EDITOR’S NOTE: This column first published on Medium.com.
In the summer of 2003, my infantry platoon was patrolling the streets of Baghdad when an Iraqi man approached me, desperately asking for help to resolve a dispute he had with his neighbor. He couldn’t take the issue to court because the judges were all taking bribes, or asking for a payoff. He told me, “justice is hard to find in Iraq.”
Fourteen years later, I saw similar hopelessness here at home. On the campaign trail, a neighbor told me she just didn’t trust the system anymore – she believed that the government was rigged and that real change was impossible. I recognized that the values I fought for overseas were now under assault at home.
I didn’t run for office because I dislike Donald Trump. I ran because I love our country.
It’s that same pride in our democracy and respect for our Constitution that fuels my support for an impeachment inquiry. We must complete the work started by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It’s a solemn responsibility of Congress that the framers of our Constitution included to protect the rule-of-law.
After reading Robert Mueller’s report, hearing his testimony, and responding to President Trump’s repeated stonewalling of Congress, it’s clear that our democracy faces substantial risks that require Congressional action.
Trump and his administration have engaged in repeated abuses of power and disregarded our institutions, while flaunting Congress and the judiciary. To this day the President prevents key witnesses from testifying before Congress, wrongly asserts executive privilege to dodge subpoenas, and attempts to skirt court rulings. If Congress doesn’t stand up to these abuses, then our system of checks and balances will have failed. It’s clear that we must respond with the full weight of Congress.
During my tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I saw what happens when government officials are above the law. It breeds distrust and corruption. It causes people to lose faith in their institutions and elected leaders.
America is different. We respect the rule-of-law. We expect our leaders to be examples of moral, ethical, and legal conduct, and we hold them accountable when they aren’t. This includes the President.
Let me be clear: impeachment must be the last course of action, not the first. We must be deliberate about the inquiry process and give the American people full confidence in the process and the ultimate decision.
Our constituents deserve accountability. Democracy is fragile and will only be preserved if we fight for it.
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow is a Democrat and represents Colorado’s 6th Congressional District.