Scanlon Opening Statement During Impeachment Debate
“Two years ago, I never dreamed that I would be sitting here as a member of Congress. The only office I’d ever been elected to was the school board in the small town where I live outside Philadelphia. I loved my job as a public interest lawyer, and I loved volunteering with kids…helping them to get a good start, and to understand why our government, and our laws, are what make our country that shining city on the hill, a beacon of freedom and opportunity to the world.
“One of the schools where I volunteered is Constitution High School in Philadelphia, located just blocks from Independence Hall where our constitution was written. Students at Constitution High learn the importance of active citizenship: to be informed participants in our government and to put public service before.
“I believe in those lessons with my entire heart. My faith in those lessons sent me to Congress.
“When I took the oath of office just a year ago, many of my students came with me. They looked down from the House gallery as I chose to be sworn in on our Constitution — this one right here. I took an oath to support and defend this Constitution, and to put my country before myself.
“The question we must answer today, not only as members of Congress but as Americans, is will we accept a president who refuses to do the same?
“We would not be here today but for the bravery and active citizenship of ordinary men and women who also took oaths to support and defend our constitution, and chose to put service to our country before self. American citizens, like Ambassadors Bill Taylor and Marie Yovanovitch, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, David Holmes and Fiona Hill. They demonstrated a love of country and an unclouded understanding of right and wrong. They testified to Congress despite opposition from the President and at great personal risk. We expect these qualities in our public servants. We must demand them of our President.
“This President has failed that test of honor, of unselfish service to the country, of understanding the difference between right and wrong, and above all, of the need to put aside his personal interests when our nation’s security and our values are at stake.
“This moment is about more than disagreements with the President’s policies or personality — those disagreements belong in the voting booth. Our task today is not to judge the President himself. Instead, we must judge the President’s actions and whether they have undermined our government.
“Because it is the office of the President to which we owe our loyalty, not the man who occupies it.
“We must not turn a blind eye to the undisputed facts.
“The President used the highest office in our government, and precious taxpayer dollars, to pressure a foreign country to interfere in our elections.
“And when he got caught, he tried to cover it up, by obstructing our investigation and our legal system.
“In doing so, he betrayed the American people.
“There is no higher crime under our Constitution than that.
“This is exactly the type of behavior that our Founders feared most. They knew that with the awesome power of the presidency came the risk of a president abusing that power for personal gain. They trusted us — the people — with our republic, to safeguard the values they enshrined in our constitution.
“This is not the first time we’ve faced this task.
“At another time, when the future of our country was in jeopardy, President Lincoln charged the American people with the same responsibility. That we must dedicate ourselves to the “great task” of ensuring “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
“A government where the president abuses his power is not ‘of the people.’
“A government where the president pressures a foreign country to undermine our elections is not ‘by the people.’
“And a government where the president puts his own interests before the country is not ‘for the people.’
“This is not complicated. You know it. I know it. My students at Constitution High know it. And in their hearts, I believe that my colleagues across the aisle know it. President Trump’s wrongdoing — and the urgent threat that his actions present to our democracy — leaves us no — principled — alternative but to support these articles of impeachment.
“Our constitution, our country, and our children depend on it.”