Reps, Senators React to Impeachment Inquiry

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan called President Donald Trump a “mobster” Tuesday amid rising Democratic calls for impeaching the president. U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, meanwhile, dismissed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that the House of Representatives would move forward with an impeachment inquiry as “another dead end.”

The stances of the Howland Democrat and the Marietta Republican reflected those of their parties on the day Pelosi announced the inquiry into allegations that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden is the current frontrunner in the Democratic field for the party’s presidential nomination. In head-to-head matchups this month, polls show Biden beating Trump by as many as 15 points.

Trump has claimed that Biden used his influence as vice president to press the Ukranian government for the removal of a prosecutor who had been investigating a company Biden’s son had ties to. Other western governments also supported the prosecutor’s removal over concerns he was too soft on corruption.

No evidence has been presented that either the vice president or his son acted improperly.

“Democrats can’t beat President Trump on his policies or his stellar record of accomplishment, so they’re trying to turn a Joe Biden scandal into a Trump problem,” said Brad Parscale, Trump campaign manager. “The misguided Democrat impeachment strategy is meant to appease their rabid, extreme, leftist base, but will only serve to embolden and energize President Trump’s supporters and create a landslide victory for the president.”

Biden, in prepared remarks to be delivered Tuesday evening, called Trump’s actions “an abuse of power” that “undermines” America’s national security, violates the oath of office and strikes at the heart of the president’s “sworn responsibility” to put the national interest before his own.

“I know that even though every reputable publication that has looked at these charges has found them baseless, untrue and without merit. It won’t stop him. I can take the political attacks. They’ll come and go and soon be forgotten,” he continued. “But if we allow a president to get away with shredding the United States Constitution — that will last forever.”

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, who during a June 2 town hall on CNN called for initiating impeachment hearings against Trump, offered a blunt statement Tuesday afternoon regarding House oversight of the Executive Branch and calls for impeachment.

“President Trump is a mobster. We must impeach,” he said.

Earlier in the day, on Twitter, Ryan said “any right-minded American” should support impeachment. “And any Republican who wants to salvage some of the last vestiges of what used to be a noble and important political party in America should speak up for impeachment now before there isn’t a Republican Party at all,” he added.

Johnson, R-6 Ohio, said in an email that after the Mueller probe “flopped for Democrats,” Pelosi and House Democrats – “with no evidence and no firsthand information” – decided to pursue “another dead end” by “picking up the carcass of the dead Russian collusion hoax.”

Rather than working with Republicans on issues such as broadband expansion, lowering drug prescription prices and rebuilding the nation’s aging infrastructure, “the left is looking for something, anything, to justify impeachment,” a “cynical political move will be a nonstarter with the majority of the American people,” Johnson said.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, similarly lamented that the House impeachment inquiry would distract Congress from “the bipartisan legislative work” it should be doing on behalf of the country.

“The American people want us to get things done for them rather than focus on more and more partisan investigations,” he said Tuesday.

“My focus will remain on working with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, and with the Trump Administration, to strengthen our economy, expand retirement security, pass USMCA to help Ohio farmers, workers, and manufacturers, tackle the opioid crisis, and pursue other priorities for Ohio,” he continued.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, directed his comments at a whistleblower complaint submitted by an unidentified member of the U.S. intelligence community expressing concern over a phone call between Trump and a foreign leader later identified as Zelensky.

“Our intelligence officials are the best in the world, and when one of them raises concerns about our national security, I take that very seriously,” Brown said. “No one is above the law, and it’s important we get to the bottom of what happened.”

Amanda Ballantyne, executive director of the Main Street Alliance, a small business advocacy group, offered her support for the impeachment inquiry.

“Our federal government must do everything that it can to protect the integrity of U.S. elections,” she said in a news release. “As the investigation moves forward, Main Street Alliance small business owners are hopeful that accountability is a priority, and look forward to moving on from this tumultuous season of politics towards more transparency from this administration.”

David Betras, former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, defended the inquiry. As an attorney, he said he believes in due process and ferreting out facts, and that if the president did what has been alleged he should be impeached.

“I strongly believe that no one is above the law. We don’t know all the facts but we certainly deserve to know,” Betras said. The Republican talking points that Biden also is at fault do not “justify what our current president has done.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.