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Representative Peter DeFazio speaks at a town hall meeting on Jan. 26, 2019 about the effects of the government shutdown. (Marissa Willke/Emerald)

Oregon’s federal representatives are weighing in on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump following Tuesday’s announcement of an inquiry by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  

Pelosi moved to begin a formal impeachment inquiry following reports that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call to cooperate with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Guliani on an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate/former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had done business in Ukraine. 

The Washington Post reported Monday night that Trump asked his chief of staff in July to place a hold on congressionally authorized foreign aid to the country before his phone call with the Ukrainian president.

Trump said Monday that the conversation with Zelensky was “largely congratulatory,” as he was recently elected, but Trump did mention Biden and his son in the discussion, according to NBC News

Impeachment is Congress’s job and serves as a check on the executive branch. Article I of the Constitution says that the House of Representatives has the “sole Power of Impeachment” and that the Senate has the “sole Power to try all Impeachments.”

“I am in full support of Speaker Pelosi’s announcement today that the House will move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry. The integrity of our national security and the health of our democratic republic depend[s] on it,” Rep. Peter DeFazio, who represents the district that houses Eugene, said in a statement. 

“The president has admitted to soliciting assistance from a foreign leader to interfere with U.S. elections and aid his political campaign, which is a violation of the Constitution, a betrayal of the American people and an impeachable offense,” DeFazio said. 

Oregon’s senators also echoed DeFazio’s comments, with Senator Ron Wyden saying in a statement that “the summary of this call includes outrageous conduct by Donald Trump that represents a clear threat to American democracy and national security.” 

Wyden said he will “not comment further” on the Senate’s role in impeachment proceedings, but emphasized that the Ukraine allegations “represent the most serious possible charges against the president.”

Senator Jeff Merkley said in a statement that beginning impeachment proceedings should not be “taken lightly” but “the gravity and extent of President Trump’s corrupt actions makes it absolutely clear that Congress must do so.”

“Holding foreign aid hostage until a foreign leader agrees to smear a political opponent is textbook corruption, plain and simple,” Merkley said. “It is time for Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, to fulfill its constitutional role and hold the President accountable.” 

The White House released the memorialized summary — a transcript of the conversation based on notes and observations from officers in the Situation Room — of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky on Wednesday. In the summary, Trump said that the United States has provided more support to Ukraine than other European countries. 

“A lot of the European countries are the same way so I think it's something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine,” Trump said. “I wouldn't say that it's reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian president said that the country was almost ready to purchase more Javelin missiles from the United States when Trump asked the president for a favor. 

“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” he said. Trump then asked the president to investigate two debunked conspiracy theories: that the cybersecurity company that investigated the DNC hack had failed to seize a server in Ukraine that held important information relating to the hack, according to the Washington Post, and Biden arranged the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating his son, NPR reported.

“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General [William] Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump said. 

What’s next? 

The impeachment inquiry will not change much yet as committees in the House of Representatives will continue investigations that were already underway. There are 12 Congressional investigations that involve Trump, according to The New York Times

The House of Representatives can then vote to impeach the president with a simple majority vote. The impeachment proceedings are tried by the Senate. After a trial, the Senate votes on whether to remove the president from office; unlike the vote to begin impeachment, it requires a supermajority of two-thirds of the Senate to remove the president.

Michael is the Daily Emerald's Editor-in-Chief. He started at the Emerald as a reporter in 2017 and has held the roles of senior news reporter and associate news editor. He has bylines in The Wall Street Journal, The Portland Tribune and Eugene Weekly.