In a measured speech on the House floor Monday, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, broke ranks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, becoming the first member of the Connecticut delegation to join more than 70 congressional Democrats calling for an impeachment inquiry into the acts of President Donald J. Trump.
“My motive today is not to pressure the speaker of the House, whose leadership in this Congress has been superb,” Himes in a speech prepared for delivery. “She leads us today in the epic mission of defending our democracy. That mission requires a vigorous debate and competing ideas, but it also requires care, discipline and a measure of deference.
“There are moments for careful calculation. For weighing political expediency and conflicting interests. And there moments for clarity and conviction. This is that moment.”
As a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, Himes has played a role in congressional inquiries into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. But until now he has declined to join the push for an impeachment inquiry opposed by Pelosi, who would rather see the other House inquiries continue.
Himes and the other four members of Connecticut’s House delegation listened Friday to Pelosi shy away from impeachment in a keynote speech at the Connecticut Democrats’ annual fundraising dinner in Hartford. Pelosi attacked the president for his assaults on a free press and his initial welcome of foreign interference in the 2020 race, a position he later recanted.
“Now, he is giving them the green light to do it again,” Pelosi told the audience of 1,000.. “Yes, he will welcome any further intervention.”
“Impeach!” shouted a man, starting a laughing chant that mocked Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016. “Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!”
“I’ll get back to that in a moment,” Pelosi deadpanned.
Himes said Monday the time has come for the House to open an impeachment inquiry.
“From the moment of his inauguration, this president has shown contempt for the truth, has attacked our institutions, and has ignored the Constitution he swore to defend. He has refused the oversight which is Congress’ long-established right and duty,” Himes said. “In recent weeks, he has refused to comply with subpoenas, he has ordered administration officials to refuse to testify, and he has asserted executive privilege of unprecedented scope with respect to attempts to alter the census.
“The President attacks our free press, threatens to jail his political opponents and attacks courts and judges when they challenge his unprecedented behavior.
“That we have not slouched closer to autocracy is due to the strength of the democratic safeguards and protections that we have built and defended for two and a half centuries. Most Americans sense the danger and have reacted, most recently by electing a House of Representatives with the power and desire to check this President. The President has refused to acknowledge or acquiesce to that power.”
His colleagues on Friday saw Pelosi allowing the House to investigate Trump without the politically dangerous step of an impeachment inquiry.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said under Pelosi the House has been very aggressive in its efforts to investigate wrongdoing by Trump.
The state’s only freshman, U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, said then she was satisfied to follow the speaker’s lead: “I think that from what I’ve seen so far, she is so incredibly politically astute, and I’ve come to trust her judgment. I think she sees long range what so many people can’t yet see.”