12.17.19

Rep. Kilmer Statement on Support for Articles of Impeachment

I didn’t come to Congress to pursue impeachment. Rather, as most of the folks I represent likely know, my focus has been on trying to create more economic opportunity in our region and pushing to have a government that works better - period. Having said that, the very first thing I do as your representative is raise my right hand and swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. That’s a commitment I take seriously.

It matters to me that all elected officials are held accountable to the public. It should never be acceptable for a sitting president – or any elected official – to abuse their position of power to achieve their political aims. This is a value that extends beyond party politics and is critical to our adherence to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy.

To be clear, this cannot be and should not be about politics – now or in the future – nor should it be about re-litigating the 2016 election.

Rather, the focus must be on whether the president abused his office and obstructed Congress in its investigation to evaluate that abuse.

The two articles of impeachment that Congress will consider lay out two important points. First, the President abused the power of his office. In testimony by members of the president’s own administration, it is clear that he withheld security assistance from one of our allies, demanding a “favor” from them in the form of an investigation of his political rival. Second, the President directed the White House and Executive Branch agencies to defy lawful subpoenas, prevent testimony and withhold documents that were within the scope of the impeachment inquiry.

Based on the evidence brought to light in the course of the impeachment inquiry, more than 500 constitutional scholars recently signed a letter saying that they believe the president committed impeachable conduct. This comes on the heels of over 300 national security professionals – Democrats and Republicans – supporting the impeachment inquiry based on the damaging ramifications of the President’s actions related to the Ukraine.

Having reviewed the evidence laid out in the impeachment inquiry and having evaluated these various assessments, I intend to support the articles of impeachment put before the House.

As I’ve said previously, this entire process is disruptive, and it may further polarize a country that is already far too divided. But in my view, these incidents should not be dismissed based on politics, party biases, or the fear of some predicted outcome. My approach on this is not grounded in politics or partisanship but rather a belief that simply ignoring these allegations sets a dangerous precedent for future presidents – and sends a frightening message regarding our adherence to the rule of law.

Some have asked, “why not just wait until the election next November?”

Honestly, that is more difficult when the questionable conduct is specifically focused on a president’s effort to manipulate the 2020 election. In addition, our national security is impacted when any president uses their office to ask a foreign government for political help. In fact, the letter from national security experts states that the President’s actions should be considered a “profound national security concern.”

As the representative for our region, I will continue working every day to grow jobs. And I will keep working to have government work better for the people.