The impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine continues to dominate news headlines. Recently, House Republicans have been complaining about a perceived lack of transparency surrounding the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry. Republicans and critics of the inquiry have been calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to hold a vote of the full House to formally open the impeachment proceeding. The Enterprise contacted Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) by email to get her take on recent developments in the impeachment inquiry.
Do you support an impeachment vote in the House in response to refusals by parties of interest to turn over documents required by the committees conducting the House impeachment inquiry? Do you think the impeachment inquiry as currently constituted is illegal or unconstitutional, as the President and his allies are claiming? Or, are you satisfied with the manner in which the inquiry is being conducted?
I'm a lot more concerned about where we're going to be as a country after this process is over than I am about whether House Democrats are following rules they themselves crafted. Impeachment of a sitting U.S. president is one of the most consequential processes contained within the United States government. It is the reversal of a nationwide election of our highest-ranking leader. Whether it’s within their rules or not, a slanted process leading to a partisan impeachment has the potential to tear our nation apart – and nobody should want that. The goal of any fact-finding should be to uncover the full truth. But that’s not really possible right now, because members of Congress aren’t being given access to all of the facts. For instance, last week I requested to view the written transcript of the testimony from the U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. I made the request to Chairman [Adam] Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee that took the testimony, and was denied. That testimony was two weeks ago, contained no classified information, but was taken and is being kept behind closed doors – denied to members of Congress and the public. I’m a sitting U.S. Representative with top-secret clearance. If impeachment came to the House floor, I would be given a vote – yet I’m left to rely on media leaks and selective bits of information released by Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff about what happened. This is no way to conduct a process where truth is the goal.
Do you still support the President and his administration or are you starting to tilt toward impeachment because of the mounting evidence that the President has committed impeachable offenses, such as obstruction of Congress and using his office for personal gain?
Nobody is above the law, and we need to find out the truth surrounding that phone call. I remain focused on whether the president coerced Ukraine to influence the 2020 election by threatening to withhold aid to that country. I continue to seek answers, but the gravity of this matter demands a more transparent, fairer process than what Speaker Pelosi is currently conducting. All Americans need to be able to have confidence that this wasn't a partisan witch hunt, and a fair process can only be established through a vote by duly elected members of the U.S. House that demands public hearings, the ability for the other side to call its own witnesses, allowance for equal cross-examinations of witnesses, and actual due process.
From your perspective, is Congress still functioning, getting committee work done, getting bills marked up for votes, as the impeachment inquiry rolls along?
We’re still conducting committee work and I’m certainly not taking my focus off of lowering prescription drug prices, introducing legislation to increase affordable housing in the Gorge, and increasing access to life-saving health care services. But it’s certainly more difficult to get the support needed to advance those types of solutions as impeachment proceedings dominate House Democratic leadership priorities and media attention. I have been successful in securing several legislative solutions for Southwest Washington this year, in spite of much of the national noise. My bipartisan ACE Kids Act became law, which allowed children with complex medical conditions to access life-saving treatment – regardless of their family’s income or their zip codes. The president also signed my Purple Heart bill into law this summer, a legislative solution that helps active duty service members wounded in battle be able to afford homes. And importantly for coastal communities, my bipartisan bill to combat the effects of ocean acidification passed the House this year. And I’ve maintained my efforts to assist individual Southwest Washington residents, saving or returning them more than $1 million in money owed them by the federal government.