Scott becomes first Republican governor to back impeachment inquiry into Trump

  • Gov. Phil Scott speaks at a press conference Thursday in Essex Junction, Vt., where he said he backs an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president. Photo by Aidan Quigley/VTDigger

VtDigger
Published: 9/26/2019 4:39:55 PM
Modified: 9/26/2019 6:25:54 PM

ESSEX JUNCTION — Gov. Phil Scott has become the first prominent Republican official in the country to publicly support the House impeachment inquiry into allegations President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate potential 2020 opponent Joe Biden.

Scott said at his weekly press conference Thursday that the allegations against Trump are “serious” and he supports efforts to determine what happened through an impeachment inquiry.

“I believe we need to figure out what exactly did happen, establish the facts, and let the facts drive us from there to where we go,” Scott said.

No other Republican governors, congressmen or U.S. senators have publicly expressed support for the inquiry, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated on Tuesday. Scott said he had not yet heard from any GOP colleagues on the matter.

While a majority of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives supports an impeachment inquiry, no Republican members have publicly favored it.

And while some Senate Republicans voiced concerns over the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky — Sens. Mitt Romney, of Utah, and Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, separately said they found the call “troubling” — they have stopped short of expressing their support for the inquiry.

The White House on Wednesday morning released a reconstructed transcript of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, which showed Trump telling Zelensky the United States “does a lot for Ukraine” before asking Zelensky to look into Biden’s role in the dismissal of the country’s former top prosecutor.

Trump has alleged, without evidence, that Biden had used his influence as vice president to help his son Hunter’s private-sector work in Ukraine. Biden has been leading the polls in the 2020 Democratic primary since before he entered the race.

The whistleblower’s complaint was released, lightly redacted, Thursday morning. The complaint says the whistleblower was concerned the call was the culmination of a series of events meant to pressure Zelensky to investigate Biden, and that White House staff took steps to attempt to ensure that the details of the call wouldn’t become public.

Scott said he supported the House’s inquiry but said he hoped the next steps were driven by the facts, not politics.

“We establish the facts, see what happened, and move from there, not pre-determine what the action will be,” Scott said.

Scott said Thursday morning he had not yet read the whistleblower’s complaint.

Scott would not say whether he believed Trump pressuring Zelensky to investigate one of his political opponents would be an impeachable offense.

“I think this is Congress’ responsibility and, again, let the facts determine the course of action moving forward,” he said. “When we see the facts, when I see the facts, I’d be happy to comment on that when it happens. I don’t want to get ahead of this.”

A moderate Republican, Scott has butted heads with state party chair Deb Billado, who has supported Trump wholeheartedly. Scott has publicly disagreed with Trump on a handful of issues, including his immigration policies.

Scott said he was not surprised by Trump’s statements to Zelensky as described in the memo of the phone call.

“Just (having) watched him over the last couple of years, it wasn’t surprising to me what he said in the transcript,” he said.

Scott said while he believed an impartial investigation was possible, he was fearful the inquiry could be “misused” for political purposes.

“I want this inquiry to be objective, to be neutral, and not based on a political motivation about the next election,” he said. “Let’s just get the facts.”

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said earlier this week that he “strongly” supports Pelosi’s initiation of formal impeachment proceedings.




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