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Two NM congressmembers urge impeachment inquiry

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland, both D-N.M., support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump after revelations that the president discussed a possible investigation of the son of a potential rival with the president of Ukraine.

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., called for the release of a whistleblower’s complaint against the president but stopped short of endorsing an impeachment inquiry.

“President Trump betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security, and betrayed the security of our elections,” Luján said. “His attempt to manipulate our elections by pressing for foreign interference is unprecedented and wrong. I previously called for an impeachment inquiry because the president’s corruption is jeopardizing our national security, elections and Democracy. The recent allegations and today’s (Tuesday’s) announcement that we are moving forward with the impeachment process shows the urgency of this moment.”

Democrats take up impeachment drive

“Congress has a legal right to see the full details of any whistleblower complaint, especially those that involve our nation’s security,” Torres Small said in a news release. “The President must release the full complaint and allow any testimony by the whistleblower, or any other administration officials, to occur free of White House interference. Through the coming weeks and months, I will act to support and defend our Constitution by insisting on a transparent process that fully informs the American people and restores trust and faith in our system. This is a threat to our national security, and it must be taken seriously.”

In calling for an inquiry, Haaland said the president has betrayed the country.

“The most recent revelations not only risk the integrity of our elections, but also threaten national security,” she said. “We must get to the bottom of this, so that the American people know the truth. We have a responsibility to defend our democracy and our Constitution. This president continues to use his office to enrich himself and his friends while New Mexicans are struggling. No one is above the law, and I fully support moving forward with a formal impeachment inquiry.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., also called for the release of the whistleblower complaint. He sent a letter to acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on Monday demanding that the complaint be relayed to Congress, as required by law.

“U.S. intelligence professionals work on behalf of the American people and our national security, not to further the aims of any individual or political party,” Heinrich wrote. “This whistleblower is taking great risk to his or her career and credibility by coming forward with this information.”

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said the House had no choice but to open an impeachment inquiry.

“I have not arrived at this conclusion lightly,” the senator said. “The House must initiate this process now, to uncover the facts about reported abuses of power and corruption that the president continues to block from public and congressional view. In the face of the White House’s ongoing obstruction of traditional congressional oversight, there are simply no other options.”

Heinrich said an impeachment inquiry by the House is appropriate. The Senate will take up the issue only if the House votes for impeachment. And then, it would take a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict the president.

New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce defended the president.

“The president has been clear about his call with Ukraine and will release the transcript tomorrow (Wednesday),” the former congressman said. “Democrats need to place less emphasis on impeachment and focus on issues that matter to the United States, including border security and passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Once again, Democrats in our state and across the country are not working for the American people and instead are focusing their energy on an impeachment fishing expedition, which the majority of our nation is against.”

Luján and Haaland said last month that they favored impeachment proceedings. But coming out in favor of an inquiry would seem to be a bigger risk for fellow Democrat Torres Small, who represents a district where Trump remains popular with its most conservative voters.

“She (Torres Small) is the one with the greatest risk,” University of New Mexico political science professor Lonna Atkeson said.

“I think there’s a risk to it,” Atkeson said. “It plays to a lot of Democrats who want to go this route. It satisfies a certain segment of the party.”

But she wonders how it will play to America’s center. She said it will tie up the House for the next year, an election year.

Atkeson also feels it might even play into Trump’s hands.

“He does well when he has opposition, an enemy,” she said. “It gives him something specific to go after … the deep state. It’s something that will help rile up his base.”

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