Maloney Says He Would Back Impeachment, But Prefers Ballots

Asserts voters seem more concerned about other issues

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney says he would vote for the impeachment of Donald Trump but prefers “aggressive oversight” by Congress and defeating the president at the polls next year to counter his “obnoxious” and “improper” behavior.

Maloney, a Democrat who lives in Philipstown, made the remarks during a WAMC radio interview that aired in three parts in late July. His congressional district includes the Highlands.

After the broadcast, Chele Farley, a Republican who plans to challenge Maloney in 2020, accused him of joining “the radical left” to oust Trump.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (right) greets Donald Trump in February 2017 after the president addressed a joint session of Congress. Maloney later said he asked Trump to keep in place regulations protecting federal employees who are gay. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Maloney told WAMC that “the president’s conduct is deserving of impeachment,” although he added, “I don’t recommend that tactically.” He advocated “better ways” to hold the president accountable, such as congressional probes, the intervention of federal courts, and “the good, old-fashioned democratic process of a presidential election.”

However, if the House tells members that they immediately “have to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on impeachment, I’m going to vote to impeach the guy,” he said. And if the president ultimately defies the courts along with Congress, “you will hear me screaming from the rooftops for impeachment,” Maloney said.

He said he realized his stance “doesn’t make everybody happy,” but that “most people in my district [which Trump won in 2016] think the circus of impeachment will not produce the accountability that we want and that we need.”

Maloney (right) questioned former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during Mueller’s testimony on July 24 before the House Intelligence Committee. (PBS)

Instead, he said, voters seem to favor action “on infrastructure, or lowering healthcare costs,” and other crucial matters. Moreover, “I don’t think it’s right to decide to impeach the president for a bunch of political reasons. Nor do I think it is right to not impeach the president for a bunch of political reasons.”

Maloney said he believe the president “deserves to be impeached, based on the facts” in a report prepared by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who established “that the Russians engaged in a systemic, sweeping attack on our democracy” to get Trump elected in 2016.

“What’s worse,” said Maloney, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, one of several House committees investigating the president, “is that when made aware of this, the Trump campaign encouraged it, sought to take advantage of it, and made no attempt to report it to law enforcement or to stop it.”

Furthermore, the Mueller investigation revealed “the extraordinary lengths the president and his team went to obstruct the investigation, keep evidence from coming out. The president and his team were unethical and unpatriotic, and in their conduct the things they engaged in went right up to the line of criminal” obstruction of justice, he said.

Maloney noted that in impeachment proceedings, “Congress does not need to follow a legal definition of obstruction” if it concludes misdeeds occurred.

Betting on Beto

Beto O’Rourke (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

When asked on WAMC whom he favors as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney endorsed Beto O’Rourke, a former House member from El Paso, Texas. The two men were both elected to Congress in 2012. O’Rourke unsuccessfully challenged Republican incumbent Ted Cruz last fall in a race in Texas for the U.S. Senate.

“I’m supporting him because I know what’s in his heart,” Maloney said. “I believe he’s a smart, capable person; a good, decent man” who “can represent the whole [Democratic] coalition, diverse as it is.”

Maloney added that “a least a half dozen” of the contenders “would make great presidents” and “have a good shot” at defeating Trump. “I happen to think Beto is the best one, and he’s a close friend, and I hope people will give him a real look.”

O’Rourke is among nine candidates who have qualified so far for the third Democratic Party debates on Sept. 12 and 13 in Houston.

Impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House would not necessarily lead to Trump’s departure. The Senate, which Republicans control, would have to agree to remove the president from office.

In an Aug. 13 press statement, Farley blasted Maloney for being “out of touch with the values and priorities of the Hudson Valley. Impeachment is a drastic step that is not supported by the American people” and by backing it Maloney demonstrates “that he no longer represents the mainstream views of this district,” she said.

Chele Farley

Last year, Farley unsuccessfully challenged Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand for her seat in the U.S. Senate. (Gillibrand is seeking the party’s nomination for president.) Farley was the Republican finance chair in Manhattan but moved to Orange County, in District 18, this year.

Maloney has raised $574,000 through June 30 for his 2020 campaign, including $39,000 from residents of Philipstown and Beacon, while Farley has taken in $266,000, with no contributions from the Highlands. Scott Smith, a middle-school teacher from Middletown, also has declared as an independent candidate but so far raised only a few hundred dollars.

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