Government & Politics

Kansas Dem. Sharice Davids backs Trump impeachment inquiry, but avoids the word

Kansas Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids will support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, but she avoided using the word “impeachment” in a statement Tuesday night.

“I have long said that I trust my colleagues on the relevant House Committees as they conduct oversight and continue their investigations into the President, and I support this process continuing unimpeded,” Davids said, after Pelosi announced that the current investigations would proceed under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry.

“We must proceed down a path of finding the truth, regardless of politics,” Davids said.

Davids, whose 3rd Congressional District has a plurality of Republicans, has cautiously approached the topic of impeachment since taking office in January, frequently saying that she trusted the committees already investigating Trump to conduct their work.

Pelosi took the historic step following the revelation of a whistleblower report alleging that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to begin an investigation of 2020 Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s [betrayal] of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and the betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi’s previous reluctance to begin a formal inquiry had largely been seen as an effort to protect moderates from GOP-leaning districts, such as Davids, and to preserve the House Democratic majority in 2020.

Her announcement comes ahead of Trump’s promised release of the transcript of the call with Ukraine.

Davids noted in her statement that she had previously called on Trump to release the transcript.

“Yesterday I called on the Trump Administration to turn over the transcript of the call between the President and Ukrainian leaders, and he says that will happen tomorrow. We still need the Administration to turn over the full whistleblower report, as is required by law. The American people deserve all the facts,” Davids said.

“If any member of this Administration does not comply, they must be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, said the House should go one step further and begin drafting articles of impeachment based on the whistleblower report.

“I don’t believe there’s a lot of discussion necessary if we have empirical evidence Trump instructed a foreign leader to investigate an American. There’s no point in waiting around,” Cleaver said.

Cleaver, chairman of the House Civility Caucus, said he fears impeachment will deepen the country’s partisan divisions. But failing to hold Trump accountable, he said, will give the president the green light to act with impunity.

The two Kansas City area Democrats spent much of the weekend together and discussed impeachment, Cleaver said. He said Davids, an attorney, carefully evaluated legal situation before deciding.

“I’m not an attorney. I’m just an old preacher from Texas,” Cleaver said.

Davids had said previously if reports that Trump asked Ukrainian officials to help him investigate a political opponent were true, they “represent a clear abuse of power and mean he invited foreign interference into our democracy for his own political gain.”

Burdett Loomis, a political scientist at the University of Kansas who worked in former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration, said Davids would face questions from supporters if she hadn’t come out in support for an impeachment inquiry.

He said that Democrats in tougher districts had already voice support for an inquiry.

“You weren’t among the first, but you shouldn’t be the last either. Pelosi clearly gives her some cover,” Loomis said.

The House has begun impeachment proceedings 62 times since 1789, but it has only impeached 19 federal officials, mostly federal judges, in its history.

Only two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, have been impeached. Both remained in office after Senate trials failed to result in convictions.

Republicans from the region have criticized House Democrats and downplayed the allegations about the call to Ukraine.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, noted that Trump has promised to release a transcript of the call. He contended Democrats have long wanted to pursue impeachment.

“I feel like that’s what the Democrats have wanted to do for months— forever, since the president took office,” Hawley said when told of Pelosi’s plans.

“In the midst of all of the crises that we have going on in the country, from soaring health care costs, to a crisis at the border, to the trade crisis and their solution to all of this is to launch impeachment of the president, I mean, I think it does present a pretty clear contrast,” Hawley said.

Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kansas, also blasted Pelosi for the move.

“Even before seeing a transcript, Speaker Pelosi has decided to surrender to the most radical voices in her party by moving forward with an impeachment inquiry over reports of a phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine,” said Estes, whose district covers Wichita and the surrounding area.

“While the president has vowed to release a full transcript, which I look forward to reviewing, I believe starting an impeachment inquiry today is irresponsible and will only succeed in further dividing the American people.”

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Missouri, warned that the impeachment inquiry would be a roadblock to passing other legislation, including a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

“Instead of focusing on important things like ratifying the USMCA and passing an infrastructure package, Nancy Pelosi and her caucus have brought everything to a grinding halt over this political game,” Graves said.

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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