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Rejected Sac Bee Opinion Essay 2

Submitted July 27, 2019

No more cover:
Time for Bera, Matsui to back impeachment

By Jeff Burdick

The appointment on May 17, 2017, of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor triggered audible relief throughout Washington, D.C. This is because it gave politicians of both parties exactly what they most wanted: political cover.

Now free from daily media questions, Congressional Republicans first tried to repeal (with no replacement) Obamacare and then more successfully passed a big tax cut for corporations and the very rich. Meanwhile with impeachment questions shelved with the out-sourcing to Mueller, the Democrats could shift exclusively to running on health care to win back the House in the 2018 midterms.

Sacramento County’s two principal representatives in the U.S. House – Reps. Ami Bera and Doris Matsui – both reflected this relief in one-paragraph news statements. They both applauded the appointment of Mueller, with Bera even saying this would let Congress “put politics aside for the sake of our democracy.”

But with Mueller’s two-year investigation concluded and his Congressional testimony wrapped up, all the political cover he provided is now gone. Thus both Matsui and Bera must face the question of whether to impeach President Trump and compel the U.S. Senate to start an impeachment trial.

However, both Bera and Matsui are still straddling the fence hoping for some deus ex machina to intervene and spare them from this decision. They say Trump has done impeachable things, but neither can bring themselves to actually call for impeachment.

It’s as if “the politics” Bera said had been put aside for the “sake of our democracy” have rushed back in to again threaten it. But what’s clearly needed is for both elected officials to push aside all political considerations and decide impeachment solely on principles. This means: 

  • Not setting the dangerous precedent that Presidents are above the rule of law.

  • Acting on the Mueller Report’s numerous examples of Trump attempting to obstruct an investigation of great national security importance – sometimes successfully – including tampering with witnesses, lying publicly and asking for evidence to be altered.

  • Standing against Trump’s declaration of absolute immunity from any Congressional oversight, which threatens our country’s carefully balanced model of co-equal branches of government.

But consideration of such base patriotic principles are not top of mind for Bera. In recent town halls, Bera said it may be pointless to impeach Trump if you don’t have the votes in the Republican Senate. Plus he said, impeachment could hurt Democrats at the election box. But such political calculations must takes a back seat to the grave democratic principles at stake.

This is why every citizen of Sacramento County should contact their respective representative and tell them to finally back impeachment. You can contact Bera’s district office at (916) 635-0505 and Matsui’s at (916) 498-5600.

They are currently on Congressional recess for six weeks. Once Congress returns to session after Labor Day, it will be the last chance for the U.S. House to draft and pass Articles of Impeachment so a Senate trial can conclude before the 2020 primaries begin in February.

Of course, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could pull another “Merritt Garland” and refuse his Constitutional duty to hold an impeachment trial. But if he does, Democrats should immediately take him to court to prevent him from obstructing the Constitution yet again.

This is critical because another essential principle is at stake. Democrats need to force every member of Congress to go on record about the acceptability of this President, the importance of the rule of law, and the sanctity of the Constitution. This is as historically important as a war-powers vote.

In other words, no elected member of Congress should be allowed any more “cover.”

Arden-Arcade resident Jeff Burdick is a Progressive Democrat running for the U.S. House. See Contact