Himes calls for Trump impeachment
WASHINGTON — After weeks of urging caution among fellow House Democrats, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) on Monday came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
“During my career, I have learned that there are moments for calculation, prudence, compromise and the careful weighing of competing interests,” Himes said, noting his Hamlet-like response to rising alarm over Trump’s conduct on numerous fronts. “And there are moments for clarity and conviction. This is such a moment.”
Himes, who represents Fairfield and other Fairfield County towns in Congress, joins a rising chorus of 75 or more other Democrats calling for impeachment. His enlistment puts added pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who so far has resisted impeachment calls.
A centrist and former head of the moderate-leaning New Democrat Coalition, Himes had worried that impeachment ultimately would prove untenable — and detract from the House Democratic majority’s efforts to put its imprint on issues such as health care, gun violence and immigration.
Less than two weeks ago, Himes was calling impeachment “the biggest weapon that the Congress has at its disposal,” saying he was with Pelosi in arguing “hey, let's be careful, let’s be prudent, let’s make sure that we have the people with us.”
But still, he noted: “My patience is wearing very, very thin.”
The accumulation of Trump’s own statements and allegations about his conduct in office tipped Himes over the line, he said.
“From the moment of his inauguration, this President has shown contempt for the truth, has attacked our institutions, and has ignored the Constitution he swore to defend,” Himes said. “He has refused the oversight which is Congress’ long-established right and duty.”
In his statement, Himes did not mention the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller into allegations that Trump’s 2016 campaign cooperated with Russian intelligence on hacks of the Democratic National Committee email system and one other prominent Democrat.
In a report released last month, Mueller concluded that even though Trump benefited from the hacks and his campaign subordinates knew of Russia’s effort to furnish dirt on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, the evidence was insufficient to move forward on charges of conspiracy and coordination. Mueller also concluded that while he could not prosecute Trump on obstruction charges, neither could he exonerate him.
Himes framed his decision in terms of the responsibility of Congress as a separate branch of government, and its responsibility to look out for “the broader interests of the Republic.”
“I have, until now, been conflicted about those interests,” Himes said. ‘The politics of impeachment are messy and uncertain, and might, in the short run, serve the President’s narrow political interests.”
Even if the Democratic House impeaches Trump, Himes noted, the Republican Senate is not likely to go along and convict him in a constitutionally mandate trial for removal from office.
“Republicans cheer or justify or stand woefully silent in the face of behavior for which they would have impeached a Democratic president many times over,” Himes said. “Our best and most proven ideas cannot get even a hearing in the United States Senate. Unless we restore respect for the law, respect for truth and respect for common decency, we cannot hope to solve any of our other pressing problems.”The impeachment process in the House “will be a fair consideration of the facts that the American people must understand, with both sides fairly and openly represented,” Himes concluded.