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Changing Position On Impeachment


Speaker Pelosi may still be cool to the idea, but a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives now publicly support an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Congressman Judy Chu of California is one of the latest Democrats to come out in support of that proposition. She joins us now from Monterey Park, Calif. Thanks so much for being with us, Representative.

JUDY CHU: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: What changed your thinking?

CHU: I had always thought that President Trump had obstructed justice and that he was already having many grounds for impeachment. But Mueller's testimony was the most public call to action that I saw to protect our democracy. He was able to show the American public that Trump wasn't exonerated, that there were at least 10 instances of Trump obstructing justice, that Trump asked others to lie and created false documents, even tampering with witnesses to cover up the truth. But what made me do this even more was the fact that the Senate Intelligence Committee came out with a report the day after, saying that the Russian government had hacked into all 50 states in the election and, with Mueller's testimony, that they were still doing it as we sat there. Well, I said I had to speak out and support impeachment.

SIMON: So it wasn't the Mueller report alone, which, of course, was available a month before he ever testified. But...

CHU: Yes.

SIMON: ...The Senate Intelligence Committee finding at the same time.

CHU: Exactly. And the fact that Mitch McConnell still will not hear our bill, which actually protects our democracy.

SIMON: Have you - if an impeachment inquiry ever comes about - and, you know, you would be in a better position, obviously, to count noses than we certainly would at this particular point - have you prejudged the guilt of the president? Are you willing to hear testimony and say, all right, well, maybe it doesn't rise to that level?

CHU: Well, the testimony would probably be pretty overwhelming, and we've already heard the main evidence that would be presented. So I do think that many of us have heard enough. We've heard enough, and that's why this call for impeachment continues to grow.

SIMON: What about the political implications of an impeachment inquiry? I don't have to tell you what the polls say, and I know it's principle to say, well, sometimes, politicians have to disregard the polls. But politicians who disregard the polls often don't stay more than a term or two. And there's a presidential election coming up next year.

CHU: Well, I do want to say that even though we have so many Congress members that are coming out for impeachment - that we have a de facto investigation going on now. It's de facto impeachment because there are so many of our committees that are doing investigations and actually winning in court, in seeking the information that we need. For instance, in Oversight and Government Reform, we won in the Mazars case seeking the president's financial statements. And we also won in the Financial Services Committee on the Deutsche Bank case. So, very soon, we are going to see some pretty damning evidence on what the president has been doing in office.

SIMON: In the half-minute we have left, can Democrats go into the 2020 presidential election and accuse President Trump of misconduct in office in some of the areas that you have just outlined for us if they're not willing to follow that up with an impeachment inquiry? Does that just give him the means to say, well, but you guys didn't do anything about it?

CHU: Well, we will have so much evidence through our different committees. We will I believe eventually have Trump's tax returns. We will have information with regard to the underlying information on Mueller's report. I do think that that information is the most important thing for the American public for them to make a decision on the 2020 election.

SIMON: OK. Representative...

CHU: And our goals...

SIMON: I'm afraid we've got to go.

CHU: OK. Thank you...

SIMON: Representative Judy Chu of California, thanks so much.

CHU: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.