Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Tuesday joined mounting calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment, warning in a passionate speech on the House floor that the U.S., once a “beacon of hope,” may be “descending into darkness.”
“It keeps me up at night,” he said. “We took an oath to protect this nation against all domestic enemies and foreign enemies. Sometimes I’m afraid to go to sleep for fear I will wake up and our democracy will be gone ― and never return.”
Lewis shamed the Trump administration for showing a “complete disdain and disregard for ethics, for the law and for the Constitution.”
He referred to revelations that Trump may have pressured the president of Ukraine to conduct an investigation that would include a focus on former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s possible Democratic opponent as he seeks a second term in 2020.
“The people have a right to know whether they can put their faith and trust in the outcome of our election,” Lewis said. “They have a right to know whether the cornerstone of our democracy was been undermined by people sitting in the White House today.”
The controversy over Trump’s conversation in a July phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has intensified the push for the House to launch an impeachment inquiry.
“I believe, I truly believe, the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come,” Lewis said. “To delay or to do otherwise would betray the foundation of our democracy.”
Lewis’ speech came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ― who has been reluctant to endorse impeachment ― consulted with Democrats to assess the caucus’ mood on the matter. Pelosi reportedly now has decided that an impeachment inquiry will be launched.
On Monday night, seven freshmen House Democrats who represent swing districts voiced their support for an impeachment inquiry in a Washington Post op-ed. More than 150 House lawmakers are now in agreement that the time has come for the process to begin.
The Post and The Wall Street Journal have reported that Trump, in his July call, allegedly asked about eight times for Zelensky to partner with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, in a corruption probe of Biden’s son, Hunter. Trump also reportedly wanted Ukraine officials to look into whether Biden, while serving as vice president, sought to shield his son from a corruption probe.
Trump has defended his conversation with Zelensky, claiming it was completely appropriate. He announced on Tuesday that he would release a transcript of the call.
No evidence of any wrongdoing by the Bidens has emerged.