The Buzz

Seven ways Kansas City area lawmakers are responding to Trump’s potential impeachment

Some lawmakers hid, some called it a circus and others celebrated as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the first step toward impeaching President Donald Trump.

The impeachment inquiry promises to dominate Capitol Hill for the foreseeable future and to define Trump’s presidency— perhaps even ending it prematurely.

Reactions from Kansas City area lawmakers run from silence to righteous indignation. Here are seven ways they responded to this week’s historic moment.

Enthusiasm

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, said his phones have been ringing constantly with people calling to thank him since he came out in favor of impeaching the president.

“Praise the Lord! You finally listened,” Cleaver’s daughter wrote to him in a text, which he showed to The Star.

Once cautious about impeachment, the Missouri Democrat has fully embraced it as the only option following disclosures about Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked for information about former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.

“This is one of the most amazing moments I have ever witnessed in politics that some brainiac told the president, ‘Oh, don’t worry. We’ll give the redacted notes and it’s going to look good,’” said Cleaver, who has endorsed Biden for president.

Deliberation

Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, announced support for beginning the inquiry, the first step toward removing a president from office. But she has yet to take the same leap as Cleaver and endorse drafting articles of impeachment.

“I did not arrive at this decision lightly or without full deliberation. I listened closely to the Kansans who reached out to my office,” Davids said in a statement.

Davids had initially voiced support for the investigations without using the word “impeachment.” But after the release of the White House memo detailing the call, she released a second statement in strong support of beginning the process.

Caution

As a member of GOP leadership, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, will wield a lot of influence if the Senate is forced to hold a trial following a House vote to impeach.

The Missouri Republican will choose his words carefully in the meantime. Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he would wait to comment until the panel has a chance to gather more information.

“I’ve read as much or more about this as anybody has, but we’ll also have access to the people over the next few months,” Blunt told The Star Thursday following the release of whistleblower complaint allegeing that White House officials sought to cover up Trump’s call with Ukraine.

Frustration

Several Republicans argued that the impeachment inquiry will prevent any other legislative work from getting done.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, lamented that he wanted to pass more legislation before his retirement at the end of his current term. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Missouri, listed bills that may fall by the wayside.

Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, who is seeking Roberts’ seat, told Trump at the signing of a trade agreement with Japan that Congress needs to pass a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Trump replied that Pelosi probably wouldn’t have time.

“It’s taken all the other oxygen out of the room,” Marshall said the next day. “It just seems like nothing else is getting talked about. And the USMCA agreement is getting pushed back, pushed back, pushed back.”

Righteous Indignation

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, is the delegation’s most vocal critic of the whistleblower whose complaint spurred House leadership’s decision to pursue impeachment.

Last week, he called the revelation of the complaint “another deep state attack” against Trump. After the complaint was released Thursday, Hawley panned it as “double and triple hearsay.”

As Missouri attorney general, Hawley called on Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to resign after a Missouri House investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, which Hawley called impeachable. Weeks later, he announced that a probe by his office into separate computer tampering allegations had uncovered potentially criminal conduct.

Now a member of the Senate, Hawley said he sees no parallels between the investigations into Greitens, which he vocally supported, and the investigations into the president.

“I just think this impeachment stuff is just a circus. I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s a total partisan stunt. I think it will tie up the House for months on end. I think it’s going to be an election stunt, which I think will backfire,” said Hawley, who appeared with Trump at multiple campaign events during his 2018 Senate run.

“I’ll be very curious to see the bill of impeachment when it’s actually drawn up, but so far I see nothing here but partisan politics.”

Silence

On Monday, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, told reporters he had been on a plane all day and had not paid attention to news during the weekend.

As events escalated, Moran’s office declined to comment and the senator kept a low profile.

Moran will hold a series of public events in Kansas during the congressional break in October, ensuring his first public comments on the matter will likely occur on home soil.

Send a check

Hawley, who does not have to run again until 2024, has put out multiple impeachment-themed fundraising pleas in the wake of Pelosi’s decision.

“There isn’t much time, so I’ll make this quick. You might have heard the news, that Democrats in the House have officially begun the process of impeaching President Trump,” Hawley said in a fundraising email Thursday asking supporters to donate.

One of Davids’ GOP challengers, Sara Hart Weir, e-mailed a fundraising plea blasting the Kansas Democrat for providing Pelosi with the “final vote she needed to move forward with the impeachment of President Trump.”

Hours later, Davids’ campaign sent its own fundraising email touting her decision to support the inquiry.

“No one is above the law – not even the president. That’s why, after careful deliberation, I’m supporting an impeachment inquiry,” Davids said in the email, which asked for contributions.

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Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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