WASHINGTON — Don’t count U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester) among the House Democrats anxious to launch impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“I haven’t called for impeachment. It’s something I take very seriously,” the freshman lawmaker told the Michigan Advance in a brief interview Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) has led the charge for impeaching Trump. Now dozens of House Democrats and one Republican — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.) — support launching impeachment proceedings.
Stevens said on Wednesday that the House has a “major responsibility” to conduct “proper investigative oversight, which is certainly where the Mueller report leads us.”
But she isn’t ready to take the impeachment route.
“I am not calling for it. And I believe we need to go through a process and we need to take any measures of calling for impeachment incredibly seriously and not be shooting from the hip,” she said.
In a separate telephone interview Wednesday morning, Stevens told the Advance, “This is a dialogue with caucus leaders … and also how we’re continuing to get answers to the questions the [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller report raised. I know I have many. I’m very astonished by the unethical behavior that was made apparent in the Mueller report. Part of the work of this body is the checks and balances.”
After Mueller’s press conference last month, Stevens issued a statement that it “makes it more clear than ever that Congress has a responsibility to investigate the findings laid out in the Special Counsel’s report and make sure the American people have all the facts.”
Another Michigan freshman legislator remains similarly cautious.
U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) told the Advance last month she’s concerned that the House is losing focus on policy issues as oversight battles intensify.
“I think that we need to be judicious when it comes to an impeachment process, and I’m really worried that as we’re doing one half of our job of checks and balances on the administration, I don’t want to lose focus on the other half of our job, which is to legislate things that help people’s lives,” Slotkin said.
In a later interview at the Mackinac Policy Conference in May, the Advance asked Slotkin if Mueller’s press conference changed her opinion on what the process should be for an impeachment inquiry.
“I’m not sure it changed my views, but it highlighted what I think has been the sort of forgotten issue of the report, which is fully half of it is about the information warfare that Russia used on our political process,” she said. “And separate from the president’s role and what he and his administration did or did not do, nothing has been done to close the holes in our political process that allowed the Russians to target us, particularly Michigan.”
Slotkin noted her bipartisan legislation that would bar foreign nationals from buying political ads on Facebook.
“There’s a whole series of things that in normal times would have been passed years ago, because I don’t think it’s a partisan issue when it comes to getting foreign influence out of our political process in our elections,” she said.
The Advance asked Slotkin if this has become a partisan issue and if Republicans and Trump are uninterested in preventing interference because they see a political benefit.
“I think that it’s been completely politicized. Yes,” Slotkin said. “But if you ask anyone in my district, ‘Do you think foreigners should be able to buy ads, create fake protests, sick a bunch of bots on us to amplify divisive, hateful messages?’ The answer, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, in my experience, has always been, ‘No, no way.’
“But in Washington, it’s become a political issue and therefore we’re still exposed. We were exposed in 2018 and now we’re exposed again in 2020.”
Slotkin is a former acting assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs and CIA analyst who did three tours in Iraq as a militia expert.
“This is a very typical information warfare campaign that we’ve seen the Russians implement in places like Eastern Europe,” she said. “I watched it when I was at the Pentagon and at the CIA. And to know that they implemented an aggressive similar strategy here is so disturbing to me as a national security professional and as a citizen.”
Advance reporter Nick Manes contributed to this story.