Amid the release of a memorandum detailing a conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, reactions appear to be split between partisan lines, with Republicans largely standing by the commander-in-chief.
Several Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-Sout Carolina), have suggested the memorandum (which is not an actual transcript of the call) provides no fodder for the case for impeaching the president.
Graham tweeted out that the document detailed “a nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger,” The Week reported.
But at least one Republican senator disagreed with Graham’s assessment. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) spoke with reporters after having read the memo, and said he was troubled by its contents.
“I did read the transcript. It remains troubling to the extreme. It’s deeply troubling,” he said, according to a tweet from CBS News’ congressional reporter Alan He.
.@jmartNYT: appropriate for the House to begin this inquiry on impeachment?
ROMNEY: "That’s not advice I’m going to be providing to the House Speaker, she is able to do what she believes is right…clearly what we’ve seen from the transcript itself is deeply troubling." pic.twitter.com/8mw11r1jRj
— Alan He (@alanhe) September 25, 2019
When asked whether he supported Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to begin impeachment proceedings, Romney didn’t respond directly to the question.
“That’s not advice I’m going to be providing to the House or to the Speaker, she is able to do what she feels is right,” the senator said.. That’s up to her, but at this stage the process is to continue gathering information. But clearly what we see from the transcript itself is deeply troubling.”
Questions over whether a crime was committed within the communications between the president and Ukraine’s head-of-state abound, but some analysts don’t believe it matters much. Abuse of the office, and the powers granted to the president, might matter more in this instance than an actual crime.
NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos explained that point in a recent column he authored. “Impeachable conduct is not necessarily criminal conduct,” Cevallos said.
“History suggests that abuse of power alone will suffice for an article of impeachment and that no crime is required. There’s also plenty of support for the notion that corruption of the electoral process is an impeachable offense, even if it is not a crime.”
History tends to favor Cevallos’s views. Per previous analysis from HillReporter.com, the clause “high crimes and misdemeanors” that appears in the Constitution was generally viewed by founders to include “crimes” that weren’t necessarily written out in statute — in other words, grave abuses of presidential powers.