Impeachment Was Necessary to Protect Our Democracy

Statements of Public Citizen Expert

“There is no single and precise definition of what constitutes impeachable wrongdoing, but the essential issue is abuse of power.

“And the quintessential abuses of power that most worried the framers of the Constitution – and which logically must be the most worthy of impeachment – are those that involve:

  • The president elevating his or her personal interest above the public interest;
  • Misuses of power to undermine the integrity of elections and therefore the normal means to ensure political accountability; and
  • Efforts to solicit the involvement of foreign powers in our elections.

“President Donald Trump’s abuses in the Ukraine scandal checked all of those boxes.

“Not all impeachable offenses require impeachment. But in this case, the House of Representatives really had no choice. Donald Trump aims to rig the next election through improper means, making it impossible to rely only on elections – the normal means of political accountability – to punish his wrongdoing. Making matters worse, he has stonewalled the congressional investigation, effectively declaring himself above the law.

“In the United States, however, nobody is above the law, not even the president. Impeachment is the mandatory remedy to defend our constitutional democracy.

“Now it is incumbent on the Senate to hold a fair trial – a prospect thrown into grave doubt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proclamation that there will be ‘total coordination’ between him and the White House – and act where the facts and law take them.”

– Robert Weissman, president

“Today’s vote to impeach Donald Trump is a moment of solemn recognition that asking a foreign nation to investigate your political opponent and withholding taxpayer funds to try to realize your goal will never be okay. Trump abused his power, and this type of offense is exactly what the framers had in mind when they included an impeachment clause in the Constitution. His dual high crimes of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress more than merit the actions taken today. We must impeach when a president believes that the laws of the land do not apply to him and that he can use his office for his personal gain. We applaud the House and urge the Senate to proceed with a fair, substantive trial.”

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs