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Inland Northwest lawmakers respond – and don’t – to Sondland testimony

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 20, 2019

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland finishes a day of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. , (Samuel Corum / AP)
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland finishes a day of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. , (Samuel Corum / AP)

The region’s congressional delegation largely remained silent, but seemed to remain split, on the ongoing impeachment hearings after dramatic testimony Wednesday from Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a northwest businessman.

In his opening remarks to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Sondland said Rudy Giuliani’s demands that Ukraine conduct investigations in service of President Donald Trump constituted a quid pro quo.

“Mr. Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelenskiy,” Sondland said in his remarks, referring to the former mayor of New York. “Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election DNC server and Burisma. Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew these investigations were important to the president.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., declined to comment on Sondland’s testimony. McMorris Rodgers is a member of the bipartisan Congressional Ukraine Caucus, which was established in 1997 to strengthen Ukrainian sovereignty following its 1990 independence.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., offered a strong indictment.

“This morning’s hearing provided even more detailed and disturbing evidence confirming what we already know: that President Trump demanded the Ukrainian government launch a politically-motivated investigation into his opponent, and in doing so, invited foreign interference in our next election,” Murray said in a statement. “These are facts every American should find appalling, and as the House of Representatives continues to gather all the facts I hope every elected official – regardless of party – is prepared to put our country first.”

Sen. Mike Crapo said he has yet to hear anything he would consider impeachable.

“Since the beginning of Trump’s presidency, Democrats have been engaged in total obstruction including, but not limited to, forcing constant delays in confirming well-qualified nominees and blocking important legislation,” Crapo, R-Idaho, said in a statement. “On Inauguration Day, January 2017, the Washington Post ran the headline ‘The Campaign to Impeach President Trump Has Begun,’ and it is increasingly evident that Democrats intend to continue their partisan, non-stop attacks against the President.”

Marty Boughton, a spokesman for Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said the senator did not think it would be helpful to weigh in unless the matter reached the Senate floor.

“Rather than commenting on every new piece of information, the senator is monitoring these issues and will comment if and when impeachment proceedings move to the Senate and he has cast his official vote as a juror in those impeachment proceedings,” Boughton said. “In the meantime, as chairman, he will of course weigh in on the status of and path forward on foreign relations and other matters.”

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., did not immediately comment.

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