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Politics & Government

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan On Impeachment


A new poll suggests much of the American public just doesn't trust President Trump. It's by The Washington Post and ABC News and says 58% of Americans feel the president lied to the public about the matters that Robert Mueller investigated. Forty-seven percent say his interference in the process amounts to obstruction of justice, but only 37% favor starting the impeachment process. Should Democrats push that question? Representative Chrissy Houlahan is a Democrat from Pennsylvania serving her first term and joins us now. Representative Houlahan, thanks so much for being with us.

CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Thank you so much for having me.

SIMON: Do you want Congress to begin the impeachment process?

HOULAHAN: So I think that that's a complicated answer and we should all, frankly, regardless of our party, be worried about the security of the election process and the unanswered questions that I think we don't have from the redacted report that we have. So I think Congress' job, frankly, is to continue to explore and investigate. That is one of our constitutional responsibilities as oversight, along with, of course, legislating and appropriating. And I think that we can do all three effectively. And so I think we have, as a result of the report, more questions than we have answers, and it's our responsibility to continue to ask questions.

SIMON: What do you say to those people who say, look; the information on the record now, to their minds, suggests that the president behaved, if not illegally, certainly immorally and unethically?

HOULAHAN: And I think that that's why we as a Congress have a responsibility to convene and to have, you know, investigative hearings to make sure that we understand Mueller himself and for Barr himself and from an unredacted report itself exactly what happened and what has transpired. But importantly, while that's all going on, the business of Congress is also to legislate and appropriate. And something that I think is frustrating for people like me is that it's fully only a third of our Congress that is busy in the business of oversight and the remaining two-thirds of us are in the business of making sure that we're getting the work of the people of Pennsylvania and the country done. You know, worrying about those kitchen table and bread-and-butter issues is what most of us spend the majority of our time working on.

SIMON: Well - and but I still have to tirelessly come back to the impeachment question.

HOULAHAN: (Laughter) Sure.

SIMON: As you know, it wasn't a surprise when we asked you to be on our show.

HOULAHAN: Of course.

SIMON: Six in 10 Democrats, according to that same poll, want to initiate impeachment proceedings. What - do you tell them just to hold on?

HOULAHAN: I think that - and I'm a non-lawyer. I'm one of the few non-lawyers in Congress and one of the best ways it was described to me that I felt very comfortable with is it's our responsibility as a Congress to effectively explore so much so that we get to the point where we are effectively indicting and that it's our responsibility to pass that along to the Senate who is in charge of trying and, if appropriate, then sentencing. And I think that we don't have enough evidence at this point to indict. And so we need to carefully, deliberately and soberly explore the evidence that we have.

SIMON: And finally, what about the argument that Congress has a responsibility to history, and to the future, to make some kind of judgment?

HOULAHAN: And I think that's what we're doing. And, listen; we take this responsibility very gravely. I had the opportunity to participate on a call with all of my fellow colleagues about this proceeding and how we were going to proceed, and I was really struck by the soberness of that call. This is an historical moment that we sit at, and we are taking this responsibility very seriously and being as deliberative as we can because we understand the consequences if we get it wrong.

SIMON: Chrissy Houlahan, Democrat from Pennsylvania - thanks so much for being with us, Representative Houlahan.

HOULAHAN: You're very welcome. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.