McGovern Delivers Opening Remarks During Impeachment Inquiry into Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for High Crimes and Misdemeanors
Madam Speaker, for the purposes of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Oklahoma, my good friend Mr. Cole, pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purposes of debate only.
I ask unanimous consent that all Members be given five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
Madam Speaker, on Tuesday, the Rules Committee met and reported a closed rule for House Resolution 767, providing for consideration of H. Res. 755, Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for High Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The rule provides six hours of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee or their designees.
The rule provides that the question of adoption of the resolution shall be divided between the two articles.
The rule limits access to the House Floor. It provides, at any time after adoption of H. Res. 755, for consideration of a resolution appointing and authorizing managers for the impeachment trial, if offered by the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, debatable for 10 minutes.
No other resolution incidental to impeachment relating to H. Res. 755 shall be privileged during the remainder of the 116th Congress.
Finally, the rule provides that the chair of the Judiciary Committee may insert explanatory material in the Congressional Record.
Madam Speaker, 232 years ago, as he walked out of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin stated that the Founders had just created ‘a republic, if you can keep it.’
He understood that nothing was preordained. That our nation would continue to be shaped decision by decision, vote by vote.
Not by some other leaders in some other time. But day in and day out, both through the regular work of government and during historic moments like the one we face today.
Our Founders crafted the fundamentals of government to guide us. Passages like Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, giving this chamber the sole power of impeachment. But nowhere does it list exactly what constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor.
In their wisdom, the Founders understood they could not anticipate what the future would bring. They gave subsequent generations — us — the chance to decide precisely what our government would become.
To decide with each passing day what a nation defined by the rule of law was willing to tolerate.
That is what brings us here today.
To decide nearly two and half centuries later whether the United States is still a nation where no one is above the law. Or whether America becomes a land run by those who act more like kings or queens. As if the law doesn’t apply to them.
Yes, Madam Speaker, this really is that serious.
Over the past several months, the House of Representatives has been conducting an impeachment inquiry into the forty-fifth President of the United States, Donald John Trump.
Our inquiry is simply to answer the following question: did President Trump and his top advisors corruptly withhold official government actions to obtain an improper advantage in the next election?
We now know, through the hard work of our investigative committees and because of the president’s own admission, that the answer to that question is yes.
The president withheld congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine, a country under siege. Not to fight corruption, but to extract a personal political favor.
President Trump refused to meet with Ukraine’s president in the White House until he completed this scheme.
All the while, leaders in Russia — the very nation holding a large part of Ukraine hostage, the very nation that interfered with our elections — had another meeting in the Oval Office just last week!
The president of the United States endangered our national security.
The president undermined our democracy.
And the president — a successor to the same office as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — betrayed his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
These aren’t opinions. These are uncontested facts.
I’ve read the details of the July 25th phone call with President Zelensky, where President Trump said, “I would like you to do us a favor, though.”
I’ve seen the televised press conference where his chief of staff openly admitted to this deal and told the nation to just “get over it.”
Hours and hours of depositions by the Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees have been conducted, where witnesses outlined the president’s direct involvement in this scheme.
The evidence is as clear as it is overwhelming.
If a president undermining our national security and using the federal government for his own selfish personal gain is not impeachable conduct, then Madam Speaker, I don’t know what is!
I’ve heard some on the other side suggest this process is about overturning an election. That is absurd. This is about protecting our democracy.
These facts are beyond dispute. The only question now is whether we are willing to tolerate such conduct.
Not just today by President Trump, but furthermore by any president of either party.
To not act would set a dangerous precedent — not just for this president, but for every future president.
11 months ago, many of us took an oath right here in this chamber. I’ve had the privilege to take that oath twelve times now, and I believe it is not just for show.
It is a contract between each of us and the people we represent. To place the national interest above partisan interests. And to preserve those laws that make our country unique.
We cannot reconcile the president’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress with the oath of office that we took.
Madam Speaker, we are being tested on something greater than our ability to tow a party line. Something more than our ability to score the next great television soundbite.
This is a democracy-defining moment.
History will judge us by whether we keep intact that fragile republic handed down to us by our forebears more than 200 years ago. Or whether we allow it to be changed forever.
For the sake of our country’s future, I hope and pray my colleagues will make the right decision. I reserve the balance of my time.