Politics & Government

US House opens impeachment inquiry into Trump. Find out where NC Democrats stand.

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives opened a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Tuesday. North Carolina’s three Democrats in the House have supported an impeachment inquiry for months.

Trump’s handling of foreign aid to Ukraine and whether he held it up to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter are at the heart of the latest impeachment debate.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said.

Trump said Tuesday he has authorized the release of a phone conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

“You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

North Carolina’s Democratic House members had supported an inquiry largely because of the findings of the Mueller report, which investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the Trump administration’s refusals to cooperate with ongoing House investigations.

More than 150 House Democrats have publicly supported an impeachment inquiry. No current Republican has publicly supported an impeachment inquiry, though Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan does. Amash left the Republican Party and is now an independent.

Two U.S. presidents — Andrew Johnson, a Raleigh native, and Bill Clinton — have been impeached in the House, but neither was convicted in the Senate and removed from office. President Richard Nixon resigned from office before the House voted to impeach.

Here’s what North Carolina’s Democratic members of the House have said in the past:

GK Butterfield

Rep. G.K. Butterfield called for Trump’s impeachment by the House and conviction in the Senate in late May.

“The evidence that has been produced so far is sufficient in my opinion to support an impeachment inquiry and impeachment and removal,” he told McClatchy in a phone interview on May 30. “I am prepared to vote for an impeachment inquiry ... and I will vote for impeachment and removal.”

Butterfield said at the time that the country was approaching a constitutional crisis.

“We must hold President Trump accountable for his misconduct and the criminal justice system is not available to hold him accountable for his misconduct,” said Butterfield, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice, whose district includes Durham in its far-west end and stretches east along the Virginia border.

Alma Adams

Rep. Alma Adams called for an impeachment inquiry in May.

“The President has demonstrated a clear disregard for the rule of law and he must be held accountable. Impeachment is not off the table. However, before we move forward the American people deserve all the facts. That is why I support an impeachment inquiry. Congress has a sacred responsibility to obtain the information necessary to determine the next steps,” said Adams, whose district covers most of Mecklenburg County.

David Price

Rep. David Price, whose Triangle district includes Chapel Hill and Raleigh, said he supported an inquiry in June and in August went further.

“I believe that the House of Representatives must move forward with an impeachment inquiry regarding the conduct of President Donald Trump. This will build upon the investigations of the President’s grave offenses already underway, giving these inquiries focus and the maximum ability to obtain information in the face of the president’s stonewalling and resistance,” Price said in a statement.

Senate candidates

The spokesman for Sen. Thom Tillis’ 2020 re-election campaign said that Tillis is confident Trump did nothing wrong.

“Senator Tillis is pleased that President Trump will make available the transcript of his call with President Zelensky. He’s confident that the call was as President Trump said it was, and that the Democrats who have jumped to conclusions will look foolish as the facts come out and vindicate the President,” Andrew Romeo said in a statement.

Romeo added: “We know one thing for certain, no matter what the transcript says, it will never be enough for the Democrats who will stop at nothing to impeach this president.”

Three Democrats challenging Tillis have favored an inquiry.

Cal Cunningham said in a June interview with Spectrum News, shortly after announcing his candidacy, that he wanted to see the House open an inquiry.

“2020 is an election year, probably the most effective way to hold this administration accountable is at the ballot box,” Cunningham said at the time.

On Tuesday, Cunningham called on the Trump administration to release the full complaint from an intelligence community whistleblower — and called on Tillis to “do his duty.”

“For our elected leaders in Washington, that commitment to the rule of law is more than a mission, it is a sworn duty to defend the Constitution. Earlier this year, Senator Tillis said it was his duty to ‘preserve the separation of powers and to curb… executive overreach.’ It’s time for Senator Tillis to honor his words and do his duty. I call on Senator Tillis and Republicans in Congress to demand the White House release the whistleblower complaint and the transcript of the president’s call, so that all of us can learn the facts,” Cunningham said in a statement.

Democratic candidate Erica Smith said she is for “beginning impeachment hearings.”

“But,” she said, “I would like to defeat President Trump in 2020 and hold him responsible for his crimes against this country.”

Democratic candidate Trevor Fuller said an impeachment inquiry should begin immediately.

“The president is becoming more lawless by the day,” Fuller said. “I’m just concerned he believes he can get away with anything and we can let no president feel that way.”

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Domecast politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it on Megaphone, Apple Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Brian Murphy covers North Carolina’s congressional delegation and state issues from Washington, D.C., for The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun. He grew up in Cary and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously worked for news organizations in Georgia, Idaho and Virginia. Reach him at 202.383.6089 or bmurphy@mcclatchydc.com.
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