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Washington — Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee on Thursday joined calls to begin impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump. 

Kildee's change of heart came after ABC News aired an interview with Trump in which he said “there isn’t anything wrong” with accepting information on a campaign opponent from foreigners, and that he might not notify the FBI were it to happen. 

"I think we now have to have an impeachment inquiry," Kildee said on MSNBC. 

"The impeachment process is not about punishing a president for his misdeeds. I think people misunderstand that. It's about protecting the rule of law. It's about protecting the Constitution from this pattern of behavior. 

"i don't think there's any way to erase the fact that what the president has done is signaled that he is not only willing to but I believe pursuing foreign interference in this election because he's not willing to take the election on with a fair fight."

Some Republicans have defended Trump's statement by noting that Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign accepted foreign help against the New York businessman by paying for the Steele dossier that helped prompt surveillance of the Trump campaign.

"Talk about taking foreign help," tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Thursday. "Hillary Clinton hired a foreign spy. He talked to Russians and put together an oppo research document. It wasn’t verified, but the FBI used it to spy on the Trump campaign."

Kildee, chief deputy whip for the House Democrats, had previously said he viewed impeachment as a last resort if Trump continued to impede congressional probes by ignoring subpoenas and blocking members of his administration from testifying.

Kildee joins more than 60 other House Democrats who have called for impeachment. Within Michigan's delegation, two others have said Trump's conduct warrants impeachment. 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, introduced a resolution backing impeachment in March, and last month Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, became the sole Republican in Congress to call for impeachment proceedings. 

Kildee, who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, called Trump's comments on accepting opposition research from foreign governments "absolutely chilling." 

"At a moment I thought he couldn't do anymore, he couldn't be more outrageous, he couldn't be more outside the bounds of the norms that we have been bound by for so long, when I watched that it gave me chills," Kildee said on MSNBC. 

"This is a frightening moment where we have a president that is so capable of rationalizing anything if it happens to come to benefit him. He is just completely out of control." 

Kildee underscored comments from Federal Elections Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub that "it's illegal for any person to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign government in connection with a U.S. election."   

"The president is absolutely dead wrong. This is is not what everyone does. This is not how it works," said Kildee, who was involved in federal campaigns long before he ran for Congress.

"He welcomes foreign interference. He encourages foreign interference," Kildee added.

"It is the most unpatriotic thing that a public official can do — put his own interests and the interests of a foreign adversary ahead of the nation. He should be ashamed." 

Kildee said some Republicans in Congress might condemn Trump's words but he feared they wouldn't take steps to stop Trump's behavior. 

Michigan voters oppose House lawmakers launching impeachment proceedings, according to a May 28-30 poll of 600 likely voters. The Glengariff Group survey released to The Detroit News found that nearly 53 percent are opposed to the U.S. House starting impeachment hearings, while about 40 percent support impeaching Trump. 

mburke@detroitnews.com 

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