A freshman Democratic congresswoman who recently changed her stance to support impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump was challenged to explain her choice by angry constituents at a town hall in Michigan.
“The issue that got to me was this idea that the President, the most powerful man in the world, reached out to a foreigner, a foreign leader, and asked him to dig up dirt on an American,” Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin said Thursday, explaining to the crowd how she went from opposing an inquiry to penning an op-ed in support.
Before the former CIA officer could finish her sentence, a vocal group in the crowd called out “Not true!” and “Fake news!” As Slotkin pressed on, attendees became more agitated and started yelling over each other and the congresswoman. The critical voices did not appear to represent the feelings of everyone in the room, and Slotkin continued her explanation as others called for the critics to quiet down.
Slotkin held a series of town halls in her district – which voted for Trump by 7 percentage points in 2016 – during Congress’ brief recess, with Thursday’s taking her to Hartland Township. The break from Washington was an opportunity for lawmakers to gauge early voter reaction on impeachment, especially in swing districts.
The moderate freshman Democrat, reluctant to embrace her party’s leaning toward impeachment proceedings, changed her stance to support an inquiry after teaming with six others to pen an op-ed in The Washington Post. The group of lawmakers, who have national security backgrounds and are vulnerable in 2020, made the case for proceedings after hearing the President admit that he spoke to Ukraine’s leader about Joe Biden, a potential 2020 political rival.
A White House-released transcript of a July call revealed Trump asked Ukraine’s President to investigate the former vice president and his son, Hunter – though there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden. A separate whistleblower complaint alleges the President abused his official powers “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied doing anything improper.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the chamber’s formal impeachment inquiry the day after the op-ed was published.
Talking to reporters after the town hall, Slotkin said she knew when she made the decision to support the inquiry “that it was going to bring a lot of energy in the district, and it did.” Most people at the event, she noted, “were extremely respectful, even if we disagreed.”
“I was trained as intelligence analyst, so we read the facts and make an assessment, and that’s what I plan to do when the facts are presented,” Slotkin said.
CNN’s Sarah Jorgensen, Dana Bash and Bridget Nolan contributed to this report.