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Washington, Idaho lawmakers split along party lines on Trump impeachment inquiry

UPDATED: Tue., Sept. 24, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., reads a statement announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., reads a statement announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

Republicans met House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Tuesday announcement of an official impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump with skepticism, while Democrats said the time was right for an investigation.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who on Monday called for Trump to release a transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian president prompting suspicions of misuse of power, said Democrats were “jumping to unfounded conclusions” following Pelosi’s announcement.

“Instead of waiting for all the facts, House Democrats are jumping to unfounded conclusions. When people we represent are searching for hope and expecting results, both Republicans and Democrats need to dig a little deeper and be more focused on solving problems that make a difference, not just a point,” the congresswoman said in a statement. “I’m pleased the President is being transparent and releasing the transcript of the conversation this week. I will be reviewing the facts before making any decisions on what’s best for the American people.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell, in a brief statement, applauded her fellow Democrat for taking the next step in a potential impeachment probe.

“I support Speaker Pelosi’s decision to initiate a formal impeachment inquiry. No one is above the law,” Cantwell said. “We must safeguard our democracy and stop foreign interference in our elections.”

Sen. Patty Murray called the contact with Ukrainian officials evidence of “gross corruption and a clear threat to our democracy.”

“I have already said I support formal impeachment proceedings in the House,” Murray said in a tweet Tuesday morning, before Pelosi’s statement. “Recent reports – & the President’s own admissions – about pressuring a foreign government to investigate a political rival are a fundamental threat to our democracy that makes this process even more vital.”

Idaho Republican Rep. Russ Fulcher said Pelosi’s announcement was another attempt by congressional Democrats to divert attention away from substantive issues.

“Since the day President Trump was elected to office, this has been the Democrats’ strategy,” Fulcher said in a statement. “They can’t win in the arena of ideas or in superiority of candidates, so the obstruction continues – tax returns, the Mueller investigation, a fake dossier, the absence of collusion, election interference, and now it’s a whistleblower report. In the meantime, the work of the people remains on hold.”

Sen. Mike Crapo, who served in the House of Representatives in 1998 when the chamber last voted on impeachment proceedings, issued a statement via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon urging Congress to take a deliberative look at the evidence before acting.

“I always prefer Congress remain a legislative body that advances legislation on behalf of the American people,” Crapo said. “As to the question of impeachment, our entire legal system is dependent on our ability to find the truth. I will wait for further information regarding the facts of this matter and refrain from speculating on any outcomes of this discussion or process.”

Crapo voted to impeach Clinton on all four of the articles against him, including two perjury counts, one of obstruction of justice and of abuse of power.

The statements set up what will likely be a clear ideological divide in the process on Capitol Hill.

That’s to be expected, said former Rep. George Nethercutt, a Republican who also voted to impeach Clinton on all charges, except his abuse of power. Nethercutt said he considered all the testimony and information carefully before making his decisions.

“I think there’s more politics in today’s vote, frankly, because the Democrats don’t like what Mr. Trump has done,” Nethercutt said. “So they’re inclined to vote in favor of impeachment.”

Nethercutt said despite his concern about Trump’s actions in office, he hadn’t yet seen evidence of illegal acts that would lead him to vote for impeachment.

“I think there’s got to be an underlying crime that he’s guilty of,” Nethercutt said.

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