Most Ga. House Dems join calls for impeachment inquiry

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, a Marietta Democrat, pushed for provisions in proposed voting rights legislation that would prohibit chief election officials from participating in campaigns for candidates seeking federal office. Robin Bravender/Georgia Recorder

As four Georgia U.S. representatives added their names to a growing list of congressional leaders Tuesday who said they support starting an impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump, Georgia’s congressional Republicans roundly condemned the move toward a formal impeachment inquiry.

Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson issued a statement Tuesday morning, and shortly after, U.S. Rep. John Lewis delivered a speech from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives urging his colleagues to act. By the end of the day, U.S. Reps. David Scott and Sanford Bishop joined the – and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the chamber would press on with an “official impeachment inquiry.”

Congresswoman Lucy McBath stood out as the only Georgia Democrat to stay on the sidelines Tuesday.

The back-to-back pronouncements came in the wake of revelations that Trump pressured the Ukraine’s new president to investigate his political rival, former presidential candidate Joe Biden, and Biden’s son, Hunter.

Johnson, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which recently advanced an impeachment inquiry out of committee with Johnson’s support, called the recent revelations about Trump’s conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky “profoundly troubling.”

“Attempting to coerce a foreign government into digging up dirt on a political opponent, then trying to cover it up by unlawfully refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress, crosses a red line,” Johnson said in the statement. “President Trump’s repeated obstruction and flagrant disregard of his oath of office demands the issuance of Articles of Impeachment.”

Congressman David Scott then joined the crowd later in the day, saying “it is time for us to open an impeachment inquiry so that we can make an intelligent and forthright decision on impeachment.” Scott also cited the president’s communications with Ukraine.

Rep. Sanford Bishop said Democrats had a “very serious and candid discussion” ahead of Pelosi’s announcement. “We just have to do what needs to be done to discharge our constitutional responsibilities. I think we’re today at that point.”

Attempts to reach McBath for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful. Like Johnson, McBath voted to advance the impeachment investigation at the committee level earlier this month, but she has said more evidence of wrongdoing was needed before she would commit to backing impeachment.

Trump ordered his administration to hold back nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine just before a July phone call in which Trump reportedly pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son, the Post reported. Trump confirmed Tuesday that he withheld aid, but said it was due to concerns that the United States was contributing more to than European countries were, according to the Post.

The details of the conversation are reportedly part of a whistleblower complaint that Democrats want released to Congress.

Trump said Tuesday that he has authorized the release of the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted” transcript of his July phone call with Zelensky on Wednesday. He made no mention of the whistleblower complaint.

“You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call,” Trump tweeted. “No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!”

Georgia’s Republican congressional members quickly decried Pelosi’s announcement Tuesday. Congressman Doug Collins, who is seen as a candidate to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, said Pelosi’s announcement changes nothing.

“As I have been telling Chairman Nadler for weeks, merely claiming the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry doesn’t make it so,” Collins said on Twitter, referring the chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “Until the full House votes to authorize an inquiry, nobody is conducting a formal inquiry.”

Congressman Rob Woodall, who has said he does not plan to seek reelection, questioned the sincerity of the probe.

“The administration should absolutely follow the whistleblower process, I call on it to do exactly that, and I know that it will,” Woodall said in a statement. “But when the House Democrat majority moves to start impeachment proceedings based on that complaint before it even holds a hearing to gather the facts, we have the answer to whether this is a serious constitutional effort or a partisan political exercise.”

And Congressman Jody Hice said on Twitter that Biden should be investigated for “coercing Ukrainians into firing the prosecutor who was investigating his son.”

Biden was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with the Ukraine’s capital when his son, Hunter Biden, served on the board of a Ukranian gas company, and although the timing raised eyebrows, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either of the Bidens, according to the Associated Press.

Other GOP House members from Georgia also weighed in on Twitter Tuesday as news unfolded. Congressmen Barry Loudermilk, Drew Ferguson and Rick Allen did not respond to request for comment Tuesday.

Robin Bravender in Washington and Beau Evans in Atlanta contributed to this report.

 

Jill Nolin
Jill Nolin has spent nearly 15 years reporting on state and local government in four states, focusing on policy and political stories and tracking public spending. She has spent the last five years chasing stories in the halls of Georgia’s Gold Dome, earning recognition for her work showing the impact of rising opioid addiction on the state’s rural communities. She is a graduate of Troy University.

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