The first-term Democrat – who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District – had been criticized by members of her own party for her refusal to take a stand on the inquiry. And Republicans are using the issue in their campaign to unseat her, staging a “Stop the Madness” rally outside of her office in Belen on Wednesday.
Torres Small said she has not reached a judgment about the president’s actions, but said the White House’s letter this week refusing cooperation with the inquiry and the blocking of testimony of a key witness factored into her decision. The other members of the state’s House delegation – Democrats Deb Haaland and Ben Ray Luján – endorsed the inquiry in August.
At the heart of the inquiry is the president’s phone call with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the president seemed to pitch an investigation into former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board a major Ukrainian natural gas producer. At the time, the administration was withholding aid to Ukraine that was appropriated by Congress.
“I have read the transcripts (of the president’s phone call), I have read the whistleblower’s complaint and the two letters from the Inspector General,” Torres Small said in an interview with the Journal. “I am committed to an investigation that is an unbiased review of the facts.”
Torres Small had been reluctant to call the investigation into the phone call an impeachment inquiry because she felt that gave people the impression that a conclusion had been reached.
“That is the opposite of what we need to be doing,” she said.
Torres Small said a review needed to be made of what conversations a president can have with foreign leaders “when it comes to the delivery of aid and campaign support.”
“This is something we need to be talking about,” she said. “We need to do our damndest to get to the end of it.”
Torres Small acknowledged criticism from progressives about her reluctance to support an inquiry. She said her office received complaints that she didn’t vote for an impeachment inquiry.
“But we haven’t had a vote on an impeachment inquiry,” she said, a point the president has also raised.
New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce – Torres Small’s 2nd District predecessor – accused her of saying one thing about impeachment to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and another to her constituents.
“Xochitl Torres Small was elected to serve the constituents of the 2nd Congressional District – not Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” he said at the “Stop the Madness” rally organized by the Trump re-election campaign. “Voters in New Mexico are demanding transparency on where she stands on impeachment.”
The rally is part of a effort by the national party targeting vulnerable Democrats on their stands on impeachment.
Brian Sanderoff, president of Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc., said a shift in the national polls in the past week “may give her some cover.”
He said four recently released polls show at least half or a slight majority of Americans supporting the inquiry.
“It’s still a calculated risk,” he said, noting that her district has substantially more conservative voters than the other two congressional districts in the state.
Sanderoff described the district as “highly polarized in politics.”
“She’s not going to win over the oil patch (in the eastern part of the district), no matter what she says,” he said. “And she’ll have the support of progressives in Las Cruces, no matter what she says. The people she has to be careful with are the swing voters, the moderate-to-conservative Democrats and independents who may not be convinced about impeachment.”