I voted to impeach the president of the United States. As your U.S. Representative, I did not run for office to take such a vote. However, I swore an oath to protect our country and defend the Constitution. My vote reflects that obligation and demonstrates my responsibility to the people I serve.
Prior to such a significant vote, deep deliberation and serious consideration of the facts and our laws were necessary to arrive at that solemn conclusion. I determined the facts by reading the reports, listening to witnesses and speaking to colleagues of the House Committees on Judiciary, Intelligence, and my committee, Ways and Means.
I followed the law by reading the Constitution, speaking to past and present members of Congress who served during the impeachment process started against Richard Nixon and the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and civilly discussing this case with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
I did my best to put politics and emotions aside. As much as I disagree with this president and his policies – to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, dismantle environmental protections, take away health care for those with preexisting conditions, separate families at the border and deport Dreamers, to name a few – those unreasonable and unwise policies were not the underlying basis for the articles of impeachment. The “high crimes and misdemeanors” alleged focused solely on the president’s involvement with Ukraine and whether he abused his power and obstructed Congress.
I then applied the facts to the articles of impeachment. By withholding $391 million in military aid and a coveted meeting in the Oval Office from the newly elected Ukrainian president for an announcement of investigations into Ukraine’s role in our 2016 election and Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in the 2020 election, it is easy to conclude that the president subverted our national interests for his personal and political interests. That is exactly the type of interference in our democracy that our Founding Fathers strove to prevent. The president sought such intervention and that is why he abused the power of the presidency.
Furthermore, the president obstructed Congress by refusing numerous requests and subpoenas during the impeachment inquiry. By preventing and, even intimidating, important witnesses from appearing, this administration acted in direct defiance of the constitutionally mandated authority of Congressional oversight.
The evidence that proved the case for impeachment was overwhelming. Moreover, we were compelled to address the president’s conduct, or it would condone this abuse of power for future administrations. Congress has held the president accountable for his actions and properly acted as a necessary check in our system of checks and balances.
I do not take pride in impeaching a sitting president of the United States. But I am proud to uphold my obligation under the Constitution and to protect the future of our democracy.
CONGRESSMAN JIMMY PANETTA, D-Carmel Valley, represents California’s 20th Congressional District, which includes Monterey County.