Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, May 24, 2019.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Updated at 1:55 p.m.
Three Illinois congressmen are joining the growing Democratic chorus in the U.S. House of Representatives to open impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
U.S. Reps. Danny Davis, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Bobby Rush, all Chicago Democrats tell WBEZ they now favor impeaching Trump. That puts them at odds with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has continued to resist impeachment following last month's release of the Mueller report.
"After careful consideration and deliberation, I've come to the conclusion that the House of Representatives must execute its constitutionally mandated responsibility and begin a formal inquiry," Garcia told WBEZ in an interview Tuesday.
"I think the fundamental integrity of our democracy is at stake. Key to my decision is the redacted Mueller report, which details several instances that over 450 federal prosecutors and legal experts have deemed obstruction of justice. He has exacerbated those allegations by stonewalling Congress in several cases illegally," he said.
"No one is above the law. This is what I'm hearing overwhelmingly in my district. And I feel a sense of responsibility to make public what people are telling me here at home," Garcia said.
In a statement, Davis said he favors launching impeachment proceedings in the House.
"I believe it is time and imperative that the United States House of Representatives begin an impeachment inquiry whether the House of Representatives should impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America," Davis said, adding that he wants to be listed as a co-sponsor of a resolution opening an inquiry. "It is my hope that the House will move forward in as unified and non-partisan manner as possible but will not be dissuaded by purely political opposition."
Rush declined to be interviewed. But an aide said he, too, thinks the House is compelled to begin the process of forcibly removing from Trump from office.
"Congressman Rush believes that President Trump should be impeached," Rush spokesman Ryan Johnson said. "Congress has a responsibility to protect the constitutional foundation of our government with respect for the laws of this great nation. We must not forget that no one is above the law."
The positions all three have staked out make them part of a clear-cut — but increasingly vocal — minority within the 235-member Democratic majority in the U.S. House. The Washington Post is reporting 39 House Democrats favor impeachment, though that total did not include the three Chicago congressmen.
WBEZ surveyed the dozen House Democrats and single Republican whose congressional districts include Chicago or areas within the collar counties. The overwhelming majority said they are not yet ready to advocate for Trump's impeachment.
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from northwest suburban Schaumburg, said he is "not there yet" in pushing for impeachment. Instead, he said a series of congressional investigations need to continue, including those by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Krishnamoorthi, who sits on both panels, said Democrats could face a political trap in pursuit of impeachment because it could fire up Trump's base during his re-election bid next year.
Plus, if a Republican-led Senate remains aligned with him in the event of a House impeachment vote, Trump could head into his re-election with what he might regard as a clean bill of health from Congress.
"I think you give Donald Trump basically a way to get re-elected. I think you fast-track his re-election, actually. That's why you hear the president, a lot of times, almost goading the Democrats into impeaching him or beginning the impeachment process," Krishnamoorthi said.
U.S. Rep. Michael Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, said he isn't ready to launch impeachment proceedings against the president, but he left open the option if Trump continues to "defy multiple congressional subpoenas."
"I am watching closely to see if the president changes course in the coming days," Quigley said in a statement. "But if he continues to refuse to allow members of his administration to testify and refuses to comply with congressional subpoenas, it is conceivable that an impeachment inquiry will be the only legal remedy that Congress will have left."
Freshman U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, a Naperville Democrat and top GOP target in 2020, called impeachment "a process, not a destination." She stopped short of saying Congress has the evidence to proceed with impeachment proceedings against the president.
"Right now, Congress is doing the oversight compelled by Article One of the Constitution. This crucial step can feel frustratingly slow, but it is important that we do it methodically, thoroughly, and within the bounds of the Constitution," she said.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat, said she isn't ready to commit to impeachment, but she also isn't ruling it out.
"Impeachment is not off the table," she said in a statement to WBEZ. "I am continuing to monitor as this cover-up is penetrated by the courts, and as we as the Congress conduct our constitutionally-mandated oversight duties on the executive branch."
Dave McKinney covers state politics and government for WBEZ. Follow him @davemckinney.