Neal Statement in Support of Impeachment of President Trump
Washington, DC, December 18, 2019
Today, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Richard E. Neal released the following statement in support of the articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.
“It is deeply unfortunate that we have to undertake the impeachment proceedings unfolding today. But the part we play in this process is not optional: among other things, as the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees have painstakingly documented, the President has abused his authority, and he has obstructed justice. He threatened to withhold congressionally-appropriated U.S. taxpayer dollars from an ally under attack from Russia, unless they agreed to interfere in our election on his behalf. He has expressed no remorse, and he continues to maintain that his behavior was ‘perfect,’ while simultaneously obstructing legitimate congressional oversight and subpoenas and blocking members of his administration from providing truthful testimony to investigators. His actions are so far beyond the pale that they have left us with no remaining recourse except impeachment. And so we will impeach.
“Because, as drastic and unwelcome as that step is, our country faces even greater longer-term risk if we fail to respond. We cannot excuse a President who feels entitled to disregard or break the law with impunity. We are a nation built on rule of law, not the law of rulers.
“The framers gave us their best effort in 1787. And it was an extraordinary one. The Constitution they set down wasn’t perfect, but it founded a republic that has endured and thrived with exceptional stability. As Senator Moynihan pointed out, only two countries in the world both existed in 1800 and have never had their governments changed by violence since then: the United States and Britain. Only eight governments existed in 1914 and haven’t had their form of government changed by force since then: the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland. The innovative system of checks and balances and separation of powers that the founders negotiated has successfully met generations of challenges.
“In the very first week that the framers began crafting this blueprint for America’s freedom and stability, negotiations started on the subject of impeachment. No government in the world at that time exposed the head of government to impeachment, but America was to be different. In the view of the framers, impeachment is in no way a constitutional crisis—it is a process that the framers wisely judged that we would sometimes need. This is one of those rare moments.
“Madison worried that one day the country would elect a president who, “might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation [embezzlement] or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers.” George Mason asked the delegates, “Shall any man be above Justice? Above all, shall that man be above it, who can commit the most extensive injustice?” Of course not, because, having just thrown off one king, they would never consent to anoint another one.
“America rejected the notion of divine right. Let me be clear: I take no pleasure in today’s vote. Impeachment can never become just one more partisan skirmish, played out on a different battlefield. I’ve disagreed with Republican presidents in the past without calling for impeachment, regardless of how vast the differences over policy and politics have sometimes become. No one runs for Congress aspiring to participate in an impeachment proceeding. Elections are the way to adjudicate and resolve policy differences.
“Impeachment is reserved for moments of much graver danger, when the constitutional order becomes dangerously out of balance. Moments like this one. And that is why I will cast my vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump.”