Wyoming Delegation Responds To Impeachment Uproar In The Nation's Capital

Sep 27, 2019

Two decades ago Wyoming senior Senator Mike Enzi voted to impeach Bill Clinton for obstructing justice and perjury. He's now retiring at the end of his term and when I asked if he had anything to say about these current allegations against President Trump, he offered this.

"No."

That simple "no" from Enzi - his not even wanting to weigh in - is worlds apart from Wyoming's other two federal lawmakers who are both members of their respective chamber's leadership teams.

After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry this week, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney was livid, especially because the partial transcript of Trump's call with the Ukrainian president hadn't even been released yet.

"I think it's outrageous. For her to go out and hold a press conference, announce an impeachment inquiry when she had not even seen any of the evidence is just ludicrous," Cheney said.

She is, as you know, a Cheney. She and her father have both staked out careers based on their intense, neo-conservative foreign policy stances. Just as it did for Dick, foreign policy matters to Liz. That's why she was also up in arms that Pelosi dropped this news while Trump was with world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week.

"She chose to do it at a moment when the president was up at the United Nations - I think that's a really big deal. To be in the situation where the president is having bilateral meetings with other world leaders and this thing plays out all day long, and he's dealing with this allegation that he's going to be impeached?" Cheney said.

But for the majority of congressional Democrats, allegations that Trump used the stature of the United States of America to try to extract political retribution against his political opponent Joe Biden is even more unseemly. Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly is on the Oversight Committee. He said Trump put lives at risk.

"It's particularly egregious in this context. The context there are Russian troops in the eastern part of the Ukraine killing Ukrainians - they need the military aid. The fact that… you would do this for this narrow partisan gain is unspeakably sordid. Is there any bottom for them at all?" Connolly said.

House Democrats are readying for a slew of high profile - and high stakes --- hearings as they ramp up their impeachment inquiry. That will mean lots of T.V. cameras, which isn't the tact senators are taking.

Wyoming junior Senator John Barrasso said he's glad the Senate Intelligence Committee has begun its work in closed-door sessions - without cameras.

"I think that the Senate Intelligence Committee is an appropriate place to do this in a confidential manner," he said.

Barrasso said Democrats are just playing politics and that's why they're doing so much of their investigating in front of the media.

"What I really see happening is the Democrats are cranking up the outrage machine again. They're kind of beating the impeachment drum. The candidates running for president are once again calling for impeachment," Barrasso argued.

But now that the whistleblower complaint is out, most Democrats argue voters deserve to see what Trump and his lieutenants, like Barrasso and Cheney, are trying to hide. Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said the new information provided by a whistleblower on Trump's call with the Ukrainian president back in July shows the gravity of the case his party is trying to prove.

"I think the complaint looks very credible given the fact that he certainly knew exactly what was the substance of the call between Zelensky and Trump, and I've been worried since May," Murphy said.

Barrasso laughs off those charges and claims Democrats are just bitter that Trump beat Hillary Clinton back in 2016. He said they're still upset Special Counsel Robert Mueller didn't give them the smoking gun they've been looking for.

"They didn't get what they wanted out of the Mueller investigation. They're hoping they have something here. I just don't see it," he said.

Democrats are all in though. Vermont Democratic Congressman Peter Welch is a member of the Intelligence Committee. He said his party is going to use the whistleblower's account to continue to pull in Trump's inner circle to prove their case.

"There's a roadmap in the report by the inspector general. You know, the reference to the many people who were witness to the call, witness to the things that the president said. There was no investigation that was done," Welch said.

Still, Congresswoman Cheney said Democrats are chasing the wind.

"The fact that they are careening - and that's the only word for it - from one theory to another theory, from one target to another target, hoping something hits… it's absolutely an abdication - and I think a betrayal - of their constitutional duty, as well as it has real negative national security consequences," she said.

Now that an impeachment inquiry is formal, analysts say it's not going away and will be the backdrop for the 2020 election - whether any of us, or our elected officials, want it or not.