Matt Cartwright, Opinion contributor
Published 11: 59 p.m. ET Dec. 15, 2019 | Updated 1: 15 p.m. ET Dec. 16, 2019
National Security: There is enough evidence to warrant Senate consideration of impeachment. We need to get at the truth; I hope President Trump gives his explanation.
For months now, I suppose I have been looked at as something of a curiosity: the only member of House Democratic leadership not to have announced a position on impeachment.
Over my time in Congress, I’m proud to have developed a strong record of working with both Democrats and Republicans to help ordinary Americans and make our government work better. In that time, I have introduced more Republican-supported bills than any other House Democrat. In the last Congress, I was deeply honored that the Center for Effective Lawmaking named me the fourth most effective House Democrat, in the rarefied company of veteran lawmakers like Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Peter DeFazio and, one of my heroes, the late Elijah Cummings.
I am now a top target of the national GOP, which is hoping to take back the House next year. Already, deep-pocketed dark money groups are spending staggering amounts of money in my Pennsylvania district, attempting to tell a different story about my record — painting me as a crazed partisan, hellbent on impeachment.
National Security: Voice of restraint on impeachment
Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been diligent in working with President Donald Trump when our interests have aligned, and we have passed several bills into law together. These laws now protect low-income veterans from being scammed out of their hard-earned benefits, prevent taxpayer dollars from being used on personal expenses of government officials and safeguard the rights of child victims of pornography. Earlier this year, at my urging, President Trump signed an executive order to address our nation’s kidney transplant shortage.
When it came to impeachment, I have been one of the loudest Democratic voices urging restraint. I voted against long-shot articles of impeachment multiple times over the past three years when they came to the floor.
Then, a government employee blew the whistle on a July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The whistleblower disclosed that President Trump pressured Zelensky to launch an investigation of a political rival by withholding military aid that by law was supposed to go to Ukraine immediately. Only after the whistle was blown was the aid released. That was too much for me.
If true, these allegations describe misconduct even worse than that committed by President Richard Nixon. Evidence has surfaced that President Trump’s actions subverted both national security and American electoral sovereignty, abuses of office that even Nixon never committed.
Thus, I voted to open the inquiry. Shortly afterward, I was pressed by a reporter on how I would vote if an impeachment vote were held that day. My answer again was “no!” Because people are presumed innocent, and I had not heard President Trump’s side of the story.
Months later, I remained in the ever-shrinking pool of undecided Americans on impeachment, because I still wanted to hear President Trump’s innocent explanation. I was glad when the House Judiciary Committee invited the president to come or send his representatives to its proceedings. However, the president has refused to participate in the House investigation and even barred members of his team from coming to testify to explain their actions.
USA TODAY EDITORIAL BOARD: Impeach President Trump
The evidence and lack of any rebuttal point clearly to President Trump’s attempt to use taxpayer funds to bribe a foreign leader to boost his own political prospects. It shows he threatened our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our democracy and since then has obstructed justice by refusing to obey properly issued subpoenas.
National Security: Enough evidence to refer to Senate
I believe there is sufficient evidence of these things to warrant further proceedings. So I will vote to send this matter to the Senate, where at long last we may well hear an innocent explanation for all of it. Despite every indication that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has prejudged the outcome, I hope he will join us in a serious endeavor to find the truth.
Trump impeachment: Your right to vote in free elections is at stake.
Unfortunately, Leader McConnell has not been a partner in advancing the interests of the American people. Right now, in his Republican-controlled Senate, he is blocking over 275 of our bills that have passed with House Republican support. I suspect he is stalling them so he can peddle the false narrative that House Democrats aren’t doing anything except investigating the president. McConnell is a fierce partisan and would not hesitate to hold up bills that help Americans in all walks of life just to try to score political points for his party.
In the end, I took only one oath — the one to support, uphold and defend our Constitution. And even though it may be deeply unpopular at times, I intend to remain faithful to it. That is why I will vote to advance both articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Rep. Matt Cartwright, a co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, represents northeast Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District. Follow him on Twitter: @RepCartwright
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