THE chairwoman of the House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee, Rep. Celina Babauta, on Wednesday issued the following response to the governor’s statement:

“I have read the governor’s  statement and I join him in thanking the all of the members of the bipartisan Special Investigating Committee on Impeachment for their unanimous support to put this matter to a vote before the full house. It speaks to the diligent and meticulous task undertaken by the JGO Committee. They acted in accordance to their belief that the JGO did their duty and it is time for the whole House to act.

“We have provided the governor ample opportunity to respond to the allegations under oath, but so far he has only responded by repeatedly refusing to testify under oath, failing to appear, issuing scripted videos, asserting immunity, essentially issuing a gag order over Department of Public Safety Commissioner,  Robert Guerrero, and the governor’s  executive assistant, Frances Dela Cruz, and most recently by filing a lawsuit  to quash his subpoena.

“Publicly, the governor,  through his press releases and weekly briefings,  portrays himself  as the victim of bullies and someone who is ready and willing to comply with the legal process, but his actions behind the scenes speak louder than his empty words.

“The governor attempted to dictate the process of his investigation by discrediting elected members of the Legislative Branch and hand-picking House members he felt would be more sympathetic to his cause.

“Worse yet, he then attempted to manipulate the Judicial Branch by requesting  a closed-door meeting between himself and the Chief Justice, which explicitly violates the model rules of professional conduct. When this was denied, he then issued a letter questioning the integrity of the entire CNMI judiciary,  past and present, to preside over his lawsuit.

“Mind you, the governor has done all of this with the assistance of his in-house legal counsel and his high-priced legal team that continues to cost CNMI taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars while legal fees incurred by our in-house counsel from the Legislative Bureau have not cost a single dime.

“Lastly, I am troubled by the governor’s  repeated statements that he is finally going to obtain a fair trial in the Senate. The more he says this, the more he undermines the integrity of the process. That said, I am confident that when presented with the details of the governor’s misdeeds, our Senators will agree to find the governor guilty of the charges listed in the articles of impeachment.”

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