Democratic Rep. Slotkin faces rowdy town hall after announcing support for impeachment

The first-term Michigan congresswoman was met with cheers and jeers as she explained her reasons to a divided district.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., speaks at a community conversation in Rochester, Mich., on Dec. 16, 2019.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., speaks at a community conversation in Rochester, Mich., on Dec. 16, 2019.Carlos Osorio / AP

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By Leigh Ann Caldwell

ROCHESTER, Mich. — Rep. Elissa Slotkin received both standing ovations and jeers from voters at a town hall here Monday morning as the vulnerable Michigan Democrat explained her decision to support two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump when the full House votes on them Wednesday.

During the raucous hourlong event, Slotkin was consistently interrupted by cheers from supporters of her decision and boos from Trump backers, including representatives from the Michigan Republican Party.

“I want people to think about where we will be if it becomes normal to ask foreign governments to intervene in our political process,” Slotkin said in her remarks explaining the decision. “What if that becomes normal? What if next time we have a Democratic president asking the Chinese government for a cyberattack, for something new, for some intrusion? For me, this is something I cannot abide, that I cannot accept.”

She added that she is “deeply concerned” that anyone would believe it’s appropriate for the president to ask Ukrainians to investigate allegations of corruption involving U.S. citizens rather than U.S. federal law enforcement agencies. Trump supporters in the audience yelled “deep state” when she insisted that the FBI is equipped to handle any investigations the president wanted into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and alleged interference by Ukraine into the 2016 election.

Tensions between the two sides boiled over at some points with several voices heard yelling “shut up” at each other. One Trump supporter told a Slotkin supporter that she “was a waste of breath.”

Slotkin voters held signs thanking her for “defending the Constitution” and Trump supporters donned “impeach Slotkin” signs.

One Slotkin protester stood midway through the town hall and turned his back as she stood on a riser behind a podium with American and Michigan flags as the backdrop. He remained that way for the remainder of the event.

Despite the divide on display in the room, Slotkin told reporters after the event she “appreciated” the spirit of the crowd.

“From my vantage point, standing up there, there is a room full of people with very different opinions,” she said, including “a lot of folks who had on their Trump hats, who clearly didn't agree with where I was. But what I appreciated about them is that they listened. They weren't shouting, they were waiting to hear my answers and that is the best I can ask for, is engaged citizens who came — who don't agree but were willing to give me a chance to explain myself.”

She first announced her decision to support the impeachment articles early Monday morning and explained her reasons in a Detroit Free Press op-ed article. Slotkin said she did not inform House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of her decision.

As a first-term congresswoman from a district that Trump won by nearly 7 points in 2016, she became the latest vulnerable Democrat to announce support for impeachment.

The House of Representatives is voting on two articles of impeachment this week: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Slotkin, a former CIA officer and Department of Defense official, said that the president “illegally solicited the help of foreigners to influence the American political process.”

“There are some decisions in life that have to be made based on what you know in your bones is right. And this is one of those times,” Slotkin wrote in her op-ed about the abuse of power charge.

On obstruction of Congress, Slotkin says the president’s obstruction of the impeachment investigation was “unprecedented.”