Only facts can determine if actions taken are impeachable or not
December 18, 2019


Regardless of my or anyone's opinion about the President's treatment of the Ukrainians, Rudy Giuliani or anyone else, impeachment is such a grave matter that it demands that a strong and clear case be made. Personally, I do not believe that the President's behavior related to Ukraine was proper and feel that he should not undermine the work of our Ambassadors and foreign service officers who spend their careers protecting United States' interests around the world, often at great hardship, but the issue is whether this is criminal and impeachable or not.

Surprisingly, I have been criticized by many ardent supporters of the President for saying that I can't say whether I am for or against his impeachment until I see all the facts and evidence. I still feel strongly that we need to develop all possible evidence that could bear on such an important decision. How can such an important decision be made otherwise?

There are several important sources of first-hand testimony about what was or was not said by the president that should be heard under oath, namely Giuliani, Amb. Bolton, Sec. Pompeo, Chief of Staff Mulvaney and the former Secretary of Energy Perry. We will soon know the outcome of the challenge to former White House Counsel Don McGahn's claim of executive privilege. The result of this case plus existing precedents suggest that a compelling basis exists to compel all these individuals to testify. First-hand accounts like these would affirm that the impeachment process is seeking substantive outcomes based on real facts and accurate information, rather than reflecting a more political objective.

How can we move forward on such an impactful process as impeachment without them, and without any other collateral evidence these witnesses might lead us to, in order show the American people the fairness and thoroughness that this measure merits? Like the legal canon of avoiding "even the appearance of impropriety," I urge that the leaders of the impeachment process go the extra mile to exemplify impartiality, fairness and objectivity in their deliberations.

This consideration of broadening the inquiry is a different one from whether the facts known at this time justify impeachment. Impeachment is not like a routine criminal indictment that may or may not be based on all possible facts if the legal case has been made. It is a significant Constitutional procedure that fundamentally impacts our institutions and is inextricably linked to the confidence of the American people in their legislators and government. Accordingly, having enough evidence per se is not enough to move forward when much more probative testimony is available to assure that no stone is left unturned.

- Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 19th congressional district. He serves as the Ranking Member for the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security and Trade Subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.


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