Nevada’s lone congressional Republican Rep. Mark Amodei says he’s “a fan of oversight” and supports the House probe of President Donald Trump urging Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden.
“I’ve been as I’ve always been, let’s put it through the process and see what happens,” Amodei said during a call with reporters Friday.
Amodei said he has reviewed the rough transcript of a July phone call which has fueled concerns that Trump attempted to pressure Zelensky into investigating the former vice president and 2020 presidential contender after Trump ordered his administration to hold back nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. Trump has said he didn’t threaten to withhold military aid if Ukraine didn’t pursue the investigation.
When asked if he thinks the president committed an impeachable offense, Amodei said, “At this point in time, no I don’t. I want to see what the committees do,” he said, adding that the president’s phrasing was regrettable.
“If it was my statement and I had the ability to do over, I’d have probably phrased it differently,” Amodei said. “I don’t know that it’s a smoking gun.”
Amodei told reporters that any questions on whether Trump violated the law should be put through a credible process of “fact-finding and debate,” adding he would prefer to see the inquiry “go by real fast.”
“It’s hard to say it’s all made up, with the release of the transcripts,” Amodei said. “What you’ve got to find out is if the fact that that conversation was had and that language was used is something that basically stands the process for impeachment.”
Amodei said he’d personally recommend the committee look into the full context of the call and whoever was involved in withholding aid to Ukraine.
“If we’re withholding aid, what’s the reason for that?” Amodei said. ”Because if it’s established that we’re not sending those folks a penny until they give us a smoking gun on family Biden, obviously that would not be good, so we’ll see.”
Amodei’s comments are not unlike those of a handful of other congressional Republicans who have expressed concerns about evidence indicating Trump attempted to coerce Zelensky by making military aid contingent on Ukraine digging up dirt on Biden.
According to notes describing the Trump-Zelensky call, released by the White House this week, Zelensky said “I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”
Trump immediately responded with “I would like you to do us a favor though.”
Asked how he thinks U.S House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has handled the inquiry, Amodei said he didn’t want to come off as Pelosi’s defender, but said he belives the speaker was under “tremendous pressure” from factions of her caucus to start an impeachment investigation against Trump.
“I’m not saying she’s unwilling or whatever, but one of the things going on here is she’s got to represent her caucus, and I think she’s doing that,” Amodei said.
Amodei, who was Trump’s Nevada campaign chairman in 2016, expressed frustration over partisan gridlock and what he called “the most unprecedented trench warfare of two parties” he’d ever seen in his eight years in Congress.
In a tweet Trump suggested the whistleblower who first disclosed the phone call with the Ukraine president was a “partisan operative” or a “spy.” Amodei dismissed those concerns saying “I don’t care whether it’s a partisan spy.”
“No part of my process will be ‘well it was political’ so we have to take that into account,” Amodei said. “Did you break the law? That’s it. Not to oversimplify it but if you broke the law then there are consequences for it in that context.”