(CNN)Republican Rep. Tom McClintock faced jeers, boos and shouts of “do your job” at a town hall meeting in his California district Saturday, but one thing the crowd liked was his stance on Syria — precisely because he criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to strike an air base in that country on Thursday.
“I think that this President does need to be held to the letter of the Constitution,” McClintock told the crowd. “I believe his attack on Syria exceeded his authority as commander-in-chief.”
On Friday, McClintock issued a statement condemning the President’s decision to launch Thursday’s missile strike without asking Congress for permission. He elaborated on the point after the town hall meeting, telling reporters, “If the administration wants to commit military forces without (an) attack on the United States, or its possessions or its armed forces … the Constitution is very clear: He must bring that request to the Congress.”
For most of the wide-ranging town hall discussion, however, McClintock faced varying degrees of negativity from a crowd that had telegraphed its mindset with signs that said things like, “Obamacare Fix It, Don’t Nix It,” and “Independent Commission Re Russia/Trump.”
On the latter, McClintock faced some tough questions, perhaps heralding what’s to come for lawmakers at other town halls over their two-week spring recess.
A woman asked if McClintock believed the FBI and congressional investigations into any ties between Trump campaign aides and Russia, which US intelligence agencies say interfered in the US election, are an attempt to delegitimize Trump’s victory, as some Republicans have said.
“We want to see all the facts on the table,” McClintock replied. “That’s why there is an investigation going on.”
When McClintock said those investigations should look into Trump’s accusation earlier this week that President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, likely broke the law by allegedly requesting the names of Trump campaign officials caught up in the broader surveillance of Russian officials — a claim for which Trump provided no evidence and which Rice has denied — the congressman’s answer was received with loud boos.
Much of the nearly two-hour town hall was filled with similarly big questions over issues that have dogged Republicans in the early stages of the Trump administration. But some remarks were just statements of flat-out disapproval.
One man called the Republican lawmaker a “rubber stamp for Donald Trump.”
Another asked, “Mr. McClintock, are you aware that you don’t answer questions?” which was followed by loud cheers.
“I answer questions,” McClintock responded. “You might not like the answers, but that’s what discussions like this are all about.”
At times, the back-and-forth got so disruptive that McClintock pleaded for calm.
“Ladies and gentleman, this is supposed to be a civil discussion,” he implored. “Be civil, be polite, and allow people to have a civil exchange of ideas.”
But for all the storminess of the meeting, there was a silver lining for McClintock: At least this town hall wasn’t as fiery as the one in February, when the congressman had to be escorted out by police after screaming anti-Trump protestors filled the venue.