Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) delivered a stirring address during the markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday evening, calling the Democrats’ case the weakest in American history.
His full speech:
Mr. Chairman, I agree with everybody that tonight is a very solemn night. This is the third time in the last 40 years, 45 years, that this committee has sat to read articles of impeachment against the President of the United States. What we are debating here, in my opinion, is the weakest case in history. And yet the Democrats have decided to go full speed ahead, again because of the clock and the calendar, with an incomplete record, simply by using hearsay evidence and trashing the rules of the House every time they can in order to speed things up for the preordained conclusion. And that is: a partisan vote for impeachment, something that both the Speaker and the chairman of this committeete rejected earlier on when they thought they could make this bipartisan. If they could’ve made it bipartisan, they blew their opportunity very early on with their trashing of the rules and the trashing of what is the history of what is in the history this committee. Now, let’s look at these two articles. Unlike the Nixon and Clinton impeachment, there is no crime that is alleged to have been committed by the President of the United States. There are policy differences, but I would submit that given the definition of treason, and bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors, that does not mean that the policy differences should be enough to remove a president from office. There is no allegation of bribery in these articles. There is no allegation of extortion. They have defined for themselves what a high crime and misdemeanor will be. This bar is so low that what is happening is that a future president can be impeached for any disagreement when the presidency and the House of Representatives are controlled by different parties. And that goes back to establishing a parliamentary system, which the Framers explicitly rejected at the time of the Constitutional Convention. In the United Kingdom, or Canada, or other parliamentary democracies, if the government loses the confidence of the majority of the lower house, the government is out, and there is either a new government or a new election that happens. The Framers did not want that. We had an independent presidency. The president was independently elected. He did not serve at the sufferance of Congress. No — he served for a fixed term and was only, if he really obstructed the functions of government or was treasonous, he could be impeached. Now let’s look at “obstruction of Congress.” You know, again, in the past, whenever the executive and legislative branches in the United States have had a disagreement, they’ve gone to court. And the third branch decides this difference. This committee and this majority are so hide-bound to their clock and their calendar that they will not allow the judicial process to work out. What brought Richard Nixon down, honestly, was the Supreme Court saying that he had to turn over certain documents. And within two or three weeks after that, the president knew his time was up. There were Republicans that convinced him of that, and he resigned, ruling out the impeachment. So, yes the constitution is at stake. The Framers of our Constitution’s enlightened decisions are at stake. We are about to go on a road to becoming a parliamentary democracy like England and Canada are. We need an independent president who does not have to suffer to anything a congressional majority might throw at him. That’s what the courts are for, to figure it out. And I would to appeal to my chairman, [and] the majority members of this committee, to listen to what Madison and Hamilton had to say during the ratification of the Constitution and during the debates of the convention: put aside your partisan politics and don’t listen to what Pelosi, Schiff, and Nadler are telling you because the future of our country and the viability of our Constitution as the Framers decided are at stake.
The committee will vote Thursday, and an impeachment vote is possible by Friday.