Monday, November 19, 2018
  • The Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Andrew Gillum: ‘Donald Trump should be impeached now’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum called for President Donald Trump's impeachment Friday ahead of Trump's visit to the Florida Panhandle.

Gillum issued the call in a Facebook video, citing Trump's "obstruction of justice" in firing FBI Director James Comey, who at the time of his firing was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"Donald Trump should be impeached now," Gillum said in the video.

Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June that Trump asked him in February to go easy on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whom Trump fired just 24 days into his term.

Comey told the committee then that Trump said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go."

Trump fired Comey May 9.

On Dec. 1, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a January interview about his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

The next day, Trump tweeted that he "had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI." (Trump's lawyer, John Dowd, claims he, and not the president, authored the tweet.)

Trump's original rationale for firing Flynn was that Flynn had lied to Vice President Pence about Russia contacts. He made no public mention of Flynn lying to the FBI until after Flynn pleaded guilty to doing so.

In the Facebook video, Gillum said Trump's apparent admission that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI before asking Comey to go easy on the former administration official meant that Trump had obstructed justice.

"The President said he knew that his National Security Adviser lied to the FBI, so he ordered the FBI director to drop the investigation and then he fired him after he refused to do so. This is an alarming and clear-cut case of obstruction of justice," Gillum said.

Fifty-eight Congressional Democrats voted Wednesday to proceed on articles of impeachment introduced by Rep. Al Green of Texas on the grounds that Trump is "inciting hatred and hostility." Green's articles of impeachment made no mention of the ongoing investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Gillum, who has struggled in recent months to raise money, became the first Democratic candidate for governor to call for Trump's impeachment.

The Tallahassee mayor, and self-styled most progressive candidate in the race for governor, did not hint at the striking announcement at a Friday morning meet and greet at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa. He gave straightforward, campaign stump-style answers to a series of policy questions from a capacity audience of about 100 at the Cafe con Tampa meet up.

It wasn't until about an hour after the event that Gillum released the Facebook video. The post that included the video linked to a website, impeachpresidenttrumptoday.com.

Trump will be in Pensacola tonight, where he is expected to campaign for Judge Roy Moore.

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