‘We did all we could, Elijah’: After Trump impeachment, Pelosi references late Rep. Cummings
Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun
Maryland lawmakers in Washington described as “sobering” a historic day that began with a House clerk solemnly reading a resolution urging that “Donald John Trump, president of the United States” be impeached.
It ended with all six Democratic members of the state’s U.S. House delegation voting to approve two articles of impeachment — both were approved Wednesday night — after an impassioned debate on the floor. The Maryland delegation’s lone Republican, Rep. Andy Harris, opposed impeachment, calling the proceedings a partisan “sham.”
“This does anchor you back to your oath of office in some ways more palpably than maybe anything else you might do here,” U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Baltimore County Democrat, said in an interview. “You really feel it in a proceeding like this. It’s very sobering.”
The vote followed a speech in which House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the Southern Maryland Democrat, invoked the memory of former Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan Sr., the father of current Maryland governor Larry Hogan.
Hogan Sr., a Republican who died in 2017, served on the House committee that voted to recommend the impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon in 1974. The younger Hogan, also a Republican, has said his father’s principled decision to advocate for the impeachment of Nixon — a president of his own party — cost him his party’s nomination for governor that year.
Hoyer, who is in the congressional seat that Hogan Sr. once held, said Wednesday that he wished Republicans would demonstrate the same sort of “courage” by supporting impeachment and voting for “our Constitution and our democracy.”
“Who among us, many years from now, will receive such praise as a man or woman of courage?” Hoyer asked.
The articles alleged Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress.
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said the impeachment debate — in which many lawmakers invoked the Founding Fathers — felt directly tied to his oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
“This is about really the Constitution,” said Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat. “This is not a good day in our history books.”
The former prosecutor said opinion in his district about impeachment is divided, just as the country seems to be.
“We’ve been getting calls both from constituents and from out of state, and it’s almost 50-50, believe it or not,” Ruppersberger said.
One Maryland congressional seat — formerly held by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings — is vacant. Cummings, who had cancer and died Oct. 17, helped lead the impeachment inquiry as chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who worked closely with Cummings, invoked the name of the Baltimore Democrat as she stood on the House floor next to a poster depicting a waving American flag and the oversized words “To the Republic for which it stands.”
Pelosi quoted Cummings: “'When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to show that I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny.'”
The speaker then read a second Cummings quote.
“He also said, almost prophetically, ‘When we are dancing with the angels, the question will be, did we — what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?’”
After the votes, Pelosi said at a media briefing: “We did all we could, Elijah.”
The first impeachment article alleges Trump “solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States Presidential election.” It accuses him of withholding military aid — and the prospect of a state visit to Washington by Ukraine’s president — to pressure its government into announcing an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Biden’s son, Hunter, was on the board of a gas company in Ukraine.
The Maryland Democrats were among 230 in the party to vote for the first article. There were 197 Republican votes against it.
The second article passed 229-198. It alleges the president defied the impeachment inquiry by directing officials not to cooperate with congressional subpoenas.
Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on both articles.
The articles will move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be required to remove the president from office. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the case is too weak for that to occur.
“In the end here, nothing happened,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “We don’t approach anything like the egregious conduct that should be necessary before a President should be removed from office.”
Harris said his office conducted a Facebook survey and did informal telephone polling on impeachment in his district. The district is made up of parts of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford counties, as well as the Eastern Shore.
“We’re hearing two things,” the Republican said. “One is my district supports the president. They’re very upset at basically the secret Soviet-style approach that the House took in the impeachment proceeding. And the other thing that I’m hearing is they want us to actually concentrate on the issues that are important to them.”
That includes such issues as the cost of prescription drugs and health care, securing the border and “keeping our economy going,” Harris said.
Asked his feelings as the House debate continued through the day, Harris replied: “I’m not paying attention to it because this is not a serious proceeding. I suspect that less than 5% of Americans are paying attention now.”
Votes of members of Maryland’s congressional delegation on the two articles of impeachment
Andy Harris, 1st District (R): no, no
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, 2nd District (D): yes, yes
John Sarbanes, 3rd District (D): yes, yes
Anthony Brown, 4th District (D): yes, yes
Steny Hoyer, 5th District (D): yes, yes
David Trone, 6th District (D): yes, yes
7th District (vacant)
Jamie Raskin, 8th District (D): yes, yes