
The Rules Committee will come to order.
It’s unfortunate that we have to be here today. But the actions of the president of the United States make that necessary.
President Trump withheld congressionally approved aid to Ukraine, a partner under siege. Not to fight corruption, but to extract a personal political favor.
President Trump refused to meet with Ukraine’s president in the White House until he completed this scheme. All the while, leaders in Russia – the very nation holding a large part of Ukraine hostage, the very nation that interfered with our elections – had another meeting in the Oval Office just last week.
These are not my opinions. These are uncontested facts.
We’ve listened to the hearings. We’ve read the transcripts. And it’s clear that this president acted in a way that not only violates the public trust.
He jeopardized our national security.
And he undermined our democracy.
He acted in a way that rises to the level of impeachment.
That is why we are considering H. Res. 755 today – a resolution impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Congress has no other choice but to act with urgency.
When I think back to the Founders of this nation, they were particularly concerned about foreign interference in our elections.
They understood that allowing outside forces to decide American campaigns would cause the fundamentals of our democracy to crumble.
But the evidence shows that is exactly what President Trump did – not only allowed, but solicited foreign interference, all to help him win his reelection campaign.
What shocks me, quite frankly, about so many of my Republican friends is their inability to acknowledge that President Trump acted improperly.
It seems the only Republican members willing to admit the president did something wrong have either already retired or announced plans they intend to retire at the end of this Congress.
I get it – it’s hard to criticize a president of your own party. But that shouldn’t matter here.
I admired President Clinton when he was president and I still do today. But when this House impeached him – which I didn’t agree with – I went to the House Floor and said I thought what President Clinton did was wrong.
Because moments like this call for more than just reflexive partisanship. They require honesty. And they require courage.
Are any Republicans today willing to muster that strength and say what this president did was wrong?
Let me say again what happened here: this president withheld congressionally approved military aid to a country under siege to extract a personal political favor. He did not do this as a matter of U.S. policy. He did this for his own benefit.
That is wrong!
And if that is not impeachable conduct, I don’t know what is!
I’ve heard some on the other side suggest this process is about overturning an election. That is absurd. This is about President Trump using his office to try and rig the next election.
Think about that. We like to say that every vote matters. That every vote counts. We learned in grade school about all the people who fought and died for that right. It is a sacred thing.
I remember as a middle schooler in 1972 leaving leaflets at the homes of potential voters urging them to support George McGovern for president. No relation, by the way. I thought he had a great name. And he was dedicated to ending the Vietnam War, feeding the hungry, and helping the poor.
I remember what an honor it was to ask people to support him, even though I was too young to vote myself. And what a privilege it was later in life to ask voters for their support in my own campaigns.
I’ve been a part of winning campaigns, and I’ve been a part of losing ones, too. People I thought would be great presidents, like Senator McGovern, were never given that chance.
Make no mistake – I was disappointed, but I accepted it.
I would take losing an election any day of the week when the American people render that verdict.
But I will never be ok if other nations decide our leaders for us.
And the president of the United States is rolling out the welcome mat for that kind of foreign interference.
To not act would set a dangerous precedent – not just for this president, but for every future president.
The evidence is as clear as it is overwhelming. And this administration hasn’t handed over a single subpoenaed document to refute it. Not one!
So now it’s up to us to decide whether the United States is still a nation where no one is above the law. Or whether America is allowed to become a land run by those who act more like kings or queens. As if the law doesn’t apply to them.
It is no secret that President Trump has a penchant for cozying up to notorious dictators. He’s complimented Vladimir Putin. Congratulated Rodrigo Duterte. Lauded President Erdogan. Fell in love with Kim Jong Un.
I could go on and on and on. Maybe the president is jealous that they can do whatever they want.
These dictators are the antithesis of what America stands for. And every day we let President Trump act like the law doesn’t apply to him, we move a little closer to them.
Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention and said the founders had created ‘a republic if you can keep it.’
There are no guarantees. Our system of government will persist only if we fight for it. The simple question before us is this: are we willing to fight for this democracy?
I expect we’ll have a lot of debate here today. I hope everyone searches their conscience.
To my Republican friends: imagine any Democratic president sitting in the Oval Office. President Obama. President Clinton. Any of them. Would your answer here still be the same?
No one should be allowed to use the powers of the presidency to undermine our elections or cheat in a campaign. No matter who it is. And no matter their party.
We took an oath. Not to defend a political party but to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
History is testing us. We can’t control what the Senate will do. But each of us can decide whether we pass that test – whether we defend our democracy, and whether we uphold our oath.
Today we’ll put a process in place to consider these articles on the House Floor. And when I cast my vote in favor, my conscience will be clear.
Before I turn to our ranking member, I first want to recognize his leadership on this committee.
We take up a lot of contentious matters up here, and often we are on different sides of many of issues. But he leads with integrity and cares deeply about this House.
There will be passionate disagreement here today. But I have no doubt that we will continue working together in the future and side by side on this committee to better this institution.
Let me also state for the record that Chairman Nadler is unable to be here today because of a family medical emergency. We are keeping him and his family in our thoughts and prayers.
Testifying instead today is Congressman Raskin. He is not only a valued member of this committee, but also the Judiciary and Oversight Committees. In addition, Congressman Raskin is a constitutional law professor, so he has a very comprehensive and unique understanding of what we’re talking about today. I appreciate him stepping in and testifying this morning.
I also want to welcome back Ranking Member Collins, a former member of the Rules Committee.
Now, let me turn to our ranking member, Mr. Cole, for any remarks he wishes to make.
More needs to be done here in Worcester. In the chi chi Canal District close to 50 homeless folks were sleeping on the front and back porches of the church rectory a few nights ago because Hotel Grace – where the homeless can spend the night – only opens if it is 32 degrees out – literally “freezing.” Two or three nights ago it was a few degrees above freezing … so people suffered.
IT SHOULD NOT ALL FALL ON VOLUNTEERS WITH GOOD HEARTS to solve a city problem. The Community HealthLink shelter on Queen Street is not enough! City officials must DO MORE to house or help our homeless! Why not, for instance, buy a few old abandonned factories and convert them into teeny apts/rooms for our homeless?
WHY NOT CREATE THE SPACE TO BE WARM AND SAFE?
– text+pic:Rose T.
Below: a beauty of a winter tune. Big Star sung by Elliott Smith.
Some one once asked Smith if he made “sadsack music.” Smith said, No, he didn’t think so. Later, on a TV show, he said his music had a “Strong Quiet Beauty.” Perfect.♥️
If you love music, you will “get” my SHEER JOY – ESPECIALLY AT THIS AGE! – TO DISCOVER (LATE, I KNOW) A NEW MUSICAL VOICE! To listen to song after song after song (all new to me) and go WOW!! I LOVE THIS!!🎶 A kind of renewal … a brief return to youngness. Like me hearing the Beatles for the first time at 14 … your first real hike in Vermont woods ….. or learning (I am pretending here) that the suitcase filled with early Hemingway short stories – the only drafts – stuffed in a suitcase and lost by Ernest’s pretty young wife Hadley – had been found! AND THE STORIES WERE PERFECT.
– Rose T.