Predictably, Rep. Peter Welch is being celebrated and vilified for his recent calls for the impeachment of President Trump.
At a town hall-style meeting in the House chamber of the state capitol Monday evening, there were far more supporters than detractors.
The call for impeachment has been getting louder in recent weeks. After the release of the Mueller report, 93 House Democrats indicated they support at least opening an impeachment inquiry into whether the president committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That includes 15 of the 24 Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee, which is where impeachment proceedings would start.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has been pumping the brakes on the idea so far, worried that her party could face political jeopardy if Democratic House members attempt to impeach Trump as the 2020 elections near. As the calls for impeachment grow louder, she may not be able to hold that line.
Welch announced his support for the impeachment of Trump last Thursday. He says Trump has “established a clear pattern of willful disregard for our Constitution and its system of checks and balances,” and Congress shouldn’t tolerate it anymore.
Welch offered a long list of reasons he thinks Trump should be impeached, including the president’s attacks on the media and his racial attacks on some opponents.
Citing the president’s failure to respond to subpoenas for administration officials to attend hearings on Capitol Hill, or to provide documents requested as part of Congress’ duty to apply a system of checks and balances on the Executive Branch, Welch said he felt the grounds were there.
“The president of the United States has the same responsibility to the law as you and I do,” Welch said, adding that Congress had the power to impeach Trump for failure to uphold equal protections for all Americans under the Constitution.
In addition, Welch told the capacity crowd, Trump’s continued policies of dividing the nation with recent attacks on four Progressive congresswomen — telling them to “Go back where they came from” — was unpresidential.
“No one has the right to tell a person that they should go back to where they came from. … No one can tell someone that they’re not welcome because of their religion. ... or their gender or their ethnic heritage. … I’ve become concerned that the guardrails of our democracy are increasingly under attack.”
The House of Representatives is led by a Democratic majority and it voted a week ago to condemn recent Trump tweets about opponents as racist.
The next day, the House easily killed a maverick Democrat’s effort to impeach Trump for his recent racial insults against lawmakers of color. That vote provided an early snapshot of just how divided Democrats are over ousting Trump as the 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns rev up.
The Democrats leaned against the resolution 137-95. Every voting Republican favored derailing Rep. Al Green’s measure. Democrats rejected Trump’s claim that the vote showed he’d been absolved of anything.
Pelosi has been credited with successfully preventing a Democratic stampede toward impeachment before additional evidence is developed that could win over a public that’s so far skeptical about ousting Trump.
Even so, the roll call underscored that the number of liberal Democrats open to impeachment remains substantial and may be growing. About two-dozen more conversions would split the party’s 235-member caucus in half over an issue that could potentially dominate next year’s elections.
Until now, just over 80 Democrats had publicly said they were open to starting an inquiry over removing Trump.
Today’s testimony of Robert Mueller, however, could have a significant effect on the debate, fanning the flames for both sides. He is scheduled to testify this week before two House committees.
The stakes grow higher with each passing day, further dividing the nation.
Welch had initially pinned hopes on the Mueller report’s conclusions, sidetracking the impeachment debate. But his conviction has forced him to join the chorus calling for “Enough.”
“President Trump has established a clear pattern of willful disregard for our Constitution and its system of checks and balances. … Instead of embracing the fundamental responsibility of every American president to unite our country, this president has unleashed a torrent of attacks on fellow citizens based on their race, gender, religion and ethnic origin,” Welch said in his statement last week.