by Daniel Moore — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Doyle got a months-long wish granted on Tuesday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Hours before Ms. Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House would act because Mr. Trump had “seriously violated the Constitution,” Mr. Doyle, a Democrat from Forest Hills, repeated his call for an impeachment inquiry of the president.
Mr. Trump is accused of pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic challenger in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. The alleged misconduct — the subject of a whistleblower complaint that surfaced last week — is “mind-boggling,” Mr. Doyle wrote.
“That the president of the United States would withhold Congressionally directed funds to an ally in need, in order to compel it to smear a political rival, seems to amount to blatant extortion for personal political gain,” Mr. Doyle wrote. Mr. Trump has acknowledged raising Mr. Biden’s name in his conversation with the Ukranian president but denied that it was tied to withholding funds.
Another Pittsburgh-area Democrat had a different take: Wait and see.
Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon, said he will withhold his support for an impeachment inquiry until he gets more evidence.
Reached on Tuesday after the impeachment inquiry was announced, Mr. Lamb referred to a statement in which he called on the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, to release all of the information regarding the complaint.
“As I said yesterday, we need to get the full text of the whistleblower complaint by Thursday, not just the transcript of one phone call,” Mr. Lamb said in a statement provided by his office.
“It appears that we will learn more facts in the coming days, and I’ll have more to say after that,” he said.
Mr. Doyle said Congress has an obligation to investigate the president if there is evidence that he has broken the law while conducting foreign affairs. Withholding information from Congress, he added, is part of a pattern of behavior that must end.
The White House has sparred with House Democrats as they have investigated Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
“I have been frustrated and angry that the Trump administration has stonewalled Congress and refused to comply with valid subpoenas as we have exercised our Constitutional oversight responsibilities,” Mr. Doyle stated, referring to the Russia investigations.
“I believe that the recent allegations only add to the urgency of a full and immediate impeachment inquiry,” he said. “If the latest allegations are accurate, that would be a gross misuse of the powers of his office on a number of levels and, in my opinion, an impeachable offense.”
Mr. Lamb, a freshman in the House, has faced pressure recently from some of his progressive constituents to go beyond simply condemning the president.
Mr. Lamb has explained he supports the numerous investigations lodged by several committees in the Democrat-controlled House but would not endorse impeachment. At an Aug. 20 town hall meeting in Hampton, citing his experience as a federal prosecutor, he called impeachment a “high bar” requiring a “mountain of evidence.”
It is unclear whether the Ukraine revelations last week rise to that level.
On Monday, following the revelations, Mr. Lamb released a statement that criticized Mr. Maguire for failing to comply with federal whistleblower law. He demanded the administration turn over all information regarding the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee by Thursday.
“We cannot allow even the possibility to exist that our president used the immense power of that office to protect his own selfish interests, rather than to protect the American people,” Mr. Lamb stated.
“The safety and security of all Americans is at stake in Ukraine and anywhere that our adversaries threaten the cause of freedom,” he added. “As lawmakers, we swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. We will get the truth.”
On the Republican side, Pennsylvania congressmen Guy Reschenthaler, of Peters, and John Joyce, of Blair, criticized the move to begin impeachment proceedings.
“This is a sad day for our democracy. Speaker Pelosi’s decision to begin a formal impeachment inquiry based on secondhand allegations shows just how desperate the Democrats are to undo the will of the American people. President Trump has agreed to release the unredacted transcript of his phone call with the president of Ukraine and the House Intelligence Committee has yet to hold any hearings on this matter,” Mr. Reschenthaler’s statement said. “Calling for impeachment before learning the facts sets a dangerous precedent and shows that once again, House Democrats are putting political theatre before the needs of the American people.”
“Time and again, House Democrats have proven that they prioritize endless investigations over meaningful legislation – always to the detriment of the American people,” Mr. Joyce said in his statement.