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Connecticut Responds To Trump Impeachment Inquiry

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal speaking about the planned impeachment inquiry Friday.

Congressional Democrats announced their intention to proceed with an impeachment inquiry last week.

In Connecticut, all seven congressional delegates support an impeachment inquiry.

Calls for the impeachment of President Donald Trump grew louder after the release of several documents related to a conversation Trump had with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said he was considering his stance on impeachment when asked Monday, September 23. But by the time he spoke again at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Friday, he had made up his mind.

“The reason for that is that the president is currently engaged in a conspiracy to try to get foreign governments to interfere in the 2020 election,” Murphy said.

In a rough, non-verbatim transcription of the July conversation between the U.S. and Ukranian presidents, Trump asks Zelensky for a “favor” – to find out whether Ukraine had access to a Democratic National Committee server being protected by a security firm called Crowdstrike. He also encouraged Zelensky to work with Attorney General William Barr on an investigation of the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor that Trump alleges Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden was involved in.

“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.” the transcript reports Trump as saying.

Murphy and Trump are in the middle of their own back-and-forth over Ukraine. Trump has accused Murphy of threatening the Ukrainian president by saying Democrats might not support military aid.

“Senator Chris Murphy literally threatened the president of Ukraine that if he doesn't do things right, they won't have Democrats' support in Congress,” Trump said Wednesday during a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Murphy denied that, saying he advised Zelensky to stay away from Trump  and “representatives of the Trump campaign” and instead deal with the State Department.

“The president believes what he’s doing is legitimate, so of course he’s going to perceive my effort to stop his corruption as being illegitimate because he doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong,” Murphy said.

Trump has said he wants a transcript of Murphy’s sitdown with Zelensky in Kiev on September 5. Murphy said he doesn’t have it.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Friday that he wants a “deliberate and thorough, but swift” investigation into Trump’s Ukrainian dealings.

“What we’ve seen over this past week is clear, powerful, undeniable evidence of a violation of law, an abuse of power, and a betrayal of the president’s oath of office,” Blumenthal said.

Regarding the call and comments made by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) that Trump’s actions were reflective of a "classic mafia-like shakedown," Blumenthal said he’s prosecuted members of the mafia before and he’s never heard a conversation like this.

“Most mob bosses are smarter and more subtle,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said the next steps are to "corroborate and confirm" the evidence against Trump.

A few blocks away from the Capitol In Hartford, members of the public shared their thoughts about a potential impeachment inquiry with Connecticut Public Radio.

Carlos Jimenez was on his way to Boston from New York and stopped in Hartford with his daughter to eat. Jimenez said for comparison’s sake – he didn’t think the allegations against Trump were worse than what led Bill Clinton to be impeached.

“He lied under oath, he got adultery … so I think what happened with Trump is more, more and less than what happened with Clinton,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez also said he didn’t notice any ‘quid pro quo’ going on in Trump’s conversation with Zelensky.

“I went to the dictionary to look what it was, because my first language is Spanish, so then I understood. I don’t think that he offered anything --  he just was going after what happened in 2016, right?” Jimenez said.

Mike McKeon, an attorney, said Trump has gotten himself in a bind but he doesn’t think impeachment is the answer.

“I think impeachment – there’s probably no chance of success in the Senate once it gets to the Senate, so what’s the point?” McKeon said. “It’s just going to further divide the country.”

But regarding the probability of Republican senators flipping away from Trump to support impeachment, Blumenthal sounded confident Friday.

“Yes, the Republicans have a majority, yes, 60 votes are required," he said. "But as the truth comes to the American people, I think my colleagues in the United States Senate are going to respond in the same way Republicans did during Watergate, and that is eventually, they need to act out of conscience, not just politics.

He cited Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) as Republicans that seemed to be coming around to the idea of impeaching Trump.

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