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WASHINGTON — The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump might have the support of all four members of Hawaii’s federal delegation, but it’s the one with the most sway in the investigation who’s expressed the most skepticism.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who’s running for president, was one of the last Democrats to publicly support a House investigation into whether Trump should be removed from office.
Gabbard now sits on one of the six House committees designated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that will take part in the impeachment inquiry.
She’s a member of the Financial Services Committee, which is chaired by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, who has long championed impeachment.
While other committees, namely Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Reform, and Intelligence, have focused on Trump pressuring Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Waters’ committee could soon be involved depending on what facts emerge during the ongoing inquiry.
The House is planning to vote on a resolution as soon as this week that is expected to outline the official procedures for the ongoing investigation, including detailing which committees will be involved and explaining how public hearings will be conducted.
Gabbard’s individual role in the inquiry, however, is unclear at this point.
She’s not a prominent member of the Financial Services Committee nor does she sit on the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. She’s spent much of her time on the campaign trail, missing nearly one-third of House votes.
The congresswoman’s office and campaign did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
Hawaii’s delegation represents just four people out of 535 members of Congress, and none are in a leadership position when it comes to impeachment.
Unlike Gabbard, U.S. Rep. Ed Case was deeply troubled by the findings in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report into Russian meddling in U.S. elections and the Trump campaign’s role. He says that Congress must continue to investigate and pressure the Trump administration into releasing the full version and its underlying documents.
He said that while he did not support an impeachment inquiry based on what he read in Mueller’s redacted report when it was released, that could change with the revelation of new information should Democrats succeed in getting access.
Case said he supports the current inquiry based on the information contained in the whistleblower’s complaint and the transcript of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky.
“That represented to me a far more direct and graphic action by the president that justified an inquiry on impeachment,” Case said.
He added that he’s reserving judgment until the investigations are over and articles of impeachment are put forward.
The congressman currently doesn’t sit on any committees that are involved in the inquiry, which he says has allowed him to focus on his day-to-day work.
“I think he’s possibly the worst president ever.” — U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz
Still, he admits all the talk of impeachment can drown out the work he and his colleagues are doing, such as the passage of legislation Wednesday to better protect U.S. elections from foreign interference. Gabbard, who is on the presidential campaign trail, missed that vote.
“The impeachment inquiry is not directly impacting my everyday work, but there may come a time when it does,” Case said. “If articles of impeachment do come forward, then my attention is going to be devoted to one of the most serious decisions I’m ever going to have to make.”
In the meantime, he said he will be supportive of his Democratic colleagues as they continue their investigation and will call them out should he feel like their tactics are not following a responsible course.
Democrats in the House have said they were aiming to vote on articles of impeachment by Thanksgiving, but now acknowledge they might need more time due in part to some witnesses providing more leads for investigation.
Both of Hawaii’s senators, Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, support the impeachment inquiry. They also agree there’s enough evidence right now for the House to move forward with articles of impeachment.
Should that happen the Senate will hold a trial before U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts while Schatz and Hirono effectively serve as jurors along with their colleagues.
If two-thirds of the Senate — 67 votes — find the president is guilty, Trump will be removed from office and Vice President Mike Pence will be sworn in to lead the country.
For Hirono, the wait for impeachment has been too long.
She was calling for Trump to be impeached as far back as May after Mueller released his report.
The whistleblower’s complaint and Trump’s own admissions and public statements, which included the president calling on China to investigate Biden, have only added to her resolve.
“My role will be to continue to support what the House is doing with the impeachment inquiry,” Hirono said. “The president has already admitted to asking for foreign interference in our elections. He’s already admitted it out in public.”
Schatz, too, has been open about his displeasure with the president and his policies.
He’s been particularly vocal about Trump’s business dealings and possible violations of the emoluments clause, which prohibits a president from profiting from foreign and domestic governments — aside from his annual compensation — while in office.
“I think he’s possibly the worst president ever,” Schatz said. “The one thing I won’t comment on is the question of removal, which is something I think you should only opine on at the end of the trial.”
The House impeachment inquiry and its possible ramifications have so dominated Capitol Hill, Schatz said, that he’s already begun adjusting the timeline on when he and his colleagues will tackle certain projects, such as developing rules for online privacy and passing bipartisan legislation to expand telehealth services to rural communities.
“I pride myself on my ability to compartmentalize and my ability to get things done in the middle of a political storm, but there’s no doubt that impeachment will suck all of the oxygen out of the air,” Schatz said.
“Tactically speaking, I want to make sure our work doesn’t get swept up in the impeachment furor. We don’t want to throw it down a rat hole.”
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