Hundreds of people gathered in Esther Short Park on Tuesday evening at a rally calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, one of 600 similar events across the country on the eve of the formal vote in the House of Representatives.
Protesters held homemade signs reading “The Trump who Stole Xmas and Democracy” and “Make America Rational Again,” as they lined up along Sixth and Columbia streets, equipped with flashlights to illuminate their messages to passing cars.
Some honked to show their support for the rally. At one point, occupants inside an SUV drove by with a giant “TRUMP 2020” banner unfurled out the window, flapping in the wind.
“We’re out here to save democracy,” said Sonya Zalubowski, 76, who attended the rally with her friend and fellow Fisher’s Landing resident Jane Chance, 82. “We’re gonna fight this the whole year.”
The Esther Short Park gathering — billed as one of the many “Nobody is Above the Law” events estimated to draw around 200,000 people nationwide — was hosted by local progressive groups MoveOn and Indivisible Greater Vancouver.
It included speeches from Don Orange, a Port of Vancouver commissioner, and Tanisha Harris, a local Democratic activist who narrowly lost a 2018 bid for the state Legislature.
“I’m fortunate enough to speak to the hundreds and hundreds of you all,” Orange said. “This is the foundation of the character of the United States.”
Orange pointed to a letter Trump delivered to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, in which he wrote that any accusations of Russian interference in his election were based on “a grave, malicious, and slanderous lie.”
“It’s like being called a gangster by Al Capone,” Orange said, eliciting laughs from the crowd. “The man’s a lying machine.”
Harris, her voice echoing into the microphone and across the park, referenced the political future she hoped to eventually leave her nieces and nephews.
“We know what is right. We know what needs to be done tomorrow,” Harris said. “I want them to know that their Aunt Nisha did everything she could to fight for them.”
On Wednesday, the House is expected to vote in favor of two articles of impeachment — one charging the president with abusing his office for personal gain, and the other charging him with obstructing Congress.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, announced last week that she planned to vote against both articles, citing a “rushed timeline” by Democratic leadership that prevented Congress from hearing testimony from firsthand witnesses in the president’s inner circle.
“House committee chairs were unwilling to press the subpoenas on witnesses who could have provided firsthand accounts of the president’s actions, and instead relied on witnesses who’d never even met the president, could only provide secondhand testimony, and offered assumptions based on what they say they heard,” Herrera Beutler said in a written statement Friday.
Herrera Beutler’s upcoming vote was a repeated topic of the rally Tuesday evening, with signs sporting slogans such as “Jaime, where R U?” and a performance of the folk song “We Shall Not Be Moved,” with lyrics revised to “tell Jaime to do her job.”
Wednesday’s vote in the House is anticipated to pass nearly along party lines and send the charges to the Senate, which will hold a trial and ultimately decide whether the president should be removed from office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he plans to coordinate closely with the White House counsel over the course of the proceedings.
To remove Trump, two-thirds of the Senate needs to vote in favor of conviction, a highly unlikely outcome in the current partisan climate.
That climate was one of the factors that drew Ron Moss, a Larch Mountain resident, 40 minutes away from his home and to Esther Short Park for the rally. He’s not been much for activism in the past, he said, but a culmination of events has left him “so fed up with Trump.”
“We’re about to lose our republic if it keeps going the way it is,” Moss said.