GUILFORD, CT—U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy told a packed room in Guilford Sunday that he’s willing to listen to the evidence before voting to remove President Donald Trump.
At the same, if the issue reaches the Senate Murphy, who visited Ukraine and spoke with their president, sounded as if it’s not going to take a lot of convincing to get him to vote in favor.
“I will give him the opportunity to present exculpatory evidence,” Murphy told a crowd of about 175 people at the Nathanael B. Greene Community Center in Guilford.
On the other hand, Murphy said that from what he’s heard from the congressional hearings so far that “there’s no reason to have an impeachment clause (written) if not to stop the abuse of power the way this president has.”
After weeks of momentous congressional hearings, the House Judiciary Committee voted Friday to impeach Trump, sending the two articles of impeachment to the full House, where Trump would become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.
The House floor vote would come before lawmakers adjourn for the holidays this month, setting up a Senate trial in January. Since the Senate, unlike the House, is controlled by Republicans, Trump is not expected to lose an impeachment trial, though both Murphy and fellow Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal are likely to cast votes in favor of impeachment.
The two articles that lawmakers on the House committee sent to the full House for a vote said Trump abused his power when he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and obstructed the congressional investigation into the matter by directing White House officials not to testify and withhold relevant documents.
“He (Trump) was trying to rig the upcoming (2020) election,” Murphy told the Guilford audience, many of whom nodded in agreement. “This is as serious as it gets.”
Murphy was asked by the audience about statements from Senate Republican Majority Mitch McConnell that there is no chance the Senate will vote to impeach the president.
McConnell told Fox News that he was coordinating with — and taking cues from — the president’s lawyers on ground rules for the Senate showdown. Some Democrats protested that his statement disqualified him from being an impartial juror in an impeachment trial.
“There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this,” McConnell told Fox News Host Sean Hannity.
Again, reiterating that he will listen to all the evidence, Murphy said he holds out “hope there a handful of Republicans who don’t take marching orders from the president.”
The question and answer session with the Guilford crowd got a bit tense at times.
Some audience members pressed Murphy on what he termed the “do nothing Senate,” referring to the fact that Republican-led Senate has blocked hundreds of initiatives started in the Democrat-controlled House that never even have come up for a vote in the Senate.
Murphy conceded “that it has been extraordinary how the Senate has been shut down except for appointing a few right-wing judges.”
He said the best way for the Senate to pass more laws is “for us to win some elections,” another reference to the upcoming 2020 contests – not just for president but in Congress.
Murphy, who is seen as a national champion in Congress on the issue of tougher gun ownership laws, also talked about where Connecticut, the House, the Senate and Trump’s stand on the Second Amendment.
Murphy noted this past weekend was the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Everyone in Connecticut knows that on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 first graders, and six adult staff members.
“I can’t fathom what the families to through as the holidays come up,” Murphy said. “On December 14 each year, the loss hurts more. It just does.”
Murphy has tried to work on a bipartisan compromise for expanded background checks.
“I won’t rest until we change the laws of this nation to make sure our country doesn’t knowingly facilitate the mass murder of children,” Murphy added. “That is my charge.”
The town of Guilford itself became a centerpiece this past year on the issue of gun issues in Connecticut following the tragic death of one of one its young residents.
Ethan Song, of Guilford, died of a self-inflicted gunshot. The 15-year-old accidentally shot himself in the head in January of 2018, the Waterbury state’s attorney’s office said after concluding its investigation.
Ethan’s parents, Mike and Kristin Song are hoping to get national legislation passed that would be modeled after legislation passed in the last Connecticut General Assembly session with bipartisan support concerning tougher safe gun storage laws. They have the support of the Connecticut Congressional delegation but so far the Republican-led Senate has refused to vote on the initiative.
Trump’s term was marked early on by a series of mass shootings which had him indicating he might support tougher gun laws, but more recently he has backed off those statements and sided with the National Rifle Association.
Asked about that fact, Murphy told the crowd he believes, “We have built momentum, including in Connecticut,” to enact strong gun control legislation.
Murphy drew chuckles from the crowd when he referred to a long conversation he had with Trump earlier this year about gun control. “It was some of the most exhaustive times of my life,” Murphy added.