Representative Bergman, please defend the Constitution
Jack Bergman, U.S. Congressional Representative for the M-1 District which includes all of the U.P. and part of the northern Lower Peninsula, held a town hall meeting in Houghton on Jan. 4. I attended and asked Representative Bergman a question: Why did he vote “no” on the articles of impeachment? In a brief response, Mr. Bergman suggested that accusations of wrongdoing against the president are unfounded and the impeachment proceedings are a partisan ploy to delegitimize the 2016 election and remove the president from office.
There are serious flaws in this explanation. Mr. Bergman argues that regardless of the presidents conduct in office, he should not be impeached because he won the 2016 election. This implies that the president is above the law. Moreover, the impeachment proceedings are not, as Mr. Bergman claimed, a question of who won the 2016 election. They are the question of whether the president put the United States at risk by violating the Constitution and his oath of office.
Let’s review the evidence. Last summer, a CIA intelligence officer filed a whistleblower complaint over concerns for U.S. security as a result of a July 25, 2019, phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Initially, President Trump’s lawyers and staff attempted to downplay the call and dismiss the whistleblower complaint.
However, the House Intelligence Committee became aware of the situation and initiated an investigation. Official White House records of the phone conversation, 17 closed-door depositions, and public testimony from 12 witnesses produced a 300-page report detailing evidence for two impeachable offenses: abuse of power and obstruction of congress.
In the phone conversation with President Zelensky, President Trump indicated that the U.S. would withhold $391 million of congressionally approved military aid unless Ukraine announced an investigation into the activities of Hunter Biden, the son of presidential rival Joe Biden. This had nothing to do with U.S. security, but had the potential to damage Biden’s presidential campaign and improve Trump’s chances of reelection. Afterwards, President Trump lied about his actions and tried to impede the investigation.
Ukraine is an important U.S. ally and a buffer against Russian aggression in the region. The aid withheld was intended for defense against Russian backed separatists and Ukraine was depending on it to protect its people.
The evidence is clear. The president disregarded the safety of his country as he used his powers of office to pursue personal political gain. He violated the Constitution and the presidential oath of office. He attempted to extort Ukraine using congressionally approved funds. He asked a foreign state to interfere in an American election. His actions compromised American foreign policy, posed threats to U.S. national security, and put Ukrainian lives at risk.
The founding fathers created the check of impeachment specifically for situations like this. When the president violates the Constitution and threatens his country, he should be impeached and removed from office.
Representative Bergman’s attempts to construe the articles of impeachment as a political hoax lacking evidence are disingenuous. In voting against them, he failed in his duties to defend the constitution and the American people. Mr. Bergman should put the well-being of his country and his constituents in the M-1 District before his loyalty to the Republican Party and President Trump.
Nick Wilson is a junior at Boston College and is studying environmental sciences.