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On Eve Of Impeachment Vote, Anti-Trump Crowd Gathers In Eugene

Brian Buill

Hundreds of locals gathered outside the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse Tuesday night, to voice their support for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

With the House of Representatives scheduled to vote on impeachment Wednesday, rally attendees turned out in force, standing shoulder to shoulder in the cold, dark night.  Brandishing anti-Trump signs, they listened to speakers or stood on street corners, prompting occasional honks of support from passing cars.  Similar rallies took place in Portland, Salem, and Roseburg.  

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Karmen Fores, a former staffer for Rep. Peter DeFazio, speaks to the crowd.

"No one is above the law including the President of the United States, who took an oath to always protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," said Karmen Fore, a former district director for Democratic Representative Peter DeFazio. 

"Since the day of the Trump presidency, Congressman DeFazio has been ringing alarm bells about the dangerous ways that Trump and his administration will have worked to undermine our democracy, and the values we all hold dear.

"Peter was among the first members of Congress to raise concerns about the President profiting from the Trump Hotel, a violation of the Emoluments Clause. And went further last may, to call for Watergate-style hearings to investigate this issue."

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
The Trump Hotel in Washington D.C.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had previously resisted calls for impeachment from fellow Democrats as far back as 2017, and again after the 2018 midterm elections.  When asked in April for his thoughts on impeachment, Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio said the 2020 elections were the best option to remove Trump from office.  But after Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified in July, DeFazio announced that he supported an open impeachment inquiry:

"The Mueller report, though highly redacted, detailed multiple instances of obstruction of justice by President Trump. There is more to uncover, yet the Trump administration continues to stonewall subpoenas and requests for information. The strongest path for the U.S. Congress to conduct a meaningful investigation into President Trump’s actions is through an impeachment inquiry."

This preceded news of a July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had just assumed his office a couple months earlier.

In that call, Trump called for an investigation into the business dealings of Joe Biden's son, Hunter, who served on the board of  Ukranian energy company Burisma.  The conversation also touched on roughly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, which was initially delayed.

Joe Biden is seen as a viable challenger to President Trump in next year's election, and was President Obama's Vice President.  

While Trump has described his call with Zelensky as "perfect", a whistleblower and a number of critics - including Democrats and an intelligence official - saw the exchange as an abuse of power.  Trump has denied any quid pro quo, while Republican allies have gone on the offensive to suggest Democrats simply resent having Trump in the White House.

These events have all snowballed into a large-scale political fracas that will likely culminate in Donald J. Trump becoming the third U.S. President in history to be impeached.  The House will vote on two articles of impeachment: abuse of power, and obstruction of Congress. 

WEB EXTRA: See Video Of Tonight's "Nobody Is Above the Law" event in Eugene

Republican campaign operatives have vowed to make impeachment a galvanizing issue that'll draw GOP voters to the polls come Election Day 2020, at Democrat's expense.

But Oregon State Senator James Manning of District 7 - speaking at the Tuesday event alongside several fellow veterans - dismissed that prophecy.

"They’re  saying Democrats are going to have to answer at the ballot box next November.  We can't wait ‘til November, he works for Vladimir Putin!  We need him out now!”

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Oregon State Senator James Manning (right) shares why impeachment needs to happen.

Russian interference in the 2016 Elections - which saw Trump lose the popular vote but win the Electoral College over former First Lady Hillary Clinton - has been an issue Democrats say will be at play again next year. Manning attacked the GOP and White House as complacent in what some see as ongoing Russian attempts to destablize democracy in countries such as the U.S.

“We can’t let foreign interference come in and just take us apart because of lies, innuendoes, and offering of a second Earth. 

"We live on Planet One, right now.  Reality is reality.  Donald Trump must go now.”

The event - dubbed "Nobody is Above the Law" - was just one of hundreds planned across the country. 

If the House votes for impeachment, the Senate is then expected to deliberate a format and timetable for a trial next year. With Republicans dominating the Senate, acquital is seen as the most likely outcome.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already signaled that he'll limit Democrat's requests for witnesses, and work the ranks of GOP Senators to make sure opposition to impeachment remains solid.

In a tweet, President Trump says he's not worried about impeachment, calling himself a "very successful (Economy Plus) President" who has done nothing wrong. 

Credit Twitter
A tweet from President Trump's official account, the night before the House voted on impeachment.

Copyright 2019, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.