Rep. Kim Schrier On The Case For Impeachment
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
In three days, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on whether or not to impeach President Donald Trump. It will be a historic vote - one that's only been taken twice before and also one that's expected to highlight the deep partisan divide in Washington and the rest of the country right now.
Beyond that, though, the impending vote is causing reflection and perhaps even consternation among some Democrats, especially, it seems, those newly elected and those holding seats where Republicans remain competitive. One of them, freshman Democrat Jefferson Van Drew of New Jersey, is even expected to switch to the Republican Party. Throughout his career in government, he's taken more conservative votes than most of his colleagues. But his opposition to impeachment apparently is the last straw for him.
We're going to begin the program by hearing from another freshman Democrat, Congresswoman Kim Schrier of Washington state. She's the first Democrat to be elected in her district's 36-year history. And she is with us now.
Congresswoman Schrier, thank you so much for joining us.
KIM SCHRIER: Thank you, Michel.
MARTIN: So you announced just this past Friday that you would vote for impeachment. As briefly as you can, what was the deciding factor in your decision?
SCHRIER: Look. The deciding factor for me has to do with setting a precedent for all future administrations that it is not OK for a president to put his own personal interests above the interests of the country. It is not OK to abuse power for success in an election. And it is absolutely not OK to obstruct Congress that - we need a balance of powers, and if you take that away, we lose our democracy.
MARTIN: You posted a press release on your website that says, quote, "given all the facts before us, impeachment is the only remedy." And you also pointed out the precedent that you just cited. You said, no future president should ever believe that this was acceptable behavior. Was there any push for something short of impeachment - a censure, for example?
SCHRIER: You know, I have heard some people talk about censure. But in my mind, that was really never an option. The option here is the remedy that the founders of this country prescribed - that impeachment is appropriate when you have a president who goes so beyond what is acceptable behavior, that betrays his oath of office, that betrays the people who elected him. And the remedy for that is impeachment.
MARTIN: Can I just confirm? Yesterday, we talked with a member of the leadership, Chief Deputy Whip Dan Kildee of Michigan. He said that the Democratic leadership is not whipping the vote, which means that they're not offering incentives. For example, they're not promising you things. They're not pressuring members. They're not saying that they're going to punish members who don't vote with the party leadership. Is that true? Can you say that for yourself - that they have not pressured you?
SCHRIER: That is absolutely, 100% true. Leadership has not asked me how I will vote on this. I think leadership knows how a lot of us feel, and I think they also understand that this is really a sad time in our country's history. And I think one of the things that makes it particularly sad is that this is turning into a more partisan vote when really this is about patriotism, it's about our democracy and that we need to think about the future of our country. And when this issue - if this issue ever comes up again, we want a precedent that says no, this is unacceptable behavior.
SCHRIER: We mentioned your district was represented by Republicans for 36 years until you won the seat in 2018. Now, the Republicans - their campaign committees, the president - are all saying and tweeting very loudly that they think that a vote for impeachment will carry a political cost for Democrats in 2020. I mean, you know, the fact is the president is very popular among Republicans. He is not very popular among others. So do you think that's true? I mean, do you think that this is a vote that could be politically consequential? And if so, why?
SCHRIER: This vote may be politically consequential, but that is not part of my calculation. What I'm doing is what I believe is right. Ultimately, I'm going to have to look at myself in the mirror. I'm going to have to answer to my own 11-year-old child. I'm going to have to answer to my thousands of patients who are looking to me to make good, sober decisions. And we're all going to have to answer to our God. And this is not a political calculation.
MARTIN: Well, before we let you go, that is actually where I wanted to go next. You are - you're home right now in the district. Presumably, your constituents talk to you, you know, all the time however they communicate with you. You said - last week at a press event, you said, quote, "what I hear most often is not impeachment. It's not what's on the front page of The Washington Post. It's, what are you going to do about the cost of our prescription drugs?"
So now that you are home, what are people saying to you about it? Are people raising impeachment with you? What are they saying, and what are you saying to them?
SCHRIER: Well, look. It comes up because it is the issue of the day. But I just had a town hall yesterday in one of the pretty red parts of my district. It's - what was my 26th town hall, and the main topic of conversation was the cost of prescription drugs and a new bill to make it easier for our farmers to have a reliable workforce. So even then - we did talk about impeachment because I think people deserve to know how my mind is working and how I'm thinking about this. But it was not the issue of the day.
MARTIN: That was Congresswoman Kim Schrier. She represents the 8th District of Washington state, and we reached her at her home office.
Congresswoman Schrier, thank you so much for joining us.
SCHRIER: Thank you, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.