Allegations against President Donald Trump should be “looked at,” U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Monday, but he questioned whether House Democrats are the ones to do it.
“The hard part for the Democrats is that it’s clear this has become political,” Lankford said prior to a volunteer stint at the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
“You have 200 Democrats saying, ‘There’s going to be a document dropped, … and when it drops we’re going to announce impeachment proceedings.’ ”
Publicly, at least, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and most of the House leadership resisted calls for Trump’s impeachment until revelations last week that Trump had talked to the president of Ukraine about digging up wrongdoing by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had done business in the eastern European country.
A memo of that call and a whistleblower complaint it prompted suggest but do not categorically show Trump tried to use military aid as leverage to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to act on behalf of Trump’s reelection.
Trump also asked Zelenskiy to look for a computer server linked to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in 2016. A debunked theory holds that the server is in Ukraine.
Monday, Lankford said Democrats tipped their hand by announcing their intention to begin formal impeachment proceedings before seeing either the call memo or the whistleblower complaint.
“All they had was the whistleblower’s attorney’s statement,” Lankford said.
“It’s clear (Democrats) intended this not to be fair.”
Asked what the Democratic leadership should do given the call memo and the complaint are now public and the Trump administration has resisted previous investigations, Lankford said, “They should look at the facts. … We have to go through the process.”
Impeachment involves bringing charges against a president or other government official. The House of Representatives, currently controlled by Democrats, is authorized by the Constitution to bring those charges.
The Senate, currently controlled by Republicans, tries the impeached official but can convict only with a two-thirds vote. Republicans and some Democrats have argued that an attempt to remove Trump is pointless because the Republican-controlled Senate will not vote to convict.