Rep. Ben Cline, R-Botetourt, voted with fellow Republicans on Friday against a pair of impeachment articles against President Donald Trump.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee voted 23-17 along party lines, to send the articles of impeachment to the full House of Representatives. Cline, Virginia’s only representative on the Judiciary Committee, had been defending Trump during what he’s described as a “sham” impeachment process.
“Putting aside the severely flawed process by which the Democratic majority has proceeded, they’ve simply failed to establish a viable case for impeachment against the president,” Cline said Wednesday night when the committee met. “I have reviewed the evidence, I have read the transcripts, and the proof of a high crime or misdemeanor is just not there.”
The impeachment articles declare Trump “abused the powers of the Presidency” and sought to cover up his misdeeds by obstructing a congressional investigation into his dealings with Ukraine. He’s accused of pressuring the Ukrainian president to open an investigation into political rival Joe Biden in exchange for aid and a White House meeting.
Cline has defended the abuse of powers charge by saying Trump was setting foreign policy. He said Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky both said there was no pressure on the phone call to open an investigation.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York, said “of course” Zelenksy said he wasn’t pressured.
“The United States is a powerful nation on which his nation is dependent,” Nadler said. “He has a gun to his head."
As for the obstruction charge, Cline has said Trump has a right to invoke executive privilege.
“This is a sad day for the institution of Congress, a blatantly political process, and yes, an abuse of power by the majority designed to achieve what they could not achieve at the ballot box,” Cline said.