Representative Jared Golden (D., Maine) announced Tuesday that he would split his votes on the two articles of impeachment against President Trump, becoming the first House Democrat to publicly signal that he would vote “nay” on either article.
Golden, who represents a district Trump won by ten points in 2016, voted to formalize the impeachment inquiry in October, but told the Bangor Daily News — which broke his decision — that Trump’s intent is “the most important issue at stake.”
In a new four-page statement, Golden said the House investigation “clearly” unearthed evidence that Trump and administration officials used the power of the presidency in an attempt to damage his political opponent by asking Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for an investigation into Hunter Biden’s role at Ukrainian gas firm Burisma.
“This action crossed a clear red line, and in my view, there is no doubt this is an impeachable act,” he wrote. But he distanced himself from the second article of impeachment, which charges Trump with obstructing Congress, because Democrats are not waiting for court decisions over whether the White House must comply with subpoenas.
“This tension is precisely why our system of government provides for a forum in which disputes between the executive and the legislature over the scope of their respective privileges and powers can be resolved,” Golden explained. “That forum is the judicial branch. The House can — and in other contexts has — gone to the courts to enforce committee subpoenas. Before wielding our awesome power to impeach a sitting president, we first ought to exhaust available judicial remedies, or — at the very least — give the courts a chance.”
Golden is the first Democrat to announce that he would vote against either article of impeachment. Jeff Van Drew, one of two Democrats who voted against formalizing the impeachment inquiry, is expected to switch parties over his opposition to the articles themselves. The other, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, said Saturday that he would likely support the articles in a House vote.
After other moderate Democrats from districts that Trump carried in 2016 announced their support of impeachment on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that Democrats have the votes to impeach Trump.