Updated: October 01, 2019 05:17 AM
Created: September 30, 2019 08:11 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Along party lines, Rochester-area members of Congress delivered very different assessments of the merits of a case for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, but agreed the process was destructive and bad for the country.
“It’s first of all sadness,” Rochester Democrat Joe Morelle said of his reaction when asked on Monday. “This is not a time to celebrate, it’s not a time to think about politics.”
“This is just the beginning. I feel bad for the country,” said Republican Tom Reed. “[What] the country [is] going through, we’re already polarized enough.”
In Henrietta on Monday, Reed said he'd seen the transcript of the president's July phone conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as the complaint of a whistleblower who accused the president of swapping American military aid for information on business dealings by the son of presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. Those dealings, Republicans said, could show wrongdoing by Biden.
"We've looked at this evidence,” Reed said. “We have looked at this complaint. Absent new evidence, this is just not an impeachable level offense."
Declaring that he too had seen the evidence, Morelle announced a very different conclusion.
“The evidence that we have so far is so troubling, so volatile of our norms as Americans that the House, in my view, has no choice but to proceed with an inquiry to determine the extent to which the president has engaged in activities which, in my mind, would be treasonous,” he said.
Growing numbers of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have expressed support for impeaching the president. Reed complained that a fixation on impeachment would sabotage the rest of Congress’ business.
“The bottom line is you got a Democratic majority that I think has been taken over by the extreme left agenda, and they are not dealing with people’s day-to-day problems,” Reed said. “Now this impeachment is just going to take up all the oxygen and is going to prevent us from fixing problems for the people back home.”
“We can do both these things,” Morelle said in response. “There are many committees that are working on substantive issues, so we can continue to have the inquiry to go forward with the house intelligence committee. The rest of us continue to do our work.”
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