Too Soon to Gauge Fallout from Impeachment Vote

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s vote Thursday authorizing the U.S. House of Representatives to formalize its impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump might not affect his re-election bid next year, but could be a bigger factor beyond 2020, a Youngstown State University political scientist speculates.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, is among 232 Democrats who voted in favor of House committees continuing their investigations into whether sufficient grounds exist for the house to impeach Trump and establishing rules for those investigations. Two Democrats in Trump-leaning districts joined 194 Republicans to vote against the resolution. 

House committees are delving into whether Trump abused his office by pressuring leaders of foreign countries, including Ukraine, to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter. 

The potential political fallout from Ryan‘s vote in favor of the impeachment inquiry resolution remains to be seen. Ryan won reelection last year in a district that gave 51% of its votes to Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

“He feels he is very safe in his seat. If he didn’t, he probably would have been a little more reticent, observed said Paul Sracic, professor and chairman of the Department of Politics and International Relations at YSU. Ryan probably had little choice given that he was on the record supporting impeachment during his short-lived run for the Democratic presidential nomination, he added.

If impeachment turns south for Democrats – and Trump already has seen some of his numbers improve, according to Sracic – if not next year, Ryan could face a “significant challenge” in 2022, assuming he is running for his current seat and not running for another office. “This vote could become difficult for him,” he said.

Ryan likely would face an electorate with a more Republican tilt in 2022, as congressional districts are redrawn following the 2020 Census, Sracic explained. Ohio is expected to lose a congressional seat.

“In all likelihood, Ryan is not going to be running in the safe 13th district. In the future it might be less Democratic,” Sracic said. “Everything is in flux, particularly going into 2022.”

Mandi Merritt, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, warned of consequences for Ryan and others who “chose to side with Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and the socialist squad over their constituents.” Those politicians “have officially committed political malpractice,” she said.

“Americans will remember how these Democrats chose to pursue division and investigation over progress and promises,” Merritt said.

Ryan defended the impeachment inquiry in a statement emailed following the vote Thursday morning. 

“This is a critical moment in our history. The president of the United States pressured a foreign nation to investigate his political opponent while withholding crucial American support,” “Ryan said. Make no mistake: not only is it an abuse of power, it is illegal. The testimonies from those present for the call and the demands for the investigation of a political opponent are damning.”

Ryan accused Trump of putting “his personal agenda” above that of the American people and said the president’s actions threaten “our free and fair elections, our national security, and our democracy.”

Elsewhere in the region, U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, and Mike Kelly R-16 Pennsylvania, voted against the impeachment inquiry.

The region’s GOP congressmen fired back following the House vote.

The “political show-boat resolution does nothing to undo the previous five weeks of secretive meetings, selective leaks, and Soviet-style inquisition” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and “their cronies,” Johnson said in a statement. Trump won Johnson’s district, which includes Columbiana County, by more than 42 percentage points. 

“Democrats aren’t interested in due process or anything resembling fairness. Their goal is to remove the president from office and disenfranchise the 63 million Americans who voted for him, and they don’t really care how they do it,” he continued.

The 232-to-196 vote authorizes the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to conduct open hearings and directs the House committees leading the inquiry to report their findings to the House Judiciary Committee, which will determine whether to move forward on articles of impeachment.

It also permits the president and his attorneys to cross-examine witnesses.  

Johnson’s campaign quicklyo capitalized on the vote by sending out a fundraising email, that called the vote on the “impeachment witch hunt” an appropriate one to take on Halloween.

“Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff want to defeat the president. They want to defeat me. They’re holding secret meetings in the basement of the U.S. Capitol to overturn the will of the American people. We won’t let them get away with it,” Johnson said in the fundraising email.

Kelly’s statement, emailed by his office, sounded similar themes.

“After more than a month of Adam Schiff’s secret hearings and selective leaking, the do-nothing Democrats caved to pressure and tried to legitimize the unfair, hyper-partisan inquiry that is already underway,” Kelly said. “This resolution is a mirage — an attempt to create the perception of fairness, transparency, and due process. In truth, this sham inquiry contains none of those cherished American values.”

The Trump and Biden campaigns also responded to the vote.

“Every American can see this for what it is: an attempt to remove a duly-elected president for strictly political reasons by a strictly partisan, illegitimate process,” said Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 campaign manager. “Today’s vote merely proves that the entire impeachment process was a sham from the beginning and Nancy Pelosi can’t legitimize it after the fact.”

Parscale predicted voters would “punish Democrats who support this farce” and Trump would be “easily re-elected.”

In a statement emailed by his campaign, Biden cited the warning of the nation’s first president, George Washington, in his farewell address regarding the “insidious” danger that “foreign intervention in our elections” could pose to the nation’s democracy.

“Over the last five weeks, overwhelming and distressing signs have emerged, one after another, that President Trump abused the very same office Washington held to use American military aid in an attempt to coerce a foreign country, Ukraine, into undermining the sovereignty of our elections,” Biden said.

The House performed its “constitutional duty to proceed with a solemn investigation of unprecedented wrongdoing.” 

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.