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House Democrats Begin Formal Impeachment Inquiry

A man and a woman stand and wave together to the camera.
Jose Luis Magana
Associated Press File
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi administers the oath of office to Vermont Rep. Peter Welch in January 2019. Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Tuesday, a move Welch first said he supported back in July.

Vermont Rep. Peter Welch supported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Pelosi made the announcement Tuesday evening following several days of controversy surrounding the White House, a call with the Ukrainian president, and a question of whether Trump improperly pressureda foreign government to hand over damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden.

The White House said it will release the transcript of Trump's conversation with the president of Ukraine on Wednesday. The  House Intelligence Committee, which Welch sits on, will review on Thursday all of the documents released by the White House in this case.

In the meantime, Welch applauded Pelosi's decision to begin impeachment proceedings and said the allegations against the president  represent a clear abuse of the executive office.

“All of this adds up to the President putting his own political fortunes ahead of his responsibility as a custodian of our national security,” Welch said. “So this is of a character that far exceeds all that has preceded it."

More from VPR: Rep. Peter Welch on Mueller's Testimony And The Case For Impeachment [July 25]

Welch said the nature of the new accusations against the president caused more Congressional Democrats to join the chorus calling for impeachment.

”The commander-in-chief of course has primary responsibility to protect that national security — [it] was a huge tipping point for many of my colleagues who had won in Trump districts,” he said. 

Welch has supported Trump's impeachment since July 18. He said over the summer he believed Trump "violated his oath" to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution based on two things: one, because of the president's refusal to let members of his administration testify before Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election, and two, because of the president's "racist" tweets telling four Congresswomen of color to "go back" to the "places from which they came."

"[President Trump] is totally stonewalling Congress when it comes to Congress exercising its oversight responsibility that applies to any chief executive," Welch told Vermont Edition. "Also every citizen is entitled to the full protection of the law. What the president is doing, in attacking people based on their faith, on the basis of their ethnic origin, is attacking people who are entitled to the full protection of the law."

While Welch previously said he had concerns about impeachment proceedings energizing the Republican base ahead of the 2020 election, he also noted the "institutions of democracy are under assault," and that his support for impeachment was a "call of conscience."

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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