This is a letter sent to Lee Zeldin on Jan 12th urging him to vote for impeachment of Trump. (I was having trouble posting until now). Although I knew it would have no effect in persuading him, I thought it important to say these things anyhow.
Rep Zeldin, it is not too late. You have one last chance for redemption. That chance is joining your principled Republican colleagues to impeach President Trump.
You have been instrumental in creating the environment that led up to an armed insurrectionist mob storming the Capitol and threatening our democracy. Shortly after you were elected to your first term you addressed a meeting of Oath Keepers. Oath Keepers is one of the far right armed militia groups that went all in on storming the Capitol on Jan 6. They’ve been lusting for armed uprising and civil war for years. More recently, during Trump’s first impeachment, you were one of the Congressmen who participated in the storming of the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities) inside the Capitol during a hearing involving classified information. This, in spite of the fact that you already had secured access to the SCIF. The room was entered by force and security protocols were breached. Afterwards you spoke at a press conference praising this illegal action, thus abusing your position as a Congressman to set a terrible example of the lawless exercise of force to enter a secured area in the heart of the Capitol.
The worst of all was your vote to object to the certification of President-elect Biden’s wins in Arizona and Pennsylvania, AFTER the House chamber itself had been invaded by an angry mob baying for blood. There was no more ambiguity at that point about what the “stop the steal” rhetoric, led by President Trump and echoed by you, would lead to. It’s no use hiding behind sophistic and pettifogging language about “legal” votes and “investigations”. It was plain as day that you were aiding and abetting resistance to the peaceful transfer of power, and encouraging the delusion that the 2020 election was not free and fair, and that Trump should be declared the winner.
If ever a President fit the description of what the nation’s founders had in mind when they wrote the power to impeach the President into the Constitution, it is President Trump. Even before the election he refused to commit to the peaceful transfer of power should he lose. He in fact refused to concede the possibility that he could lose. That is the behavior of a dictator. Then, after he lost, he convinced millions of Americans that the election was rigged, broadcasting the “stop the steal” lie through Twitter and other media. On Jan 3rd he called the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensberger, and cajoled and threatened him to “find” the votes necessary to make him the winner in Georgia, even going so far as to name the exact number of votes Raffensberger needed to “find”. This followed multiple calls and meetings with state officials overseeing elections pressuring them to overturn the election result in their state. During all this you gave your backing, even though you are a Congressman sworn to defend the Constitution, to this effort to cast into doubt and perhaps nullify the verdict of millions of voters in various states, all based on what you must have known, as a lawyer and educated person, was a lie.
Then on Jan. 6th Trump addressed a mob which he himself had summoned to Washington using inflammatory rhetoric, demanding that Vice President Pence act in clear violation of the Constitution and simply arbitrarily declare Trump the winner. The mob, as we all know, then marched to the Capitol, overpowered the Capitol police who for reasons yet to be explained fully were unaided by any other federal agency, and smashed their way into the Capitol building itself, chanting, amongst other things “Hang Mike Pence!”. A Capitol police officer was fatally injured and other Capitol police officers were also injured. The legal and Constitutional process underway of counting the electoral votes was interrupted. The Vice President, Senators and Representatives were forced to flee for their lives to a secure location. Only after several hours, when reinforcements from the Washington D.C. police arrived was the Capitol cleared of the angry and bloodthirsty mob, after an orgy of pillage and looting had occurred, including the theft of electronics possibly containing classified information. It was only through both the bravery and quick thinking of certain outnumbered Capitol police officers that much worse did not occur, including the injury or murder of the Vice President, Senators, or Representatives.
Meanwhile, as all this was occurring President Trump was in the White House watching television. He refused numerous pleas coming from both those besieged in the Capitol and from officials of his own Administration to do something and summon help to clear the Capitol of the angry mob. In fact, reports are that he appeared to be enjoying himself and was pleased by the events that were occurring at the Capitol. During the critical hours the Capitol building was occupied by an insurrectionist mob, there was, in effect, no President of the United States. Donald Trump had abdicated his responsibility to preserve and protect the Constitution.
It is impossible for me to believe that you seriously think the behavior of President Trump is not impeachable. If his behavior is not impeachable what is the meaning of the impeachment clause in the Constitution? What would a President need to do to be impeached? Commit murder? Defect to Russia? Clearly that’s not what the founders had in mind by the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors”.
This is your last chance to change your course and act in defense of our democracy instead of in defense of one autocratic and delusional man. Think about how you will be judged by history. Think about your daughters and what kind of country they will live in. Please, please think about the good of the country instead of pandering to the worst part of your “base”. This is your last chance to redeem yourself and act as something other than a political robot.