Raja joins Underwood, Schneider on impeachment

Schneider cites ‘relentless stonewalling by the Trump administration’

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (right) came out in support of a formal congressional impeachment inquiry into President Trump this week, backing a move already taken by U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (left). (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (right) came out in support of a formal congressional impeachment inquiry into President Trump this week, backing a move already taken by U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (left). (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Two suburban Democrats in Congress joined calls for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump last week and were joined Monday by another.

U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville said she supports a probe already underway in the House of Representatives that is “essentially an impeachment inquiry.” U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield added in a statement Thursday that he was backing an impeachment probe as a last resort in the face of “relentless stonewalling by the Trump administration.”

They were joined Monday by U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg.

Underwood joined U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove as congressional freshmen supporting an investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russians attempting to influence the 2016 election and the president’s attempts to obstruct justice cited in the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

“No person in America is above the law, including the president of the United States,” Underwood tweeted Monday. She added that the report “lays out substantial evidence that the president’s campaign worked with a foreign adversary to influence an election,” and that “the president has stated he would welcome foreign help to win the 2020 election.

“I find this extremely concerning,” she added. “The Mueller report gave us a lot of information, but it left open a lot of key questions that House committees are investigating.”

Underwood cited how U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had already declared his probe to be an investigation into “whether to recommend articles of impeachment,” and she added, “I support this investigation.”

Krishnamoorthi echoed that Monday, saying, “I fully support Chairman Nadler’s investigation.

“Where this investigation leads, we cannot know at this time,” he added. “Regardless of the outcome, I support Chairman Nadler’s impeachment investigation conducted in accordance with the Constitution.”

None of the members of Congress made the decision on impulse. “Let me be clear,” Underwood said. “No one wins when Congress is compelled to investigate impeachment or bring about articles of impeachment. This is a tragedy for our country.”

Stating, “I come to this conclusion with a heavy heart,” Krishnamoorthi added, “I greatly respect the electoral process and the office of the president.  I was raised to respect each occupant of that office, regardless of party, and I feel strongly that no president should be impeached unless clear, substantial evidence of illegal behavior exists to sustain a conviction in the Senate.

“That said, we have now come to a point where we must engage in an investigation to not only expose wrongdoing and prevent it from happening again, but also to determine whether the current president engaged in behavior meriting the beginning of impeachment proceedings.”

“I do not make this decision lightly,” Schneider said in a statement released Thursday. “It is guided by the oath I took to the constitution and transcends politics.”

Schneider said, “After months of relentless stonewalling by the Trump administration, I believe it is necessary to elevate the various congressional investigations of the president to a formal impeachment inquiry.” He called it “the only way to ensure the American people (can) have a comprehensive understanding of the facts uncovered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and hold the president accountable for his actions.

“Since the start of the Mueller investigation, I have been committed to following the facts wherever they lead,” he added. “In his report, the special counsel made clear that then-candidate Trump, and the Trump campaign, eagerly welcomed foreign interference in our election. The special counsel also lays out that President Trump subsequently acted on numerous occasions to block and obstruct the investigation into what occurred. 

“These are serious charges that demand further investigation,” Schneider decided. He said the president and his administration had worked to derail congressional hearings and ignore subpoenas without the force of a formal impeachment inquiry to back them up. “Regrettably, it is clear that the administration has little regard for the Constitution, is unwilling to provide any information to Congress, and is seeking to play out the clock,” he added.

That left no recourse but to open a formal impeachment inquiry. “The president has disregarded our Constitution by welcoming foreign interference in our election and attempting to block investigations and legitimate congressional oversight into what occurred,” Schneider charged. “The American people deserve to know the truth about what happened, and those who are responsible must be held accountable. An impeachment inquiry is the only way to do so, and I support opening one immediately.”

Now 10 of the 13 Illinois Democrats in the U.S. House have come out in favor of an impeachment probe, including U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago, who’s called for immediate impeachment. No Illinois Republican congressman has backed impeachment or a formal inquiry. A majority of Democrats in the U.S. House have come out in favor of an impeachment probe, joined only by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan on the Republican side.