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South Florida congressional delegation adds to calls for impeachment

‘The American people deserve the truth.’

U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel and Donna Shalala were among the South Florida delegation members adding calls Tuesday to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

The duo were joined by U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz late Tuesday afternoon.

While Shalala’s statement was more measured, Frankel directly said she would support such proceedings after recent reports detailed Trump’s efforts to urge the Ukrainian government to investigate one of his political rivals, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

“It is obvious that President Trump knows no boundaries when advancing his own personal interests,” Frankel said Tuesday.

“The latest allegations that the President pressured the President of Ukraine to investigate a political opponent and is blocking a whistleblower’s complaint detailing those actions, if true, represent a clear abuse of power and an impeachable offense. The American people deserve the truth. I join all those calling for impeachment proceedings.”

Trump has repeatedly urged the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.

At issue is Hunter’s involvement with the Burisma gas company, which was being investigated by a Ukrainian prosecutor named Viktor Shokin.

Biden, while he was Vice President, pushed Ukraine to fire Shokin or forfeit an aid package from the U.S.

While Trump has framed that request as improper, Shokin apparently had serious questions regarding corruption himself, and his ouster was supported by several other nations. Moreover, it doesn’t appear Shokin’s investigation was targeting Hunter Biden specifically.

But according to the Washington Post, Trump ordered nearly $400 million in aid withheld from the Ukrainian government before taking a call with Ukraine’s new President. On that call, the Wall Street Journal reported, Trump pressured Ukraine’s leader multiple times to look into Joe Biden’s actions.

That apparently triggered the whistleblower complaint that Trump’s own Inspector General of the Intelligence Community deemed “urgent.”

While federal law directs such complaints to be disclosed to Congress, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has reportedly blocked making the complaint available.

That stonewalling is what drove Shalala to release a statement Tuesday.

“The Acting Director of National Intelligence must provide Congress with the whistleblower’s complaint, along with the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s Report, no later than Thursday when he is scheduled to appear in front of the House Intelligence Committee,” Shalala said.

“If the Acting Director of National Intelligence chooses to violate the law and not hand over both the report and complaint to Congress, together with any transcripts related to the allegations in the report, I have no other choice but to support beginning an impeachment investigation.”

Trump has since said he’ll release the transcript of the call with Ukraine, saying it was “very friendly and totally appropriate.”

It’s unclear whether that release will assuage Shalala and others pushing for Trump to be impeached.

“I swore an oath to defend the Constitution. The allegations surrounding President Trump’s actions are extremely disturbing,” Shalala said.

“If true — that President Trump attempted to use the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival — this would represent an abuse of power, a serious threat to our national security, and an attempt to undermine the very foundations of our democracy.”

Hastings and Wasserman Schultz also said impeachment may be the only option going forward.

“This continued insistence on undermining our democracy must be met with the full force and strength possessed by the United States Congress as set forth by our founding fathers in the Constitution, up to and including, Articles of Impeachment,” Hastings said.

“The blatant lawlessness of this presidency apparently knows no bounds,” Wasserman Schultz added.

“If the President criminally blocks this whistleblower’s complaint from coming before Congress, it will likely exceed any tolerable executive conduct our Constitution could withstand.”

The group joins U.S. Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Ted Deutch who have already backed an impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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