Congressman Jamie Raskin of the 8th Congressional District in Maryland, which includes Glade Valley, held a “Coffee with the Congressman” in Walkersville this morning. Over seventy-five residents enjoyed coffee and conversation with their congressman at the Walkersville Library.
Mr. Raskin talked one-on-one with many at the library before addressing the group as a whole. He began by thanking the many public servants at all levels of government for their dedication to public service. He noted that there seems to be some who want to vilify those who serve, such as teachers, police officers, and anyone working for the government. Mr. Raskin thanked all of them for their service.
He then discussed several of the bills passed by the House of Representatives this year and explained their importance. Mr. Raskin discussed the passing of a bill to secure elections. That bill included a measure to make foreign money in elections illegal, end gerrymandering, and a measure to force corporations to hold votes by shareholders before corporate funds can be spent on elections. He proudly explained that the House of Representatives passed a gun control measure that would have closed the private, gun shows, and internet sales loop holes.
While many bills have been passed in the House of Representatives, Mr. Raskin noted that Senator Mitch McConnell does not allow the Senate to vote on the bills. He quoted Senator McConnell as saying that he is “the grim reaper for bills.”
Before taking questions, Mr. Raskin discussed the “investigation of high crimes and misdemeanors,” as he described the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Raskin sits on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. As such, he has been in the room for the closed-door questioning of witnesses that have been taking place. He explained the process and what he believes to be some of the offenses President Trump has committed, including some not discussed in the media.
Mr. Raskin listed the following issues identified as high crimes and misdemeanors President Trump may have committed:
- Withholding Financial Aid Appropriated by Congress for Ukraine until the president of Ukraine publicly (on television) announced:
- Ukraine was responsible for the election interference in 2016, and not Russia, as identified in the Mueller Report, and
- Ukraine would be investigating Vice-President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, as part of a broader investigation of a company called Burisma Holdings,
- Accepting Foreign Emoluments,
- Accepting Domestic Emoluments, and
- Obstruction of Justice.
The Congressman opened the floor to any questions from those in attendance. Questions from the audience did vary from military policy to the impeachment inquiry.
A gentleman asked Mr. Raskin if he agreed that U.S. should not have gotten involved in wars in the Middle East. Mr. Raskin recounted his involvement in organizing against involvement in the wars while he was in the General Assembly. While the gentleman tried to nail down specifics and opposition to President Obama’s deployments of troops, Mr. Raskin told those gathered that Congress has given too much power to the presidency. “If the United States goes to war, Congress must declare war,” he stated.
A few citizens discussed partisan issues, but Mr. Raskin pushed back against this. He said that money and special interests have had a negative effect regardless of party affiliation. He wants corporate money, and gerrymandering to be removed from politics help fight partisanship. He noted that none of the issues he discussed during open remarks noted party affiliation, because his job is to serve all of his constituents regardless of party.
Most questions did involve the impeachment, and how he feels Democrats can defeat Trump in 2020. He suggested that the path to winning would be focusing on plans to help people with the real issues they face everyday.
One gentleman asked what would happen when the Senate chooses not to remove President Trump from office. Mr. Raskin disputed the forgone conclusion that Senators would not vote to remove the President. He noted the political realities of serving as a Senator require more attention to everyone in their state; they do not represent a gerrymandered district, and must answer to Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters.
Another gentleman asked what will happen to those refusing to answer Congressional subpoenas. Mr. Raskin explained the three choices afforded Congress:
- Criminal Charges: Mr. Raskin pointed out that criminal charges would have to be referred to Attorney General William Barr, who is unlikely to act on the referral of charges. Another issue would be that Barr is the first person who has ignored Congressional subpoenas.
- Civil Charges: Congress could sue these people, but it would be a long and drawn out process.
- Arrest: Mr. Raskin referenced case law from the early 19th century that recognized Congress’ power to arrest those in contempt of Congress. He warned that this would create another side-show circus that would distract from the serious crimes being discussed in the impeachment inquiry.
Mr. Raskin feels that the House of Representatives will have enough evidence without the testimony of those in contempt of Congress. That being said, he assured those gathered that the charges of contempt can still be levied after the impeachment hearings.
Before heading over to Walkersville Middle School to meet students, Mr. Raskin spoke one-on-one with a few more constituents.