Dear Republican US Senators:
The Constitutional threshold for impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate is high: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Implied is the sense of deep danger to the country, beyond the remedy of the normal electoral process.
Wisely, this high bar makes it challenging to remove a president through impeachment. Elections matter, and their results should not be easily undone. I say this as an independent who did not vote for Mr. Trump, disagree deeply with many of his policies, and consider him singularly unfit for the Office of President.
Still, there are limits. Based on the evidence gathered by the Mueller report and the House Intelligence Committee, I must sadly conclude that Mr. Trump went beyond what it should be acceptable from any President, regardless of party. Here is why:
- Russia interfered in our 2016 elections, and continues to do so towards future elections. This is, as Fiona Hill testified and the Mueller report asserted, beyond question. The US President is knowingly eroding the very foundation of our democracy, by blatantly failing to acknowledge this threat—and severely undermining investigations and other efforts to protect our elections from a foreign government. That’s Constitutionally unacceptable.
- The president’s attempted use of federal assets (whether a validating White House visit, or military assistance) as exchange currency to receive personal benefits from a foreign government, is Constitutionally unacceptable. That such government, Ukraine, is vital to our national security interests, is at an asymmetric war with Russia, and relies heavily on US assistance, makes the presidential actions even less defensible.
- Congress has a Constitutional mandate to oversee the President. It is unacceptable for the President to obstruct that oversight function, by denigrating the House impeachment process, prohibiting depositions of current and former federal employees (even when subpoenaed), and intimidating those who do testify.
I agree with Speaker Pelosi that Mr. Trump left the House no choice but to draw articles of impeachment, for the integrity of our nation and Constitution. As the process evolves, I fear that the House will impeach and the Senate will acquit, along angrily drawn partisan lines. This would not be good for either party. More importantly, it would be disastrous for a nation already deeply divided, and struggling to retain its fundamental principles.
As an American, I call upon you, Senators, to put country above party and seek a better alternative, as enough of your colleagues did in 1974. Specifically, please:
- Recognize, individually and as a group, that this President strayed far beyond any acceptable policy discretion, into impeachable territory.
- Through a high-level delegation, offer the President two options: Resign, or face a Senate trial without unconditional partisan cover. A resignation ahead of a formal impeachment, as with Nixon, would best serve the nation, and should be encouraged.
- If the President chooses the Senate trial, be prepared to be true to your Oath of Office: Follow the evidence, and convict if warranted.
I further ask that, leading to and through Mr. Trump’s resignation or trial, you work with your colleagues—across the aisle and in both chambers of Congress—to:
- Create and embrace a shared message of national unity
- Re-assure our international allies and enemies alike, that we are firmly and relentlessly committed to be a beacon for freedom and democracy
- Unambiguously denounce past Russian interference, and prevent all foreign interference in future elections
- Ensure fair elections on November 2020
By the above actions, you might prevent the Republican Party’s moral collapse and the bankruptcy of our two-party political system.
More fundamentally, you would enable the rebirth of the US as a unified country of principle, and of global influence. And that, Senators, would be truly remarkable and patriotic.
— Antonio Baptista
Oregon 2nd District
cc: Democratic US Senators, US congressman Greg Walden (R-OR2)