Tlaib plans to file impeachment resolution against Trump

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and impeachment activists speak to the press in her office on Capitol Hill.

Washington — Freshman U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Wednesday she plans to file a resolution this month to start impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, calling him "dangerous to our American democracy."

The Detroit Democrat's resolution will call for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate grounds for Trump's impeachment, she said. 

"I can't wait to be able to file this resolution because I think a transparent and open investigation into the president's dealings is important," said Tlaib, surrounded by about 20 impeachment activists in her Capitol Hill office. 

Tlaib has long called for Trump's impeachment. She made national headlines hours after her January swearing-in by issuing a cry at a Washington party to "impeach the mother(expletive)."

But Democratic House leaders have generally said it's too soon, urging members to wait on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Tlaib indicated Wednesday that she's not waiting. 

"There is a sense of urgency on my part and many of us," she said.

"I think every single colleague of mine agrees there's impeachable offenses. That's one thing that we all agree on. We may disagree on the pace. We may disagree that we have to wait for certain hearings, but at the same time, I think they all know the dangers of allowing President Trump to continue to violate our United States Constitution." 

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said Wednesday he doesn't believe Tlaib's resolution is called for, saying it's time for things that "move us forward, as opposed to picking fights that you can't win."

"But it's allowed, and that's something that any member of Congress can do," Walberg said.

Tlaib's would not be the first articles of impeachment filed against Trump this year.

California Rep. Brad Sherman, also a Democrat, re-introduced articles of impeachment against Trump on the first day of the new Congress after filing a similar resolution in 2017.

Tlaib, a former state lawmaker, slammed Trump for what she says are conflicts of interest created by his failure to divest from his businesses and accused him of obstructing justice in relation to the probe into Russian contacts with his campaign.

"For me as a member of Congress, it is so important to me that I check this president and even my colleagues when I feel like they are not abiding by the United States Constitution and upholding their oath," Tlaib said. 

"Many of you have heard me say over and over again, look, he's a sitting CEO, as well as president of the United States. Understand that he hasn't divested in his foreign or domestic businesses." 

She referenced Trump's tweet this week about a golf course owned by the Trump Organization in Scotland, in which he said it "furthers U.K. relationship!"

Tlaib also spoke of individuals who stay at Trump properties and then lobby the administration for "mergers and different kinds of things that they want." 

"You know what we call that back home in Michigan? We call that pay to play," Tlaib said. 

"This is setting a precedent. If we don't start impeachment proceedings today and hold him accountable to violating the United States Constitution, think about that. This is not going to be the last CEO that runs for president of the United States." 

Tlaib said she, as a member of Congress, must follow higher ethical rules than Trump is following by not disclosing potential or actual conflicts of interest. 

The White House did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment but was dismissive of Tlaib's impeachment talk in January. 

"You’re not going to impeach this president when he’s had two of the most successful years that any president has had in modern history," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN at the time. 

"The only reason they want to come after this president is because they know they can’t beat him. They can’t beat him when it comes to a policy debate, and they’re not going to beat him when it comes to 2020."  

Walberg echoed the argument that Trump's policies are benefiting America. 

"It's time now after two years of continued dissent about this president being president, it's time to move us forward — especially since his policies are working: We have a growing economy. You have low unemployment, and Michigan has been helped by that significantly," he said.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, said he doesn’t think impeachment proceedings are appropriate at this time.

“Every member should make up their own mind when they think the standard has been met,” said Kildee, chief deputy whip for the House Democrats.

“But for me, when we have a very thorough, ongoing investigation that is coming our way sooner rather than later, and the committee that I serve on is just now preparing to request access to the president’s tax returns, there's enough information in the immediate pipeline that I think it's worth waiting for them to make a more informed decision.”

Asked if House leaders have cautioned Tlaib about her plans, she did not directly answer.

"When I speak to leadership, they constantly remind me I have to represent my district, and they know the diversity of all of our districts and how we approach, certain issues, and the fact that we have different styles of how do we approach different issues," she said. 

Tlaib on Wednesday was joined by activists from a group called By the People, who traveled to Washington from around the country, including New York, Ohio, Oregon and California. 

They held signs including "Trump is the real national emergency" and "Tick Tock, Individual 1."

Activists with the group By the People gathered in Rep. Rashida Tlaib's Capitol Hill office on Wednesday for her impeachment announcement.

After Tlaib's news conference, they were headed to the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to demand Trump's impeachment, said Anthony Torres, a spokesman for the group. 

"We are calling on every other member of Congress to be a true patriot and exhibit the bravery that we've seen from Congresswoman Tlaib here today," said Torres, speaking to the television cameras. 

"At this moment, to everyone watching, join our movement. Join us. This is the time for us to really make an America for all of us, and that begins with impeachment."

John Bonifaz, co-author of the book "The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump," argues that now is not a time for traditional congressional oversight.

"In an ordinary chapter in American history, there would be a check and balance between an executive branch and the legislative branch, but this is not an ordinary chapter," said Bonifaz, who has worked with Tlaib on the issue and was at her office Wednesday. 

"The remedy is to remove from office that official who so threatens the Republic. To suggest that we have to wait until 2020 to so-called 'impeach him at the ballot' completely contradicts the very purpose of why we have the impeachment clause in the Constitution."