The House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on whether to impeach President Trump. Particularly for moderate Democrats in vulnerable congressional districts, the decision of whether to support impeachment could come at a significant political cost. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why he will vote for the articles and what his Colorado constituents are saying.
Judy Woodruff: And now Representative Jason Crow from the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, is one of a number of Democrats from competitive districts that his party is fighting to hold onto in next year’s elections. In fact, prior to Crow, the district had elected only Republicans to Congress since the 1980s, when it was first drawn. Representative Crow announced over the weekend that he supports both articles of impeachment against President Trump. And he joins us now from Capitol Hill. Congressman, thank you very much for being with us. Was this a hard decision for you?
Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.: Hi. Good to be with you, Judy. Yes, it was one that I spent time thinking about, because I promised my district that I would be deliberate about it, that I would take in all the information, that I would spend my time looking at all the evidence. And that’s what I did. But, at the end of the day, I came back to my oath. I’m somebody who has taken many oaths throughout my life. I’m a former Army Ranger and spent a lot of time in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I took an oath again on January 3, when I joined this Congress. So, at the end of the day, it became abundantly clear to me that the evidence overwhelmingly supported the allegations against the president, and that impeachment was the route forward for us.
Judy Woodruff: So, was there one piece of evidence that convinced you, or what?
Rep. Jason Crow: No, it was the body of evidence, right, over several weeks, over a dozen witnesses. You had Ambassador Sondland, who is a supporter of President Trump, say unequivocally that there was a quid pro quo. And you had the president’s words himself, right saying, do us a favor. And the president and his enablers and the folks in the White House actually have stopped trying to actually defend the actions. And it’s pretty irrefutable at this point what happened. It’s wrong. It’s unprecedented. It’s a violation of the president’s constitutional oath. And it’s now time for Congress to step up and say, it’s not OK.
Judy Woodruff: I’m asking because the constitutional law professor who testified before the House Judiciary Committee on behalf of the Republicans wrote today that this is the first impeachment process to go forward without, in his words, a recognized crime having been committed.
Rep. Jason Crow: Well, there certainly are some folks that I think could have that debate. But, at the end of the day, let’s not be distracted by what actually happened, what we know happened and we know are the facts. The fact is, the president of the United States withheld critical security funding from an ally that’s at war to benefit his personal political campaign. It’s unprecedented. It’s never happened before. And, on top of that, when Congress has tried to fulfill its duty of oversight and accountability, Congress has been met with an open and stated policy of non-cooperation, which, in the history of United States, has never happened before. So, what we have to do is make sure that we’re not setting the precedent that future presidents can do the same thing, whether it be Republican or Democrat. We cannot allow this to become normal. We can’t send the message that presidents can use taxpayer money, withhold foreign aid to advance his or her own political interests in political campaigns, and obstruct Congress in the process. And that’s why we’re doing what we’re going to do tomorrow.
Judy Woodruff: What do you say to Republicans though, Congressman, who say this process is not legitimate because it’s just one party? There’s not a single Republican who’s joining with Democrats that we know of at this point to support impeachment.
They also, as you know, say Democrats have been trying to get rid of President Trump ever since he was elected.
Rep. Jason Crow: Well, we used the process and we used the rules actually put in place by the Republicans several Congresses ago. Courts have overwhelmingly and unanimously said that this is a constitutional and lawful process. And just because there are folks who have decided that they’re not going to abide by their oath, they’re not going to do what I think the country needs them to do, does not absolve us of our responsibility to fulfill our oath. We can’t control the Senate. I can’t control my colleagues. Only thing I can control is what I do and whether or not I honor the oath that I took on January 3.
And, for me, honoring that oath requires me to step up and vote for the articles of impeachment tomorrow.
Judy Woodruff: Does it concern you, Congressman, that less than half of the American people say in public opinion polls that they support impeaching the president?
Rep. Jason Crow: No, it doesn’t, because I have never concerned myself with the politics of this issue. I decided very early on that we have to completely separate politics from the discussion of impeachment. This is one of the most important consequential things that a member of Congress can do. We’re being called to do a very somber, grave thing. I’m not happy about it. This is not an exciting time for me. This is not what I came to Congress to do. But I do have a duty to do it. So I’m not going to think about the politics of it, in much the same way that I didn’t think about the politics of my time in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had taken an oath to serve the country, and I had to fulfill that oath.
And the consequences will be what they will be. But, at the end of the day, the people that I represent, they know that I’m somebody that’s bound by my oath. They know that I’m somebody that appreciates honesty, integrity and good government. And that’s what I’m about. And that’s ultimately what this is about.
Judy Woodruff: Two other questions. One is, what are you hearing from your constituents in the suburbs around Denver?
Rep. Jason Crow: Yes, so, generally, people support the action that I’m taking.
I have not shied away from having conversations about this. I held two large events on Sunday, where I announced my support for the articles of impeachment, and I took questions. And I think people are just wanting to know that the process was fair and transparent. But I represent a community that is fed up with corruption in government. It’s fed up with dishonesty. They want good government. They want people to do the right thing. They want them to tell — to tell the truth. And that’s what we’re doing, right?
So I’m out in the district all the time. I have held over 200 events in my first year in Congress in every corner of my district, answering questions, having tough conversations, being civil in the process. And, ultimately, I think people understand that I’m somebody who does what I say I’m going to do and fulfills that oath. And we have mutual respect between me and my constituents because of that.
Judy Woodruff: Last thing. Do you expect — I mean, assuming the House does vote to impeach, do you expect there will be a fair trial in the Senate? And I ask because, today, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is saying that he does not plan to call any of the witnesses that the Democrats are asking be called.
Rep. Jason Crow: Well, one thing I have learned, Judy, in my first year in Congress is that my crystal ball is broken. I have stopped trying to predict the future and what people are going to do. I can’t control Mitch McConnell. I can’t control the Senate. And I will continue to call for a fair trial. I was asked yesterday during an interview what my advice would be for Cory Gardner, one of our senators from Colorado. And my advice is simple. Go back and read the oath. It’s the same oath that I took earlier in the year. It’s our North Star that calls us to put the country first and to put the well-being of our fellow citizens above your own personal well-being.
Judy Woodruff: Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado, thank you very much.
Rep. Jason Crow: Thanks, Judy.