U.S. Rep David Price believes the presidency of Donald Trump is a “wake-up call” for the legislative branch.
The long-serving Democratic representative from Chapel Hill said the first months of the Trump administration have been a time to figure out what responsibilities legislators have, including possibly removing the president from office if needed.
“I have never dealt with a president like this before,” he said.
“I have dealt with a lot of Republican presidents and with changes in power, but I have never dealt with a president that has challenged American diplomacy in such a fundamental way or for that matter the values we stand for as a country.
“I think we really have to process this and figure out what our obligations are under this president and it may well be at some point moving to remove him or censuring him.”
Price’s comments came during a wide-ranging interview at The Herald-Sun’s office on Tuesday. The following remarks have been edited for clarity.
Q: Do you really think there is a basis for removing the president?
A: I think we know where the thin ice is. I would say it’s two main areas: One being the Russian investigation and one being the emoluments clause and conflicts of interest. I would say in both areas there’s mounting evidence of trouble.
In the case of the Russian investigation you really do have to let it go forward and see what the full investigation produces. It’s very important to do that. But those are the areas you could say this is the territory to most likely lead to some kind of removal.
I don’t think the only remedy we have in a situation like this is impeachment, although that is a question that many people expect will arise.
Q: What have been some notable achievements this year for you?
A: There are a couple things that we have done that I have been pointing out in town meetings – just in case people think it is totally a blank slate (for Trump).
We voted virtuously unanimously in both houses to forbid this president from lifting the sanctions on Russia. That is not a small thing, in fact that is a very big deal.
I normally wouldn’t vote that way. I would think that if you are imposing sanctions the president should have waver authority to apply them flexibly.
I don’t believe that with this president – I don’t trust him for a moment with these sanctions. It turns out that Republicans didn’t either.
Q: What are the chances of a government shutdown next month?
A: Excellent … Trump has said he wants it. That’s another new thing. When have you ever heard a president say they want a shutdown? They usually try to avoid blame for whatever happens.
But he said he will provoke it if he needs to to get his wall built down on the border.
I think one thing that might happen is (Hurricane Harvey) in Texas injects a new element into this. ... It would look pretty awful in the middle of this disaster to play games of that sort.
(Trump) seems to be fully aware of how much he is being tested by this disaster, so I think there is some likelihood that Harvey changes everything.
Q: Are you concerned about potential job losses in Research Triangle Park, if the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is slashed?
A: You haven’t seen anything yet. You are talking about job losses at the agency? This is a huge area of concern.
The Research Triangle area is the center of environmental research in this country. We have the only NIH institute outside of Bethesda, Maryland, ... and we have the EPA’s (second largest office), a lab which I worked nine years to appropriate the funds for. Listen there is no question that this is a major presence here.
What happens to EPA research is not just a matter of the undergirding of public policy research, it is also a matter here of really thousands of jobs. If you think about who is out at the (RTP) when you talk about the research that the universities work on, when you talk about the small firms servicing the EPA – it’s a huge thing.
If you had anything like the Trump budget enacted the estimate we made ... was (that) about one-half the budget for EPA research would’ve been eliminated. So there you really are talking about labs closing, large scale layoffs and just a totally devastating effect on research.