WASHINGTON — Sylvia García, a Democrat, made history in 2019 as one of the two first Latinas to represent Texas in the U.S. Congress.
This week, she made history again as the only Latina among the seven impeachment managers who will prosecute the case against President Donald Trump in the Senate’s trial.
According to Garcia, “nobody is above the law.”
In an exclusive interview with Noticias Telemundo, the Mexican American congresswoman said Thursday she felt honored to occupy a key position in the historic political trial against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“God has been very good to me; he’s given me the opportunity to serve our public,” she said. “I want to assure you that I will do everything possible to be there representing everyone — together, we have more strength.”
According to the Democrats, Trump made $400 million in military aid to Ukraine conditional to the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, announcing an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
The purpose, they say, was to harm Biden, a possible rival in the presidential race, and facilitate Trump’s re-election. Trump again denied Thursday having committed a crime, claiming that his call was “perfect.”
The president is also accused of obstructing the authority of Congress by prohibiting the testimony of a dozen members of his administration and refusing to hand over documents.
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Garcia refutes Trump’s argument that Democrats initiated the impeachment process for political reasons.
“The reason is our Constitution, our democracy, our country, not the president’s motive, which is personal and political. It is he who has a political and personal motive,” she said.
“We will do everything possible to present our case and show the whole country that no one is above the law, not this president, nor anyone,” the legislator said.
Garcia thinks Trump has endangered national security, saying on Twitter before her selection as an impeachment manager that the president tried to destroy the career of Marie Yovanovitch, who was the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Yovanovitch, who was ousted from her post in May, was apparently targeted by diplomatic officials close to Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Garcia issued a blunt warning: “Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy, and he must be held accountable.”
In search of witnesses
Garcia acknowledged that one of the challenges will be to convince Republicans of the importance of having witnesses in the trial, because logic dictates that in every trial, whether in a local or a federal court, “there are always witnesses.”
“We hope to present our case strongly to ask for witnesses, to ask for more documents,” she said, noting that the team will carefully review all the evidence.
However, the Senate must still discuss and approve the rules for this impeachment trial, the third in the country’s history.
The White House prefers a short and fast trial, convinced that the charges against the president are “weak” and a waste of time, but it has not yet specified its legal strategy nor whether it will include Republican legislators.
The Senate is made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents. Garcia and her colleagues would need to persuade four Republicans to break ranks with their party and allow the inclusion of witnesses.
Decades of public service
Garcia’s selection has been applauded by Latino leaders who point to her long history of public service in Texas.
A lawyer by profession, she began her public service career in 1998, when she worked as a judge for the Houston municipal system, and was later elected the city’s chief financial officer.
Then she made history when she became the first woman and the first Latina elected to the Harris County Commissioners Court and later won a seat in the state Senate.
In 2018, Garcia made history as one of two Latinas elected to represent Texas in the U.S. Congress.
Born into a family of 10 children and raised in a South Texas agricultural community, Garcia said she learned from her parents the value of hard work; she told NBC Latino she picked cotton and worked on the farm, experiences she drew from as she helped legislate the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.