Raja warns of rapid Trump impeachment
Congress may have to halt ‘an ongoing scheme which involves compromising our national security’
By Ted Cox
CHICAGO — An Illinois congressman on a key impeachment committee warned Monday that the process to remove President Trump from office may have to move quickly to halt “an ongoing scheme which involves our national security.”
In an appearance at the City Club of Chicago, U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg called for a “thorough” but “expeditious” impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions.
“The news is breaking so fast,” Krishnamoorthi said. But he added that evidence of “nefarious” Trump interactions with Ukraine — including the White House’s own edited transcript of a phone call between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart on July 25 — suggests a “scheme … to aid in the president’s 2020 reelection efforts.”
Krishnamoorthi declined to set a timetable, but said events may move swiftly “because there may be an ongoing scheme which involves compromising our national security that we have to stop in its tracks right now.”
Krishnamoorthi sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which is spearheading the impeachment probe. The congressional panel heard testimony behind closed doors on Friday from Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community, who forwarded the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when Trump’s own intelligence chief would not.
Krishnamoorthi called Atkinson a “courageous, professional,” and “patriotic” public servant “who happens to be a Republican-appointed inspector general presenting a complaint about his own boss,” adding, “He came forward and told the truth at the risk of his career.
“He’s careful, he’s consistent, he’s credible, and his motives are unimpeachable,” Krishnamoorthi added.
The congressman said the phone call, which saw Trump asking for a “favor” to investigate Joe Biden and his son, while withholding U.S. aid from Ukraine, suggested the president is “compromising our national security in favor of purely political gain.” He pointedly added, “That is wrong.”
Krishnamoorthi called Ukraine “a very vulnerable country. They’re under attack by the Russians now.” But he said the risk to the integrity of next year’s presidential election was equally urgent.
World events were complicated earlier Monday when Trump announced he was withdrawing U.S. troops and other forms of support for forces in Syria, including Kurdish fighters who’ve been combating the Islamic State, but who are also at odds with Turkey. Krishnamoorthi said Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. support would “basically pull the rug out from under our allies.” He added, “For the president to say, ‘Thank you, see you later,’ and leave them to the devices of the Turkish military, it doesn’t feel American.”
“The Syrian Kurds have fought shoulder to shoulder with our troops to defeat ISIS, and with one tweet Donald Trump has abandoned them.”
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (One Illinois/Ted Cox)
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth chimed in, issuing a statement saying: “The Syrian Kurds have fought shoulder to shoulder with our troops to defeat ISIS, and with one tweet Donald Trump has abandoned them. Once again, he’s operating as a one-man show, making huge policy changes on a whim and ignoring the advice of national-security experts. This reckless, short-sighted move could embolden ISIS to begin rebuilding and begs the question: who else in the region will Donald Trump betray as he shifts with the political winds?”
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Channahon was even more forthright in opposing Trump’s shifts in Syria. Citing his role as founder and co-chair of the Friends of a Free, Stable, and Democratic Syria Caucus in the House, the Republican issued a statement saying that “withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria as Turkey moves forward with their offensive in the northern region is wrong, dangerous, and it means we are abandoning our friends in the region. This is a shortsighted decision with very real and long-lasting implications.
“We’re sending a terrible message to our allies around the world and putting our national security at risk,” he added. “Furthermore, it’s giving Russia and Iran exactly what they want while emboldening Turkey to take out the Kurds, who have worked alongside our troops to combat terrorism. Without question, a strong U.S. presence in the region is critical to thwarting a resurgence of ISIS. This War on Terror is far from over, it will undoubtedly be a generational fight, and the decision to abandon our allies in Syria is wrong and misguided.”
Krishnamoorthi charged that it reflected a “disturbing pattern in which we push our allies away and cozy up to our adversaries.”
The congressman urged the Trump administration to comply with congressional subpoenas to speed the inquiry. He said stonewalling or any other attempts to delay the probe would be “evidence of potential obstruction” of justice. “It would be an admission of wrongdoing,” he added.
Krishnamoorthi said the Trump administration has sometimes given in as “public pressure mounts,” and he urged voters to stay involved and read up on the phone call, the whistleblower’s complaint, and recent text messages between U.S. diplomats on Trump’s attempts to compel the Ukrainians to probe Biden.
“This is the most weighty matter we as a country could possibly be involved with,” he said.