On Thursday, Vermont Democratic Congressman Peter Welch announced he now supports the impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying he didn’t make the decision lightly. He held a public forum at the Statehouse Monday evening to hear what Vermonters think. Most who commented agreed with him.
The forum with Vermont’s at-large Congressman was originally scheduled for one hour but it ran nearly half an hour longer as people queued up to discuss several issues. A group of F-35 opponents expressed concerns about the basing of the jets in Vermont. There were also scattered questions about a potential war with Iran and the southern border detention centers. But the overwhelming focus of discussion was whether President Donald Trump should be impeached.
Welch spent the first 10 minutes explaining his reasons for concluding that Trump should be impeached. He said the two most significant powers given to the House by the Constitution are to declare war and to impeach a president. “I have become increasingly alarmed our democracy and its guardrails, its safeguards, our Constitutional order is in peril. Being there you’re shocked day in and day out that there’s not that respect for the Constitution.”
Most who spoke agreed, with some offering impassioned and emotional comments.
“My name is Gianna. I was born and raised in Southeast Asia. I’m a resident of East Montpelier and I’m a proud citizen of the United States of America. (applause) Thank you so much for your statement. This shouldn’t be a question of politics. We need a leader that respects the dignity of all and strengthens rather than undermines our fragile institutions. I am terrified for the future of this democracy and democracy around the world. You have my full support.”
Congressman Welch: “Thank you. Thank you Very much.”
“Sue Walbridge, Montpelier. I am a seventh generation Vermonter, life-long Montpelier resident. I am a proud descendant of Vermont U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator Justin Smith Morrill, a Republican. I grew up knowing Republican Governor and U.S. Senator George D. Aiken. All these people were of great dignity. I believe they would be appalled at this Republican Party and Trump. President Trump has destroyed what our founding fathers created. I am for impeachment.”
“My name is Stephanie Frasier. I don’t think it’s just Trump. I think Pence needs to go too.”
Others, like John Turner of Montpelier, appreciate the idea of impeachment but are concerned about the potential for success. “I’m a white 73-year-old male who grew up on Long Island and those are the only things I have in common with Donald Trump. (laughter) The man needs to be voted out of office in November of 2020.”
“My Name is Miriam Hansen and I live in East Montpelier. It seems to me very dangerous to go into impeachment early knowing the Senate will not impeach him and giving him the opportunity to play it.”
Welch: “I wrestled with that as well.”
Only one person directly challenged Congressman Welch on his decision to support impeachment.
“My name is Edward Gilbert Jr. I’m from Barre Town. What are the high crimes and misdemeanors that you plan to submit in order to impeach President Trump?”
Congressman Welch: “Well if you were here you heard me.”
Gilbert: “Yeah I have but I haven’t heard any crimes or high crimes and misdemeanors of any kind.”
Welch: “Well you know that the Constitution does not define it.”
Gilbert: “Exactly. So that’s why I’m asking though what do you plan to submit as the high crimes and misdemeanors? I mean he’s protecting the homeland. I still would like to know what you plan to submit.”