Primary Source: Twin State lawmakers, candidates weigh in on impeachment

  • John P. Gregg. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/4/2019 9:54:16 PM
Modified: 12/4/2019 9:54:07 PM

As the House Judiciary Committee opened impeachment hearings on President Donald Trump on Wednesday, the partisan divide was clear in the Twin States.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., voted in the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday in favor of the 300-page report that found “significant misconduct” by Trump in seeking political dirt from Ukraine on Joe Biden’s son and in trying to obstruct Congressional efforts to investigate the matter.

Welch has said he believes Trump abused his office, saying when House Intelligence Committee hearings wrapped up last month, “The witnesses have made it absolutely clear what the president did, and it’s equally clear that President Trump has launched a cover-up and disinformation campaign to hide this abuse of power from the American people.”

And on Wednesday, Welch said in an interview on C-SPAN, “What’s at stake here, in my view, is the Constitution. It is the question of whether anyone is above the law, and the president believes he is, and whether we are going to maintain a system of checks and balances that has been so essential in maintaining our democracy.”

Most Republicans have denied that Trump did anything wrong, and voters appear split on impeachment, though a majority do believe he did something wrong, according to the website FiveThirtyEight.com.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., signaled that she believes Trump acted improperly but wants to hear from constituents about their assessment of the Intelligence Committee report.

“The House Intelligence Committee’s report on the impeachment inquiry uncovered substantial and uncontested evidence that President Trump abused the power of the presidency to solicit foreign interference in our election for his own political gain. Every American should have an opportunity to assess the facts and draw conclusions from the evidence,” Kuster said in a statement released by her office on Wednesday.

“This is a somber but necessary moment for our democracy — we are taking this one step at a time, and should the House Judiciary Committee advance articles of impeachment, I will evaluate each on their individual merits and content,” Kuster added.

The two Republicans seeking to unseat Kuster have made clear they oppose the impeachment proceedings. Former state Rep. Steve Negron, R-Nashua, last month launched a petition on the web to pressure Kuster to oppose impeachment.

“The people of New Hampshire want the Democrats in Congress to stop wasting millions of dollars on yet another witch hunt. Congresswoman Kuster should be representing the voice of New Hampshire citizens, not that of Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and the radical Democrats who want to unjustly overturn the results of the 2016 presidential election,” Negron said.

Former state Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker, R-Concord, who also is running for the Republican nomination to challenge Kuster, said in a statement on Wednesday that Congress would be better off acting to ratify a new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“Ann Kuster and her colleagues in D.C. are continuing this tainted, unfair and unprecedented charade that began the day Donald Trump was elected. There are 16 days left in the House session and Ann Kuster continues to stand against New Hampshire businesses and $1.1 billion worth of trade by not demanding a vote on the USMCA,” Blankenbeker said through a spokesman.

New endorsements

State Rep. Garrett Muscatel, a Hanover Democrat and senior at Dartmouth College, on Wednesday endorsed U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s presidential campaign.

“Cory Booker is an inspiring, experienced candidate and is uniquely capable of both energizing young voters we need to win this election and getting results as president,” Muscatel said in a statement released by the New Jersey lawmaker’s campaign. “I’ve had the chance to get to know Cory as he’s campaigned in our state, and it’s clear he deeply understands issues affecting my generation. From LGBTQ rights to voting rights to climate change, Cory offers not just bold policy prescriptions but a track record of building diverse coalitions to make change.”

Meanwhile, 50 state representatives from New Hampshire, including eight from the Upper Valley, signed an open letter backing U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Among the signatories was state Rep. Sharon Nordgren, D-Hanover, a veteran lawmaker.

“From founding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to passing bipartisan legislation as a U.S. Senator, it’s clear Elizabeth knows how to build consensus,” Nordgren said. “She knows how to get things done and doesn’t back down from a fight to make the government work better for the people.”

Easy listening

New Hampshire Public Radio this fall has released a podcast that dares to question the sanctity of the New Hampshire primary. Thus far, Stranglehold has nine episodes, with more to come before the Feb. 11 primary. Episode 1 is a doozy, casting light on the long career of Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the so-called “guardian” of the first-in-the-nation-primary.

Jessica Huseman, a ProPublica reporter who specializes in voting issues, told NHPR she had a lengthy interview with Gardner in which he talked about Mussolini for several minutes, the type of experience other reporters can relate to.

“And it was just like, it was completely bonkers. I was not able to use a single thing that he said in the hourlong interview, because none of it made any sense at all,” she said.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.




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