After the first day of impeachment hearings, Rep. Scott Tipton said he remains firm in his belief President Donald Trump has not committed an impeachable offense.
In an interview Thursday with The Durango Herald, Tipton, R-Cortez, said there is no evidence of a quid pro quo, that some statements amount to “hearsay” and there were no “big revelations” in Wednesday’s impeachment hearings.
Bill Taylor, a U.S. diplomat, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, testified Wednesday before the House Intelligence Committee. During Taylor’s opening statement, he said a member of his staff “could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador (Gordon) Sondland about ‘the investigations.’”
Tipton called that statement “hearsay.”
“Someone overheard the conversation with Sondland and the president and passed on that information,” Tipton said. “When you hear one side of the conversation, you can say you overheard. I stand near a lot of people with a lot of cellphones on, and I’m not able to overhear the conversation; only a word or two. So I think there’s speculation in there.”
When looking at the text of the phone call between Trump and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, there was no quid pro quo, Tipton said, because the “reality is that no investigation is taking place in Ukraine.”
“There was no investigation of the Bidens that was conducted by the Ukrainians, so we did deliver the $400 million in financial aid and we delivered Archer missiles to be able to help protect Ukraine from some of the Russian threats that existed,” Tipton said. “So what was the impeachable offense?”
Tipton said impeachment charges need to be taken seriously, but ultimately, what it came down to in the hearing was that neither of the witnesses had a direct answer for what the impeachable offense was.
Tipton said his constituents in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, and the country as a whole, would like to see more progress with lowering prescription drug prices and passing a trade agreement than impeachment.
“We have no legislation that’s being able to move to the floor,” Tipton said. “We look at what Congress is not doing in terms of the interest of our district and our country. I think we need to make sure that we’re taking care of the business that people send us here to do.”
So far, there have not been any “big revelations” throughout the inquiry, Tipton said, and while another public hearing is set to occur Friday, he does not view it as his primary focus.
“Something that I often hear at home is, ‘Is Congress getting anything done?’” Tipton said. “If there is something that can be specifically bullet-pointed to in the hearings, we need to take it seriously, we need to be able to examine it, but at this point, we’re seeing nothing that would rise to the level of an impeachable offense.”
Ayelet Sheffey is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.