WASHINGTON — Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the Democratic civil rights icon, has endorsed impeachment proceedings in the House after withholding his opinion on the matter for several months.
Lewis said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday morning that "we cannot delay" and now is the time to act. His comments as Democrats have questioned whether President Donald Trump improperly used his office to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son.
Lewis is one of the most influential Democrats in his caucus and an ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has so far discouraged impeachment. His comments come as several other Democrats endorsed proceedings Tuesday. Lewis said he's been "patient while we have tried every other path" and "the future of our democracy is at stake."
His full remarks to House floor on Sept. 24 were:
"Mister Speaker, I rise to ask unanimous consent to address the House for five minutes.
Today, I come with a heavy heart, deeply concerned about the future of our democracy. And I am 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 concerns for the future of our country. It keeps me up at night. We took an oath to protect this nation against all enemies -- foreign and domestic.
Sometimes I’m afraid to go to sleep for fear that I will wake up and our democracy will be gone and never return.
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, and 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 own pockets. (more)
Madame Speaker, the people of this nation realize that if they had committed even half 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 union.
I believe the time to begin impeachment proceedings against the President has come.
To delay or do otherwise would betray the very foundation of our democracy.
Thank you, Madame Speaker."
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