U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján announced Monday that he supports an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Luján is the longest serving current member of the New Mexico House delegation and is the number four member of House leadership as Assistant Speaker of the House. The Democratic congressman said in a statement that it is “not a position I’ve reached lightly.”
Luján’s support of impeachment is notable not only because of his position in House Democratic leadership, but because he is a close ally of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi has opposed impeachment proceedings even as a majority of the House Democratic caucus supports such a push and has instead argued Democrats should continue investigations into Trump.
Luján cited Trump’s failure to act on reports that the Russian government would target elections systems in the U.S. and findings in the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as reasons why he supported moving forward with an impeachment inquiry against the president.
“The report detailed sustained and frequent attempts by the Trump campaign to establish ties to the Russian government and an eagerness to benefit from hacked information stolen from our fellow Americans,” Luján said. “The Special Counsel also detailed ten different attempts by President Trump to obstruct justice during the investigation. This would be unacceptable behavior from any president.”
Luján is the 125th Democratic member of Congress to support impeachment proceedings according to the Washington Post. Last week, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, another Democrat from New Mexico, announced her support for impeachment proceedings.
Luján is running for U.S. Senate and faces Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver in the Democratic primary. Toulouse Oliver called on the U.S. House to begin impeachment proceedings in May.
Toulouse Oliver responded on Monday afternoon, highlighting that she supported impeachment first.
“First it was the Green New Deal, then it was Medicare for All and not taking any more corporate money,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement. “Today it’s impeachment. I’m glad to see the congressman adopting progressive values, but New Mexico deserves a U.S. Senator who will lead on the issues that truly matter.”
“What is evident is that President Trump is abdicating his responsibility to defend our nation from Russian attacks and is putting his own personal and political interests ahead of the American people,” Luján said.
Update: Added statement from Maggie Toulouse Oliver.