NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry, he didn't take it lightly.
"The tragedy for America is that it's happening at all," were some of the first words out of the Congressman's mouth when he sat down for an interview with NewsChannel 5.
"The Bible says we should be slow to anger, and I think that's right. I have tried to be patient. But the President has overstepped so many bounds it's really almost pointless to list them at this point. When you see someone cozying up to foreign dictators, some of the worst people in the world, and at the same time betraying some of our closest allies that's very scary," said Cooper.
Rep. Cooper came out in favor of the impeachment inquiry back in September after news broke of a phone call in which President Trump appeared to be withholding military aid to force Ukraine into investigating potential presidential rival Joe Biden's son, Hunter.
Since then, he says, the President's words and actions have only become more brazen.
"The crazy thing about the Ukrainian phone call, is it happened the day after the Mueller report was released. He thought he was home free and then he started talking about it openly," Rep. Cooper said.
"Then, just last week, the President compounded that by inviting China to interfere with our elections. So what many people thought the President was trying to hide or the Mueller report couldn't really find now he comes out in the open and is doing it in public."
He's also concerned that the recent announcement to withdraw from Syria reflects a foreign policy that is more attuned to the interests of Russia than to the U.S.
"This could really hurt U.S. soldiers. It could really hurt America as a country. Russia is astonishingly weak really, but Putin has been good at playing a weak hand. He's very aggressive, he's completely ruthless, he's a former KGB agent. He knows how to manipulate people and I'm prayerful that he hasn't already manipulated our President."
Still, Rep. Cooper said he respects the process and won't say how he'll vote until all the facts are out, regardless of politics: "It's not a political grievance. It's 'Did you really break a serious law?'
"I would have to admit that many people in politics are politically motivated. There's some people who have wanted to get Trump from day one and that is clearly excessive. I waited until really just a couple of weeks ago and said 'Hey, when the President is asking on the White House lawn for China, in addition to Ukraine, to interfere in our elections, that's way over the line,'" he said. "Presidents should not do that. They should not try to undermine our own democracy. That is totally wrong."
Still, with Republicans holding a majority in the Senate, a partisan vote means that President Trump could be impeached but not removed from office. But Rep. Cooper says that tide may be turning.
"All the Republicans I know are as worried as I am, but they have a harder time speaking out in public."
"All I want is for people to follow the Howard Baker example - the former Tennessee senator who led the Watergate investigation. A president of his own party, Richard NIxon, was in the White House. But Howard Baker had the courage to ask the simple question "What did the President know and when did he know it?" That became the phrase that everybody uttered. It was so fair and so pure because all he wanted was the truth."
Rep. Jim Cooper is a Democrat representing the 5th district, which includes Davidson, Cheatham, and Dickson counties.
We also spoke with Rep. Mark Green about his position. You can read his comments here.