Foster joins calls for impeachment probe

Naperville congressman says constituents are concerned Trump is out to ‘enrich himself’

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster has joined calls for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster has joined calls for a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster joined calls for a formal congressional impeachment inquiry Wednesday, making 11 of 13 Illinois Democrats in the House on the record in favor of probing President Trump.

“I take no pleasure in announcing my support for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry into the president of the United States,” Foster said in a statement in a news release put out Wednesday. “I have wrestled with this decision over the past several months as I’ve listened to my constituents and reviewed the evidence presented by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, including his direct testimony to Congress.”

Foster told Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet in a story printed Wednesday that he made the decision after “I spent a lot of time listening to my constituents on this.” He cited Trump’s attempt to lure the next G-7 economic summit meeting to his own Trump National Doral Miami hotel complex as the latest example of the president trying to “enrich himself, and that, I found, is a very significant factor with a surprising number of my constituents.”

He added: “To my mind, (that) looks to to be a clear violation of the emoluments clause” against government officials seeking personal gain from office.

In his formal statement, Foster said that, as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, “I have seen President Trump attempt to block legitimate congressional investigations into the role of foreign money in transactions by the Trump Organization, Deutsche Bank, and others.”

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell charged Tuesday night that Trump had taken out loans through Deutsche Bank before becoming president, “and that the co-signers are Russian oligarchs,” although O’Donnell backtracked on that Wednesday.

Foster also said Trump had “perpetrated an assault on American values,” adding, “In word and deed, President Trump has demonstrated an utter disregard for the rule of law and the fundamental principles that make up the foundation of our democracy.”

The Naperville congressman said he accepted the charges of obstruction of justice included in Mueller’s report on his investigation.

“The Mueller report details several occasions — at least 10 — where President Trump took actions to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 elections,” Foster said.

“Our Constitution vests Congress with the unique obligation to perform oversight of the federal government, including of the president and his administration,” he added. “Under our system of checks and balances, no person — not even the president — should be above the law or immune from facing the consequences of their actions.”

Foster’s declaration left U.S. Reps. Cheri Bustos of Moline and Dan Lipinski of Western Springs as the only ones among the 13 Illinois House Democrats not to endorse a formal impeachment inquiry if not outright impeachment, and they were hardly standing in the way of a Trump probe, instead choosing to back House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her position not to push for impeachment.

“I have been and continue to be in support of the investigative work that is being done in the House committees,” Lipinski told Sweet, adding, “Right now, I think the best way to remove President Trump from office is voting him out in the 2020 election.”