(Updated at 3 p.m) As calls among Democrats for President Donald Trump’s impeachment grow louder, Arlington’s local congressman is helping to lead the chorus.
In May, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) become the first member of Virginia’s Congressional delegation to call for an impeachment inquiry. Now, Beyer tells ARLnow that the latest accusations against Trump — that he withheld military aid from Ukraine before pressuring the county’s president to investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son and his business dealings there — are “a turning point” for going further.
“I really don’t see any alternative to actual Articles of Impeachment right now,” Beyer said early Tuesday afternoon. “If we don’t act now, I think we lose all credibility as elected representatives and we violate our oath of office.”
“The notion of colluding with a foreign government, threatening to withhold military support… all basically to convince a foreign government to dig up dirt on a political opponent, it just boggles the mind,” he continued. “This is incredibly creative, nauseating corruption.”
Later, at an American Federation of Government Employees rally near the Capitol, Beyer remarked that “it’s a beautiful afternoon for a rally and a beautiful day to impeach a president,” according to a CNN journalist.
Beyer’s remarks come amid rapid-fire developments in the emerging Ukraine scandal.
Seven freshman House Democrats in conservative districts penned a Washington Post op-ed Monday, saying the Ukraine allegations, if true “represent an impeachable offense.” Civil rights icon and influential Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) delivered a lunchtime speech on the House floor today endorsing impeachment proceedings. Joe Biden is also expected to endorse impeachment “if the White House refuses to comply with requests for information from Congress.” And after long avoiding calls for impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly now will call for a formal impeachment inquiry.
Beyer said he plans to attend a Democratic House caucus meeting at 4 p.m. today, after which Pelosi is expected to make an announcement.
“I imagine there will be very few negative voices on impeachment today,” Beyer said, though he added that he believes Pelosi has been right to hold off on impeachment proceedings up until now.
Beyer’s path from supporting an impeachment inquiry this spring to, now, pushing to prepare the Articles of Impeachment and debate them on the House floor, was informed by the seriousness of the new charges, he said.
“Is this serious enough to bring to the House floor, to the American people?” he asked rhetorically. “I’m convinced that the events of the last few days wholly satisfy that test.”
Beyer added that constituents emailing and calling his office have shifted from urging cautious action and focusing on beating Trump in the 2020 election to “100% impeach.”
“There’s this huge sense of helplessness out there that a president can completely ignore the law and destroy the dignity of the office, with no meaningful pushback from the other parts of government,” he said. “The middle has moved completely towards impeachment.”
Beyer acknowledged that the GOP-controlled Senate would be very unlikely to reach the supermajority vote required to remove Trump from office should the House approve Articles of Impeachment. That, however, could change.
“Today, no. But I think after the activity on the House floor it could be very different,” he told ARLnow. “If I were a Republican… I’d want to distance myself from him as soon as possible.”
Should Trump leave office and Vice President Pence, a former Arlington resident, ascend to the presidency, Beyer said it would likely be a net improvement in terms of leadership.
“From a policy standpoint I wouldn’t expect a lot of difference,” the congressman said. “But I would hope that if it was President Pence that he would bring a greater sense of gravity and seriousness and leadership to the position than the narcissistic chaos of Donald Trump.”