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Hoyer Floor Remarks on Impeaching the President of the United States

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the article of impeachment against the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video.  

Click here to watch the video.   

“Madam Speaker, for four years, Donald Trump has made no effort to hide his ambitions or his lacking in Republican principles.  He has allowed little constraint on his worst inclinations.  His desire for autocracy and his glorification of violence have not been tempered but rationalized by those who sought to profit financially and politically from their proximity to his power. 

“Upon the foundations of virtue, reason, and patient wisdom laid down by George Washington as our first President, Donald Trump has constructed a glass palace of lies, fearmongering, and sedition.  Last Wednesday, on January 6, the nation and the world watched it shatter to pieces. 

“There can be no mistaking any longer the kind of man sitting in the Oval Office or his intentions and capabilities.  The curtain has been pulled back in full.  The office to which he was elected could not temper or reform him. 

“Washington’s legacy was passed down to us not as written decrees but understood norms.  Term after term, each occupant has observed those norms out of a recognition that our Constitution’s articles are not the only preservative of our democracy.  For more than two centuries, whenever those norms were tested and strained, good and virtuous citizens on both sides found common purpose in reaffirming them.  But memory fades and from time to time must be refreshed.  

“As the framers emerged from the constitutional convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked whether they had made America a monarchy or a republic.  ‘A republic,’ he answered, 'if you can keep it.’

“For millennia, people have understood that a republic is only as stable and lasting as the citizens and leaders who commit themselves to its upkeep.  This President has shown us he is not committed to that project.  Indeed, he openly disdains it – and appears to prefer the alternative.

“But what of the rest of us?  We in this Congress have an opportunity – no, a duty – to demonstrate our commitment, both as leaders and as citizens to keeping America a republic.

“We cannot erase the last four years.  We cannot turn back the clock.  But we can look to the ideals and principles inherited from great Presidents like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.  From outstanding Americans like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall, John Lewis, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  It is up to us to restore the vibrancy of our democracy by reaffirming our commitment to the norms they passed onto us and entrusted to our care. 

“But to make that possible, we must rise to this moment and not only affirm the virtues we cherish but reject the vices we abhor. 

“That is what I am asking my fellow representatives on both sides of the aisle to do today. Reject deceit and fearmongering.  Reject sedition, tyranny, and insurrection. Reject the demand for fealty to one man over fidelity to one’s country. 

“When I addressed this House during debate over the articles of impeachment in December 2019, I said the following: ‘We need not ask who will be the first to show courage by standing up to President Trump.  The question we must now ask is: who will be the last to find it?’ Sen. McConnell, Rep. Cheney, and several others from the President’s party have now displayed that courage.  I hope others will too. 

“Soon, the clerk will call the roll and ask us for our votes.  But make no mistake: this will be no ordinary roll call. 

“These votes will be inscribed on the roll of history – a record of our courage and of our commitment to country and Constitution.  Of our commitment to the rule of law and the renewal of that which we inherited and hope to pass on unbroken, unshattered. 

“With just seven days left in the President’s term, this vote is not about timing.  It is about principle.  It concerns the clear and present danger facing our country, not only in these final days of the Trump Administration but in the weeks, months, and years that will follow.  It is about the necessity to demonstrate to this generation and to future generations the duty we share to protect our democracy every single day.

“We know that this President would never emulate George Washington and give up his power for the good of our republic, even after losing an election.  We know that this President neither recognizes norms nor respects the rule of law.  We know that this President is no patriot. 

“So, I ask this House: who among us will be recorded on the roll of history for their courage, their commitment, and their country? 

“We do this today not for politics but to preserve and protect this great democracy.  We do it for the America we love, our ‘America the Beautiful,’ whose Founders’ sacrifices we praise in song: ‘O’ beautiful, for heroes proved / in liberating strife, / who more than self their country loved / and mercy more than life.’

“Of our current President, the appropriate words would be: ‘Who less than self his country loved – and victory more than truth.’

“Today, in this moment of peril, let us choose country over politics.  Let us choose truth, justice and the rule of law.  Let us choose today and always to be worthy of the office we hold – and the country and constitution we love.”

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