WASHINGTON — Like many Americans trying to follow along with the public phase of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, Hawaii Congressman Ed Case turned to his TV.

Case isn’t a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which held its first open hearing Wednesday, or any of the other panels leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Still, as a member of the House of Representatives he will be expected to vote on whether the president committed any “high crimes and misdemeanors” while in office should Democrats follow through on their intention to draft articles of impeachment.

That means staying abreast of the latest developments in the unfolding scandal, whether it’s talking to colleagues, reading deposition transcripts or tuning in to the livestreams.

It also means juggling one of the most consequential political decisions he’ll likely ever have to make — voting to oust a sitting president — with his daily routine of representing Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.

Hawaii Congressman Ed Case so far has been a spectator of the ongoing House impeachment inquiry. Nick Grube/Civil Beat/2019

“Every single one of my days has something of impeachment in it,” Case said. “That’s my duty, my duty is to make this decision.”

Wednesday was particularly poignant.

At 10 a.m. the House Intelligence Committee held its first public hearing to address concerns that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine, a U.S. ally, to gain political leverage in the 2020 election.

Congress 2.0

The witnesses included Acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, two U.S. diplomats who were concerned over Trump’s attempts to use his office for personal gain.

Case fired up the flatscreens in his office to catch the opening statements, but he didn’t have much time. There were more pressing matters on his agenda.

He needed to prepare for a 10:30 a.m. meeting with constituents from the Hawaii chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby who had travelled to Washington to discuss carbon tax legislation.

Protestors and press gathered outside of the Longworth House Office Building for the first day of public impeachment hearings. Nick Grube/Civil Beat/2019

As the impeachment hearing played out, Case received a briefing from his staff.

There were other appointments as well.

The New Democrats Coalition, a centrist organization which Case is a member of, had a meeting with candidates interested in taking over the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

After that, Case was scheduled to confer with the Hawaiian Homesteaders Association and then another group interested in infrastructure investment on the islands.

He then had an interview with a reporter to discuss his legislation to regulate vacation rentals. There were votes on the House floor and a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on the effects of building roads through national forest land.

It was impossible for Case to be in multiple places at once, and he was forced to miss a separate subcommittee hearing on legislation to amend the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Protection Act.

Case said there will be more chances to participate in crafting the bill, which is why he decided to skip out on the hearing.

In terms of impeachment, he said he’ll just have to play catch up.

“On any given hour of any given day I have at least three to four choices of what I need to do and where I need to be,” Case said. “Today was pretty standard.”

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, center, is one of the first witnesses in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Nick Grube/Civil Beat/2019

Case understands that as the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry enters a new, more public-facing phase it’s likely to co-opt more of his time. He also doesn’t see himself remaining a spectator forever.

House investigators are moving swiftly and some expect there could be votes on articles of impeachment as soon as next month.

On Wednesday, Case arrived in his office at 5:30 a.m., many hours before Taylor and Kent testified, to write a letter to his constituents telling them where he stood on the issue. He said he wants to be up front about where he stands.

Case supports the ongoing impeachment inquiry, and has ever since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in September the parameters of the official investigation.

He’s not yet ready to declare whether he would vote in favor of impeachment, but he does admit he’s more certain than ever that Congress is following the right path, especially as more evidence comes to light.

“I don’t relish this,” Case said. “I’ve said from the beginning that I didn’t come back here to deal with impeachment. So I continue to have a real sadness that we’re in this chapter in our history.”

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