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Levin changes stance, calls for Trump impeachment hearings

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
U.S. Rep. Andy Levin speaks at Berkley High School on Saturday about holding  impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump.

Berkley — Michigan Democratic U.S. Rep. Andy Levin on Saturday joined mounting calls by lawmakers to start impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump.

Levin made the comments at the beginning of a town hall at Berkley High School. He becomes the fourth member of the state's congressional delegation to urge impeachment proceedings.

Levin said his oath to protect and defend the Constitution motivated his call for the House to open an impeachment inquiry into Trump's conduct. 

"Trump has been violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution each and every day since he took office," Levin said to a group of his constituents at his former high school. "I have said from the beginning that I feel like Mr. Trump has committed multiple impeachable offenses. 

"His intertwining of his business dealings with governance and his profiting off his office are beyond improper. His refusal to share information about his taxes prevents the public from knowing the nature and extent of his conflict of interest."

Levin mentioned the Mueller report as an example saying, "Volume I is horrifying enough in terms of Mr. Mueller's inclusion that there was overwhelming Russian interference in the election of 2016 ... but really it's about Volume II which states obstruction of justice."

Attendees cheer as U.S. Rep. Andy Levin speaks of the start of impeachment proceedings on President Trump at Berkley High School.

The first-term Bloomfield Township Democrat joins more than 60 other House Democrats who have called for impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has resisted calls to start impeachment hearings but has ramped up her rhetoric against Trump by accusing his administration of engaging in a "criminal cover-up."

Previously, Levin called for investigations into Trump saying, "It doesn't make sense to impeach him now because impeachment isn't only a legal act but a political act."

He says lawmakers should neither rush to impeach Trump nor take impeachment off the table.

"The Republicans in the House aren't ready yet, the Republican's in the Senate aren't ready and I think the American people aren't very fully behind this," he said Saturday. "I think they're not behind it because the public doesn't read a 438-page report ... and the story has not been told."

In Michigan's delegation, two others have said Trump's conduct warrants impeachment. 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, introduced a resolution backing impeachment in March.

In May, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, became the sole Republican in Congress to call for impeachment proceedings. The move has helped spark at least one Republican state lawmaker to mount a primary challenge against Amash, a five-term congressman.

Levin's announcement follows similar comments by U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, who changed course this past week 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 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," Kildee said.

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."

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. 

Levin said he has watched the Trump administration stonewalling of oversight activities with growing frustration.

"I have concluded that, absent an impeachment inquiry, even if our appeals to the courts continue to succeed, they will follow a timeline far too slow to meet the needs of the American people for truth and justice," he said.

"Our democracy is at risk and if we don't act then democracy is really in danger," said Larry Lipton, 73, of Bloomfield Township.

Larry Lipton of  Bloomfield Township said he was happy to hear a call for impeachment hearings and said the issue has to be made more public.

"Our democracy is at risk and if we don't act then democracy is really in danger," said Lipton, 73. "If Trump remains in office, it's all over and we can't presume that we're going to win the election. It's not a foregone conclusion, and Pelosi would rather than win the election than pursue impeachment hearings and there's such a huge risk in that strategy."


Twitter: @SarahRahal_

Washington correspondent Melissa Nann Burke contributed