As one of the first and most vociferous members of Congress to beat the impeachment drum, his frustrations having steadily built in recent weeks, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman applauded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic announcement
this afternoon that the U.S. House of Representatives will launch a formal impeachment inquiry.
“It’s been a remarkable snowball of unity in our caucus around the Ukraine scandal,” Huffman told the Journal
by phone this afternoon. “As someone who thinks this president should be impeached around at least a half-dozen impeachable offenses, I’m happy to see that unity, even if it just gels around this one scandal. I’ll take it.”
The Ukraine scandal
, as Huffman dubbed it, has been rapidly gaining traction over the past week and centers on reports — as well as admissions from the president and his advisors — that in July Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on widely debunked allegations that he inappropriately pressed for the ousting of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating a company that employed Biden’s son. The pressing — eight requests for the investigation in a single phone call, according to some reports — reportedly came weeks after Trump ordered his acting chief of staff to withhold $400 million in promised military aid to the country.
Huffman said there was zero dissension in the ranks when Pelosi informed the Democratic caucus today that she intended to announce the launching of an impeachment inquiry this afternoon, despite the fact that many Democrats have taken a cautious approach to the subject, believing that committee investigations could accomplish the larger information gathering goal without the potential political price of an official inquiry.
In announcing the opening of a formal inquiry, Pelosi said Trump has “seriously violated the Constitution” and “must be held accountable.”
To date, the whistleblower complaint that brought the Ukraine scandal to light has not been turned over to Congress, as required by law. But Huffman said acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is slated to offer “historic testimony” before Congress Thursday, noting that the hearing will be televised.
Huffman, who has repeatedly and loudly
called for the start of a formal impeachment inquiry to look into potential violations of the emoluments clause, obstruction of justice and campaign finance violations, said he believes the Ukraine scandal has captured his colleagues’ urgent attention because it is “an unambiguous, impeachable offense and there is no amount of spin or nuance that can get the president out of this box.” The facts as they are known, he said, already support an impeachment vote, noting that Trump has admitted to asking Zelensky to investigate Biden and halting the military aid money as members of his administration have refused to comply with legal requirements to turn the whistleblower’s complaint over to Congress.
“That alone crosses the threshold of impeachment,” Huffman said.
On Twitter, Trump has called the issue a “total witch hunt” and “presidential harassment,” and has pledged to release a transcript of his call with Zelensky tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Huffman says he believes there is “air-tight unity” in the Democratic caucus in the belief that Trump’s own public admissions about the call — coupled with his administration’s handling of the complaint — constitute grounds for impeachment. He says he still wants to see the president held accountable for profiting off the presidency, obstructing justice and violating campaign finance rules by paying off a porn star to keep voters from learning about his extra-marital affair, but all that can wait.
“I’m not backing off any of that but I do think this Ukraine scandal goes to the fast lane and probably stands alone as having that full imprimatur of the speaker and our caucus,” he says.