Vermont Rep. Peter Welch is urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep the scope of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump focused on recent revelations about a phone call with the Ukrainian president.
VPR's Henry Epp and Bob Kinzel spoke about how Vermont's Congressional delegation is responding to President Donald Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the impeachment inquiry announced Tuesday. Listen to their conversation above.
Welch said he supported impeachment back in July, citing the president's "stonewalling" of Congress as it investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as Trump's "racist" tweets about four Congresswomen of color.
But as House Democrats investigate whether Trump should be removed from office, Welch said they shouldn't be "all over the map with every single thing the president has done."
"We should keep this simple, focused and efficient," he said.
He noted the summary of the phone call with the White House released on Wednesday confirms what Trump said on Tuesday: the president had a conversation with President Zelensky, and he asked him to look into a previous investigation in Ukraine of Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden.
"I think it's pretty damning, actually," Welch said. "It's the overall conduct where the transcript supports the explicit effort on the part of the president to solicit foreign assistance in his campaign. That's a line that you can't cross. It's illegal to have foreign interference in our campaigns."
Welch said that fact alone presents a threat to national security. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which will play a role in the impeachment hearings.
As for Vermont's senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, they are in a very different position.
If the House were to vote on any articles of impeachment, the matter goes to the Senate for a trial, and the 100 senators are essentially a jury in the case. So it's unlikely either of Vermont's senators will say whether President Trump is guilty before hearing the evidence.
Sanders did say several months ago that the House Judiciary Committee should open an impeachment inquiry into whether the president engaged in obstruction of justice and whether he violated of the emoluments clause.
Sanders repeated that assertion on Tuesday in response to the allegations regarding Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president.
"I believed then and I believe now that in Donald Trump we have the most corrupt president in the modern history of this country," Sanders said. "Enough is enough."
Sen. Patrick Leahy said Wednesday the House "had to" open an impeachment inquiry following this week's developments.
"I've never seen a president do this with a foreign power," Leahy said. "And even though a lot of Republicans are reluctant to speak out, privately they'll tell you, this went beyond anything they could have imagined."
Update 8:20 p.m. Sept. 25: This post has been updated to include Sen. Patrick Leahy's comments.