A Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee quoted Vice President Mike Pence to make a point about the impeachment of President Donald Trump during last night’s hearing.
The judiciary committee met to debate the proposed articles of impeachment against Trump, which include abuse of power and obstruction.
Trump is facing impeachment for allegedly trying to coerce Ukraine into opening spurious corruption investigations that would damage his political rivals ahead of the 2020 election.
“Since our founders ratified the Constitution in 1788, the president of the United States has had a duty to advance our national interests, not his own personal or political interests,” Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island said during the hearing.
“Two hundred and twenty years later, a congressman on this committee said, and I quote: ‘This business of high crimes and misdemeanours goes to the question of whether or not the person serving as president of the United States put their own interests, their personal interests, ahead of public service.’
“The congressman who said that was Mike Pence. And he was exactly right,” Cicilline said.
Pence was a Republican congressman representing Indiana from 2001 to 2013 and served on the judiciary committee. He made those comments during a hearing on the constitutional limits of executive power in July 2008.
Trump denies any wrongdoing over his conduct towards Ukraine and says he was legitimately pursuing allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 candidate, and the Democratic Party.
He is accused of conditioning a White House visit for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and $391 million in military aid for the country, which is battling a Russian invasion in its east, on a public announcement that the corruption investigations were opened.
One of the investigations would be into Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was in office, based on dubious allegations about the former vice president’s actions on Ukraine.
The other is about a widely-debunked conspiracy theory involving the Democrats that Ukraine, not Russia, is the source of election meddling in 2016 in an effort to undermine Trump’s campaign. In reality, the U.S. intelligence community says Russia interfered to benefit Trump.
“That wasn’t an attack on Vice President Biden. That was an attack on our democracy. And if we don’t hold the president accountable for it, we will set a catastrophic precedent,” Cicilline said of Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to open investigations.
“Any time a future president is afraid of losing reelection he’ll feel entitled to do whatever it takes to win even if they have to abuse their power to do it. If we set that precedent, if we decide the president is above the law, then we will no longer live in a democracy.
“We will live in a dictatorship, trading the values of Madison for the values of Moscow. That’s why this should matter to every single person watching tonight, because if the president gets away with trying to cheat in the 2020 election he will no longer be responsive to the will of the people.”
Newsweek has contacted the White House by email for comment and this article will be updated if one is provided.
“There was no illicit plan to extort the Ukrainian president,” Pence told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday. “Let’s begin with the fact the president released the transcript [of his July 25 call with Zelenskiy]. There was no quid pro quo.
“President Zelenskiy has said as recently as the last week that there was no pressure placed on Ukraine. Witnesses…before the Democrat committee actually testified that the subject of investigations never came up either before, during or after my meeting with President Zelenskiy in Poland.”