Welch: Trump should be impeached


Peter Welch

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) has concluded that President Donald Trump should be impeached.

“I do not arrive at this conclusion lightly,” he wrote in a statement released Thursday morning. “The power of impeachment granted to Congress by our Founding Fathers should not be casually employed. In our democracy, every deference should be given to the outcome of every election.”

The statement comes a day after the U.S. House of Representatives voted 332–95 to table an impeachment article submitted by Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.), which cited the president’s racist tweets and declared that Trump had “brought the high office of the president of the United States into contempt, ridicule, disgrace, and disrepute, has sown seeds of discord among the people of the United States, has demonstrated that he is unfit to be president, and has betrayed his trust as president of the United States to the manifest injury of the people of the United States, and has committed a high misdemeanor in office.”

Until recently, Welch had been reluctant to support impeachment, he acknowledged in a conference call with press outlets on Thursday afternoon.

“My view has long been that we should be doing investigations and following the facts,” he said.

But two things have changed his mind, he said.

First, Trump has obstructed congressional attempts at oversight, which Welch has concluded is not going to stop.

“The president has stonewalled adamantly and constantly,” the congressman said. “He won’t produce witnesses. He won’t produce documents.”

Trump and members of his administration have ignored or rejected subpoenas related to immigrant family-separation, security clearance, the census, the president’s finances and Kellyanne Conway’s violations of the Hatch Act, Welch said.

Second, Trump has stepped up his attacks on American citizens, based on their ethnic origin, their religion and their race.

On July 14, President Trump issued a series of tweets directed at four congresswomen of color, three of whom were born in the United States:

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Then during a campaign rally Wednesday night in Greenville, North Carolina, when Trump leveled more attacks at one of those congresswomen, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who was born in Somalia, his audience chanted, “Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!”

Trump made no attempt to curtail their chanting.

Welch found this appalling, he said.

“Last night was a very clear indication (that the president has fully embraced) that conduct — attacking people because of who they are or where they come from — and it’s my judgment that as bad as it’s been, it’s going to get much worse.”

The congressman’s public statement of support for impeachment, and his support of Rep. Green’s impeachment resolution, did not come with an action plan, however.

When asked if he planned to actively pursue or push for impeachment, Welch replied that “this is an active decision — making it clear that I support impeachment. The impeachment process is something that the judiciary committee has responsibility for, so all the members of the judiciary committee will know my position.”

Welch shared his decision with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has promised to prevent any articles of impeachment from proceeding through the House, but he has not otherwise discussed it with her.

“I sent a text to Speaker Pelosi to let her know my decision, and she texted me back and said ‘thanks,’” Welch said. “Basically I just let her know what I was doing.”

At the time of the conference call on Thursday, Welch had not discussed his decision with the other two members of Vermont’s congressional delegation, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), and though he was unsure whether a majority of Vermonters were supportive, he felt that it was important to let them know where he stands.

“Every member of Congress is going to have to make his or her decision on whether they want to support the impeachment process,” he said. “But the bottom line is, whether a member has taken a position on impeachment, we’ve got work to do.”

Welch cited a number of legislative accomplishments and pointed out that earlier in the day the House had passed a bill raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

He also pointed with hope to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s upcoming congressional testimony.

On July 24, Mueller is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees about his Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, a redacted edition of which was released to the public on April 18.

“I do think there’s going to be some benefit to Mr. Mueller coming in to the judiciary committee and intelligence committee next week because there will be focused attention on him telling us what was in the report, and I think that’s the big opportunity for the American people to hear it from a source that is respected,” Welch said. “But whether this will change how information gets out to American voters, I just don’t know.”

Regarding his recent vote of support for Rep. Allen’s resolution, Welch said it was more about moving forward on the impeachment discussion, rather than about the content of the resolution itself.

Ultimately, he said, “if there were articles of impeachment they would be written up by the Judiciary Committee.”

Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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