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CRANFORD – Some Democrats and others on the left may be salivating at the prospect of impeaching Donald Trump, but Tom Malinowski is not one of them.
Sure, the congressman from the 7th District backs the ongoing impeachment inquiry, but he’s not all that excited about it. So he says.
In his customary low-key tone at a Saturday town hall at the town community center, Malinowski told about 175 people that regardless of their feelings about Trump, “I don’t want anyone jumping up for joy. This (impeachment) is a last resort.”
He spoke of it as something the constitution requires, not a partisan exercise.
Earlier, Malinowski said these are “troubled” times for American democracy, saying that the “dynamics are changing in ways that are unbelievable.” He added that impeachment is front and center simply because the president has made the indefensible seem perfectly normal.
He gave two recent examples.
One was the president’s apparent snap decision to abandon the Kurds in Syria by withdrawing U.S. troops, thereby clearing the way for a Turkish invasion and driving the Kurds into the proverbial arms of the Syrian regime, an enemy of the U.S, and its chief backer, Russia.
The second was the administration’s initial plan to hold next year’s G-7 Summit at a Trump resort in Florida, an idea Malinowski said Congress would have tried to stop through its control of the purse strings.
The president backed off on the idea later on Saturday because of bipartisan condemnation.
The congressman partly attributed these recent events to the changing
nature of the Trump administration. Ticking off the departures of such reasonable figures as Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, Nikki Haley and others, Malinowski said the president seems to be without advice from any adults in the room. So, he said the country is now seeing a very scary proposition – a Trump administration governed by Trump alone.
No one in the audience disagreed. Malinowski has held quite a few public events since taking office in January and his crowds have been largely supportive. It is a bit puzzling that critics – Republicans and perhaps others – do not show up and try to put Malinowski on the spot.
Keep in mind there already is a primary battle looming in the district for the GOP congressional nomination next year between Tom Kean Jr., the party establishment choice, and Rosemary Becchi.
One of the few provocative questions on Saturday had to do with the so far secrecy of the impeachment inquiry.
The questioner said he feared conducting business behind closed doors allows Trump backers to frame the whole thing as a partisan and very secret endeavor.
“I get it. It’s very, very delicate,” Malinowski said.
But he also said it’s at times better to gather facts without cameras and lights. This view is hardly novel – the notion some fear speaking candidly in public. Then again. this is public business being discussed.
And so when the congressman said opening the process to the public should come in “short order,” many in the room probably breathed a sigh of relief.
It wouldn’t have been a real public meeting without an off-the-wall
question. In this case, it was the first one.
Malinowski was asked if he would support removing “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.
His answer was no for two reasons. One was that the country at this time needs no more division. The other was the tradition of the pledge.
The congressman was on some shaky ground here, as the tradition of the “under God” phrase is rather recent. It was added in the 1950’s during the Cold War. Still, it was a pretty good response to a question the congressman could not have expected.