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Five Questions for Chris Pappas

After months of avoiding questions about his views on impeachment, Rep. Chris Pappas took to the friendly media environs of New Hampshire Public Radio to discuss his support for impeaching President Trump and removing him from office.

Unfortunately, a few significant questions somehow slipped through the cracks. We here at New Hampshire Journal have sent them over to Rep. Pappas’ office. When we get his answers, we’ll be happy to share them with the voters of the First Congressional District.


1: Rep. Pappas, you said these impeachment articles represent “a very strong, clear-cut case with respect to the issue of Ukraine.” A clear-cut case of what? Neither article of impeachment alleges President Trump broke the law. Do you believe future Democratic presidents should face the prospect of removal from office by a Republican Congress without even the assertion of having violated any federal law?

2: Rep. Pappas, you’re supporting articles of impeachment that have no bipartisan support. In fact, even some of your fellow House Democrats are voting against impeachment. Do you view an entirely partisan impeachment vote to be as legitimate as a bipartisan one, such as the 410-4 vote in 1973 to start an impeachment inquiry into President Richard Nixon?



3: When the House of Representatives voted articles of impeachment in 1998, 31 Democrats joined with Republicans to impeach President Bill Clinton, who admitted that he had committed perjury before a federal judge and federal grand jury. Rep. Pappas, do you believe the impeachment of President Clinton was legitimate? Would you have voted to impeach him?  If not, why?

4: Rep. Pappas, you said you objected to Senate Republicans coordinating the handling of the impeachment trial with the White House, calling it “colluding.” But then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has acknowledged that he frequently met with the Clinton White House during the impeachment process. And the Clinton White House issued demands that there be no witnesses called during the impeachment, a demand upheld by the Democratic minority in the Senate.  Should Republican presidents be impeached differently from Democrats?

5: Rep. Pappas, you rejected the suggestion that your support for impeachment is a sign that you’re merely a water carrier for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and your party’s leadership. “I’m also willing to stand up to members of my own party when they’re wrong for New Hampshire,” you told NHPR.  Can you give an example?


And a bonus question, the same question New Hampshire Journal’s been asking the congressman since he first announced his support for an impeachment inquiry in July:

Rep. Pappas, what is your message to the majority of voters in your district, who voted to make Trump president and whose votes you’d be overruling by removing Trump from office?

We look forward to sharing Rep. Pappas’ answers to these reasonable and timely questions in this space.

After Months of Silence, Pappas Falls in Line on Impeachment

The only question NH political observers have about Chris Pappas’ announcement that he’ll vote to impeach President Donald Trump is what took him so long?

Sticking with his fellow Democrats was always the smart play for Pappas, one of the 31 Democrats in Congress representing a district Trump carried in 2016. While polls show swing voters tend to oppose impeachment and removal of President Trump — and that opposition is rising — for Pappas there’s simply no upside to breaking with his party leadership and going rogue.

“Voting against impeachment won’t get him a single Republican vote, and voting for it won’t cost him a single Democrat,” one NH Democratic insider told NHJournal. “Pappas was always going to vote this way.”

That certainly appeared to be the case in July when Pappas became the first Democrat from a Trump district to back the impeachment inquiry. It was an unusually aggressive move from the reputedly mild-mannered congressman, one that left some NH Democrats puzzled.

Was Pappas going to aggressively embrace the impeachment push?

Instead, the congressman quickly dropped the subject, refusing months of requests for comment and leaving the impeachment topic out of his public statements and social media, even as the debate raged in Washington, D.C. and on the front pages of New Hampshire’s newspapers.

Sunday night, with the impeachment vote looming and most Granite Staters watching the NFL, Pappas posted a statement on his website announcing his decision.

“I have reviewed the articles and the underlying evidence and testimony very closely. I have heard from constituents on all sides of this issue. Ultimately, this comes down to the facts, the Constitution, and my conscience,” according to the statement. “What the President has done is blatantly wrong, and I will not stand idly by when a President compromises the rule of law and our national security for his own personal political benefit.

“I will support both articles when they come to the floor for a vote. The President abused the powers of his office and obstructed Congress as it sought to put facts on the table for the American people and hold him accountable,” Pappas wrote. “Our nation’s founders created a government with shared powers and co-equal branches of government. They gave us the presidency — not a monarchy.

“They created a system where no one is above the law, even the President of the United States. If Congress does not act in this case where bright Constitutional lines have been crossed, we dishonor the wisdom of our founders and undermine the institutions of our democracy.”

new Suffolk Poll released Sunday finds that only 41 percent of Americans say House members should vote to impeach Trump. Independent voters, who will determine Pappas’ fate next November, oppose a House impeachment vote by an 11-point margin, 52-41 percent.

The NHGOP and the Trump campaign immediately went on the attack.

Trump ally and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told NHJournal, “Chris Pappas’s vote for impeachment is in direct conflict with the people of the First Congressional District who voted to elect Donald J. Trump President.

“Congressman Pappas has sold his vote to appease AOC, Rashid Tlaib and the extreme left of the Democrat party.  I predict he will be a one-term Congressman because NH voters don’t support a ‘Do-Nothing Democrat’ who has accomplished nothing while in Washington, D.C.”

Other GOP sources tell NHJournal internal polling shows voting for impeachment is unpopular among NH-01 voters, and they believe it creates an opportunity to take back a seat they lost in 2016.

“Chris Pappas just let down all those in the First District who want a Congress that works for them, not for the far-left Democrat base. Coming out in favor of impeaching the President on a Sunday night after weeks of lackluster Democrat circus hearings in D.C. is disgraceful,” NHGOP chairman Steve Stepanek said in a statement. “Congressman Pappas clearly didn’t listen to Granite Staters when making his decision, and voters will swiftly replace him on November 3rd.”

RNC Spokesperson Nina McLaughlin said, “Chris Pappas’ choice to support the impeachment sham is the ultimate betrayal of his constituents. Granite Staters won’t forget that Pappas chose Nancy Pelosi and the socialist squad over them.”

Pappas joins fellow NH Democrat Rep. Annie Kuster in publicly announcing his support for impeachment, and both U.S. senators, Democrats Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, are expected to vote to remove Trump from office when the impeachment comes to the Senate floor next year.

Interestingly, even in announcing his decision, Pappas declined yet again to answer the same, simple question: What’s his message to the majority of voters in his district who backed President Trump in 2016 and whose vote he’s now attempting to overturn?

His inability to answer is yet another sign of how tricky the impeachment issue is for swing-district Democrats like Pappas.

Chris Pappas Really Doesn’t Want to Talk About Impeachment

In July, New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas became the first Democrat representing a Trump district to endorse an impeachment inquiry into the president. But now that actual articles of impeachment are under consideration, Granite Staters are asking: Where’s Chris?

While many of his fellow Congressional Democrats have declared their support for impeachment — including New Hampshire’s other member of Congress Rep. Annie Kuster who called Trump a “clear and present danger”  — Pappas remains noncommittal. “I will review these articles and the underlying evidence further before this moves to the House floor for a vote,” Pappas said in a statement to WMUR. “I remain committed to considering the unbiased facts of this case with the thought and care that this moment requires.”

That’s a far cry from Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) statement that “the evidence of the president’s misconduct is overwhelming and uncontested.”

Not only has Pappas refused to give his position on impeachment for months, he hasn’t even posted a public statement on his website or social media feed about the articles of impeachment. A search of his official website came back with zero hits for “impeach.” In fact, after declaring his support for an inquiry in July, the freshman congressman has gone virtually radio silent on the issue, declining repeated requests for comment.

All of which adds to speculation that, however impeachment plays out in Washington, DC, it may not be a winner in New Hampshire.

While there’s no publicly-available polling data from the NH-01 congressional district on impeachment, polls indicate that among swing and independent voters in states like New Hampshire, support for impeachment has fallen since Speaker Pelosi announced her decision to back the inquiry.

According to The Washington Post, a poll of eight key battleground states (including New Hampshire) found only 44 percent of voters supported impeachment while 51 percent opposed.  “And national polls since the start of public hearings show independents are now divided: 42 percent in support and 44 percent opposed,” the Post reports.

In fact, the same day Democrats announced their two articles of impeachment, a new Quinnipiac poll was released showing “slightly more than half of all registered voters, 51 percent, think that President Trump should not be impeached and removed from office, while 45 percent say he should.” It’s the highest level of opposition to impeachment since September, Quinnipiac says.

Meanwhile, Morning Consult reports that the state where Trump has enjoyed the biggest jump in support since the impeachment inquiry began is New Hampshire — he’s had a seven-point spike. President Trump is still underwater in the Granite State, but given that he carried Pappas’ district in 2016, it’s likely the increase in support is disproportionately in NH-01.

Republicans apparently think so. Pappas is on the list of seats targeted by the GOP in 2020, and the RNC isn’t wasting any time calling him out.

“By siding with Nancy Pelosi and the socialist squad in pursuing this baseless impeachment witch hunt, Chris Pappas is clearly ignoring the will of his constituents. New Hampshire’s First Congressional District supports President Trump and will hold Pappas accountable in 2020 for choosing party over people,” RNC spokesperson Nina McLaughlin told NHJournal.

The GOP also points to polls showing independent voters oppose Democrats’ efforts to remove President Trump from office by a 13-point margin. Those are the voters who will determine the outcome in the 31 districts Trump won but are currently represented by Democrats in Congress.

The three Republicans planning to run against Pappas believe impeachment will help their cause.

“Voters I talk to tell me this is a transparent attempt to overturn the will of the people because Democrats don’t like Trump,” said attorney Matt Burrill of Newton, N.H. “I think it’s a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ impeachment. They were going to do it no matter what.”

Former NH Republican Party vice chair Matt Mayberry called impeachment “an absolute waste of money, time and effort,” adding, “I am extremely confident that we will spend the next year talking about Mr. Pappas’ voting record, especially in regards to impeachment.”

And former White House advisor Matt Mowers said, “Chris Pappas will follow the radical socialists in Congress off the ledge every time in order to support Nancy Pelosi — even if it means neglecting the needs of New Hampshire families.”

Democrats dismiss the idea that Pappas is in any trouble, pointing to Trump’s dismal numbers in New Hampshire and Pappas’ eight-point victory in 2018. At the same time, New Hampshire’s First CD is one of the “swingingist” districts in the country, flipping between GOP and Democratic control five times since 2006.

Since July, New Hampshire Journal has been asking Rep. Pappas the same question: What is your message to the voters in your district who backed Trump in 2016, and whose votes would be overturned by impeachment?

For five months, he has declined to give an answer.

Perhaps Pappas is reluctant to talk about impeachment because he doesn’t have one.