Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) warned that President Donald Trump's abuses will permanently corrupt U.S. democracy unless Congress acts to impeach him now.
The House Intelligence Committee chairman, who is overseeing the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry, concluded his opening statement with a sharp attack on the White House chief of staff, who excused the president's extortion scheme against Ukraine.
"The issue that we confront is the one posed by the president's acting chief of staff (Mick Mulvaney), when he challenged Americans to 'get over it,'" Schiff said. "If we find that the president of the United States abused his power and invited foreign interference in our elections, or if he sought to condition, coerce or extort or bribe an ally into conducting investigations to aid his re-election campaign and did so by withholding official acts, a White House meeting or hundreds millions of dollars of needed military aid, must we simply 'get over it'?"
"Is this what Americans should expect from their president?" he continued. "If this is not impeachable conduct, what is? Does the oath of office itself requiring that our laws be faithfully executed, that our president defend a Constitution that balances the powers of its branches, setting ambition against ambition, so we become no monarchy, still have meaning? These are the questions we must ask and answer, without rancor, if we can, without delay, regardless, and without party favor and without prejudice if we are true to our responsibilities."
Schiff cited the nation's founders to call on his Republican colleagues to take the allegations against Trump seriously.
"Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of a country America was to become," Schiff said. "A republic, he answered, if you can keep it. The fundamental issue raised by the impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump is, can we keep it?"