Phillips tells constituents he's not in favor of impeachment of Trump

Rep. Dean Phillips at a town hall event
People carrying peaches -- highlighting debate over whether President Trump should be impeached -- greet U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (second from right) at a town hall event in Mound, Minn., on Saturday.
Riham Feshir | MPR News

Outside a town hall meeting in the western Twin Cities suburb of Mound on Saturday, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips was greeted by a group handing out peaches, a man dressed as Uncle Sam and a sign that said "IMPEACH."

Amid a wide-ranging discussion, many of the more than 200 people on hand Saturday were eager to know the Democratic congressman's take on whether to pursue impeachment of President Trump. To date, Phillips has said he does not support that move.

Phillips told constituents that he'd rather spend the next few weeks working with Senate Republicans on a fix to the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program that affects many Liberians living in Minnesota, as well as a long-term solution to the system for those who seek asylum in the United States.

The first-term congressman also said he'd like to consider Republican-led proposals intended to protect the 2020 elections.

That bipartisan work, he said, would be put on hold if impeachment proceedings begin.

"I understand the principle. I share your anxiety. ... I'm appalled by the behavior of the United States president," Phillips said. "I understand my constitutional responsibility and the oath I took, and I do have some red lines that if crossed even during those (next) six weeks I will have no choice but to change my current position."

Beyond impeachment, Saturday's town hall was filled with questions about health care, military spending, immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border and foreign policy.

One attendee asked for Phillips to take action against the violence in Sudan, where hundreds of civilians have died in clashes between protesters and the ruling military council.

Eimad Ahmmad said he's part of a group that is urging Congress to act.

"We are supporting our people in Sudan to transition to civilian government and we have been in contact with (congressional) representatives all over the country, and we are looking for you to support our cause," he said.

Phillips acknowledged Ahmmad's concerns and said he'll look into a proposal in Congress that might help mitigate the violence.