If Trump Revelations Are True, They Are Impeachable Offenses, Rep. Slotkin Says
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
New reporting begins to connect the facts we already knew about President Trump's acts relating to Ukraine. It is public that the Trump administration suspended military aid to Ukraine. It is also public that President Trump called Ukraine's president. President Trump admits he asked about his political rival, Joe Biden. So Ukraine simultaneously faced both a threat and what can be characterized as a demand for political dirt. Now The Washington Post, and other news organizations, draw those two elements together. The Post first reported, and others confirmed, that the president personally ordered the aid to Ukraine suspended and then days later, he made the call. Even as these details emerge, some members of Congress are calling for impeachment proceedings. Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan is one of them, and she's on the line. Good morning.
ELISSA SLOTKIN: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: The headline - and I know you don't always write the headline - but the headline summarizes your view as "These Allegations Are A Threat To All We Have Sworn To Protect." Is that right?
SLOTKIN: Yeah, I mean, I think all seven of us who are on the op-ed are people who have served, either in the military or in the intelligence community. We've all sworn an oath to the Constitution many, many times over, many of us for our entire career. And we did it again in January. And I think these new allegations, if true, just were a game changer for us. They represented something different, and it just felt like this was the moment that we would come out and speak about that. And, you know, none of us had been preaching impeachment for months now. This was something that we really were judicious about.
INSKEEP: Is this a call for impeachment?
SLOTKIN: Listen, if these allegations are true, these are impeachable offenses. So we are calling on our Congress and, you know, the rest of the members here to do everything in our power, and that includes expanding the list of things we can do. I mean, if these allegations are true, everything from holding impeachment inquiries but also you know, the power of inherent contempt, you know, no one talks about that. But if you get stonewalled over and over and over in violation of the constitutional division of powers, we need to have a muscular response to that and we need to exercise those responsibilities.
INSKEEP: I want to make sure when you say if these allegations are true, what you believe already to have been shown to be true. Because while some things are unknown, and while some things are based on reporting from unnamed sources within the White House, a lot of this is right out in public and acknowledged by the president himself. What do you believe happened here for certain?
SLOTKIN: Well, I think, for all seven of us, the idea that a sitting president would use security assistance from the United States to pressure and, potentially, extort the president of another country into giving him dirt on a political opponent is just beyond the pale. And it's one thing for candidate Trump to sort of put out a general call to the Russians and others saying, hey, if you have anything, send it my way. It's a very different thing for a sitting president of the United States to use taxpayer dollars - not security assistance - taxpayer dollars to leverage a political investigation by a foreign leader. It's just beyond the pale.
INSKEEP: One of our White House correspondents, Tamara Keith, has pointed out in looking at you seven, that a number of you represent the kinds of districts that gave Democrats control of the House in 2018 - Trump-ish kind of districts, who voted for Democrats this time. Is there a political risk in what you're doing?
SLOTKIN: Well, I think - you know, some would say yes, but it just doesn't matter at this point. I think - I don't think this is a partisan issue. I think that, you know, Michigan...
INSKEEP: Do you think you're actually representing what your constituents want? If you went back to your district, they would listen to you and say, yeah, we got to look into this, seriously.
SLOTKIN: I think people in my district are divided on this issue. I get pulled over in the supermarket by people talking about it and saying, go ahead and do it, and I have been pulled over by just as many people saying, please, don't do it. So it's a really sort of mixed issue but I think, no matter whether you're a Democrat or an independent or a Republican, the idea that a sitting president would attempt to leverage dirt on a political opponent from a foreign leader is just beyond the pale. It's a game changer. It's something different, and we need to acknowledge it as thus.
INSKEEP: And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should allow impeachment proceedings to go forward, even if they would be hopeless in the Senate, because the Senate would have to sign on for the president to be removed.
SLOTKIN: Well, I think the president has an opportunity here. The director of national intelligence is coming up later this week to speak in an open hearing. I very much hope he does his job under the law and brings the whistleblower case, all the details to Congress. I hope the president explains the situation. If they cannot, or they refuse to bring that information to bear, I think, one possibility is that we need to start impeachment inquiry. So the onus is on them. Otherwise, I think, we know - we need to move to another tack.
INSKEEP: Rudy Giuliani has admitted to the pressure campaign in which he was involved. Representative Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, thanks so much.
SLOTKIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.