Dec. 18, 2019, was a somber day in American history. For only the third time, the House of Representatives voted to impeach a United States president. All four Arkansas congressmen voted "no" on both articles of impeachment of President Trump.
History will record their "no" votes as protection of a president who does not obey the rule of law, empowering him to cheat in the next election.
Rep. French Hill has justified his vote against holding Trump accountable by referring to the impeachment process as a "step by Speaker Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues in their race to undo the 2016 elections before Christmas."
In fact, this impeachment is about restoring integrity to the office of the president. It is evident that President Trump placed his personal interests above those of our nation's foreign policy and national security--policies agreed to by both parties. This impeachment is based on acts which President Trump took while in office.
Representative Hill has stated "... the facts did not demonstrate any offense sufficient to justify removing a duly elected U.S. president from office." In fact, sworn depositions presented in the impeachment inquiry, the partial transcript of Trump's call with Ukraine, and his own statements to the press have affirmed the president's willingness to betray our country for his own political gain. Public servants who testified under oath said Trump's actions were "not proper," or they "undermine the rule of law," or they "sounded like a threat."
Those who claim Trump is innocent of charges have either refused to or been prohibited from testifying under oath. His actions of openly encouraging foreign countries--Ukraine and China--to investigate his political opponent are a clear threat to the integrity of our elections. This is exactly the type of offense that our founding fathers feared when they included the process of impeachment in the Constitution.
Representative Hill has said no one could reasonably argue President Trump has obstructed justice during the impeachment hearings. In fact, the accused prevented subpoenaed witnesses from testifying and prevented subpoenaed documents from being turned over. Why were these testimonies and documents withheld? We surmise that important information about the president's abuse of power is being hidden.
Representative Hill has complained that "This partisan inquiry was flawed from the start." In fact, the Constitution provides no prescribed process for impeachment. Each of our previous impeachments has been organized differently, depending on their unique circumstances. That said, the Trump impeachment process is actually quite similar to the Nixon/Clinton impeachments.
Further, Republicans have complained about closed hearings even though they were part of the investigative committees. Republicans complain that the president has not had a chance to defend himself. In fact, he and his lawyers have made a choice not to attend the impeachment hearings even after being invited to do so. Republicans talk about a rushed process, but the timeline for Trump's impeachment inquiry has been very similar to the Republican-led impeachment inquiry of Bill Clinton. And although our founding fathers did not specify how long an impeachment should take, one would think that in a situation in which the president is threatening our democracy and attempting to illegally influence upcoming elections, they would have been in favor of an expeditious process.
GOP complaints about process are an attempt to divert attention from the following facts that have been publicly documented by sworn testimony:
First, President Trump withheld $400 million in taxpayer-funded military aid to pressure the Ukraine president to dig up dirt on a political opponent. Second, he tried to cover it up. If an ordinary person tried to do this, they'd go to jail. No American should be above the law.
Arkansas' four representatives--French Hill, Steve Womack, Rick Crawford, and Bruce Westerman--have all voted to place one man and one party above the rule of law. They have chosen to consolidate power among themselves rather than do their jobs. They are not representing the best long-term interests of Arkansas' people, nor fulfilling their oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Will there be continued foreign interference in American elections? You can count on it. Our congressmen have been complicit in endorsing such interference.
Our national security, and our votes, are at stake.
We ask our fellow Arkansans to protect our democracy, since our representatives will not.
Call your congressman and tell him that you will be holding him accountable for his vote. Call your senators and demand a fair impeachment trial regarding President Trump.
And whatever else you do, go to the polls and vote. Because at the end of the day, if all eligible voters actually voted, we would elect officials who represent all of us.
Loriee Evans is a community organizer with Indivisible Little Rock and Central Arkansas and an advocate for the collective power of voting.
Editorial on 12/21/2019