Citing sentiment from constituents and a belief that Congress is being “stymied” by the administration, U.S. Rep. James Langevin on Wednesday announced his support for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
“The American people deserve the truth, they deserve the facts. And above all, they deserve a president who respects the rule of law,” Langevin said during a press conference at his Warwick offices.
He later added: “This right now, an impeachment inquiry, is about accountability. It’s about the rule of law.”
The announcement represents a significant shift for Langevin, who in July voted against a resolution seeking Trump’s impeachment.
Roughly 130 of the 235 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have now voiced their support for the start of an inquiry, including Langevin’s Ocean State colleague, Rep. David Cicilline, and Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.
The inquiry – which would be conducted by the Judiciary Committee – would be the first step in a process that could potentially result in Trump’s removal from office. At the conclusion of the inquiry, the committee would decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment to the full House. The House would then decide whether to impeach the president and refer the matter to the Senate for a trial.
Langevin has been home in Rhode Island during a congressional recess this month, and he said the majority of constituents with whom he has spoken have voiced support for an impeachment inquiry.
“Many have come to me with their concerns about the president’s conduct and whether he has committed impeachable offenses,” he said. “The vast majority of feedback that I have received from my constituents has been in support of an impeachment inquiry.”
The congressman said his reading of the report compiled by Robert Mueller – who was appointed as a special counsel to investigate Russia’s actions related to the 2016 election – was also a major factor in his decision to support the inquiry.
The report, Langevin said, “outlines how the Trump campaign welcomed the assistance of the Russia government or operatives during the campaign, and how President Trump took steps to undermine the subsequent investigation.”
He accused Trump of “reckless actions” and “ignoring the rule of law,” and specifically cited an episode described in the Mueller Report in which the president is said to have ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller.
“Clearly, there was an intent there to obstruct justice … On it’s face, that what it appears to be,” the congressman said.
Langevin also accused the president and his administration of having “stymied” investigative efforts. The launch of a formal inquiry process, he said, will allow Congress to “demand the facts, the evidence, and to compel testimony.”
“The issue of impeachment should never be used for political reasons,” he said. “It should only be used in extraordinary circumstances. None of us take that responsibility lightly … We’ve hit a point where we need to take this up a notch and support the inquiry.”