Sens. Warren and Klobuchar: Congress must hold Trump accountable

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Madison Heights — Two Democratic presidential candidates made the case for impeachment of President Donald Trump, saying voters should look for Congress to hold him accountable.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota participated in a forum sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and featured members from as far away as Washington state.

Impeachment of the president spurred on by his phone call seeking to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden was front and center amid other issues such as health care, affordable wages and immigration.

A whistleblower said White House officials moved to “lock down” the details of Trump’s call by putting all the records of it on a separate computer system.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren makes a point when talking about her policy on health care and jobs at the United Food and Commercial Workers presidential forum in Madison Heights on Sunday.

In her opening question at the forum attended by more than 300 people at the UFCW Local 876 Union Hall, Warren said impeachment "is a fundamental constitutional question."

"It's not about politics, it's about what our Constitution says, and that is that no one is above the law, not even the president of the United States," Warren said to loud applause. "And the tool given to Congress to make sure that the president is held accountable if he breaks the law, if he doesn't fulfill his oath of office is impeachment."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar answers a question from the audience about health care with moderator Marc Perrone, International president of UFCW.

In a news conference before the forum, Klobuchar said that Congress has the obligation to support impeachment of Trump and that the U.S. Constitution and its founders require it given the president's repeated actions.

"To me, this reminds me of Watergate, we just don't have file cabinets," she said. "In Watergate, they dispatched people to break in and get information and in the course of it broke the law. And then there was a cover-up."

Klobuchar said "the fact that this president is asking for dirt from a foreign leader for an ongoing political race" is problematic on its face but it also "endangers the security of our country. The cover-up this time is to put this stuff on a super secret server."

She said that Congress can go for impeachment but also help workers do well in this economy.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar answers a question about how she will create more jobs.

Klobuchar rejected Trump's argument that he was pushing for an investigation into Hunter Biden's role in Ukraine, saying that investigations into his actions "have not found that what the president has alleged has happened."

The Minnesota senator, who released a labor-friendly policy to protect union rights and to push to rid states of right-to-work laws, said it's important for the public to know "this is ongoing conduct" from Trump. "Regardless of where the polities lie for Democrats and Republicans ... this goes way beyond politics," Klobuchar said.

Aaron Squeo, 43, of Clinton Township who works as a meat cutter at Kroger, said "impeachment is important to find out if there was wrongdoing" but he wanted to hear about certain issues such as health care and better wages "and how it's going to affect my life."

"Like most Americans, I'm worried about making sure my pension is preserved, I want to make sure I have good health care, and that the work I do everyday pays the bills for me," he said. "And I don't want to have to have three jobs to make it.

"The impeachment thing, sure, we need to investigate, and if there's wrongdoing, then maybe they've got to do that," Squeo added.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren makes a point when talking about her policy on health care and jobs.

After the session, UFCW International president Marc Perrone said the forum challenged the candidates to explain their positions.

“Every candidate who wants to be president of the United States has a responsibility to address how they will create good jobs for America’s hard-working families," Perrone siad. "To be frank, our members asked Sen. Warren and (Sen.) Klobuchar some very hard questions and rightfully challenged them to explain how each of them plan to lead this nation forward if elected president of the United States." 

Speaking to reporters after the forum, Warren said the impeachment for her isn't about votes. "I think the episode in July with Ukraine made it even clearer that if this man is not held accountable, he will continue to break the law. And that is a threat to our very democracy. That's why I believe we have to go forward. It not should be something that anyone celebrates."

The Republican National Committee issued a statement saying Warren wants the government to take over union workers' health insurance. 

"While President Trump continues to fight for the American worker, Warren would rather raise their taxes and rip them off their health insurance at the same time” RNC spokesperson Michael Joyce said in  statement.

Before the forum began, Hollie Houssin-Farmer, 30, who came up from Columbus, Ohio, said she was "curious to see what everybody has to say and what matters to them" regarding union rights and health care.

"Obviously, labor is important to us so what they feel they want to do with the labor movement," she said. "For me personally, gun control is kind of one those things that's on the forefront with everything that's happening in our country."

Houssin-Farmer said she wished more candidates showed up but she's excited most about seeing Warren. Her top three candidates are Warren, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke.

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