Where suburban congressmen stand on impeaching Trump over Ukraine issue
U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider took the most aggressive stance Tuesday of suburban lawmakers supporting impeachment proceedings amid revelations that President Donald Trump tried to withhold aid from Ukraine as he also asked the country to investigate his leading 2020 political rival, Joe Biden.
Schneider, a Deerfield Democrat, called for articles of impeachment to be filed against Trump to begin the process of formalizing corruption charges, while demanding Congress exercise its constitutional responsibility.
Other suburban congressional representatives, all Democrats, renewed support for the impeachment inquiry, launched Tuesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and sought more information, including the whistle-blower report and transcripts of all conversations between Trump, his personal attorney and the Ukranian president.
"It's a present case ... with the implication of potentially affecting the elections this year," Schneider said Tuesday. "The president must be held accountable, which is why I support initiating articles of impeachment to do so. If not now, if not for these actions, then when and for what actions of any president will ever rise to the level of account?"
The facts are not in dispute, Schneider said.
"President Trump and his personal legal counsel both publicly admit that the president of the United States pressured the president of Ukraine to launch a sham investigation of a political rival, while withholding millions of dollars of military aid," he said. "Blocking this much-needed aid to our ally, Ukraine, for the president's personal political gain dangerously threatens U.S. national security interests and undermines America's foreign policy objectives."
Speaking to reporters Tuesday at the United Nations, Trump said he held up the aid to fight corruption, and he urged European nations to pitch in financially to help Ukraine. He has denied that any requests to the Ukrainian president seeking damaging information about the Bidens were "quid pro quo" or tied to the aid freeze.
Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump after she met with her Democratic caucus behind closed doors Tuesday afternoon.
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston said the latest allegations are different from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"If this is all true, that (Trump) was in some ways extorting the government of Ukraine, holding back money for them in exchange for their willingness to look at Joe Biden's activities and the activities of his son, it's clearly an impeachable offense and is really a national security issue," Schakowsky said. "This may be the moment for articles of impeachment."
Schakowsky said she wants to see the transcript of Trump's conversations with the Ukranian president.
"This would be a clear example of the president of the United States asking a foreign government to participate in bringing down a potential opponent in an election," she said. "This is very dangerous. It cannot go without accountability."
Trump tweeted he has authorized the release Wednesday "of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine."
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, of Schaumburg, said Thursday's Intelligence Committee hearing will focus on the whistle-blower complaint. If the allegations are true, it "rises to a whole new level of misconduct," he said.
"In the 2016 election, we were asking whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to interfere in our election. Here, it appears, if the reports are true, the president may be trying to coerce or force a foreign power to basically interfere in our elections again," Krishnamoorthi said. "When you add in the fact that we have foreign aid that is being conditioned on taking these steps, we have a really serious situation."
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, of Naperville, said whether Congress acts on specific articles of impeachment will depend on what is proposed, if and when that happens.
"We have to get a lot of facts here," Foster said. "We have to know the extent to which there was an implicit or explicit quid pro quo. We have to understand the links between the cutoff of the military assistance aid that Congress has appropriated and the request to basically perform opposition research on president Trump's political opponents. That's what's crucial here."
He anticipates more congressional hearings on the full range of communications between the Administration and the Ukrainians.
U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove said in a statement Trump's behavior cannot be excused.
"Donald Trump has risked our national security and invited yet another foreign government to intercede to influence our elections," the statement said. "Donald Trump is so singularly focused on promoting his own fortunes -- political and otherwise -- that he is incapable of defending the Constitutional rights and respecting the will of the American people. His behavior is a clear and present danger to our Republic."
In an emailed statement, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago said Trump's alleged actions "an unprecedented abuse of power and an impeachable offense."
U.S. Reps. Lauren Underwood of Naperville and Sean Casten of Downers Grove earlier backed an impeachment inquiry but could not be reached Tuesday.