Massachusetts US Representative Jim McGovern was in the spotlight Tuesday as the House Rules Committee, which he chairs, held a hearing that was expected to lay the ground rules for Wednesday’s historic impeachment vote.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to be here today,” McGovern said in his opening remarks. “But the actions of the president of the United States make that necessary. President Trump withheld congressionally approved aid to Ukraine, our partner under siege‚ not to fight corruption but to extract a personal political favor.“
McGovern said it was clear Trump acted “in a way that not only violates the public trust, he jeopardized our national security, and he undermined our democracy. He acted in a way that rises to the level of impeachment. ... Congress has no other choice but to act with urgency.“
McGovern represents Massachusetts’ Second Congressional District, which includes a broad swath of Central and Western Massachusetts. He was born and raised in Worcester. A longtime staffer for the late US Representative Joe Moakley, he was first elected to the House in 1996 and has been reelected every election year since. He became chairman of the Rules Committee in 2019 after Democrats took control of the House.
McGovern said he expected “passionate disagreement” at the hearing. But he expected to continue working together in the future, side by side, with Republican ranking member Tom Cole of Oklahoma “to better this institution.”
The committee is setting the parameters on how the two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — will be debated and voted on by the full chamber Wednesday. The committee session could last late into the night if Republicans offer numerous amendments. But the outcome is not in doubt because Democrats hold a 9-to-4 majority on the panel.
Cole was critical of impeachment, saying, “The majority is seeking to remove the president over something that did not happen,“ referring to the alleged trade of an investigation by Ukraine into Joe Biden in exchange for US aid and a White House visit.
“Why put the country through all of this” knowing that at the end of a Senate trial the president will remain in office, Cole asked. “We didn’t need to go this route.” Republicans hold the majority in the Senate, in contrast to the House, and there is little expectation that Trump will be convicted and removed from office by the Senate.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, whose committee approved the two articles, did not appear at the Rules Committee meeting. He was called away because of a family emergency, McGovern said. US Representative Jamie Raskin, a Judiciary Committee member, filled in for Nadler. Also testifying was US Representative Douglas Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
Collins likened the impeachment effort to “last-minute Christmas shopping, grabbing anything” at the last second, even if it does not include an actual crime.
Raskin, on the other hand, said, “The conduct we set before you today is not some kind of surprising aberration or deviation from the president’s behavior for which he is remorseful.”
Raskin called Trump’s actions a “constitutional crime in progress,” referring to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine this month.
Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.
Martin finucane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org