Republicans came out swinging in defense of President Donald Trump after House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry against him on Tuesday, which thrust the president on a collision course with Congress over how he's wielded power in Washington.
The decision from Democrats to start proceedings, followed recent reports that Trump tried pressuring Ukraine into probing former vice president Joe Biden and his son on unsubstantiated corruption allegations. Several days before the phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump slammed the brakes on a $400 million military aid package for the country, according to The Washington Post.
Republicans doubled down and defended Trump's conduct, and they cast House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's move to jump-start the proceedings as one fueled by hatred of Trump and a desire to rob him of his 2016 election victory.
Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump's staunchest supporters and a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement that Pelosi's decision to pursue an impeachment inquiry only shows how she has "finally succumbed to unrelenting pressure from the socialist wing of the Democratic Party."
"This was never about Russian collusion or Ukrainian prosecutions. It is all about undoing the 2016 election and the will of the American people," Jordan said.That sentiment was echoed by Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican whip in the House. "It's pathetic and disgraceful that after the Mueller report showed there was no collusion, Speaker Pelosi continues to advance this impeachment witch hunt, now relying on unconfirmed, secondhand accusations," Scalise said in a statement.
The GOP's staunch support of Trump reflects a key challenge for Democrats as they proceed in the House: Most Republicans are unlikely to turn against him, given his widespread popularity among GOP voters. Trump held a 91% approval rating among them, according to recent a Gallup poll.
Still, there was a rare unanimous vote in the Senate calling on Trump to release a whistleblower complaint his administration refused to disclose to Congress. The complaint is centered around "a promise" Trump made during a conversation with a foreign leader, according to reports. Its not yet clear if its related to Trump's interaction with the Ukrainian leader.
In the Senate, only one Republican had mildly rebuked Trump publicly over the Ukraine scandal so far, Sen. Mitt Romney, who was also the party's 2012 presidential nominee. On Sunday, Romney tweeted that "it would be troubling in the extreme" if Trump tried pressuring a foreign power into probing his political rival.