While U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger feels strongly about claims that President Donald Trump urged Ukraine’s president to investigate the Biden family, she is taking care not to get ahead of the facts.
In a Wednesday interview, the Virginia Democrat drew a line between the Ukraine matter and earlier allegations of misdeeds by Trump.
“These new allegations, in my opinion, are standalone allegations about the president that are very concerning,” the 7th District lawmaker told the Star-Exponent. “Specifically, that the president of the United States would use his position of power to pressure a foreign country to dig up, or provide, dirt on a political opponent is deeply alarming. That he would use security assistance dollars—taxpayer dollars—as leverage in that effort is a national security threat.”
Prior allegations of scandal involving Trump and his administration were different, Spanberger said.
“I’m speaking about these issues in isolation, separate from anything else, that we or my colleagues have discussed relative to the president,” she said. “These allegations are deeply concerning ... As I wrote in the oped, these allegations to note—if they are true—represent impeachable offenses.”
The congresswoman was referring to a column that she and six other freshmen House Democrats—all veterans of the military or U.S. defense and intelligence agencies—published in The Washington Post. Most of them represent swing districts that had voted for Trump.
Their opinion piece came after Trump acknowledged he pressed Ukrainian leaders to “look into” former vice president Joe Biden, his leading Democratic rival in the 2020 election.
The oped helped persuade other wavering Democrats from swing districts to call for an impeachment inquiry.
“I want to be clear on that because I think it’s important that everyone understand what’s at stake. Because we must fully investigate these allegations, determine if they are true or false—because if they are true, that is a grave circumstance for this country,” Spanberger said.
“And if they are false, that is something we should know, we should admit, and we should discuss openly, as well. There shouldn’t be this cloud hanging over this circumstance. We want to be clear, for foreign countries to know that the president of the United States does not trade favors or dollars for political favors.
“If, in fact, these allegations are not true, it’s important that that be made public to ensure that other foreign countries don’t presume that they can curry favor with us or that they should endeavor to interfere with our elections,” she continued. “This is important on a variety of different fronts.”
Spanberger said many Americans are confused about the distinction between people who support impeaching the president and people who support an inquiry to determine if there are grounds for impeachment.
Websites across the internet keep misleading tally lists of who are for and who are against impeachment, and journalists sometimes add to the confusion, she said.
“I have had to correct, even in the past 24 hours, quite a few interviewers,” the congresswoman said. “I have not said I am for impeachment, as in articles of impeachment. I have said these allegations are impeachable.
“To determine if they are true or false, Congress needs to employ every tool and congressional power available,” she said. “And that includes impeachment hearings. That includes the congressional power of inherent contempt. That includes subpoenas.”
Although the impeachment inquiry question has caused a kerfuffle that could be distracting, the Henrico Democrat has promised to stay focused on health care, agriculture, trade and other constituent priorities.
On Thursday, she will chair a hearing about forestry practices by the House Agriculture Committee’s Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee.