July 28, 2019

Statement from Representative Derek Kilmer On Supporting an Impeachment Inquiry

I came to Congress with two goals in mind: to see the economy work better for people in my region and to see government work better for them. I don’t want to see a government that is dysfunctional, corrupt, and unable to make progress on delivering health care, jobs, and education for the folks I represent. That’s why I chose to seek this job. It’s why I get on a plane each week and spend time away from my wife and daughters.  

In the past few years, it has often been disheartening to see our government become more polarized and less accountable to the American people. Perhaps nowhere has that been more evident than in the actions of President Trump.

I’ve long raised concerns about his policies. Each time that I pray that he will appeal to the better angels of our nature, he instead embraces rhetoric and actions that seek only to divide us further. But as objectionable as I have found such rhetoric and as unacceptable as I have found such policies, they do not rise to the level of impeachment.

However, the evidence laid out in the Mueller Report – and the testimony of Director Mueller that amplified it – commands a higher level of concern. I have read the Mueller Report – when it was first released and again in the days leading up to his testimony. The clear evidence of corruption has already led to multiple indictments and guilty pleas by the president’s national security advisor, personal attorney, and the chairman of his campaign.

The president’s open acceptance of support from Russians was undeniably disruptive to the integrity of our democracy. We are now learning that the Russians penetrated election systems in all 50 states. This ongoing threat is real, and it is the duty of both parties to protect our democracy from a similar assault in 2020.

But perhaps most troubling is the evidence – on multiple occasions – of obstruction of justice.

The details of the president’s actions – from his interactions with former FBI Director James Comey, to his persistent efforts to limit the scope of the Mueller Investigation, to his actions seeking to influence testimony of others (many who ended up being indicted themselves) – cannot be ignored. In fact, more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors – Democrats and Republicans – have said that the evidence would be sufficient to prosecute the president on obstruction charges.

Opening an impeachment inquiry is disruptive and it may further polarize a country that is already far too divided. These factors have consistently given me pause. Beyond that, I have great respect for the leaders in the House and the committee chairs that have suggested a step-by-step approach. I respect their judgment and their leadership, and I agree that the committees of jurisdiction should continue the important oversight work that they have begun and pursue the facts. I have grappled with the fact that the Senate may dismiss even the strongest evidence. Indeed, the Senate may exonerate the president.

In my view, the incidents of obstruction and of foreign interference cited in the Mueller report should not be dismissed based on politics, party biases, or the fear of some predicted outcome. Moreover, I believe Congress can continue working to deliver on health care, education and jobs while also following the evidence and upholding its obligations under the Constitution. The American people deserve no less.  

At the end of the day, I come back to the reason I came to Congress in the first place. I want to see more folks I represent have good jobs, quality health care, and top-notch educational opportunities and I’m committed to continuing to work every day toward those ends. But I also came to Congress because I want to see government work better for the people I represent. I don’t want a government that is corrupt. I don’t want the lesson to my daughters – or to any Americans – to be that actions like these are acceptable. Obstructing justice and accepting assistance from foreign governments simply cannot be a standard that we accept.

The rule of law needs to mean something. The integrity of our democracy needs to mean something. With that clear focus, I support the House of Representatives beginning an impeachment inquiry.