Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says the transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s leader shows there was “no quid pro quo,” adding an investigation of leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has merit and House Democrats jumped the gun on an impeachment inquiry against Trump before digesting the facts.
On Wednesday, the White House released a transcript of a phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump suggested the foreign power investigate leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. That investigation was related to a theory that the elder Biden used his position as vice president to help his son, who was working for a Ukraine gas company at the time, by having a top Ukrainian prosecutor fired.
Another allegation circling the president is whether he withheld aid to Ukraine as leverage, in order to compel Zelensky to look at the Bidens.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry during a nationally televised statement. She said the actions of Trump “revealed dishonorable facts of betrayal of his oath of office and betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
“No one is above the law,” she added.
Meanwhile, Grassley, a Republican who’s represented Iowa in the U.S. Senate for nearly 40 years, said Wednesday he has “read the transcript in its entirety” and Democrats are taking an “impeach now, facts later” approach.
“It shows that there was no quid pro quo,” Grassley said. “The Ukrainian President admitted problems with corruption in the country and agreed that the issue at hand warranted looking into further.”
Grassley added that the allegations against the Bidens are “worthy of investigation.”
“That a president who ran on an anti-corruption platform would look into this matter is unsurprising and is in both the U.S. and Ukrainian national interest,” Grassley said.
Some have said the president’s action of asking a foreign power to investigate a political opponent as improper by itself.
Ross Baker, a political science professor with Rutgers University, said in a statement “it is abundantly clear” that Trump “is in the deepest trouble since he was sworn in.”
“He is on the record admitting that he sought the help of a foreign government to discredit a political rival,” he said. “Would FDR have asked Mussolini to give him dirt on Wendell Willkie? Would Eisenhower have invited Khrushchev to dirty up Adlai Stevenson?”
By Tuesday, all three of Iowa’s House members and nearly every Illinois member had issued statements of support for the impeachment inquiry to proceed.
Meanwhile, Trump has maintained he did nothing wrong and dismissed the impeachment inquiry as another partisan “witch hunt.”
Earlier calls for impeachment centered on allegations that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign conspired with Russian government officials to sway the election and that Trump interfered with a subsequent investigation led by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Speaker Pelosi’s decision to announce a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday was a departure from her previous position on that question. She previously expressed a preference to have U.S. voters remove Trump from power at the ballot box in November 2020 instead.
But support for impeachment was renewed after a whistleblower flagged the call between Trump and the Ukrainian leader, catching the attention of the inspector general for the intelligence community. A growing number of House Democrats – some of whom are in more competitive districts – moved over to the column calling for impeachment proceedings to begin once that came to light.
Both Democratic members of the U.S. House representing the Iowa and Illinois Quad-Cities offered statements of support for an impeachment inquiry after Pelosi’s announcement.
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said Trump’s “actions and obstruction require this step of establishing an impeachment inquiry.”
“It is unfortunate that we have ended up at this point,” Loebsack added. “The American people deserve the full truth and it has reached the point where there is no other way to get the necessary information and an impeachment inquiry is justified.”
U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., called the action “a measured step to ensure the American people get the truth and the answers they deserve.”
“This is a fact-finding mission,” she said. “Both Democrats and Republicans should want to get to the bottom of whether the President put our national security at risk for his own political gain."