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Ohio's Congressional Delegation Reacts To Impeachment Inquiry

Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty says the allegations against President Trump are the most serious to date.
J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press
Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty says the aligations against President Trump are the most serious to date.

Ohio's congressional delegation followed party lines Tuesday in reacting to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement that she’ll pursue an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The probe focuses partly on whether Trump abused his presidential powers and sought help from the Ukrainian government to undermine Democratic foe Joe Biden and help his own reelection effort. Pelosi said Tuesday such actions would mark a "betrayal of his oath of office" and declared, "No one is above the law."

In a written statement, Columbus U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty said "reports of Trump's repeated pressure on the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival of a long-debunked claim represents his most serious offense to date."

Marcy Kaptur, a northwest Ohio representative who is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Ukraine Caucus, used the inquiry to throw her support behind impeaching Trump for the first time.

"This president's efforts to coerce the Ukrainian President into helping him win reelection by using congressionally supported military aid as leverage is not only a dramatic betrayal of the President’s Oath of Office, it's also the latest example of Trump doing Putin's bidding," said a written statementfrom her office.

"If President Trump and his administration fail to comply with legitimate Congressional inquiries," the statement continues, "then there is no other option than for this House to stand with our American allies and move forward with impeachment."

Across the political aisle, Central Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican, tweeted that Pelosi pursuing an impeachment inquiry shows that she "finally succumbed to unrelenting pressure from the Socialist wing of the Democrat Party."

Republican Sen. Rob Portman tweeted, "The American people want us to get things done for them rather than focus on more & more partisan investigations. The Democrats' impeachment inquiry will distract Congress from the bipartisan legislative work we should be doing to find solutions & deliver results for Americans."

The impeachment inquiry, after months of investigations by House Democrats of the Trump administration, sets up the party's most direct and consequential confrontation with the Republican president, injects deep uncertainty into the 2020 election campaign and tests anew the nation's constitutional system of checks and balances.

Trump, who thrives on combat, has all but dared Democrats to take this step, confident that the specter of impeachment led by the opposition party will bolster rather than diminish his political support.

Meeting with world leaders at the United Nations, he previewed his defense in an all-caps tweet: "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!"

Pelosi's brief statement, delivered without dramatic flourish but in the framework of a constitutional crisis, capped a frenetic weeklong stretch on Capitol Hill as details of a classified whistleblower complaint about Trump burst into the open and momentum shifted toward an impeachment probe.

For months, the Democratic leader has tried calming the push for impeachment, saying the House must investigate the facts and let the public decide. The new drive was led by a group of moderate Democratic lawmakers from political swing districts, many of them with national security backgrounds and serving in Congress for the first time.

The freshmen, who largely represent districts previously held by Republicans where Trump is popular, risk their own reelections but say they could no longer stand idle. Amplifying their call were longtime leaders, including Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights icon often considered the conscience of House Democrats.

"Now is the time to act," said Lewis, in an address to the House. "To delay or to do otherwise would betray the foundation of our democracy."

At issue are Trump's actions with Ukraine. In a summer phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, he is said to have asked for help investigating former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter.

In the days before the call, Trump ordered advisers to freeze $400 million in military aid for Ukraine - prompting speculation that he was holding out the money as leverage for information on the Bidens. Trump has denied that charge, but acknowledged he blocked the funds, later released.

Biden said Tuesday, before Pelosi’s announcement, that if Trump doesn't cooperate with lawmakers' demands for documents and testimony in its investigations the president "will leave Congress ... with no choice but to initiate impeachment." He said that would be a tragedy of Trump's "own making."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.