Should Trump be impeached? Here’s what Bay Area members of Congress say

SF Chronicle: What each of our Representatives and Senators have to say about impeachment

Tal Kopan May 2, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington in March. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

WASHINGTON — With the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the question is before lawmakers: What will they do next?

Democrats are split over whether to move to impeachment proceedings against President Trump in the House, the only chamber of Congress they control. With Republicans opposed to impeachment and in control of the Senate, such an effort would largely be for the purpose of uncovering information that could be damaging to Trump, either politically or in the congressional proceedings.

Here’s where members of the Bay Area delegation — many of whom sit on committees where articles of impeachment would be considered or where investigations would be conducted — stand on whether to try to remove Trump from office.

The speaker is the member with perhaps the most important vote on the matter, as she will likely decide whether the House will proceed to impeachment. She has largely steered her members away from it, saying before the Mueller report’s release that Trump was “just not worth” the consequences of impeachment and telling fellow Democrats after the special counsel’s redacted findings were made public that congressional investigations would come first. “I hate to disappoint some of you, but I’m not struggling with this decision,” she told her caucus.

That approach hasn’t changed. “We’re hyper-focused on transparency and continuing our investigations,” an aide said in a statement, “because the special counsel’s report raises more serious questions about Trump’s relationship with the Russians and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, the administration’s efforts to protect our elections, especially given the purging of key staffers at the Department of Homeland Security, and the effect of Trump’s abuses of power on other areas we think people care about, like the administration’s efforts to sabotage Americans’ health care.”

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord:

“As a matter of principle, I support impeachment and I also believe we need to proceed with the congressional investigations currently under way to get to the truth for the American people,” DeSaulnier said in a statement. “During Watergate, it was congressional hearings that led to the resignation of an unethical president.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

Rep. Anna Eshoo. D-Palo Alto, in November 2013. Photo: Stephen Lam / Special to The Chronicle

“As a member of Congress, I must be provided an unredacted copy of the special counsel’s report and all underlying documents in order to make a decision as to whether the House moves to impeach the president, or whether it’s done the old-fashioned American way — impeachment at the ballot box next year,” Eshoo said in a statement.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael:

“We should follow the facts,” Huffman told MSNBC. “We should do this full-throated investigation. We should read the Constitution and remember that our founders anticipated a moment like this and they put the constitutional remedy of impeachment in the Congress for a reason. We can’t just punt that. There is a real downside to that.”

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont:

“This is not a moment to rush to judgment,” Khanna said in a statement. “Rather, this is a time to be deliberate and methodical in our approach, and gather all the facts before making a determination on articles of impeachment. We need further investigations, public hearings, and potentially contempt proceedings to promote political accountability. Yet again, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has shown outstanding judgment and wisdom in her approach for our caucus.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“Congresswoman Lee believes Trump must be held accountable, strongly supports congressional investigations into the president and his administration’s actions, and believes that impeachment must not be taken off the table,” Lee’s office said in a statement.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: “Impeachment is not just a legal issue, it’s also a political issue,” Lofgren said in an interview on KCBS-AM. She noted that the public largely supported the impeachment of President Richard Nixon by the time he resigned 1974, in contrast to widespread opposition to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.

“I don’t know what the Congress and the public will think when we finish the entire review of this,” Lofgren continued. “I think it’s a mistake to try and jump to a conclusion. We’ve got to go in a boring, orderly, thorough fashion and see where we are. When you’re doing impeachment, you’re undoing an election, which is a pretty serious matter, and you don’t do that unless there’s really no choice.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo:

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, in New York on Oct. 15. Photo: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

“Clearly the Mueller report was meant to inform Congress’ drafting of articles of impeachment,” Speier said in a statement. “That is why the House must conduct its oversight duty and investigate the damning evidence uncovered by the report and any other evidence of crimes and corruption. Because it’s not just the Senate that wields the power of impeachment, it’s the American public. And the public needs and deserves unvarnished access to the Mueller report, and any other evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, so that they can ‘impeach’ the president in 2020 should the Senate fail to act.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin:

“We’re certainly having a conversation about how we hold this president accountable,” Swalwell said on ABC News’ “The Investigation” podcast. “I wouldn’t say impeachment is off the table.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena:

“The findings presented in Special Counsel Mueller’s report are serious,” Thompson said in a statement. “Congress will continue with our investigations to ensure our constituents get the truth. Nothing is off the table. At the same time, Congress will continue with our responsibility to pass legislation that helps our constituents and our country — we can do both at the same time.”

If the House did vote to impeach Trump, he would be tried in the Senate. Here’s what California’s senators have to say about the possibility of impeachment:

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein:

“The Mueller report certainly raises serious issues that Congress needs to investigate,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Whether impeachment proceedings should occur can be decided once that process is under way and we’ve learned more. And of course any decision on whether to bring impeachment charges would be made by the House.”

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris:

“I think we have very good reason to believe that there is an investigation that has been conducted which has produced evidence that tells us that this president and his administration engaged in obstruction of justice,” Harris said on a CNN town hall last month. “I believe Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.”

Tal Kopan is The San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspondent.