Schakowsky, Casten join calls for impeachment
Leading House Democrat and freshman congressman say the time has come to hold Trump accountable
By Ted Cox
A leading U.S. House Democrat and a freshman congressman have joined the rising calls to open a formal impeachment inquiry into the actions of President Trump.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston released a video statement Wednesday and U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove followed with a formal statement Thursday both calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to open an impeachment probe.
Both came as something of a surprise. Schakowsky is a 20-year member of Congress who’s risen to a position of power in the U.S. House of Representatives and is considered a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has thus far resisted calls for impeachment. Casten unseated a Republican congressman last fall, and becomes one of the first newly elected Democrats in the House from the midterm elections to advocate an impeachment inquiry.
In the Illinois congressional delegation, they join Chicago U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley, Danny Davis, and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in calling for a formal impeachment inquiry, while their House colleague Bobby Rush has called outright for direct impeachment.
In a video posted on her Facebook page, Schakowsky praised the House’s Democratic leadership, but swiftly added that “instituting the impeachment inquiry will actually enable us to get more information, more documents, have the force of the constitution behind us to get even more evidence of the president deserving to be impeached.”
Calling it “a personal decision,” Schakowsky said, “I feel an obligation now to take my belief that Donald Trump has to be held accountable, that no one is above the law, to the next step.”
“I feel an obligation now to take my belief that Donald Trump has to be held accountable, that no one is above the law, to the next step.”
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (One Illinois/Ted Cox)
Casten echoed that he had overcome a natural reluctance to impeach the president to come to an inevitable conclusion. “I didn’t run for Congress to impeach the president — any president,” he said. “I ran to fight climate change, push for common-sense gun reform, uphold women’s right to choose, and strengthen our economy.
“But I also ran for office because I felt the people of my district deserved transparency from their elected representative,” he added, and from the government at large.
Schakowsky said she felt Trump had violated the constitution’s emoluments clause against personal enrichment from the moment he was sworn into office. Trump has rejected divorcing himself from his business interests while president, and continues to rent space in his properties in New York City, Florida, and Washington, D.C., to those seeking to influence him, to name just one area where he’s profiting from the presidency.
Yet both Schakowsky and Casten also rested their cases for impeachment firmly on the report delivered by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
“It’s been about money, and it’s been about the obstruction of justice,” Schakowsky said.
Calling the findings in the Mueller report “alarming,” Casten said it “raises serious questions about Russian interference in our elections and the integrity of the White House. Over two years into his presidency, we still do not know whether the president of the United States is beholden to foreign powers. This is a threat to our republic. And I struggle with the fact he may have instructed others to lie for him, tried to intimidate witnesses, and cover the truth from the American people.
“We must take this seriously,” he added. “We must put aside partisanship and focus on the common cause of our nation’s future. That’s what the people of this district deserve. We cannot allow this administration to continue to divide us — or to stand idly by letting foreign interests do so. What was true when our country was founded must still be true today. No one is above the rule of law.”
“I believe that the House of Representatives should begin an impeachment inquiry, officially, because President Trump certainly has committed all kinds of offenses that meet the standard of impeachment — high crimes and misdemeanors,” Schakowsky said. “Every day we see the president do things like saying, ‘Oh sure, I’ll take some information from a foreign government when it comes to an election, and no I’m not going to tell the FBI about that.’
“No, this is not legal,” she insisted. “It was made clear through the law enforcement in our country that that is against the law. And this flouting of the law, over and over and over again, doing things that benefit personally his family, his income, it’s got to come to an end.”
“That is why this inquiry is so important,” Casten said. “Mueller made clear that he could not take action against a sitting president … but he also made clear that the next step in the process could be for Congress to hold hearings and demand accountability from the president. I will not prejudge the outcome of any inquiry. As a scientist and a businessman, I believe we must follow the facts to make informed decisions; an inquiry affords that transparency, so long as we do not presume its outcome. I hope the worst of my concerns prove not to be true. But we must have the facts.
“I do not celebrate this moment,” he added, “but neither do I shirk from this responsibility; the truth must prevail.”