House members will have to decide whether President Trump’s conduct qualifies as the “high crimes and misdemeanors” prescribed in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment.
Congress should take seriously the charge that Trump withheld Ukrainian military aid for personal political gain.
After all, Congress approved that aid, which Trump and others representing him allegedly used as leverage to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of former vice president and current Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden.
President Donald Trump has thrown around unfounded claims to portray the impeachment inquiry as illegitimate, such as his tweet Sunday suggesting Democrats might alter the transcripts of closed-door interviews.
Of course, Republican members of the congressional committees involved in the inquiry have been able to hear these interviews and could say if the transcripts didn’t match the testimony — or they could if they actually attended the hearings or read the transcripts.
In the case of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville, he had done neither until he was called out last week on national television. CNN anchor Poppy Harlow asked why Yoho — a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, one of the three committees that are part of the inquiry — hadn’t attended any of the depositions.
“I see these as kind of a sideshow. Because it’s not an official inquiry in impeachment,” Yoho said. “It is something that (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi started without a vote. And I know it’s not constitutional that they have a vote. But it should follow the precedents ... set in the last three impeachments.”
Yoho also said that he had only read summaries of two depositions, not any of the full transcripts, yet when the House voted on the inquiry Thursday — something demanded for weeks by Republicans — Yoho joined his party in uniformly opposing the measure. All but two Democrats voted in favor of the resolution, which passed 232-196 and formalized the inquiry’s rules as it moves into a more public part of the process.
One could rightly question whether Democrats were being smart politically by holding closed-door hearings before an official vote, but now that the vote has been taken and transcripts are being publicly released, the focus needs to shift from process to the substance of the complaints against Trump.
House members will have to decide whether Trump’s conduct qualifies as the “high crimes and misdemeanors” prescribed in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. But they actually need to be part of the process to do that — not skipping hearings, as Yoho had been.
Yoho still hasn’t announced whether he is running for re-election, which would break his pledge to only serve four terms. His spokeswoman told The Capitolist website that he was under considerable pressure from high-ranking Republicans to stay because of impeachment.
As long as he’s still there, Yoho and other Republicans need to take their jobs seriously. Impeachment is not illegitimate; it is a process spelled out in the Constitution — which Yoho and other lawmakers have sworn to uphold.
The Gainesville Sun