Tlaib introduces resolution backing impeachment of Trump

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib speaks about her first few months in office while meeting with The Detroit News Editorial Board in Detroit on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

Washington — Freshman U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib is forging ahead with her impeachment resolution, despite pushback from some members of her party. 

Tlaib, D-Detroit, on Wednesday introduced her resolution directing the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether President Donald Trump has committed impeachable offenses. 

"Resolved, that the Committee on the Judiciary shall inquire whether the House should impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America," the measure reads. 

The resolution "creates a transparent process to ensure that the protection of our democracy, to ensure that we don't have a lawless society that results in irreparable harm to the American people," Tlaib said Wednesday in a floor speech.

"Doing nothing when we are seeing blatant disregard of the United States Constitution to our ethical norms is dangerous. No one, Madam Speaker, including the President of United States, is above the law."

Tlaib this week circulated a letter asking her Democratic colleagues to support her resolution. Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, signed on as a co-sponsor. 

"I urge your support in recommending that the House Committee on Judiciary begin hearings, take depositions and issue subpoenas to answer this question that is fundamental to the rule of law and the preservation of our democracy," Tlaib wrote. 

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

Notably, House Democrats didn't seem so eager this week to dive into an impeachment debate after special counsel Robert Mueller cleared Trump of collusion with Russia, and the Justice Department dismissed questions about obstruction of justice. 

Reacting to Tlaib's letter Tuesday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York, indicated that House Democratic leaders are done with the talk about impeachment.

“We didn’t run on impeachment. We didn’t win the House of Representatives on impeachment. We’re not focused on impeachment,” said Jeffries, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus.

The “overwhelming majority” of his caucus wants to get back to its domestic agenda, he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has also played down the possibility of impeachment, telling the Washington Post in recent weeks that she isn’t interested in the House majority pursuing it at this point, saying Trump is “just not worth it.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, noted the prospect of the Republican-controlled Senate removing Trump from office is unlikely. 

"That is not my focus," Stabenow said of impeachment. "Although I think it’s important to have accountability and transparency, and it's important to do hearings. It's important to bring people forward and so on. 

"She can do it in the majority in the House. That’s not something that’s going to happen here for us," Stabenow added. 

She and other Democrats, however, are not done with the Mueller probe, calling for release of the full report.

Tlaib has said Democratic leaders including Pelosi have urged her to "represent my district," which Tlaib says is behind her impeachment push. 

"I think a lot of folks in leadership come from a point of strategy. Where I come from is, is this the right thing to do for the American people? I know it sounds corny, but it's a clause in the Constitution," Tlaib told The Detroit News editorial board last week. 

"I don't think it's that divisive of an issue. I think people want to have the hearings. ... No one (in Congress) has said, 'Rashida, stop.'" 

The White House 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."  

Tlaib's letter to her colleagues lays out what she wants investigated, including whether the actions of Trump and his businesses violate the emoluments clause of the Constitution — an anti-corruption provision that prohibits him from receiving gifts or payments from foreign or state governments. 

Tlaib has previously raised the potential conflict of interest posed by foreign officials staying at or spending money at Trump's hotel in Washington, for example. 

The Trump Organization has said it voluntarily reimburses the U.S. Treasury annually to compensate for profits from foreign officials at Trump hotels and properties.

Tlaib also has questions for the Judiciary Committee about obstruction of justice and whether Trump committed campaign finance crimes by his role in payments to two women who alleged Trump had affairs with them before he became president.

"We all swore to protect our nation, and that begins with making sure that no one, including the President of the United States, is acting above the law," she wrote. 

Tlaib has long called for Trump's impeachment, including during last year's campaign for Congress.

Most memorably, a few hours after her swearing in, she declared at a Washington party that "we're going to impeach the mother (expletive)." 

Tlaib said she had worked on the language of her resolution with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-New York, whose committee is already investigating the three issues she wants pursued. 

She acknowledged that Pelosi "is not going to move it if it’s not going to get through the Senate."

But she said Nadler had her talk to someone about what happened leading up to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. She learned that many Republicans stuck with Nixon until release of the “smoking gun” tapes that proved he had ordered the Watergate cover-up.

"The American people need to see it. Or hear it," she said. 

"In ideal world, having the hearing itself would make the president comply. If he complied, I would walk away."