Rep. Garcia calls Trump 'rather treasonous'

Congressman re-endorses impeachment probe as Trump invites more foreign meddling in 2020

Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia isn’t backing down from his call for an impeachment probe, labeling the conduct of President Trump “rather treasonous.” (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia isn’t backing down from his call for an impeachment probe, labeling the conduct of President Trump “rather treasonous.” (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

A freshman Illinois congressman called Donald Trump “rather treasonous” as the president undercut 2020 election security this week by insisting he’d again accept help from a foreign power.

In an interview with Politico’s Illinois Playbook, Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago stood by his previous call for a congressional impeachment probe, saying, “I made my decision after getting a chance to read some of the parts of the Mueller report that clearly show obstruction, and obviously it was clear to me that the Trump campaign knew that it was benefiting from the Russian activities and interference in the election.”

With Politico Illinois noting that the congressman is “known for his measured approach to decision-making,” Garcia added, “That kind of conduct is rather treasonous.”

Although the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation have proved controversial, with the president and U.S. Attorney General William Barr suggesting it shows “no collusion” and “no obstruction,” many members of Congress — including U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican — have said it clearly describes a dozen incidents where Trump appeared to obstruct justice in the probe, and that it lays out a “roadmap for impeachment.”

There is no denying, however, that Mueller found that “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” as stated in his report, with the clear intent to tip the election to Trump. It’s also clear that the Trump campaign knew about it and endorsed it, with Donald Trump Jr. writing, “I love it,” in response to an email offering Russian documents that would “incriminate Hillary” Clinton, and with Trump himself publicly calling on Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, which it did.

There is no crime of “collusion,” but federal election law forbids a campaign accepting any “thing of value” from a foreign power, and those hacked emails — publicized in part through Wikileaks — definitely provided value to Trump’s victorious campaign in the weeks before the 2016 election.

This week, the president doubled down on that in an interview with ABC-TV news anchor George Stephanopoulos, who asked if he would again accept politically compromising interference from a foreign power in his 2020 re-election. “It’s not an interference,” Trump said. “They have information, I think I’d take it.”

Trump described such information as “opposition research,” adding he’d inform the FBI only “if I thought there was something wrong.”

FBI Director Chris Wray has been working to secure the 2020 election from foreign interference, and told Congress at a hearing last month: “My view is that if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation state about influencing or interfering with our election, then that’s something that the FBI would want to know about.”

Trump told Stephanopoulos that Wray was “wrong” in that opinion in remarks that Politico reported “have undone months of work, essentially inviting foreign spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns and demoralizing the agents trying to stop them.”

Garcia responded with a statement saying: “For once, President Trump is telling the truth. Last night, he said loudly and clearly that he would consider accepting information on his political opponents from a foreign government. He just invited the Russians to interfere in our elections (again!). As I’ve said before, it’s time to begin an impeachment inquiry!”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thus far resisted calls to open a formal impeachment investigation, suggesting there’s no way Senate Republicans would vote to remove the president, and that an impeachment defeat could give him momentum in the 2020 campaign. Garcia, however, countered that argument.

“There’s a danger that that plays into his core base, but I don’t think his core base is enough to re-elect him,” Garcia told Politico’s Illinois Playbook. According to Garcia, a congressional probe could “help energize young people and those who stood away from the election in 2016. So I hope hope and confidence outweighs the fear.

“The right outcome will result from it,” he added, “whether it’s an actual impeachment or an exposure of what’s transpired over the past two and a half years. I feel confident about that.”