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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Speech in Opposition to Article I of Impeachment

December 12, 2019
Speeches

Speech in Opposition to Article I of Impeachment
Judiciary Committee
December 12, 2019

Mr. Chairman:

The Constitution introduces the Presidency with 15 words: “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” It does not vest any authority in Lieutenant Colonels at the NSC, ambassadors, state department officials, or cabinet secretaries. The only authority that these officials exercise is delegated to them by the President.  Thus, all of the criticisms and resentments and personal and political disagreements that we have heard from those officials are completely irrelevant to this discussion.

Frankly, I find it dangerous that so many officials in the executive branch apparently believe that they have independent authority to override presidential policy, leak classified documents, and actively work to undermine the lawful discharge of the President's duties under Article Two.
 
If their judgment can replace that of the President, it means that the people of the United States have simply been removed from the equation. 

Someone said during the discussion today, “That the President has actually committed real crimes.” The article does not charge such crimes. Why not? Because there's no evidence to support them. If there was evidence you know that they would have included any such charges in a heartbeat.  So, it's obvious they don't even believe their own rhetoric. 

One member said, “We are not restricted as the Department of Justice is.” Think about what that statement means. The Department of Justice is restricted by the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights sets forth basic principles of due process: the right to confront your accuser and the right to call witnesses in your defense.  Charges have to be supported by evidence, not gossip.  And you have the right to appeal to the courts to protect these rights. 

Yes, the Department of Justice is restricted by the Bill of Rights, but our Bill of Rights with its due process protections, restricts all of us who take the oath of office, and that includes Congress. We are commanded to respect these rights just as much as the Department of Justice.  Only the majority is now placing themselves above the supreme law of the land.
 
The lawful exercise of executive power is simply not an impeachable offense. The President is responsible for faithfully executing the laws. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act makes it a crime to offer something of value to secure business in a foreign country. Well, the facts of Mr. Biden's actions in Ukraine certainly look like they crossed that line. 

Does the President have the authority to request cooperation of a foreign government to investigate potentially corrupt interactions between U.S. officials and their own officials? Of course, he does. 

The Democrats impute the most sinister motives to this request when nothing in the conversation suggests that. “Do us a favor because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” That's the exact quote around which this entire impeachment is constructed. 

The National Defense Authorization Act specifically requires the administration to determine that Ukraine is taking steps to combat corruption before aid can be released.  The Democrats have made much of the fact that the Secretary of Defense certified this in May. But they ignore two facts. Number one, the Secretary of Defense exercises no authority independent of the President.  The buck still stops at the President's desk. And two, the President retains responsibility to determine that the findings of his administration remain valid – particularly as he assesses the intention of a newly elected Ukrainian President and Parliament. 

And lest we forget, last year three Democratic Senators wrote to the Ukrainian government demanding that it cooperate in investigating President Trump. The Democrats found absolutely nothing objectionable about this. The only difference I see is that the President actually has the authority and the responsibility to make such a request. 

So, what's at stake here? The worst possible interpretations of the President's motives in discharging his constitutional powers are being imputed to him by his most vitriolic opponents. There’s nothing extraordinary about that, it’s called politics. 

But if this can become the new standard of impeachment --that Congress can impeach any President for any action whose motives his opponents question -- if this is allowed to replace “treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors” as the standard for nullifying a national election and substituting the judgment of Congress for the judgment of the American people – then no President can make any decision without subjecting the nation to the travesty going on today. 

The executive branch will be subordinated to the legislative, serving at the pleasure of Congress and the separation of powers at the heart of our Constitution will have been severely damaged if not utterly destroyed.