Conor Lamb Vows To Back Impeachment

Dec 12, 2019

Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, of Mt. Lebanon, said Thursday he will vote to impeach President Donald Trump. House Democrats announced Tuesday that they would bring two articles of impeachment against the president, charging him with abuse of power in the Ukraine affair and obstruction of Congress.

*This story was updated Thursday, Dec. 12 at 8:58 p.m.

“I think the articles were pretty carefully written and that they match the evidence that I’ve spent a lot of time reviewing,” Lamb said. “And so I intend to support both articles.”

While Lamb resisted calls for an impeachment inquiry after former Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 election, he said, “here the standard has been met by the evidence that we’ve all seen play out over the last couple of months.”

Trump is accused of withholding military aid from Ukraine unless the country investigated the family of former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump later released the money after a whistleblower complained about the aid being halted.

“Our main national security interest in eastern Europe is to oppose [Vladimir] Putin and the Russians,” Lamb added. And that’s why, Lamb said, Democrats and Republicans agreed to send military aid to Ukraine.

“When we took that vote and we approved the weapons to be sent to Ukraine, then find out that the president stood in the way of that and then instead of opposing Putin, he was opposing Vice President Biden, that for me is when it goes from using his office to him abusing his office," he said.

A House review of the articles of impeachment got underway Wednesday evening, and a floor vote could come as soon as next week. Lamb acknowledged that the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to convict Trump. Still, Lamb said, members of Congress were obligated to uphold their “oath to protect the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and that Trump’s dealings with Ukraine warranted “urgent” action.

Lamb's position on impeachment has been closely watched, since he's a moderate Democrat whose district narrowly supported Trump in 2016. He's been pressured by activists on both sides of the partisan divide.

Grassroots organizers in Lamb’s district, which encompasses Beaver County and suburban Allegheny County, had long urged the representative to back an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Among the Democrats calling for him to support an inquiry was Mt.  Lebanon activist Lynne Hughes, who said in the summer that she wouldn't volunteer for his 2020 campaign unless he voted for the investigation.

 

Lamb announced his support for the inquiry in September, and on Thursday, Hughes said she was “relieved” by the congressman’s decision to vote for the articles of impeachment. She said she “will have no problem working for him now.”

Hughes added that Republican Sean Parnell’s decision to challenge Lamb in the 2020 election also “basically singlehandedly pushed me back towards Conor” because, she said, Parnell “will be nothing more than a Trump lapdog.”

Republicans fired back at Lamb Thursday afternoon. In a statement from the Republican Committee of Allegheny County, chairman Sam DeMarco said, “We warned voters last year that Conor Lamb would do what Nancy Pelosi tells him. So absolutely nobody was surprised that, after weeks of careful evasions, he finally admitted that he’ll vote to impeach President Trump." He accused Democrats of "impeaching a president because we disagree with his approach to foreign policy ."

Lamb's fellow western Pennsylvania Democrat, Mike Doyle, has made little secret of what his own vote would be. In a statement, he confirmed that he would support both articles of impeachment.

"I believe that the evidence is overwhelming that the President abused his power and obstructed the impeachment inquiry, both of which are impeachable offenses under the Constitution," Doyle said. 

Two Democrats, freshman Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of suburban Philadelphia and fourth-term Rep. Matt Cartwright of northeastern Pennsylvania, have declined to say how they will vote. Trump won Cartwright's district in 2016, although Democrat Hillary Clinton won Houlahan's district.

Meanwhile, all nine Republican House members from Pennsylvania have said they will vote against the articles. That includes Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of suburban Philadelphia, who on occasion breaks party ranks to vote with Democrats. Clinton narrowly won Fitzpatrick's district in 2016.

Western Pennsylvania Republicans Mike Kelly and Guy Reschenthaler have been criticial of the impeachment process. 

Lucy Perkins contributed to this report.