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Leading House Democrat Says There Aren't Enough Votes To Impeach Trump

Rep. Jim McGovern, Congressman for the Second District of Massachusetts. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Rep. Jim McGovern, Congressman for the Second District of Massachusetts. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The newly elected Congress will be sworn in on Jan. 3, making Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovernthe new chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Charged withdetermining what bills make it to the floor, McGovern ( @RepMcGovern) says he hopes to work across the aisle to pass legislation, curb corruption and get big money out of politics.

"This ‘pay-to-play’ stuff has to stop," McGovern tells Here & Now's Robin Young. "We’re going to change that, and we’re going to hold this administration accountable, and we’re going to hold members of Congress accountable as well."

And although McGovern thinks the president has acted corruptly while in office, he says there are not enough votes in the Senate to impeach Trump.

"I think this president is an abomination. I think he’s an embarrassment. … So much of what he is doing is enriching himself and his family. From his Trump Hotel here in Washington, where every tinhorn dictator in the world when they visit Washington spends their time there and spends hundreds of thousands of dollars — that’s corruption," McGovern says. "But here’s the deal: On the issue of impeachment, that has to be a bipartisan decision.

"I don’t want to spend a lot of time focusing on impeachment. My focus is going to be on what we can get done and what we can accomplish for the American people and for my constituents."

Interview Highlights

On whether he is against accepting a deal, like one introduced last year, that would offer a path to citizenship for many young people living in the country illegally, in exchange for funding for a border wall

"First of all, I want to help the DACA recipients, and I want to help those with temporary protected status. We ought to find them a pathway to citizenship. But we ought not be blackmailed into providing protection, and that’s what the president tried to do in the past, and I think some are suggesting he’d do it again in the future.

"We did not accept their deal a year ago, because it really wasn’t the protection for DACA recipients that we had expected, and it did nothing to help temporary protected status. And if you have billions and billions and billions of dollars to throw away, I’ll tell you, I want you to invest that money in rebuilding our country. The border wall's gonna cost tens of billions of dollars. That’s just insane."

On measures he hopes to pass in the new Congress

"One is we ought to have the intelligence committee do a proper investigation of the Russia scandal. Two, we ought to look into whether or not this administration is in violation of the emoluments clause — whether there were conflicts of interest, whether the Trump family is making money off of government policies."

On how he thinks Trump deliberately shut down the government to divert attention away from his scandals

"This whole shutdown is totally unnecessary. There were seven appropriation bills that are involved in keeping the government running. Six of them are totally bipartisan. There’s no controversy over them, and yet they’re being held hostage over a border wall. So what we’re suggesting is that we ought to move forward on six of these appropriation bills. Let’s reopen those agencies. On the controversial appropriations bill, which is the Department of Homeland Security, let’s open that up for a few weeks, and then we can continue to have this discussion with the president on the border wall. But this is unnecessary, because most of this is not controversial. I think the president deliberately was itching for a shutdown to be able to divert attention away from all the scandals that have immersed this administration."

On regulations he wants to overturn because of big donors' influence

"I look at everything in the Environmental Protection Agency — making it easier for polluters to pollute, weakening regulations on pesticides — these are all big donors to not only the president, but to the Republican Party. ... Some of the rules changes that we’re proposing involve members of Congress not being able to serve on publicly traded boards."

On a rules change he wants passed that would make it harder for the House to remove the House speaker

"Believe it or not, that’s kind of a bipartisan proposal, because when the Republicans were in charge, one of their frustrations was that a small minority could basically paralyze the House by constantly trying to challenge the speaker. Look, we ought not to be empowering small groups of renegades who have no interest in running the government, but only want to cause chaos."

Lynn Menegon produced this interview, and Kathleen McKenna edited it for broadcast. Jackson Cote adapted it for web.

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