19th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT -- Congress must continue to aggressively investigate whether President Donald Trump's conduct toward the federal investigation of his 2016 election campaign warrants impeachment, US. Rep. Antonio Degado said on Monday.
The freshman Democrat representing the 19th Congressional District has not taken a position on impeachment, even as dozens of Democrats in the House of Representatives have called for at least the start of an impeachment investigation. Of the 235 Democrats in the House, 80 have so far called for impeachment proceedings.
The calls are based on the findings of the Mueller report, in which a team led by former FBI director Robert Mueller found there was extensive Russian interference in support of Trump in the 2016 election. It also outlined instances in which Trump sought to impede the subsequent investigation after he was in office, a potential obstruction of justice.
"We need to continue as we have been, which is to aggressively investigate," Delgado said during a conference call with reporters. "Mueller coming in to testify I think is a very good development ...The more and more we investigate, we get the evidence underlying the Mueller report."
Mueller has agreed to appear before the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees on July 17, the first time he has testified publicly about the fundings of his two-year investigation, and the 448-page report released in April.
Among the Capital Region's other congressional representatives, 20th District Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, has already called for the start of an impeachment investigation, "to more fully assess the Constitutional implications of seemingly criminal actions by the president and his campaign."
21st District Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, last week said she opposes impeachment but expects both sides to have many questions for Mueller during his appearance. As a member of the Intelligence Committee, Stefanik will be among those asking questions.
In answer to another question, Delgado condemned the federal government's treatment of detainees at the southern border, where there has been an influx of people entering the country illegally. An independent government inspector recently reported dangerously crowded and unsanitary conditions. There are also temporary camps where children separated from their parents are being detained.
"I share in the outrage that people have expressed with the treatment of our fellow human beings. I find it horrendous," Delgado said. "We need to treat people with dignity and respect."
Last week, Delgado voted for a bill that provided increased funding for border security, though some progressive critics opposed it, saying the bill didn't do enough to protect the rights of the detainees.
“The fact is our country needs to get really serious about the need for immigration reform," he said. "I think increased (congressional) oversight is of paramount importance."
“I have a lot concerns with how the administration has treated the flow of migrants," he said.
Delgado, who in 2018 upset incumbent Republican John Faso in the district what stretches from western Montgomery County through the Catskills into the Hudson Valley, also talked about time spent touring the district during the July 4 congressional break, including visits to two Montgomery County farms.
He spoke highly of a program that pairs military service veterans with farms in need of manual labor -- a chronic problem in particular in dairy farming, but common in agriculture.
“This kind of program could do a lot of good both for the veterans coming back home and for the farmers," said Delgado, a member of the House Agriculture Committee whose district is largely rural and with many farms. "The farmers will tell you it’s hard to find the people with that kind of work ethic. These veterans obviously have that kind of work ethic.”
National Republicans have targeted the 19th Congressional District as one the party wants to take back in 2020, but no Republicans have yet filed paperwork to create a campaign committee.
Delgado reported raising $755,000 for his re-election campaign in the first quarter of 2019, with most of it from individual donations.