U.S. Rep. Jason Crow said Sunday he will vote to impeach President Donald Trump this week, saying the administration's "unprecedented" policy of obstructing congressional investigations threatens the constitutional separation of powers.
"I did not come to Congress to do this, but if we don't do it now, then when will we? I am left with no other option than to vote for the articles of impeachment this week," the freshman Democrat told several hundred people at a crowded town hall in Aurora.
Crow's announcement was met with sustained applause from the audience, many of whom stood and cheered.
His announcement means that Colorado's seven-member congressional delegation will vote along party lines when the full House of Representatives considers two articles of impeachment against Trump in the coming days, with all four Democrats voting for impeachment and all three Republicans voting against it.
The House Judiciary Committee on Friday advanced charges that Trump abused his power when he pressured Ukraine to investigate a political rival and obstructed Congress when the House took up an investigation.
While Crow has backed an impeachment inquiry for months, the attorney and Army veteran said he decided to support the articles of impeachment only recently, in part because of a discussion he had with a man in Iraq while serving a combat tour there in 2003. The man, Crow recalled, approached him while he was on patrol and asked for Crow's help to resolve a dispute with a neighbor because the corrupt courts and local government left the Iraqi no hope for recourse.
"The desperation in this man's eyes, that he had no place to go, that rule of law was nonexistent there" Crow said, made him realize "how fragile" the American system is.
"We are a system based on rule of law, and no man or woman is above or below those laws," Crow said, adding, "Democracy is there because people stand up and they fight for it."
Crow said he was alarmed by the Trump administration's "unprecedented" efforts to block congressional oversight, pointing to "an administration that scoffs at checks and balances, an administration that ignores lawful subpoenas and administration that has an open and stated policy of complete obstruction and nonresponse to the U.S. Congress."
"We do not have kings or queens in America," Crow said. "We have the people's house that is accountable to the people. It will only be accountable if Congress stands up and asserts that power, stands up and makes sure that those co-equal branches exist."
In September, Crow was among seven first-term Democratic House members who helped spark the impeachment inquiry when they wrote an opinion article calling on Congress to investigate reports Trump had withheld military aid to Ukraine to get the country to investigate the son of 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Calling the allegations "stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent," the Democrats said the charges would represent an impeachable offense if it turned out they were true.
Republicans gathered outside Crow's Aurora office Thursday to call on the lawmaker to oppose what a GOP spokesman described as an "overtly partisan attempt to remove a duly elected president."
"For months Nancy Pelosi said impeachment must be bipartisan, yet there is only Democrat support and bipartisan opposition," said Colorado Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown, who led Thursday's protest and was on hand at a similar rally in October.
"Democrats like Jason Crow know support for impeachment is dwindling and they are running for cover, with some House Democrats even floating the idea of 'censure' to avoid impeachment backlash. There is an election in less than year, and Jason Crow needs to put politics aside and reject this sham impeachment of President Trump. If he does not stand up to Pelosi's clear abuse of power, Colorado voters will hold Crow accountable at the ballot box."
Two Republicans are running in a primary for the chance to challenge Crow in the Aurora-based 6th Congressional District, which for years was among the most hotly contested seats in the country but has been rated solidly Democratic by national analysts ahead of the 2020 election.