U.S. Rep. Tom Reed said Thursday that testimony during the first day of hearings investigating President Donald Trump did not approach “an impeachable offense.”
Reed said he agreed with Republican colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee that Trump was pursuing “legitimate issues of corruption” that had not been looked at with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call.
During the call, Zelensky raised the issue of almost $400 million in U.S. military aid which Trump was withholding. The president, according to the transcript of the call, responded by saying there was a favor he wanted in return — an investigation into the son of Democratic presidential primary front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden.
Specifically, Reed said, the president was asking that Ukraine investigate Biden’s son Hunter, who held a $50,000 a month position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company “with a checkered past.”
Asked what evidence he has seen of any corruption on the part of either Biden, Reed replied that he had not seen “conclusive evidence,” but that it was a “legitimate inquiry,” and noted Hunter Biden’s lack of business experience despite the high position in the company.
Reed said the American people will see the inquiry as Republicans do, and he expects “a silent majority” will stand up and elect individuals to Congress “who will set aside partisan politics.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi controls the impeachment process, Reed said, and Democrats “have made a 100% commitment to bring impeachment to the House floor. Maybe something will stop that from happening.”
Reed was asked about testimony from acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor who said an aide described a phone call between Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who was in a Ukranian restaurant, and Trump in which the president asked about the investigations. He said the testimony was “triple hearsay” and difficult to follow.
Sondland later told Taylor the president seemed more interested in investigations than the situation the Ukranians are in with Russia.
“The bottom line is that the evidence I have seen does not rise to impeachment,” Reed said. He said he didn’t see high crimes like treason in the conversation between Trump and Zelensky.
Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states that “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
When asked if the president abused his office for political gain, “I don’t see the evidence,” Reed replied.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)