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Rep. Dean on Trump’s ‘extraordinary obstruction’ and the case for impeachment

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which held its first hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump Wednesday. The panel heard testimony from four legal scholars about the history and precedent for impeachment. Rep. Dean joins Judy Woodruff to discuss politics vs. patriotism and why the evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing is “undenied” by House Republicans.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now for a perspective from a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, we're joined by Representative Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania.

    Congresswoman Dean…

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Penn.:

    Good evening.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    … thank you very much for joining us.

    Are you confident at this point, given what Speaker Pelosi has done, has charged the Judiciary Committee to go ahead to write, to craft articles of impeachment, that there is enough evidence there, enough proof that the that articles of impeachment are warranted?

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean:

    I am. I'm sad, but confident, that we have enough.

    The evidence is undeniable. You will notice it's also undenied. And it is damning. The president coerced a foreign leader to try to intervene in our elections for his own personal and political gain.

    There could be nothing more grave than that kind of an assault on our election integrity. As the professor said yesterday, it will make us all less free. So, there is plenty of evidence.

    But I find it puzzling that the Republicans or the administration say, oh, you don't have a enough evidence, in the face of the president not answering lawful subpoenas, extraordinary obstruction by this president and everyone in his administration.

    So, if the Republicans want more evidence, they ought to go over to the White House and say to the president, answer lawful subpoenas, let everyone testify, clear your name, be a part of the process.

    You notice they're not doing any of that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, at this point, there's no evidence — no sign that they will do that, although they have time certainly to come forward before this works its way — this process works its way forward.

    But, Congresswoman Dean, we just heard again Congressman Collins, the ranking Republican on Judiciary, saying, as you just noted, the evidence is not there, that it's all conjecture, that it's assumption, in so many words.

    How is it that Democrats see clear, compelling evidence and Republicans say it just doesn't exist?

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean:

    I think they're actually not saying it doesn't exist. They're not speaking to the evidence.

    You have seen them pound the table over process, process, process, due process. In fact, this is offering the president due process. And he's not taking advantage of it.

    And so there's plenty of evidence. And so I don't understand what Mr. Collins is talking about.

    You notice they don't want to talk about that phone call. They don't want to talk about a president holding up $391 million of congressionally appropriated aid to a country that is under attack, assault, and invasion by Russia.

    You will notice that what happens here is, it weakened their national security, it weakens our national security, because who benefited from that attempt to withhold aid, and, in fact, the withholding of aid? Putin and Putin's Russia.

    That's what this is about. Americans should have a chill from the horrifying obstruction by this president and the use of his office, the abuse of his office for personal political gain.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, it is not just Congressman Collins and other Republicans. There are now the people who support the president who are listening to that argument who are saying they too don't hear solid evidence.

    What more could the Democrats, can the Democrats do to put a compelling case together that the Republicans and their supporters say just they don't see?

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean:

    Well, I think they just need to go back and look at the testimony of the public witnesses.

    You know, Intelligence Committee had 100 hours of depositions that were not public testimony, but we have a report on that. Then we had, I think it was 12 witnesses who were publicly testifying, heroic, patriotic folks, who came forward to say what was going on was crazy, was irregular, was a separate line of diplomacy through Rudy Giuliani working literally with Russians to try to figure out how to dump dirt on a political foe.

    The evidence is there. I think the American people were very impressed with people like Dr. Hill. She had no interest in coming forward. She's a career-long diplomat. She's worked for Republican administrations and Democratic administrations.

    This isn't about politics. This is about patriotism. This is about upholding our Constitution. If we turn a blind eye on this, it is as though we have said the impeachment clause doesn't exist, and, therefore, the president can be above the law.

    We simply cannot have that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congresswoman, what is your view of expanding this — the articles of impeachment to include obstruction as it was outlined in the Mueller report?

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean:

    We know there are many considerations in terms of what articles will be drafted.

    As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I think it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on the articles. But, certainly, the events surrounding Ukraine before and after, the seeking by this president of interference with our elections — publicly, he called on Russia to interfere. Publicly, he called on China to interfere, and privately, by record of the call that he released.

    It's the only document he's released thus far. He asked Ukraine to interfere. So, I think — I'm not going to speculate on the articles, because I will be a part of that conversation, as a member of the Judiciary Committee.

    What I hope is that our articles are very concrete, specific, thoughtful, and rooted in the law.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, if I were to ask you, do you think it strengthens your case to add an article that encompasses obstruction in the Mueller report?

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean:

    I don't know if that strengthens our case.

    And I'm not interested in the Mueller report. I'm interested in the behavior of the president, as revealed either publicly by him, privately by him, or as revealed in the investigation by the special counsel.

    I'm not interested in the Mueller report. I'm interested in the corrupt behavior of this indecent president.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Last question.

    What are you hearing from your constituents about this? Are they raising the issue of the president, his behavior, of impeachment, or not?

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean:

    Yes, they are.

    I serve suburban Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and Berks County. My constituents are gravely concerned. They're fearful for our country.

    They come up to me in the barbershop or at the grocery store, and they say, what are you doing? This — I'm worried for our country. I'm worried for our precious Constitution and our democracy. And I'm tired of being so agitated. I'm worried about our leadership and our standing in the world. Please do something about it.

    The vast majority of my constituents say, please, you have to take this seriously. And, sadly, you have to take this extraordinary step to impeach and remove the president.

    Don't get me wrong. There's certainly a number of my constituents who do not support this — this action, but the majority do.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, thank you very much for joining us.

  • Rep. Madeleine Dean:

    Thank you, Judy. Thank you.

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