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caption: Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (7th District)  at her Seattle office, July 31, 2019.
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Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (7th District) at her Seattle office, July 31, 2019.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Pramila Jayapal: 'Every American should be outraged' at how Senate is treating impeachment

Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Seattle voted Friday morning to send articles of impeachment to the full House.

The House Judiciary Committee voted strictly along party lines to have the full House decide whether President Donald Trump should impeached.

Jayapal told KUOW Morning Edition host Angela King why the committee delayed a vote from late Thursday night.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal: The Republicans introduced seven amendments, two of which were actually germane to what we were discussing. The other five were absolutely absurd, and they tried to use the time to drag the discussion out into the night.

Now, I know it's not the night out on the West Coast, but it's the night for half of the country, so that they could say that we took the vote in the dark of night, in the middle of night we voted to impeach the president.

We were not going to let that happen. So once they had made it to 11 o'clock at night, they were pushing to have us take a vote when most of the country is asleep on the impeachment of a president, something so grave that this is only the third time that we will be voting on an impeachment.

That was untenable. We had to take our vote in the light of day when the American people could see and understand what was happening and follow it and see how this turned out.

Angela King: What do you think of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's comments that they're going to be working with the president when the proceedings move to the Senate, as they are expected to do?

Jayapal: I think it was such an affront to what the framers intended in the Constitution when they talked about a trial in the Senate.

It would be like if somebody committed a crime against you, and that person went to court as a defendant and then the foreman of the jury, and in fact in this case the person who also makes all of the rules of the trial, says 'I'm going to be coordinating with the defendant. We're going to do everything in coordination so that we deliver the result that that the defendant wants and there's no chance that he's going to be convicted. He is gonna get off.'

And that foreman of the jury announces that at the very beginning. I think every American should be outraged at the idea that this is happening and they should call their U.S. senator and demand a fair trial with a fair process and witnesses and no coordination between the Senate and the White House.

King: It's very clear where you stand in this process with your vote this morning. Another congresswoman here in our state, Jaime Herrera Beutler, says she's going to vote no on both articles, telling The Seattle Times, “The president's motives for his actions remain unproven. I will not vote to impeach based on hearsay testimony from secondhand sources.”

This doesn't sound like the Republican Party moved much along when it came to this vote. Do you think you move the needle for voters?

Jayapal: Well, I do think that we have done that. We laid out the very clear facts.

And what I would say to anybody who is still out there listening and wondering what they should think, I would just invite them to go to the laying out of the facts, the actual testimony. It was not hearsay.

The first and best witness in this case was Donald Trump. He came on to the lawn of the White House and he said what he wanted from that call with [Ukraine] President Zelensky was for Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens. He said that on national television.

But even if you didn't hear that, then think about all the corroborating testimony from witnesses who were real patriots. ... These people were so horrified by the president abusing his power and doing that in his official capacity and actually hurting this very important, fragile ally, Ukraine, that they came forward and testified despite the fact that the president tried to obstruct.

So anyone who is not sure, I would make sure that they actually look at the testimony, look at the facts and make their own decision. It is too important for us to allow this kind of abuse of power to continue.