Capitol Alert

Trump impeachment: Freshman California Democrats say they’re ready for an inquiry

All of California’s seven freshmen Democrats who defeated Republican incumbents in 2018 now publicly back impeaching President Donald Trump.

Rep. TJ Cox, D-Fresno, was the last of the group to declare his support for an impeachment inquiry after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would open one. Cox won his seat in 2018 by less than 1,000 votes against former Rep. David Valadao, a Republican of Hanford, and 2020 is set up to be a rematch between the two.

“I didn’t come to Washington to impeach a president, I came here to do everything in my power to give Central Valley’s working families a hand up and grow our local economy for generations to come. I’ve worked every day to keep that promise,” Cox said. “But when the President of the United States is putting his personal and political interests ahead of the American people and abusing the Constitution, we have a duty to investigate and follow the facts where they lead.”

Reps. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, Katie Hill, D-Santa Clarita, and Gil Cisneros, D-Phelan, announced their support for an impeachment vote or investigation Monday and Tuesday, before Pelosi’s public announcement.

Those three said they were convinced to join the swelling support for impeachment among Democrats by reports that Trump sought Ukraine’s help in discrediting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

“Last week, we found out that the president himself may have put our national security at risk, invited another foreign government to interfere in our election, and used American tax dollars to further his own political agenda,” Harder said Tuesday. “Anyone willing to sacrifice the national security interests of the United States for their own benefit is unfit to be president. If these allegations are true, it’s time for the House to open impeachment proceedings.”

Their new stances on impeachment follow a whistleblower’s report made to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson regarding Trump’s communications with a foreign leader.

Congress still does not know the exact contents of the complaint or who the whistleblower is, and Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share the complaint.

The inspector general found the complaint “credible” and “urgent,” according to a letter to Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Burbank. But the general counsel for Maguire’s office said it had consulted with the Justice Department and determined the complaint did not rise to the level of an “urgent concern” requiring congressional notification, which is required by law.

Subsequent reporting has said the complaint centered on a July phone call, when Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal.. Trump has said the call included discussions about the Biden family, but he’s maintained he did not do anything improper.

Trump said Tuesday he plans to release the full, unredacted transcript of his call with the Ukraine president on Wednesday, but not the whistleblower complaint.

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Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.