Among the Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives opposed to the impeachment of President Donald Trump is Colorado's Ken Buck.
The House voted Dec. 18 to approve two articles of impeachment, and Trump will next face trial in the U.S. Senate. The decision came after hours of fiery debate on the House floor. Democratic leadership said evidence for impeachment was clear and they had no choice but to impeach Trump. Republicans countered with seething criticism, decrying the impeachment inquiry as politically motivated.
Buck, R-Windsor, chairs the Colorado Republican Party and sits on the House Judiciary Committee. He represents the 4th Congressional District, which includes Castle Rock, Lone Tree, Parker, Elbert County and much of Colorado's Eastern Plains. The congressman voted against both articles of impeachment.
Buck has been a staunch critic of the impeachment inquiry and the resulting impeachment articles. Trump's impeachment lowered the bar to impeach future presidents, Buck said during debate on Dec. 18. In his speech, Buck pointed toward opportunties to impeach Democratic presidents he said Republicans could have seized under the standard used to impeach Trump but didn't.
He named Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Barack Obama as presidents who also abused their power of office and "underminded democracy."
"Republicans did not impeach. Why? Because the framers did not want a low bar for impeachment. They wanted Congress and the president to work out their differences," he said.
The House Judiciary Committee approved the two articles of impeachment in a 23-17 vote on Dec. 13, sending them on to the full-House vote on Dec. 18, which fell largely along party lines. In hours of floor speeches before the vote, numerous Republicans said there was no evidence Trump committed a crime, that Democrats were leading the impeachment inquiry because they personally disliked Trump and that Democrats had worked toward impeachment throughout Trump's presidency.
The first article states Trump used his powers of office to pressure a foreign power into investigating his political opponents and therefore interfere in the next presidential election. "He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent (former Vice President Joe Biden) and influence the 2020 United States presidential election to his advantage," the article reads.
The document further states Trump withheld taxpayer dollars already appropriated by Congress for military aid to Ukraine, and, a head of state meeting at the White House sought by the Ukrainian president.
"Faced with the public revelation of his actions, President Trump ultimately released the military and security assistance to the government of Ukraine, but has persisted in openly and corruptly urging and soliciting Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit," the article says.
The second article states Trump obstructed a Congressional impeachment inquiry by directing executive branch agencies and staff to resist its subpoenas. Trump ordered the White House and executive branch agencies to withhold documents requested in the subpoenas, the article says, and directed current and former staff not to cooperate with committees during the impeachment inquiry.
"In the history of the republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate 'high crimes and misdemeanors,'" the document states.
Buck was vocal on Twitter as impeachment hearings filled the days leading up to the House's vote. On Dec. 11, he said Democrats had "prejudged this case" and ignored Trump's right to executive privilege. The following day, he said Trump put America first by "ensuring U.S. taxpayer dollars weren't funding Ukrainian corruption." Trump had not committed any crimes, he said.
"It's time to accept the results of the 2016 election," Buck wrote.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, presided over the impeachment debate and served as speaker pro tempore. She issued a statement following the vote, saying Trump put his personal interests before the country's needs and attempted to cover up his alleged misconduct. Trump's actions risked the United States' national security and undermined the integrity of U.S. elections, she said.
"No one in this country is above the law; and President Trump, by his own actions, left us no choice but to approve the articles of impeachment against him today," she said.
In a statement released from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, the senator called on his colleagues to fully assess evidence presented during trial and set aside partisanship. Congress has "few responsibilities more important than defending our constitutional order," he said, and commended the House for having "fulfilled that responsibility."
"This is a solemn day for America. There is clear evidence that President Trump abused his office and obstructed Congress," Bennet said. "This has left the House of Representatives no choice but to pursue an impeachment inquiry and vote to impeach the president."
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