At a town hall held Wednesday at the Downers Grove Village Hall, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, discussed his reasoning behind his decision to support an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump with his constituents across the western suburbs.
In his opening remarks, Casten thanked the crowd and said that he appreciated their attendance at the town hall, adding that as long as they kept coming, he’d keep doing them – although the topic at hand was not one he was excited to discuss.
“If in your head you’re thinking that an impeachment of the president of the United States or full exoneration of the president of the United States is a cause for celebration, mentally check out for a minute and come back when that thought is out of your head,” he said. “This is not a cause for celebration; it’s a moment of truth.”
He said that while he did not campaign on impeachment, he determined supporting an inquiry was important. The U.S. experiment, he said, survives so long as it is held to a bar which is ethical, legal and prosecutable, and if it is not held to that bar, the experiment’s loss is at risk.
In order to impeach, he said that in his view, politics, party alignment and character could not be weighed. He announced his support of an inquiry June 20.
After pointing the crowd to the Mueller Report, specifically page 178 of Volume II, to further explain his stance, the floor was opened to questions.
While a few constituents asked about climate change, which was a point on which Casten ran for office, and predictions for the coming election cycle, most remained focused on the topic at hand.
An attendee from Glen Ellyn said that he felt because the president routinely is cited as making rash and unorthodox decisions – what he described as a “constant sewer hose” of poor decisions – many Americans have become numb to those actions and asked what could be considered an impeachable offense going forward if Trump’s behavior thus far is not.
In response, Casten said that he believes there are good people in Congress, and whether an impeachment inquiry is or is not opened would be decided in good faith. In order to uphold America’s institutions, he said, impeachment cannot be political.
“It’s possible to use my position at the bully pulpit as a demagogue,” he said. “[…] But we may not have the institutions left when we’re done.”
Another attendee from Westmont asked whether there is a specific date after which it would be too late for an impeachment inquiry. Casten said he hoped the decision whether to open an inquiry would be made “sooner rather than later,” but that he guessed the whole process would take between six and nine months.
A crowd member interjected, asking whether he believed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was strategically holding the impeachment process until election season approached. Casten said he did not wish to speculate one way or another, but said that if anyone was “playing the calendar for political gain,” then their intentions behind the impeachment were not right.
The last question of the night was asked by a Taiwan-native living in Downers Grove. She explained that growing up, she idealized America and viewed it as a great country “like heaven” – filled with progress, fairness and freedom. Despite being grateful for the many things America offers its citizens, she said that she was afraid that the country was “little by little chipping away” and asked Casten to share what she should tell her daughters to reassure them that the future of the country would be fine.
He said he’d like to offer her some hope.
“An overwhelming number of the U.S. are good people, and an overwhelming number of elected officials are good people,” he said. “[What I] ask of you and my commitment to you is to remember that at the end of the day, nobody is going to remember me, but hopefully we will all recognize that I have the good fortune for a brief period to hold a really special office. And as long as I recognize that this is way bigger than me, and if we continue to elect people who recognize it’s way bigger than them, the institutions will survive.”