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Here's What Rep. Welch Said During The Second Week Of Public Impeachment Hearings

Two congressmen- Rep. Denny Heck and Rep. Peter Welch - seated during a hearing.
J. Scott Applewhite
/
Associated Press
Rep. Peter Welch, right, questions witnesses during Tuesday's public impeachment hearing, while Washington Rep. Denny Heck looks on.

It's the second week of public testimony before members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, including Vermont Rep. Peter Welch, as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

During the first week of hearings, Welch generated buzz for his comment that the president was invited to come testify during the impeachment inquiry.

"I'd be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify," Welch said on Nov. 13. "President Trump is welcome to take a seat right there."

But it's a new week, with new witnesses and new questions to pose.

More from NPR — "Impeachment Public Hearings Week 2 — Who Is Testifying And What Happens Next" [Nov. 18]

House leaders are hoping to wrap up the public hearings in several weeks.

Tuesday, Nov. 19

During the third day of impeachment hearings, Welch called on President Donald Trump to acknowledge that it was wrong to ask the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Welch shared this message for the president during Tuesday's first session of hearings:

"You want to investigate Joe Biden? You want to investigate Hunter Biden? Go at it. Do it, do it hard, do it dirty. Do it the way you do do it — just don't do it by asking a foreign leader to help you in your campaign."

More from NPR — Coverage of the Nov. 19 hearings.

Welch also said many GOP members have criticized the public hearing process that the Democrats are using to take testimony from key witnesses — but, according to Welch, these Republicans are avoiding what he said is the most important question in the entire impeachment inquiry.

"I didn't hear an answer to the question as to whether it's proper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent," Welch said Tuesday. "And to date I haven't heard any one of my Republican colleagues address that question."

Welch pressed this point further on Tuesday evening during the day's second session:

“Official government actions can’t be traded for help in a political campaign … Could a mayor of a city withhold funding for the police department budget unless the police chief agreed to open up an investigation on a political rival?”

Welch said he thinks the president's actions were unconstitutional and provide the basis for a formal article of impeachment.

Wednesday, Nov. 20

Rep. Peter Welch says it's clear that President Donald Trump tried to "extort" the president of Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden in return for U.S. military aid.

At a hearing of the U.S. House Intelligence committee Wednesday afternoon, Welch asked witness Gordon Sondland — the U.S. ambassador to the European Union — if it's wrong for a mayor, a governor or even a president to use their authority to seek information about a political opponent:

Welch: "And would that same rule apply to the president of the United States?" Sondland: "To investigate a political opponent?" Welch: "That's correct." Sondland: "Yes." Welch: "Alright so that's the question here: the president, in his phone call, he asked President Zelensky — who desperately needed the release of that aid, who desperately needed the White House meeting — to do an investigation and it was focused on the Bidens and Hunter Biden."

More from NPR — Coverage of the Nov. 20 hearing.

Thursday, Nov. 21

During the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment hearing Thursday afternoon, Rep. Peter Welch used his allotted time not to question witnesses, but to make a statement.

"I want to use my time to speak directly to my colleagues and to the American people," Welch began.

In his address, which lasted more than four minutes, Welch said the testimony taken by the committee over the last two weeks shows President Donald Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

"This conduct corrupts our democracy. It corrupts how our country conducts foreign policy," Welch said Thursday. "It threatens our national security and the security of all Americans. And it is, in my view, a clear betrayal of the president's oath of office."

The House Judiciary Committee will now review evidence from these hearings and decide whether to recommend specific articles of impeachment to the full U.S. House.

Peter-Welch-full-hearing-statement-20191121.mp3
Listen to Rep. Peter Welch's full statement from Thursday's hearing.

More from NPR — Coverage of the Nov. 21 hearing.

Last updated: Nov. 21, 5:15 p.m.

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