Rep. Mike Thompson: Democrats should not rush to impeach Trump

Rep. Mike Thompson doesn’t think his fellow Democrats should make impeaching President Donald Trump a priority if they regain a majority of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

Thompson, D-St. Helena, believes Democrats would be better served by focusing on trying to improve the nation’s crumbling infrastructure - and providing job opportunities along the way, he said in a Friday interview at The Press Democrat’s downtown Santa Rosa office. Rushing to impeach Trump could backfire and make Democrats a “one-term majority,” he said.

“We have to be very, very guarded on what we do,” Thompson said. “If the Democrats come out with every wild idea possible, that’s going to truncate our majority longevity. So I think we need to be smart.”

Thompson, a member of House Democrats’ moderate Blue Dog Coalition, didn’t rule out the possibility of impeaching the president. Rather, he deferred to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“Mueller needs to do his work,” Thompson said. “We need to find out the facts and then move from there.”

Thompson, 67, was first elected to the House 20 years ago and is running for re-election again this year to continue representing the 5th Congressional District, which includes all of Napa County and parts of Sonoma, Lake, Solano and Contra Costa counties. In the June primary, he faces three opponents: Jason Kishineff, a parent and homemaker aligned with the Green Party, mariner Anthony Mills and Nils Palsson, a teacher and nonprofit director. Mills and Palsson are listed as no party preference, according to the California Secretary of State’s office.

Thompson projected confidence about the Democratic Party’s chances in November, positing that if the election were held today, Democrats would emerge with more House seats than their Republican opponents. But a lot can happen in the next six months, he admitted.

If the Democrats don’t win the majority, Thompson is certain the current leadership, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, will change over. Even if the party is successful, however, he predicted by 2020 the party will be led by different House members.

Gun control is a top priority for Thompson, who co-authored proposed legislation to expand background checks for people who seek to purchase firearms.

Thompson believes the bill will pass regardless of whether Democrats have a majority in the House - it just might take longer if Republicans are in charge, he said.

Immigration issues are also important, he said, voicing support for continuing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. Thompson also wants to push for more comprehensive immigration reform that would make it easier for people to stay in the country legally.

Additionally, Thompson recently introduced a measure to help Santa Rosa pay for the estimated $43 million repair of a Fountaingrove water system damaged by the October wildfires. The measure was included along with numerous other amendments attached to a larger spending bill, and passed overwhelmingly on a bipartisan vote, sending it to the Senate for consideration. Separate votes will be required to appropriate the funds.

“This is a first-time deal,” Thompson said. “We didn’t know there was a problem until there was a problem, and this is what we came up with for the solution.”

In the interview Friday, Thompson initially agreed that Sonoma County should not have sent a mass cellphone alert during the first hours of the firestorm - a failure that has been widely criticized during the past seven months.

“Had that gone out as a mass alert, there would have been a lot of people dead, I think,” he said. “Because everybody would have been trying to evacuate instead of just the people that needed to. And if that were to happen, all the roads would have been clogged up and there would have been more casualties.”

Thompson later clarified he thinks a targeted wireless alert with precise messaging could be effective. He was also supportive of using sirens as fire warning systems in certain areas, and praised a move from authorities in Napa County to reprogram sirens on sheriff patrol cars to feature a different sound for warning the public about disasters.

You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or On Twitter @thejdmorris.

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