Editorial: Suozzi’s reluctant response to impeachment vote

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Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has apparently struggled with the question of whether President Trump should be impeached.

That much showed in his response to Newsday last Thursday when asked if he supported the two articles of impeachment against President Trump. 

Suozzi joined his fellow Democrats in announcing his support for the articles of impeachment filed for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But not without some hesitation.

“I was very reluctant all along because I know how divisive it is, because I’ve looked at the history of what happened with [Bill] Clinton and with [Richard] Nixon, and I know how serious it is because we are close to an election,” he began, according to a story Newsday reported on how Long Island-based members of Congress intended to vote.

Let’s take the first part of his answer. Yes, it was true that when the Watergate hearings first began there was very little public support for impeachment. Imagine that, Congress doing its job despite the polls.

But in the end, an overwhelming percentage of the public and members of Congress saw that what Nixon did warranted his removal from office.

Yes, impeachment is serious and divisive. But sometimes a president’s actions leave Congress with no other choice.

The second part of Suozzi’s statement is about how serious it is, “because we are so close to an election.”

We are not sure exactly whose election Suozzi is talking about. 

The article for abuse of power charges that Trump attempted to get another country to interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf – an effort House Democrats say has not ended. We hope the import of the coming general elections adds to the urgency of Suozzi’s impeachment vote.

Contrast Suozzi’s response with that of Kathleen Rice, a fellow Democrat in neighboring District 4, in supporting impeachment in the same story.

“There is no doubt in my mind that President Trump withheld congressionally appropriated military aid to a critical American ally to service his own agenda, not our national security interests,” Rice was quoted by Newsday as saying. “That’s a gross abuse of power.”

Suozzi did show flashes of a fighting spirit when he went on to say in his Newsday interview: “You can’t send a message to this president or the future presidents that you could just do whatever you want and there’s no consequences.”

“The President threatened to withhold Congressionally approved military aid unless he could elicit the help of a foreign government to dig up dirt on his political opponent. That is an abuse of power,” he added in a statement submitted to Blank Slate Media. “In addition he blocked efforts by Congress to investigate. I intend to vote yes.”   

But then he undercut his argument by saying  he hoped for a short Senate trial without witnesses, adding “impeachment helps Trump, not Democrats.”

Suozzi now says he did call for a short trial, but disputes that he said he did not want witnesses.

In calling for a short trial, Suozzi is agreeing with Senate Republicans. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and outspoken Trump supporter Sen. Lindsay Graham even say they do not plan to honor the oath they will be required to swear to before the trial begins to be fair and impartial jurors.

In other words, the Republicans in the Senate are planning a sham trial where the outcome is predetermined. This thumbs its nose at the rule of law. No one  – Democrat or Republican – should accept this.

If Suozzi believes Trump is guilty of what the House has changed, he should be demanding a fair trial that includes the calling of witnesses and the production of evidence.

We believe the evidence is overwhelming in support of the two articles of impeachment approved Friday morning by the House Judiciary Committee.

The president withheld public support and hundreds of millions of dollars in much-needed military aid approved by Congress to Ukraine, a vulnerable ally under attack from forces backed by Russia, in an attempt to get it to dig up dirt on a Trump political rival in the 2020 election.

The articles of impeachment call this an abuse of power. We call it bribery.

When caught in the act, Trump ignored subpoenas from Congress for documents related to the case and refused to allow members of his administration to testify, blocking Congress from fulfilling its constitutionally mandated oversight role and undermining the rule of law. This is obstruction of Congress.

There can be no more serious charges against a sitting president. If allowed to stand, we are fundamentally changing the role of Congress and the president. And opening the door to massive interference from foreign governments in the 2020 election and beyond.

You disagree? Fine, let’s have a fair trial in the Senate. The impeachment articles voted on by the House are the equivalent of an indictment. The Senate is where the president is supposed to get his day in court with senators serving as jurors.

The president insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing and administration officials would exonerate him if allowed to testify, yet he refuses to release any documents or allow them to testify even though he maintains those officials would acquit him.

He should be required to produce the documents and let administration officials testify, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

Their testimony, according to the president, will clear him. So let’s hear it.

Suozzi says impeachment helps Trump, not Democrats. He might be right.

But allowing unlimited interference in our elections, placing the president above the law, eliminating congressional oversight of the executive branch and filling Congress with members whose primary concern is their re-election and not the country is far worse.

We hope Suozzi doesn’t give voters in the 3rd District reason to believe he feels otherwise.

3 COMMENTS

  1. “In calling for a short trial, Suozzi is agreeing with Senate Republicans. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and outspoken Trump supporter Sen. Lindsay Graham”

    I keep trying to tell people…..

  2. Why is Pelosi withholding the articles from the Senate at the moment? McConnell proposed using Clinton’s rules which were approved by all 100 US Senators at the time. That seems very reasonable. More than half the country does not take this process seriously due to all of the preemptive calls for impeachment from Day One. In fact, support has only fallen as the process and lack of evidence has come to light. This is going as well as 2016 election predictions by big media, and the FBI’s abuse of FISA warrants, as acknowledged by the secret court after the IG report was released on the matter. Suozzi is right on this being bad for the Democrats, and he would have made a much better Speaker.

  3. The House of Representatives rammed through the impeachment articles without letting the Republicans call witnesses. Because the House process was unfair, many people do not support impeachment. The Democratic members of the House who voted for impeachment violated their constitutional duty to provide a fair process

    The impeachment articles are also invalid and unconstitutional: The House is improperly impeaching Trump for policy differences and for exercising his Constitutional executive privilege rights accorded to him as the head of a co-equal branch of government. The proper course was for the House to go to court to challenge the president’s claim of executive privilege. Instead, the House improperly impeached.

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