The Impeachment Vote

December 18, 2019

Dear Friend,

Today, I voted to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. This was a weighty decision. Impeachment is not something you reach for. It is something you are brought to – reluctantly – when the evidence presented can no longer be denied. In this sober and historic moment, members of Congress were called upon to uphold our oath of office and our duty to the Constitution, and we answered that call.

President Trump coerced a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election. Once Congress began to investigate his actions, he directed Executive Branch agencies, offices and officials not to comply. At every turn, he defied lawful subpoenas and withheld relevant documents. All of this was done in violation of his oath to faithfully execute the office of the Presidency and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

The President’s actions compromised the national security of the United States, undermined the integrity of our democratic process and betrayed the trust of the American people. In soliciting foreign interference, President Trump took direct aim at the heart of our democracy. Like you, I believe that Americans should decide our elections, not a foreign country. As long as the President continues to invite foreign inference into our democracy, the integrity of the 2020 election remains at risk. We had no choice but to impeach.

During the impeachment inquiry, the House’s investigative committees conducted seventeen depositions and held public hearings with twelve fact witnesses, including career public servants, military officials and Trump political appointees. The witness testimony – along with other evidence including the White House’s summary of President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelensky and public admissions from the President himself, his personal lawyer and his acting chief of staff – told a clear, consistent and uncontested story.

President Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to publicly announce sham investigations into his political rival, and into a baseless conspiracy theory promoted by Russia, to benefit the President’s 2020 re-election campaign. In order to coerce the Ukrainian government into carrying out this political scheme, President Trump withheld bipartisan, Congressionally appropriated military aid for Ukraine and dangled the prospect of a desperately sought-after White House meeting with the newly elected President of Ukraine. When these actions were uncovered, President Trump directed the Executive Branch to engage in unprecedented obstruction of Congress’s Constitutionally supported impeachment investigation by defying subpoenas, refusing to turn over documents and declining to provide testimony.

These facts are not disputed.

And so we are left with the question: Will Congress allow a President to place himself above the law, to abuse the power of his office, to invite foreign meddling into our elections, to put our national security at risk and to blatantly disregard the system of checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution, all for the purpose of benefitting his re-election campaign?

Today, the House answered that somber question with a resounding “No.” We are holding the President accountable for his high crimes and misdemeanors because no one – not even the President of the United States – is above the law.


Sincerely,

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Congressman John Sarbanes
Maryland’s Third Congressional District