Levin calls for impeachment inquiry at town hall

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin | Ken Coleman
Updated 1:25 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) called for an impeachment inquiry for President Donald Trump on Saturday, becoming the fifth member of Michigan’s congressional Democrats to do so.

At a town hall at Berkley High School in Levin’s 9th District, the freshman representative described his rationale for supporting an inquiry in the U.S. House, including both the president’s failure to divest himself from his businesses and his actions as described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference — which Levin said amount to obstruction of justice.

Robert Mueller in 2013 in Washington, DC. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“Volume I [of the Mueller Report] is horrifying enough,” Levin said. “But really, it’s Volume II, which was about obstruction of justice, and then he showed that on 10 or 11, depending on how you count the occasions, the president did, or tried to obstruct justice… in super obvious ways, like firing the Attorney General, or trying to fire the Special Counsel.”

A poll from the Chicago-based Glengariff Group in early June showed that a majority of Michiganders oppose impeachment, which Levin readily acknowledged.

“The American people aren’t very fully behind this,” Levin said. “I think they’re not behind it because the public doesn’t read a 448-page report that’s boring and complicated and technical. … I’m calling for an impeachment inquiry. One centralized, powerful, expeditious effort to get to the truth, and to get that story out to the American people.”

Levin’s announcement Saturday means that a majority of Michigan’s congressional Democrats now support at least beginning the impeachment process, as well as one Republican in the “brave, quixotic, and unusual” — in Levin’s words — U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Twp.).

Michigan has 14 representatives in the U.S. House, split evenly between seven Democrats and seven Republicans.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) has led the impeachment charge since she was sworn into office in January. U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) now support impeachment hearings.

U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), and Haley Stevens (D-Rochester) have publicly expressed reservations about impeachment.

Rep. Haley Stevens
U.S.. Rep. Haley Stevens | Andrew Roth

Stevens told the Advance Wednesday that “I haven’t called for impeachment. It’s something I take very seriously. … 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.”

Levin said that despite the complicated political dynamic around impeachment, his fellow members of Congress who have read the report are united in their concern about the president’s behavior.

“I don’t think I’ve talked to almost anyone who thinks, ‘Oh, well, that’s not really very problematic,’ or that it doesn’t really rise to the level of something we should be concerned about,” Levin told the Advance. “Impeachment is a political matter where if it’s not bipartisan, it’s very hard to see it having its intended effect. … I think people fall all over the map, and it’s not because they’re trying to be [politically] expedient, it’s a matter of strategy — what’s effective?“*

The representative said he views the impeachment inquiry process as a key tool that can be used to get the facts described in the Mueller Report out to the public.

“When we have the power of the impeachment tool to compel people to testify and to get help with the production of documents, it can be on television, and then some people get their news from TV, and some people get it from social media. … I’m hopeful that will break through,” Levin said.*

The announcement comes just two days after Kildee announced his support for an inquiry during an MSNBC appearance.

Kildee’s rationale was similar to Levin’s, saying, “It’s about protecting the rule of law, it’s about protecting the Constitution from [Trump’s] pattern of behavior.”

Out of the three Upper Midwestern states that voted for former President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election and Trump in 2016 — all but delivering him the presidency — two now have a majority of House Democrats supporting impeachment.

In Wisconsin, two out of the state’s three Democratic members of Congress have announced their support. In Pennsylvania, four out of nine have followed suit. Levin is the 65th member of Congress to come out in favor of beginning the process, out of 218 needed to formally impeach the president.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

In a statement issued by Levin, he said that he “will work to build a consensus in the House Democratic Caucus to begin this process, and I will reach across the aisle to engage Republican colleagues about the urgent need to protect our democracy.”

At the town hall, Levin also touted his recent amendment to fund the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, saying it “would take $4 million from the office in the Labor Department that the Trump administration is using to harass unions and appropriate it… so that we can hold [U.S. Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos accountable.”

This story was updated with further comment from U.S. Rep. Andy Levin.

Derek Robertson
Derek Robertson covers local government, education, health care and the social safety net, and LGBTQ issues. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington, and before that covered local politics in Chicago. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He enjoys film, the Detroit Pistons and his cat. He once competed in the National Spelling Bee, but was eliminated before any potential ESPN appearances.

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