In the hours before Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement of an impeachment inquiry, both of Connecticut’s U.S. senators were among those calling for the House of Representatives to begin proceedings against President Donald Trump.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy issued a statement Tuesday saying that he was “deeply sorry that our nation must begin this journey toward impeachment.”
“This fragility of our American experiment means that once in a while it is tested by overreaching leaders who find its checks and balances an inconvenient barrier to the accumulation of power,” the statement goes on. “At these moments, our democracy cannot fight back on its own – it needs all of us to rally to its banner. Today stands as one of those nation-defining moments.”
Murphy spoke Monday about his disquiet over reports that Trump had pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate the family of Joe Biden, one of Trump’s potential rivals in the 2020 presidential election. A whistleblower from the intelligence community is reported to have said that Trump personally asked President Volodymyr Zelensky for the investigation during a phone call in July.
Congressional Democrats are now calling on the acting director of national intelligence to hand over the full whistleblower report to lawmakers.
On Tuesday, Trump confirmed press reports that a week before the call he had ordered his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney to withhold $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. He said he did so because European countries were not contributing enough to the defense of Ukraine.
“To use America’s global credibility as a casino token, to be cashed in for personal political gain, is an intolerable abuse of power and totally anathema to the rule of law,” Murphy’s statement goes on. “If we allow President Trump to get away with trading our influence abroad in order to advance his political interests, our nation’s standing in the world will suffer irreparable damage and the health of our democracy at home will suffer a potentially mortal blow.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal also issued a statement Tuesday morning, supporting impeachment.
“The President has repeatedly broken laws and betrayed his oath of office,” said Blumenthal. “His seeking corrupt assistance from a foreign leader for personal political gain crosses the line. This illegal misuse of the presidency for private benefit is an impeachable act. This most recent lawbreaking follows three years of contemptuous disregard for the Constitution. The Congress must demand accountability.”
Murphy and Blumenthal join Jim Himes, who before this week had been the only member of Connecticut’s congressional delegation to explicitly call for impeachment. On Monday, Reps. Rosa DeLauro and John Larson also said they would be open to impeachment proceedings if the allegations against Trump are proved true, but stopped short of endorsing immediate hearings.
Himes meanwhile, speaking on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, said if the reports are true, President Trump’s behavior is “disastrous.”
“If you ask a foreign leader to dig for dirt on your political opponent, that alone is conceivably an impeachable offense, it’s certainly a terrible breach of the public trust,” Himes said. “And of course if the implication or the explicit statement was that military aid to Ukraine might be held up, that’s not just an impeachable offense, that is a gift to the nation of Russia.”
Himes sits on the House Intelligence Committee which has subpoenaed acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to appear before it on Thursday, to discuss the whistleblower report.
“There is zero ambiguity in the law, it says that the DNI shall convey to Congress the whistleblower report,” said Himes. “He needs to do that.”
Himes said the committee will also want to know why Maguire has so far held up the transmission of the report.
“Here you have an acting DNI, who would appear to have acted in political support of the president,” he said. “We need to understand and stop these senior administration officials -- by the way, Attorney General Barr included -- who think that their job description is the defense of the President of the United States, rather than the service of the American Republic.”