Chu: Why I Voted to Impeach Trump

Rep. Judy Chu voted “yes” on both articles of impeachment this week, calling President Trump’s actions in regard to the Ukraine matter “an existential threat to our democracy.’’ Courtesy photo

For Rep. Judy Chu, whose 27th Congressional District includes South Pasadena, Wednesday’s historic vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach President Trump was “a truly solemn moment.”

“I felt exhausted after that vote,’’ Chu, a Democrat, said from Washington in an exclusive interview with the Review on Thursday, a day after she voted “yes” on two articles of impeachment — charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The House votes — coming after some six hours of comments from members of both parties — fell almost exclusively along party lines, with votes of 230-197 in favor of the abuse-of-power charge and 229-198 in favor of the obstruction charge. No Republicans voted in favor of impeachment.

The matter now goes to the U.S. Senate for a trial, though the Republican Trump will almost surely be acquitted by the GOP-led upper chamber. It was only the third time in American history that a president has been impeached.

“I felt exhausted because of the gravity of what we were dealing with,’’ Chu told the Review. “(But) I felt that we could not go ahead in this country expecting our democracy if we let the president get away with this – the president abused his power in a way that was unimaginable, and he was willing to sacrifice our national security for his personal political gain.’’

Trump is alleged to have held up military aid to Ukraine, looking for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into Joe Biden, one of the Democrats running to oppose Trump’s re-election in 2020, then obstructing Congress’s probe of the matter.

Trump denies he did anything wrong.

Chu, meanwhile, said of Wednesday’s vote, “I felt that this was a moment that would live with me forever. I would remember what I was doing on this day when we took this momentous vote. And I did feel the weight of the nation on me as I spoke.’’

“If we did not uphold the rule of law through this (impeachment) process, (Trump) would feel free to just continue doing this for the rest of his term,’’ she said. “And certainly, future presidents would feel that they could do this forever.’’

As for the votes falling largely along party lines, Chu said, “To tell you the truth, I was so severely disappointed in them (Republicans), because I know in private conversations that they think that Trump’s behavior is inexcusable. There are some (Republicans) that are very, very outspoken about this.

“So to see them so united on defending the president’s behavior, even though they know that for any elected official, let alone the president, it is unacceptable, well, that was extremely disappointing.’’

As of Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had yet to send the articles of impeachment onto the Senate, where the particular rules of the trial were still being sorted out — aspects such as whether witnesses would be called, and how long the trial would last.

Rep. Judy Chu, whose district includes South Pasadena, voted “yes” on two articles of impeachment.
Courtesy photo

“I hope that they (the senators) treat it like the true trial that it should be, that the senators will set up a system in which they can objectively hear the information and that they can come to a conclusion that is free from interference from the White House,’’ Chu said.

But, she added, she was not optimistic on that score.

“All we can do is keep on pushing, and that is why Nancy Pelosi is delaying the sending over of the articles of impeachment,’’ Chu said. “I know that she will send them eventually, but we need to have more assurance that the trial will be fair.’’

Overall, Chu said, “I was so proud of my colleagues. Some of my Democratic colleagues are in very tough (re-election) districts, and yet every single one wrestled with their conscience to determine what was the right thing, what was the right thing for this country.

“And there was not a whipping operation going on — I really want to emphasize that. There was no pressure on them from above or elsewhere for them to vote a certain way. Each member of Congress was left on their own to figure out what was the right thing for this country.

“And then to see such an overwhelming vote by the Democrats was … well, it just showed that they took this task with seriousness.’’

Prior to the votes, Chu said the following on the House floor when her turn came to speak:

“We know that President Trump withheld needed military aid to Ukraine. We know that he used it to demand Ukraine interfere in the 2020 election for his own benefit. And we know that Ukraine knew. None of these facts have been disputed. Instead, the White House has tried to hide the truth. But the president is not above the law. Nobody is. 

“Corruption and obstruction. The president is guilty of both. The blatant abuse of power was made clear from over 100 hours of testimony before three committees, and was clear in the call summary released by the White House. The obstruction has been made clear by the president’s refusal to cooperate at every turn, even when ordered by a court.

“Setting a precedent that any president can abuse their power to interfere in our elections is an existential threat to our democracy. It is also a betrayal of the oath of office and the Constitution. Therefore, in fulfilment of my own oath of office, it is with solemn purpose today that I vote to impeach President Donald Trump.”

Chu is up for re-election in 2020.