The impeachment of President Donald Trump (R) has prompted a mostly bittersweet response from Manhattan lawmakers.
On Wednesday, Dec. 18, the House of Representatives voted to pass two articles of impeachment against Trump, each one outlining a different impeachable offense. Article I, abuse of power, stemmed from his attempts to bribe the Ukrainian government into announcing an investigation into his political rival, Joe Biden. Article II, obstruction of Congress, stemmed from his refusal to cooperate with the congressional investigation.
Trump is the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. More notably, he is the first president to be impeached during his first term in office.
Manhattan’s electeds, by and large, wholly agreed with the House’s votes on both articles. Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Yorkville, Lenox Hill) said that, as a New Yorker, he’s known for decades that Trump was unfit for office.
New Yorkers, including myself, have already taken to the streets not only demanding impeachment but also in support of removal from office by the Senate,” said Kallos. “The Senate has a constitutional duty to hold a fair trial; whether or not that happens with Mitch McConnell at the helm remains to be seen. Here in New York City, we have known President Trump for decades and after this impeachment, we are doubling down on the fact that he is unfit for office.”
Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-Washington Heights, Sugar Hill) intended to send a powerful message with his vote – namely, that nobody, not even the President, is above the law.
“If you live on St. Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights, you’re not above the law,” said Espaillat. “If you live on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, you’re not above the law. So certainly, if you live on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you’re also not above the law. You will be held accountable for abusing power and obstructing Congress.”
Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) agreed, but felt that the event was a somber occasion, rather than a celebratory one.
“A solemn day for our country,” Johnson said in a tweet. “It’s been proven Trump abused his power, and I’m glad the House did the right thing. Now the Senate must put aside partisan politics and do the same. History is watching and we can’t allow this blatant abuse of power to go unchecked.”
Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-LES, Brooklyn, Queens) expressed the same sentiment, emphasizing that she took no pleasure in voting for impeachment.
“There’s no pleasure to be taken in today’s vote, but it was necessary,” said Velázquez. “I will never look back on this day with joy, but will reflect on it with a recognition that we performed our solemn Congressional duty.”