Sullivan Votes “Not Guilty” on Two Articles of Impeachment
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today shared the following message with Alaskans after voting “not guilty” on the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
To read Senator Sullivan’s full statement submitted to the Congressional Record, click here.
VIDEO REMARKS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY:
Greetings from Washington, D.C. I just came out of the final session of the Senate impeachment trial of the President of the United States.
I want to begin by thanking the thousands of Alaskans who called or wrote in about the impeachment trial that we’ve been undertaking in the Senate over the past three weeks. Regardless of which side of this debate you are on, your engagement is appreciated. In fact, it’s crucial for our state, and our country—our democratic system of government—as we go forward.
So, again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me and my whole team.
I want Alaskans to know that I focused intently on fulfilling my constitutional responsibilities throughout this process. I have refrained from talking to the media during the trial and before I could fully absorb all the materials— hundreds of pages of briefs, speeches and historical records, dozens of witnesses and video clips, equal arguments from both sides, and close to two hundred questions from my fellow U.S. senators.
This afternoon, I voted to acquit President Trump of both charges brought against him by the House of Representatives. In so doing, I voted against overturning the 2016 vote of millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Alaskans—and against removing the President’s name from the 2020 ballot, which is what the Democratic House members sought during this impeachment trial.
For now, I want to spend a few minutes highlighting some of the issues that came to the forefront as I was considering my votes.
I’ve written a much fuller account of my thinking, that will be published in the official record of the impeachment—and which is on my website.
First: Nearly everyone—both in the House and in the Senate, and when you look at the sweep of American history—agree on one thing: that purely partisan impeachments are not in our nation’s best interest. The Framers of our Constitution, like Alexander Hamilton, actually highlighted this as a specific danger to the Republic. They feared, as do I, the weaponization of impeachment as a regular tool of partisan warfare. If that were to happen -- partisan impeachment every few years – it would incapacitate our government, undermine the legitimacy of our institutions, and tear our country apart for decades to come.
Nevertheless, the House still took the dramatic and consequential step last fall of launching the first purely partisan impeachment in U.S. history. That’s a precedent we should not endorse.
Second: The way the House went about its impeachment investigation—and its arguments before the Senate—had the potential to undermine other critical constitutional norms, such as the separation of powers.
How did they do that?
You might have heard the claim by House Democrats that, in the Senate, we were blocking additional witnesses, thereby creating a trial that was less fair.
But what you might not have heard is how the House Managers claimed dozens of times in their case to the Senate that they had “overwhelming evidence” in the existing record to impeach the President, thereby undermining their own rationale for the need for more evidence.
And, in terms of fairness, it is well documented that the Democratic leadership in the House just conducted last fall the most rushed, partisan, and fundamentally unfair House impeachment proceedings in U.S. history that lacked the most basic due process procedures afforded Presidents Clinton and Nixon during their impeachment investigations. This is a fact.
A Senate vote to pursue additional evidence and witnesses would have turned the Article I constitutional impeachment responsibilities of the House and the Senate on their heads.
It would have required the Senate to do the House’s impeachment investigatory work, even when the House affirmatively declined to seek additional evidence last fall—such as subpoenaing Ambassador John Bolton—all because of Speaker Pelosi’s artificial deadline to impeach the President by Christmas.
Also, the second impeachment article charged the President with obstruction of Congress. The House Managers say that the President committed an impeachable offense by resisting House subpoenas for witnesses and documents—but what they aren’t telling you and all of us in the Senate is that, for decades, presidents from both political parties have asserted executive privilege when Congress demanded documents or witnesses. This is commonplace.
What usually happens in these cases is that Congress and the Executive Branch come to an agreement and accommodation, or litigate who has the right to such evidence. In this case, the House didn’t even try either path.
Instead, they immediately declared a President seeking to defend himself and asserting his constitutional rights is an impeachable offense. In my view, this is setting a dangerous precedent.
Finally, let me address the President’s actions that were the primary focus of this impeachment trial, and the basis of the House’s first article of impeachment; the claim that he abused his power.
I believe all presidents have the right to investigate interference in U.S. elections and credible claims of corruption or conflicts of interest, particularly in countries where America sends significant amounts of foreign aid, like Ukraine, and where corruption is endemic, like Ukraine.
Were the President’s actions perfect? No.
Despite having the authority to investigate corruption in Ukraine and investigate Burisma, I believe the President should have requested such an investigation through more official and robust channels, such as requesting cooperation through the U.S. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Ukraine, with the Department of Justice in the lead.
But none of this even remotely rises to the level of an offense that merits removing the President of the United States from office.
What the House Managers were asking the Senate to do is not just overturn the results of the 2016 election—nullifying the votes of millions of Americans—but to remove the President from the 2020 ballot, even as primary voting has begun across the country. This has never happened in our country’s 243-year history.
Such an unprecedented step would have done infinitely more damage to the legitimacy of our constitutional republic and political system than any mistake or error of judgment the President may have made.
An impeachment trial is supposed to be the last resort to protect the American people against the highest crimes that undermine or threaten the foundations of our Republic, not to get rid of a president because a faction of one political party disagrees with the way he governs. That’s what elections are for.
I trust the Alaskan and American people—not House Democrats—with the monumental decision of choosing who should lead our nation.
So where do we go from here?
Despite the partisan nature of this proceeding, I have hope.
I see my colleagues on the other side of the aisle—my friends—who are willing to work with me on so many issues to find solutions sorely needed for our country and for Alaska.
And, back home, I see my fellow Alaskans so hungry to do their part to help heal the divides.
We should take our cues from you—the people whose spirit and character guides this great nation.
You want us to protect our Constitution. You know that we need to work together to address America’s challenges.
It’s time to close this divisive chapter in our country’s history and get back to the work that Alaskans want us to focus on: growing our economy, improving our infrastructure, rebuilding our military, cleaning up our oceans, lowering health care costs and drug prices, opening markets for our fishermen, and taking care of our most vulnerable in society, like survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and those struggling with addiction.
That’s what I’m committed to do with all of you.
Thanks for listening.
# # #
Next Article Previous Article