MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Congressman and likely presidential candidate Eric Swalwell predicts that when the Democrats take over the majority in the House of Representatives next month, President Donald Trump “will be held accountable.”
And in a conversation with Fox News and local New Hampshire news organizations, the California Democrat highlighted that he’s “seriously looking at running for president” and added that his potential White House bid would not be “some vanity project.”
Discussing Trump, Swalwell said, “we now have more evidence than ever that he – the president – was associated with a criminal campaign and a criminal transition and presides today over a criminal presidency.”
Swalwell's comments came after a very difficult week for the president, with a growing number of investigations into the White House and federal prosecutors arguing that Trump orchestrated the paying off of two alleged former mistresses to buy their silence during the 2016 campaign.
Trump, in his first interview since Michael Cohen was sentenced to prison, told Fox News on Thursday that he never directed his former longtime attorney and fixer to do anything wrong.
Pointing to the current GOP controlled House and Senate, Swalwell said Trump “has enjoyed for two years presidential immunity. So those days are over. He will be held accountable and in many ways regardless of what happens with impeachment, we can intervene, we can stop his worst instincts from materializing, where they would hurt the American people.”
The congressman cautioned that the incoming Democratic majority in the House shouldn’t rush to impeach the president. But he added that Trump “might be impeached.”
“If that’s the case it will be because an airtight case will have been presented, bipartisan buy-in will have occurred and the American people will understand why what he has done crossed red lines. But we’re not there yet and we don’t want to be as reckless with the truth as the president has been,” he added.
Swalwell, a frequent guest on MSNBC and CNN who sits on the high profile House Intelligence Committee, was re-elected last month to a fourth term representing California’s 15th Congressional District, which covers most of eastern Alameda County and parts of central Contra Costa County.
Asked about a timeline to decide on a White House bid, Swalwell said: “I’m continuing to talk to folks and I expect a decision after the first of the year or the first quarter.”
“I’m encouraged by what I have seen across the country – in New Hampshire, in Iowa, I’ll be in South Carolina next week – which is this appetite to go bold, do big, and do good. And they want candidates that are going to bring new energy and ideas and leadership, and I think I can offer that,” he added.
Swalwell was interviewed at the Red Arrow Diner in downtown Manchester. The iconic eatery is a must-stop for White House hopefuls. Swalwell was making his second trip in fewer than two months to New Hampshire, the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the race for president.
If he launches what would be considered a longshot bid for the Democratic nomination, Swalwell said he’s confident he could compete with rivals with bigger names and bigger wallets.
Spotlighting his working-class roots, he said, “I’m connected to the American people and the American experience. I was the first in my family to go to college. I have a young family, two kids under two. I still have student loan debts. I understand that American struggle of want and grit.”
“Day by day I’m going to keep coming to New Hampshire, I’m going to listen, I’m going to learn, and they’re (voters) going to see someone who wants to not only be for them but is one of them,” he emphasized.
Swalwell also touted his years as deputy district attorney in Alameda County, and his years in Congress, saying “my experience, I would say, puts me at the top of the field in national security experience, if you look at the Democratic candidates – going on three terms on the House Intelligence Committee and also a term on the Homeland Security Committee. I know the threats our country faces.”
Swalwell met with Democratic lawmakers and activists during his quick trip to the Granite State. And he closed out his visit with a stop at the New Hampshire Young Democrats annual holiday party.
At 38, Swalwell would be one of the youngest candidates in a field that could eventually include up to 20 contenders. But Swalwell, who’s 39 years younger than Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, said his age is a calling card.
“We can’t count on the same old leaders to solve the same old problems,” Swalwell offered. “I think if we want to get out of this rut, out of this gridlock, we’re going to need to rely on the next generation of leaders.”
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.