Declaring that the president has committed “a betrayal” of national security, national intelligence, and whistleblower statutes, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday (Sept. 24) the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives will officially launch an impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump.
The move centers around Trump’s admission that he spoke with the Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this summer and asked him to investigate one of Trump’s chief political rivals, former Vice-president Joe Biden. A whistleblower complaint that was revealed in the last week raised alarms about the president’s conversation, which also included delaying approved foreign aid to Ukraine. Trump has denied he did anything wrong.
While Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry would begin this week, further details about a potential formal vote for the inquiry or a condemnation of conduct vote were not disclosed.
At least one member of Arkansas’ all-Republican Congressional delegation indicated the move was “a charade,” while others suggested the effort was premature or posturing.
U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said he looks forward to seeing the transcript of Trump’s call to Zelensky and he said there were other pressing matters that deserved more House attention.
“The President has told the American people that he intends to declassify his call to the Ukrainian President and share all its contents in an un-redacted format. While the President has the broad authority to conduct foreign policy as he sees fit, the Speaker and her conference continue to resist and obstruct progress that would benefit all quarters of the country,” Crawford said. “It’s time she drops her charade of impeachment politics and brings up USMCA, ways to solve the crisis on our Southern Border, and ensuring our national defense is secured via passage of NDAA.”
“This announcement is unsurprising,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers. “Instead of governing, House Democrats have been obsessed with impeachment – it’s been their entire agenda. Now, they are moving forward with an inquiry without all the facts. Fueling hysteria and spreading unsubstantiated narratives is dangerous. Congress should be focused on the real challenges facing the nation.”
Democratic Congressional candidate Celeste Williams, who is challenging Womack in the Third District in 2020, said the accusations against Trump are “deeply concerning.”
“Recent accusations that the office of the American Presidency has been used to pressure a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent are deeply concerning. This is not a reflection of American values, and it is not how a healthy democracy works. No one is above the law. Congress is constitutionally mandated to oversee the executive branch, and we must have a full accounting for these actions,” Williams said. “If the President withheld appropriated funds from the Ukrainian government meant to help defend against Russian aggression – and used those funds as leverage to pressure Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate an opponent – which would directly benefit his campaign, that should be investigated. We must put country ahead of party politics. I worry that the division in this country is one of our greatest threats to national security. I pray the transcript shows this was not the case.”
“Speaker Pelosi announced an ‘official’ impeachment inquiry today, but no one knows exactly what that means. There’s no House vote, no select committees, no apparent change from the status quo – we’ve already been embroiled in impeachment inquiries for two years,” Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, said. “House Democrats are a solution in search of a problem, and they’re keeping Congress from the business of legislating. If Democrats truly believed the president is in violation of the law, they could start the impeachment process. Instead, all we’ve seen so far are press conferences, political posturing and hasty, uninformed conclusions.”
William Hanson, newly announced Fourth District Congressional Democratic candidate, said the inquiry seems warranted.
“I think if the facts are as they appear to be – the president attempting to coerce a foreign government to investigate his political opponent, thus interfering in our election plus his ongoing obstruction of Congress exercised through their oversight function – I believe a formal impeachment inquiry is appropriate at this time. We are one week from Constitution Day last week, last Tuesday. I think James Madison would be pleased.”
“Impeachment has consumed Congressional Democrats since the president’s first day in office. The Mueller report did not deliver the impeachment verdict they were hoping for, so now they are trying again with an anonymous whistleblower complaint based off, reportedly, zero firsthand information,” said Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock. “Speaker Pelosi’s decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry before all the facts have surfaced proves once again that Congressional Democrats care more about undermining the president than finding the truth. Rather than caving to the radical elements in her ranks, Speaker Pelosi should focus on issues important to the American people like securing our southwest border and passing USMCA.”
While the impeachment inquiry will be centered in the U.S. House, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., claimed the move was premature in a statement released late Tuesday.
“Despite an unprecedented act of transparency by the president in releasing the transcript of his call with a foreign leader, the Democrats nevertheless plunged headlong into their nonstop obsession with impeachment. I only wish they’d get the facts before jumping to a conclusion, while dedicating a fraction of the energy to improving the lives of Arkansans,” he said.
Cotton sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The full Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday for the whistleblower complaint from the office of Director of National Intelligence to be turned over to Congress.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said the Senate action was the right move, while he questioned Pelosi’s motives.
“The Senate voted unanimously to request that the whistleblower complaint be turned over to the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is the responsible manner in which to investigate accusations,” Boozman said. “The Speaker is ignoring this process with her blatantly partisan tactics. Democrats have long sought to weaken the president, appease their base and further divide the country through impeachment. This latest action demonstrates their willingness to blindly follow this obsession regardless of the facts.”