Saturday, December 21, 2019

A Shameful Day in the House of Representatives

Phil Roe
by US Rep. Phil Roe, M.D- Last Wednesday, was a sad day in American history. House Democrats gave in to their party radicals and voted to impeach a duly-elected president because of a partisan, political agenda. Speaker Pelosi made clear in March that impeachment divides our country if it is not bipartisan. This process wasn’t bipartisan; this vote wasn’t bipartisan; and there was no evidence supporting impeachment. This was a rigged process with impeachment as the end goal and I proudly voted against the articles of impeachment.

The impeachment inquiry didn’t begin in September. It started the moment Donald Trump was elected president. For two years, many leading Democrats claimed they have evidence President Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. It took a two-and-a-half year, $25 million investigation to prove there was no collusion. Rather than accepting these results and getting to work on the issues Americans care about, they continued on with impeachment. In July – before the call with Ukrainian President Zelensky ever occurred – 95 House Democrats voted to impeach the president. It wasn’t based on serious evidence then, and it’s not based on serious evidence now. Even as House Democrats claim this was a last resort, the truth is once they took the House majority, their goal was to impeach Donald Trump.

The American people are fundamentally fair. Rich or poor, president or factory worker – we believe all deserve fairness. This process has been anything but fair. The Democrats conducted over a month’s worth of hearings behind closed doors; blocked Republicans from calling their own witnesses; and prevented the president’s counsel from cross-examining witnesses. Imagine you were accused of a crime and were prevented from calling witnesses who could exonerate you. Worse still, you were prevented from questioning those accusing you. That is what happened these last few months in committee hearings. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff – whose staff advised the whistleblower prior to the complaint that started this charade – even read a fictional version of President Trump’s phone call transcript in the first public hearing. You can’t make it up.

When Democrats finally wrapped up their sham inquiry, they filed two articles of impeachment, neither of which constitute “high crimes” or misdemeanors, and neither of which have they proved the president is guilty. The Constitution states the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and misdemeanors.” The first article of impeachment claims “Abuse of Power.” They arrived at “abuse of power” only after polling showed the public didn’t believe their claims that the president engaged in “quid pro quo” or “bribery.” The only abuse of power that has occurred is by House Democrats.

The second article of impeachment claims “Obstruction of Congress.” If House Democrats were serious about this being an impeachable offense, they should have supported the impeachment of then-Attorney General Eric Holder, who refused to comply with congressional subpoenas. This is a standard they’re only willing to apply to President Trump. Further, there is no basis in law for an “obstruction of Congress” claim, and the Supreme Court is reviewing whether the Democrats’ claim is even constitutional. The White House has complied and released two unredacted call transcripts for the public to review. Furthermore, President Trump told Ambassador Gordon Sondland to testify before Congress and tell the truth. That is not an obstruction of anything, let alone Congress.

Even with Democrats using all their authority to push their presidential impeachment, no witness they called had firsthand knowledge or witnessed the alleged quid pro quo. No witness contradicted the key facts that have remained true since President Trump released his call transcript: the transcript showed no pressure on Ukraine to open an investigation; both presidents confirmed multiple times there was no pressure; the Ukrainian government was unaware U.S. security assistance was held at the time of the call; and aid was released on September 11 without any investigation occurring. How can there be a quid pro quo without a quid or a quo?

Impeaching a president with no evidence of a crime is a dangerous precedent to set and will create a new norm for what Congress considers impeachable conduct. Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) stated in May that he is “concerned that if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected.” That says it all. Democrats made this impeachment process as partisan as possible, turning a solemn process into a political sham. This was an embarrassment and I am ashamed by what occurred in the House.

Phil Roe represents the First Congressional District of Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is physician and co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus and a member of the Health Caucus. Prior to serving in Congress, he served as the Mayor of Johnson City, Tennessee.

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