U.S. Rep. John Lewis (left), D-Georgia, and U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (right), D-Georgia, listen to speakers during a field hearing on voting rights and difficulties facing voters in front of the United States House Administration Committee's elections subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, Tuesday, February 19, 2019. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

John Lewis on impeachment: ‘To delay ... would betray the foundation of our democracy’

Georgia Congressman John Lewis called for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump on Tuesday, in a speech given before Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of a formal impeachment inquiry. 

Here is the text of Lewis' speech, delivered from a podium on the House floor. 

Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask unanimous consent to address the House for 5 minutes. 

Today I come with a heavy heart, deeply concerned about the future of our democracy. And I'm not alone. People approach me everywhere I go, whether I am traveling back and forth to Atlanta or around our country. They believe, they truly believe that our nation is descending into darkness. 

They never dreamed that the United States, once seen as a beacon of hope and as an inspiration to people striving for equality and justice would be falling into such disgrace. 

I share their concern for the future of our country. It keeps me up at night. We took an oath to protect this nation against all domestic enemies and foreign enemies. Sometimes I am afraid to go to sleep for fear that I will wake up and our democracy will be gone and never return.

RELATED: Video of Lewis’ speech about impeachment, posted by his office. 

At every turn, this administration demonstrates complete disdain and disregard for ethics, for the law and for the Constitution. 

They have lied under oath. They refuse to account for their actions and appear before legislative bodies who have the constitutional right to inquire about their activities. 

The people have a right to inquire. They have a right to know. The people have a right to know whether they can put their faith and trust in the outcome of our elections. They have a right to know whether the cornerstone of our democracy was undermined by people sitting in the White House today. They have a right to know whether a foreign power was asked to intervene in the 2020 election. They have a right to know whether the president is using his office to line his pockets. 

Mr. Speaker, the people of this nation realize that if they had committed even have of these possible violations, the federal government would be swift to seek justice. 

We cannot delay, we must not wait. Now is the time to act. I have been patient while we tried every other path and used every other tool. 

We will never find the truth unless we use the power given to the House of Representatives, and the House alone, to begin an official investigation as dictated by the Constitution. 

The future of our democracy is at stake. There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect and preserve the integrity of our nation. 

I believe, I truly believe the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come. To delay or to do otherwise would betray the foundation of our democracy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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