WASHINGTON, DC — Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) today delivered the following opening statement as the Rules Committee kicked off a mark-up of 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 statement, as prepared for delivery, is below and video of his remarks is available here:
This is a sad day.
When our founders drafted the Constitution more than 230 years ago, they included a process that could lead to removing a president from office if he or she abused their power.
That is what separates America from so many other nations. There are no kings or queens here – and no one is above the law.
That process – impeachment – is rarely used because of its seriousness. In fact, this will be only the fourth time in our nation’s history that Congress has considered the presidential impeachment process. And in the case of President Nixon, the president resigned instead of facing likely impeachment by the House and removal by the Senate.
It is a solemn responsibility. This Congress, with our existing authority under the Constitution and the rules of the House, is in the midst of an impeachment inquiry right now.
No one runs for Congress to impeach a president. But we are here today because the facts compel us to be.
There is serious evidence that the president may have violated the Constitution.
Unlike during the impeachment of Presidents Nixon and Clinton, no special prosecutor has been named to investigate President Trump on this. There is no single report from which this Congress can make a decision whether or not to impeach President Trump on his dealings with Ukraine. That’s why the Intelligence Committee has been gathering evidence and hearing testimony.
Reasonable confidentiality has been paramount so that accounts couldn’t be coordinated and witnesses weren’t unduly influenced.
It’s a process, by the way, that even former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who chaired the Benghazi Committee, has endorsed. He said, quote, "I think if you're going to have private investigations with unlimited time for questioning and cross examining witnesses that's a good thing," end quote. I agree, and I’m proud of our deliberate process so far.
Now, as committees continue gathering evidence, they are also preparing to present their findings. As we enter the public-facing phase of the inquiry, I introduced a resolution yesterday to ensure a clear path forward. We are marking up that resolution here today.
I don’t know whether President Trump will be impeached. Only the facts – and how we respond to them – will dictate that. But I can tell you this: the process determining whether he should be impeached will be open to public view, just as it should be.
I know that some Republicans are very resistant to investigating the president at all. But that will not stop the American people from hearing the facts.
A group of Republicans even resorted to storming a secure facility to disrupt witness testimony. That’s despite the fact that many of those members were already entitled to attend the deposition.
Let me tell you, I believe in civil disobedience. I’ve even been arrested protesting for what I believe in. I’ve protested for human rights and against gun violence. But endangering our national security and compromising a secure facility is a whole other matter. Bringing cell phones into a secure area and tweeting and recording – I hope we never see anything like that again.
But I want to make this clear right at the top of this mark-up: I appreciate the way members of this committee treat each other with respect, and always display professionalism. And that certainly includes our minority and Ranking Member Cole.
I think the Rules Committee – week in and week out – sets a good example for how members should treat each other. And I hope that tradition continues today.
As much as I disagree with this president and don’t like his tweets, his tone, or his policies, I never wanted our country to come to this point.
But five or ten years from now, people will ask each of us what we did in this moment. They will ask what we did when confronted with this crisis.
Let there be no doubt that as much as this president flaunts the Constitution, we are going to protect it. We will stand up for the Constitution and defend the rule of law.