With impeachment the talk of the town in Washington, President Donald Trump’s most fierce critics and defenders are squaring off, reacting to a Democratic initiative to remove him from office over an alleged abuse of power.
On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said the House was “moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” unifying ongoing investigations in six congressional committees under the umbrella of an impeachment probe. Citing a July phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, Pelosi argued that the president abused his authority and broke the law by directing Zelensky to reopen an investigation into the overseas business dealings of former vice president Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The transcript of the call, however, failed to show any nefarious quid-pro-quo as alleged by Trump’s opponents.
While there is dispute over whether Congress still needs to institute a full vote in order to direct the House Judiciary Committee to launch a formal probe – as occurred during the Nixon and Clinton impeachment sagas – some Democrats argue no such vote is necessary.
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Legal technicalities aside, the announcement of the inquiry itself has sent both the president’s backers and enemies into political overdrive, with both camps urging their rank-and-file to prepare for combat.
“War; this is war against truths,” conservative actor John Voight said in a video message posted on Twitter on Wednesday night, adding: “This is a war against the highest noble man who has defended our country.”
In a “time of evil words… let us all stand with our President Trump,” Voight said, slamming Democrats for their impeachment drive, which he deemed a “crime.”
This is war pic.twitter.com/NbHIzbyr4O
— Jon Voight (@jonvoight) September 27, 2019
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who now serves as Trump’s legal counsel, also ridiculed House Democrats for their efforts, calling them a “sad joke” and insisting he would not comply with any House subpoenas, at least not without the president’s sign-off.
“They have no legitimacy,” he said. “I would think of challenging their subpoena on the grounds that they’re not a legitimate committee.”
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Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway also pulled no punches, accusing Pelosi of dining on an “equivocation sandwich” for lunch, and stating that she had allowed “the men around her” form her opinions.
🔥HOLY, WOW: KELLYANNE ON PELOSI 🔥
“She does the worse thing a woman in power can do – which is just change her mind because the men around her said, ‘Change your mind. We need Impeachment.’ I don’t know what she had for lunch – an equivocation sandwich?”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) September 27, 2019
As the president’s party largely coalesces behind him, one Republican congressman broke ranks with his cohorts on Friday. Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei joined 223 Democrats in backing the impeachment probe.
“I’m a big fan of oversight, so let’s let the committees get to work and see where it goes,” Amodei told the Nevada Independent newspaper, though the congressman has since clarified in a statement that he does not support impeachment itself, only the inquiry.
The first Republican House member has announced support for the impeachment inquiry against President Trump: Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 27, 2019
Democrats, of course, have been equally energetic since Pelosi’s announcement on Tuesday.
Apparently seeing a business opportunity in the dire political struggle now unfolding in the US capital, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) rolled out new merch for the occasion, offering t-shirts which read “Impeach the MF” for $30 a pop.
“You can even wear what you feel,” Tlaib said, marketing her new swag.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit is selling shirts calling on President @realDonaldTrump to be impeached. The “Impeach the MF” shirts are $29 and available in 6 different styles. pic.twitter.com/IoTvLxNqTL
— Kiyerra Lake (@WLNSKiyerra) September 27, 2019
Pelosi – whose newfound support for impeachment this week marked a dramatic about-face on the question – has also weighed into the fray online, tweeting a steady stream of accusations and invective the president’s way.
It doesn’t get more serious than this. It is a betrayal of his oath of office for President Trump to pressure a foreign country to interfere in our elections. And yet that is exactly what @realDonaldTrump did. #TruthExposed pic.twitter.com/MnB5ARJR35
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) September 27, 2019
Lead member of the “Squad” – a formation of progressive Democratic congresswomen – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the president had “already admitted” to impeachable offenses, asking mockingly on Twitter why Trump would “confess” to incriminating acts after he slammed the impeachment drive as “the greatest scam in the history of American politics.”
Then why did you confess to it? https://t.co/Yu1vPC7YzI
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 26, 2019
It’s unclear how the battle will pan out at the present stage, but as Democrats and fellow travelers rush headlong toward impeachment, and perhaps an equal number on the other side oppose their efforts tooth-and-nail, Washington DC is set to be the scene of major political skirmishes for weeks, if not months, to come.
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