With the first public impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump beginning on Wednesday, government leaders continue to be split across party lines as to whether Trump had committed an impeachable offense. One such leader is U.S. Rep. Mark Green.
Green, who represents Tennessee's 7th Congressional District, called the impeachment inquiry "devastating" for the country, and said that based on testimonies so far from the likes of U.S./Ukraine Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, it had already "fallen apart."
The case for impeachment against Trump
On May 25, Trump spoke with newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky via a phone call, congratulating Zelensky on his recent victory. On Sept. 25, an unidentified whistleblower submitted a complaint to Congress that alleged Trump had unlawfully leveraged his power as president to coerce Zelensky to investigate his domestic political opponent, Joe Biden.
The particular line of dialogue that proponents of impeachment often cite is below, as revealed in the full released transcript of the conversation.
"The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great," Trump told Zelensky. "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me."
Trump's request for Zelensky to investigate Biden stems from when Biden withheld $1 billion in aid to Ukraine as a means to pressure the government to remove its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
Proponents of the idea of foul play on Biden's part allege that the Vice President had only indulged in the quid quo pro as a means to halt an investigation into the Ukrainian gas company Burisma — on which Biden's son, Hunter Biden, sat on as a board director. Opponents to the idea of foul play argue Biden had only done so to push out Shokin due to allegations of general corruption.
Green speaks to the Home Page about the impeachment hearings
Questions from the Home Page are paraphrased
Green: If it weren't so devastating on the country that we aren't getting other things done, it'd be laughable. The big testimony on day one... all we got was, 'I overheard my staffer [who] overheard a phone conversation in a restaurant.' That's what, three levels of hearsay? That's their smoking gun? It'd be laughable if it wasn't devastating the country.
It's devastating the country because we've got USMCA, drug prices, all these issues that aren't being dealt with because the committees are all tied up with impeaching the president.
HP: Do you believe Hunter Biden should be called to testify?
Green: I think at some point there's got to be a reckoning on this, what happened where everywhere Joe Biden went, the little lamb was sure to go and make millions of dollars. Whether it's China, or Burisma in the Ukraine... somebody needs to look into this. So I'm all about it, I think he needs to be on the witness stand somewhere.
HP: Should Congress ask the whistle blower to testify?
Green: I think that the whistle blower should be vetted. The problem is, in America we have this judicial tradition — actually it's constitutional — that a person gets the right to face their accuser — you just can't make something up and run away. So yes, I think he needs to come forward.
I don't want to say it's criminal, by [Adam] Schiff keeps talking [and] every time he opens his mouth, it's as if a lie comes out. In the testimony the other day, he specifically said, 'I don't know who the whistle blower is' — we know for a fact that he does. His staff is the one that met with him before the complaint was even filed, so yea, he knows who the whistle blower is. It's ridiculous that he continues to insist that he doesn't.
HP: Do you think the House will ultimately vote to impeach Trump?
Green: I think that's what happens, they've got too much invested now — they can't come back and say, 'you know what, there was nothing.' If you listen to the wording, it's as if they're just making stuff up, and they can't back out now. They'll vote on it, they probably will have the votes because everybody's kind of committed now, and then it'll go to the Senate and they'll be the laughing stock — Lindsey Graham is going to embarrass them.
HP: How do you think these public impeachment hearing will affect Trump during the upcoming 2020 election?
Green: The only place it really matters are those swing states, and it looks like it's working to [Trump's] favor. Now when we look at it on the House races that are close, it's moving the needle towards us as much as three points.
There's so much work we could be getting done; my bill to help rural hospitals, my bills to help gold star families... a lot of great bills that aren't being heard because the energies of the House are focused on this. That's the biggest thing - the American people are paying the price for that, people in Tennessee are paying the price for that.