By KEVIN DERBY
Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist and Debbie Wasserman Schultz
After reports that President Donald Trump froze more than $390 million in aid to the Ukraine before urging the leader of that nation to look into allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Democrats in the Florida delegation threw their support behind an impeachment inquiry.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., said it was time to open the door to an impeachment inquiry. Castor represents a safe district for Democrats.
“The House is proceeding in a deliberate manner to gather the evidence of corruption and of obstruction of justice by the president and his associates. At least six congressional committees are investigating ethical and criminal violations, including review of financial records that were not covered in the Mueller investigation. The American people deserve to understand the depth and breadth of Trump’s ethical and criminal violations,” Castor said.
“Withholding foreign aid to Ukraine in an attempt to encourage interference in the next U.S. presidential election is a breach of the public trust,” Castor added. “And blocking a U.S. intelligence complaint labeled ‘urgent concern’, filed with the independent inspector general and flagged to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is against the law. Trump has violated his oath of office. He operates for himself, in his personal interest – and not in the interest of the American people. The impeachment inquiry should be put on the fast track and all of the facts made plain. My GOP colleagues are inexplicably silent in the face of the damage to the country emanating out of the White House.”
Castor wasn’t alone as U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., also backed starting the impeachment process. Frankel represents a secure Democrat district.
“It is obvious that President Trump knows no boundaries when advancing his own personal interests. The latest allegations that the president pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate a political opponent and is blocking a whistleblower’s complaint detailing those actions, if true, represent a clear abuse of power and impeachable offense. The American people deserve the truth. I join all those calling for impeachment proceedings,” Frankel said on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., represents a swing district but he also backed impeachment.
“Reports detailing the whistleblower complaint and the president’s subsequent admission make it clear that the president has endangered America’s national security for his own political gain,” Crist said. “Pressuring a vulnerable, sovereign nation to dig up dirt on a political adversary while dangling congressionally mandated military aid is not only blatantly unethical and unbecoming of the highest office in the land – it is a crime against the Constitution.
“The president is acting like he believes he is above the rule of law. He is not. President Adams called our republic, ‘a government of laws, not of men.’ The People’s House must deliver on that fundamental American value that no one – not even the president – is above the law,” Crist added. “Today, I join the people of Florida’s 13th Congressional District in calling for the House to launch formal impeachment proceedings against President Trump. I do not reach this conclusion lightly. The urgency of accountability is laid bare by the president’s ongoing willingness to abuse the immense power of the Office of the United States President. Someone who believes there is nothing wrong with soliciting foreign interference in American elections – again – can cause unthinkable harm to our national security, our country, and our Constitution during the remaining 15 months of his term in office.
“The American people expect my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol to put partisanship and political expediency aside to do the right thing for the People and for our Constitution. It is time to act,” Crist added.
Other Democrats in the Florida delegation came out for impeachment on Tuesday afternoon.
“Seeking campaign help from a foreign government is illegal, unethical, and an un-American abuse of power. Allegations that the president tied Ukrainian aid needed to combat Russian aggression to his demands are outrageous and must be fully investigated,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. “This is now a disturbing pattern of violations of the president’s oath of office. The president’s admission that he pressured the Ukrainian president to assist his re-election campaign is further evidence of his abuse of power. His efforts to block the whistleblower complaint from coming to Congress is further evidence of his disregard for the rule of law and obstruction that was documented multiple times in the Mueller Report. The president’s refusal to separate his family’s business from the country’s business continues to enrich him and jeopardize our national priorities.
“The Judiciary Committee has been conducting an impeachment inquiry since March. It is time to finish the job. Americans have now seen with their own eyes the depth of this president’s wrongdoing. Sadly, almost every elected Republican has remained silent in the face of the president’s corruption, obstruction, and abuse of power,” Deutch added. “It is time to complete our investigation and draft articles of impeachment.”
“I have watched this president increasingly treat our nation’s laws with impunity, and listened to my constituents’ calls to address his lawless presidency. I have also carefully considered the gravity of an impeachment inquiry,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. “New and mounting evidence indicates that he has obstructed justice, leveraged foreign aid to target political enemies, illegally blocked a whistleblower from Congress, and invited external interference into our elections. Each one, alone, constitutes a grave abuse of power. Together, I fear that our Rule of Law and Constitution will not survive such open hostility from this, or any future president.
“This president’s reckless and habitual disregard for our laws leaves Congress no choice. Impeachment inquiry hearings must commence immediately. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of our democracy,” she added.
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a top ally of Trump on Capitol Hill, pushed back on Tuesday.
“The Democratic Caucus has formed a circular firing squad where the radical Left is taking incoming from more moderate Democrats who would actually like to see us get to work,” Gaetz insisted.
“For us to get the full benefit out of the Donald Trump presidency, we need people who are actually going to embrace this president,” Gaetz added. “President Trump is shaking up Washington, DC, and delivering for the American people. It’s time to support this president.”
After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced she was going to launch a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., criticized the decision.
“The decision to launch an investigation before learning the entire set of facts and hearing from the Director of National Intelligence is reckless. This is clearly politically-motivated and I am incredibly disappointed. The radical left has truly lost sight of the good of the American people. To put it in perspective, five House committee chairmen are currently involved in some sort of investigative inquiry against the president. That’s five committees that could be solving problems like the rising cost of healthcare, the crisis at our southern border and our pressing national security issues. It’s clear the Democrats are here to investigate, not legislate – and the American people deserve better,” he said.