A first: Vermont GOP governor backs Trump impeachment probe

Wilson Ring
Associated Press

Essex Junction, Vt. – Vermont’s governor became the first Republican chief executive to support an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump but cautions that he wants to know more before any further actions are taken.

Gov. Phil Scott said at a news conference Thursday that he wasn’t surprised by the news that Trump repeatedly urged Ukraine’s president to “look into” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden because he’s “watched him over the years.”

He wants Congress to see the complete whistleblower allegations.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott speaks at a news conference on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in Essex Junction, Vt., where he said he supported an impeachment inquiry into the actions of President Donald Trump.

“I think the inquiry is important, yes, and where it leads from here is going to be driven by the facts that are established,” Scott said.

Scott’s remarks are one of the few signs of Republican discomfort with the revelations. Most Republicans elected officials have defended Trump, casting the controversy as ginned-up by Democrats – although the initial concerns were raised by an anonymous whistleblower – or describing it as much ado about nothing.

Scott, a popular moderate Republican in his second term in a deeply blue state, has broken from his party before. He has been a frequent Trump critic and repeatedly called for an end to the divisiveness in American politics. In July, Scott he said felt Trump’s comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color were racist and not befitting for a world leader.

A year ago, Scott was one of a handful of GOP governors who urged the U.S. Senate to delay a confirmation vote on then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to allow time for an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.

Scott has also opposed plans by the Trump administration to scale back climate change emissions, worked against a now-resolved trade dispute with Canada and has criticized Trump’s immigration policy.

Other moderate Republican governors have yet to weigh in on an impeachment inquiry.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was a U.S. senator during impeachment proceedings against former Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1999 and he presided over the deposition of Monica Lewinsky. When asked by reporters what his stance on an impeachment inquiry is, he said he withheld judgment then, and he’s withholding judgment now.

“We have to wait until all the evidence is in,” said DeWine, who is among statewide officials now co-chairing Trump’s re-election campaign.

He ultimately voted guilty on both charges against Clinton.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, both moderate GOP governors, have yet to comment.

Several governors have appeared mindful of the unpredictable politics of impeachment as they weighed in from a distance this week. Democrats in swing states issued cautious endorsements of the Democrats’ decision to launch the investigation. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a former congressman in a state Trump is trying to win, said he’s worried about the wisdom of Democrats’ move.

“It may not be politically good to do because I think at this point I, like many Minnesotans, am so sick and tired of the dysfunction in D.C.,” he said.

Scott spoke Thursday before details of the whistleblower complaint became known.

The complaint alleges that Trump abused the power of his office to “solicit interference from a foreign country” in next year’s U.S. election. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

In the complaint, the unnamed whistleblower acknowledges not hearing the president’s call first-hand, but says he or she received information about it from “multiple U.S. officials.”


Associated Press Writer Julie Carr Smyth contributed to this report from Columbus, Ohio.