Some Michigan U.S. reps divided on impeachment articles; others still reviewing

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Impeachment was either the "only answer" or a "wasteful witch hunt," depending upon which member of Michigan's U.S. House delegation was answering questions Tuesday, the day Democrats revealed their specific charges against President Donald Trump.

U.S. House Democrats released two articles of impeachment, which could lay the groundwork for a vote on the allegations in the coming days. The articles accuse Trump of "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress."

The Detroit News reached out to the 14 U.S. House members who represent Michigan for a reaction to the allegations. A majority of the members provided some type of response. Two agreed — Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, and Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Hills — to interviews.

Copy of the Articles of Impeachment, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 in Washington. House Democrats announced they are pushing ahead with two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress - charging he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security in his dealings with Ukraine.

Walberg called the impeachment inquiry a "wasteful witch hunt." Walberg argued that Democrats had continually shifted the nature of their allegations against Trump. He said they had moved from bribery at one point to now abuse of power.

Walberg said Trump had actually used his power to grow a strong economy with low employment.

"If that's the abuse of power, I guess there are some people who would like to see him abuse his power more," Walberg said, adding that his statement was tongue-in-cheek.

However, Levin compared Trump's actions to the actions of two former presidents, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, who faced impeachment pushes.

"None of that involved our national security or foreign policy," Levin noted.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, released a statement Tuesday arguing impeaching Trump is "our only answer."

Tlaib said voters sent representatives to Congress to be "a check on this dangerous administration." She added that she was "heartened" by the articles of impeachment.

"Congress must act swiftly on them and send a resounding message that we are a nation of laws and no one, not even the president, is above them," Tlaib said.

According to the articles unveiled Tuesday, Trump sought to pressure Ukraine by “conditioning official United States Government acts of significant value to Ukraine on its public announcement of the investigations" into former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent.

One article focused on abuse of power. That article alleges that Trump used the powers of the presidency to solicit interference from Ukraine in the 2020 presidential election.

The second article focused on obstruction of Congress. It alleges Trump ordered executive branch officials not to comply with "lawful" subpoenas from the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Christian Slater, a spokesman for the Michigan Democratic Party, said in a statement: "Michigan voters know the truth: Donald Trump abused the power of his office and put his political and personal interests ahead of our national security by pressuring a foreign power to interfere in our election.

"Between his abuses of power on the international stage and his broken promises at home on health care, clean water, and the economy, Michigan's working families know they can't afford four more years of Donald Trump."

Laura Cox, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, issued a statement, arguing that because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, didn't have any Republican support for impeachment, the process was "nothing more than a partisan witch hunt."

Cox specifically mentioned Reps. Haley Stevens and Elissa Slotkin in her statement. Stevens and Slotkin won seats that had been held by Republicans in 2018.

"It is clear that Democrats will put party over county when given the choice, and their three-year attempt to undo the 2016 election has done irreparable harm to our Republic," Cox added in her statement. "The people of Michigan do not support this process, and I hope Congresswomen Haley Stevens and Elissa Slotkin are ready to face their constituents in 2020."

Slotkin, D-Holly, told CNN that she's going to look at "the full body of information, read it thoroughly and make an objective decision."

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin speaks at a town hall event at Oakland University, in Rochester, MI on March 21, 2019.

In a statement, Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, said the evidence against Trump was "alarming."

"In the coming days, I intend to carefully review the articles of impeachment and listen to feedback from my constituents," Stevens added. "In the meantime, I will remain focused on issues like prescription drug costs and manufacturing growth, and I will continue working across the aisle to get things done for my district."

While Republicans have been targeting Stevens and Slotkin, Democrats have been targeting Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, who won his seat by about 5% of the vote in 2018. Upton's office said he was unavailable for an interview on Tuesday.

Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, who isn't seeking reelection in 2020, issued a statement, saying he had examined the evidence and Trump's actions didn't hit the standard of wrongdoing required for impeachment.

"I fear the standards used today set a dangerous precedent for the use of impeachment as a political weapon, and therefore do not support these articles of impeachment," Mitchell added.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, posted on social media that the articles of impeachment will receive her "thorough & thoughtful consideration."

She added, "All of us in Congress have a moral responsibility to protect the Constitution & our national Security. No one is above the rule of law, not even the president.

Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed