Democratic House Majority Leader on Impeachment: ‘We Did Not Rush to This Judgment’

November 4, 2019 Updated: November 4, 2019

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) claimed that while impeachment is a “very serious matter,” Democrats have not rushed to judgment.

“All the American people understand we did not rush to this judgment,” Hoyer said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“As a matter of fact, this went on for over a year. And both the Speaker and I said, no, we’re not there. We’re looking at the facts. We’re committing oversight, which is our responsibility under the Constitution,” he stated.

He noted that the impeachment process might damage some Democrats’ chances of getting reelected.

“But we have a duty,” Hoyer insisted. “We have a duty to the country, to the American people, and to the Constitution of the United States.”

“And if we find, after the Judiciary Committee considers all the evidence, that there is reason to believe, probable cause, we lawyers would say, that the president of the United States has committed a high crime and misdemeanor—now, a high crime, according to Hamilton, is an abuse of power, not a crime as we generally think of it, but an abuse of power,” he stated.

He also pushed back against Republicans’ criticism of how the investigation is being handled. Some, including President Donald Trump, want the whistleblower who helped trigger the entire investigation to publicly testify.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Committee arrives for depositions in the continued House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump in Washington on Oct. 30, 2019. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“You wouldn’t call the whistleblower. What you call is the people who were actually there, which is what [Rep.] Adam Schiff has done, acting as an investigator,” Hoyer said.

In the interview, Hoyer then said that the House will move when the “facts and the truth dictate what we have.”

The “facts and the truth” will emerge when Schiff (D-Calif.) makes a determination in “terms of testimony and evidence, he will then pursuant to the resolution” before submitting it to the Judiciary Committee, according to Hoyer.

Hoyer said he cannot predict when the public hearings will end.

“Margaret, you ask me a question I don’t know the answer to, because I don’t know what witnesses are going to come forward, what they’re going to say, what evidence will have to be pursued by not only the Intel Committee, but then by the Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction,” he remarked.

In the past year, Democrats in the House switched from focusing on an obstruction of justice, as outlined in the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, to President Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine. They have said Trump used his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Trump has repeatedly denied such allegations.

Republican leaders have accused the Democrats of wanting to impeach President Trump since the moment he took office in January 2017.

In a recent campaign rally, Trump said that the Washington Post posted an article “just 19 minutes after I raised my hand and took the oath of office,” saying that the “campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.”

“Little did we know they weren’t playing games. Think of that. That was 19 minutes after the oath of office,” Trump said.

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