WASHINGTON — Before U.S. Rep. Ed Case takes any votes on impeachment, he said he must consider the “sizeable” number of his constituents who don’t support it.
Case is a moderate Democrat who rode into office on the blue wave of 2018, but unlike some of his colleagues he doesn’t represent a district that Donald Trump won in 2016.
Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District overwhelming voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meaning a vote to oust the president won’t carry the same ramifications as it might for someone like U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, who represents a swing district and could be vulnerable in November.
Still, Case has been deliberate in how he thinks about impeachment.
He’s conducted online constituent surveys, hosted town halls and talked with people on airplanes and in supermarkets, all in an attempt to gauge where they stand on what has become a historic moment in Washington.
The result, according to Case, is that about one-third of the people he’s heard from don’t back the Democrats’ inquiry.
“I’m the only voice for them on this issue in the U.S. House,” Case said. “I owe those people in particular — and everybody else — a very careful and deliberate analysis before I make my decision.”
After the House Judiciary Committee drafted two articles of impeachment stemming from Trump’s conduct involving Ukraine, Case released a public statement saying he wasn’t yet ready to make a judgement.
On Thursday, as the committee spent 14 hours in bitter debate about the articles — one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of Congress — Case remained stoic. The committee worked until 11 p.m. before adjourning without taking a vote.
On Friday morning, the committee voted along party lines to advance the impeachment charges to the full House of Representatives.
Case said he will wait until he reads the committee’s report and further evaluates the evidence before he decides whether he’s a yes or no.
He also wants to know if Trump has a “plausible explanation” for his actions other than to influence the results of the upcoming 2020 election by asking a foreign country to investigate a political rival.
One of his biggest considerations, he said, is the precedent a “yes” vote might set for future presidents.
“I want to be comfortable in my own mind that if I were to vote to impeach the president based on these facts that I would also be comfortable voting to impeach a future president,” Case said, “including a president of my own party on the same facts.”
The full House is expected to vote on impeachment next week before leaving for the holiday break.
Unlike Case who has to worry about re-election, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is safe from political repercussions, at least in her home state.
Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, which is comprised of rural Oahu and the neighbor islands, is even more liberal than the 1st, and Gabbard, who’s vying for president, has already announced she has no intention of running for re-election.
Her presidential bid is a bit more complicated.
Gabbard was the last 2020 Democrat to announce she supported the House impeachment inquiry into Trump regarding his dealings with Ukraine.
She was also quick to move on from the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Gabbard is a long-shot candidate to win the Democratic nomination, and has been polling in the low single digits throughout the campaign. She missed out on the December debate stage due to her low poll numbers even though she said she wouldn’t participate even if she qualified.
If she votes in favor of impeachment it’s unlikely to launch her into the top tier of the remaining candidates.
A yes vote also could place her at odds with her political base, which includes far-left progressives who favor her anti-war pronouncements, libertarian-leaning independents and voters who cast ballots for Trump in 2016.
Gabbard did not respond to Civil Beat’s requests for comment to both her office and her campaign about the Democrats’ articles of impeachment.
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