Op-Ed: Rep. Jim Costa: Here’s how I will vote on impeachment of President Trump

Dec 19, 2019
In The News

The House of Representatives will soon vote on two articles of impeachment. Based on the facts I’ve learned over the last two months — and after carefully listening to constituents who both strongly support and oppose the president — I will vote for both articles.

This saddens me. It’s not why I ran for Congress, or why I serve today.

I know my decision will disappoint President Trump’s supporters in the Valley, many of whom I consider friends.

This may be the most difficult vote I will cast in my congressional career, and I want you to understand how I made this important decision with the utmost seriousness and respect for our country.

Over the past two months, I have worked hard to examine the facts and make a fair determination as to whether there was wrongdoing that constitutes impeachable offenses.

I have carefully listened to all the available information, including classified briefings by our intelligence agencies, statements by President Trump, and his appointees who have testified or otherwise spoken out.

As a member of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I listened to the depositions by respected career diplomats from the State Department and decorated military servicemembers. I have had conversations with my Republican and Democratic colleagues.

In addition, I have gone back and re-read what our Founding Fathers -- Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay -- wrote in the Federalist Papers, and why they determined there should be a provision to remove a president. It is clear they were intentionally broad in how they defined the “high crimes and misdemeanors” warranting impeachment. 

While the process of impeachment clearly has political implications for all Americans, I have chosen to ignore politics and do what is right based on the oath of office I have taken: “To uphold and defend the constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic.” This is the same oath of office every president takes.

There are disturbing facts from President Trump’s own administration – hand-picked appointees – that informed my decision.

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified under oath that there was a quid pro quo, directed by President Trump, to withhold $391 million of military aid to Ukraine until that country’s president agreed to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son. He said all top administration officials knew about the plan.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton described this as a “drug deal” he didn’t want anything to do with. White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told Americans there would be political interference in our country’s foreign policy, and to “get over it.” At a press conference on the South Lawn, the president himself openly encouraged Ukraine and China to investigate Biden.

There is much more corroborating evidence that all points to President Trump violating his oath of office.

The two most difficult votes any member of Congress will cast is to declare war, putting the lives of American men and women at risk, and to impeach a president.

I do not know of anyone who runs for Congress wishing to cast either of these votes. I want you to know that I have not made this decision lightly.

This is a difficult time in our nation’s history. My hope is that we can move beyond this dark time and heal our divisions to come together as the great nation we are.