The only oath I took

Milford. Why I finally changed my mind on impeaching President Trump: An op-ed by Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA 8th District)

| 17 Dec 2019 | 10:53

When I first ran for Congress, I was motivated to build a brighter and more prosperous future for Northeastern Pennsylvania, to bring new investment to our region, to address the rising costs of health care, to make our communities safer, and to ensure our veterans and seniors have the support they’ve earned.

Over the past several years, I’m proud to have developed a strong record of working with both Democrats and Republicans to deliver for our district. In that time, I have introduced more Republican-supported bills than any other House Democrat.

Recently, deep-pocketed dark money groups have spent staggering amounts of money attempting to tell a different story, painting me as a crazed partisan, hell-bent on impeachment.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been diligent in working with President Trump when our interests have aligned, and we have passed several bills into law together. These laws now protect low-income veterans from being scammed out of their hard-earned benefits, prevent taxpayer dollars from being used on personal expenses of government officials, and safeguard the rights of child victims of pornography. Earlier this year, at my urging, President Trump signed an executive order to address our nation’s kidney transplant shortage.

When it came to impeachment, I have been one of the loudest Democratic voices urging restraint. I voted against articles of impeachment multiple times over the past three years.

Then, a government employee blew the whistle on a July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. The whistleblower disclosed that President Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to launch an investigation of a political rival by withholding military aid that by law was supposed to go to Ukraine immediately. Only after the whistle was blown was the aid released. This obviously called for a robust investigation.

Shortly after these allegations surfaced, I was pressed by a reporter on how I would vote if an impeachment vote was held that day. My answer again was “no!” Because people are presumed innocent, and I had not heard President Trump’s side of the story.

Months later, I remained in the ever-shrinking pool of undecided Americans on impeachment, because I wanted to hear President Trump’s innocent explanation on this charge. I was glad when the House Judiciary Committee invited the president to come or send his lawyers and representatives. Yet, the president has refused to participate in the House investigation and has barred the members of his team to come testify and explain their actions.

The evidence, and lack of any rebuttal, point clearly to President Trump’s attempt to use taxpayer funds to bribe a foreign leader for the sole purpose of boosting his own political prospects. In the process, he threatened our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our democracy, and since then has obstructed justice by refusing to obey properly issued subpoenas. I believe there is sufficient evidence of these things to warrant further proceedings. So I will vote to send this matter to the Senate, where at long last we may well hear an innocent explanation for all of it. Despite every indication that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has prejudged the outcome, I hope he will join us in a serious endeavor to find the truth.

Unfortunately, Leader McConnell has not been a partner in advancing the interests of the American people. Right now, in his Republican-controlled Senate, he is blocking over 275 of our bills, all of which passed with House Republican support. I suspect he is not acting on them so he can peddle the false narrative that House Democrats aren’t doing anything except investigating the president. McConnell is a fierce partisan and would not hesitate to hold up bills that help Americans in all walks of life just to try to score political points.

In the end, I took only one oath, the one to support, uphold, and defend our Constitution. And even though it may be unpopular at times, I intend to remain faithful to that oath.

Moving forward, I remain committed to doing what I came to Congress to do all along: improve the lives of all Northeastern Pennsylvanians.

About U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright:
U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright began serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania and the eastern Lehigh Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013. The 17th congressional district includes all of Schuylkill County and portions of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Carbon, and Northampton counties. In early 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court redrew and renumbered the state’s congressional districts, and Cartwright announced for the new 8th congressional district, which includes all of Lackawanna, Wayne, and Pike counties and portions of Luzerne and Monroe counties.
Cartwright serves on the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which makes all discretionary funding decisions in the federal budget. He serves on its Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science and the Subcommittee for Financial Services and General Government and also retains a seat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the main congressional panel overseeing the operations of the executive branch.
He has been named a Moderate Democratic Leader in the House by a leading legislator ranking organization.
Cartwright is a magna cum laude graduate of Hamilton College, where he earned bachelor of arts in history in 1983. He is a law review graduate of University of Pennsylvania’s Law School, where he earned a juris doctorate in 1986.
He is married to Marion Munley Cartwright and is the father of two sons, Jack and Matthew. The Cartwrights live in Moosic.