Florida Democrat Stephanie Murphy: Evidence, Not Emotion Should Be at the Heart of Impeachment

Last week, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., released a public letter in which she expressed her thoughts on impeaching President Donald Trump. Her letter was as follows:

Many of you over the last few weeks have written to me wanting to know my position on impeaching President Donald Trump. So, in addition to responding directly to those individuals who wrote my office, I also wanted to post an open letter to you, my constituents, detailing my thoughts on impeachment. This letter, posted on May 22, 2019, explains my position on impeachment based on actions, news, and information up to this date. My position may change if new information comes to light. Should that happen, I will post a similar letter updating you on my position.

Dear Constituents:

Under Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, the president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” To initiate the process, the framers entrusted the House of Representatives with the authority to determine whether a president should be impeached. If the House votes by a simple majority to approve any articles of impeachment, the matter is then presented to the Senate to determine whether the president should be convicted and removed from office.

Like you, I believe the president of the United States should be held to the highest ethical, moral, and legal standards. There have been many instances where I have strongly disagreed with President Trump’s actions and rhetoric, whether during his campaign for president, during his tenure as president-elect, or during his presidency. At the same time, it is my belief that impeachment must be based on evidence, not emotion.

As Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated, “We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts.” I believe Congress should continue to exercise its constitutional oversight of the executive branch, and we should continue to follow the facts where they lead. At the end of the day, our goals should be transparency and the truth.

As you know, the president has been the subject of a number of federal investigations, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, in addition to a separate investigation into alleged campaign finance violations. While Mueller’s investigation has concluded, the Department of Justice’s redacted version of his report alone does not provide sufficient grounds for impeachment. Before we can judiciously address the question of impeachment, it is imperative that Congress be allowed to review the full extent of Mueller’s findings and ensure that any and all evidence of wrongdoing is brought to light. Congress has subpoenaed the full unredacted report, but President Trump has refused to comply.

I am incredibly frustrated that President Trump, and his administration officials at his request, have refused to comply with numerous congressional subpoenas. Congress has sued the president—lawsuits I support—to ask the courts to enforce these reasonable subpoenas for information important to Congress’ legislative and oversight responsibilities. Should President Trump or anyone in his administration ignore a final federal court order to turn over information that Congress has requested, I would consider it a threat to our careful system of checks and balances and would therefore support an impeachment inquiry on that individual—the first step in the impeachment process and one that better empowers congressional investigators to attain documents and testimony. No one is above the law, including the president.

My political disagreements with the president’s actions and words are not, on their own, grounds for his impeachment. However, we cannot tolerate a powerful executive who ignores the other two co-equal branches of government. It is clear our system of checks and balances is being tested. And I hope, for our republic’s sake, we pass that test. Rest assured that I will uphold my obligation to act as a check on the executive’s power and to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States.

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