Montana Public Radio

Where Montana's House Candidates Stand On Impeachment

Dec 17, 2019

The House of Representatives Wednesday will debate and vote on two articles of impeachment against President Trump; one for abuse of power and the other for obstruction of justice. Where do Montana's 2020 House candidates stand?

We asked each House candidate how they would vote on the articles of impeachment, what they've seen from the proceedings that has led them to their position, and what additional information they'd like to learn from the House debate. Some candidates sent prepared statements rather than answer the questions.

First, here's what Montana's current congressional delegation is saying.

Rep. Greg Gianforte's (R) office sent the following statement:

“Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and House Democrats have been obsessed with overturning the results of the 2016 election since President Trump was elected. Nancy Pelosi claimed a vote to impeach President Trump would need bipartisan support, but because they failed to make the case, they have none. The American people see through Democrats’ hyper-partisan impeachment efforts, which have been a sham since day one.” 

Sen. Daines' (R) office sent the following statement:

“Democrats have been obsessed with impeaching President Trump and overturning the will of the people since before he was even sworn into office. This has been a sham from the very beginning and we need to finally put an end to this hoax and get back to working on behalf of the American people."

Sen. Tester's (D) office sent the following statement: 

“As jurors, each of us will take an oath to uphold our Constitutional duty to deliver a fair and honest trial. The American people expect transparency from their government, and for their representatives to exercise that Constitutional duty to evaluate the evidence before us and follow the facts wherever they lead. That is what I intend to do.”

U.S. House Candidates

Joe Dooling (R)

MTPR: How would you vote on the articles of impeachment?

“I’d vote no. I’ve seen no evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor. So I’d vote no.”

MTPR: What have you seen from the proceedings to date that has led you to hold that view?

“It’s what I haven’t seen, not what I’ve seen. I haven’t seen any evidence of a crime being committed. You need to see a crime or misdemeanor being committed. Even the charges that the Judiciary Committee brought forward aren’t crimes, the obstruction of Congress, which is a procedural issue that needs to be sorted out in the court not through impeachment proceedings. And the other one, abuse of power, which so general it can be used whenever. Even the proceedings that are going forward aren't’ crimes and don’t meet the litmus test.”

MTPR: What information would you hope to hear in the full House debate on the articles?

“I wish they would just move along with it, go ahead a vote. The votes are already there and nobody is going to change their mind. Let’s get it over with. It it to the Senate. Get this thing over with because he won’t be removed from office and let’s get back to the business that we need to get done for the people Montana and the nation. The longer we drag this out the more it costs and less is getting done for the people.”

Tim Johnson (R) sent the following statement:

“Since the day President Trump was sworn in as President, Democratic Party leadership determined a trajectory to remove our President with whatever shallow purpose exchanges Congressional votes for their re-election. All Americans regardless of political bend rely on and urgently need our elected leadership to model the higher purpose to which we commit our efforts and indeed our lives as Patriots. Let us never forget this simple truth regarding leadership: we the people don’t learn very well that which isn’t modeled often.”

Debra Lamm (R) did not respond by publication time.

Matt Rains (D)

"First of all, I must caveat everything with the fact that I only have media sources of information. I would never as Montana’s Representative make decisions of this significance with second-hand information or only snippets of depositions available to the general public. It is dangerous for anyone to pass judgement from the outside looking in.

"I support both articles of impeachment regarding Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. My support for moving the process forward is based on two key points. First, am I comfortable endorsing the actions of President Trump as the new baseline and accepting the actions for all future presidents to follow? No. We must fight to protect law and order and the United States’ reputation for upholding it. Our Constitution gives the Senate final authority to decide if the President has abused his power. We must give them the chance to speak and decide. Second, as a government servant, all actions are owed to the country. Congress as a body stands with the highest authority to gather information to make legislative and constitutional decisions. The current administration has prevented Congress from openly receiving information and this act swings power away from the legislative branch toward the executive branch. Our freedom has always depended on three evenly powered branches of government under any President, Congress, or Supreme Court. Checks and Balances should be cherished and protected above all other bestowed powers from our Constitution.

"Finally, we are a country significantly divided on politics. I truly want to get resolution and move forward. We are too damaged to not have a verdict. The vast majority of us want the same for our families, state, country, and even the world. For some reason though, hatred has erupted between us. I would pursue any course to bring us back to respect and compassion for one another."

MTPR: How would you vote on the articles of impeachment?

"See above. I would vote in favor of impeachment on both charges of Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. A determination must be made regarding the President’s power and where it is limited. Also, I fear we are losing a balanced government with three independent branches with checks and balances. Actions of the president, his cabinet, and his staff may be protected from the general public for security reasons, but Congress and the Supreme Court should have full access to review questionable actions within any department of the government."

MTPR: What have you seen from the proceedings to date that lead you to hold that view?

"The issue regarding Hunter Biden, simply put, should not have been a presidential level concern. Corruption in Ukraine, between presidents, should be addressing major corporations abusing trade rules or between Ukraine government officials and businesses. To singularly point out one individual, with no criminal association, and request investigations is a personal request. To use the presidency for a personal agenda, against a campaigning candidate no less, is abuse of presidential powers. Regarding Obstruction of Congress, the employees of the White House administration are government officials and should be available for congressional hearings. To force Congress to subpoena those government officials is embarrassing. To fight those subpoenas is Obstruction of Congress. We have three branches of government with equal power and those powers should be respected."

MTPR: What information would you hope to hear during the full House debate on the articles?

"Essentially, I believe we are at a point in the proceedings where more information will not sway the process or the verdict. My greatest concern is we maintain a course where the verdict is more about if the Democrats or Republicans win instead if wrongs were committed. The country’s future will be re-written with new powers granted to all future presidents if our current Congress deems a free-reining president can use America’s prestige, reputation, and authority without limits or oversight. I wish to see a non-partisan due process to determine if the actions of the president fell within the constitution’s explicit and implied presidential powers. Not for the current president, but for all future presidents."

Matt Rosendale (R) sent the following statement: 

"I strongly oppose these shameful, unfounded and unsubstantiated articles of impeachment. Nancy Pelosi and the entire Democrat Party are obsessed with taking whatever action necessary to overturn the will of the people and undo the results of the 2016 election. This has been a charade from the beginning and this sham must not advance to the U.S. Senate. It's time we get back to work to lower health care costs, reduce prescription drug prices, and pass America First trade deals so we can Keep America Great!"

Corey Stapleton (R)

Secretary Stapleton campaign says Stapleton is in Israel and is not watching the hearings. He does not support the impeachment proceedings.

Kathleen Williams (D)

"The President has been accused of serious crimes, and now he can lay out his case in the Senate. I look forward to hearing what he has to say, and to Congress getting back to the work of the people."

Tom Winter (D)

MTPR: How would you vote on the articles of impeachment?

"The evidence supporting impeachment is overwhelming and the facts have gone uncontested: The President used our taxpayer dollars to bribe a foreign official and then sought to cover it up. That is an Abuse of Power for personal gain at the expense of national security with a cover up that is a clear Obstruction of Congress, plain and simple."

MTPR: What have you seen from the proceedings to date that lead you to hold that view?

"A mountain of evidence:

"The White House meeting quid pro quo: Testimony from State Department officials shows that the President made a White House meeting with President Zelensky contingent upon an announcement that the Ukrainian administration was opening investigations into Joe Biden. This was in spite of the entire intelligence community saying there was no evidence for such an investigation. Both State Department officials, Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, detailed extensive communications with Rudy Guilliani and Ukrainian officials to broker this quid pro quo.

"The military aid quid pro quo: Four senior administration officials testified that the Congressionally-passed $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was placed on hold to demand for investigations into the Bidens. Withholding key military aid to Ukraine in their time of need is bad enough, but to do so to get them to chase conspiracy theories against your political rival is unthinkable. The Trump administration only released this aid after they were caught red-handed.

"Obstruction of Congress: Unlike any other previous president, Trump has refused all cooperation with the Congressional inquiry. This is a gross disregard of our system of checks and balances, and must not go unpunished - for the sake of our Constitution and democracy."

MTPR: What information would you hope to hear during the full House debate on the articles?

"In the full House debate I would hope to see our members of Congress conduct themselves in a manner more befitting to the office and those hallowed halls of democracy in the people's house. The displays we've seen from some of the members over the last couple weeks have been disgraceful and have eroded trust in the institution to an all-time low. We need our Representatives to stand up for our Constitution and our democracy rather than foreign actors and conspiracy theories. We must have the courage to put our country over our political parties."

This post as been updated to include U.S. Senator Jon Tester's statement, which MTPR received after the original publication of this story. This post has also been updated with Congressman Greg Gianforte's most recent statement.