Fitzpatrick Statement on Impeachment
WASHINGTON, DC—Second only to declaring war, impeaching a President and overturning the results of an election is the most significant action that Congress can take. Impeachment is a constitutional nuclear option of last resort. Historical precedent demands that this only occurs in the most extreme of circumstances, and should happen only after a formal law enforcement investigation where independent, non-partisan factual findings of criminal activity are presented to Congress.
As a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, any legitimate investigation must be completely nonpartisan, must be 360 degrees in its scope, must leave no stone unturned, must not prejudge the outcome, must follow the facts wherever they lead and must report those facts with unimpeachable integrity.
None of those elements have occurred here. This rushed impeachment inquiry was poisoned from the very start when House leadership made the irresponsible decision to place this investigation in the hands of Chairman Schiff’s Intelligence Committee rather than referring the matter to law enforcement to conduct the fact-finding. In addition to dangerously politicizing an incredibly important national security committee, which will take years to recover from, this irresponsible decision broke with long-standing historical precedent in our nation regarding impeachment inquiries on multiple fronts. As a result, we were left with partisan politicians from both parties arguing over presumptions and perceptions rather than having an indisputable evidentiary record and bipartisan agreement on the facts.
In March of this year, Speaker Pelosi told the Washington Post, “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.” Chairman Nadler himself has stated, “There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment substantially supported by one of our major political parties and largely opposed by the other. Such an impeachment would lack legitimacy, would produce divisiveness and bitterness in our politics for years to come. And will call into question the very legitimacy of our political institutions.”
Let me be clear: President Trump’s call with President Zelensky showed poor judgement. Law enforcement matters must always remain separate and distinct from political matters. Decisions on whether to open a law enforcement investigation, whether to close a law enforcement investigation and what investigative steps to take in conducting an ongoing law enforcement investigation, are decisions that should be made by law enforcement and law enforcement alone. This is necessary both for the substantive integrity of an investigation as well as maintaining the public’s trust and confidence in the results of an investigation.
This impeachment inquiry has violated every investigative principle, has violated Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Nadler’s own impeachment standard, has been entirely partisan, and has been wholly divisive. From the very start it was never designed by House leadership to be a genuine fact-finding mission. By pursuing an entirely partisan path with an artificial timeline and a predetermined outcome, and with the issue at hand being as serious as the overturning of the results of an election, House leadership has set a very dangerous precedent for our nation, and one which I will not support.
It is incumbent upon all of us in our community, regardless of how you have viewed this entire situation, to do our part to heal our nation from this very divisive environment. Our nation cannot sustain the divisive tone that we are currently experiencing. We must talk to each other and treat each other with respect, we must try to see the world through other people’s eyes, and we must never forget that there is far more that unites us as Americans. Each and every one of us must do our part to lower the volume and to bridge the gap. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to hold ourselves to this high standard. The future of our democracy, and the future of our nation, depends on it.