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Twin State lawmakers talk historic impeachment vote

  • Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., is interviewed at the Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H., on Jan. 24, 2018. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Democrat Chris Pappas, an openly gay nominee for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District, speaks to a reporter, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Manchester, N.H., one day after winning an 11-way primary race. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

  • Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., pauses as he talks to media after a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. After a flurry of last-minute negotiations, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for the Supreme Court after agreeing to a late call from Sen. Jeff Flake, for a one week investigation into sexual assault allegation against the high court nominee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/19/2019 10:05:11 PM
Modified: 12/19/2019 10:20:29 PM

WEST LEBANON — All three Twin State lawmakers serving in the U.S. House voted to impeach President Donald Trump, and two are already facing criticism from Republicans as press statements flowed following the votes on two articles Wednesday night.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., said she voted for impeachment “with a heavy heart” to uphold her oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

“The evidence and facts are clear and uncontested: President Trump has abused the power of the Presidency for his own personal gain, at the expense of our national security and the integrity of the 2020 election,” Kuster said in a statement and video she released shortly after the votes. “I hope that the Senate will hold a fair, transparent and thorough trial to get to the truth for the American people.”

Former state Rep. Steve Negron, a Nashua Republican who challenged Kuster in 2018 and is again seeking the GOP  nomination, said he does not believe Trump abused his office. He argued that Kuster failed to show the independence that New Hampshire voters value.

“For seven years, Ann Kuster has attempted to portray herself as a moderate Democrat, professing a willingness to work across the aisle to defend the needs of New Hampshire and to further our national interests,” Negron said. “Well, that thin façade was shattered tonight with her vote to impeach a duly elected President in an attempt to overturn the 2016 election result -— a very dangerous exercise of this solemn congressional power.”

U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, a first-term Democrat who represents New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, which Trump narrowly won in 2016 over Hillary Clinton, said he voted for impeachment because Trump compromised both the rule of law and national security in pressuring Ukraine’s president to launch an investigation related to former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Our nation’s founders created a government with shared powers and co-equal branches of government. They gave us the presidency — not a monarchy. They created a system where no one is above the law, even the President of the United States. It is clear that Constitutional lines have been crossed, and to vote against these articles would dishonor the wisdom of our founders and undermine the institutions of our democracy,” Pappas said.

But he quickly came under attack from Republican National Committee spokeswoman Nina McLaughlin, who described his vote was “the ultimate betrayal of his constituents.”

“Granite Staters won’t forget that Pappas chose Nancy Pelosi and the socialist squad over them, and will be sure to seal his fate as a one-term congressman in November 2020,” she said.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., also voted for impeachment, saying during debate on the House floor, “When President Trump abused the power of his office by soliciting foreign interference in the upcoming election for his personal benefit, he willfully infringed upon the right of citizens to decide who will lead our nation. In doing so, he placed himself above the law and in violation of his oath of office to ‘faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States.’ ”

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said it is time for the Senate to rise to the occasion and serve as the “conscience of the nation.”

“Whether the Senate functions as a true court of impeachment as the Founders envisioned — steadfastly pursuing the truth and upholding our oaths to pursue impartial justice — or functions merely as President Trump’s legal defense team will define us for decades to come,” said Leahy, a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “History will not look kindly upon those who place loyalty to this or any other president above our oaths to the Constitution.”

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted out, “The House of Representatives rightly carried out its constitutional responsibility by voting to impeach Donald Trump, the most corrupt president in our history. No one, including the president, is above the law.”

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., who narrowly won her Senate seat in 2016 against Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte, said she would “push for a fair and thorough process to evaluate the facts before reaching a decision.”

“The key issue that I will evaluate during the trial is whether the President abused the power of his office for his personal and political benefit, as opposed to acting in the best interests of the American people and our national security,” Hassan said.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who is up for reelection in 2020, said nobody is above the law, but also didn’t signal how she would vote in a Senate trial.

“As a Senator, I’m going to be a juror in any impeachment trial, and that means I have a duty to withhold judgment, encourage a fair process and make a determination impartially,” Shaheen said.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.




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