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Rep. Welch: 'I Have Concluded That President Donald Trump Should Be Impeached'

Congressman Peter Welch poses for a portrait outside his office at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Eman Mohammed for VPR
Rep. Peter Welch poses for a portrait in January 2019 outside his office at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Vermont Rep. Peter Welch is calling for President Donald Trump's impeachment.

"President Trump has established a clear pattern of willful disregard for our Constitution and its system of checks and balances," Welch said in a written statement released Thursday.

The congressman provided a list of reasons supporting how he came to this decision. Read the full statement here.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, Welch said he no longer believes he can remain neutral on the question of whether or not Trump should be impeached.

"On Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump took his oath of office, pledged to preserve protect and defend the Constitution," Welch said. "And in the 30 months since, I've come to the conclusion that he's violated his oath, that he's unfit for office and that he should be impeached."

Welch told reporters on the call that there are two basic reasons why he's changed his mind on impeachment.

The first is he said Trump has blocked all efforts to have members of his administration testify at Congressional hearings examining the role that Russia played in trying to influence the 2016 election.

"My conclusion [is] that the stonewalling is not going to stop," Welch said. "The president's been here 30 months. He's made it crystal clear that he is not going to respect the Constitutional responsibilities under Article One of the United States Congress."

The second reason is what Welch called "racist" attacks made by the president against four Congresswomen of color for opposing his immigration policies.

"My alarm is that this is extremely dangerous to our democracy," Welch said, "and it's clear that the president has embraced this approach of being brutally divisive. ... It's the guardrails of democracy that are under assault here."

Welch had previously condemned Trump's racist tweets targeting those Democratic members of Congress. In his written statement Thursday, Welch also noted that Trump "has unleashed a torrent of attacks on fellow citizens based on their race, gender, religion and ethnic origin."

Up to this point, Welch had repeatedly expressed caution in pursuing impeachment proceedings:

"I do not arrive at this conclusion lightly," Welch wrote in Thursday's statement. 

Welch told reporters Thursday that he has resisted previous calls for impeachment because he thinks Trump wants to have the question of impeachment be the top issue of the 2020 campaign. But in the end, Welch said he had to do what he feels is right for the country.

"That is really the basis of me deciding that despite my concern, my reluctance, about impeachment — because it is very serious and it will be politicized by the president — I owed it to Vermonters to tell them where I am," he said.

Welch said he hopes the House Judiciary Committee will consider starting impeachment hearings in the near future.

Thursday's declaration makes Welch the first member of the Vermont delegation to call for impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has resisted the idea so far.

Update 4:54 p.m. This post was updated to include Welch's statements from the conference call with reporters.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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