ABOVE: WASHINGTON – MARCH 19: Rep.Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) – (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
“The Constitution governs the order of our nation and it dictates the work of the Congress. Article I details the powers of the House and the exercising of these powers as they relate to the coordinate, coequal branches of government, codified in Articles II and Articles III: three equal branches of government coexisting and cohesively working to provide oversight to the respective actions of the Congress, the Executive and Judiciary. This has worked, with challenges of course, since 1789, and the situation which we are now currently facing is directed by three provisions of the Constitution.
Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 indicates that the “House of Representatives…shall have the sole power of impeachment.” Article II states that the “The President…shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.; Article II also requires that the “President take care that the laws are faithfully executed.”
“That language is stark and clear – and throughout our history it has been used in varying periods where the assessment was that the law has been breached. Sometimes Congresses are concerned that the weight and view of the American people should be considered. Sometimes they are moved by the urgency of the matter. We now have an urgent matter: that matter involves the President of the United States speaking to a sovereign foreign nation and conspicuously and overtly asking for an investigation of his opponent in a presidential election, forthcoming in 2020. In addition to this request for an overt investigation of an American citizen, within close proximity to this, the president directed a staff member to deny the directives of the United States Congress to provide foreign aid to this sovereign nation—Ukraine—an act that is without comparison in our knowledge in the history of the United States, and an act that falls within the language of the law of the Constitution, abuse of power and certainly one that violates Article II’s dictate that the President ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.
“Let us be very clear: monies were stalled, denied and delayed to a sovereign nation in the backdrop of a directive of Congress to issue funds to a sovereign nation as leverage in order to investigate a private citizen of the United States. Further, the series of acts of obstruction involving Congress has been bold and continuous. The House Judiciary Committee effectively has brought forth witnesses, and sought witnesses that were then directed by the President to not appear, in violation of the three equal branches of government. In spite of that, the committee has meticulously continued its work in building a case for impeachment.
“Last week, we prepared extensively for the testimony of Corey Lewandowsky, who is not and has never been a federal employee, was not employed by the White House at any time, and not employed by the federal government at any time and also who was directed by the President to rebuff, stall and thwart; and who also was, in essence, directed to stain the constitutional process, by his responses, and the authority of the Congress.
“Article I gives the Congress, and the House of Representatives in particular, its authority to proceed to hold the President of the United States accountable. There is no room for any other process. There is no other action. There is no other time. With a heavy heart, it is imperative that the impeachment inquiry begin and that the Articles of Impeachment are filed expeditiously; and that the Constitution works with the full authority of the United States Congress. That the Article I works with Article III courts to ensure an orderly response and respectful approach to this somber, sacred and high calling of the Congress and the Nation.”
Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing the 18th Congressional District of Texas, is a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Homeland Security and the Budget.