U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, has been careful and cautious in his public comments about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. But asked Friday whether he has seen grounds for impeachment, Perlmutter didn’t pause before saying, “Oh, yeah. You bet.”
“It will be up to the Judiciary Committee, but I think the extortionist behavior that was shown with respect to Ukraine and the holding up of $400 million that was to be there for the defense against Russians, who already had invaded Crimea and were skirmishing all over the place, that’s one” article of impeachment, the congressman said in an interview with The Denver Post.
“That’s the big one. Then, obviously, I think there are obstruction of justice claims throughout the Mueller report. We’ll let the Judiciary Committee determine what those charges might be,” he added, referring to the unrelated report into Russian election interference released this May.
On Wednesday, the impeachment inquiry goes public, with televised hearings that will feature the witnesses House Democrats feel can best illustrate the wrongdoing they accuse Trump of committing: withholding aid to Ukraine until it investigated a political rival.
Within Colorado’s congressional delegation, Republicans have slammed the impeachment inquiry as a baseless and partisan process, while Democrats have inched closer to backing Trump’s removal from office, dropping hints that the public hearings will compel them to vote in favor.
“I’ve been very clear that if the allegations are true, those are impeachable offenses,” said Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat, in an interview. “Our job is to figure out what is true and what can be corroborated.”
When asked what allegations he was referencing, Crow said: “The withholding of foreign aid — U.S. taxpayer money — to benefit (Trump’s) own personal interests and political campaign. It is unprecedented and it is shocking and if it’s true, it is an impeachable offense.”
Several witnesses in the impeachment inquiry have said military aid was withheld because Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not agree to investigate an energy company linked to Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Those witnesses include Gordon Sondland, a Trump-appointed U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Bill Taylor, a career diplomat, who will testify publicly Wednesday morning.
Republicans in Colorado’s congressional delegation have denied Trump engaged in such a quid pro quo with Ukraine’s president. Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor, though, has questioned whether it’s an impeachable offense if true. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, has called the impeachment inquiry a “Soviet-style secret investigation,” a “sham” and a “partisan hit-job” on Twitter in the past week.
Public hearings this week will occur in the House Intelligence Committee, which does not contain any Colorado members. From there, the process will likely advance to the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with crafting articles of impeachment if they are warranted. Buck and Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, are on the Judiciary Committee.
Rep. Diana DeGette, the most senior member of the Colorado delegation, voted nay on all four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton in 1998. Last week, the Denver Democrat talked with reporters for 30 minutes in her downtown office about the Trump impeachment.
“I don’t think any of us have pre-judged what will happen here, but what we do think is there was a prima facie case made for impeachment, just by what the president said and what the president has admitted to,” DeGette said. Prima facie is a Latin term meaning there is reason to believe the defendant is guilty at first glance.
DeGette compared the arguments for impeachment to a case she once handled as a defense attorney, in which she represented a homeless advocate who had been charged with trespassing after breaking into public housing on live television. While the evidence against her client was clear, DeGette still presented a defense and expected the legal system to withhold its judgment until the court proceedings had ended.
“My level of concern about the evidence has increased dramatically as we’ve heard all of these career employees of the State Department, the intelligence agencies and the military come forward and confirm the allegations that were made,” DeGette said when asked if her position on impeachment has changed since the inquiry began Sept. 24.
“But before I’ve heard the rest of the evidence and seen articles of impeachment, I’m not going to make an announcement that I’m for impeaching and removing the president or not.”
Content originally published by The Denver Post on November 12, 2019.