Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Olympia Considers Trump Impeachment Investigation

Above: Supporters of Puget Sound Communities 4 Impeachment call for the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump outside Olympia City Hall on Tuesday evening. 

Council to Send Letter to State Congressional Delegation Asking for Investigation into Trump’s Activities

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

A resolution calling upon the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings and investigate President Donald J. Trump’s alleged wrongdoings was up for consideration at Tuesday evening's Olympia city council meeting. 

Fourteen cities nationwide, from Los Angeles, California to Newton, Massachusetts, have passed resolutions calling for an the initiation of impeachment proceedings.

But in a 4 - 3 vote, council members voted to send just a letter to Washington State's congressional representatives asking them to call for an investigation into impeachment. 

Mayor Cheryl Selby and Councilmembers Hankins, Bateman, and Roe voted for just sending the letter, with Councilmembers Nathaniel Jones, Clark Gilman, and Jim Cooper voting for the resolution and letter.

Council entertained the possibility of spending more time drafting a resolution after gathering more public input.

With the item pulled from the consent calendar, Councilmember Julie Hankins proposed a motion to not pass the resolution and instead send a letter to Washington State congressional representatives asking them to call for the investigation.

Councilmember Jeannine Roe, who said she is troubled by the actions of the president in “style and actions,” asked staff for clarification on the difference between the resolution and the letter.

Olympia city manager Steve Hall admitted that the resolution was hastily written with firm statements of criminal wrongdoing by President Trump that have not yet been verified, saying the resolution “goes deeper” than a letter.

Several councilmembers said they wanted it put on the record that they have heard constituent’s concerns about President Trump’s activities.

Saying he found no joy in discussing the issue, when it comes to matters of law and misconduct by an elected leader, “it’s our responsibility to voice our concerns into possible illegal activities and obstructing justice,” said Councilmember Nathaniel Jones.

“It’s clear to reasonable people that laws are being broken,” said Councilmember Clark Gilman.

During public comment, several community members spoke in favor of combining the power of a resolution and a letter to congressional representatives.

Phil Schulte was the lone speaker who said that the whole matter was a federal issue, not a city issue, and suggested that the question of a resolution in support of calling for an investigation be placed on the ballot so citizens can decide if it’s appropriate or not.

Bonnie Jones, of Olympia, started a group called Puget Sound Communities 4 Impeachment and was the first to speak before council

The group's mission is to ask the Olympia City Council to adopt a resolution calling on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment investigation of President Trump, based on his alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution.

Jones told Little Hollywood before the council meeting that she has been politically active before, but has never been the leader of an organization. She felt compelled to act because she feels the country is in peril. She hoped Olympia would be the first city in the Pacific Northwest to recommend impeachment proceedings. 

Her husband, Marc Jones, also spoke in support of the resolution and a letter to congressional representatives.

“…So why an impeachment resolution six months into a presidential term? The resolution addresses two matters: emoluments and obstruction of justice….Emoluments….Is it skin cream? Is it candy? he began, eliciting chuckles from the audience in the packed council chambers.

“The issue of emoluments was serious business to the writers of our Constitution. They feared Presidents using the office to enrich themselves. They feared foreign interests influencing the President through bribery….They put clauses into both Article I and Article II of the Constitution that basically said ‘no’ to emoluments. Since then, many statutes and ethics rules have been put in place to reinforce this….

“Our problem is we now have a President who acts as if he is not bound by any of this. He refuses to reveal the extent of his financial interests here and abroad. He refuses to divest those interests…He claims it sufficient to turn things over to a trust run by his sons. But the sole legal beneficiary of that trust is himself. That is not a blind trust.  That is not divestment.

“He can take actions that benefit him financially. Foreign entities have paths to either enrich or financially threaten him. That is what the Founders feared. This is what the Emoluments Clauses were meant to prevent. I believe this situation is not just illegal. I believe it is dangerous. This situation must be investigated,” said Jones.

The Olympia city council often comments and acts upon national and international issues.

In early June, the city stated that it was “highly disappointed” in the decision of the Trump Administration to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. 

“The City was proud to participate in the Paris Climate Summit and remains strongly committed to the global effort against climate change. In 2015, the City joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. In doing so, Olympia joined with more than 7,000 other cities all around the world committing to bold action on climate change. The decision by the Trump Administration only strengthens our resolve that leadership must continue to come from local communities,” said a press release.

By resolution in December, 2016, the City of Olympia declared itself a sanctuary city that will serve and protect its residents regardless of their immigration status, and refuse any requests that are an extension of any federal immigration policy enforcement actions.

Above: Sharon Herting and Robert Lovitt, members of the South Sound Buddhist Peace Fellowship, made their opinions known outside Olympia city hall Tuesday evening. Herting's sign says, We want positive leadership. Lovitt's sign says, Sending him prayers and loving kindness - resisting his policies.

Lovitt, who was wearing a “Nixon Now” button, said Nixon was a sweetheart compared to President Trump.“It’s not about hating Trump. I really feel sorry for him, actually, because he is so unaware of how he harms others. I support democracy and don’t want to see its erosion,” said Lovitt.