Congressman on Trump's Ukraine call: 'Of course it's an impeachable offense'


Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) said Trump's actions with Ukraine are enough to oust him from office.

Rep. Jim Himes went on CNN Monday morning to call out Donald Trump's call with Ukraine, saying Trump's actions rise to the level of impeachable offenses.

"Extorting a foreign leader for the purposes of getting that leader to do your political work, to try to find dirt on your opponent is extortion," Himes said. "It is using the assets of the United States of America and the public trust for your own corrupt, if you will, end."

In answering the question about the severity of Trump's misconduct, Himes added, "of course it's an impeachable offense."

The discussion centers on Trump's phone calls with newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump is believed to have solicited help to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running for president. Soliciting assistance from foreign nationals during an election is illegal.

The episode became public after the Trump administration refused to give Congress a complaint from an intelligence community whistleblower who alerted the inspector general about Trump's actions.

"The administration is, as we speak, violating the law in terms of [not] producing the whistleblower report," Himes said. "As you know, the law has no ambiguity in it. It says the inspector general or the DNI [Director of National Intelligence] 'shall' convey to Congress whistleblower reports. Now the president is offering to send some version of the transcript. This is starting to sound a little Nixonian. We don't need some version of the transcript. We need to see the whistleblower report."

Himes, a moderate Democrat and former chair of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, sits on the Intelligence Committee, which by law should have access to the whistleblower complaint, but the complaint if being blocked from Congress by the White House.

Calls for Trump's impeachment has grown steadily since special counsel Robert Mueller's report was released, which showed Trump obstructed justice several times. More than half the Democratic caucus, and one independent member of Congress, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, support opening an impeachment inquiry. No Republicans support the effort.

Several Democrats have ramped up the intensity of their calls for impeachment following the whistleblower complaint and Trump's own admission about the content of his call with Zelensky.

"We have said the president must be held accountable, and 'no one is above the law,' including the president of the United States," Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI) told the Washington Post.

"I first called for impeachment back in June," Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) wrote on Twitter. "These latest revelations re: POTUS and Ukraine are absolutely outrageous — they take impeachable offenses to a whole new level, and emphasize the urgency for IMMEDIATE action."

"There are lines being crossed right now that I fear will be erased if the House does not take strong action to assert them, to defend them," Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) told the New York Times.

According to the Times, several freshmen lawmakers who have not publicly supported impeachment are waiting on a Thursday congressional hearing with the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to see if the Trump administration will continue to break the law by not handing over the whistleblower complaint.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told the Times she is prepared to vote for impeachment.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.