U.S. Rep. DeGette takes high profile in impeachment hearing

Congresswoman from Denver presided over historic proceedings


Donald Trump became the third president to be impeached after a historic vote on Dec. 18, with one of the president's biggest critics, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, presiding over the House proceedings as speaker pro tempore.

The House voted on two articles of impeachment, with 230 in favor and 197 against for abuse of power, and 229 for and 198 against for obstruction of Congress.

In a statement after the vote, DeGette said “no one is above the law.”

“When a president decides to violate the public's trust by putting their own self-interests ahead of the country's — as President Trump has done — the House of Representatives has a duty to act,” she said in a statement. “As some of our nation's top constitutional experts have said, President Trump's conduct is precisely what our founders feared and it's why they gave Congress the power to remove a president from office, if necessary.”

DeGette represents Colorado's 1st Congressional district, which includes Denver, Englewood, Cherry Hills Village, Glendale and Sheridan.

Trump will face trial in the Republican-controlled Senate starting next month.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, said in a statement there was “clear evidence” Trump abused his office, leaving the House no choice but to pursue an impeachment inquiry. He added that the next steps in the Senate trial are critical.

“The rule of law is a fundamental tenet of American democracy. Its enforcement requires elected leaders to set aside partisanship for principle,” he said. “We must reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law by upholding our constitutional checks and balances.”

Annalyse Keller, the communications director for Colorado's Republican U.S. senator, Cory Gardner, said the trial in the Senate will be bipartisan and fair, which she characterized as unlike the House proceeding.

“Sen. Gardner believes Nancy Pelosi's impeachment inquiry to appease the far left has been a total circus that has only served to divide this country,” she said.

Colorado representatives, along with a majority of the House, voted along party lines in the impeachment proceedings. Democratic Reps. DeGette, Jason Crow, Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter votes yes on both articles, while Republican Reps. Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton voted against.

Many of the nation's Republicans spoke during the proceedings on Dec. 18 stating that Democrats had been moving toward impeachment from the moment Trump took office in 2016. During his time on the floor, Buck said that many past Democratic presidents had also abused their power, but Republicans did not take action because “they wanted Congress and the president to work out their differences.” He also argued that the proceedings against Trump would make it difficult for any president to avoid impeachment.

“Today, Democrats give this country a new standard for impeachment. One that no president will be able to escape,” Buck said. “This is a mistake that will do long-term damage to the nation.”

Democrats, on the other hand, argued that there were mounds of evidence that justified impeachment.

DeGette has been vocal on Twitter and other social media platforms about President Trump's actions leading up to the impeachment vote, saying he “abused his power and violated the public's trust.”

The first article of impeachment states Trump used his powers of office to pressure a foreign power into investigating his political opponents, specifically former Vice President Joe Biden, and therefore interfere in the next presidential election. 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.

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.

In a statement before the vote, DeGette said it was an honor to be the speaker pro tempore.

“None of us came to Congress to impeach a president, but every one of us — when we assumed office — took an oath to uphold the constitution,” she said. “This is a sad and somber moment in our nation's history and the responsibility to preside over this important debate is something I will not take lightly.”


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