Kansas congressional Republicans denounced plans for an official impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump while the lone Democrat said ongoing investigations need to be allowed to play out.
Republican Reps. Roger Marshall, Ron Estes and Steve Watkins sided with the president while Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids struck a much different tone, although she stopped short of saying the president should be impeached. She did not even use the word “impeachment” in her statement.
“I have long said that I trust my colleagues on the relevant House committees as they conduct oversight and continue their investigations into the President, and I support this process continuing unimpeded,” Davids said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon. “We must proceed down a path of finding the truth, regardless of politics.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee said her statement effectively endorses the impeachment inquiry “even if she is too ashamed to actually say the i-word.”
“Davids is a coward and a fraud and will be voted out of office in 2020,” NRCC spokesman Bob Salera said in a statement.
Davids has called on Trump to release a transcript of the call with the Ukrainian president in which the president reportedly pressured the foreign leader to investigate potential Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son. The president has indicated that it will be made public Wednesday.
“We still need the administration to turn over the full whistleblower report, as is required by law,” she said. “The American people deserve all the facts.”
Progressives, including many who backed Davids in her run for Congress last year, flooded social media Tuesday, imploring Davids to come out in support of impeaching the president.
“@ShariceDavids Where are you? As a constituent I want you to lead, not follow. Support the impeachment inquiry of 45,” said one tweet.
“@ShariceDavids – please stand up for the KS folks who still believe in a fair and just government and a system that checks the abuse of power,” said another tweet.
At one point, an intern staffer in the congresswoman’s office became mixed up in the political outcry when one of her text messages was used in a tweet to gin up support for impeachment.
“Y’all should call Sharice Davids OP office today and tell her to support impeachment,” said the text from Emily Wilkinson. “I’ve been getting calls literally all day long and there were 14 voicemails about it, too. I think it might finally persuade her.”
She provided the office phone number and added she would be taking calls at the congresswoman’s office until 2:30 p.m.
The text message was used in a tweet to encourage impeachment supporters to lobby the congresswoman. A spokeswoman for Davids said they were aware of the tweet and couldn’t comment further.
Meanwhile, the liberal activist group MoveOn sent out emails urging constituents to call on her to support impeachment — though the email mistakenly referred to Davids as “him.”
Washburn University political scientist Bob Beatty believes Davids will be circumspect before coming out in full force in favor of impeachment.
“She’ll wait until the facts come out on this one,” Beatty sad.
“She’s in a Republican district that voted for a Democrat,” he said. “She doesn’t want to live up to the narrative that the Republicans pushed in 2018 that said she was a radical. I think she’s going to really take care to be cautious on this.”
Al Frisby, the chairman of the Johnson County chapter of MoveOn, conceded that even his group is split on the impeachment issue. He believes Davids’ supporters will be patient.
“I have a gut feeling that they’re supporting her no matter what,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what she says, I think all of us will support her in every endeavor. She ran central, a little left of central. That’s where she wants to be.”
Davids’ Republican colleagues, however, were much more forceful in their defense of Trump after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the start of an impeachment inquiry.
“Even before seeing a transcript, Speaker Pelosi has decided to surrender to the most radical voices in her party by moving forward with an impeachment inquiry over reports of a phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine,” U.S. Rep. Estes said in a statement.
“While the president has vowed to release a full transcript, which I look forward to reviewing,” the 4th District congressman said, “I believe starting an impeachment inquiry today is irresponsible and will only succeed in further dividing the American people.”
First District U.S. Rep. Marshall, who is now in a race for the U.S. Senate, was brief on Twitter. “Democrats will stop at nothing to impeach our president. If only they devoted the last three years and energy to helping make American’s lives’ better.”
And Republican Congressman Watkins, who faces a primary challenge from Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner in the 2nd District, came to the president’s defense as well.
“Democrats have been on a three-year witch-hunt to sabotage and delegitimize a democratically elected President whose success makes them irate and irrational,” Watkins said.
“This is nothing more than Democrats waving the white flag on 2020 and trying to impeach a President they know they can’t beat.”