Congressional Republicans must not "fight the process" surrounding any possible impeachment of President Donald Trump but should instead "follow the facts wherever they lead, and put country above party," former Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., said Monday.
"The facts should be the focus of every elected official, Republican or Democrat, as they decide what to do about another president facing impeachment and a possible Senate trial," Gorton, 91, who served from 1981 to 1987 and from 1989 to 2001, said in an op-ed in The New York Times.
"History demands that we all wrestle with the facts at hand," he said. "They are unavoidable.
"Fifty years from now, history will not accept the position that impeachment was a referendum on the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi," Gorton added, referring to the California Democrat. "It must be a verdict reached on the facts."
However, Gorton said he believed that the current facts borne out during the public House hearings pointed toward impeachment of President Trump.
He said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy "was subjected to a shakedown — pressured to become a foreign participant in President Trump's re-election campaign, a violation of the law.
"Several credible witnesses have testified to the existence of a quid pro quo," Gorton continued, "that there was a push for politically motivated investigations, and three of them were so alarmed that they attempted to report their concerns up the chain of command at the National Security Council.
"Are they to be believed?" the former senator asked. "Here's my bottom line: That's what an impeachment inquiry and a Senate trial are designed to find out.
"That's why there's a process under the Constitution.
"The founders gave Congress the power to check a president accused of abusing the power of his office," Gorton argued. "They expected Congress to render its judgment on the facts."
Gorton, who has since served on the 9/11 Commission and is on the board of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, encouraged Republicans to "engage in the process.
"If the president is innocent, use the process to surface those exculpatory facts so that Congress and the country can agree whether or not Mr. Trump should be removed from office.
"The facts — not rhetoric — should answer this question: Is there an offense serious enough to undo the results of the 2016 election?"
He called it "a heavy burden to meet, but not an impossible one.
"Neither the country nor the Constitution is served by a partisan shouting match divorced from the facts, a process boycotted by one side refusing to engage on the merits.
"Facts are what should determine whether a stubborn president stays in office," Gorton concluded. "Republicans, don't fight the process, follow the facts wherever they lead, and put country above party."
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