U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, who represents New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District, joins Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent for NJTV News, to discuss the latest in the Mueller investigation.
Aron: Robert Mueller announced Wednesday morning that he had nothing more to add to what was in his report, and then he teased the public by saying something not exactly in the report: “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime,” Mueller said. “Under long standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.”
Congresswoman, what’s your reaction to what Mueller had to say and do this morning?
Watson Coleman: I think what he said is if he could have, he would have. I think that he made it clear that the president has not been exonerated, that there are things that they observed, that their investigations revealed, that would indeed rise to the level of an action. But because of his being the sitting president, and because they work for the Department of Justice, and because there’s this directive that has come out from the Department of Justice that you can’t charge a sitting president, they left that open. In additional information that’s in his report, he made it clear that there is an entity that can look into this and make a determination as to whether or not the president has indeed committed crimes, and misdemeanors, and high crimes that should result in his no longer being the president. That falls with the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Aron: Are you saying you think he should be impeached?
Making a stronger case
Watson Coleman: I think he should be removed. I absolutely believe that the president has engaged in a myriad of issues and behaviors and actions that are impeachable. I think that the five committees that are doing the investigations right now are trying to get to the core of each and every one of these, cross your t’s, dot your i’s. I don’t think he should be the president of the United States of America, but I know that should we send impeachment articles to this sitting Senate, the Senate would exonerate him and he would still be there and he would go around telling people ‘I’ve been exonerated, no obstruction, no collusion, no nothing, I’m transparent. Yadda yadda yadda,’ all of which we know is not true. So I think that we have to do our work. I think that we have got to cross our t’s, dot our i’s. I think that the courts are being helpful in making sure that we have access to information. I think we have to use every tool we have.
Aron: So are you calling for impeachment or not?
Watson Coleman: I’m not calling for impeachment because impeachment is a process that goes forth and then goes through the Senate. I think he’s impeachable. But when we send it to the Senate, if we have to send it to the Senate, it has to be so much in their face that they can’t deny it.
Aron: Were you disappointed in the Mueller Report? I think most liberals were, they thought that it was going to “get” the president. Were you disappointed in it?
Watson Coleman: Yeah, I mean after all I wanted more excitement, more statements that he is what I think he is, what he seems to be, that he’s engaged in all kinds of illegal activities. But the Mueller investigation had some narrow parameters and identified problems with Russia and identified problems with people from the campaign interacting with Russia around the campaign.
Aron: But no conspiracy?
Watson Coleman: He said he wasn’t able to pull conspiracy between the campaign and the Russian government.
President is ‘unfit to serve’
Aron: What do you say to those who say this is now beating a dead horse, it’s time to move on?
Watson Coleman: I think that the president of the United States is the greatest detriment and the greatest harm to our democracy. And I think that we have to employ every tool that we have to uncover everything that he’s done that determines, and establishes, and validates that he is unfit to serve, should not be serving, cannot serve. We cannot allow him to run in his next election as some exonerated person because he is not someone that is worthy of that.
Aron: And who’s going to run against him for the Democrats? Who can beat him?
Watson Coleman: Wow, that’s a great question. What I do know, Michael, we have a lot of good candidates — experienced, intellectual, compassionate, passionate, knowledgeable, all those things that he is not. We’ve got two dozen, at least, candidates who can beat him, and one of them will if we do what we’re supposed to do and what Congress can do by exposing who he is and what he’s done to dismantle our democracy and make himself and his family wealthy off of being president of the United States. It’s unconscionable; he’s trying to be a dictator; it’s distasteful and it’s un-American.