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As the full floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday debated the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Colorado lawmakers were in the spotlight in prominent roles. The state’s congressional delegation, like the nation, is split along party lines, with the three Republicans voting against impeachment and the four Democrats voting in favor.
The House late Wednesday voted 230 to 197 to impeach Trump on Article 1 (abuse of power) and 229 to 198 to impeach on Article 2 (obstruction of Congress). Trump is only the third president in the history of the republic to be impeached by the House, and the Senate will now debate whether to remove him from office.
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democratic presidential candidate seeking his party’s nomination for the 2020 campaign, quickly issued a statement late Wednesday:
“This is a solemn day for America. There is clear evidence that President Trump abused his office and obstructed Congress. This has left the House of Representatives no choice but to pursue an impeachment inquiry and vote to impeach the President,” Bennet said. “Congress has few responsibilities more important than defending our constitutional order. Today, the House fulfilled that responsibility.
“As the Senate begins an impeachment trial, it is critical that each of us fully assesses the evidence and any witnesses presented,” Bennet added. “The rule of law is a fundamental tenet of American democracy. Its enforcement requires elected leaders to set aside partisanship for principle. We must reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law by upholding our constitutional checks and balances.”
The state’s senior member of the House, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver, chaired the rulemaking and debate, tweeting on Wednesday: “Sitting here in the speaker’s chair, all I can think is how serious this debate is for the future of our republic. The fact that I’ve been asked to preside over the House for this important moment in our nation’s history is truly an honor.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, a freshman Democrat from the state’s northern Front Range who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, has been a frequent spokesman for the Democrats’ push to remove Trump on the two articles of impeachment. Neguse represents the eastern third of Eagle County.
“This President has engaged in wholesale unprecedented obstruction of Congress, the likes of which we have never seen before,” Neguse tweeted Wednesday. “It has been total and categorical. I will vote yes on Articles of Impeachment as it is what the constitution requires and what my conscience demands.”
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, a Western Slope Republican who represents the western two thirds of Eagle County, tweeted his opposition to impeachment Wednesday: “’It’s worth noting the Democrats’ argument shifted abruptly when they learned that ‘bribery and extortion’ poll better than ‘quid-pro-quo.’ Regardless of their word choice, there are no criminal wrongdoings in this #ImpeachmentSham.”
All over the state’s mountain resort area, part of which Tipton represents, there were rallies and protests Tuesday on what Twitter dubbed #ImpeachmentEve.
A “Nobody is Above the Law” protest was held at the main Edwards roundabout Tuesday to support the U.S. Constitution on the eve of the historic vote.
“Nobody is above the law! Join us for this peaceful 30-minute demonstration on the eve of the U.S. House of Representatives vote on impeachment,” an email blast on Monday urged, providing a link to the progressive group MoveOn.org to find a local protest and sign up for action. Rallies cropped up all over the nation, including around 800 people in Denver.
“We need to show that we believe in the Constitution and that our representatives must defend the Constitution and their oath of office,” the email continued.
The Eagle County Democrats also sent out an email promoting the Edwards rally and two other regional protests in both Frisco and Aspen on Tuesday. The calls to action are part of a nationwide push to show public support for making Trump just the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House.
“The night before the House of Representative takes a somber vote to impeach Trump, join people from around the country to declare that nobody is above the law as representatives finalize their positions and senators look on,” the Eagle County Democrats email reads.
Trump is accused of abusing his power by pressuring an ally, Ukraine, to investigate Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election. Trump withheld vital military aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia — approved on a bipartisan basis by Congress — to get political dirt on Biden and his son Hunter. It’s illegal to use foreign assistance in a U.S. election.
Trump is also accused of obstructing Congress by refusing to let key cabinet officials testify before the House, as well as withholding any and all documents related to the probe. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, is seeking testimony from key players in the Ukraine probe in the looming Senate trial.
Moderate Democrats who in 2018 won House seats in districts Trump won in 2016 were increasingly signaling their willingness to take the political risk and vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, and even conservative polls are showing a majority of Americans believe Trump abused his power.
A recent Fox News poll showed 53% of voters say Trump abused his power, compared to 38% who say he did not. Another 48% say he obstructed Congress during the investigation, compared to 34% who say he did not. And 45% of voters say the Ukraine scandal showed Trump committed bribery, compared to 37% who say he did not.
On Tuesday, Neguse tweeted: “My daughter is not old enough to understand the solemn task before us this week. One day she will be, and I hope she will know that this Congress had an obligation to defend our democracy, to honor our oaths and to uphold the rule of law.”
Tipton tweeted last week: “I plan to vote NO on impeachment. I’ve reviewed the facts, and this is just more of the same baseless allegations by the left, which has been pushing for impeachment since November 9, 2016. Time for the sham to end!”
Neguse has supported an impeachment inquiry since May, when he became convinced there was enough evidence in the Mueller Report investigating Russian interference on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 presidential election, including at least 10 counts of possible obstruction of justice.