WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin announced Wednesday he now supports impeachment hearings against President Trump, becoming the latest House lawmaker to back a process that could lead to Trump’s removal from office.
Langevin revealed his change of heart at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, after previously saying he was not yet ready. The 10-term lawmaker is the 131st House Democrat to publicly call for a formal impeachment inquiry to start, based on a count by Politico.
“The prospect of impeaching a president is not something I take lightly,” Langevin said in a statement, describing his decision as the product of “careful reflection and interaction with my constituents.” He said the “vast majority of feedback” he has received from voters during the August recess “has been in support of an impeachment inquiry.”
Langevin indicated he was swayed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference, saying it “paints a grim picture of a president who has little concern for the legality of his actions or their implications on American democracy.” He also noted Trump has worked to block Congress from obtaining information or questioning witnesses.
“The American people deserve the full truth. They deserve the facts. And above all, they deserve a president who respects the rule of law,” he said.
Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, a member of House Democratic leadership, in May became the first member of the local delegation to back impeachment. Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III followed suit the following month during an interview on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers.
The region’s fourth House lawmaker, Massachusetts Democrat Bill Keating, voted against a resolution to impeach Trump last month, as did Langevin. (Cicilline and Kennedy backed it.) After the vote, Keating emphasized that he supports investigations into potentially impeachable offenses such as obstruction of justice and “malign foreign influence.”
“It is critical that we do not undercut the investigations into these very serious charges that would warrant impeachment and I believe last night’s vote would have done that,” Keating wrote at the time. “Our country needs answers from these investigations before a final action by the House.”
Keating’s office has not yet responded to a request for clarification about his stance on a formal impeachment inquiry.
If the House were to vote to impeach President Trump, the Senate would then hold a trial and vote on whether to remove him from office.
Massachusetts’ two senators, Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, are both on the record in support of impeachment proceedings.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., told WPRI 12: “I welcome whatever the House chooses to do. They know that on present evidence they don’t have the votes to convict in the Senate, so they have investigative work ahead. I wish them well, but as an eventual juror I don’t plan to say too much.”
A spokesperson for Rhode Island’s other senator, Democrat Jack Reed, did not respond Wednesday to a question about his current position on impeachment.
R.I. Republican Party Chair Sue Cienki argued the impeachment talk shows local Democrats have misguided priorities. “With an election a little more than 14 months away, this seems like a very questionable allocation of time and resources,” she said in an email.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook