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WASHINGTON — Three out of four of Hawaii’s federal politicians support an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump after serious questions have been raised about whether he used his position to target the family of a political rival.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she fully supports the Democrat-controlled House launching impeachment proceedings against Trump, saying it was important to maintain the integrity of the U.S. political system.
U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep. Ed Case, all Democrats, support the inquiry. But Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, opposes it.
Pelosi had initially been apprehensive about the idea of removing Trump from office for fear that it might hurt Democrats in the upcoming 2020 election. Joe Biden is one of the frontrunners for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
But the fast-developing story this week that Trump may have pressured the new president of Ukraine to investigate possible corruption on the part of Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, led to the speaker’s action. The younger Biden had business interests in the country.
“The president must be held accountable,” Pelosi said during a press conference Tuesday in Washington. “No one is above the law.”
Hirono sought an impeachment inquiry in late May after the Mueller report was delivered to Congress. On Monday, Schatz came out in support of the inquiry in light of the Ukraine developments.
Case, a moderate Democrat who was initially skeptical about moving ahead with such a stern rebuke of Trump and his actions while in office, has now changed his position.
“Together with other claimed breaches and the President’s continued obstruction of Congressional oversight, they fully justify Congress reviewing potential impeachment.” — U.S. Rep. Ed Case
In a press release Tuesday, Case said, “The allegations that the President pressured a foreign country to investigate a domestic political opponent and withheld foreign assistance as leverage, to go with his Director of National Intelligence’s refusal to produce the whistleblower’s complaint and independent Inspector General’s report to Congress as required by law, go to the core of this or any President’s constitutional duties and our national security.”
The congressman added that, “Together with other claimed breaches and the President’s continued obstruction of Congressional oversight, they fully justify Congress reviewing potential impeachment. This review must continue to be responsible, deliberate and fact-based, focused not on policy differences but on upholding and defending our Constitution.”
Gabbard has long been opposed to any action that would forcibly remove Trump from office.
For instance, in March after Attorney General William Barr gave his brief summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Gabbard’s campaign issued a statement saying it was time to “move forward.”
She even said that had Mueller found evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians “it would have precipitated a terribly divisive crisis that could have even led to civil war.”
The Hawaii congresswoman, whose campaign is based largely on an anti-war, anti-interventionist foreign policy platform, stuck to that position after Mueller’s report was made public and many of her colleagues began calling for impeachment.
Before Pelosi spoke Tuesday, Gabbard appeared on Fox News, CNN and other national television outlets to reiterate that beginning impeachment proceedings would be “terribly divisive.”
While occasionally critical of Trump, she has also expressed an interest in working with the president along bipartisan lines. She visited with him at Trump Tower in New York shortly after he beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election.
Schatz’s office did not provide any additional context regarding his statement Monday, which said Trump “is breaking statutory and constitutional law every day, and he is abusing his inherent power as president with regularity, enthusiasm, and most troublingly, impunity.”
Late Monday, Schatz tweeted out, “Tomorrow’s gonna be nuts.”
After Pelosi spoke, he tweeted, “Thank you, Speaker Pelosi.”
Hirono, who has been one of the president’s most vocal detractors, called for impeachment even earlier.
In May, she issued her own statement via Twitter, saying it was time to start the process of removing Trump from office. Hirono’s call for impeachment came in May after Mueller’s report was released.
She reiterated her stance Tuesday and commended Pelosi for initiating the impeachment process to find out whether Trump “committed high crimes and misdemeanors,” words pulled straight from Article II of the Constitution.
Republican leaders that control the Senate said the impeachment move would go nowhere in that chamber.
But more Democrats are joining the impeachment push, including Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Democratic whip. And also on Tuesday Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will back whatever decision Pelosi makes on impeachment.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that there at least 200 House members in favor of an inquiry: 199 Democrats and one former Republican who is now an independent. More than 60 of the Democrats came on board just this week.
Pelosi provided few details about the actual process on Tuesday. She said she would direct the six House committees already investigating the president to “proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.”
Those committees — Judiciary, Intelligence, Ways and Means, Financial Services, Oversight and Foreign Affairs — will continue with their investigations. Gabbard is a member of Financial Services. Case does not sit on any of them.
The House Judiciary Committee would consider any articles of impeachment and then vote on a resolution. If it passes, it would then go to the full house.
Only two U.S. presidents have been impeached in the House — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Both were acquitted in the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.
The Associated Press reported that Trump greeted the impeachment inquiry news with “confidence” and “irritation.” He has previously said any inquiry would amount to a “witch hunt,” the same words he used to describe the Mueller investigation.
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