EVERETT — Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, of Everett, on Thursday called for the impeachment of Donald Trump, saying the president’s verbal attacks on four congresswomen show he does not respect what it means to be an American and no longer deserves to be the nation’s leader.
“It does not make me happy to conclude that about any president,” Larsen said by phone in an interview with The Daily Herald.
Larsen’s announcement comes two days after the Democratic-led House of Representatives condemned Trump for tweets and public statements about the quartet of first-term Democrats who’ve been among his sharpest critics, saying the women should “go back” to where they came from. All are U.S. citizens, and three were born in this country.
“He doesn’t respect U.S. citizenship,” said Larsen, a moderate who is in his 10th term representing the 2nd Congressional District. “He doesn’t respect the dream that U.S. citizenship represents around the world. If you can’t respect that, you don’t deserve to be president of the United States.”
On Wednesday, the House rejected a resolution to proceed with articles of impeachment. Larsen was among 95 House Democrats who voted against tabling the measure filed by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas.
Larsen is the third of the seven Democratic members in the Washington delegation to endorse the pursuit of impeachment.
U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, of Seattle, whose 7th District includes parts of south Snohomish County, went public in May. U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Bellevue, who represents the 9th District, did so in June though he voted Wednesday to table Green’s offering.
U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, of Medina, whose 1st District includes rural areas of east Snohomish County, also voted to not move ahead with the measure.
“The resolution introduced yesterday did not address many of the egregious issues raised in the Mueller report,” she said in a statement. “Impeachment may be the direction Congress takes as the president and his administration ignore subpoenas and defy court orders. I want to hear Special Counsel Mueller’s testimony next week as we continue to gather all of the detail behind the redacted report.”
Larsen said if congressional investigations prove Trump obstructed justice, it would certainly be an impeachable offense.
But, he said, for him the president’s comments “denigrating” the dream of citizenship “were the first and last straw.”
“I just can’t tolerate that,” he said.
In an op-ed submitted to The Herald, Larsen explained why he thought the president’s verbal attacks on the congresswomen — Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan, Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, and Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts, — amounted to an impeachable offense.
He excerpted from Federalist 65 in which Alexander Hamilton wrote that “offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust” would breach the constitutional standard for high crimes and misdemeanors.
“The violation of the public trust can take many forms. For me, the president’s fundamental lack of understanding of the American dream violates that trust,” Larsen wrote in the op-ed.
Larsen’s 2nd District covers the Puget Sound lowlands from Lynnwood to Bellingham and includes the San Juans and Whidbey Island.
When he was first elected in 2000, the district was pretty evenly split between Democratic and Republican voters. In that race, he got 50% and beat three opponents. Two years later, he garnered the same percentage in the course of beating three foes.
Over time Larsen has solidified his support and redistricting in 2010 made it a much safer Democratic seat. In 2018, the Republican Party didn’t mount a challenge. Larsen wound up facing a Libertarian in the general election and won with 71.2%.
Progressive Democrats in the district have been among his loudest critics in recent years. Larsen said Thursday that he’s been pressed by local Democrats to support impeachment.
“I don’t feel pressure to do this. You can’t think about whether it is the right thing or the wrong thing politically when considering impeachment,” he said. “It is one of the hardest and most serious decisions for a member of Congress.”