The late Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan Sr. was name-dropped Wednesday night as the U.S. House Judiciary Committee kicked off a vote on impeachment articles against President Trump.
The Maryland Republican (and the current governor’s father) was among the GOP lawmakers who turned on President Nixon during the 1974 House impeachment debate.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who was a staffer to the Judiciary Committee during the proceedings against Nixon, mentioned Hogan and then-Virginia Rep. M. Caldwell Butler, another Republican defector at the time.
“Where are the Caldwell Butlers and Larry Hogans of today in the Republican Party?” Lofgren asked as the committee moved toward what’s certain to be a highly partisan vote on Thursday.
Hogan said at the time, “Unless Richard Nixon is removed from office and the disease of Watergate, which has sapped the vitality of our government, is purged from the body politic, government and politics will continue to be clouded by mistrust and suspicion,” according to the Baltimore Sun. Hogan died in 2017.
Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, the lone Maryland lawmaker on the House Judiciary panel, also invoked Hogan, a lawyer and former FBI agent before being elected to Congress.
“Congressman Hogan voted to impeach President Nixon for two crimes — two crimes our colleagues claim they never heard of before — abuse of power and obstruction of justice,” Raskin said.
Raskin, a former constitutional law professor, called the evidence against Trump “overwhelming and totally uncontradicted.”
He warned of potentially dire consequences if the House doesn’t impeach Trump. “I confess that I am afraid,” he said, that allowing “presidents to invite foreign governments to participate overtly or covertly in our elections” would make the practice “the new normal” in the United States.
And Raskin challenged his Republican colleagues to rebuke the president. “Will any of them say that the presidents of the United States should not drag foreign powers into our elections?” Raskin said.
‘You still have a choice’
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee kicked off the two-day vote on impeachment articles Wednesday night with a similar plea to his Republican colleagues.
“I know you,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). “I have worked with many of you for years. I consider you to be good and decent public servants.”
Nadler added, “I know this moment may be difficult, but you still have a choice,” Nadler said. He urged Republicans to remember that Trump “will not be president forever. … When our country returns as surely it will to calmer times and stronger leadership, history will look back on our actions here today. How would you be remembered?”
But anyone expecting a sea change from either political party would have been sorely disappointed while watching the opening statements. In the debate that went late into Wednesday night, lawmakers on both sides assailed their colleagues across the aisle, accusing them of overt partisanship.
Democrats implored Republicans to put politics aside and break ranks with the GOP to punish Trump; Republicans uniformly defended the president and accused the majority of fabricating a case in an attempt to oust an executive whose policies they have loathed since he assumed the White House.
After the public sparring, the Democratic majority on the committee is expected to approve impeachment articles this week, sending them to the full House floor for a vote. If they’re approved by the House as expected, a Senate trial will likely be held early next year.
GOP says impeachment boosts Trump in 2020
Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel, set the tone for his party with a sharp retort to Nadler. He accused Democrats of pursuing a three-year vendetta against Trump.
“This is not new. We’ve been trying this for almost three years,” Collins said of the efforts to impeach Trump. “The only thing that has changed is the opportunity from last November when you became the majority,” he told Democrats.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) prodded Democrats to change course, calling the impeachment proceedings “scary stuff.”
Democrats, he said, “have never accepted the will of the American people,” Jordan said. “I hope you guys will reconsider and stop it while you can.”
Republicans also warned Democrats that the impeachment proceedings would help Trump keep the White House in the 2020 election and could help the GOP reclaim the House majority.
“This is the quickest, thinnest, weakest, most partisan impeachment in all of American presidential history,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). “We’ll see you on the field in 2020.”
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told his colleagues to “go ahead” and vote for impeachment. “Say goodbye to your majority status and please join us in January 2021 when President Trump is inaugurated again.”
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) disputed Republicans’ assertions that Democrats had their sights set on impeachment since Trump’s election.
“While I didn’t vote for President Trump, I respect the office that he holds,” Johnson said. But while he didn’t initially support impeachment, the Georgia congressman said, “this is one heck of an emergency.”
He supports impeachment now, Johnson said, because “President Trump’s high crimes threaten our democracy itself.”
He added, “I’m a black man representing Georgia, born when Jim Crow was alive and well. To me, the idea that elections can be undermined is not theoretical.”