Underwood on Trump impeachment: In Illinois, folks are ‘familiar with political corruption. It’s not a foreign concept’

With the new trade deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is showing the nation Democrats can get things done while pursuing President Trump’s impeachment.

SHARE Underwood on Trump impeachment: In Illinois, folks are ‘familiar with political corruption. It’s not a foreign concept’

From left, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., announce they are pushing ahead with two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — charging he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security in his dealings with Ukraine, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

WASHINGTON — House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Tuesday and then handed him a major legislative win — a pending deal on a new U.S.–Canada-Mexico trade pact.

The coincidental byproduct of locking in the deal now is that endangered House Democrats can go home for the holidays and have bipartisan landmark legislation to talk about — as well as impeachment.

That the two matters converged Tuesday was not part of a grand timing plan Democrats used to distract from impeachment. That spin from Trump and other Republicans is not true.

Sources told me the deal fell into place only after intense final negotiations over the weekend. The agreement had to be announced Tuesday morning in the U.S. because there was a signing ceremony in Mexico City on Tuesday afternoon with officials from U.S., Canada and Mexico.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is showing the nation Democrats can get things done while pursuing President Trump’s impeachment.

This pending trade pact was accomplished because labor — it’s endorsed by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka — the Trump White House and House Democrats worked together.

Revamping the 1994 Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement, nicknamed NAFTA, has been a Trump priority. Some Democrats have also been wanting to improve the deal.

Moving ahead with the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement — known as the USMCA — while pursuing impeachment is another example of Pelosi playing the long game.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., was one of eight members Pelosi tapped to be USMCA negotiators. At a news conference Tuesday, Schakowsky said Democrats got rid of some onerous provisions the White House wanted. Vice President Mike Pence said Democrats “acquiesced;” that’s not right.

“The Trump administration sent us a deeply flawed trade deal,” Schakowsky said, “that among other things would have raised the price of pharmaceuticals across North America by locking in high drug prices and expanding big pharma’s — pharma’s monopoly.”

The new deal, she said, “prevents big pharma from raising the price of prescription drugs across the United States, Mexico and Canada.”

The House Judiciary Committee will consider the articles of impeachment at an unusual evening session Wednesday. The full House will likely vote next week.


UNDERWOOD: The most endangered Illinois House incumbent is Democratic freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood. In 2018 she flipped a suburban Chicago district voting for Trump in 2016.

Underwood, a panelist at Politico’s “Women Rule Summit” on Tuesday, was asked about the impact of impeachment.

“We, of course, are in a unique position in that folks in Illinois are very familiar with political corruption. It’s not a foreign concept,” she said. When Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, folks in her district — who watch Chicago TV — saw it “at the same time the FBI were raiding the local aldermen offices. And so when you are watching the news you see Speaker Pelosi, Donald Trump, the FBI bringing out boxes, right, from City Hall in Chicago. And for my neighbors, it all kind of looks the same.”

“…Now whether or not folks think that’s impeachable, that’s different,” said Underwood.

CASTEN: Another freshman, Democrat Sean Casten beat a Republican in 2018 and is a major GOP 2020 target. The two narrow articles on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress zero in on “where there’s unambiguous, unambiguously clear evidence.” The articles are “the closest to no brainers that I could think of,” Casten told me. He is making no other pronouncements until he’s finished reading the entire record.

LIPINSKI: Rep. Dan Lipinski’s district is heavily Democratic; his two major Democratic March rivals are progressives. Lipinski is looking for Republican crossover support in the Democratic primary. Lipinski said in a statement he will “carefully consider” the impeachment articles “in light of the evidence that has been brought forward in the inquiry.”

FOSTER: Rep. Bill Foster is facing a Democratic primary challenge from the left. He said flat out in a statement, “I support the Articles of Impeachment against President Trump that have been introduced by the Judiciary Committee, and I intend to vote for them on the Floor of the House of Representatives next week.”

KINZINGER: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the only Chicago-area Republican, said impeachment is “leaving us even more divided than before. There will be another presidential election in 11 months and the voters will have the final say.”

LAHOOD: Republican Rep. Darin LaHood represents a safe GOP downstate district. He said in a statement, “We are 10 months away from early voting in Illinois, yet Democrats would rather attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election than let the people decide in November.”

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