President Donald Trump’s call to have foreign governments investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter do not rise to the level of an impeachable offense, said Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik on Thursday to reporters before a town hall-style event in Johnstown.
“It is illegal to ask any foreign nation for help electorally,” Stefanik said. “I don’t think that’s what the president did in this case.”
A rough transcript of a call between Trump and his Ukraine counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelensky, shows Trump expressing concern about whether the country was involved in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election. At the same time, he raises concerns with Hunter Biden’s work for a company previously under investigation in Ukraine.
After the call’s details were made public, the president called on China to also investigate the former vice president and his Democratic presidential candidate.
“I’ve reviewed the transcript between President Trump and President Zelensky numerous times,” Stefanik said. “I’m glad that was made public. I think when it comes to the China statement, that was certainly not an appropriate statement to make, but I don’t think that was actually asking a foreign nation to support his campaign. It was not that.”
Stefanik sits on the key House Intelligence Committee in Congress. Like other House Republicans, she took issue with the process Democrats have sought to tackle the impeachment issue. She said there should be an up or down vote to being a more formalized impeachment process that was used when inquiries were opened against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
“Every member of the American public deserves to know where their member of Congress stands, and Speaker Pelosi has been shielding Democratic members from taking that vote,” Stefanik said.
Closer to home, and near a district office of Stefanik’s, has been a series of pro and anti-Trump demonstrations in Glens Falls, prompting local officials there to set limits on how demonstrations can be conducted. The protests have raised eyebrows in part for the heated rhetoric, including threats against a reporter by a pro-Trump demonstrator.
“I condemn any threats of violence, any rhetorical threats related to violence,” Stefanik said. “I don’t support that. I condemn that and I think we need to have safe, secure, freedom of speech, and I think we need [to] have our communities and the physical places were protests are safe for citizens.”
Meanwhile, Stefanik was critical of Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Syria, whose presence was considered a stopgap to prevent Turkey from acting against Kurdish separatists — considered key American allies in the fight against the Islamic State.
“This was misguided, it was a mistake. I vehemently disagree with the president’s decision on this,” Stefanik said, adding the U.S. needs “strong allies” in the fight against terrorism. “It’s going to make allies question if America is really going to be there for the long haul.”