Now is the time to start impeachment inquiry into Trump (Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester)

“At a time when many feel their voice is ignored, when policy and presidential proclamations are made in 140 [280] character tweets, and when cable new pundits analyze style rather than substance, we in Congress have serious decisions to make. *** After careful consideration and with a profound sense of gravity, I now support opening an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.”

Two years of investigations – hundreds of pages of documents – hours of testimony – have made certain things clear: “Sweeping and systematic” attack of the Russian Government on our democracy” – several top Trump campaign officials “not only accepted but welcomed that interference” – “five of these officials have been convicted of various crimes related to the president’s campaign” – “the president and his allies went out of their way to stonewall the investigation.”

“On 10 separate occasions, [the president, apparently] attempted to, or outright obstructed justice.” Withholding information - refusing to sit for an interview – attempting to fire the special counsel. So “it is clear that without the Office of Legal Counsel’s policy against indicting a sitting president, Donald Trump would very likely be charged with a crime.” And while pursuing oversight through six House committees while also pursuing the facts in the courts may be somewhat helpful, “I believe opening an impeachment inquiry gives us firmer legal ground on which to stand.”

“Director” [sic] Mueller’s seven hours of testimony made clear that the president wasn’t exonerated and, moreover, “wasn’t always truthful in the written answers he submitted.” An impeachment inquiry is needed “so that the American people can finally hear the whole truth that they are entitled to.”

One of the prevailing sentiments about yesterday’s hearing “was a fear that all of this will become the new normal,” with casual acceptance of foreign interference in our elections, flouting of congressional oversight by future administrations, and future presidents “commit[ting] crimes with impunity knowing there are no consequences.” This cannot be, it’s time to “stand up and demand accountability.”

As a child, I pledged allegiance to our flag and country. I was sworn in as the first woman of color to represent Delaware in Congress, taking an oath to uphold the Constitution. “I took these pledges seriously,” and future generations will know that I upheld them.

This account leaves out some critical details, such as that (1) Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified the investigation was not obstructed, (2) the investigation was granted access to millions of pages of White House documents, extensive interviews with White House Counsel Don McGahn and other key officials, none of whom ever asserted executive privilege, and (3) the Mueller team wasn’t responsible for “exonerating” the president or anyone else, only for deciding whether evidence existed to warrant the charging of crimes.

Furthermore, there are troubling gaps in the story. Some observers believe the Russian interference investigation (taken over by a special counsel after FBI Director James Comey was fired in May 2017) began as an effort to sabotage the Trump campaign and morphed into a “silent coup” attempt after Trump won the election. Pending investigations by the Department of Justice (IG investigation of misrepresentations to the FISA court and the Durham probe of origins of the Russian interference investigation, etc.) must be completed if the American people are ever to “hear the whole truth that they are entitled to.”

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