Only 122 days on the job and critics of President Donald Trump are already using the word “impeachment.” Democrat Pramila Jayapal hasn’t been saying it — just yet.
“Let me just run through last week — Monday we hear that the president has shared classified information with the Russians that could compromise our alliances … Tuesday, we find out the president has fired Director Comey; Wednesday we find out that the president asked for loyalty from Director Comey; Wednesday we (also) find out the president asked Mr. Comey to drop the investigation against Michael Flynn,” Jayapal told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns Show. “It is constant, every single day. I do think that is a problem for our democracy.”
Jayapal, representing Washington’s 7th Congressional District, understands that a crash-and-burn Republican president is strategically beneficial for Democrats. But she argues that there are more important things at stake. That became clear on a recent bipartisan delegation trip overseas when she heard what other governments are saying about the United States.
“The issue is not about politics, it’s about what’s right for our country and sometimes we do have to put country above party,” Jayapal said. “And so maybe it would be better for Democrats to not impeach the president, and continue to have the president make blunder after blunder because that would be good for our elections.”
“But there is something more serious going on here, which is the integrity of our election, the integrity of our president, our reputation globally and the damage being done to people looking at this saying ‘How did America end up in this position?’” Jayapal said. “This is the question many people are asking, ‘What is the standing of the United States today? How can we trust anything that comes from the Office of the President?'”
Jayapal and the Russian connection
Jayapal says that an independent commission should be established to investigate Trump, as well as a special prosecutor. She is pleased that former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel. Mueller will oversee the FBI’s investigation into potential meddling by the Russians in American democracy. These are the steps Jayapal seeks before people start considering impeachment. One way or another, the facts and the truth need to be determined.
But as Trump’s presidency progresses, the need for truth grows, Jayapal notes. That includes uncovering the extent of Russian interference in the US election, deciding whether there is any evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump administration, and if the president harmed American interests by what he has told foreign governments.
“It’s of utmost importance that we understand exactly what classified information that the president did or didn’t share and how he might be hurting some of our national security efforts,” Jayapal said. “Sharing classified information with the Russians is something he is allowed to do, but strategically, to provide information that was so classified it wasn’t even accessible to many people at high levels of intelligence was troubling.”
“If it is true that the president asked James Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, and if it is true that there was an intent to stop that investigation that would constitute an obstruction of justice and that would be an impeachable offense,” she said. “… I feel like sometimes I’m getting whiplash from one scandal to another scandal coming out of the White House. It’s not appropriate for the president to be doing the things he’s doing. I think it undermines the office of the presidency and I think it undermines our ability to get to the facts.”