Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin Republicans running for Congress stand by Trump
MADISON - Republicans running in two congressional races stood by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying an impeachment inquiry is a witch hunt.
Scott Fitzgerald, the Wisconsin Senate leader running for U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s suburban Milwaukee seat, said there was nothing wrong with Trump asking Ukraine’s president to investigate one of his political rivals. And he said there is no reason to take seriously Trump’s statement last week that China should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
State Sen. Tom Tiffany of Minocqua and Jason Church — who are running in a Republican primary in northern Wisconsin — likewise backed Trump, saying Democrats were needlessly conducting an impeachment inquiry.
“It sounds like everything that was done within that discussion was in the purview of what a president of the United States should be able to do with a foreign diplomat,” Fitzgerald said of Trump’s July call with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky. “And it shouldn’t necessarily be made public. So far nothing’s been proven.”
The White House released a readout of the phone call after a whistleblower filed a complaint about the president’s conduct.
The readout shows Trump asked Zelensky to do him a “favor” and investigate the Bidens and look into whether Ukraine interfered with the 2016 elections. Trump held the call shortly after blocking nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine.
Echoing the president’s views on the matter, Fitzgerald called the impeachment inquiry a political witch hunt. He downplayed Trump’s statement that China should investigate Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.
“I think a lot of people would take exception to anyone calling for a foreign government to investigate any political opponent. I get that,” Fitzgerald said. “I think what he was suggesting was something off the cuff that I don’t know that anyone would take it seriously.”
Despite his support for Trump, Fitzgerald said he believed there should be some review of his actions.
“Everything should be vetted and I think that’s what members of Congress are asking for now,” he said. “You can continue down the path of exploring all these different items but whether or not they’re legit is a whole different question or whether or not they’re politically motivated.”
Tom Palzewicz, the Democrat running for the congressional seat, supports the impeachment inquiry.
“I understand our president wanting to root out corruption, but to specifically name someone who you know is probably going to be running against him is obviously something that’s inappropriate and no other president has done,” he said.
State Sen. Chris Kapenga, a Republican from Delafield, is also thinking about running for Sensenbrenner’s seat in Congress. Sensenbrenner announced last month he wouldn’t seek re-election next year.
Kapenga said Tuesday he would make his decision on whether to run by the end of the year.
He said he took no issue with Trump’s behavior on his call with Zelensky.
“I think it’s legitimately his role to be able to do that when he’s talking with a foreign head of state,” Kapenga said. “So I don’t think it was inappropriate at all.”
He said he didn’t know whether Trump’s statement that China should investigate the Bidens was wrong.
“I haven’t looked at it,” he said. “I saw that it’s a headline, but I didn’t read into it . ... I’d have to look at what the background is on that to say yes or no.”
Tiffany, Church also back Trump
In northern Wisconsin, Tiffany and Church are facing each other in a Republican primary to replace Sean Duffy, a Republican who resigned from Congress last month. A special election will be held in the spring, and no Democrat has joined the race so far.
Tiffany and Church expressed strong support for the president, with Tiffany suggesting Congress should launch an investigation of Biden as part of the impeachment inquiry.
“If they’re going to do an investigation, then let’s see all of it,” Tiffany told reporters. “And if that includes the Bidens, then so be it.”
He expressed no qualms about Trump’s comments on the Ukraine call or his public appeal for China to investigate the Bidens.
“We have a president that has a different style,” Tiffany said. “Every president has a different style . ... You go to northern and western Wisconsin and people understand that style. And they say, ‘Maybe I wouldn’t do it that way, but that’s his style.’ ”
Church, a veteran who until recently worked for U.S. Sen Ron Johnson, called the attempt at impeachment a “political charade” orchestrated by Democrats.
“It’s another attempt by Democrats in Washington to undo the 2016 election,” he said in an interview. “And quite frankly, I think it’s a slap in the face to the people of the 7th District who have overwhelmingly voted (for) and still support President Trump.”
He repeatedly declined to say whether he thought it was appropriate for a president to publicly call for China or another foreign power to investigate a political rival. Instead, he said Democrats were avoiding taking up issues that are important to voters.
“I see this as a stunt by the Democrats, trying to distract us away from the actual issues that are facing the country right now,” Church said.