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Ro Khanna Condemns GOP for Attacking Civil Servants to Shield Trump as House Votes on Impeachment

StoryOctober 31, 2019
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The House of Representatives is holding a historic vote today to formalize the impeachment process against President Trump. The probe centers on whether Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company. As the House votes today, lawmakers are continuing to question key Trump administration officials behind closed doors, including the top Russia official on the National Security Council, Tim Morrison. On Wednesday, House Democrats also requested that Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton testify. We speak with California Congressmember Ro Khanna.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! But now we’re going to turn, with Ro Khanna, to the issue of impeachment.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So we end today’s show in Washington, where the House is holding a historic vote today to formalize the impeachment process against President Trump. The probe centers on whether Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company.

Congressman Ro Khanna, you serve on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Talk about the significance of today’s vote.

REP. RO KHANNA: It’s a very important vote. I commend Speaker Pelosi, because we’re going to have virtually a unanimous vote among the Democratic Caucus to affirm the impeachment inquiry and to set forward the process, going forward, on how we’re going to get to articles of impeachment and have a vote on impeachment.

The important thing here to understand is that the evidence is overwhelming that the president was pressuring Zelensky into investigating his political rival. And it was not just one phone call. What we have seen emerge is a pattern, a conspiracy lasting months, to use the United States government to benefit Donald Trump’s own re-election campaign.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, the Republicans, of course, have condemned the entire inquiry, saying it’s undemocratic. So, could you respond to that? And how do you think Republican members of the House are likely to vote?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, it hasn’t been undemocratic. In fact, the process has been followed in a very, very fair way. We have had a private setting for investigations and fact gathering. In that setting, Republicans have been able to be there. They’ve been able to ask questions. They’ve been able to examine witnesses. The reality is, they’re the ones who have been obstructing the process. Now that the fact gathering is ending, the hearings are going to be public, and the president’s lawyers are going to have due process rights.

What is sad, what is so sad in this process, is the attack on civil servants, that is basically undermining public service. I mean, there used to be a stature to serving in government. And it’s government that has done so many extraordinary things, from innovation to helping protect American security. And the Republicans have launched a systematic attack on career civil servants to try to defend this president.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain. Explain particularly around the testimony of Vindman and the significance of who he is. And what happened behind closed doors, if you know, the screaming match that took place as the Republicans tried to use that moment to get at the identity of the whistleblower, thinking it was the whistleblower who he spoke to?

REP. RO KHANNA: Well, Vindman is a patriot. I mean, he is someone who has won the Purple Heart, who has served this country honorably. And you have the president’s allies going on television accusing Vindman of having dual loyalties, accusing him of conspiracy theories, accusing him of betraying the interests of the United States. And all Vindman did was comply, as he was legally required to do, with a congressional subpoena, a congressional inquiry for testimony. And what he did is testify to the best of his knowledge. So, the attack on people like Vindman is an attack on —

AMY GOODMAN: He’s a lieutenant colonel who Fox is suggesting has committed treason.

REP. RO KHANNA: Yes. And this is an attack on people who are not political. They are not people who are being — working on Trump or any campaign. These are folks, people who are serving our country. And you’ve seen now this is not just with Vindman. This is with people at the State Department. It’s with our intelligence officers. It’s with career civil servants. Republicans are basically saying that they’re not worthy, they’re dishonest, they’re unpatriotic.

And so, I ask you, how — when we’re doing this, how are people going to have faith in government? Why are the next great scientists, the next great leaders going to want to work with the United States government? What a loss for us, at a time when our government really helped create the internet, helped create antibiotics, helped create sensors. And we’re going to now diminish government at a time where we need a strong government partnership with the private sector and research universities for America to compete. So, the Republicans — it’s not just this president. It’s important to understand that they’re inflicting so much damage on the institutions of our democracy and government.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, will these impeachment hearings be televised?

REP. RO KHANNA: Yes, they absolutely will. They will be televised. The testimony will be public. And Republicans will get to ask questions. But I think here’s what the Republicans are realizing —

AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds. We’ve got to leave it there.

*REP. RO KHANNA: The attack on process isn’t going to work. They have no defense for the conduct of the president.

AMY GOODMAN: Congressmember Ro Khanna, thanks so much. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

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