I believe the greatest threat to the future of our democracy is no longer a foreign adversary interfering in our elections, but our own president’s flagrant disregard for the Constitution.
That’s why the time has come to open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
This presidency has been marred by scandals and corruption, much of which rises to the level of potentially impeachable offenses. The president fired the FBI director in an attempt to end the agency’s investigation into his campaign and committed 11 instances of potential obstruction of the Robert Mueller investigation. Since day one, he has flagrantly promoted his properties and businesses to profit from the office he holds and has committed myriad unethical and potentially illegal financial practices. Congress has more than enough cause for investigation.
This is not a question of whether the president is fit for office — he is not. This is not a question of whether the president has abused his power — he clearly has.
In the weeks following the release of Special Counsel Mueller’s report, we have seen the president engage in an escalating, unconstitutional effort to defy Congress. He has shamelessly ignored numerous congressional subpoenas and blocked members of his administration from testifying before our committees.
Unfortunately, the president has failed to recognize that cooperating with congressional investigations is not optional.
Recently, Special Counsel Robert Mueller publicly reminded the American people that he would have absolved the president of obstruction of justice if the evidence led him to that conclusion. Instead, he intentionally left it to Congress to determine if the president obstructed the investigation. But it’s becoming abundantly clear that we can’t answer the question of whether or not the president committed a crime while he continues to obstruct our legitimate congressional investigations.
The ball is in Congress’ court now. And an impeachment inquiry is our best path forward.
I want to be very clear about what I mean when I say we should open an impeachment inquiry. It does not mean that we should vote to remove the president immediately.
In fact, the decision to file articles of impeachment against the president should be approached with extreme caution. I also firmly believe that we must exhaust all oversight options before taking a vote that could intensify the already deep partisan divisions in our country.
An impeachment inquiry would provide Congress with the authority necessary to conduct thorough oversight and to determine if articles of impeachment should be filed. It would also provide us with firmer standing in court when the president attempts to prevent Congress from accessing critical documents or speaking with witnesses.
No one doubts that Congress has the constitutional authority to impeach a president. Launching an inquiry removes whatever doubt a court might otherwise have about the existence of a legitimate Article I purpose for requesting information.
Simply put, this inquiry would allow Congress to determine if the president has committed high crimes or misdemeanors.
Our democracy is at its best when the American people are in a position to fully trust in their government and institutions. Throughout my career, I have fought to ensure that our elected officials are transparent and held accountable so voters can draw their own conclusions.
I have never been a reactionary. I am not someone who has called for the president’s removal from day one. I believe in a thoughtful, measured approach.
Opening an impeachment inquiry is the most appropriate way to ensure that Congress and the American people have a full accounting of the facts.
Mike Quigley represents Illinois’ 5th Congressional District.
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