U.S. Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, has called on the U.S. Congress to open an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Trump.
Beyer became the first member of the Virginia congressional delegation to make this call, as the total number of Democrats advocating that approach came into double digits in the last days.
Beyer’s statement followed the first Republican to call for an impeachment inquiry, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, earlier this week. Among other Virginia Democrats, Rep. Gerry Connolly, a member of the House Oversight Committee, stopped short of that call on CNN yesterday, echoing the claim of the Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi that Trump is “engaged in a cover-up” by defying House committee subpoenas and demands for information.
Beyer told the News-Press in a phone interview that he attended the Democrats’ closed meeting with Pelosi yesterday morning and that Pelosi’s concern was that all the forceful moves are being carried out prior to going the impeachment route, including taking contempt votes to the floor of the House and going to court. Heads of four key House committees — Oversight, Intelligence, Ways and Means and Judiciary — are all exercising powerful moves to compel the Trump administration to comply with Congressional demands for oversight.
Beyer said that having the Republican Amash step forward meant a lot to him because “I don’t want this to be partisan.” He reiterated that he’s spoken to many Republican lawmakers seriously concerned for Trump’s behavior, but afraid of taking a public stand, at least to date. “It would be quite a profile in courage for Republicans to step up and say they’re committed to doing the right thing, even if it means losing their seat in the next election,” Beyer said.
Unlike some others who have argued their constituents are not interested in this issue, Beyer said it was in response to a very strong constituent concern that he has taken the step he had. “My constituents’ belief in the need to launch an impeachment inquiry — as expressed to me in calls, letters, and conversations — has grown to a crescendo in recent weeks. I believe that my constituents are right,” he said.
Beyer, a Falls Church businessman who was once president of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and served two terms as Virginia’s lieutenant governor, was appointed ambassador to Switzerland by President Obama and, after being elected to Congress in 2014, was named the finance director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
He announced last month that he supports South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttegieg for the Democratic nomination for president in the upcoming election.
The following is the full text of Rep. Beyer’s statement:
“The time has come for the House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry into the conduct of President Trump.
“Endorsing such a course is not easy, and I do not do so lightly, but I believe that the President has left Congress no other option but to pursue it. When I came to Congress I swore an oath ‘to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’
“President Trump has shown utter contempt for the Constitution from the moment he took office, but we are now faced with evidence of actions that strongly resemble high crimes and misdemeanors. The behavior repeatedly identified in the redacted Mueller Report meets every standard for the classification of ‘obstruction of justice’ of which I am aware. He has compounded that fact by engaging in escalating, illegal stonewalling of Congress as my colleagues and I have attempted to engage in oversight, a primary responsibility of the legislative branch under the Constitution.
“We are aware of other potential crimes committed by this President, including tax fraud and violations of campaign finance laws, both alleged under oath by his former attorney. Congress must investigate these allegations to determine their veracity, but the President’s illegal cover-up, most recently evidenced by his preventing the Secretary of the Treasury and the former White House Counsel from honoring Congressional subpoenas, leaves us little recourse to do so.
“From the first time I was asked about impeachment I have always said that I believed that such a serious action must be fully justified by the facts, must be done with great care, and it must have bipartisan support. I believe the facts fully justify an impeachment inquiry, and I have every confidence in the ability of Chairman Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ability to pursue one if they decide it is the proper course. Congressman Amash’s brave public statement makes support for an impeachment inquiry bipartisan, and I have privately spoken to other Republicans who believe he is right but are unwilling to say so publicly.
“The most important consideration for me in evaluating whether this course of action is correct has been the views of my constituents. Their belief in the need to launch an impeachment inquiry — as expressed to me in calls, letters, and conversations — has grown to a crescendo in recent weeks. I believe that my constituents are right, and I support the initiation of an impeachment inquiry to examine evidence of criminal acts committed by President Trump.”