A 62-day-old phone call dominated conversation in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, with impeachment talk in the air and fingers pointed in many directions.
Hardly unusual for Washington, partisanship surrounded the released memorandum of a July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the contents of which have become central to the U.S. House beginning an impeachment investigation.
Democrats insisted the memo, carefully identified as not a transcript, showed the president strong-arming Zelensky into investigating activities with a tie to former Vice President Joe Biden, now a leading Democratic candidate looking to replace Trump.
Republicans followed the line that the investigation, to use the president’s words, remains “a witch hunt,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, insisting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “owes an apology to this nation” for triggering the probe.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, said the House, already doing little legislatively, would now focus all its attention on the investigation.
“The House is already producing nothing of any consequence, nothing the president could sign,” he said in an interview with the News-Press NOW. “Now the House, all they’re going to do is this impeachment circus. That’s what they’re choosing to do.”
A former law professor and Missouri attorney general, Hawley outlined the constitutional provisions for an impeachment effort but held little regard for the intentions of the opposing party.
“Heaven only knows what they’ll put in the articles of impeachment,” he said. “The Democrats have wanted to do this from day one. Since President Trump took his hand off the Bible to swear his oath of office, they’ve wanted to impeach him. They’ve just been looking for an opportunity and they can’t resist any longer.”
North Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, a Republican, called the impeachment inquiry a charade.
“Since the failed Mueller investigation, the liberal majority in Congress has dedicated all of their time to taking down President Trump,” he said. Graves cited ratification of the trade pact with Mexico and Canada and passage of an infrastructure bill as two priorities that will go begging.
“Nancy Pelosi and her caucus have brought everything to a grinding halt over this political game,” the Missourian said. “There are plenty of things that Congress needs to be doing (and) this definitely isn’t one of them.”
Congressman Steve Watkins, whose Kansas 2nd District includes the northeastern part of the state, took to Twitter with his opposition to the inquiry announcement.
“Democrats have been on a three-year witch hunt to sabotage and delegitimize a democratically elected president whose success makes them irate and irrational,” the Republican lawmaker said. “Impeachment is designed for high crimes and misdemeanors, not unconfirmed secondhand accusations.”
Two Democrats from the Kansas City area, Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids, have voiced support for the impeachment probe.
“I have long said that I trust my colleagues on the relevant House committees as they conduct oversight and continue their investigations into the president, and I support this process continuing unimpeded,” Davids said on Twitter.
The leaders of the Senate also weighed in Wednesday.
“If we don’t reckon with President Trump’s persistent transgressions, the very foundation of this great republic is at risk,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and majority leader of the chamber, countered, “We know that House Democrats have been indulging their impeachment obsession for nearly three years now, a never-ending impeachment parade in search of a rationale.”