Interview with U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal

Published: January 23, 2020

By Jim Lichtman
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U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal (D) represents California’s 24th District. A former Marine, he currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, Budget Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Our interview took place on January 3rd. I began by asking about new information regarding the Ukraine incident.

New, redacted e-mails show that the president asked that aid for Ukraine – voted on by congress – should be withheld. This is the most direct link to date that the president acted out of his own interests rather than the interests of the country. However, here’s what some Trump supporters say.

“Did he do something wrong? It doesn’t appear to me that he did…. As a Trump supporter, I believe in him.”

“…it’s a coup. I don’t know what was illegal. We ask countries to do things all the time.”

What message would you tell these voters about President Trump? 

Well the message is that nobody is above the law.

The House issued two articles of impeachment: abuse of power, and obstruction of congress.

Abuse of power centered on the fact that the president invited interference by a foreign government to help his personal political goals, not to help national security.

Obstruction of congress concerns the fact that he directed everyone in his administration who was subpoenaed to ignore those subpoenas, and not come before congress to answer questions about all these issues and about the e-mails that we are now seeing that appear to incriminate this president.

Aside from Justin Amash – who recently changed from Republican to Independent –why do you think congressional Republicans continue to support this president despite a mountain of evidence regarding his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky?

I think they’re caught in a paradox.

This is still a Republican president who will sign any legislation that moves forward, and they have an interest in making sure that relationship continues.

Perhaps more significantly, I think Republicans in congress are scared that this president will go after them in a tweet and single them out in their own districts and states. I think they believe they have no choice but to continue [to support him] because they want to stay in congress. This is not about staying in office. This is not about party. This should be about the interests of the United States. That’s the main reason why all of us were elected to congress.

So you don’t necessarily see any profiles in courage coming from Republicans in the Senate.

Unfortunately, no. There are a few. [Republican from Alaska], Lisa Murkowski, who is now raising issues of fairness. Perhaps she should say what Nancy Pelosi has been saying – and I think what the entire country is saying – that we should pursue a fair trial like the constitution outlines the Senate to do. Clearly, Mr. McConnell and others, have already  telegraphed that they have no interest in conducting such a fair hearing.

They don’t telegraph anymore, congressman. Mitch McConnell has flat out said, “I’m going to work in concert with the White House. I’ve already made up my mind.”

Absolutely; from telegraphing to outright shamelessness.

What do you say to people who are burned-out by all the back and forth, and those who are just not interested, anymore?

We must uphold our constitutional responsibility to hold this administration accountable. As such, when it became clear that this president broke the law, the House moved forward with impeachment. However, the media has focused so much time on impeachment that they haven’t looked at the other things the House has been doing. Let me give you some examples.

– The House has passed HR-3 to lower drug costs and give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug costs for the American people.

– The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act, which would prohibit oil and gas development off most of our coast throughout the United States. That also includes a bill I introduced, the California Clean Coast Act which would also prevent future offshore oil development off the California coast.

– We passed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020, which has passed every year for the last 58 years. However, Mitch McConnell refuses to take it up in the Senate.

– We passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act which would do two things: legalize the agricultural work force and modernize the H-2A visa program thereby creating a legal guest worker program to help our agriculture community and assist those working in that sector.

– We’ve passed the Paycheck Fairness Act to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour.

– We passed the Equality Act to prohibit discrimination and protect civil rights for all LGBTQ community members.

So we’ve done a lot.

What happened to those bills when they moved to the Senate?

You’re touching on the most egregious partisanship by McConnell. The House has passed over 270 bipartisan bills – bipartisan bills – that Senator McConnell has not even put on the floor for a vote.

Has he offered a reason?

It’s obstruction. I think that the American people have gotten a clear message that McConnell’s main roll is not to work on behalf of the American people but to stop all progress, even bipartisan progress, on legislation that has been moved forward by the House of Representatives.

The interview concludes tomorrow with a discussion of USMCA, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, and an important final question.


  1. Wow! If only half of this were true, it would be horrible:

    “Republicans in congress are scared that this president will go after them in a tweet and single them out in their own districts and states…This should be about the interests of the United States.

    “The House has passed over 270 bipartisan bills – bipartisan bills – that Senator McConnell has not even put on the floor for a vote.”

    So sad.

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