“I urge my colleagues to not just think of the political pressures of the moment. These will pass. Please, consider the heavy responsibility you have today to this institution, the Constitution, and to the country”
WASHINGTON, DC — On the House Floor this morning, Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) managed debate as the chamber considered his resolution providing a clear path forward as the House prepares to begin the public-facing phase of its impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Donald Trump.
His speech, as prepared for delivery, is below and video is available here:
M. Speaker, this is a sad day for our country.
Over 230 years ago when the founders of our country wrote the Constitution, they entrusted us with the gift of self-government. But they knew the persistence of this gift was not assured.
It may be taken for granted today, but having just shaken off a tyrant, the founders knew better.
They understood that the very foundations of our country are dependent on safeguarding against one branch of government encroaching on the others. That’s what the idea of checks and balances is all about.
Within that system, the framers gave only this Congress the power – if need be – to impeach a president over possible wrongdoing.
This fact - that no one is above the law - is what separates this country from so many others.
Because of its seriousness, the impeachment process has been rarely used for presidents.
For just the fourth time in our nation’s history, Congress is now investigating whether to impeach a president of the United States.
Our authority to do so under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States and the rules of the House of Representatives is clear. The courts have recently agreed.
For all the disagreements I have with President Trump – for all his policies, tweets, and his rhetoric that I deeply disagree with – I never wanted our country to reach this point.
I do not take any pleasure in the need for this resolution. We are not here for some partisan exercise. We are here because the facts compel us to be here.
There is serious evidence that President Trump may have violated the Constitution. This is about protecting our national security and safeguarding our elections!
That’s why the Intelligence Committee has been gathering evidence and hearing testimony.
Like any investigation, reasonable confidentiality has been paramount. Witnesses should not be able to coordinate testimony in advance. The truth must be allowed to prevail.
Republicans have been a part of every single proceeding conducted so far. Republicans conducting these depositions, along with their staffs, have had an opportunity to question each and every witness.
Now, M. Speaker, we are entering the public-facing phase of this process.
I commend the investigative committees and their staffs for the professional manner which they have conducted themselves.
I’d also like to commend the courageous public servants that have bravely come forward to tell the truth. Without their courage, this possible wrongdoing would have never seen the light of day.
The public shouldn’t be left in the dark. They should see the facts about the president’s conduct firsthand.
That’s why I introduced this resolution. It establishes the next steps of this inquiry, including establishing the procedure for public-facing hearings conducted by the Intelligence Committee and the process for transferring evidence to the Judiciary Committee.
It’s about transparency and due-process for the president.
Some on the other side will never be satisfied with any process that uncovers the truth of what the president did.
M. Speaker, none of us knows whether or not President Trump will be impeached or convicted. Only the facts – and how we respond to them - will dictate the outcome.
But I truly believe that a hundred years from now, historians will look back at this moment and judge us by the decisions we make here today.
This moment calls for more than politics. It calls for people concerned not about the reactions of partisans today, but of the consequences of inaction decades from now.
If we don’t hold this president accountable, we could be ceding our ability to hold any president accountable.
At the end of the day, this resolution isn’t about Donald Trump. It isn’t about any of us. It’s about our Constitution. It’s about our country.
I urge my colleagues to not just think of the political pressures of the moment. These will pass. Please, consider the heavy responsibility you have today to this institution, the Constitution, and to our country.