Gerston: Impeachment with a California twist
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leaves a news conference the morning after the first public hearing in the impeachment probe of President Donald Trump on his effort to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Pelosi says the president's actions in the impeachment inquiry amount to "bribery." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

It’s no secret that President Donald Trump has more animus for California than perhaps any other state.

Trump has gone out of his way to deny California an exemption for automobile pollution settings higher than national requirements, threatened to cease federal funds for San Francisco because its streets are cluttered with homeless people and tried to end federal funding for California’s law enforcement efforts because of the state’s sanctuary status. For these and many other reasons, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has taken the Trump administration to court more than 60 times, winning outright in many cases, and causing havoc through the appellate courts with others.

There’s little affection between California and the president, which adds a huge irony to the current impeachment inquiry in Congress.

Lost in all the drama are the compelling positions owned by Californians in the impeachment process. That prominence includes both Democrats and Republicans, although clearly the Democrats have the upper hand. At the top, both Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (San Francisco) and Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Bakersfield) are Californians. It’s the first time in U.S. history, by the way, that both Congressional leadership positions are found in the same state.

Moving down the impeachment chain of power, Intelligence Committee chair Democrat Adam Schiff hails from Southern California. Meanwhile, ranking Republican Intelligence committee member Devin Nunes is from the Central Valley. Moreover, two other northern Californians, Democrats Jackie Speier (San Mateo) and Eric Swalwell (Castro Valley), add further Golden State heft to the Intelligence Committee membership.

As if this is not enough, even the Committee Democratic counsel, the individual who takes charge of the weightiest elements of committee interrogations, has a California connection. Daniel Goldman not only attended Stanford Law School, but is a descendent of San Francisco-based Levi Strauss, the historically-famous clothier.

Clearly, the impeachment battle of Trump remains a bitter struggle between Democrats and Republicans. Nevertheless, the event takes on added importance to the extent that California maintains such a prominent role in the battle for the country’s future.

Larry N. Gerston is political science professor emeritus from San Jose State University and author of California Politics and Government with Terry Christensen.

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