Two Democrats broke ranks Thursday to oppose the House resolution that sets ground rules for an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and 15-term veteran Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota complained that the process so far has been overly partisan and is further dividing the country.
The Democratic-controlled House approved the package on a 232-196 vote, with all Republicans against.
Peterson, who represents rural, western Minnesota and is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, said he has “serious concerns” with how impeachment has proceeded, with a series of closed-door depositions conducted by the House Intelligence Committee and two other committees.
Peterson said he was “skeptical that we will have a process that is open, transparent and fair.”
Without support from Senate Republicans, he said, “going down this path is a mistake.”
Van Drew, a dentist and a longtime state legislator, won his southern New Jersey seat last year after it was under Republican control for nearly two decades.
“Without bipartisan support I believe this inquiry will further divide the country, tearing it apart at the seams and will ultimately fail in the Senate,” he said in a statement.
Pressed by reporters after the vote, Van Drew said he did not think that he and Peterson had muddled Democrats’ message on impeachment. Republicans cited the pair’s votes as evidence of bipartisan opposition to impeachment.
“I think two [no votes] actually lets me reflect my views,” he said.
Both lawmakers are among more than 60 Democrats nationwide who have been targeted by Republicans with ads critical of the impeachment effort.
The impeachment inquiry is looking into Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump sought an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
According to a New York Times report, Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time, pushed Ukraine in 2016 to oust a prosecutor who was closing in on the energy company Burisma Holdings, for which Hunter Biden was a board member with a salary of about $50,000 a month.
The report said Joe Biden demanded Ukraine dismiss the prosecutor or face a loss of $1 billion in aid. Biden has said any notion of any conflict of interest is false, but he has bragged about getting the Ukraine prosecutor fired.
Democrats claim Trump’s request of Zelensky and other actions by the administration to push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens amounted to a quid pro quo for important military aid for Ukraine, providing sufficient grounds for impeachment.
Van Drew challenged that narrative, saying that “at the end of the day, there was no investigation [by Ukraine] and the money did flow” after a multiple-month delay.
The congressman’s position reflects the views of many in his sprawling district, which covers all or part of eight counties in southern New Jersey and includes Atlantic City and some Philadelphia suburbs.
The 2nd District supported Trump by 4 percentage points in 2016.
Despite their no votes on impeachment rules, Van Drew and Peterson said they have not made up their minds on whether to impeach Trump.
“Now that the vote has taken place and we are moving forward, I will be making a judgment call based on all the evidence presented by these investigations,” Van Drew said.
“I will not make a decision on impeachment until all the facts have been presented,” Peterson said.
Four lawmakers did not vote Thursday: Republican Reps. Jody Hice of Georgia, John Rose of Tennessee and William Timmons of South Carolina, and Democrat Donald McEachin of Virginia.
Independent Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican, voted in favor of the impeachment rules.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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