Jackie Speier to talk ‘height of corruption’ under Trump

Congresswoman survived Jonestown in 1978, now key player in impeachment inquiry.|

A key player in the current impeachment inquiries of President Donald Trump will be coming to Sonoma next week – pending developments on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, giving her a front-row seat to all depositions and hearings on the Ukraine-related inquiry.

Speier, 69, will be in town on Friday, Nov. 22, for the next conversation in the Sonoma Speakers Series, taking place 7 p.m. at Hanna Boys Center.

An early advocate of the removal of Trump from office by using the 25th Amendment – which elevates the Vice President to President in the event of the sitting President’s “inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office” – Speier now finds herself with a role to play in Pres. Trump’s possible impeachment.

“The President is now being accused of withholding taxpayer-funded security aid from a foreign nation as a threat for not conducting research against his political opponent,” wrote Speier in a Sept. 24 statement. “This is the height of corruption. We cannot ignore this.”

Speier is also a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and is running to be its chair, to replace the late Elija Cummings, who died Oct. 17. That position would give her authority to schedule further hearings or issue subpoenas for more investigations into the president.

Her role in Trump’s impeachment is not the first time she’s been on the scene for history in the making. In 1978 she accompanied Congressman Leo Ryan, for whom she was a staffer, to Jonestown, Guyana, to investigate Rev. Jim Jones’ cult-like settlement in the South American republic. Jones’s Peoples Temple, which for a time was located near Ukiah, was accused of holding people against their will and Ryan had gone to investigate the situation for his Contra Costa County constituents.

In Jonestown, as the Guyana community was called, the delegation was ambushed on the landing strip, Ryan and four others were killed and Speier shot five times. Rev. Jones then led his congregation in a mass suicide as they drank cyanide-laced Kool Aid, and 909 people died, including Jones.

Speier survived after undergoing 10 surgeries and later ran for the state senate, winning a U.S. House of Representatives seat in 2008. She currently represents the 14th congressional district, which encompasses much of the area her late mentor Leo Ryan represented.

As a Congresswoman, Speier has worked on highway safety, gun control, energy and the environment, school discipline and sexual harassment – in 2017 she shared her personal experiences with harassment on Capitol Hill as a young staffer. She is also the chair of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus.

Rep. Speier will take the Hanna Boys Center auditorium stage at 7 p.m., in conversation with publisher and Sonoma Speakers Series board member David Bolling, on Friday, Nov. 22. The event is sold out.

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