It is time for the House to Begin Impeachment Proceedings Against President Trump.

When I was growing up in The Bronx, my mama taught our family about the promise of America. She said that no matter what block you live on and no matter what you look like, you can make a good life for yourself if you work hard and follow the rules. Mama Hilary emigrated from Jamaica, and she imbued in us the profound idea that we are all equal. In America, nobody is above the law.

I believe this to be true of the President of the United States, in particular.

Following President Trump’s mean-spirited, racist tweets about four Democratic Congresswomen, 95 members of the House of Representatives tried to force a vote on impeachment. The vote failed, but the momentum to hold the President accountable for his actions will continue as more damning evidence comes out. For example, search warrants released on Thursday by a federal court in New York detail how President Trump and his allies hastily arranged a hush-money deal to cover up his illicit behavior leading up to the 2016 election.

After reading portions of what is publicly available from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive 448-page report, speaking to lawyers with federal experience and engaging with leaders on both sides of the aisle, I’ve been reflecting on how Congress must hold the executive branch accountable.

Mueller’s report is very clear: Trump and his associates openly welcomed Russian interference during the 2016 presidential campaign and committed unethical and illegal acts while in the White House.

When an investigation was launched, Trump clearly abused his power and obstructed justice multiple times. Per the report, Trump instructed his White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to fire Mueller, then told McGahn to lie about the episode. Trump attempted to limit the scope of the investigation to prevent himself from being implicated and tried to stop the public disclosure of evidence.

Mueller stated that he could not clear the President of wrongdoing saying, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” In no uncertain terms, Mueller passed the baton to Congress to do their duty as a co-equal branch of government. His report found that “Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.”

It is clear from this pattern of unethical and illegal behavior, not to mention the explicit racism, intentional disregard for vulnerable communities, and prioritizing the interests of other countries over our own, that President Trump is not fit to continue leading the nation.

This behavior, along with my belief that we must move forward in a new direction, is why I am calling on the House to begin impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.

It saddens me to write these words. I have arrived at this decision after careful analysis and consideration. I worked in the White House for President Obama, and I believe that talk of impeachment should not be thrown around casually. It must not be used for political points, but rather, only in extreme circumstances.

For clarification: Impeachment by the House is not the end of the process, it is the start. The Constitution provides that the House of Representatives has the power to impeach a President if a majority of its members believe the President has committed “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” If the House votes to impeach, the process then moves to the Senate where much like a criminal trial, members of the House (called “managers”) will prosecute the case to the members of the jury — all 100 members of the Senate. The President will have lawyers to provide a defense.

Based on the information provided in the Mueller report, I strongly believe that President Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. Yes, people make mistakes, but blatant disregard for justice by the most powerful official in the country is unacceptable. We would not accept this level of reckless behavior by a local public official, and we certainly shouldn’t accept it by a President of the United States.

This Department of Justice might not believe that a sitting president can be indicted, but it does not mean he is innocent — a point Mueller will certainly make when he sets the record straight by testifying before Congress next Wednesday.

Let’s be clear: Trump has spent more time resisting investigations than leading the country. Instead of using his authority to invest in education for the next generation, support the people of Puerto Rico, treat elected officials with the respect they deserve, or welcome those fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution, Trump has used his power to obstruct justice. Instead of taking action to address lead paint in public housing or increase access to Mitchell Lama homes, Trump has fawned over Vladimir Putin. On top of all of this, let it sink in that a widely respected former FBI Director is unwilling to say no crime was committed.

Many Members of Congress have demurred on impeachment, believing that the politically wise move is to hold out unless there is significant support from across the aisle. But this moment is not about politics. It’s not about allegiance to any party. It’s about preserving the institutions, laws, and norms that make the United States an exceptional country. It’s about protecting the Constitution. It’s about teaching children in The Bronx and across the country that there will always be consequences if and when a public official abuses his or her power.

Some say that instead of impeachment, Congress should focus on issues affecting the American people right now. Just last week in The Bronx, for example, the shameful neglect of human life by public officials was on full display when hundreds of NYCHA residents at the Andrew Jackson Houses lost power after a transformer exploded, endangering people with disabilities, seniors, and young children.

My view is that Congress must do both simultaneously: focus on everyday issues such as addressing the urgency of our housing affordability crisis, while also initiating impeachment proceedings at the same time.

Before announcing he was leaving the Republican Party, Congressman Justin Amash wrote: “While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.”

Congressman Amash is right. We’re in an extraordinary moment, and we have an obligation to deter the type of misconduct that President Trump has consistently engaged in before our eyes.

It is time for justice. It is time for the House to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

NOTE: This post reflects the views of Michael Blake and not the positions taken by the Democratic National Committee.

Michael Blake is a candidate for Congress in New York’s 15th Congressional District. www.blakeforcongress.nyc

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