‘This, to me, is a turn­ing point.’ Wild, other Dems, shift stance

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Laura Ol­son

WASHINGTON – When asked in re­cent months about im­peach­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Le­high Val­ley Con­gress­woman Su­san Wild has said that the facts were not there yet.

Her re­sponse changed Tues­day, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an­nounced a for­mal im­peach­ment in­quiry against the pres­i­dent.

Wild now says she will sup­port im­peach­ment if the ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to with­hold the whistle­blower com­plaint re­port­edly al­leg­ing Trump pres­sured the Ukrainian pres­i­dent to in­ves­ti­gate Joe Bi­den’s fam­ily.

The act­ing di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence so far has de­clined to share that com­plaint with the con­gres­sional in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees. Wild said she sees an im­peach­ment in­quiry as “the only way to get all of the facts and es­tab­lish whether this pres­i­dent did, in fact, lever­age the dis­burse­ment of for­eign aid in ex

change for Ukrainian in­ter­fer­ence in our elec­tion.”

“This, to me, is a turn­ing point,” the fresh­man law­maker said Tues­day afternoon she left a closed-door meet­ing where House Democrats dis­cussed the im­peach­ment in­quiry. “We ab­so­lutely need to know what hap­pened there. I’ve al­ways said it’s all about the facts for me.”

Wild’s an­nounce­ment came amid a swell of House Demo­cratic leg­is­la­tors declar­ing their sup­port for im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings as new de­tails emerged sur­round­ing the undis­closed whistle­blower re­port. Trump has ac­knowl­edged that he did or­der nearly $400 mil­lion in aid to Ukraine frozen in the days be­fore a call with Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy, of­fer­ing sev­eral ex­pla­na­tions this week for why he did so.

Trump said he will re­lease a tran­script of that call on Wed­nes­day, and that it will show the con­ver­sa­tion was “very friendly and to­tally ap­pro­pri­ate.”

By Tues­day evening, at least 186 House Democrats had ex­pressed sup­port for an im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to a tally by Politico.

Pelosi had re­sisted calls within her cau­cus for im­peach­ment, but said Tues­day that the most re­cent al­le­ga­tions would rep­re­sent “be­trayal of his oath of of­fice.”

Wild said she viewed the whistle­blower com­plaint as an “en­tirely dif­fer­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion” from the ac­cu­sa­tions in the Mueller re­port. The mat­ter should be in­ves­ti­gated separately by a se­lect com­mit­tee made up of law­mak­ers with ex­per­tise in the is­sues in­volved and with the as­sis­tance of out­side coun­sel, she said.

She also urg­ing House Demo­cratic lead­ers to can­cel most of the up­com­ing two-week re­cess so the in­ves­ti­ga­tion can be con­ducted with­out de­lays. It was not yet clear Tues­day what the time­line would be for the im­peach­ment in­quiry.

Wild had been among a dwin­dling num­ber of Penn­syl­va­nia Democrats who had not yet ex­pressed sup­port, ei­ther fully or with con­di­tions, for open­ing an im­peach­ment in­quiry. U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houla­han, DCh­ester County, an­nounced a stance sim­i­lar to Wild’s new po­si­tion Mon­day night in an op-ed penned with sev­eral other fresh­men Democrats with na­tional se­cu­rity and mil­i­tary back­grounds.

By late Tues­day afternoon, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright — who rep­re­sents a district in the state’s north­east­ern cor­ner that backed Trump by 10 per­cent­age points — also had an­nounced his sup­port for an im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ing.

“There have been cred­i­ble al­le­ga­tions this week that the Pres­i­dent abused the power of his of­fice, on the in­ter­na­tional stage, for his own po­lit­i­cal gain,” Cartwright posted on Twit­ter. “We need to get to the bot­tom of these se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions through com­pre­hen­sive im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings and doc­u­ment pro­duc­tion. Whether such hear­ings re­sult in ac­tual im­peach­ment of the pres­i­dent and/or se­nior cabi­net of­fi­cials re­mains to be seen.”

That left U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, who rep­re­sents sub­ur­ban Pittsburgh and other parts of south­west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, as the only House Demo­crat from Penn­syl­va­nia who hadn’t ex­pressed some level of sup­port for an im­peach­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Lamb re­it­er­ated Tues­day evening that he wants to see the full text of the whistle­blower com­plaint: “I’ll have more to say af­ter that,” he posted on Twit­ter.

Lamb, Cartwright and Wild rep­re­sent three districts that are top tar­gets for na­tional Repub­li­cans in next year’s elec­tion.

“Make no mis­take, in my swing district, this is not the po­lit­i­cally ex­pe­di­ent de­ci­sion,” Wild said. “How­ever, should we have to pro­ceed down this route, it is the only de­ci­sion that would be con­sis­tent with the oath I took to sup­port and de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion and up­hold the laws of the United States.”

A spokes­woman for the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee swiftly is­sued a state­ment Tues­day ac­cus­ing Wild of hav­ing “put her con­stituents on the back­burner and her per­sonal am­bi­tions at the cen­ter of her dis­as­trous plat­form.”

House Repub­li­cans rep­re­sent­ing the greater Le­high Val­ley re­gion did not sup­port the Democrats’ steps to­ward im­peach­ment. U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, whose 9th District in­cludes Car­bon and Schuylkill coun­ties, lam­basted the probe as a “farce” and a “con­sti­tu­tional em­bar­rass­ment” based on nonex­is­tent ev­i­dence.

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Brian Fitz­patrick, who rep­re­sents a Bucks County swing district and who has of­ten voted with Democrats this ses­sion, said the con­gress­man re­mains op­posed to im­peach­ment.

Like other House Democrats, par­tic­u­larly those in swing districts, Wild has faced ques­tions at pub­lic events for months over whether she would back an im­peach­ment in­quiry.

It was the first ques­tion dur­ing a town hall in late Au­gust. Wild re­sponded that she had been lob­bied by both sides on im­peach­ment, but that she was not yet there.

“You don’t want to try a case where the facts are not all lined up and you’re ready with all of your ev­i­dence that you’re go­ing to in­tro­duce,” the for­mer civil lit­i­ga­tor told the crowd.

On Mon­day, Wild had said she was “ex­tremely trou­bled” by the re­ports about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian pres­i­dent and the de­ci­sion to with­hold the whistle­blower com­plaint from Congress, but she did not men­tion im­peach­ment in that state­ment. She called for the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, on which Wild is a mem­ber, to hold a hear­ing on the mat­ter.

“For­eign pol­icy must be de­vel­oped in the best in­ter­est of our na­tional se­cu­rity; it is not a tool to be used for tar­get­ing the pres­i­dent’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents,” Wild said.

APRIL GAMIZ/THE MORN­ING CALL

Con­gress­woman Su­san Wild, D-Le­high Val­ley, is shown in a file photo.

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