As Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry yesterday, support for the impeachment process has fallen along party lines among members of Congressional delegation. Considering how loyal Virginia’s Republicans have remained to Donald Trump, it shouldn’t be too surprising that all the Republican members of the House have all defended the president. The Democrats, however, have remained open to examining the facts and support the inquiry now that there’s growing evidence Trump committed the “high crimes and misdemeanors” the constitution requires for removal from office.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Henrico) were among five freshmen Democrats with military and national security backgrounds who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for a formal impeachment inquiry on Monday. They represent districts that went for Trump in 2016 and they both won extremely close races during the Democratic wave in the 2018 midterm elections. It was the revelations about Trump’s conversations with the Ukrainian president that lead to the two moderates joining the calls for impeachment.
“The president of the United States may have used his position to pressure a foreign country into investigating a political opponent, and he sought to use U.S. taxpayer dollars as leverage to do it,” the op-ed declared. “He allegedly sought to use the very security assistance dollars appropriated by Congress to create stability in the world, to help root out corruption and to protect our national security interests, for his own personal gain. These allegations are stunning, both in the national security threat they pose and the potential corruption they represent.”
Both Rep. Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin also joined the calls for an impeachment inquiry yesterday. In a statement released before the Speaker’s announcement, McEachin highlighted how the developments surrounding Trump’s conversation with the Ukrainian president was just the latest example of him putting “self-interest ahead of national interests, putting his desire to win re-election above our rule of law and national security.” Rep. Scott announced his support of moving forward when he said launching the impeachment inquiry was “the only appropriate course of action given the severity of recent events.”
The Democrats representing Northern Virginia (Jennifer Wexton, Gerry Connolly, and Don Beyer) had all come out in support of an impeachment inquiry earlier this month. Although these members represent more liberal districts, it’s worth noting that they still weren’t among the first to call for impeachment and only did so after evidence continued to mount that Trump’s behavior warranted an official inquiry.
As far as the Republicans go, they all not only don’t support the inquiry but have gone after the Democrats for even considering one. Rep. Ben Cline, who represents the sixth district and is on the House Judiciary Committee that would draw up the articles of impeachment, claimed Pelosi “has caved to those on the far left of her party” and says the Speaker “has thrown her support behind the embarrassing spectacle of hearings that have been going on for months.”
Rep. Denver Riggleman has claimed this is just a cheap shot by the Democrats who are trying to score political points and Rep. Morgan Griffith actually claimed Trump was justified in denying aid to Ukraine if they didn’t investigate Joe Biden. They both were essentially echoing talking points sent down from the White House, especially when you consider Donald Trump has gone as far as suggesting the whistleblower was actually a partisan plant.
Among Virginia’s Congressional Republicans, Rob Whitman was perhaps the least fervent in his support for Trump as he called out the Democrats for announcing the inquiry before the transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was released. This is a somewhat valid point and even some supporters of an impeachment inquiry have suggested they should have waited for the transcript to be released. Whitman did add a little more, however, when he said the impeachment was simply preventing discussion of more crucial issues Congress must consider.
Even if the House does end up impeaching Trump, there’s still a major uphill battle for him to actually be convicted by the Republican controlled Senate. It’s therefore interesting to take a look at where Virginia’s senators stand on the issue. While Mark Warner is the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee and has been largely involved in investigating foreign influence in the election process, he hasn’t made a statement about whether or not the House should move forward with impeachment. Sen. Tim Kaine, however, has come out in support of moving forward with the inquiry.
“The House had no choice but to initiate a formal impeachment inquiry,” Kaine said in a statement on Wednesday. “When a member of President Trump’s own national security team takes the unprecedented step of filing an urgent and credible whistleblower complaint over the President’s improper behavior, it should set off alarm bells for every American. And when his Administration tries to violate the law requiring that the whistleblower report be provided to Congress, those alarm bells grow louder. The time for stonewalling is over, and the public deserves to see the President held accountable for his actions.”
As the official inquiry moves forward with six House committees conducting investigations, it will be interesting to see if any new evidence emerges proving Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Unless there is a smoking gun that develops or public cries for impeachment grows so incredibly high, after all, it’s incredibly unlike the Senate will actually convict no matter what the House of Representatives does.