Ambassador move could lead to impeachment, Congressman says

Turning over former US Ambassador Michael McFaul to Russia for questioning would be grounds for impeaching President Donald Trump, Rep. Eric Swalwell declared on Wednesday.

“Republicans in Congress need to stand firm that we absolutely will not tolerate the President even considering turning over a US ambassador. If he were to do that, I think that would absolutely be grounds for removal from office,” the California Democrat said Wednesday in an interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

The idea of sending the former US ambassador to Russia overseas as part of a Russian investigation in exchange for Moscow’s assistance in the Robert Mueller special counsel probe was floated at the Helsinki summit Monday between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s no reason we would open up our evidence files, send our investigators over there to let them review that. That would be like a victim allowing the burglar to set up the home security system. That’s ridiculous,” Swalwell told Burnett.

At the White House press briefing on Wednesday, press secretary Sarah Sanders said Putin’s request was being considered but that no decision had been made.

“The President’s going to meet with his team and we’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that,” she said.

Russia also asked to interview the American-born financier Bill Browder, who successfully lobbied the US government to impose new sanctions on Moscow.

At the joint news conference between Trump and Putin on Monday, Trump called it an “interesting idea.”

McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama, has been cited by Russian media as a “person of interest” in an ongoing investigation into Browder.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also commented on the matter on Wednesday, and denied that the US would allow such an exchange to take place.

“The overall assertions that have come out of the Russian government are absolutely absurd,” Nauert said. “The fact that they want to question 11 American citizens and the assertions American citizens — we do not stand by those assertions that the Russian government makes. The prosecutor general in Russia is well aware that the United States has rejected Russian allegations in this regard.”