For Jason Crow, it always comes back to the law.
When he was taking shelter during rocket attacks while serving in Afghanistan, he would pass the time by studying for his law school exams.
"It wasn't that hard actually, taking the LSAT a couple of months later in a classroom," he jokes.
Now, the freshman representative from Colorado's 6th District says he's hoping the law will guide him through a potential political morass — the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
"I've taken an oath, I intend to fulfill it and to do so with diligence and with seriousness and with dignity," Crow said.
One of seven impeachment managers who will present the House's case beginning next week, Crow spoke with Colorado Matters shortly before the group read the articles of impeachment against Trump.
After the articles were read, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial, was sworn in. Roberts then swore in the 100 Senators, who will act as jurors in the proceedings.
That includes Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, who some observers consider a possible key vote in whether the trial will allow witnesses in the trial. Crow said the idea of information being revealed "on a daily basis," underscores the need "to actually have documents and evidence."
"This cannot be the first impeachment trial in the history of the country where there aren't any documents and there aren't any witnesses," he said.
But Crow added that he wasn't sure if he would speak with Gardner. The senator, who faces a tough re-election campaign this year, says he's focused on being an impartial juror and will listen to both sides.
"I'm going to approach this very holistically," Crow said. "All hundred senators have to sit in judgment here. I think it's important that as prosecutors, we look at the entire Senate and not individual senators."
Crow's role in pushing for the impeachment hearings in the House (he was part of an op-ed in the Washington Post that ran the day before Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would move forward) landed him on a list of allegedly vulnerable Democrats that Republicans would target in upcoming elections.
Indeed, on Wednesday, Kristi Burton Brown, a vice-chairman of the Colorado GOP, tweeted that Crow "is siding with the extreme wing of his party by taking on the job of impeachment manager. The moderate voters in CD6 won't look kindly on yet another distraction from the issues Crow should be focused on."
Crow disagreed with the assessment.
"I spend a lot of my time back home in the district meeting with families, with children, with victims of gun violence, with our immigrants and refugees, with people who have been substantially impacted by this administration," he said. "And that matters, people see that. And what matters, even more, is people in Colorado and throughout the country recognize when somebody puts politics aside and does the right thing."
Avery Lill: This is Colorado Matters from CPR News, I'm Avery Lill. Minutes from now, Congressman Jason Crow, a freshman representative from Colorado's 6th Congressional District will join six other house impeachment managers in the Senate to read two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The subsequent trial is expected to begin next week. Representative Crow joins us now from Washington DC. Congressman, welcome back to the program.
Jason Crow: Hi, good morning.
AL: There have been only two presidential impeachment trials in the almost 244-year history of the United States. You're about to become an integral part of the third. What are your thoughts right now?
JC: Well, it's a very grave and somber responsibility. I don't talk to many people who like the fact that we're in this position and doing this. This is certainly not what we all came to Congress to do, but the president has left us with no choice. And we have to uphold the constitution and our system of checks and balances and the abuse of power that this president conducted. Can't go left unchecked.
AL: Now the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, will be sworn in after the articles are read. He'll then swear in the 100 senators as jurors in the trial. Tell me about your role, what it will be in the proceedings both today and next week and how the duties will be divided amongst the seven of you?
JC: You were right, Avery, that very shortly here we will read the articles of impeachment to the Senate. The senators will be sworn in, they will take an oath to be impartial jurors. So all a hundred of them sit during the trial and listen to all the evidence and the arguments presented by both sides. And they have to do that in an impartial way, in a nonpolitical way.
And then on Tuesday after the holiday weekend, the trial will begin. And the seven managers essentially serve as prosecutors. We present the house's case, the evidence and the facts. We will be arguing for witnesses and additional evidence. And I think our initial responsibility and task here is to ensure that the trial is fair, that witnesses and evidence and documents are admitted so that both the senators and the American people can have a full picture of all the facts here.
AL: And do you have an idea how the duties are going to be divided amongst the seven managers?
JC: Well, I'm not going to talk about trial strategy here. The managers are meeting on a regular basis and discussing our approach to things. But I'm not going to go into what that strategy is going to be at this point.
AL: And like you said, the managers, they are like prosecutors. I understand that part of the reason you were chosen is you're an attorney, you got your law degree from the University of Denver. And I want to talk with you about the law. There is a story that when you served in Afghanistan during Rocket Attacks, your platoon would have to wait it out in bunkers.
During those times, the story goes, you would study for the LSAT, the law school admission test. I guess that's one way of keeping your mind off of the dangers, but what was it about the law that made it clearly so important to you?
Jason Crow: Avery, that story is true and actually after studying for the LSAT under Rocket Attack in Afghanistan, it wasn't that hard actually taking the LSAT a couple of months later in a classroom. So a good way to prepare actually and kind of pass the time during those attacks. But one constant throughout my service to the country, both in the military and as a lawyer is the oath that I had to take.
I've taken many oaths throughout my life starting when I was a teenager to uphold and defend the Constitution. I have served in places where there is no rule of law, where there are no checks and balances and it's not a great environment to be in. We have an amazing country. I love America deeply for what it represents. Our democracy is a beautiful thing. And we have to fight for it to preserve it. So that's a constant throughout my life is kind of my commitment to that idea, commitment to the Constitution and I'm going to continue that forward.
AL: So given that relationship with the law, what do you make of the idea that the outcome of the impeachment trial seems fixed to the Senate controlled by Republicans and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell has already said the outcome of the trial has already been determined in favor of President Trump. Why does the law matter in such an environment?
Jason Crow: Well, I hope that's not true. Everybody has to take an oath today and I will reiterate to every member of the Senate that they have to fulfill that out. They will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and they have an obligation to fulfill the oath that they're about to take. And if someone decides that they're not going to abide by their oath, that doesn't discharge me from fulfilling mine.
I've taken an oath, I intend to fulfill it and to do so with diligence and with seriousness and with dignity and people can count on that. So at the end of the day it's important that the jurors do what they have to do, the American people will see evidence, they will have to make a decision about how they view that evidence and the facts as well. And at the end of the day there will be accountability for the United States Senate regardless of how they vote.
AL: Of course, there is still some question about the role witnesses will play in the trial, but I also wonder about the information. Earlier this week there was the release of documents and text messages that could indicate a link between the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani and the efforts to get the Ukrainian president to announce investigations related to former vice president Joe Biden. And I'm not necessarily asking you to address that specifically, but I'm wondering how the trial will address any revelations that may emerge outside of what's taking place in the Senate. What does that process of entering information look like?
JC: Yeah, so this is a trial, but unlike other trials, the evidence continues to emerge and will be dealt with in due course. So we're continuing to go through the Parnas documents. As managers, we're reviewing that information, there's a lot of information to review. New stuff continues to come out on a daily basis. And all of this underscores the need to actually have documents and evidence. This cannot be the first impeachment trial in the history of the country where there aren't any documents and there aren't any witnesses.
Every prior trial has had both and this trial needs to have both too. There is overwhelming evidence of the president's abuse of power here and the way that he jeopardized national security. But this even with that overwhelming evidence, we don't have the full picture. And it's really important that we have the full picture so that we understand what happened and what needs to be done to fix it as well.
AL: You were one of seven freshman representatives with military backgrounds who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post last September. Speaker Pelosi has said that was a major factor in her decision to conduct the impeachment hearings in the House. In fact, she announced the process would move forward the very next day. Some say that makes you vulnerable in the next election.
I want to read you part of a tweet from Kristi Burton Brown, she's the vice chairman of the Colorado GOP. She said, "Jason Crow is siding with the extreme wing of his party by taking on the job of impeachment manager. The moderate voters in CD6 won't look kindly on yet another distraction from the issues Crow should be focused on." What's your reaction to that notion?
JC: Well, facts still matter and the facts are that Donald Trump has done a lot of things that Colorado has repeatedly and very vehemently rejected. I spend a lot of my time back home in the district meeting with families, with children, with victims of gun violence, with our immigrants and refugees, with people who have been substantially impacted by this administration.
And that matters, people see that. And what matters even more is people in Colorado and throughout the country recognize when somebody puts politics aside and does the right thing. And when they fulfill their oath and when they're guided by their oath of office and their patriotism to this country and their commitment to their community, ultimately that is what people are looking for and that's what I'm going to continue to do.
So I'm very competent and the fact that I've continued to deliver on the kitchen table issues and the things that are important to Coloradans and one of those things that are important to Coloradans is good government and that we don't allow corruption, that we don't allow abuse of power and that we preserve our checks and balances. I think that's something that everybody has an interest in.
AL: Have you talked with Cory Gardner about the upcoming trial?
JC: I have not.
AL: And do you have plans to?
JC: I don't know. Yeah, I'm going to approach this very holistically. All hundred senators have to sit in judgment here. I think it's important that as prosecutors, we look at the entire Senate and not individual senators.
AL: One area that's certainly of interest to Coloradans that may have been overlooked with all the impeachment news on Wednesday, the US and China signed a trade deal that supposedly represents a ceasefire in the ongoing two year battle between the two nations. The tariffs that have affected Colorado in areas from farming to manufacturing will reportedly be left to later negotiations, but the White House is calling this agreement a victory. This comes on the heels of another agreement signed last month between the US, Mexico and Canada. What are your thoughts about the two measures and their possible impact on Colorado?
JC: Well, there are some things that I like about it and some things that I don't. Certainly there are going to be some purchases and it does put China in the position and puts the responsibility on them to purchase some goods, some farming products and liquid natural gas and some other things that will be helpful. But I still have a lot of concerns. Farmers in Colorado and throughout the country, they don't want to bail out and they don't want to be propped up, they just want a fair playing field.
So I think we need to continue to fight and make sure that there is a fair playing field. This initial deal doesn't address at all one of the fundamental challenges with our relationship with China and that is that China, their government props up their private industry, which makes it really hard for our companies and our farmers to compete when there's an artificial propping up of their companies.
And it doesn't address that issue at all. And there are still hundreds of billions of dollars of tariffs that will remain on the books that American consumers and companies will continue to have to pay for. So there's a lot that still has to be done, and I'm going to continue to encourage the administration to work hard to make sure that we address all of those issues, including the really fundamental structural issues that have to be fixed regarding our relationship with China.
AL: Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.
JC: Yeah, thank you.