Impeachment: Where Each of NJ’s Congressional Delegation Stands
A growing number of New Jersey congressional delegates say if recent reports about President Donald Trump pressuring the Ukrainian government to probe a political opponent are true, then impeachment proceedings should be pursued.
Several Democrats have updated their stance amid Trump denying reports that he held back nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine while pressuring the foreign government to investigate former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.
Update, 5 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced formal impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Biden on Tuesday announced his support for such an inquiry.
The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, is the body that votes on impeachment, which acts akin to an indictment of a president for what the U.S. Constitution calls "high crimes and misdemeanors." The U.S. Senate would then conduct a trial and vote on whether to remove the president. The Senate is controlled by Republicans.
Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton have been the only presidents impeached by Congress. Both were acquitted by the Senate.
U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J. 8th District, on Tuesday called for Congress to begin an impeachment inquiry, saying developments over the Ukraine issue had raised the urgency level.
“These direct violations of the law, and egregious abuses of power, must be treated like the national security threats that they are,” Sires said in a written statement.
“This is behavior that we have never seen from an American president,” U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said on the Senate floor Monday. “Unfortunately, it’s behavior that fits into President Trump’s broader pattern of surrender to his patrons in Moscow. I wish I could say that extorting Ukraine was the only way that Donald Trump corrupted our national security over the course of this summer, but that’s just not the case.”
On Tuesday, Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent letters to Inspector General Steve Linick, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, demanding an urgent investigation into the issue.
U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J. 3rd District, released a statement Tuesday that said that “by urging the Ukrainian government to take action to influence our democracy, Trump has violated that power and the trust of the American people. If the facts are corroborated, that violation, and my understanding of its implications, has led me to come to the conclusion that the President has committed an impeachable offense."
Kim’s release also said “It is our duty in Congress to hold the President accountable if that sacred responsibility laid out in the Constitution is violated.”
U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J. 11th District, was among seven freshmen Democrats in Congress to sign an op-ed published Monday by the Washington Post, which said, “If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, and we call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of “inherent contempt” and impeachment hearings, to address these new allegations, find the truth and protect our national security.”
Sherrill then shared the link on Twitter, adding, “These new allegations are a threat to all I have sworn to protect.”
Freshman Democrat U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., 7th District, has ratcheted up his support of an impeachment inquiry based on the latest reports. On Twitter on Tuesday, he compared allegations about the frozen aid to the Ukraine to the actions of a mafia boss.
On Sept. 21, Malinowski tweeted: “There's a huge leap from a candidate saying 'Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find Hillary's emails' to a president using his awesome powers to extort a foreign government to help him win an election.”
The same Twitter thread also said, “If we hesitate to impeach a president for this, we might as well pass an amendment removing the impeachment clause from the Constitution, and become a popular, not constitutional, republic.”
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J. 12th District, “strongly supports” an impeachment inquiry.
“The latest revelation of Trump’s lawbreaking highlights the fact that if Congress doesn’t hold him accountable for illegal and corrupt behavior, he will dismantle every norm, rule and law governing his office, and all to his own personal and egotistical benefit. We must defend the constitution and our national security and begin the impeachment inquiry immediately,” Coleman said in a Tuesday statement to the Townsquare News Network.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J. 9th District, has called for opening an impeachment inquiry of Trump since late May.
On Tuesday, Pascrell reacted to movement toward opening an impeachment inquiry, with a statement that said “Doing the right thing is not someone else’s job: it is our job. There can be no question that Trump’s crimes and obstruction of justice have not abated but accelerated because of failure to constrain him. In this context polling and electoral considerations mean nothing. And if, upon overwhelming evidence the House of Representatives ratifies articles of impeachment of Donald Trump and the Senate rejects that evidence, that dereliction will be their burden to bear, not ours. The coming months will be a major challenge for all of us. We’re all in this democratic endeavor together.”
In August, U.S. Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-10th District, said: “After reading the 10 specific cases of obstruction of justice outlined in the Mueller report, I think there is more than enough evidence to support the impeachment of Pres. Donald Trump based on a Constitutional violation of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Payne also previously said he supported “a full impeachment inquiry” to gather more information for colleagues to reach their own conclusions.
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J. 1st District, has been on-record since the summer, when he tweeted in June: “I remain in favor of the impeachment process. The future of our country is at stake. No one is above the law.”
U.S. Rep Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J. 6th District, on Tuesday said "it's time for Congress to exercise its constitutional authority and impeach the president in order to protect the rule of law and our democracy."
“For months, the President of the United States has failed to respect the authority endowed to Congress by the Constitution," his statement said. "He has directed members of his Administration and former campaign officials to show contempt for Congressional subpoenas and investigations. The reports of a whistleblower complaint clearly call into question the oath the president took to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States above political, financial, and personal gain. The president has done more than enough to meet the legal standards to justify impeachment."
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., 5th District, on Tuesday issued a statement that said "The serious allegations that have surfaced about communication between President Trump and the Ukrainian President put our national security at risk and merit an immediate inquiry. We must let the facts guide our work. Given the gravity of this moment, I will base my final judgment on whether impeachment is warranted on the information garnered through this inquiry, not on hearsay, social media, or conflicting news accounts. I’d urge the House Republicans to do the same."
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J. 2nd District, remained quiet amid the growing calls for an inquiry. Back in the spring, amid a review of the Mueller report, Van Drew said “currently impeachment is not the answer.”
The only Republican in the New Jersey delegation, 4th District U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, has not publicly commented on any of the new calls for an investigation.
The state's other U.S. Senator, Cory Booker, has been on-record calling for impeachment proceedings since the summer after launching his democratic presidential campaign.
Last Friday, regarding the latest reports on the Ukraine allegations, Booker said: “This story is stunning and should be shaking Washington right now—Donald Trump's moral vandalism disqualifies him from being president. As I've said before, it's time for impeachment proceedings.”
At least five House Democrats from New Jersey have been open to impeachment proceedings for much of Trump’s presidency.
In January 2018, well before the Mueller report was issued, Watson Coleman, Norcross, Pallone, Pascrell and Payne voted against tabling a bill calling for the impeachment of Trump for “high misdemeanors.” Gottheimer, Sires and Smith voted to table the motion.