Sullivan joins measure knocking House for impeachment inquiry

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, in his Washington, D.C. office. (Photo by Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan is co-sponsoring a resolution that bashes the House for its impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Sullivan said the process the House is using is more partisan than what presidents Clinton or Nixon faced.

“And right now I don’t see that process as being viewed as fair and even-handed,” he said in an interview last week.

Sullivan added his name to the resolution on Thursday, the day Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., announced it. Graham said Sullivan was the 46th to sign on.

Lisa Murkowski was, as of Friday evening, one of only three Republican senators who had not signed on to the non-binding measure.

The resolution calls on the House to vote on holding an impeachment inquiry and says the House is trampling the president’s rights.

Past impeachment inquiries began with a vote, though the Constitution doesn’t require it. Democratic-led committees are interviewing witnesses behind closed doors, with Republicans on those committees allowed to ask questions of their own.

At the heart of the inquiry is a July phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine. A rough transcript of the call shows Trump asked his counterpart for two investigations – one looking into the 2016 election and a Democratic computer server, and the other aimed at former vice president Joe Biden.

Sullivan says Alaskans should read the transcript for themselves. He said Trump may have had a legitimate, official reason to request at least the server investigation.

“Looking at who interfered, whether Russia or Ukrainians … in our national elections? Certainly that one could’ve” been in the national interest,” Sullivan said.

And Sullivan said, even if you don’t like what the president did, it’s important to look at whether the action is serious enough to warrant removing a duly elected president. 

Supporters of impeachment say it is that serious. They say Trump was pressing the Ukrainians for help with his re-election campaign, which they say shows an abuse of office for personal gain. 

What does Sullivan think? Was the president acting solely in the national interest in that phone call?

He paused, then said that wasn’t the appropriate question.

“Look I’m just trying to … what the issue has been right now is, (does) the transcript demonstrate an impeachable offense?” he said, and in his view it doesn’t.

The resolution condemning the impeachment inquiry has no legal effect, but it is a way for Republican senators to show they’ve got Trump’s back. It also suggests Democrats don’t have anything close to the 20 GOP senators they would need to remove the president from office.

Murkowski, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah were the only Republican senators who had not signed up as co-sponsors of the resolution before the Senate broke for the weekend.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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