House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to move forward with their impeachment efforts, saying that it was “a dark day” for the country and the rule of law.
“Yesterday was a dark day for America,” McCarthy told reporters at a House Republican press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 25. “It was a dark day for the rule of law that the speaker of the House would claim that a president violated the law without ever having any information to judge it on.”
McCarthy was joined by House Republican Conference Chairman Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), and Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
She alleged that Trump’s presidency “revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
The House speaker had previously resisted pressure from other Democrats to bring impeachment inquiries on numerous occasions. Calls by Democrats to impeach the president were stalled after former special counsel Robert Mueller was unable to back up claims of Russian collusion.
But recent claims published in the Wall Street Journal that Trump allegedly pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a July phone call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, were seen by some as a new opportunity for impeachment.
McCarthy said that Pelosi’s move to announce the impeachment inquiries would have jeopardized national security and the timing would have impacted the United States’ ability to effectively negotiate with world leaders at the United Nations.
“She put this country in harm’s way when it comes to national security and our view around the world,” McCarthy said. “At the exact same time, the leader of our country is sitting in the U.N. meeting with other world leaders—a challenge with Iran, a challenge with China, and others. And she stands before that she’s going to do a press conference all day long to say what’s going to happen with impeachment.”
“And she claims that he violated the law with no proof, with no information, simply the fact that she did not like the outcome of the  election. That questions her ability to even be speaker in my eyes,” he added.
Similarly, Collins used the example of the game Plinko to describe the approach House Democrats had taken in their efforts to remove a president that he claims they disliked from office.
“I’m going to say this. They’re more like plinko—ever watch the old game plinko—this is the way they are treating impeachment. They just drop the thing in and see which way it bounces. First, it was Mueller. [Then] it was this. … Trying to hit the imaginary target of getting rid of a president that they don’t like,” Collins said. “You don’t do it this way.”
“What we saw on the House yesterday and discussions around that when people talk about an impeachment inquiry, they talk about a speaker who has lost control of her own conference. We are talking about a speaker who has lost control of the facts. We are talking about a speaker who can no longer honestly stand before the American people and honestly be a voice for her party and for reason,” he continued.
“When they actually attack on a hearsay, when they attack when not even seeing, it just shows how desperate they had become,” he added.
Early on Wednesday, the White House released the transcript of the call between the two leaders, a day after Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry into the president.
The Trump-Zelensky call is the subject of an anonymous whistleblower complaint sent to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG). The handling of the complaint sparked controversy on Capitol Hill after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) failed to comply with demands from the House Intelligence committee to hand over the complaint to Congress.
The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel released an opinion (pdf) that found that Joseph Maguire, acting director of the DNI, did not have to send the complaint to Congress. Moreover, the inspector general also found “some indicia of an arguable political bias on the part of the Complainant in favor of a rival political candidate.”
House Democrats claimed that Trump had pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation into Biden and that such a request was inappropriate since Biden was officially running for president at the time of the call. Pelosi noted that the request did not need to feature a quid pro quo in order to be inappropriate.
The transcript showed that although Trump did ask Zelensky to look into Biden, he did not exert pressure or offer any payment when making that request—which is at the core of the political controversy.
Other Republican lawmakers weighed in on the transcript and the impeachment inquiry.
“If you are underwhelmed by this transcript, you are not alone or “crazy.” Those willing to impeach the president over this transcript have shown their hatred for @realDonaldTrump overrides reason,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote as part of his Twitter thread.
“Those who believe that the transcript is a ‘Smoking Gun’ for impeachment, do something about it – have the courage of your convictions. The House of Reps should take a vote to formally open an impeachment inquiry. Let the American people see where Members of Congress stand!”
If you are underwhelmed by this transcript, you are not alone or “crazy.”
Those willing to impeach the president over this transcript have shown their hatred for @realDonaldTrump overrides reason.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 25, 2019
“I’ve read the transcript and the Democrat spin was wrong… again – President Zelensky initiated the Giuliani convo and asked the WH to send him to Ukraine – ZERO discussion of foreign aid quid pro quo That’s it? THAT’S what Democrats are impeaching on? Give me a break,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) wrote.
Epoch Times Reporters Ivan Pentchoukov and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.