Rep. Pramila Jayapal. Photo by Alex Garland

Seattle Congressional Reps Keep Powder Dry On Trump Impeachment

Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith are taking a wait-and-investigate-and-see approach toward the President.

The idea that Congress might impeach President Donald Trump seems to get more plausible with every passing day. Politico reports that some Congressional Republicans have started talking off-record about impeachment, and that the Department of Justice plans to appoint a former FBI director as a special, independent prosecutor to oversee the Russia investigation. The revelation that Trump leaned on FBI director James Comey to stymie the Bureau’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia (and then fired Comey), in particular, may offer a specific crime on which to focus calls for impeachment.

But don’t expect Seattle’s congressional representatives to support Trump’s impeachment in the immediate future. For the time being, their goal is to ensure independent investigation into the Russia allegations.

“If true, Donald Trump’s attempt to influence and intimidate the FBI Director James Comey to block an investigation is a textbook definition of obstruction of justice and it would be an impeachable offense,” said Representatives Pramila Jayapal in a press release yesterday. Omer Farooque, a spokesperson for Jayapal, emphasizes the “if” at the beginning of that sentence, and says Jayapal wants more information before committing for or against impeachment proceedings. “She believes we need a thorough investigation…to get all the informaton,” he says. “She wants Republicans to also see that an investigation is becoming more and more. She’s been saying for months that we need an independent investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia.

“Once we have that information, you make a determination based on the severity of it.”

According to a spokesperson in his office, Rep. Adam Smith agrees. He believes that “calling for impeachment before we have a special prosecutor is premature. Allegations that have been made about the President’s actions certainly give rise to the possibility of impeachable offenses, but [Smith] feels this needs to be fully investigated.”

As The New York Times reported today, one of the disincentives for Republicans who might otherwise jump to impeach Trump is Democrats’ enthusiasm for the same. On the other hand, Trump is unprecedentedly unpopular for a new president, and replacing him with the comparatively conventional Mike Pence would only help Republicans’ ability to pass legislation.

There is presumably a tipping point at which congressional Republicans’ propensity to avoid blowback among general voters will outweigh their allegience to party and power (and their fear of blowback from hardcore Trump voters). None stepped forward to defend Trump after news broke on Tuesday that he leaned on Comey. As The New Yorker’s John Cassidy wrote today, “Republicans on Capitol Hill, although they have demonstrated a remarkable willingness to overlook Trump’s misdeeds and falsehoods, are ultimately concerned with their own political futures. For any of them to have come out and backed Trump’s credibility against Comey’s credibility would have taken an act of masochism, or sheer foolishness.

“Does this mean that they are ready to impeach Trump? Of course not.” Neither are Democrats. Both sides are being careful not to appear to be jumping to conclusions—what if more evidence surfaces next week that again transforms the landscape?

Like everyone else, stay tuned.

cjaywork@seattleweekly.com 

More in News & Comment

Hidden River Farms is 100 acres of farmland in Grays Harbor County. Photo by Lucia Wyss
Sowing the Seeds of Mental Health

Suicide is an epidemic amongst agricultural workers, but young farmers and state legislators are working to find solutions.

Seattle and King County Officials Want a Safe Injection Van

The mobile project—an alternative to permanent sites—still doesn’t have a defined timeline.

Western Washington Could See More Wildfires This Year

Lots of grass and warmer weather could make for worsening fire seasons.

An autopsy found that Tommy Le was shot twice in the back during an fatal encounter with a King County sheriff’s deputy. Photo courtesy Career Link
New Report Calls for Increased Transparency From King County Sheriff’s Office

The fatal shooting of Tommy Le served as a case study for researchers.

Charles Pillon sits inside one of the several buses on Iron Mountain. Photo by Caean Couto
The Last Days of Iron Mountain?

After battling King County government for decades, Charles Pillon may have finally lost the fight over his illegal 10-acre junkyard.

The public files into the City Council Chambers to voice their opinions prior to the vote to repeal the head tax. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Head Tax Repealed By Seattle City Council

After pressure from big businesses, city leaders cave on their plan to fund homeless services.

A scene from the 2017 Women’s March Seattle. Photo by Richard Ha/Flickr
County Sexual Harassment Policies Could Be Overhauled

One King County councilmember says male-dominated departments have “workplace culture issues.”

The Firs Homeowners Association celebrate outside of the Maleng Regional Justice Center after a ruling that buys them more time in their homes on June 7, 2018. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
SeaTac Mobile Home Owners Granted Stay From Eviction

The ruling allows about 200 residents more time in their homes, as they attempt to acquire the property.

Most Read