WASHINGTON — Some House Democrats are openly calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Among them: Michigan freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who made waves the day she was sworn in for saying, “We’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherf****r.” That same day, California Rep. Brad Sherman introduced articles of impeachment against the president.
Democrats in the Virginia congressional delegation are avoiding such combative pronouncements. But they’re not ruling out supporting impeachment in the future, particularly if Republicans get on board or if they’re swayed by evidence in a forthcoming special counsel’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“I know there’s a strong case to be made that he needs to go,” said Rep. Don Beyer, D-8th. But, he said, “I deeply believe that impeachment should not be partisan.”
If there are close to zero Republicans on board, Democrats risk setting the stage for a GOP effort to oust the next Democrat who inhabits the White House. Beyer said he’d be willing to start impeachment proceedings now if there were a “significant Republican group” willing to go along.
“I hate the idea of dividing the country on purely political lines, however deserving of impeachment he may be,” Beyer said.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, a House freshman who defeated Republican incumbent Dave Brat in November, isn’t rushing to impeach, either.
“I don’t think the House should move on anything until there is any level of substantial evidence that would provide a strong rationale for us to take action,” she said in a recent interview.
Before joining Congress, Spanberger was a CIA officer and a postal inspector. She said her background as a law enforcement and intelligence officer requires her to be “wedded to the pursuit of information” before making opinions.
“Anything is open within the realm of possibility, but I am certainly not at any point committing myself one way or another because my priority is — if I were to ever be faced with such an incredibly difficult decision, I would want to go into that decision unbiased and look at the facts and the information and let that drive my decision,” she said.
Some Virginia Democrats explicitly stated that they are waiting to see the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign was involved.
“Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be allowed to finish his investigation without political interference. Once he concludes his investigation, Congress will know what to do,” Rep. Bobby Scott, D-3rd, and chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, said in a statement when asked about possible impeachment proceedings.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-11th, who serves on the House oversight committee, concurred.
“We have not yet heard Robert Mueller’s report. So we need for his criminal investigation to work its way through,” Connolly said. “Meanwhile, we don’t have to be idle. We can be having hearings about everything from Russian collusion to conflicts of interest to Trump’s tax returns and see where those take us, too. But I just think it’s a premature thing to be saying, ‘Let’s talk impeachment.’”
Connolly doesn’t see impeachment as a “useful topic” for Democrats right now.
“Even though there’s an emotional desire to do that, this is a big country and we have to respect the fact that 40 percent of it is pretty solidly anchored to Mr. Trump, and so if we’re going to go down that road, it has to be a process they see as fair and transparent, too.”
Last July, after Trump’s remarks during a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki drew bi-partisan condemnation, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, issued a statement saying, “Our intelligence community and the House Intelligence Committee have both concluded that Russia interfered in our election. However, today, President Trump missed an opportunity to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for these acts.”
Wittman did not respond to a request for comment about Democrats’ calls to impeach Trump. Virginia Republican Reps. Morgan Griffith and Ben Cline and Democratic Reps. Elaine Luria, Donald McEachin and Jennifer Wexton did not respond to requests for comment for this story. A spokesman for freshman Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman declined to comment.
Wexton has previously rejected talk of impeaching Trump as “drastic,” according to the Washington Post.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told NBC this month that she and her colleagues will wait to see what comes out of Mueller’s report before deciding whether to impeach Trump.
“We shouldn’t be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn’t avoid impeachment for a political reason,” Pelosi said.