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Politics and Government

How Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Jason Crow evolved from pumping the brakes on impeachment to supporting an inquiry

The majority of Colorado’s Democratic congressional delegation now favors launching an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet are the holdouts.

U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora, speaks to reporters outside the GEO immigration detention center in Aurora on Monday, July 22, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
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U.S. Rep. Jason Crow says he was moved to support an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump in part by the congressional testimony last week of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. 

The Aurora Democrat who hails from the swing 6th Congressional District added he’s been fielding thousands of phone calls and emails from constituents on the subject, many of them in favor of launching an inquiry.

“This has been an evolving environment since I was sworn in back in January,” Crow said in an interview with The Colorado Sun on Wednesday. “We didn’t have the Mueller report back at that point. We didn’t have a pattern of conduct by this administration of disregarding checks and balances.”

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Even back in May, weeks after Mueller’s report on Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 election was released, Crow opposed launching an impeachment inquiry, saying the process needed to play out. He also cautioned against supporting the start of impeachment proceedings until “we get the full set of information” as he campaigned for Congress in 2018.

On Tuesday, however, Crow said he felt he had that complete picture and that’s why he made his decision to join more than 100 Democrats in the U.S. House in backing impeachment — now more than half of the caucus. The number jumped after Mueller’s testimony, but still remains well below the 200-plus needed for a majority.

Crow said Mueller testified that “essentially it was the role of Congress now to pick it up and complete the inquiry. I heard that message very loud and clear.”

Mueller mostly stuck to his report during his testimony. 

“If Congress doesn’t stand up to these abuses, then our system of checks and balances will have failed,” Crow wrote in a blog post Tuesday announcing his decision. “It’s clear that we must respond with the full weight of Congress.”

With Crow’s decision, the majority of Colorado’s Democratic congressional delegation now supports launching an impeachment inquiry. U.S. Reps. Joe Neguse, of Lafayette, and Diana DeGette, of Denver, publicly backed the idea in May. 

U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette of Denver, left, and Joe Neguse of Lafayette. The pair are supporting the launch of impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

The holdouts are U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, of Arvada, and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. 

Bennet, who is running for president, has cautioned against pursuing impeachment because it could work against Democrats in the 2020 election since it would allow Trump to say he was cleared by the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, which is extremely unlikely to vote to oust the president. 

“That’s what he wants, to be able to say he was railroaded,” Bennet said in a CNN town hall in May. “And then to have the impeachment from the House go to the Senate where I guarantee (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are not going to convict Donald Trump. They are going to acquit Donald Trump and then run for president saying he was acquitted.”

The political calculation about Trump’s 2020 chances did not play into his decision, Crow said.

“I don’t view my job, and I never have, (as being) about making very important policy and legal decisions based on politics,” he said. “That’s not what the people of our community elected me to do.”

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also opposes launching an impeachment inquiry because she thinks it would be politically dangerous and ultimately unsuccessful. The split in her Democratic caucus has led to fierce friction at times. Crow did not support Pelosi’s speakership.

Crow said he thinks an impeachment inquiry — a precursor to decide whether to pursue an impeachment vote — should be done carefully and thoroughly and without a predetermined outcome. 

The first-term congressman said he has heard many opinions from his constituents on the issue both in favor and opposed to an impeachment inquiry.  The vast majority want an inquiry.

“I heard that message and certainly took it into account with my decision,” he said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee blasted Crow on social media as “finally caving to his socialist base.”

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