And how far away from Holly?
35 miles from the home.
O.K. So yeah, we will get there in time. You want to describe what you’re seeing outside the window?
So we’re driving by a strip mall about 45 minutes outside Detroit. There’s a Best Buy, a Michaels, a PetSmart, a Lowes, Chipotle and a DSW. This is a solid, solid, solid strip mall.
So Michael, why are we driving through the strip malls of Detroit?
So we are headed to the home of Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.
Elissa Slotkin has a lead of more than 2,000 votes against Republican incumbent Mike Bishop.
She is a moderate Democrat who won her seat —
I won in a district that was a Republican district. So the only way —
She flipped a red district and turned it blue in 2018. And in doing so, she helped the Democrats win back the House.
The blue wave. The blue wave that swept Democrats into power in the House.
But the moment she gets into office —
Because we’re going to go in there, we’re going to impeach the motherfucker. [CHEERS]
— people like Rashida Tlaib, the congresswoman who represents a district just to the south here that we just drove through, they’re saying that the findings of the Russia inquiry merit impeachment. And Slotkin is not having any of it.
Important quote. This is from Congresswoman Slotkin of Michigan. Impeachment is not what people are coming up to me in the grocery store and talking to me about. They want to know —
She is skeptical of that, she’s opposed to it. It’s not part of her political brand to want to impeach the president. And then all of a sudden, the whistle-blower report comes out, and she reads it, and she’s very troubled. And she and a handful of her moderate swing-district Democratic House colleagues write an op-ed in The Washington Post calling for an impeachment inquiry.
They write, we have devoted our lives to the service and security of our country. Now we join as a unified group to uphold —
And their voice carries a tremendous amount of weight, because they are moderates, because they helped win back the House for Democrats. And shortly afterwards, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opens an impeachment inquiry.
I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law.
And right away, it’s clear that there are political consequences for Slotkin.
I am going to wait for the facts. I’m going to look at them judiciously. I’m going to do what I was trained to do, which is to look at the —
We went to three town halls in her district and just listened as constituents pelted her with questions about why she was doing this.
Two months go by. The impeachment inquiry unfolds. Hearings happen, a report is filed. And now she has to make a decision — is she going to vote to impeach the president, or is she going to vote not to the impeach the president?
Whoa, we’re going into her driveway.
We’re doing it. I think it’s O.K. I mean, we’re a little early. What’re you gonna do? We are arriving at Slotkin’s house in the middle of these final hours of deliberation for her on impeachment. She has told her constituents that she’s going to announce her decision on Monday morning. We are talking to her on Sunday night.
How do you feel?
I feel good. I mean, I feel dehydrated. Did you actually eat your granola bar?
I did not eat my granola bar. Hard to eat and hold a microphone.
You’re going to regret it when you’re in the middle of this interview and you’re starving.
Hi, guys. Come on in.
Congresswoman, so nice to see you.
So nice to meet you. Hi.
Thank you for letting us — Lisa.
Come on in, come on in.
This is a truly a farmhouse.
Oh yeah, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I think of you guys as audio, and so I’m not doing a very nice job, but this is 1895 farmhouse. My family bought it in the ‘50s. We held off lighting a fire because we didn’t know if the noise would be annoying, but we can definitely light a fire.
And this — I should just say, this desk, for whatever it’s worth, is sort of one of the big heirlooms in my family. This was my great-grandfather’s desk. And if you see on the plate here —
It is kind of a resolute desk.
Yes. So it was used by Lindley Garrison, secretary of war, 1913 to 1916.
During the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.
So that was a gift to my great-grandfather, Sam Slotkin. And it’s been passed down.
Is this where you go to make big decisions?
This is where I make my big decisions.
Is this that — this three-ring binder looks like it’s the House Intelligence report?
Yes. This is — well, it’s a lot, I guess, more than it. It is — let’s see. My team has diligently tabbed it out for me. So this is the impeachment documents that came down, I guess, what now, three weeks ago —
From the Judiciary Committee.
Yes, from the Judiciary Committee. This is the HPSCI report, the House Intelligence report.
May I see this?
You’re welcome to.
Clinton articles of impeachment. Nixon articles of impeachment. And I see you’ve done a bunch of underlining.
Yeah. For me, this is, frankly, a very standard way that I look at things, which just comes from my training as a C.I.A. officer, which is sequester yourself away, get all the original base documents. And then you do some historical research and then make an objective decision not based on what you see in the news or what someone’s telling you.
Thanks for letting us interrupt it.
Where would you guys like to set up? Would you like to be —
Where would you like us to set up?
Take the dining room.
All right, we’ll go set ourselves up.
O.K., check, check, check, check.
How am I sounding? O.K. So, Congresswoman, thank you for letting us into your home —
— during a really important moment for you.
The last time we talked to you, you had just made a decision to support an impeachment inquiry, which ended up being a very consequential decision.
Tell me what the last couple of months have been like for you as that inquiry has unfolded. What’s that experience been like?
Well, I would say it’s probably been some of the most intense months I’ve had as a working professional, that’s for sure. The principal reason why I decided to come out back in September in support of an inquiry, after many, many months of not supporting impeachment or an inquiry, was this very basic idea that the president of the United States reached out to a foreign party and solicited help in influencing an American election. And confirming or denying that very basic idea was pretty important to me in this process.
That fact pattern.
That fact pattern. And you know, I was in national security for a long time. We are in the business of pressuring governments to do things that we want, right? That happens all the time. And anyone who gets to a senior-enough level has been in that position. The difference here was that the president was doing it for his own personal political gain, not for the national security interests of the United States. So for me, the central idea was whether the president asked for foreigners to get involved in the American political process.
So did the inquiry and did the hearings establish that?
Well, that’s what I’ve been trying to parse through. What became clearer and clearer through what I read and what the reporting produced was that you have a lot of people who were aware that, for instance, security assistance was held up in exchange for something. And we have Ambassador Sondland saying very directly that it was held up because they were waiting for the Ukrainians to live up to their end of the bargain.
To conduct these investigations on —
Yes, to announce investigations. That’s the hardest thing for me about my peers who may decide not to vote on these articles, is that do they accept that it’s O.K. to invite foreign help into the American political process?
I think I just watched Lindsey Graham say that he’s O.K. with it in an interview.
Well, I’m sorry, and I think that history will show them to be misguided. And maybe it’s because I was a C.I.A. officer, but I am comfortable making hard decisions that aren’t popular, because I know that they’re the right thing for the security of the country. I was asked to do that over and over and over again in my prior life. And that’s the same approach I take to these decisions.
I hear you hinting that a hard decision that you’re capable of making may be heading in one direction.
Well, listen, I mean, no offense, but I’m not going to tell The New York Times before I tell my own constituents. It’s why we’re having a big town hall tomorrow. My hope and my responsibility is to be transparent with the constituents of the Eighth District, to be available to listen to their current concerns and answer them, and to be honest with them.
So understanding that you’re not going to be disclosing your intentions just now at this table in your house, I want to talk about your constituents for just a moment.
Based on my understanding of your district, which voted for Trump by a healthy margin, and according to you, does not seem to support impeachment as a whole, you could find yourself very much at odds with your own constituents.
I mean —
Are you comfortable with that?
This is what it means to be an elected leader. You have to make tough calls. And in a district like this, I’m never going to make everyone happy. If I lose my seat because I stood up for my principles, that’s O.K. I, of course, want to be re-elected, and I want to maintain the House majority. I think it’s an important check and balance. But I’m not going to compromise my principles just to keep that job. I’m just not. And I hope that people want that kind of an elected representative.
I do have to ask you the kind of political version of this question, which is mathematically, your vote isn’t required to impeach the president. And so there’re kind of two ways to look at this. On the one hand, if you vote yes, that would be very politically risky. The other way to look at this is that if you vote no, that’s its own set of risks, because as a moderate, you would be sending a message that the people in the middle who started all this, who said there should be an inquiry, don’t think there’s enough there to actually impeach. And that would be a very complicated message to send in 2020 when the president’s running for re-election. It’s essentially that impeachment was a project of the far left. And so there’s basically a ton of risk no matter what you do, and I wonder how you weigh those risks.
Well, I mean, listen, voting on articles of impeachment is right up there with Congress’s role in declaring war. I mean, it’s got to be one of the top two things that a member of Congress will ever vote on in their career — most important things. So when you have a vote like that, it’s beyond that political calculus. I think it should be. It certainly is for me. And I’ve certainly had people propose to me, you know, just vote no, save your seat.
Your vote isn’t needed, anyway.
I’ve had people say that to me.
And what do you say?
I have to look at myself in the mirror. Like, I have to come away from this experience with a sense that I haven’t done what so many people here in Michigan think of elected officials. I cannot just become that cynical political person who just orients their major decisions around what would save their seat. I just —
Or even their party.
You know, we have the president admitting that he reached out to a foreigner to ask for help in an American political election. If you think about that outside the normal insanity that we have right now on TV and all the events that are happening, if you think about that, which I’ve been trying to do today here quietly at my farm, that is — that is wrong. And I think that sending a signal in the most clear terms we can is important enough even to risk the majority.
So it’s 7: 30 on Sunday night and you’re planning to make an announcement tomorrow morning in front of your constituents. How are you doing inside? How are you feeling?
I actually feel pretty clear. I’ve done the work. I’ve kept an open mind, and I’ve sat with the documents, I’ve sat with the transcripts, and I’ve made my best assessment. So I’m going to try and be as present and available as I can. I trust my voters, I do. And I think —
Trust them to do what?
I trust them as Michiganders to give me a chance to explain. And for them to give me the benefit of the doubt.
Hey, hey, ho, ho, Elissa Slotkin has got to go! Hey hey, ho ho — got to go! Hey hey, ho ho.
Because I have to talk over your people. Do you like Russia? Do you like Russia? Because I’m a veteran, and I do not support Russia!
Have a discussion.
The fact is you walked up to me and you asked me about Ukraine, which is a Russian —
Our flag is red, white and blue, not red and blue. It is red, white, and blue. Put your country first for once, O.K.?
I am. Would you like to discuss? See?
What, what? Ukraine did what? What did Ukraine do? Tell me what Ukraine did.
Are you gonna listen? Biden bragged about — about bribing Ukraine with a billion dollars. Do you want to hear it?
What crime? Name one. Name one crime. You jumped in, I’m listening. Name one crime.
Abuse of power.
That’s not — O.K., that — name what exactly did he do to abuse — to abuse power?
Having a foreign country meddle in the election. That’s one.
He didn’t! The Democrats did!
You really are insane, aren’t you? Open your eyes.
Can you tell me where you’re from?
The Flint Journal and mlive.com.
I’m here for NPR today.
Simone from Roll Call.
The Detroit Free Press.
The Oakland Press.
The New York Times.
The Michigan Advance.
O.K., guys. O.K.
All right, everybody. Thank you.
O.K., well, I’m thrilled to see such a great turnout today.
Let’s please — please let her speak.
So in an attempt to be transparent, I’m going to walk you through my logic. And I know it’s clear that we don’t all agree. I thought we needed to let the election of 2020 decide what was going to happen in our country. But those changed — that changed for me on the very basic facts that the president of the United States came out — and his lawyer came out and said, very specifically —
And that is very different than how presidents typically build their power, right? To be honest with you, I worked at the National Security Council under George Bush. I worked under the National Security Council under Barack Obama. And presidents regularly wield their power.
Do you stand for your party or do you stand for your Constitution?
Let her say that. Let her say that. That she is not a part of the squad!
No, she should did not! She has to say! Let her say that! Let her say that!
All right, everyone. Thank you very much for coming out today. Please leave safely.
Thank you. Thank you for listening. Appreciate it. Thank you for being good citizens.
So the auditorium is cleared out. Now that’s over. And I guess next, we’re headed to Washington to cover the actual vote.
Did you bring water? Or did I just, like — idiotically, I left my water on the other side of the Capitol. It’s O.K. It’s OK. It’s OK.
O.K. So Michael, where are we right now?
So we’re in the U.S. Capitol, standing just outside the House chamber. You can kind of see it through these double doors. And inside that chamber —
House will be in order.
There’s about six more hours of debate happening. A lot of it very predictable. Democrats are saying —
No one is above the law.
That after great care and lots of prayer —
Today, sadly, we are voting to impeach President Donald John Trump.
They’re taking a principled vote to impeach the president. Republicans are saying —
They hate this president.
Hi, Michael. How’s it going?
And that’s Rashida Tlaib. Because she has been talking about impeachment from the beginning.
How are you?
You look well.
Yeah. Today is something that I’ve been talking to my 14-year-old about, Adam. He’s so funny. Before he went to school, I had a conversation with him.
What did you say?
Oh, just, you know, told you mommy is going to follow through on making sure the bully is not going to remain using the most powerful position in the world to his personal gain and personal profit. I want him to still believe that people have the power, and that the truth always prevails. And so I feel like this gets us closer to that.
So a lot of the focus in this impeachment vote has been on the moderates who are putting themselves at political risk in taking this vote. I’m mindful that it was in January of this year that you came into office and pretty much immediately generated a little bit of news by calling for the impeachment of the president, long before Speaker Pelosi and many of the moderate Democrats were ready to take that action. I think I was actually here with you in the Capitol when that happened. And we had talked at that point about the fear that you and other progressive freshmen in the House might push the party to left in a way that could jeopardize those moderate colleagues. And now here we are, right? So I wonder what you make of that journey of the whole House Democratic delegation?
You know, I don’t like it when people say we’re moving folks to the left or moving folks to the right. We’re moving folks towards the truth. To me, that’s nonpartisan. The fact of the matter is something was wrong here. Children were being caged at the border. He was profiting off of being a sitting C.E.O. in the White House. There was a number of impeachable offenses before I even got here, and these are things that I was hearing from my residents all the time.
But that’s not what today is about.
Oh, of course not. You know, one of the things I said after this happened, after, you know, the Ukraine call happened, is that that’s what got us to 218. I mean, look, I am not a person that pushed this opinion of what was happening from the White House onto my colleagues. That was not my intention. My intention was to serve the residents of the Thirteenth District. They elected me out of a number of candidates, saying that this is also about electing the jury that will hold this president accountable. And that’s exactly what I did from day one. For many of my colleagues, they didn’t run on this issue, right? But, I mean, the time has found us, as Speaker Pelosi kept saying. And it’s very true, I think many were very hesitant, but the Ukraine call took them over the edge, for many of these folks.
Well, let me talk about one of these districts, because earlier this week, Lisa and I went to Michigan, your state. We drove through your district on the way to the district of one of your colleagues, Elissa Slotkin, who flipped her seat from Republican to Democrat. And the threat to her seat and the anger of constituents who now know she’s going to be voting for impeachment, it was really apparent right away. There was a lot of fury directed at her.
Yeah, I mean, I think, Michael, it’s really important for folks to know Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s district is so different from mine.
And she has to represent her district. I think for my residents and I, there’s a sense of liberation. They’ve been calling with excitement of finally some sense of accountability. I think when we see injustices, we see things that just don’t make any sense, we feel like it’s hurting the country, hurting people, that people are actually in true, real emotional pain from things around the racist abuse of power to even threats to our national security. It creates so much anxiety around the country. And for folks, they just want to feel like somebody is fighting for them. That somebody here has their back.
This feels like a moment of that for them?
Yes. I think they want people to speak up. It’s like, why aren’t they saying anything? Why aren’t people doing anything about it? Isn’t that illegal? Shouldn’t those folks be in jail? You know, these are the kinds of things I hear from my residents all the time. So for today, it is very much an incredible moment that they finally feel a sense that they are believed. And so yeah, that’s the one thing. I respect that she has a different district than mine. I don’t impose my opinion onto her district, and I think she doesn’t do the same to mine.
Let me create a picture for you and I want to know what you think of it. The House flips, Democrats lose it, the president is impeached, but just in the House, not in the Senate. Is it worth it? Is it worth it?
Yes! Why isn’t it worth it? It is protecting our future. Do you know — if we always decided to function from political strategy, we wouldn’t get things done. Would the Affordable Care Act pass? It wasn’t perfect, but you know what? We actually saved lives. And some people couldn’t come back because they voted for that. But if we were to go back, do we want to do it all over again? Yeah, we would. We would, to save people’s lives. And for us, this is about saving our democracy. And sometimes that means putting our neck out. And yes, they’re going to use this against us and try to vilify what we tried to do, which is put our country first.
Isn’t that easier to say when you’re from a —
Absolutely it is.
— blue district?
But don’t think my life hasn’t been threatened. Don’t think that the first actual coffee hour I had, I didn’t have the same protesters that Elissa Slotkin had that said, impeach Rashida Tlaib. I have three people now getting prosecuted for threatening my life. You know, I feel like, in many ways, my life has completely been transformed because I will not stand down. I will not allow this corrupt president to abuse his power, nor put people in the pain that they are going through right now, because he decided to obstruct Congress. That he decided that he doesn’t really care about the process, and the rules, and the laws. You don’t take over the United States of America. You get elected, and you serve it. And so we’re going to served the United States of America today by holding this president accountable and setting a very clear message that we won’t allow this danger precedent in our history to continue. Because it could be a Democrat or a Republican down the line that would do the same and get away with it. And that, to me, is what is at stake more than being in the majority or winning an election.
I know you have to go. I want to thank you for spending the last year with us.
Yes, of course. Thank you so much. It’s been an incredible journey.
And letting us tell your story.
Thank you. Thank you, Michael. I’m speaking on the floor, so —
Good luck with your speech.
Madame Speaker, I now yield one minute to the gentlelady from Michigan, Miss Tlaib.
The gentlelady is recognized for one minute.
Thank you. I rise today in support of impeachment.
I learned so much every single day from my residents at home. Their common sense and understanding of what is right and wrong is centered on why they oppose any person using the most powerful position in the world for personal gain. Doing nothing here, Madame Speaker, is not an option. Looking away from these crimes against our country is not an option. This is about protecting the future of our nation and our democracy from corruption, abuse of power, criminal cover-ups and bribery. And this, Madame Speaker, this vote is also for my sons and the future of so many generations. So I urge my colleagues to please vote yes on these articles of impeachment. With that, Madame Speaker, I yield.
Gentleman from Georgia.
Thank you, Madame Speaker.
With today’s illegal, unconstitutional and partisan impeachment —
— the do-nothing Democrats, and they are do-nothing, all they want to do is focus on this. What they could be doing are declaring their deep hatred and disdain for the American voter.