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Sheltering in a Capitol office, a California lawmaker's frantic text got impeachment ball rolling

Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The final text, just four pages, states. “President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

Swalwell said when those who worked on the text approached Pelosi, she dispassionately laid out the options for removing Trump, and their pros and cons: censure, the 25th Amendment, impeachment. “She was pretty determined to make it clear that the president could not stay in power,” Swalwell said.

Member’s anger grew as they learned new details in the days that followed, said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who was the lead impeachment manager in 2019.

“This was a situation where as each day followed the next, people’s resolution became greater and greater,” Schiff said. “The magnitude of the harm he has created has been revealed even more and more graphically every day.”

Lieu, Cicilline, Swalwell and Raskin will serve as impeachment managers, responsible for presenting the case to the Senate.

Some of their Republican colleagues from California decried the unprecedentedly short process, saying that Trump isn’t getting time to defend himself and there isn’t enough time for House members to weigh the facts. Impeachment proceedings traditionally take months, involve multiple witnesses as well as testimony from constitutional scholars. None of that has happened in the past week.


California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock said that a spur of the moment impeachment, full of passion, weakens the most powerful power Congress holds and “trivializes this power to the point of caricature.”

“I cannot think of a more petty, vindictive and gratuitous act than to impeach an already defeated president a week before he is to leave office,” McClintock said on the House floor.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who played a role in the past two presidential impeachments and the effort to remove President Richard Nixon before he resigned, said a lengthy hearing process isn’t needed.

“What happened this time was in plain view. I mean, he incited a right-wing mob of insurrectionists to come and overturn constitutional government a week ago. You don’t need a long investigation to find that out,” Lofgren said.

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