Sorry, Republicans and Democrats, you don’t get to define what the impeachment inquiry means to me. You don’t get to tell me what to watch or who to listen to when the inquiry goes public today.
As an American living in a country constructed more than 240 years ago by a few brilliant men, I get to mentally digest what these government officials have to say about Donald J. Trump’s words and actions with respect to Ukraine and the upcoming 2020 presidential election campaign.
This privilege and responsibility of determining whether Trump’s latest gambit to secure re-election to the highest office in our government rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is mine as well as my representatives in Congress.
Trust me, I will let them know how I feel once the hearings are completed. I won’t be bashful. I won’t pull any punches. In fact I might even offer a few choice words of advice if they fail to ask questions that we the people need to have answered. Will I hear “obstruction of justice” raised by anyone during the hearings?
This impeachment inquiry is a privilege and responsibility that every American should take seriously. Don’t wait for a recap on CNN or Fox News. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want print pundits or broadcast commentators trying to brainwash me on what the evidence shows.
What is said during public hearings will move me toward deciding for myself if the current White House occupant should remain in place and given a chance at another four years, or whether he should be removed from office through the impeachment process as legally provided for in the U.S. Constitution.
Flashback 45 years to July 1974. The House Judiciary Committee was holding impeachment hearings on then-President Richard M. Nixon. I was a young man struggling to make ends meet. I sat in front of the television as often and as long as possible to take in the historic moment.
A congresswoman from Texas, Barbara Jordan, captured my attention. Her deep, authoritative voice sounded a clarion call about the strength of our country facing a critical test of its founding principles.
Her statement on the articles of impeachment against Nixon is considered one of the top 100 speeches in American history by the website American Rhetoric. A key paragraph from her remarks speaks directly to how I feel about today’s hearing:
“Today I am an inquisitor. An hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemnness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.”
Amen and amen.
Republicans are defending Trump’s claim that the impeachment inquiry is “illegal,” or “a witch hunt” designed to overturn the results of the 2016 elections. Devin Nunes (R-Ca.), in a letter last week to Adam Schiff (D-Ca.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee where today’s hearings are being held, laid out his party’s views on the proceedings. He accused Democrats of fabricating sinister evidence against the president “out of thin air” and ignoring Trump’s right to due process while leaking cherry-picked information from a private investigation designed to mislead the public and damage the executive. He supported the Republican view that the investigation is illegitimate and wrote, “Americans see through this sham impeachment process, despite Democrats’ retroactive attempt to legitimize it last week.”
Nunes doesn’t speak for me when he attacks the Constitution by claiming this impeachment inquiry is “a sham.” It’s not. It’s what the Founding Fathers in their collective wisdom inserted into our nation’s founding governmental document to protect us from one person — one ideology — taking down our republic, our democracy.
Schiff doesn’t speak for me either. So far, testimony from witnesses has been behind closed doors. Transcripts of their opening remarks during closed-door hearings have been provided so we have had a chance to see some of the charges against Trump.
Opening statements, however, are not as telling as the give-and-take between witnesses and their questioners. So Schiff’s recap of testimony, as well as those of other Democratic Party operatives, is delivered through his political point of view.
All Americans need to see and hear for themselves what these U.S. State Department officials have to say about the Ukraine matter. We need to carefully vet what is presented to us through the miracle of technology. We need to avoid letting other people — elected officials, family or friends — try to force us to take their side of the argument for or against impeachment.
Impeachment is personal. It’s a defining moment for the country that I love, a country that has provided me with a life that has produced much joy and happiness over many decades. It’s not something I take lightly. This is serious business. The future of our country depends on all of us taking time to understand the issues and not let political party hacks — Republican or Democrat — influence our view.
Once the House concludes the hearings, we need to let our elected representatives in Congress know how they should act — vote for or against Articles of Impeachment. Remember, they work for us, not the other way around. We need to let them know what we expect them to do and why.
It’s our privilege and our responsibilty.