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Illinois Rep. Krishnamoorthi On Mueller And Impeachment


Was Robert Mueller saying, Congress, your move? The special counsel announced his resignation this week and said if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so and added, the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. We turn now to Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois who's on both the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and Intelligence Committees. Congressman, thanks so much for being back with us.

RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, Scott. Glad to be back.

SIMON: Did what Mr. Mueller say this week move you any closer to calling for an impeachment investigation?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, thank you for the question. I think that I'm probably where my constituents are right now, which is, on the one hand, they they feel that the president's conduct is deeply disturbing and indeed you could say impeachable. But on the other hand, it's not convictable in the sense that they feel that if it were to proceed right now, the Senate would clear him, and he could really claim total exoneration. And so what that leaves us to do is our homework right now. They want us to do our homework. They want us to continue the investigations and press to assemble the evidence to potentially move toward a consensus on what to do with him right now.

SIMON: Look; can Democrats accuse Republicans of refusing to live up to their oversight responsibilities because they don't want to antagonize what they take to be their political base if Democrats don't bring up impeachment because the poll numbers are discouraging or because they think they'd lose the vote in the Senate? Isn't there a constitutional responsibility, too?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think there's absolutely constitutional responsibility right now to break through obstructionism put up by the president to continue the investigations that we're pursuing right now. Just as an example, you know, within the Intelligence Committee and the Oversight Committee, we're pressing for the financial records of the president through Deutsche Bank and his accounting firm to figure out, you know, what are his ties to the Russians? This is material that I don't think that the Mueller team necessarily pursued because the president had put a red line around it. And I think the Mueller team, based on what we can tell, decided not to cross that red line.

So this is potentially new material that hopefully would move some independent-minded folks on the other side depending on what the results are. But at the end of the day, this can't be about party. It has to be about our country and what's best for our country. I do believe the president has done some very bad things, and now we have to hold him accountable.

SIMON: How? I mean, isn't - doesn't the Constitution provide the instrument for holding him accountable right in front of you?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Absolutely. But on the other hand, you know, basically going toward an impeachment process without making sure that we have done our homework and have the case to win the approval of the American people and to get a conviction in the Senate may not be the best course. So right now...

SIMON: But forgive - we just have half a minute left. Forgive - you and I always use baseball analogies. Are you essentially saying we're not going to begin the game until we know we can win it?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I think what I'm saying is we have to make sure that we go down the path where we can actually achieve the intended result. And right now, going into the impeachment process without having done all our homework is not what my constituents want. And I think that it's not necessarily the best course.

SIMON: Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, thanks so much for being back with us.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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