Washington – Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation are re-evaluating their positions on impeachment following revelations by President Donald Trump that he discussed former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son with Ukraine’s leader.
Democratic lawmakers who announced Monday that impeachment proceeding might be necessary given new information about the president’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky include Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Reps. John Larson, Rosa DeLauro and Joe Courtney.
Early Tuesday Murphy released a statement calling for impeachment proceedings.
Larson, D-1st District, said Monday he would support the start of impeachment proceedings in the U.S. House if Joseph Maguire, the Director of National Intelligence, does not release a whistleblower’s complaint that the president improperly pressured the Ukrainian leader. Maquire is scheduled to appear before a House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
“This is a defining moment,” Larson said. “If the director refuses to comply at Thursday’s hearing, the Trump Administration has left Congress with no alternative but for the House to begin impeachment proceedings, which I will support.”
DeLauro, D-3rd District, said “an impeachment inquiry may be the only recourse Congress has if the President is enlisting foreign assistance in the 2020 election.”
“As with many of my colleagues, I have been reluctant to call for an impeachment inquiry because it would further divide the country, be perceived as overturning the 2016 election, and go to the United States Senate where Republicans would acquit President Trump regardless of the evidence,” she said. “But these actions regarding the 2020 election are a turning point.”
DeLauro also said Congress must have “unfettered access to the entire whistleblower’s complaint, and the whistleblower must be able to come forward and be heard without retribution.”
Rep. John Larson
Blumenthal on Monday said he is “evaluating the issue of impeachment in a different light” following this weekend’s revelations by Trump that he discussed the Bidens during a phone call with Zelensky.
Trump’s admission has put new pressure on House Democrats to begin impeachment hearings over allegations that the president leaned on foreign governments to investigate one of his potential 2020 opponents.
“These appalling and astonishing revelations, as reported, give new urgency to hold him accountable,” Blumenthal said. “It puts impeachment in a new light.”
Murphy held a press conference in Hartford Monday morning to say he is rethinking his opposition to impeachment.
Both Courtney, D-2nd District, and Larson said the whistleblower’s complaint is being withheld from Congress in violation of federal law.
“This administration now finds itself at a decision point concerning the rule of law, and their adherence to it,” Courtney said.
“The President and Acting DNI Maguire have two simple choices when he comes before Congress later this week: follow the law and transmit the complaint to the bipartisan intelligence committees, or flagrantly disobey the law and force the Congress to act to uphold the rule of law,” he added.
The only Connecticut lawmaker to publicly support impeachment proceedings is Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, a member of the House Intelligence Committee that is trying to investigate the complaint of the intelligence agency whistleblower who said Trump acted improperly on a phone call with a foreign leader. That leader was later identified as Zelensky.
Trump on Monday denied he told Zelensky that he would release $250 million in stalled U.S. military aid only if he agreed to investigate the Bidens. Trump has also, without proof, accused Biden of doing a “very, very bad thing.”
“Also, who is this so-called ‘whistleblower’ who doesn’t…..know the correct facts. Is he on our Country’s side. Where does he come from,” Trump tweeted.
Whether or not the issue of millions of dollars in military aid was involved, Trump has repeatedly raised the specter of impropriety on the part of Biden and his son, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company that Trump pushed Zelensky to investigate.
Zelensky has declined to do so.
Trump and his allies also charge that, as vice president, Biden pushed for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor whose office was investigating the oligarch who owned the gas company.
But no evidence has surfaced that Biden intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor’s dismissal, which was sought by a number of U.S. allies who were dismayed the prosecutor turned a blind eye to corruption.