Richmond hears from Congressman DeSaulnier on impeachment craze in Washington
on October 5, 2019
Congressman Mark DeSaulnier, a Democrat representing California’s 11thCongressional District, addressed Washington’s current preoccupation with the possible impeachment of President Donald J. Trump with hundreds of Richmond residents gathered Thursday evening at a lively Town Hall meeting at De Anza High School.
The town hall focused on Trump’s efforts to enlist foreign leaders in his quest to discredit his Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. In addition to asking the leader of Ukraine to help him gather information on the Bidens in a phone call last July, Trump said this past week that China should start investigations of the Bidens as well.
DeSaulnier, who is also a member of the House Oversight Committee, charges that by trying to extort foreign powers into digging up dirt on a political rival, Trump continues to undermine the security of American elections, violating his oath of office and placing the nation’s security at risk.
The congressman says Trump’s defense strategy includes intimidating witnesses and congressional investigators, attacking opponents, changing narratives, withholding information, and refusing to comply with subpoenas – with the ultimate aim of having the Senate decline to convict him in an eventual impeachment hearing.
Democrats are doing everything possible to get to the facts, adds DeSaulnier, “but we expect the Trump administration to block our efforts.” Should the Trump administration refuse to comply with Congressional subpoenas, it will be extremely difficult to enforce them, he says, adding: “Congress needs to reform subpoena laws.”
However, there are three ways Congress can attempt to enforce a subpoena, he says. One way is through criminal contempt proceedings, where the House votes to find the individual in contempt and then submits the finding to the US Attorney’s office for criminal prosecution. Another way is through civil contempt, where certain committees and the house can vote to file a civil contempt lawsuit asking a court to enforce a subpoena. There is also inherent contempt, where the House Sergeant-at-Arms takes a person into custody for judicial proceedings to be held in Congress.
DeSaulnier’s remarks got a mixed and, at times, boisterous reception. A few residents present at the Town Hall voiced disapproval of local officials before stomping off as the meeting went on. One Republican disruptively shouted and labeled all Democrats “weak.”
Another speaker blasted local officials for “wasting their time” with the impeachment issue as “the Senate is not going to do it.” He asked DeSaulnier for “exact proof” of impeachable offenses.
Some community members raised other concerns about gun control and protection of whistle blowers, along with a number of issues closer to home, including safety in schools and rail shipments of coal in Richmond.
One attendee, 72-year-old John Krallman, berated lawmakers like DeSaulnier for being distracted by the impeachment issue. “If they spent more time doing what they were elected to do instead of doing what they are doing, the country would be better off,” he told Richmond Confidential. “They don’t care about anything else other than getting Trump impeached.”
DeSaulnier explained that impeachment by the House doesn’t mean the president is removed from office. Rather, he says, “It’s an indictment and then the Senate is where they have the trial,” he says. If the impeachment resolution is adopted by the House, the U.S. Senate must hold a trial and vote to determine the President’s removal.
Members of the audience applauded when DeSaulnier stated his position on the issue. “The president admitted it,” he says. “If I were to vote right now, I’d vote to impeach the President.”
“Most Republicans do not support Trump,” he says. “I think, if they thought he was going down, they would be pretty quick not to defend him. What’s happening right now is that they’re afraid of him.”
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