POLITICS

A Running List Of Republicans Criticizing Trump's Ukraine Scandal

Republicans are not as unified over the controversy as the president is insisting.

President Donald Trump insisted Friday that “the Republicans are very unified” in supporting him amid accusations that he improperly asked foreign leaders to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 political rival. 

But that’s not entirely true. While the Democratic-controlled House begins an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s conversations with the Ukrainian government about Biden, which were revealed after a whistleblower complaint, cracks are beginning to show in the Republican Party’s front.

Trump’s public call Thursday for China to investigate Biden, too, appears to have pushed some members of the GOP over the edge.

Here’s a running list of Republicans who are speaking out about Trump’s apparent attempts to compel foreign governments to aid his reelection campaign.  

Sen. Mitt Romney

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah made the biggest splash Friday of any Republican so far when he slammed Trump’s “brazen and unprecedented” calls for foreign meddling in the 2020 presidential election as “wrong and appalling.”

Sen. Mitt Romney called Trump's actions "wrong and appalling."
Sen. Mitt Romney called Trump's actions "wrong and appalling."

“When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” Romney said.

The week before, Romney also spoke out about Trump’s July phone call with the president of Ukraine.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott was the first Republican governor to publicly support an impeachment inquiry into Trump. 

The action is “appropriate,” he said in late September. 

“Congress has a solemn responsibility to every American to fulfill its role in our government system of checks and balances,” he said. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker also told reporters in September that he supported an impeachment inquiry. 

“It’s a deeply disturbing situation and circumstance,” he said, “and I think the proper role and responsibility for Congress at this point is to investigate it and get to the bottom of it.”

Wisconsin Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke

Republican Jim Steineke, the GOP leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly, took a stand against Trump on Friday after the president insisted on Twitter that he was right to ask other countries to investigate Biden. 

His behavior “cannot be normalized,” Steineke tweeted.

Sen. Ben Sasse

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska couldn’t defend Trump’s actions when speaking to reporters in September.

“There’s obviously some very troubling things here,” he said, though he stopped short of supporting an impeachment inquiry.

“Democrats ought not to be using the word ‘impeach’ before they had the whistleblower complaint or read any of the transcript,” he added, referring to the July 25 call with the Ukraine president.

But he also criticized Republicans for turning a blind eye.

“Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there’s no there there when there’s obviously a lot that’s very troubling there.” 

Rep. Will Hurd

Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, one of several Republican lawmakers to announce in recent months that he won’t seek reelection, told CNN last week that copies of text messages exchanged among U.S. diplomats about Trump’s actions “are indeed damning.” 

“I think this is serious stuff; these are serious matters,” he said. “This has long-term implications on our foreign policy.”

Trump’s public call for China to investigate Biden, he added, “is terrible.”

Sen. Susan Collins

Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins, another fairly regular Trump critic, told reporters over the weekend that she couldn’t stand by his comments about China.

“I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent,” she said. “It’s completely inappropriate.”

She also said she expected the House’s impeachment probe would make its way to the Senate.

“Should the articles of impeachment come to the Senate — and right now I’m going to guess that they will — I will be acting as a juror as I did in the Clinton impeachment trial,” Collins said.

Sen. Rob Portman

Rob Portman of Ohio said there was no question as to whether Trump was wrong to bring Biden up with the Ukrainians. 

“The president should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period,” he told The Columbus Dispatch on Monday. “It’s not appropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent.” 

However, he also said he didn’t view that as an impeachable offense.

Portman, notably, was among a bipartisan group of senators in 2016 who wrote a letter to Ukraine’s president criticizing a Ukrainian prosecutor for corruption in his office. That prosecutor is the same one Trump has baselessly insisted Biden unfairly targeted because he was investigating a Ukrainian company for which his son, Hunter Biden, served on the board ― the relationship at the center of Trump’s request that Ukraine dig up dirt on the Bidens. 

This story has been updated throughout.

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