As the debate in the House of Representatives over whether to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump continues, House Democrats voted to authorize court proceedings to enforce subpoenas issued to both Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn, demanding they testify in open congressional hearings. However, because the Trump Justice Department has now agreed to limited cooperation in producing some evidentiary documents related to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 2016 election investigation, House leaders have not yet moved to hold either man in contempt of Congress.
On June 10, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from three former federal prosecutors who agreed that if President Trump were a private citizen, he would almost certainly already have been indicted on multiple obstruction of justice charges. Also testifying was John Dean, President Nixon’s White House counsel and a whistleblower in the Watergate impeachment proceedings who stated that “history is repeating itself,” comparing the Mueller report to the Watergate Road Map.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Alexandra Flores-Quilty, an organizer with the group By The People, who discusses the June 15 National Day of Action sponsored by her organization and MoveOn.org. Over 100 protest actions have been organized across the country calling on Congress to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, a demand that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet embraced.
ALEXANDRA FLORES-QUILTY: We have come together, By the People and MoveOn, as well as numerous other local and national organizations to coordinate this National Day of Action. We really believe that time is up, that this administration has committed so many impeachable offenses and poses such a danger to the people of this country and to our democracy that we can’t wait any longer. And so, we’ve called on this National Day of Action this Saturday and there are events taking place in more than 100 cities and towns across the country. These events are, some of them are going to be small and in libraries with grannies who are going to be talking about why Donald Trump needs to be impeached. And then some of them will be more in the format of a rally like the one that we’ll be having in Manhattan and folks can sign up at impeach.org to either attend an existing event or just sign up for one.
And essentially what this this day is really about is that we know that Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses and that the next step is really for Congress to have begin an impeachment inquiry. That’s the next step in this process. It’s really clearly laid out in our Constitution. However, we know that our elected representatives will not take action unless we, the people, force them to. And so, this day is really about us as an American people joining together and taking action and demanding what we think is really necessary in this political moment.
BETWEEN THE LINES: Alexandra, I wondered if you would explore a bit of the arguments for and against initiating an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. We’ve had Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi talking about the fact that the Senate will never convict Donald Trump and that if he’s impeached in the House and it moves over to the Senate and he’s found not guilty – which is, you know, a very high bar of two-thirds of the vote of the senators there. And it’s dominated by the Republicans at this point. So there’s a lot of concern that Trump would use a “not guilty” verdict in the Senate as vindication and use that publicly to great effect in his re-election campaign in 2020. There’s also the argument that the Democrats initiating impeachment will energize Trump’s political base of support and you know, again, make it more difficult to defeat him at the polls in November 2020. Maybe you can take on those two rationales that are put up by especially monied establishment Democrats to not move towards impeachment at this moment.
ALEXANDRA FLORES-QUILTY: First and foremost, the question is whether or not Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses. You know, I can spell out some of the numerous ones that myself and you know, other constitutional scholars have laid out for the case. But the answer, you know, short and simple is yes, it’s understandable that many of our elected representatives are, are playing out the different political scenarios about how this will all play out. However, when we really get down to the end of the day about whether or not he has committed impeachable offenses, whether he is a danger to the American people, the people who call this country home, and a danger to our democracy, I believe that the answer is yes and it’s never the wrong time politically to do what is morally right and what is necessary – and what is quite frankly, really spelled out in the Constitution.
And many of our representatives have already shown moral courage and much-needed leadership by announcing their support for impeachment. And you know, more specifically the pathway that we really support as Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s resolution calling on the House Judiciary Committee to officially start impeachment proceedings by investigating Trump’s high crimes. The other thing about this is that when we compare this to a other points in history, what we can look at from times our country and our democracy have faced similar situations.
And you know, with Richard Nixon, like I said, there was far less public support than there is right now. There was no bipartisan support. So the idea that that’s a prerequisite before we even begin impeachment proceedings, beginning to start an inquiry is just that: It’s an inquiry. There was no bipartisan support for impeachment for Richard Nixon when they began the inquiry onto him.
However, that changed during that process. And we’ve actually already seen, we actually do have one Republican member of the House, Justin Amash from Michigan, who now supports impeachment. So, by two metrics that some of our elected leaders have said, you know, at different points that they want a critical mass of the public. That they want bipartisan support. We’ve met those metrics. And, quite frankly, I think that the reality is what we’re seeing is that we’re going to continue to see excuses from our elected representatives unless we really force them to take the necessary action. It’s so needed right now.
I think it’s really dangerous that we not protect our democratic institutions, that we not protect, not uphold the Constitution because we’re too afraid of what might happen in the future when very quickly, our democratic institutions are crumbling away, children are dying in cages and our political norms that really are a democratic norms that really hold up the very fabric of our democracy are changing right beneath our feet. And so I think that we know that this will continue to happen unless we take action. And action is really spelled out clearly in the Constitution. It’s impeachment.
For more information on By The People, visit bytheppl.us.