Rejects "Weaponization" of Congressional Power and Cites Flawed, Partisan House Case
Feb 05 2020
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) voted against the two articles of impeachment brought against President Donald Trump and cautioned his colleagues against weaponizing this authority for “political convenience.”
In remarks on the Senate flooron Tuesday, Boozman spoke about his decision:
“The attempt to turn the impeachment power into a weapon of political convenience will be far more damaging than any other aspect of this chapter in our nation’s history. At the end of the day, this partisan, deficient process yielded a product built on an inadequate foundation, in addition to being clearly motivated by the desire to remove a president who some vocal activists have viewed as illegitimate since Election Day 2016.”
Below is Boozman’s speech as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. President, I rise today to address the topic that has consumed this body for the past several weeks, which is, of course, the impeachment trial of the President of the United States.
After the passage of two impeachment articles in the House, Speaker Pelosi waited nearly a month to transmit the articles to the Senate. Once she finally did, the trial took precedent and the wheels were set in motion to conduct the proceedings and render a verdict.
Since it became clear that the House would vote to impeach the president, I have taken my constitutional duty to serve as a juror in the impeachment trial with the seriousness and attention it demands.
In light of the extensive coverage this situation received, it was impossible not to take notice of the process that unfolded in the House over the course of its investigation.
Its inquiry was hasty, flawed and clearly undertaken under partisan pretenses.
Having rushed to impeach the president ahead of an arbitrary deadline, as well as failing to provide adequate opportunities for the president to defend himself, the impeachment investigation, in this case specifically, was contrived at least partially as a vehicle to fulfill the fierce desire among many of the president’s detractors to remove him from office – which many of them have been seeking since before he was even sworn in.
Be that as it may, the Constitution makes clear that the Senate has a duty to try all impeachments. As such, the chief concern I had – as I know many of my colleagues also shared – was for the process in this body to be fair.
It was clear to me that what transpired in the House was incredibly partisan and unfair. I believed the Senate must, and would, rise to the occasion to conduct a trial that was fair, respectful and faithful to the design and intent of our founders.
I believe the organizing resolution that we passed was sufficient in establishing a framework for the trial and would also address outstanding issues at appropriate times.
Throughout the course of the trial, I stayed attentive and engaged, taking in the arguments and evidence presented to the Senate – which included the testimony of over a dozen witnesses and thousands of documents as part of the House’s investigation.
The House impeachment managers were emphatic that their case against the president was overwhelming, uncontested, convincing and proven.
The president’s counsel made an equally forceful case in his defense, countering the claims made by the House and underscoring the grounds on which the Senate should reject the articles and, by necessity, the attempt to expel him from office and a future ballot.
Based on the work done by the House – or, maybe more accurately, the work not done and the inherently flawed and partisan nature of the product it presented to the Senate – I was skeptical that it could prove its case and convince anybody apart from the president’s longtime, most severe critics, that his behavior merited removal from office.
After two weeks of proceedings in the Senate, my assessment of the situation has not been swayed or changed.
That’s why I will vote to acquit the president and reject the weaponization of Congress’ authority to impeach the duly elected President of the United States.
To be clear, I believe the partisan nature of this impeachment process potentially sets the stage for more impeachments along strictly partisan lines – a development that would be terrible for our country and our civic life.
The Constitution lays out the justifications for impeachment, which include “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” As a United States Senator, there is perhaps no more important decision that I am asked to make aside from voting to send Americans to war.
That’s exactly why I treated this impeachment trial with the gravity and thoughtfulness I believe it deserved.
The accusation explicitly made by the House Impeachment Managers, and echoed by too many others, that the Senate is engaging in a “cover-up” is wrong on the merits and further drags this process down into the rhetoric of partisan, political warfare.
I regret that it has descended to such a place. Fulfilling my constitutional obligation after drawing my own conclusions is far from a cover-up. The attempt to turn the impeachment power into a weapon of political convenience will be far more damaging than any other aspect of this chapter in our nation’s history.
At the end of the day, this partisan, deficient process yielded a product built on an inadequate foundation, in addition to being clearly motivated by the desire to remove a president who some vocal activists have viewed as illegitimate since Election Day 2016.
Not even a year ago, Speaker Pelosi was still attempting to curtail the push for impeachment within her own party, arguing that, “impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path.”
She was right. And this impeachment process has failed by each of those metrics.
It has further divided the country. The case is not overwhelming. And it has been anything but bipartisan – in fact, the vote against impeaching the president in the House was bipartisan.
And, as a result of Senate rules and precedents, it has also brought the legislative process nearly to a grinding halt.
But, as the trial reaches its conclusion, I believe we must move on and return to doing the work of trying to get things done for the American people.
The average Arkansan, like many other Americans, is looking for results and asking how the elected leaders they have chosen are trying to help make their lives better and move our country forward.
They are not interested in the political games and theater that have consumed much of Washington since September.
It is my hope that we will return to that real, pressing work in short order.
In just a few months, the voters of this country will get to decide who they would prefer to lead our country. I trust them to make that decision.
And I trust that the process by which we choose our president and other leaders will remain free and fair, and that the outcome will represent the will of the people.
The hardworking men and women of our intelligence, law enforcement and national security communities will continue to work tirelessly to ensure this is the case, and I have every confidence they will succeed in that endeavor.
It is time to get back to the important work before us and to remember that those we represent are capable of judging for themselves how this impeachment was conducted and, maybe just as importantly, how we conducted ourselves as it unfolded.
We have a responsibility to lead by example. I implore my colleagues to join me in committing to getting back to doing the hard and necessary work before us when this impeachment trial reaches its conclusion.”