DENVER (CBS4) – As the impeachment inquiry into President Trump moves forward, two Colorado Congressmen will play a key role.
Congressman Joe Neguse, a Democrat, and Congressman Ken Buck, a Republican, sit on the Judiciary Committee. That committee will vote on the articles of impeachment, or charges, that the full House will ultimately take up.
After months of closed-door depositions, the House Intelligence Committee held the first in a series of historic public hearings Wednesday.
Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine was the main witness. He testified that he was alarmed to learn President Trump was withholding military aid from Ukraine at the same time he was asking the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden and his son.
“I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” said Ambassador Taylor.
Rep. Buck said the President was asking for help rooting out corruption not destroying a political opponent.
“Corruption has been a long standing issue in the Ukraine and… the investigation of corruption had been a major U.S. policy for years,” said Rep. Buck.
Rep. Buck says the ambassador’s testimony is based on hearsay and contradicts what the Ukrainian President himself has said.
“The Ukrainian President said he felt no pressure to agree to any particular investigation that would affect American domestic policy,” said Rep. Buck. “Aid was released to the Ukrainians without any promise that there would be an investigation.”
Congressman Neguse says the idea that President Trump was worried about all corruption doesn’t square with the evidence, including a transcript of President’s Trump’s call to the Ukrainian President.
“One need look no further than the call summary notes released by the White House, which show the President directly asking for a favor from the Ukrainian President and that favor ultimately was to investigate a domestic political opponent… that is a betrayal ultimately of the oath of the Office of the Presidency and in my view, and the view of many others, a betrayal of the Constitution,” said Rep. Neguse.
Rep. Neguse says the Ambassador’s testimony corroborates that of other witnesses and provides additional evidence that President Trump abused his power.
“We cannot have a republic in which the chief executive uses that office to benefit himself politically. I think that my colleagues ought to treat this process with the respect it deserves and that is to recognize the gravity of the inquiry underway,” said Rep. Neguse.
Congressman Buck said it is fair to conduct oversight of the executive office but he says the impeachment inquiry is purely political.
“They are trying to undo what voters did in 2016 and it’s less than 11 months away from the next election. It makes absolutely no sense other than to engage in partisan politics at this point,” said Rep. Buck.
It’s unclear if the Judiciary Committee will be able to call witnesses. Rep. Buck says the goal is to vote on articles of impeachment before Christmas. He says Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed not to proceed unless it’s a bi-partisan effort but, Rep. Buck says, he doesn’t see that happening.
Previous impeachment inquiries into President Nixon and President Clinton both had bipartisan support. President Trump has called the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt” and he says he was too busy to watch the first hearing.