With last week’s news that the U.S. Senate acquitted President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, the Citizen asked the five candidates in next month’s California’s 7th Congressional District primary election to share their views on the decision.
The Senate’s Feb. 5 vote came 46 days after the U.S. House of Representatives voted for Trump’s impeachment on two counts: abuse of power and obstructing Congress.
Those votes stemmed from an accusation that Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden with the possibility that military aid would be withheld unless it complied. Biden is a frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
With his acquittal, Trump will run for re-election in November’s presidential election.
The 7th Congressional District’s incumbent Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, is seeking his fifth term in the House. He is running in the March 3 primary and faces opposition from
Democrat Jeff Burdick, Republicans Robert “Buzz” Patterson and Jon Ivy, and Green Party candidate Robert Christian “Chris” Richardson.
The election’s top two candidates will move on to the general election on Nov. 3.
Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, who was among the House members who voted for Trump’s impeachment on Dec. 18, did not comment on the president’s acquittal, as of press time.
However, a representative of Bera’s campaign provided the congressman’s statement from last December, explaining why he decided to vote in favor of both articles of impeachment.
“The president has abused the power of his office by withholding congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine for his personal and political gain,” The Congressman said in the statement. “The president then went to great lengths to obstruct Congress in its oversight of his actions.”
Burdick, who supported both articles of impeachment, noted that he was not surprised by the acquittal, considering that Republicans have a 53-47 advantage in the Senate. The lone dissenter from the otherwise strictly party-line vote to acquit the president was Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney.
“Did I think President Trump deserved to be removed from office? Yes,” Burdick said. “Did I think this Senate would vote to do so? No, but I’m glad the impeachment trial was held.
“For me, impeachment must always be about higher principles. The central issue was always whether Trump’s actions are acceptable behavior from any president? And is this the kind of federal government we want for ourselves and for our children’s children?”
Burdick further detailed his concerns regarding the president.
“Think about what a dangerous precedent this now sets,” he said. “Now any elected official, corporation or public citizen can feel empowered to cut deals with foreign countries to influence any election in the U.S.
“The floodgates of corruption this may open is probably even greater than what the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling unleashed in the form of unlimited, undisclosed dark money into our elections.”
That decision eliminated limits on political spending by outside groups. Burdick only accepts campaign donations from people in his district.
Ivy told the Citizen he was disappointed by Trump’s acquittal.
“It is disheartening that the Senate is full of Republicans who have failed their basic constitutional duty,” the self-described progressive Republican said. “I am left with some hope that the senator from Utah was able to stand up for integrity and morality.
“Mitt Romney, just eight years ago, represented our party as our nominee for president. Now? According to this cult of Trump supporters, even Romney isn’t welcome in the party anymore. Donald Trump has successfully destroyed the Republican Party.”
With Trump’s acquittal, Ivy is focused on this November’s presidential election.
“This coming election is our chance to end Donald Trump’s reign as a fake king,” he said. “Republicans can win elections, even here in California, if they reject these terrible leaders and their selfish corruption.
“Our country and our party can survive Donald Trump. I believe that.”
Robert “Buzz” Patterson
Patterson said he does not believe Trump should have undergone an impeachment trial.
“When I served as the Air Force aide and ‘nuclear football’ carrier for President Bill Clinton, I didn’t think impeachment was warranted then, and I definitely don’t think it’s warranted for President Trump,” he said. “Our founders were clear, and bipartisan agreement is absolutely essential to removing a duly elected president.
“It’s a high bar intentionally set. Personal animus or disagreement with style don’t even remotely approach that bar.”
Patterson expressed disappointment in the money that has been spent on investigating Trump.
“Imagine the millions taxpayers have spent over these last three years with the Mueller investigation and now this farce,” he said. “Imagine where those monies could have been used to affect our schools, our homeless, our VA hospitals.”
He also criticized Bera’s support of the impeachment proceedings against the president.
“My opponent, Ami Bera, promised not to vote for impeachment unless it met the bipartisan standard, yet he did anyway,” he said. “It was a fool’s errand, and it rightly failed.
“In this republic, we have the opportunity to impeach presidential candidates every four years at the ballot box. Aside from high crimes and conduct detrimental to our nation, let’s keep it right there.”
Robert Christian “Chris” Richardson
Asked about Trump’s acquittal, Richardson focused on the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits federal officials from accepting benefits from foreign governments. The clause was not cited in the impeachment articles against Trump.
“Trump is currently whitewashing the emoluments clause offenses,” Richardson said. “He is trying to expunge them before they actually come to impeach for them. He’s also dumping $6.6 trillion into the stock market – Wall Street.
“In our 20 years in the Middle East, we’ve spent just about that much, and for the Green New Deal, we need about less than $3 trillion in order to save the planet. And (Trump is) just spending that for appearance sake for getting his economy boosted up, so that he looks good when the general election comes around.”