Updated headline at 9:22 a.m.
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) came out in support of President Donald Trump’s impeachment Thursday, joining a growing chorus of House Democrats.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” Kildee reacted to Trump’s assertion this week that he wouldn’t reject further intelligence from a foreign power on one of his political opponents.
“What the president said was absolutely chilling,” Kildee said. “I’ve come a long way just in the last month on this subject. … I think we now have to have an impeachment inquiry.”
Kildee is the Democrats’ chief deputy whip in the House, making him the most senior U.S. House Democrat to support impeachment after Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) walked back his earlier, supportive comments.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has opposed impeachment, even amid growing support within the majority caucus.
According to a tracker from Axios, Kildee is the 64th member of the House to support impeachment, and the fourth from Michigan after U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) and Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.).
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a 2020 presidential candidate, came out in favor of impeachment, bringing the number of pro-impeachment Democrats on the key House Judiciary Committee to a majority.
Michigan’s congressional Democrats have been split on the impeachment issue to date, with freshmen U.S. Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester) and Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) talking to the Advance about their reservations regarding the process. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) recently said an overly partisan impeachment process could “play into Russia’s hands.”
Explaining his rationale, Kildee said “the impeachment process is not about punishing a president for his misdeeds… it’s about protecting the rule of law, it’s about protecting the Constitution from this pattern of behavior.”
“I don’t think there’s any way to erase the fact that what the President has done is that he’s signaled that he’s not only willing to, but pursuing foreign interference in this election. … The notion of impeachment, or some effort to reign this president in with whatever tools we might have, is in order to protect the Constitution.”