Kuster Announces Support for Impeachment Inquiry
Today, I issued a short statement supporting an impeachment inquiry by the House of Representatives to investigate the conduct of President Donald J. Trump.
I wanted to share with you the basis and rationale for my decision in further detail.
Based upon Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s important testimony this week, and my reading of his extensive and detailed report, I believe three fundamental points are now crystal clear:
Russian Interference in Our Democracy
First, the Russian government engaged in a sweeping and systemic campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. This finding was also included in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s bipartisan report that was just issued this week, which outlines that Russia’s attempted hacking was far more extensive than previously believed, targeting election infrastructure in all 50 states. Moreover, in his chilling testimony describing Russian interference, Director Mueller stated, “It wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here.”
The purpose of Russia’s interference was to help President Trump get elected and to undermine Americans’ faith in the democratic process. It is now clear from Mueller’s report that there were numerous connections made between Russians and the Trump campaign.
These efforts by a hostile foreign power to interfere with our political and electoral process go to the very core of our democracy, and we now know, continue to this day. We must act – we know that Russia will continue to interfere, and with the upcoming 2020 election, it is critical that the Senate takes up House-passed legislation to strengthen and protect our elections.
President Trump’s Denial
Second, despite this evidence, President Trump continues to publicly challenge the findings of his own intelligence agencies that Russia meddled in our election, and consistently states that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he denies that any such interference occurred. U.S. Intelligence officials, both Parties in Congress, and members of his own Administration have been clear – his own Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, said, “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy. We will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”
Evidence of President Trump’s Obstruction
Third, Director Mueller’s investigation produced substantial and compelling evidence that President Trump made numerous efforts to obstruct the investigation into whether his team had any connection with Russia’s campaign to interfere with our election. President Trump’s efforts included directing or attempting to influence members of his inner circle in shockingly direct and unprecedented ways and were often prevented only by their refusal to do what he ordered them to do.
As a result, I believe that Director Mueller has sent a straightforward message to Congress:
The Special Counsel reiterated that he did not exonerate the President, and that because of Department of Justice policy, he could not charge the President with a crime even if he had the evidence to do so. Under the Constitution, that job falls to us.
I find it particularly compelling that Director Mueller provides in his report a detailed analysis describing the clear powers of Congress under our Constitution to investigate and act upon the extensive evidence of obstruction set out in his report. [Mueller Report Vol. II, Page 168-170.]
Specifically, Director Mueller states:
“Direct or indirect actions by the President to end a criminal investigation into his own or his family member’s conduct to protect against personal embarrassment or legal liability would constitute a core example of corruptly motivated conduct. So too would action to halt an enforcement proceeding that directly and adversely affected the President’s financial interests for the purpose of protecting those interests.” [Mueller Report Vol. II, Page 178.]
Finally, I find it deeply troubling that President Trump refuses to comply with subpoenas or cooperate as Congress conducts oversight and investigates the troubling conduct outlined in Director Mueller’s report, as well as other related issues central to the threat to our democracy posed by Russian President Putin. All of this begs the question: is this the behavior of someone who has nothing to hide?
Our Democracy is at Stake
In short, I believe the future of our democracy based upon free and fair elections without interference from hostile foreign powers is at stake.
For these reasons, I believe it is the role of Congress to investigate, with our resources and constitutional powers, the conduct of President Trump, both during the 2016 election and his actions in response to investigations of Russia’s meddling in our election.
It is also critically important to investigate why President Trump has continually supported President Putin and downplayed the significance of the sweeping and systemic efforts of Russia to interfere with our elections, including whether President Trump is motivated by foreign financial ties or personal interests.
In conclusion, an investigation of this scope involves extensive and detailed analysis of records, documents and testimony from dozens of key witnesses. I commend the work of my colleagues, and leadership of the Chairs on the House Intelligence, Judiciary, Oversight, Financial Services and Ways and Means Committees.
I have not prejudged the outcome. I believe in the integrity of the process, and I believe it is my duty under my oath to the Constitution to ensure that nobody is above the law.